The Will to Wear Pants

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There are days when I simply lack the will to wear pants. When my old, faded jeans are a mountain that I cannot climb. I’ve come to understand that this is an oddly reliable indicator of how things are going with the boys. During easy stretches at home, my jeans are just jeans but when one or (more typically) both boys are in some flavor of challenging transition even casual wear threatens my equilibrium. How can I so much as glimpse peace when I’m expected to do things like button and zipper my own clothes? This is another (of the many) reasons that my re-entry into the working world is sure to be entertaining.

During these stretches I rely on pants with elastic waistbands and wicking fabric. Clothing that in a previous life I wore to do things like running and yoga. Life is different now. I’ve found that these very same pants are the perfect companions for chasing boundary-pushers around parks and preparing meals with 30 lb, giggling weights attached to each leg. The small measure of comfort they offer is a balm. You take what you can get.

I’ve been off the real pants train for more than a week now. If history is any indication I expect that I’ll be buttoning my own pants fairly soon. These things wax and wane. I’m looking forward to the wane. For now the Monk is committed to keeping me in comfortable clothing. The little dude is stretching his wings and it’s a raucous affair. He is two in a way that is wholly different from the way Yogi was two. So all the things I thought I knew are irrelevant and useless and beside the point. And while it is technically true that he won’t actually be two for another two weeks, I assure you that this is purely a technicality. The Monk is TWO and denim is too much for me.

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One Year with the Monk

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I am in love with this baby.

I haven’t written much about him here and that is a sad fact. Unfortunately, now that we’re two kids in, I think it’s safe to acknowledge that I really struggle with infancy. Really really. Monkey’s early months were even more of a struggle because of the juggling act that more than one kid requires. If it’s possible to have postpartum depression without actually giving birth, then I’ve had it. Twice. But somewhere around 9-10 months, the sky always brightens and by the 1 year mark I just seem to come back to myself again. A most welcome blessing.

The good news is that I’ve (mostly) forgiven myself for these long seasons of darkness and if we decide to do all of this again I’ll be even more gentle with myself the third time around. There is so much comfort in knowing what to expect.

For now I’m just taking deep breaths and reveling in the wonder of these little creatures. Grateful that now I can see them more clearly. I never imagined that I would spend my days with a Yogi and a Monk, but I couldn’t be happier that I do.

For now though, the Monk.

Even during the slog of those first few months I was able to recognize that the little dude was simply luminous. Whenever someone would ask about him I almost always described him as a ray of light. I’m not sure I even knew what I meant at first, but it couldn’t be more true. Sure he howls like a banshee, has been a difficult sleeper and elevated spitting up  to a level I never even knew to fear, but the guy is pure and clear and wide open.

His default expression is one of wide-eyed interest. He’s curious, yes, but well before he’s entirely sure what he’s getting himself into, he’s ready for it. He’s all in. My wife is always calling him “game” and I think that’s just right. Whatever you’ve got, he’s up for it and he’s not holding anything back. Want to cram him in the back of a tiny dump truck and push him around the house at top speed? Let’s do it! How about having brother dump yet another cup of water on his head in the tub? Sign that boy up! The little dude knows nothing of hesitation or skepticism. His favorite place is right in the middle of things. If something is happening, the Monk wants to be there.

And then, there’s the snuggling. Mommies, big brother, stuffed animals, pillows, people he’s never met; the Monk would like nothing more than to get as close as possible. He is a professional snuggler. His combination of huge eyes, bright smile and happy chub means that he’s almost never rebuffed. At 23 lbs it’s getting increasingly hard to maintain, but Monkey loves to be held. Always has. When he gets put down, it’s almost never his idea.

This year with the Monk has been such a gift. He has brought a wonderful kind of lightness into our family. The rest of us tend towards weighty seriousness, but not our little guy. He has a direct line to the simple, uncomplicated wonder of each moment.

Lucky, that’s what we are.

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All Quiet on the Monkey Front

Our afternoon appointment with the OB was totally uneventful, just the way I like it. Her cervix is closed and showing no signs of thinning. Unlike last time (Yogi’s pregnancy) when I believed this actually meant something significant, something more than this is the state of affairs at this precise moment and means nothing about what may develop five minutes from now, I am well aware that everything might look entirely different in the morning. But, I’m feeling optimistic.
Optimistic at this point means that I’m no longer convinced that Monkey will get here before her grandparents do. I’m thinking that we’ll get this one to 37 weeks. As long as I can hold out this cup half full feeling for a few more days I’ll be in the clear. Muzzie and Grandpa will be in town next week and I will be free to labor with my wife when the time comes.
On the laboring with my wife front I wanted to thank you guys for sharing your thoughts about doulas when I was wavering awhile back. After lots of discussion we’ve made the doula decision and we’re excited about it. When we realized how unlike our ideal labor a VBAC was going to be (continuous monitoring and readiness to move to the OR if the ute shows signs of rupture – a minuscule risk, but one our OB isn’t comfortable dismissing) I wasn’t sure how a doula could really help us. So….. we asked the doula. A brilliant idea, no?
Our conversation with her was a good one and we now have a clearer picture of what our options are. The first goal is to labor at home as long as we can. Everyone on the Monkey team is pretty risk-averse so I can’t imagine we’ll go overboard with this. Once we get to the hospital the word is limit the intervention.  Everyone (OB, doula, us) is on board so hopefully all will be well.
Entirely unrelated to anything I’ve just talked about, I have to let you know that our Baker (AKA Bake, The Hungarian Supermodel, or just The Viszla) passed away on Monday.  Baker was my wife’s first baby and although he drove.us.crazy during much of what turned out to be the last weeks of his life, we loved him dearly. Yogi says his name about twenty times a day and it’s sad to realize that Monkey will never know him.

Monkey Jitters

First, you’ve got to check out the belly. I took this one this morning at 36 weeks. How cute is she?! Love, love, love it.

I spoke too soon about our sleep success. Saturday night was a B.A.D. night at my house. Lots and lots and lots of crying. The kind that breaks your heart and makes it hard to think straight. The kind that initiates an are we doing the right thing? conversation. An early hours conversation between someone who is practically incoherent in the middle of the night AND clinging to the hope that this sleep approach will save us all (me) and someone who is in the throes of late pregnancy hormones and sure that Yogi is going to feel abandoned when Monkey arrives (my wife) is something any sane person would do well to avoid.

I couldn’t avoid it, but we all did make it through the night. And the next day. And last night was way better, so there is that. But the jitters persist.

Yogi was born at 37 weeks, so Monkey feels days away. Unfortunately, Muzzie and Grandpa will not be in town until next week so this baby must.wait. until the grandparents are in town. We have arrangements for Yogi should they not get to town in time, but we would both feel so much more comfortable knowing he was with them.

At some point over the weekend the my cervix is falling chanting has begun. Long time readers may remember that around this time last round, my wife began talking about how she was feeling different so much (“things are changing babe”, “I just feel different today”, “I don’t know what’s happening, but something is happening”) that I started calling her Chicken Little.

It is also true that Yogi was born two days after I wrote that post.

Ok universe, if you’re listening we REALLY need another good week. Be patient little Monkey. We’ll meet you soon enough.

Heads or Tails?

Yesterday brought fabulously surprising news from the OB. What we had thought was a head (in the very same position that Yogi’s head spent his entire gestation) turned out to be a tail! Finally we have a baby who knows the deal.

After the recent kerfuffle around VBAC vs. c-section we were totally frustrated to feel a big (what we thought) head up in her ribcage. After all of this research and reading and conversation I was just sure we would somehow be the outlier people who had two breech babies.

But…. the OB felt around on her belly yesterday and said she wasn’t so sure. After rolling in the ultrasound machine, she took a look and that brilliant baby was head down!

Go Monkey Go!

Or actually…. stay right where you are. No moving allowed.

Two Things You Should Know Before the Third Trimester

Somehow we are in the midst of the 32nd week of this pregnancy. Monkey will be with us in a matter of weeks. It’s hard to explain how mind-boggling this is.

The process of getting pregnant with Monkey had all sorts of things in common with getting pregnant with Yogi. Excitement, fear, total consuming preoccupation. Then we were pregnant and the all sorts of things in common came to a halt. Being pregnant while parenting a toddler is not at all like just being pregnant. At least not at my house.

This time around there has been no cozy weekly reading of the What’s Happening with Your Pregnancy. No late night conversations about what it will be like when the baby comes. No laying around on the couch at an embarrassingly early hour because we just felt so tired.
In fact, things are so different this time around that I’ve managed to miss some pretty important stuff. If you’re considering a second pregnancy I have a few suggestions. Here are a few things you should probably know before the third trimester. Perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.

1. Where the Baby Will Sleep

A little background here. Our house has three bedrooms, with one downstairs and two upstairs. We use the main floor bedroom as a guest room and the three of us sleep in the two upstairs bedrooms. When the impending Monkey news was official we were clear on two points. The first, we were not comfortable with Yogi sleeping in the downstairs bedroom. The second was that Monkey would sleep in our room (in a bassinet) during the early weeks. There was some conversation about how lovely it would be if the kids could share a room, but there was no real logistic heavy discussion of the idea.
Fast forward to Monkey’s 30th week.
The main thrust of the conversation went like this, “Oh s%&^, where are we going to put this baby?!!!”. Panic ensued. Once the panic passed we got down to business and made some decisions. The overarching decision was that we needed to add a bedroom on the second floor. 
Fast forward to the present.
We are in the midst of a significant remodeling process that has meant many large men in muddy-tracking shoes, endless sheetrock dust, hammering and nail guns during nap and Yogi sleeping in our bedroom. Apart from the general upheaval and dirtiness, the bad news is that sleeping (for everyone) has gone to hell. The good news is that Monkey will have her own room by the end of the week.

2. Whether Your Wife is Planning on a VBAC

So, this one is harder to explain. Somehow, until early last week, I was under the impression that my wife had decided on a c-section. As it turns out, I was wrong. Embarrassingly out of touch, no?
We’ve talked with the OB about a VBAC from the beginning, but I had thought that the increased monitoring she had described made the prospect less appealing. Before we knew that Yogi was breach, we had established a relationship with a Doula and were gearing up for a stay-at-home-as-long-as-you-can, natural, drug-free labor. By the time we got to Monkey and the doctor started talking about the need for constant monitoring and the immediate placement of a just-in-case epidural (initially without drugs), I definitely felt disappointed. So disappointed that I could have sworn we were leaning towards c-section.
Wrong.
During our vacation (BabyMoon?) earlier this month we finally took the time to discuss it and panic ensued. Why panic? Well, I am talking about my response and unfortunately panic is high on my frequent response list. But…. in this case I think it’s reasonable. Finding out that your wife will be delivering a baby with as little medical intervention as possible in a matter of weeks when you know NOTHING about what it means to be an effective labor partner is totally panic-worthy. 
Happily, I’m not doing this alone. This community responded just as thoughtfully as always when I sent out a desperate plea for resources and now I’m in the middle of two incredible (and inspiring!) books about childbirth. I’m past the panic and into the excitement and I have many of you to thank for that, so thank you!
Of course, there is one thing about this pregnancy that is exactly the same. I can’t WAIT to meet this baby!


* You’re right. The shocked baby above is not Yogi. It’s just a baby who can’t believe how behind he is. 😉

We Can Do This. Right?!

It happened this weekend.  After months of relative calm, it hit.  Right between the eyes.
In only four months there will be two children under the age of two living in our house.  Not only will they be living here, they will be under our care.
I think it has something to do with all the new babies in blogland, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about life with a newborn lately and I can’t tell you that that thinking has left me feeling anything but overwhelmed.
I know, I know, this is hardly a surprise.  We painstakingly planned this and we’re thrilled for all that is to come, but we had a moment this weekend.  More than one moment actually.  The kind of moment in which the dog is whining and the Yogi is pointing aggressively into the kitchen while chanting “bapple, bapple” on an endless loop and with escalating volume and you just cleaned up from lunch (which you didn’t get to eat) and you haven’t slept for more than four consecutive hours a night during the last week (WHAT is going on?!!) and all you want is for everyone to just.leave.you.alone and it hits you that for some reason you decided to do this again.
There were tears.
Happily the sun is shining today and for an unknown reason that has nothing whatsoever to do with getting lots of sleep last night, the world feels a bit brighter.