Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

On December 25th of this year I will be almost 35 weeks pregnant... 

...which means I will be unable to travel to see family for Christmas due to my strong aversion to birthing small humans while airborne.

FUN FACT!  Did you know that it is 26 times more likely that someone will die on your plane than be born? I didn't either until I Googled the above link. Say what you want about this post but you'll walk away from it having learned something!

Because we'll be SoCal-bound for the remainder of the holiday season, for Thanksgiving I felt compelled to fit in a wild round of family visits in advance of my baby-mandated confinement.

First up, I flew to Texas (with children and Mother-in-Law in tow, but without husband, who had stayed behind to work -- a detail which will become important SOON). I spent some time with my husband's family and got in plenty of quality squeezing sessions with my ridiculously cute 4-month-old niece.

And it was great.

But as Thanksgiving day approached it was time for me to make my way to Florida for a turkey-fest with my own relatives. This meant that I somehow needed to transport myself AND two toddlers from San Antonio, TX to Ft. Myers, FL all by my lonesome whilst seven months pregnant.  The journey would involve two legs of a flight and a two-hour layover with two kids (one an 18-month-old 'lap child' despite the fact that I have virtually no lap to speak of at this point, and the other a three-year-old with a tendency to projectile vomit whenever airborne).

Did I mention that I was doing this all on the 2nd busiest travel day of the year?

As I packed up my bags I had visions of travel terrors dancing in my head. I was sure  I would lose at least one of the kids permanently in the cavernous DFW Airport. I was perplexed as to how I was going to balance my current need to pee every fifteen minutes with the requirements of supervising two mini-travelers. I was thinking a lot about the puking.

But I am happy to report that my fears were, for the most part, in vain. My kids were on their absolute best behavior, (and yes, they were also entirely barf-free) and my fellow travelers stepped up heroically to support me at every stage of our journey.

A special shout-out to:

  • The San Antonio TSA agent who coaxed Snoodie through the X-Ray machine and then engaged him in a series of ever-more complicated high-fives until I could gather my belongings and achieve full stroller-containment of his brother.
  • The serviceman traveling with his own family who missed his boarding group so that he could stay behind and help me fold up my 18-wheel-sized double stroller before getting on the plane.
  • The REI-clad woman who threw out a fresh cup of coffee so her hands would be free to carry Crinks on board and then told me with a smile, "I think you must be the bravest woman I've met all day!"
  • My full-figured seatmate on the 2nd leg of the flight. When I saw he was a single businessman I groaned inwardly thinking I'd be getting glares for three hours straight. Instead he helped me get my bags settled and even made cute faces at the kids as the plane took off. When I thanked him for being so nice he laughed and said, "Hey, a big guy like me is always happy to have a little guy riding shotgun! You guys made my day!"

And thus, my faith was briefly restored in the goodness of all mankind and the wonder of air travel.

Of course, on the flight home the plane had a flat tire. Snoodie vomited twice. We missed our connection. They wouldn't seat us together on the second leg. Then they lost our gate-checked stroller and car seat, only to return it to us two days later missing two of its wheels.

But all the joy and thankfulness? It was nice while it lasted.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Terrible Threes

The terrible twos are indeed, fairly terrible. 

There's the constant screaming of, "NO!", the occasional hitting and/or kicking, and, of course, the always beloved tantrum-throwing. But one thing you can say for the twos is that at least they have the decency to give you some warning. 

The horribleness of this age range is consistently conveyed by parenting tomes and fellow Moms alike. Such universal acknowledgement of all the ills the twos contain is comforting, and it helps one get ready. I mean, by the time you have a two-year-old, if you're not prepared to devote a full year of your existence to battles with your offspring over an unending range of senseless minutiae, you've really got no one to blame but yourself.

Then finally your child turns three, and you justifiably believe that your time of turmoil has come to an end. Patiently, you wait for the long-promised door to good behavior to open. Having survived 365 days of "the twos" you are poised to welcome the freedom from strife you have been told is at last, your due.

Until that day when you find yourself asking your three-year-old to put on his shoes...

...and rather than complying with this seemingly innocuous request, your child instead chooses to throw both said shoes directly towards your skull while screaming at the top of his lungs, 


You are confused.

What's going on here? By any calendric standards the terrible twos are, in fact, behind you. And yet, where is the calm and delightful three-year-old you've been promised?

You tell yourself that perhaps this incident was some sort of anomaly. Maybe your kiddo had a bad night's sleep. Or perhaps he ingested a bum chicken nugget and it is affecting his judgment. 

You attempt to remain calm.

Several days later, you invite your darling three-year-old into a nice warm bath before bed, as you have done every single night of his life since birth. But instead of thanking you at some length for your thoughtfulness, your child chooses to take several nude laps around the house while shrieking at ear-piercing volume,


Something is definitely amiss here.

And so you seek out fellow mothers to demand some answers. What is going on? The terrible twos are supposed to be over! These are supposed to be the halcyon days of the terrific threes, are they not? 

This is when your friends and peers finally tell you the truth - that three is NOT the end of the terrible twos, as you had been led to believe. Instead 'the terrible threes' are the unannounced rageful sequel to 'the terrible twos'. And they are so terrible that they often make the twos look like nothing more than a mild warm-up act.

You attempt to process this information. Unfortunately, you cannot, as you are far too busy fending off nuclear-level meltdowns from your toddler on subjects including but not limited to:

In your confusion you make the classic mistake of attempting to reason with your three-year-old. You lovingly discuss precisely why the couch is not scary. You carefully detail the downsides of having one's poop receptacle in the sleeping area. You calmly explain that one cannot change a vehicle's color using only one's mind. 

In response your child strikes you about the face and neck before diving to the floor, kicking wildly, and smashing his fists upon the ground. And you come to accept that the twos were just the beginning. But now, the threes have arrived.

Which is terrible, terrible news.

But fear not! From what I hear - the fours are a total breeze.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


My husband and I spent last week in Hawaii.

And I want you to know that I was -- from the bottom of my heart -- fully intending to write a blog entry from there. But I am here to admit that instead of chronicling my parental mishaps, I did a few other things. 

Here is a short summary.

  • I thought a great deal about whether the whole "no drinking while pregnant" thing still applied while I was out of the country. 
  • Then I remembered that I was, in fact, in the country and invested a great deal of time trying to concoct alternate justifications for downing a few lava flows.
  • Then I used the enhanced buoyancy of my 7-month-pregnant belly to do a little snorkeling.
  • Then said belly encountered the coral reef and I realized that snorkeling was not for me.
  • Then I sat upon a lounge chair and read 'THE HUNGER GAMES' (which, for the record, I feel that someone might have warned me was the world's most depressing thing EVER before the plot sucked me in for three books' worth).
  • Then my husband emerged from the water, plopped down beside me, and we, knowing that our children were thirty-five-hundred miles away in the care of my mother-in-law, chose to spend the rest of our time together doing something romantic, bonding and truly soul-nourishing - which was, of course, pointing at laughing at other couples struggling to deal with their own small children.
And it was awesome.

So, that's all I've got for this week. EXEPT this brief but hopefully exciting announcement! I am now contributing to a really funny new humor site aimed at moms. It also features writing from a bunch of other great writers including Brenna of Suburban Snapshots.

Go visit!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, Mama's 40

  • I am currently experiencing a wicked bout of sciatica
  • I have been dealing with raging acid reflux for the past several months
  • I am, at present, unable to remove myself from any piece of furniture without making a series of involuntary groaning sounds
  • I have permanently eschewed the varied and tasty meals I used to enjoy in favor of bland and texture-free foodstuffs.

Did you guess the world's oldest woman?  Hint: Very close! 

Who feels older?

Instead the correct answer is - - - ME! (A forty plus woman expecting her third baby in four years).

At my age, in strict biological terms, instead of creating new life I should really be engaging in more age-appropriate activities, like maybe whittling, leaf peeping, and/or sitting incredibly still at all times and preparing on a deep subconscious level for the sweet release of death. 

Instead I am running around daily after two toddlers while seven-months-pregnant, and it is providing to be epically difficult.

According to one random study I took fifty-seven seconds to Google, a woman's fertility appears to peak around the age of twenty-two. Which would suggest that one's late teens and early twenties are, in fact, the ideal time for childbirth.


Because when I was twenty-two I was living part-time in a van, traveling to divey comedy clubs around the country, and working part-time as a bicycle messenger. In addition, my major love interest of the era turned out to be supporting himself at least partially through the sale of home-grown marijuana.

So, for me, the decades that represented my prime biological years for child-bearing occurred during a period when actual child-rearing would have likely proven fairly disastrous. 

My best friend had her first child at nineteen and now has a two-year-old at forty. She summed up the difference thusly,

"At nineteen, having the baby was a piece of cake. At forty, raising a child is easier."

And to be sure, she did an amazing job with all of her kids. I'm not advocating any "right age" for starting a family. (Though I'll admit believing that having kids young -- when one has the energy to pull it off without getting into bed each night feeling as if you've been attacked by a gang of baseball bat-wielding maniacs -- seems like a really good idea if that is how it happens to work out for you.)

My sister-in-law, who is in her early twenties, recently had a beautiful baby girl. And let me tell you, nothing will make you re-evaluate your life choices faster than standing next to a young woman four weeks post-partum who whips off a swim coverup to reveal a swimsuit calendar-ready body clad only in a hot pink string bikini.

actual sister-in-law not depicted, but take my word, close enough

It has a way of making young motherhood appealing on a whole new level.

But alas, it would appear that my own bikini-sporting days are now firmly in the rear view mirror. As a "late-in-life mom" I am instead relegated to bathing dresses long enough to cover my vein-marred legs and firm enough to subdue my now-permanent love handles.

And there are countless other downsides to my advanced maternal age. There's the general lack of energy; there's the inability to "bounce back" from childbirth in the way I might have as a younger woman; and, of course, there is the general soul-crushingness of having all of my medical paperwork stamped with the phrase, GERIATRIC PREGNANCY.

But, in spite of all of this, I'm still happy to be an older Mama.

I loved being single and carefree in my twenties and early thirties. I spent enough late nights out on the town that the idea of night after night on the couch watching reality TV or snuggling with my husband sounds heavenly instead of limiting. I traveled all around the country without a care beyond meeting my own basic needs and had a great time doing it. And while all that may mean that I'm going to be closing in on 60 when my last child graduates from high school, I wouldn't do it any differently.

Besides, without those years of life experience, how could I pass on valuable life wisdom to my own boys? For example:

Kids! No matter how cold you get when living in a van in your late twenties DO NOT bring the space heater inside the vehicle! It doesn't turn out that well. 

Trust me. Now go get Mommy some Advil, my sciatica is killing me!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Best Time to Have a Child

I'm expecting Baby #3 on February 1st.

Unfortunately, it is only now beginning to dawn on me that the timing of this birth may have been somewhat less than ideal.

After limping through days upon days of Halloween-themed merriment, it occurs to me that I am now staring down multiple legs of Thanksgiving-related travel, and then moving directly into weeks of Christmas prep and execution.

And the fact of the matter is that being 7 to 8 months pregnant for all of the above is, to say the least, NOT going to make any of the holiday fun any, you know, funner.

At least I'm not delivering in September. I did that with the Snood, and I'm here to tell you that being gigantically pregnant during the hottest months of the year ensures the following triumvirate of miserableness:
  • Maternity swimwear in all its unsightliness,
  • Overheated waddling,
...and, of course...
  • Sand in unreachable netherregions.

I take some comfort in the fact that September made for such a grim pregnancy experience that it can only make early February look swell in comparison.

Crinks was born in mid-May, which was pretty much ideal. His due date meant I could conceal mass holiday-induced weight gain as innocent baby bloat, and then transition directly into a long wintery confinement of coziness until his early Spring arrival. 

I'd say that's how I'd do it if I were to ever do this again, but let's be real here. 

If I ever do this again, I'm likely to care little about when the birth takes place as I'll be serving time in some faraway correctional facility for the murder of my beloved spouse and/or beating my head repeatedly against the wall of a psychiatric institution where I'll have been placed on an extended "rest cure" for my own safety and the safety of those around me.

At which point the optimum time in the calendar year for infant delivery will be the least of my problems.