Monday, October 10, 2016

Forty Two Years

If the kids can get age related posts, then surely I can too.

So I turned forty-two. Which sounds shockingly old. Or at least, shockingly middle aged. At some point in the last few years my age started sounding just completely implausible. I don't quite understand how the number got so high. I realized that it's statistically likely that my life is about half over, maybe even a little more. Of course I hope I have more years left than that.

Crazy, too, to think that maybe all the best things have already happened? I grew up and left home -- well, the growing up part often sucked but leaving home was an unmitigated blessing. I lived in California for a while, then New York. And mainly, of course, I had my two beautiful babies.

So I'm pleased to report that I am enjoying life way more than I did last school year. Thank god. I'm actually pretty damn happy. I'm trying to remember to take a breath and look around and remember that this is it. This is my life. It's about as good now as it will ever be. I don't want to always be rushing to get to the next thing. I want to enjoy right now.

I had my second "Freedom Friday" this past week -- I had a sitter take the kid home and another sitter put both kids to bed. I went to the movies with a new colleague friend and unfortunately the movie we picked was seriously dark and depressing. But then we walked around on lively Smith Street, after dark, and went to a hopping small plates type restaurant and had to shout, just a little bit, to hear each other, which was pretty tiring but also felt a little thrilling. Boring old me, out on a Friday night!

I'm definitely more patient with Calliope than a year ago. I yell a lot less. And I'm appreciating Amelie more -- usually -- than I was a few weeks ago.  Last night I tried a suggestion I read recently, of lying down with Calliope at bedtime, in the dark, and asking if she has any worries. Apparently kids will spill stuff at that time of the day that somehow never comes up at other times. And sure enough, Calliope shared that she was worried about someone stealing her! Poor puss. Thank you teachers for teaching her about Stranger Danger, a mostly invented worry (kids are generally kidnapped by noncustodial family members, NOT by strangers).  She also worries about me leaving her somewhere for a play date without making sure she is comfortable first. I'm hoping that by doing this on a regular basis, we will get in the habit of sharing before the big scary worries start (mean girls, body image issues, drugs, etc).

My apartment is staying tidier than it used to. Which makes me more zen. And I'm still loving my food subscription service, even though I spend more time cooking and washing dishes than when I use my own super simple recipes.

I'm even doing better at work. I don't let myself relax and do my own things until all the work is done. Except for a short break to read the SMC Forum over lunch. Everyone needs a break sometimes. Working out in my office at the end of the school day is mostly going well, also. The times that I've thought -- oh, I'll just scoot home now, when traffic is light, and work out at home -- mostly haven't gone well. It's a lot harder to work out at home with Amelie around. She doesn't seem to appreciate how I'm a better mother after I get my workout in.

I wasn't watching any TV for the month of September and it's amazing how much more sleep I got and how much free time I felt like I had. I started to watch again this month and suddenly I was getting to bed a lot later. I think I've got to make a rule that I only watch on weekends.

The big challenge for me is my nighttime eating. I crave sweets and snacking in general when I'm tired. Some nights I'm just exhausted and I just want that feeling of being filled up. And then I feel guilty and mad at myself in the morning. Not a great way to start the day. I mostly don't snack on really bad things, but even dried fruit is sugar and not good for my PCOS-y body. Also, with both my parents dying in their sixties of cancer despite not having significant risk factors, I worry about longevity. I want to be around for my kids for a very long time. And sugar is the devil, I'm convinced. Trying to figure out the key for this. Mostly it seems like fresh fruit and a dash of heavy cream. And even more than that, getting enough sleep the previous night so I don't reach that point of exhaustion the next day. Simple solutions are definitely not easy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Eighteen Months And Other Things

In which Calliope triumphantly prepares Amelie's bottle, hoists her onto the couch, and
arranges a compliant if not enthusiastic Amelie on her lap. 

Girlfriend has been in the world for a year and a half! I asked Calliope if she remembers life before Amelie and she said, "Yes, it was boring." She's been in a big Amelie kick lately, asking me to lift Amelie into the crib so they can play together there -- I don't know what they play but I heard peals of laughter from their room this morning -- and begging to prepare Amelie's bottles before insisting on being the one to hold Amelie while she drinks her milk.

Amelie seems to take all this devotion is stride but secretly, I swoon.

I saw Amelie arguably running (versus fast walking) for the very first time this morning and she made her first non-prompted animal sound today -- Maaaaa. She's finally getting interested in  Little Blue Truck and all its animal sounds -- this was one of Calliope's early favorites and I was wondering if Amelie would love it as much.

First amusement park ride... and I didn't have to go on it!

In which Amelie looks for fish on the amusement park ride.

I went on this ride with her because it whipped around the bend so fast I was worried about her getting whiplash.
That's Amy and Leo behind us.

She's being exposed to lots of Spanish -- the nanny mostly speaks to her in Spanish -- and I am wondering if I should be making an effort to speak to her in English or if I should work on Spanish, too. I do think she's a little slower to accumulate vocabulary than Calliope was, presumably because of learning two languages at once. She clearly understands a lot in both languages.

And this fall they've finally learned to fall asleep together (in the same room, not the same bed) which makes life a lot easier for -- me last I let Calliope fall asleep in my bed and then I had to carry her back to her bed each night.

Not too many other developments to report since I only just wrote the seventeen month post.

Calliope and neighborhood friends, being "a spy and two ballet dancers"

Amelie has started to beg to sit in Calliope's booster seat instead of her highchair.
She looks incredibly short in it -- this photo doesn't do it justice -- but she's clearly very, very
pleased to be in a Big Girl Chair. And to use a plate. Which she mostly doesn't throw. Mostly.

As for me for me, so far being back at work is going pretty well. I've only had one two day week of kids and then one four-day week of kids -- this is my first five day week -- so I may be speaking too soon. But fingers are crossed. I'm trying really hard to keep up with my School Year Intentions. Special Time with each girl each night has totally fallen by the wayside -- most nights, there is just no time -- but I'm at least trying to not be so damn impatient with them. I'm still reading books, albeit slowly, and loving it. I've been working out in my office and it's mostly going well. It's a bummer getting home later but it's nice not having the workout hang over my head when I get home from work -- I can be fully present once I'm there. If you count cooking dinner to be fully present. I'm doing a food subscription service, where I get deliveries of all the ingredients and I have to assemble them. I LOVE it, so far, but it's definitely a lot more time in the kitchen and a lot more time cleaning up. The cooking I mostly enjoy but naturally the clean up is not so rewarding.

I'm loving the food so much I take pictures of it. This is tuna nicoise salad
with homemade sweet potato "chips." 

The after school babysitting... Well. Calliope is in love with both of them. But one of them gave notice today. Her former boss begged her to come back to working full time for her (she had been working just every other weekend). So that sucks. The other babysitter agreed to add on an extra day, Friday, but she can't ever work late on Fridays because she observes Shabbat with her grandmother every Friday. So that's a big bummer, but not exactly a disaster. I just had my first Freedom Friday last week and it was pretty delicious. But I'm not sure I can have one babysitter hand off my kids to another babysitter at the end of a very long week so that might be the end of that. Boo.

Feisty girl with pigtails

I'm still feeling pretty caught up with things -- look at me writing an 18 month post on the very day she turns 18 months! I'm hoping that if I can just stay caught up, life will be a lot less stressful than constantly trying to get caught up. The house is still tidy and I'm mostly not letting myself relax at work until all the work is done. It's hard, having that discipline, and it may become impossible when work gets even busier -- it already feels quite busy! -- but so far, so good. And I'm trying to work on five good meditative breaths when I start to feel my blood pressure rise.

And now it's 9 pm and so, according to another Intention, it's time to go to bed. Good night!

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Five Year Old


This post is a long time coming, almost a month. It's getting harder every year to sum her up. She's not a sunny, reserved little toddler any more. She's a complex person in her own right.

Mostly, I adore her. I think she's a better person than me. It's like she's got the best parts of me, and then some commendable traits that I don't have. She's definitely more generous than me. Always requests to share her (very small) treats with her sister, or me. I'm definitely not like that!

Even when her sister hits or pokes her, she never hits back. I do my best to intervene and scold (or redirect) Amelie, so Calliope doesn't feel compelled to retaliate, but still. I find her restraint remarkable.

The best big sister

Lately she's become so loving and affectionate. Tonight she told me, "you're the best Mommy in the whole world for me. Amelie and me and you will always be a family and we will always love each other." Sounds simple but I've never heard these before and they go straight to my heart.

My precious family -- I still can't believe it!

She just started kindergarten last week, and her first two half days went well. It's a far cry from her first days of PreK last year, where she barely spoke to anyone and clung to me fiercely (though didn't cry) before transferring directly into her teacher's arms -- no one else would do. This year she joyfully reunited with her friend Maya and was ready for me to leave just a few minutes later. She's unfortunately neglecting her friend Peyton after a long summer apart but I'm optimistic that after a play date (unfortunately postponed from the weekend), they will be fast friends again.

Filled with confidence on her first day of kindergarten... once she found Maya. They were very, very happy to be together.

Physically, she mastered the monkey bars this weekend, and over the course of a weekend in the Hamptons, she gradually worked up the courage to jump into the deep end of the pool without a floatie. She also learned to tread water and is working on her backstroke -- she doesn't have enough body fat to float well, though, so every time she takes a stroke her head bobs under water.

She's very thoughtful and articulate, though her thoughts outpace her ability to express them well. One day in August she told me that her outfit was "just a little bit more beautiful than yours, Mommy." I explained to her that saying something like that could hurt someone's feelings she thoughtfully listened, taking it all in silently. And the next day, she crowed, "Mommy, we're the SAME much beautiful!"

And today, out for a walk, she explained that sometimes when she's in the sun, the light makes all her good thoughts about love escape her brain and go down into her lungs, and she forgets how much love she has. I think she's trying to say that the sunshine makes her not feel well? I love how she shares all the complicated little things she thinks about. I'm trying hard to be a good, engaged listener so she will continue this habit and not shut down as she gets older.

She's very interested in jokes, especially Knock Knock jokes but she hasn't quite mastered them yet.


Both my girls thought this "joke" was hilarious.

First day of ballet class finally arrived! And for the first time ever in a new class, she 
actually participated! 

After a few days of melatonin, she's back to going to bed at about 6 pm, and wakes up joyfully twelve hours later. It feels very, very early but we have to leave the house by 7 am and girlfriend likes to have a little time to play (after she gets ready, I've discovered, is the key to success). She's gradually becoming slightly more open to trying new foods after I started bragging how she is "such an adventurous eater, just like Mommy." It probably doesn't hurt that her sister will eat anything, and Calliope hears me commenting about it, with incredulity, all the time.

To sum her up, which I can never ever do, she says to me, "You're the perfect Mommy for me!" and I feel just exactly the same way about her.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Abandoning the Fantasy

So I looked up that guy I used to date, HJ, on Facebook. We broke up -- I ended things -- in December of ?2013, I guess, because he just seemed emotionally scattered and I could see he needed to focus on getting his divorced finalized before really being present in a relationship. Or else he was just kind of a weird, vague guy who was kind of annoying to be around. Either way, it wasn't working for me and I was rapidly losing interest. I hoped that by ending things then, I wasn't past the point of no return with regards to my feelings for him. I'm not sure if I succeeded. I really didn't have much interest in talking to him for a long, long time.

What I was interested in, however, was being pregnant. On my own. Not with him, despite his many offers. And so, soon after our break up, I started TTC'ing and maybe four months later I was pregnant with my Amelie. He came to visit once, a few months into the pregnancy, and I very clearly didn't want him to touch me.

He texted me last spring, a photo of his divorce decree, and said he was really sorry the timing didn't work out for us. I sent him back a cheery "congratulations!" and that was that. I didn't want to get into it with him.

But about the time I weaned Amelie, well, I started to get interested in the idea of the occasional light hearted date. And he's the only guy I know who I find attractive. It takes me a while to get interested in anybody, and it hasn't happened at all since I first started down the SMC path. So he seemed like the logical person.

We sent some flirtatious texts last spring and at some point he grudgingly admitted he was seeing someone, though it didn't sound serious yet. We mostly stopped texting at that point, with a few flirty texts this fall, though far more breezy than last time.

I finally looked him up on FB (I "hid" his posts years ago because I found them exasperating... which gives you a sense of how I was feeling about him) and I saw him and a woman referring to each other as "babe," and a post where she crowed that she finally got him to put down roots by buying a house near her (not with her, I noted).

And I was disappointed.

But what I realized is that far more disappointing than the lack of the occasional date -- which is all I think I want -- is abandoning the fantasy that he offered me of having another child. I can't see having another child as an SMC. No way, no how. I am spread thin enough as it is. I would very clearly not be a good parent to a third child.

But as long as he was at least somewhat available, I could still entertain the vague fantasy that I could have a third child with him. Maybe be a SAHM, lavish attention on my two girls as well as this newest baby, quit the unpleasantness of rushing through life while I work full time and raise these two current girls of mine.

I'm realizing that giving up this fantasy is hard work. It's the only part of donating to Leslie that is giving me pause. That and wondering what if that very Terrible Thing Happened, the Worst Thing Imaginable, if I would want to start over and have another baby. But that's crazy, right? You can't start over, right? And even if I could be with this guy, or someone else, I'm not going to have another baby.

Why is that so very hard to swallow, even while I know I wouldn't be a good parent to a third child???

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Seventeen Months

Tsunamelie is seventeen months old! She's got strong opinions and isn't afraid to share them... though she's generally very cheerful and happy. Certainly very social.

She just started putting two words together. This morning's example, at 5:45 AM, was "Mommy stop" because I was trying to stay in bed just a few minutes longer. "Stop" is actually her favorite word, though it's pronounced in a whiny teenagery way with toddler pronunciation so it becomes "Dhaaaaaaap!"

She also chats all day long, completely earnest, long winded soliloquies... but i can't understand a word of them.

She's completely fearless in the water and really wants to put her face in... but can't figure out how to do that without drinking in the pool. I think she might be on the cusp of understanding blowing bubbles -- Calliope and I have been endeavoring to make loud raspberry noises and then putting our faces in the water, and yesterday she finally duplicated the raspberry noise, at least.

She suddenly loves This Little Light of Mine, and does her best to wordlessly sing along. I couldn't figure out to edit it with the sound on so please, start at six seconds in -- I was cracking up and couldn't carry a tune for the first six seconds.


She's still petite, I think, and now that the weather has cooled off, I've taken her to wearing her more, for fear that time is running out of opportunities to snuggle my last baby.

She feeds herself well but still can't figure out that it works better if you don't turn the spoon upside down before putting it into your mouth. So yogurt is a messy morning event in our house.

She still adores her sister and it's amazing to me how well they get along.

And she loves books, and frequently sits on the floor by her shelves and pulls out a few to flip through.

I'm learning to channel her destructive energy by asking her for "help." So instead of her climbing into the dishwasher, she "helps" me close the dishwasher door. She also likes it when I ask her to come put on her shoes. She's eager to do so, and quickly sits down... at a spot that looks good to her. Generally 5-10 feet away from where I'm actually sitting with her shoes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Embryo Donation Update

I met with Leslie in late August when she was visiting Kate for a couple of days.

I felt strangely nervous at first, when we all had dinner together. Like my children were on display as part of an odd first date. I wanted her to fall in love with them so she would want us. Isn't that crazy? She seemed very relaxed but later confessed that she felt nervous too.

We parted ways while I put my kids to bed and then met privately (without our mutual friend) to talk. It was intense. She shared some details of her failed marriage, and cried. It was hard to see her in so much pain. She's such a good, loving, kind person. And then to have two failed adoptions before that, one where she was actually caring for the baby for multiple days in the hospital... My heart breaks for her.

Then we talked a bit about what it might look like for us if I donated my embryos. It was nice to see her energy change -- she became much happier and more animated, despite the fact that she's still not sure she wants to be an SMC. That was never her plan. Given the choice, she wanted the partnership over the child. But now that choice has been made for her, and she's realizing she would like to be a mother after all. Maybe.

My main concern is what it would be like for my girls. These babies would be their full biological siblings, though I would call them diblings (not brother or sister -- despite their biological connection, their emotional connection would be nothing like the tie between Calliope and Amelie). I want to be able to be honest with them.  Though I would simply explain it, I think, as "this baby has an egg from Mommy and a seed from the same donor as you." Calliope still has zero interest in her donor. I'm not sure she even realizes it's a person. She may just think of it as "a seed from the sperm bank," not that I've ever used that term.

But beyond being honest with my girls, I'm not even sure what I want for myself. I think that I would like a relationship with them (Leslie and the baby), but I'm not sure what kind of relationship. I'd love for my girls to have more cousins, but I wonder if it will be painful for me to see this child that could have been mine? Although in my heart of hearts I know I wouldn't be a good mother to any of my children if I had another in my current circumstances... that doesn't mean that I don't occasionally fantasize of meeting someone tomorrow who is wealthy enough to let me stay home in our fabulous new home and raise my third child.

I suspect the initial meeting of this baby would be hard, particularly if it was still a newborn who could look like anyone, and would get progressively easier as the baby became more and more the child of Leslie and less and less the biological child of mine. But how to handle that initial (potential) heartache? Would I delay the first meeting? Or just get over it? Would I be honest with Leslie about my emotions?

Many things to think about. We meet again in December, next time with a counselor. In the meantime I hope to set up a meeting with a counselor on my own.