Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 18 (Plus)

It's stranger how much bigger these profile pics with clothes make me look!
Still feeling pretty good but needing a lot more sleep these last couple of weeks. I'm totally fine during the day but by 9 or 9:30 at night, I'm completely exhausted and totally non-functional.

I'm also getting winded much more easily, climbing stairs or walking and talking at the same time. And I feel a strange downward pressure at the bottom of my belly when climbing stairs.

I plan to ask the midwife about the pressure, and ask her to check for Vitamin D deficiency and anemia to explain the new fatigue.

Just a few more days until my anatomy scan!

Swim Lessons

Week three: Refused to get into the water at all. 
(Not a good morning for her even before we arrived.)
Received her candy bribe since she did, at least, sit there for the whole lesson. Sigh.
Week two: Gamely smiling with always-jovial Chester, who seems to truly love his work
Thanks Blogger for not allowing me any control over the order of my photos or where they fall in relation to the text)!

So partly on the encouragement of some loyal blog readers but mostly because Calliope was loving the water so much this summer -- and showing rapid progress with her comfort in the water -- I decided to sign her up for swim lessons. She really seemed ready. She was independently bobbing up and down in the water, blowing bubbles, "walking" in the shallows on her hands while kicking her feet. It seemed like she was on the brink of learning to actually swim, at least a little bit.

Well. Swim lessons have not been an unmitigated success, to put it mildly. This last week, I counted nine children in her class, along with two instructors. Most of the other children look to be 2 years older and at least ten pounds heavier than her. And certainly a lot more confident. She never volunteers to go first. And she spends a lot of time clinging to the side of the pool (where they wait their turns -- they were floation belts), looking beseechingly at me. She only responds well to the head instructor of her group, and half of her turn practicing a given skill is just devoted to focusing on what the teacher said.

The third week she refused to get in the water at all. This week she did get in, though she wanted to get out a couple of times. I've resorted to bribery to get her to participate. But all she has to do to earn her candy is sit on the side and listen, so the fact that she got in the water at all was a victory. And her teacher coaxed her back in a couple more times after some breaks of sitting on the side.

But even when she does participate, with all that time spent sitting plus the limited comprehension of a three year old in turning verbal instructions into bodily movements (especially after all that time waiting), I just wonder if it's worth it. I worry that this might be killing her love of the water. And that she might be better off exploring at her own pace. Kind of like literacy (and all the great advice I got here about it)!

I researched private and semi-private swim lessons but they don't fit in our schedule right now, unfortunately.

The director of the acquatics program, a actual grown up, called me last week and we had a long chat and she had some specific ideas to help. Specifically, one, go to Family Swim to practice and reinforce what Calliope learns in swim lessons. And two, she would talk to her (really great, in most respects) teacher, Chester, to ask him to a) sometimes go first, and b) keep her and the other little ones engaged even when they are waiting their turn.

This past Saturday was a bit better. I saw some smiles on her face as she practiced with Chester, which made my heart glad. Unfortunately, she cried during her entire turn with the female assistant -- after said assistant pried my girl's fingers off the edge of the pool as she wailed -- which made my heart hurt.

The next day, I took both Calliope and her six year old friend Annabelle to the pool for Family Swim. Skipping naptime, intentionally, for the first time. Calliope (and Annabelle) loved it. We didn't bother with the flotation belt that she is forced to wear during lessons -- it's not like she trusts the thing, anyway. She jumped (holding my fingers) off the wall into the water over and over and over again. She kicked her little heart out and gaily did lots of "ice cream scooping," aka practicing the arms for the crawl stroke. Total joy. Despite the shivering.

As for me, my pregnant n*pples were on fire -- they are like my cold weather indicator -- and not in a good way. Serious pain. But all for a good cause.

We will see if the next (and last) swim lesson is any better as a result of doing our homework. And after that, no more serious lessons for a while. We might try a dance class with Calliope's best friend, but apparently it's very "developmentally appropriate" and fun. And we can try a drop-in class to make sure it's a good fit. And going with her friend probably guarantees she will relax and enjoy it. But either way, I will try to get my own ideas of what my preschooler "should" be doing out of the way.

Week two
Calliope's version of a flutter kick on her back looks more like 
a ?synchronized swimming move

Week six -- she's smiling! 

Week one: My little peanut amongst her much larger classmates (the other little girl promptly switched classes)

Week six and so happy to be getting attention from Chester... but is she actually any closer to real swimming?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Months of the Year

I had no idea that Calliope had any idea of the months of the year... apparently our fabulous nanny, Susie, has been teaching her since she's suddenly burst out with all twelve.

(She's trying to look at the phone/camera while she sings and I'm trying to keep her sitting down so I can record the whole song.)

Bite Me

I've found that a little child led roughhousing goes a long way to creating harmony at home... even if it does look a awfully strange at times. I love that uncontrolled giggling!

(And can I just say, I can't even fathom playing a game like this with my parents. I think that's a sign I'm doing something right.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Photos

She did not get this from me.

Changing Baby Jenna's imaginary diaper, tenderly clucking, "Oh Baby Jenna, your pants
are a little wet." Sign of future rock star big sister?
My first letter from Calliope! 
Dictated by C, transcribed by her teacher and sent (with decorated envelope)
via USPS with a stamp and everything. 
Apparently the teacher had trouble stifling her laughter as she was transcribing but
I am less surprised -- I already knew where Calliope's loyalties lay.

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's the Law: You Cannot Be Considered a Good Parent If You Don't Take Your Child to a Pumpkin Patch

I don't remember ever going to a pumpkin patch as a child. I once asked my mother if we could go to a you-pick pumpkin field -- as in, where pumpkins actually grew, as opposed to a field where fresh pumpkins are deposited daily to be collected by children young and old. My mother said no. I think because she thought it was boring and pointless. Which pretty much sums up my parents' attitude towards parenting: bored.

But here I am, determined to do right by my child. To make her feel loved and wanted. Plus, I'm always up for an adventure -- anything to get us out for the day. I can't imagine spending a whole day inside.

So off we went to New Jersey to meet friends at a place that I can only describe as half farm, half entertainment venue. It was enormous, with a million entertainments to thrill a small child (save a carousel, which Calliope blithely assumes will be at every fun destination). So she bounced in the bounce house, crawled the hay pyramide (sort of -- she was too cold and shy to enjoy it much), rode in a wagon towed by a tractor, joined me in a ride on a hay wagon, "picked" a pumpkin, inspected a fire truck (from a distance), rode a pony, and played joyously in a pile of dried corn.

All in all a very successful day, despite it being a bit more brisk and windy than I anticipated.

Photo ops conveniently provided 

Chilly but scenic hay ride to pumpkin patch

What's more fun than digging in dried corn? Apparently not much. Who knew?

A thrilling wagon ride. (Not shown, mother thrilled not to have to ride the ride.)

Is there anything cuter than the way little kids are completely thrilled to wave as they pass by?

Seventeen Weeks

The week of the turnip. Small mountain climber in the background.
Still up the same four and a half pounds.

Steadily growing but the latest friends to hear the news said they wouldn't have guessed.

I'm feeling lots of little flutters now, but they are so mild I'm constantly putting my hand on my belly and questionning whether I really felt something or if it was just in my imagination. Since it's too early to feel anything with my hand, the gesture is pretty futile. Though I think I might have just today felt a little flutter with my hand, too. Or it might just have been my breathing.

I'm looking forward to the kicks being more definitive. Thank goodness for the reassurance that the Doppler brings!

Otherwise, I'm feeling great. Starting to use a pillow under my belly to sleep, and more apt to wake up once to use the bathroom per night. But still, no complaints.

And I've started doing a combination Pilates/Yoga workout DVD which is feeling really good for my hips and back. And makes me feel reassured that I won't feel quite as weak in the weeks and months after the delivery as I did last time. I've continued using the elliptical as well but that doesn't do much for strength.

Anxiously counting the days until I'm halfway done!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Questions About Grammy

Calliope, looking at the two bathrobes hanging in my bathroom, "Mommy, you have a purple bathrobe now."

Me, "Yes, that's right. Grammy didn't need hers anymore so I took it."

Calliope, "So Grammy will have the blue one?"

Me, "No, Grammy doesn't need a bathrobe because she died."

Calliope, "So when people die, do they need a bathing suit?"

Me, "No, when people die, they don't need clothes any more."

Calliope, wide eyed, "So people have to die naked?"

Me, "....No, they don't have to die naked." Stumbling. My heart in my stomach. I don't want to screw this up. I don't want to tell her about people wearing clothes to go into caskets, but not needing extra changes of clothes since they are decomposing in the ground. And I can't tell her about heaven because I'm not a believer.

I scramble for thought for a minute while I continue getting dressed.

Finally... Me, "When a person dies, their body stops working. So they don't clothes any more, and they don't eat food any more. We can't see them any more. But we remember them in our hearts, and in our memories."

Calliope, "Oh!," sounding very surprised. But not asking any more questions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Phone Call to Grammy

Calliope, picking up her toy phone, "Mommy, let's call your Mommy!"

Me, "Lovey, we can't call Grammy. She died, remember?"

C: "That's okay, I can call her." (I start preparing to get misty, wondering if she might really have some supernatural connection with my mother.)

"Hi Grammy, how are you?"

"Oh, you're dead? That's good."

And... cut. No mist after all.

Sixteen Weeks and Feeling Great

Growing fast! Up 4 lbs but it feels like a lot more. 

A Patchwork of Support, and Conquering My Fear of Rejection

At my last midwife appointment, I talked to Chris about the grief that had been welling up.

I'm not sad about being an SMC. I don't miss my nonexistent partner. I understand the practical benefits a partner brings -- more income, more hands on help, the ability to go out on child free adventures more often -- but I don't miss the demands of having an adult relationship.

But I suddenly realized a few weeks ago that without a second parent and without a living grandparent, Calliope no longer has an adult in her life, besides me, that thinks she's amazing. Every child deserves a fan club, a person or people who think her every accomplishment is golden.

I don't miss my mother for myself. We weren't close that way. But I miss calling her to report on Calliope's latest achievement or funny saying. My mother was completely without detachment when it came to her grandchildren. She was sure that Calliope was a genius and athletically gifted. She loved my small anecdotes.

And now, that audience and that admiration is gone. And I'm grieving that, for Calliope as well as for my unborn daughter, who will have never known it. And I don't know quite what to do with that.

So I went to see a grief counselor, on the advice of my midwife. Since I saw a counselor while TTC'ing for C, just to make sure my emotional house was tidy, I figured it was only fitting that I do a little "inner work" while preparing for Blueberry.

It was a good session. I found out that I am doing pretty well, actually. She had a few suggestions.

One -- use ritual as a way to create space for grief. Based on her suggestion, I am going to seek out a family Shabbat service (despite some ambivalence on my part about religion) where I can say the Mourner's Kaddish for my mother while still spending time with Calliope. (Apparently children's services often don't include the Kaddish, so I just emailed a local rabbi to find out if her synagogue's offerings would fit the bill).

Two -- create a patchwork of support. So maybe, sadly, I won't have one person who thinks Calliope is the next best thing. But I can have a wider network of fans for her.

So I've asked her "godmother," Auntie Salt Lick, to come over and make brownies with Calliope. She's ready to take on a bigger role in Calliope's life, but it's hard because Calliope doesn't see her enough to be comfortable going on outings with just Salt Lick. But I decided that making brownies together, while I am busy in the other room, might be just the thing to kick off a relationship between the two of them. Nonthreatening to Calliope, while still an opportunity for them to talk and get to know each other without my helpful interference. And Calliope rarely gets sweets, so she will view brownies as gigantically thrilling.

Auntie Salt Lick also offered to take us to the circus soon, so that will be fun, too.

The therapist also encouraged me to keep after my sister, and to not view her lack of calling as rejection, but about her, my sister, and what's going on in her life. But she rightly saw my sister's decision to buy a birthday gift "from Grammy" for Calliope as an intention to be involved in Calliope's life.

And to try to pursue the relationship with Barbara, my mother's best friend. Barbara lives in southern CT and just took me out for a fancy post-birthday brunch, just the two of us. It was so nice.

I think I'm so scared of rejection sometimes that I pull away. So my goal with Barbara is to schedule another visit, this time with Calliope. And to figure out a project, similar to the brownies, that they can do together.

Also conquering a fear of rejection (or not hearing back), I sent an email to the mother of a family I used to babysit for, a million years ago. We were very close and I even lived with the family one summer on Cape Cod when I was in high school. But the mother acted strangely distant when I came back to visit after my first semester at college, and I wondered if she was alienated by the fact that I was in college and she had never gone. And so I stopped being in touched. But never forgot them. And I finally just looked up that baby girl I had adored... and found she is a mother herself! To a daughter older than Calliope. And that the father died, to my shock and great sadness. But I "friended" the mother and she posted a nice comment to a recent Calliope anecdote. So I girded my metaphorical loins and wrote her a message, thanking her for playing such a supportive role in my life as a teenager, a time when I surely needed an adult friend. And I am remembering that even if she never responds, I can feel good about thanking her. That I did that for me as much as for her.

I'm feeling more optimistic and positive since the visit. I don't have plans right now to go back, but I'm glad I went.

Monday, October 6, 2014

40th Birthday

I had a perfectly lovely fortieth birthday.

It's hard to believe I'm forty. The beginning of a new decade. I don't feel any older, and being pregnant doesn't exactly jive with my concept of what forty year olds normally do.

I wasn't up for a party this year. What with my mom dying this past May, I'm still not feeling all that celebratory.

So my dear friends Emily and Amy treated me to a prenatal massage, and I enjoyed a lovely lunch by myself beforehand (babysitting by Amy was included with my prenatal massage). The quick stop at the tire store for a patch on my leaky tire was a bit less festive, but not having to bring Calliope along with me but was pretty darn nice.

I arrived at Amy's to find the girls frosting my birthday cake. Or rather, Calliope was gamely trying to help frost the cake while Eleanor had given up on that project and was focused on licking frosting off as many utensils as she could find. I took the girls for a quick trip to the playground so Amy could have a few minutes to recover from their project, then we all headed over to Emily's for my birthday dinner.

Emily had strung up lights and a beautiful homemade banner in my honor. We three friends enjoyed dinner with our three girls before the lovely homemade chocolate cake.

The next day, Calliope and I headed out for an early breakfast together before coming home to have some unstructured time at home. Emily invited Calliope to come play for a while so I even got to work out by myself. It felt very strange to spend so much time at home but I got some things done and even started a beautiful grass fed brisket cooking. We had another dinner with Emily and AB downstairs before bringing the girls back upstairs for a bath together.

Next weekend, Amy is watching Calliope again so another friend can take me out for a super fancy schmancy brunch. In November, my friend is taking me to Spa Castle, a place I have long wanted to visit. And in December, we are going to Mexico with my sister and her family for a combination 40th birthday/babymoon trip. I'm beyond excited. I love travel and it's been years now since I've been anywhere. I'll be six months pregnant by then and no doubt ready for some lounging on the beach. And with two cousins to play with plus all the swimming she could hope for, I think Calliope will have a blast.

Beautiful birthday banner ("Happy 40 Abby") and birthday dinner table

Calliope waited all day long to help blow out the candles. Amy and Eleanor made the cake.
But C was instrumental in helping to frost it and, of course, adding lots of sprinkles
and peanut butter chips.

Showing off her considerable sense of style. Note the new and very sparkly shoes as
weel as the faaaaaabulous sunglasses, enormous matching barrettes, and of course, the
beloved overalls with flowered fleece shirt.

She looks so big!

Since Calliope and I both had our flu shots this week, it was only fair that Baby Jenna
get one as well.
A beautiful birthday lunch. All. By. Myself.
What a treat!
Too bad my belly seems to be shrinking and the soup would have been enough. I enjoyed the leftovers the next day.
Birthday roses from Susie
Birthday roses from a co-worker
Girl on a mission
Two braids without pigtails! Very satisfying. 

Forty years young

Fifteen Weeks

It's crazy how these two photos, taken at the same time, look so different.

I was feeling really big (for fifteen weeks) but then the ladies at the prenatal massage were saying how I'm not showing at all... So now I'm feeling small. Which just goes to show that body image is entirely mental.

And four days ago I was down a pound, back to my pre-pregnancy weight (which seems impossible), and then today, I was up five pounds from that starting weight! I'm guessing I'm retaining some water from eating too many sour jelly beans -- my new favorite -- but still, it defies logic. Especially since I'm starting to get full quickly at meals. I'm not eating that much, I think. Oh well. I'm not worrying, just marveling at the strangeness of it all.

In wonderful news, I felt a distinct tap-tap-tap in my belly on the day that I was exactly fifteen weeks. I haven't felt anything since, but it was a very distinct feeling and I'm pretty confident it was from my Tiny Passenger. Luckily I have a fetal doppler at home so I'm not worrying too much about her. Plus, my stomach definitely has gotten bigger and rounder. It's hard to believe that I am going to get as big, or bigger, as I did last time. I still feel great -- no issues climbing stairs -- but just yesterday it was slightly harder to get up off the floor. I'm not looking forward to that getting a whole lot worse. It's worth it, of course, but it's hard to get excited about not being able to tie my shoes without getting out of breath.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Early Pre-Literacy

I feel very conflicted about even writing this post. It would probably stress me out to read it if I was some other mother of a preschool-ish aged child. There's just such pressure around the whole business of learning to read. Yet it's very much on my mind. And also, I'd like to be able to read back when Blueberry is around this age.

So I've warned you. Read ahead at your whole peril.

Calliope has a couple of friends who are more advanced than her in the whole pre-literacy department. One of them knows all her letters and the sounds they make. The other, before her third birthday, was already writing her name (actually, I know an SMC two year old who can do that -- I'm looking at you, Rowan!) and also sounding out words. Like, she's at the earliest stages of reading already! At two!

This is not true of Calliope.

I keep trying to remind myself that it doesn't matter. My friend Amy, who is a teacher and whose daughter is advanced, reminds me that early literacy is not a predictor of early academic success. In Finland, children don't receive any formal education until age seven, and later in life, they become the world's best test takers. I wasn't an early reader -- I steadfastly rejected all of my mother's attempts to teach me to read before first grade -- and then quickly became an avid lover of books and reading. And not entirely to my benefit, I might add. I would have been a happier child if I spent more time outside, more time actively exploring my world.

All this to say... I know it shouldn't bother that C is where she is. But it does worry me, a little. I want her to keep up with her friends.

So I was thrilled when ?a few months back, she started identifying the "L" in lobby in various places. She still calls it lobby, actually, rather than "L," but I figure that's okay. Even before "L," she knew the "F" from the "F train" that we ride. And then she learned, sometimes, the "G" from the G train. And "C," for Calliope, of course.

And then my friend Emily mentioned that her daughter learned all her letters at (a young) two, simply by associating them with friends' first names. So next up was "A," for Abby... only Calliope calls it "A for Mommy." So I'm trying to teach her that Amy starts with A, also, just to clear things up. Then "E" for Eleanor. And she learned "P" for pizza all on her own. And just a few days ago, I taught her "S" for Seth and Susie. Now we are working on "M" for Mommy.

I posted on the SMC Forum for tips on helping kids learn letters, and so far, the big winner has been Lea.p Frog magnetic letters. When Calliope fits a letter into the magnetic school bus, it sings a song, "The "B" says "buh," the "B" says "buh," every letter makes a sound the "B" says "buh." She gets tired of it quickly, but looks at it often, since the refrigerator door is right behind me -- her favorite spot! -- while I'm cooking.

After another suggestion, I got out a basket of books -- one tiny book for each letter of the alphabet, each with 6 cardboard pages. Calliope only wants to use them as blocks.

I tried, based on another suggestion, getting out her alphabet puzzles again -- she mastered them months ago -- but she's not interested.

A friend from the Forum emailed me randomly tonight to send me a Pin.Inter.est type article of fun crafts and projects to do with your child to help them with pre-literacy. Coincidentally, the child of the author of the article is three, so my hackles were immediately raised, comparing my own child to the child in the article and finding all the ways my own child doesn't measure up. And then realizing I had little to no motivation to do any of these projects, anyway.

And then, after dinner, we went for a walk to buy dinner. In the elevator, Calliope asked, "Mommy, did you press the "S"?

I explained there were no "S"'s to press in the elevator. And then as we were getting off the elevator in the lobby, she pointed to the floor, where there was an "S" at the elevator opening, and said, "Look! An "S"!

So I asked her if she wanted to look for more "S"s when we went out. And she eagerly agreed. So we looked at signs during our one block walk, and she crowed excitedly each time she saw another "S." And I thought, you know, maybe I need to just stay the hell out of her way. She's got this.