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.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Back to School Intentions

Reposted from something I wrote on the Forum... with some other things I've thought of since.

 won't call them Resolutions, just to differentiate These Intentions from January's hopes.

And here in NYC, I think we are the latest in the nation in not going back to school until Thursday, September 9th. And then we have a two day week (half days for PreK and K) and then Monday off for a Muslim holiday. So it's a late, slow start. But I go back to work tomorrow. And while I'm sad about it, I'm very grateful for the summer off. A summer off from my job, anyway, since being home with two small children, especially one Tsunamelie, is not quite a vacation. 

Anyway, I've been working hard towards a better school year after last year's nearly broke me. What are your goals for this school year? (Whether or not you have school aged children... as long as you feel that New School Year feeling.) My apologies to those who are already weeks into their school year! And to those that don't want to read this post, which looks a lot like a blog entry. I didn't intend it to me! But seriously? Last year? Sucked. Painfully.

1. Office workouts: I just bought an extra thick yoga mat so I can work out in my office at the end of my work day (which is luckily quite early, since I start early). It sounds crazy to be jumping up and down and doing push ups and squats in the middle of my medical office... but the reward is that I get home and it's DONE. And I didn't have to get up early. Last year I came home, hung out for a bit, prepared Calliope's dinner, then separated myself from the group and worked out while the nanny fed the babies. That was hard, mentally and emotionally. I'm hoping that without tempting reasons to dally (besides work), I will bust through that workout and get home and be PRESENT a whole lot earlier.

2. After school babysitters: Along those lines, I hired babysitters to pick up Calliope from school three days a week, even though we are in the same building. So that I'm not frantically finishing work while listening to her prattle on with half an ear. Or sometimes even having to have her in my office while seeing a patient -- nothing like doing a urine pregnancy test with my four year old next to me. I'm sharing the sitters so the price isn't too high and if necessary (or even desirable), I can probably increase this to five days a week.

3. Freedom Fridays: I'm planning to have the sitter stay late 1-2 Fridays a month so that i can go out after work -- again, very early -- and go out and see a movie. By myself. Or run an errand and take myself to dinner. Freedom and the ability to NOT TALK to anybody for a few hours! 

4. Special Time Recommitment: For all those extra days... I'm really trying to commit to at least 10 minutes of Special Time with each kid, most days if not every day. Maybe less time for Amelie -- who has a short attention span -- than for Calliope, who is starting to like mutually enjoyable activities like board games and puzzles. I KNOW that in the long run, if I invest this energy in them, it makes my life SO much easier in the form of increased cooperation. Hard to remember in the moment. 

5. Tidiness: I am a person who thrives on tidiness. A cluttered home makes me stressed and unfocused. But it's so hard to stay on top of it. So I did tons of decluttering and purging this summer and I'm hoping hoping hoping this results in a home that is easier to keep tidy. Love my new label maker!

6. Mindfulness: I'm hoping to practice meditation for a couple minutes, several times a day. Just to stop and notice my breath for a minute. The idea of committing to a longer practice makes me instantly stressed but focusing on my breath for my inhale/exhale cycles? I think even I can do that.

And the new things I've decided to add to my list, since I find myself working on them:

7. Don't sit down until the dishes are done! It's so hard to muster up the energy to attack the dishes once the kids are in bed but resting on the couch while knowing the dishes are waiting for me is the worst so... just don't do it. Push through. Getting it all done feels so good. Tonight, admittedly not a work day, the kitchen was done and I was showered and pajamed by 7:15... that felt pretty great.

8. Strive to minimize screen time when I'm with the girls. It's not like I'm sitting around checking Facebook during my time with them, usually, but I find myself responding to text messages way more than I'd like. I'm trying to just put it down, glance at text messages as they come in without actually picking up the phone, and only responding if it's truly urgent. My kids deserve my attention. And if it's truly urgent, I apologize and explain, at least to Calliope, why I'm texting. I'm already looking forward, with dismay, to the day when she is the one that won't put down the phone.

And as an update... I've done two office workouts. The super thick yoga mat is an adjustment, for sure. My workouts are a lot harder with it -- way more energy to jump off that super squishy surface. But it's AWESOME getting home with that already accomplished. Except that I am getting home at 4:30 and then I need to start bedtime an hour later! I need to be disciplined about starting right at 3:05, as soon as the upper school is done for the day. It's rushed, not to mention, no time for Special Time.

And another update...

9. Read books! I've been reading a bunch this summer and it's so delicious. The best feeling in the world. Decadent. I'm reading The Invisible Bridge right now (in Kindle format, on my phone, because I always have my phone with me... all about removing barriers to my goals) and loving it. I also read and loved Station Eleven, The Rosie Project and the Rosie Effect this summer. When I'm reading, I feel whole.

And the don't sit down until the dishes are done goal is awesome. It's challenging, but when the kitchen is clean and I'm able to relax on the couch at 7 pm, I feel like a million bucks.