Why I’m not having another baby (anytime soon)

Since having A, I get asked one question more than any other.

I get asked by co-workers, friends, well-meaning-though-nosy neighbors, and total strangers (I don’t get asked by family because, thank goodness, they all know better).

“When are you having another baby?”

The answer I give is usually something along the lines of, “Oh, we’re just taking it day by day.” But the truthful answer?

Not anytime soon.

I have a lot of respect for women with two under two, or three under five, or whatever, but I just can’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of having another child, in theory. I love looking at little newborn baby clothes, pinning things to my baby board on Pinterest, and saving baby names into assorted lists on Nameberry. The other day I even came across a rogue size one diaper and got a little misty eyed. And yes, I do miss snugly little newborn naps and having a child that could sit still. If you have a newborn, I will happily hold him/her, coo over how cute he/she is, maybe even feel a pang of baby fever, but then I come to my senses and happily give your baby back and enjoy sleeping all night.

We’re at a really great stage with A right now. If I want to go out to run errands or do something, I don’t have to make sure I have a ton of stuff with me. I can just throw a couple diapers and an extra shirt in my purse and we’re out the door. I don’t have to worry about making bottles or washing bottles or anything to do with bottles (or buying formula). She’s eats breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, naps once or twice a day, and while it’s nice to keep it at the same schedule, she doesn’t have a meltdown if there are some changes, like eating someplace new or napping a little bit earlier or later than normal. She sleeps 12 hours a night, every night. While parenthood is definitely not easy, I do feel like I have the hang of being A’s mom now. We’re a well oiled machine, and though no day goes perfectly, I can handle it and roll with the punches, when necessary.

Frankly, I just can’t imagine adding another child into the mix right now, having just moved to a new state and just started a brand new job. I can’t imagine buying double the diapers and paying double the tuition at daycare, nor do I have any desire to do either. Financially speaking, another baby would be a huge stress we just aren’t ready for. We’re still enjoying our first baby, and there’s many things we want to do with A before we have another baby.

I don’t know when I’ll be ready for another baby. I do want another child, but I won’t welcome another baby until it makes sense for my family. I’ve always known I would probably have a larger age gap than most between my kids. The reality is A will probably be in kindergarten before we have another child. I feel like this time frame makes sense for me. I’m prone to anxiety; Getting one kid out of toddlerhood before I have another is in the best interest of my whole family. Plus, I’m only turning 27 this year, so it’s not like this plan is crazy. If we stick to this plan, I’ll be in my early 30s when we have a second baby, which leaves us plenty of time.

I understand other mothers’ desires to have their kids close together. But it’s just not for me, and it’s not for my family.

Some words

I’ve been trying to find some words, any words for a while now. I haven’t posted anything about this awful tragedy because I haven’t been able to find anything to say. I’m at a loss for words, and those who know me know that doesn’t happen very often.

This type of event is tragic and heartbreaking every time it happens, but it is especially saddening because so many of the lives lost were children. Babies, really. Babies with their whole lives ahead of them. They’ll never fall in love, fight with their parents, party too hard in college, or cuddle babies of their own.  Some of them probably hadn’t even learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels yet.

Their mommies and daddies will never again tuck them into bed, smooth their hair and kiss their sweet cheeks goodnight. They’ll never stay up all night worrying while their child is at prom. They’ll never cry as they drop their baby off at college. They don’t get to wonder, as we all do, where the time is going, because their babies won’t be growing up anymore.

I held A closer the last few nights than I ever have. Nightmares kept me awake, so I watched her sleep peacefully. I listened to her heartbeat and felt her breath on my cheek. And when she woke up and smiled at me, I smiled too. I am thankful she is too young to remember what happened. I am already dreading the day I have to explain it to her.

(But sometimes when I look at her I cry. Sometimes I find myself wiping her tears and my own, though we are crying for different reasons.)

I wish I could hold her close to me forever. I wish I could protect her from all the danger and evil in the world. But I can’t, and as a mother, it breaks my heart and terrifies me. All I can do is love her, teach her right from wrong and to be an advocate for her own safety, and then let her go and pray.

I don’t know what needs to be done to prevent this from happening again. I know a lot of people have said a lot of things. I’m not sure any one of them is a singular solution. But that’s another post, for another time; something I do want and plan to talk about. I will say this: It is obvious that the United States has a huge violence problem, as well as many issues with how mental illness is diagnosed and dealt with. I don’t know what the solution is, but something has to happen. We should never be afraid to send our kids to school, go to church, or go to the movies. It’s time we reclaimed these most basic rights from the evil around us.

But in the meantime, we should simply practice love as a verb. Hug your loved ones tight everyday. Tell them you love them. Extend all the care and kindness you are able. Help others as much as you can. If you see someone struggling, lend a hand to help or an ear to listen. If you can’t, get them to someone who can.

We’ll continue living because we have to, and because we can’t let them take that from us too. But we’ll never forget. I’m not an extremely religious person, but I have found some solace in the following:

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as them.” Matthew 19:14 

“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.”  Psalm 61:2-3

I hope all of you find some peace today. Let’s keep sending love, prayers, and as many good vibes as we can. We’re all in this together.

The Name Game

Baby center released its top 100 names of 2012 yesterday. In the Facebook post, it asked if any member’s had chosen one of them.

Naturally, both A’s full name and nickname fall in the top 20. I knew this going into it. Name popularity was never a factor in choosing A’s name. Most of the comments on the post differed from mine, however. Most members had chosen “unique” names, on the premise they didn’t want their child to be “one of many” in their classes, life, etc.

HOW DARE I

Am I the only one who doesn’t understand this trend? Since when does the name make the child? EVERY child is unique, regardless of his/her name. EVERY child is special and memorable in his/her own way, even if they are a Sophia or Jacob.

I grew up with a popular name (lots of Katys and Katies born in the mid/late 80s), and it never bothered me. If anything, I wanted the more common spelling of Katie/Katherine instead of Katy/Katharine. Back then having personalized crap was ALL THE RAGE and I couldn’t find my name on a damn pencil or cup ANYWHERE. I distinctly remember in kindergarten having to practice writing my name and writing KATIE on the paper and my mom having a fit. “That is not what I named you!”

I don’t remember ever wishing I had a more exotic name. If you remember correctly I named my dolls totally popular names, and if I remember correctly, in sixth grade we wrote a skit and named our own characters, and I chose Brittany. Clearly I was not enchanted with “different” and “unique” names.

When we were picking names, our criteria was simple: It had to go with our last name (no names starting with L or ending with a hard E sound), it had to be adaptable (appropriate for a kid and an adult), it couldn’t overtly get a kid made fun of, and we both had to love it. I also tried to avoid names that were a mouthful, mostly because I didn’t want to scream “OPHELIA WILHEMENIA” when she was in trouble.

Forgive me, but I think a name should be chosen because you love it or it means something to you, and if it happens to be “unique” or “trendy” then so be it. But, IMHO, purposefully picking out a different name just because it’s so far out there no one else would think to name their kid that is a little unfair to the child. Trust me, even with the less common spellings of my names I am CONSTANTLY correcting people. How on earth do Aadien or Mckynzie stand a chance?

Plus, they’ll never find their name on a cup.

My pregnancy survival kit

We’re very close to the end of our pregnancy journey. I’m almost a little sad about it. On one hand I am ready to meet my daughter, but on the other pregnancy has been the main focus of my life for most of this past year, so it’s going to be strange adjusting to not being pregnant, especially when I’ve spent so much time and energy figuring out how to make being pregnant comfortable.

Pregnancy is long and difficult. There are many trying moments; there are many AMAZING moments that definitely make the trying moments worth it. Here’s what I’ve found have made being pregnant these last nine months easier and more comfortable.

Preggie Pops

These things are uh-maz-ing at keeping nausea at bay, and I basically lived off of them for the entire first trimester. Even if you aren’t plagued by morning sickness the way I was, I recommend getting a pack because for whatever reason, maybe the sugar, they give you a little jolt of energy at the same time. I always kept some in my purse during my nauseated, sluggish first trimester. Apparently they’re great for labor and dry mouth too. The flavors, while a little strange, are actually really good. Preggie Drops are made by the same people and are the same thing except no stick, which is half as much fun but they do the same job.

Be Band

Or the Bella Band, or Belly Band, what have you. This is basically a wide piece of stretchy cloth meant to wear over your too small pre-pregnancy pants or too big maternity pants. Target sells the Be Band (about $17) but they’re all the same. I recommend getting a couple of these in different colors.

Really comfy maternity yoga pants

Even if you never do a stitch of prenatal yoga, invest in a couple pairs of maternity yoga pants. I got the Liz Lang Maternity yoga pants for about $20 each (you may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere, let me know if you do), and they were worth every penny. They’re stretchy, comfy, thin (so you can still wear them out of the house in the Saharan heat of summer), and still offer a little shape so you don’t feel as sloppy as you would in sweat pants. Get a couple colors, and buy them in the size that will fit you LATER in pregnancy. You can use the Be Band to keep them up around your belly until you grow into them, so it saves you from buying multiple pairs as you grow.

Popsicles

Whether you are pregnant in the summer or not, something cold and icy in the freezer is a must for any pregnant gal. This is especially true if you are hot natured, like me. They’re also great when you aren’t feeling well, have some light heartburn, etc. I craved popsicles almost my entire pregnancy, but even if you don’t, keep a box handy because they’re a great snack. Get the real fruit kind, which serves a double purpose: Tasty snack, nutritious treat.

Heating pad

Like I’ve said, pregnancy hurts. A lot. And usually not where you’ll be expecting, and in a different spot every few days. Just when you get the pain managed in one area, BAM, it moves to another. Heating pads work WONDERS for some immediate relief. You can make one by putting a bag of white rice into an old tube sock and tying a knot in the end. Throw it in the microwave for a couple minutes until it’s nice and hot, wrap it in a towel, and apply to aching area. Be forewarned, it does smell like rice once heated, not necessarily a bad smell, but people will notice it if you use it in front of them. If that’s not your bag, buy one from your drugstore of choice.

Really, really, REALLY comfortable underwear

Some people tout the use of the maternity underpants, but I never saw the need for them. What’s important is you find underwear that is really comfortable, and breathable, as all sorts of crazy things go on down under while you’re pregnant. For me, I found cotton hip-huggers to be most comfy. Pink for VS makes some with wide lace bands that are super duper comfy because they can ride under your belly easily. But what’s important here is finding undies that are comfy for YOU. So if that’s a thong, then rock it out girlfriend.

A well-stocked medicine cabinet

If your OB is anything like mine they give you a crap ton of handouts at your first visit (I got a whole folder full). One of them should be a medicine 411 letting you know what to take when you get a particular ailment. Stock up on these, because the last thing you feel like doing when you feel like crap and are really pregnant is go to the store. The two basics I recommend: Tylenol and Tums. Tylenol is your go-to pain reliever, so make sure you have it on hand. Tums are your go-to for heartburn and indigestion. I kept several bottles on hand at all times: One in the bathroom for middle of the night heartburn attacks, one in the kitchen for chomping on right before dinner, and one in my purse for on-the-go relief at work, restaurants, what have you. Also? Great source of calcium. Also good to keep around is Tucks (witchhazel), I won’t delve into that one too deeply, but buy some for, ahem, issues in that area. And Vaseline. Look, I’m going to be honest with you here, thanks to the increase of hormones, you will be all gross down there, which sadly contributes to chafing, especially if you’re out and about walking around a lot. Vaseline helps.

A sense of humor

Let’s face it, while pregnancy is a beautiful thing, it’s also weird and kind of gross. Your body is going to do things you never thought possible, some of which is extremely embarrassing (getting a nose bleed while in the car with clients, anyone? Yes, that happened to me).  It’s important to remember these embarrassing things are completely normal and are a consequence of a very amazing action: Building a baby. So take it all in stride and laugh about it.

A good attitude

Look, I don’t know what it is about pregnancy, but there is something that makes everyone thinks they can say whatever the hell they want to. For whatever reason, the public at large becomes very invasive. Yeah, I know, it’s not always fun, but take everything they say with a grain of salt. And if you have to become a little snarky to deal with it, then so be it (this would be why a certain gentleman in the grocery store when after he asked if I was having twins got hit with a “no, are you?).

SUPPORT

Pregnancy is hard. And you need a good support system to survive it. For me, this has been John, but if you don’t have a partner in this, FIND ONE. Whether it’s your mom, a sibling, a friend, cousin, WHOEVER, find the person whom you can spill every hope, dream, worry and embarrassing thing that happens to you to, and find them quickly. Ideally, you have multiple people in your arsenal for this. I’ve been extremely blessed to have an amazing, husband, mom, MIL, SIL, friends, etc. Enlist whomever you can because you will need the love and support they give you to get you through it all.

There are many more things I’m sure I could include on this list, but this is definitely my top ten. What were the things you can’t/couldn’t live without during pregnancy?

To whom it may concern

An open letter to every person, ever:

You may have already noticed this, but I’m pregnant. If this shocked you in anyway, I’m sorry. I know when you walk into the office you probably weren’t expecting to see an eight month pregnant person standing there, but I wasn’t expecting you to be so rude about it either, so I guess we were both surprised. Yes, I’m aware I look like I’m about to pop any minute. But I would appreciate you keeping your mouth shut when I respond I still have a month left. Yes, a whole month! And thanks for pointing out how big my baby must be. We LOVE to hear that.

Look, I’m going to level with you here. Most days my patience level is at like, a two, while my crazy level is more like, say, an eleven. And at any minute I’m literally one misguided comment away from snapping at you or crying. And trust me, neither of us want that.

It’s clear to me a lot of the general public don’t know how to act and speak around pregnant parties. With that said, I’ve decided it’s time for someone to lay some ground rules for when you come across a pregnant woman. Don’t worry, there aren’t many, and none are complicated:

1. Be mindful of what you say.

I get it. Not everyone has a filter. I myself am guilty of saying whatever pops into my head from time to time. But, when you exclaim “You’re never gonna make it till September!” or “You’re so big!” or my personal favorite, “Are you sure it’s a girl? I think the doctor is wrong!” it’s very difficult for me to not say something incredibly rude back to you. So, food for thought: If what you are saying can in anyway be taken as rude or offensive, keep it to yourself. Stick with safe things like, “You’re glowing!” or “You look fantastic for ___ months!”

2. Keep your hands to yourself.

Look, I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again. My belly is not open for business. Someone beat you to it, so unless you’re invited in for a belly rub, hands off.

3. Be aware and be kind.

A little compassion goes a long way, you know? The kindest things a stranger has done for me while I’ve been pregnant have been small, but they’ve meant a lot. Like letting me go ahead in line at the store when I’ve only got a couple things, waiting a little bit longer to hold the door while I waddle in from the parking lot, or picking something up that I’ve dropped. Nothing special, but it’s the little things, you know?

See? Not too difficult. Believe me, I understand the importance of keeping things simple, I AM pregnant after all. So let’s have a truce: If you make an effort to be more conscious of the pregnant parties around you, we promise not to cry in your presence. Everybody wins!

Sincerely,

Hot Shot Mama and pregnant women everywhere

 

Au naturel

A long, long time ago (even before I got pregnant), I made the decision to go the natural childbirth route if the opportunity presented itself. Meaning, I know there are things beyond my control here, and I may end of having to be induced and/or have a c-section. But, if I am able to, my goal in delivering this child is to do it naturally.

I’ve found since getting pregnant this is a question people love to ask. They also LOVE to share their opinions on your answer. A few people I know are extremely supportive of this. But a lot of people I’ve spoken to don’t understand, don’t want to understand, and don’t think it’s possible. And they are not afraid to tell you.

At work the other day, I was working with a male client of ours and he asked me what my plans were. I told him “natural childbirth,” and he laughed, saying, “yeah, that’ll change!” And it made me so very angry. How dare he assume I can’t do this, I can’t handle this? I wanted to launch into a lecture on all my reasons for it, the preparation I’ve done for it, and the prep work I still have planned. I wanted to tell him I am strong enough to do this because I feel strongly enough about it, but I knew it would be a pointless argument. He already had made up his mind on the subject. Why bother when you can have pain meds?

This is the opinion of many people. The hospital I’m delivering at has a 90% epidural use rate, which I guess is similar across the country. Why have a hospital birth if you don’t plan on some sort of pain management? I get that question a lot too. So since telling this rude man was out of the question, I’m telling my little corner of the internet instead.

First of all, I am not anti-epidural or pain management. As with most things pregnancy and parenting related, I am do-whatever-is-right-for-YOU-and-not-some-other-person. I support your right to make your decisions your way, whether it’s diapering a butt, feeding a tummy, or delivering a baby. However you choose to do these things is your business, and everyone making these choices has reasons for them. For me, when it came to childbirth, the thought of being completely disconnected from half of my body, especially the half that’s central to the whole operation, made me really uncomfortable. I didn’t like the thought of not being able to feel what’s going on, not being able to move around, and not being able to eat. For me, it came to an issue of control, and my thought is I can have a little more control of what’s going on if I’m totally aware of what’s going on. Basically, I want to be an active participant in the labor and delivery of my child. I want to be able to say, “that was a big contraction,” and not just be told it was.

As for my decision to have a hospital birth and not one at a birthing center or at home is simple. As you may have noticed, I’m some what of a control freak. I realize you cannot plan for everything and things can go wrong. In the event something does, I want to already be in the best place to take care of it. I don’t want to add the stress of being transported to a hospital. Basically, I want my bases covered.

(And for the record, I am not afraid of needles or shots. I have four tattoos, have gotten five piercings in my life, and have never passed out while having blood drawn.)

Yes, I know it’s going to be hard, and I know it’s going to hurt. I know there are going to be times where I will doubt my ability to do it. But that’s where my amazing support team will come in to play. John, my mom, my doctor and her staff are all fully supportive of my decision (my mother delivered all her kids naturally), and I know they will do whatever it takes to keep me on track. I may not have the support of the belief of everyone, but I have it from the people who matter most. Myself included.

 

The Great Diaper Debate

So yesterday I was hanging around the discussion boards on The Bump, which frankly is never a very good idea because the boards there are just like the boards everywhere else: Filled with trollers, spam, uneducated people, and people trying to start crap.

Specifically, I was looking at an article on cloth vs. disposable diapers. I know this a very hot topic right now, and cloth diapers are extremely en vogue as people are becoming more eco-conscious and earth aware. What I failed to realize is how vocal everyone is on his or her decision on how to diaper. And how wrong you are if you go the way they are not.

Here’s the thing: When I found out I was pregnant, it never even crossed my mind to even look into cloth diapering. I have several reasons for this. One, I knew I was going back to work, and thus sending my child to daycare. Most, if not all, daycares have a no cloth diaper policy (at least every single one I’ve spoken to and or researched). Seeing as she will have to be in disposables the majority of the time, it makes no sense to me to invest in both cloth and disposables.

Two, I don’t have time and energy to truly immerse myself into cloth diapering. Between our schedules, John and I barely have time to do our laundry. Adding a baby into that, plus washing cloth diapers, would just be too much laundry for us to handle. I know you can do diaper services, but a simple Google search did not yield promising results for my area.

I know several moms who cloth diaper and swear by it, and that’s great for them. Those moms are also stay at home moms or moms with nannies who don’t mind dealing with the extra work of cloth diapering. (The nanny vs. daycare is a debate for another day, but let’s just say I wish John and I made enough money to afford a nanny.) I am happy they have found a way to make this fit into their lifestyle, but I know it simply won’t work with ours right now.

I don’t understand why we have to get so heated about these things. I blame the mommy wars: Breast vs. bottle, SAHM vs. work mommy, daycare vs. nanny, cloth vs. disposable, etc, etc.  Basically, the idea is one is better than the other and therefore makes you a better mom.

Yes, there are definitely options people can argue are beneficial for a variety of reasons, but I don’t think it makes one mom better than any other. There are a million reasons why people choose to parent in a particular way, and it really isn’t up to you or me to judge them for it. After all, aren’t we all on the same team here? We’re all mothers who are trying to do what’s best for our babies and our families.