Friday, March 23, 2012

I see pregnant people everywhere

Everybody I know is pregnant or has a newborn.

OK.

That's an exaggeration. But not too much of one. One more pregnant friend and I won't be able to count them all on one hand anymore.

Naturally, being surrounded by pregnant women, moms of toddlers, and big sisters of newborns, I am frequently faced with the question of whether I want another child. Or, if we want another child. Or, if Ella wants to be a big sister. (Like she'd have a choice in the matter!) Sometimes the question comes from friends, sometimes family, sometimes acquaintances, sometimes strangers.

Everyone gets a different answer.

I took a quiz on the matter because I "liked" the TV show Up All Night on Facebook and it was one of their posts. It was amusing, so I shared it, and now I get even more questions regarding the expansion of our family of three.

According to the quiz, I am not ready (yet) to have another child:


Take More Time
As much as you would like to have another child, it takes two to tango and it might be best to wait a year or two. Your family is still getting used to having the first child, and in time, you'll start craving all the cooing and late night diaper changes.

Two of my friends have since told me that they took the quiz; both got the same results and neither of them plan to have more children.

A few of the questions on the quiz made me nervous because they obviously pointed to "hurry up and get pregnant!"--tiny baby clothes make me nostalgic for Ella's 8 lb. 8 oz. days, I would rather watch Three Men and a Baby than Children of the Corn or Baby Boom, I think of Ella's first week of life as a time of joy at the gift of a child for us to love, not a time of sleepless nights and dirty diapers.

Some of the questions calmed me down a bit because they seemed to indicate that either I am not ready or simply do not want to have another baby. When I hear another baby crying I am relieved that I don't have to deal with it. I want a vacation in the Bahamas instead of Disneyland.

I had Justin take the quiz, too, not before he said, "I don't want another kid," when he saw the title: "Baby Fever?"

He gave similar answers: he believed I am hesitant but willing to negotiate about having another baby, and that Ella would feel nervous about her place in the family if she had a baby sibling.

Our only serious variance, which concerned me greatly, was this: He described his life as "hectic" while I chose answer "A) Balanced."

"That's just my life," he said. I mean, really. The guy works in an ER (not exactly an environment known for its soothing qualities), comes home to a toddler who wants to play with him and a wife who knows he will cook and do dishes on his day off. What did I expect?

Still, I'm hoping we can help him feel like his life is more balanced and less hectic. (My vote is that he doesn't take as many extra shifts, since he actually likes playing with Ella, cooking, and doing the dishes. (Seriously! He told me he finds it relaxing!))

Justin scored "Take More Time" and said, "We don't have a year or two." So that settles that.

It's easy to get caught up in baby fever when you're surrounded by young pregnant women. (I just remembered two more pregnant friends. Seven! Officially counting on two hands. Wait. Eight!) When soon-to-be big sisters ask Ella if she's going to be a big sister, too, it's hard not to feel a little flutter of hope/disappointment for her. Don't all little girls want to be a big sister at some point in their lives? Didn't I always think I would have two children?

Everybody's doing it!

But I have to remember that pregnancy isn't so easy for some women. Yes, I have some friends who say they want to have a child, choose a preferred month in which that child might be born, think that it's going to take a few months for "it" to happen, plan accordingly, and then get pregnant right away. (Too soon!) There are variations on these "success" stories. But there are also the friends who have had multiple miscarriages, who have lost babies, who have tried various medical interventions to achieve pregnancy and still don't have babies.

I have to remember that not everybody is doing it.

There are some reasons not to try to have another baby:
1. The sleepless nights
2. The dirty diapers
3. The inconsolable crying (of the baby, usually)
4. That Ella will be at least three years older than her (what will they have in common?)
5. That it might not be a her
6. That we love Ella so much
7. That another baby won't be Ella

Obviously, some of these reasons have simple solutions or aren't even good reasons. The sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and inconsolable crying do suck, but they come to an end. The age difference could be a blessing--Ella would have her own space and experience and toddlerhood on her own, and a sibling would have someone to look up to instead of just across at. Maybe they wouldn't be as competitive with each other (as compared to, oh, a brother and sister only 13 months apart). Sure, we'd have kids in high school and college for about 12 years in a row, but who doesn't want to drag those experiences out?

What if it's a boy. I'm still not equipped to raise a boy. Have I mentioned Ella's legendary mad laundry-folding skills? Her delicate use of crayons? That I can sometimes find her quietly reading in the living room? That she puts her toys away? That when we're shopping in Target and she sees an item on the floor instead of on the shelf she says, "Uh-oh!" and points at it?

Obviously, we love Ella so much. Yes, we know love expands and there's more to go around. Everyday I think my heart is as full of love as it can possibly get and then the next day somehow there is more. We could share our love with another kid and Ella wouldn't lose a drop of it.

But another baby won't be Ella. Chances are really good on this one being true. We have had it so easy with Ella. Even in the hospital, the nurses were in awe of her disposition. They were on the verge of worrying about her, she was so quiet. Ella is a good, good baby.

No one gets this lucky twice.

But realistically, there is another, much darker and much more important reason not to ever get pregnant again.

My health and the health of the baby.

I am not one of those women who loved being pregnant. It's not just because I felt sick most of the time, though day and night for nine months it was like having the flu (not all the time, but off and on for nine months). I was 35 years old when Ella was born, so that automatically catapulted me into the high risk category. Some people regard 35 as an arbitrary age for doctors to get concerned about Down Syndrome and other birth defects, but I figure it's about as arbitrary as nine months being long enough for a baby to become ready for the world outside the uterus. The numbers do change, the eggs do get old, the body does work differently.

In addition to my age, I was a high risk pregnancy because of all the medications I take to keep my mood disorder under control. I know lots of women go off their meds when they so much as consider getting pregnant, but I was not one of them. Firstly, we had given up on the possibility of pregnancy because we'd tried for so long and then miscarried and then not gotten pregnant again. Fertility issues seemed to be getting the better of us. Secondly, and more importantly, I don't actually do life that well without my medicine. Once you've been to a place where you believe viable solutions to your problems include causing yourself pain or killing yourself, you pretty much do whatever you can to avoid going back there.

I love my psychiatrist. I saw five or so other ones before I found her. She is a genius. It's hilarious that what I'm on is called a cocktail, but she is one hell of a mixologist. I was in a pretty bad place when she started treating me. In her care, I have been incredibly stable despite numerous chemical changes that she has rolled with, tweaking doses, subtracting one med, adding another. Whatever it takes.

When I told her I was pregnant it really freaked her out. Even her. I could tell. She immediately did research on each of my medications to see what there was to be seen about whether they should be dropped because of possible harm to the baby. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of concrete evidence out there as to the effects of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety medications on pregnant women and their fetuses. It's not like you can take a bunch of women with chemical imbalances and get them pregnant, withhold medications from some of them, give medications to others, and see what happens. So we had to rely on mice. I did clearly have to give up two things, so I did. (I never name the medications in my blog, since everyone's experience differs.) The rest were question marks. She decided she'd talk with my perinatologist (the extra OB I got to have who specialized in high risk pregnancies) and they'd discuss my options. It's important to remember that everybody's brain has chemicals in it, and that a chemical imbalance is simply moderated by, well, chemicals. It's also important to remember that the effects of an unchecked chemical imbalance (otherwise known as depression/bipolar II/anxiety/whatever) also hasn't been researched on actual pregnant women. (Same problem as with researching the meds.) It's fair to assume that depression is not healthy for a fetus, either. This might be due to the funky chemicals in the mother's brain messing with the development of the child. This might be due to the funky chemicals in the mother's brain causing her to do less than healthful things during her pregnancy--those are too numerous to even attempt to list.

As she put it, "If you were diabetic we wouldn't ask you to go off your meds because you're pregnant."

These two doctors who see terrible things happen to mommies and babies but also see goodness and light had a conference call or two about me. We decided I should stay the course with my medications.

It was a terrifying nine months.

Was the baby OK? Was I OK? Was something miscarriage-y happening? Was I causing harm with every pill I swallowed?

I'm not really up for that again.

Plus, even if I were to get pregnant this month, I'd be 38 when the baby was born. These eggs aren't getting any fresher.

I would not go off my medications in the event of a pregnancy. I can't take that risk. Now, I can't even just chance it because I believe it might make my baby healthy (again, no guarantee that's even true!). I can't mess with my health because Ella needs me. And Justin can't have me in the hospital again. Last time, that one time, he was in medical school. It wasn't good timing, but now it would be impossible. How could he work? What about Ella? I'm getting nervous just thinking about it.

So, we'd be at a higher risk of having a baby born with birth defects due to my age and my health?

That's a crazy gamble.

And it's not fair.

It's not fair to the baby to have these cards stacked against him from even before the beginning.

I could never live with myself if something went wrong. Even though I know it wouldn't necessarily be my fault (so little is known!), I would crumble under the guilt. And I don't know that I have the wherewithal to deal with those consequences.

And that's just for getting through gestation! I'm not even going to start on how risky it is for me to attempt to live with a toddler/preschooler and an infant under my care. I can (hopefully) stay sane with Ella, but with two kids? Even healthy people get tired. 

To be honest, when I first wrote "it's not fair" I was thinking about the baby. It really wouldn't be fair to him. But there was a moment when I had that self-pitiful tug that it's not fair to me, either. It's not fair that I can't be one of those young women who just wants to have a baby or two and so she does and there is no grave fear or problem. I do feel sad about it.

But it's also not fair that I get to have Ella. She is perfect. We are perfect together, Justin, Ella, and I.  It's not "fair"--it's an amazing blessing, a gift from God, a true, living example of grace.

Ella is our family.

One of the choices for an answer in the quiz was whether when you picture having one more child you feel like you have "a complete family."

I do.

But I also see my family as complete now, just the three of us.

If we could do it all over again and have another healthy baby that would be amazing. But it's not very realistic.

It is amazing right now. Tonight, Ella wrapped her arms around my neck when I picked her up. I said, "Hug!" because I narrate almost everything I do with her, and she squeezed so tight that I could feel her little muscles tremble with the effort.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What I Didn't Do for Winter Break

I'm almost done! 

Here's the progress I've made on my list:
  • I decided we would wait one more year and start Ella in preschool when she is three years old. (whew!)
  • 60 Minutes did an article about red-shirting kids for Kindergarten. (that's not crazy at all)
  • A former student of mine gave me a writing assignment. (how's that for success?)
  • I dropped Medicine A and two or three dress sizes, but I still haven't exercised once in 2012. (must do something about that)
  •  Being Ella's Mommy is the only job I've ever been good at AND liked so much. I've finally found my calling.
  • Body image (see bullets 3, 4, 5--more on that later)
  • 99 of 100 (what I didn't do for winter break)
  • oh, and don't forget, I made a table (see bullet 1)
 That's right! All I have left to write about is winter break.


The other day I walked into a conversation about winter break. Specifically, it was about going skiing during winter break. And sometimes spring break, or that long weekend in January. Unless those vacations were spent water skiing or riding various motorized vehicles in the desert somewhere.


I had nothing to contribute to the conversation, except for that moment when one of the women asked me if I had ever been water skiing.


At that moment, I got to say, "No."



I've gone skiing approximately three times in my life with friends who were regular skiers. I like it. I fall down a lot and I have a death-grip on the ski lift because I am scared of heights, but I like it.


I'm just not from a family that did those kind of things. My parents worked during winter and spring breaks, and summer, too. We did go on summer vacations, but usually we went on a camping road trip for a week or so, with a couple of special nights spent at Motel 6, so that we could sleep in beds, have real showers, and eat something not barbequed, often at Denny's.


My brother and I liked these trips. We learned how to pitch a tent so well that years later, when he and I went to Wildflower for a triathalon that he raced in, we got to the campsite late and drove to our spot with our headlights off so that we wouldn't wake the other racers. We pitched our tent in the dark. No problem.


In the summers, our parents drove us to the beach and we played in the sand and splashed around in the water. We had boogie boards that we loved, and we'd pretend we didn't hear our mom beckoning us to return to shore for lunch or to go home.


We didn't surf.


I wouldn't say we were exactly poor--we lived in a nice house and each had our own bedroom, we both played a musical instrument and we had a piano (the most valuable thing in the house), we were Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, my brother did organized sports (AYSO, a running club, and then in high school track and cross country), I did ballet in junior high and high school, and when I was perilously close to failing chemistry we hired a tutor.


For having parents who moved to Canada from India with practically no money just after they got married when they were in their early 20s, all that is a lot. We moved to California when I was in first grade, and they still live in the house that we grew up in.


I think maybe skiing and water skiing are things that middle-class Indian immigrants don't do. At least, I can't think of anybody I know who did that stuff. Actually, we were one of two (three for a little while) Indian families at our elementary, junior, and high schools, so I'll even divide the descriptors. I don't know Indians who ski or water ski. I don't know many middle class families who do that stuff, either. Though, I suppose some of the upper-middle class kids at our school did do that kind of thing. I know a lot of them were surfers.

Justin, too, didn't do a lot of that stuff with his family. I think he has water skied with friends, and he was with me for a couple of my ski experiences and definitely has done more skiing than I have. I know his best friend since early childhood owns various off-road vehicles (what are those called?!?!), so he's always done that kind of thing. He is a surfer--he got his first surfboard when he was a kid and still has it along with several more.

Now, I look at Ella and wonder what her experiences growing up will be like. We live a block away from the beach and we'll be in this house for at least two more years (we just signed a new lease!), so we all plan to spend lots of time in the ocean. Last summer, she wasn't really walking yet, so we didn't go very much, since crawling (and putting everything in your mouth) and sand aren't the greatest combination. Hopefully, I will learn to surf (I got a foam board from Costco when we moved to Redondo Beach four years ago, and my attempts to learn that first summer were meager. The next summer there were no waves at the beach two blocks from our apartment (our surfer-girl-ER-resident-Hawaiian neighbor called it Lake Placid). The last summer in Redondo, I had a newborn baby girl.). She will definitely learn to surf; her daddy is counting on it.

Skiing and snowboarding are no longer out of the question based on expense, though given Justin's foot (cold makes the amputation hurt a lot more than usual, and half a left foot doesn't stay in a boot that well, nor does it help with balance) and my inexperience they're probably not going to be a priority for us. Water skiing is even less likely to happen, given Justin's partially amputated left foot and my relatively irrational fear of boat propellers based on that amputation. I want Ella to be able to say that she has done these things. I want her to know that she can try them if given the opportunity, which seems likely now that we live in this town where parents take their kids skiing on the weekend.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Body Image II

I know you've been on pins and needles waiting for me to get back to the list of topics I need to write about. 

Here's the progress I've made on my list:

  • I decided we would wait one more year and start Ella in preschool when she is three years old. (whew!)
  • 60 Minutes did an article about red-shirting kids for Kindergarten. (that's not crazy at all)
  • A former student of mine gave me a writing assignment. (how's that for success?)
  • I dropped Medicine A and two or three dress sizes, but I still haven't exercised once in 2012. (must do something about that)
  •  Being Ella's Mommy is the only job I've ever been good at AND liked so much. I've finally found my calling.
  • Body image (see bullets 3, 4, 5--more on that later)
  • 99 of 100 (what I didn't do for winter break)
  • oh, and don't forget, I made a table (see bullet 1)
Today I will address body image, again.

A former student of mine gave me a writing assignment. I'm not sure what's going to happen with it, but it got me thinking about body image and, of course, raising Ella.

Now I'm thinking about body image and my own body.

Some of you might remember my Note to my Doctors post from August 2011. For various reasons, I didn't write very many posts after that, and so I never told you about the decision we made.

I did drop Medicine A, the one that was making me fat and started having side effects like insomnia and restless legs (a condition that sounds silly until you experience the inability to lie/sit still. It was like being a kid doing the pee-pee dance all the time.). Of course, in order to drop Medicine A while also circumventing a serious relapse of depression, I had to add a little more of one medicine and a new medicine, as well.

The result has been fabulous. Very quickly, I was able to sleep again, which is an important factor in warding off depression even for people who are healthy. My legs stopped moving like crazy and I started losing weight.

Yeah. Losing weight.

Seriously. All I did was stop taking Medicine A, and suddenly the baby weight and the just-because-I'm-fat weight started melting off.

My metabolism was back!

I'm pretty sure people were envying me--I got compliments from friends and even the receptionist at an office I visit frequently. What they didn't know was that I was pretty dizzy or slightly faint a lot of the time.

Apparently, when my metabolism kicked back in, it was doing funny things with my blood sugar or something.

Fortunately, that feeling is gone now, and the weight has not come back.

I've lost two or three dress sizes and I haven't exercised a single day this year, nor have I changed my diet. (My diet isn't A Diet--I just eat what I want to eat when I want to eat it. Luckily, I rarely want to eat stuff that's really fattening or sweet, so we don't have cookies or ice cream or many other unhealthy snacks in the house. For example, we had pizza and beer for dinner last night and I had leftover pizza for lunch today. I don't do real diets.)

I'm still not back to the shape I was in when I was in my early 30s, before we moved to Redondo Beach, when we lived in Hillcrest and I was doing a yoga class sometimes twice a day and walking every morning (I had a job walking dogs). Back then I was a size zero, and I resolved that I would never gain weight ever again.

Silly me.

Any muscle tone I have is incidental to walking to the park or a friend's house now and then, doing laundry, and carrying a 25 pound kid around.

My abs are all stretched out from carrying an 8 pound 8 ounce kid around in there almost two years ago.

It's not pretty.

Like most women, I made a New Year resolution to exercise regularly in 2012. I joked that by "regularly" I meant more than once a month. I made this resolution public by writing about it in the MOMS Club of Seal Beach--Old Town newsletter that I edit. Telling people my plan was supposed to hold me accountable.

It didn't work.

Now, I am almost proud of my lack of exercise, as though it is an accomplishment. I haven't exercised for two months and 17 days! And that's just since January 1! I don't remember the last time I exercised before then, but the Race for the Cure comes to mind, and I'm pretty sure that was in late September.

Clearly I need to revise my attitude about exercise.

As I've said before, I want to be healthy for Ella. So does Justin. We're just not doing very much about it. But we will. Justin, who can't run because of the 1996 traumatic amputation of half of his left foot in the Marine Corps, ordered an exercise bike. We're going to put it in our laundry/exercise/art room. He likes riding the bike and I like doing yoga classes at the gym, but we gave up our memberships because A) there isn't a 24 Hour Fitness close enough to our house for us and B) even though the gym is open 24/7 it's hard to fit going to it into The Routine. Realistically, working out at the gym for an hour would take at least two hours, if I factored in getting ready, taking Ella to the daycare there, working out, getting Ella from the daycare into the car, and showering and getting ready for the day. Plus, I like to exercise in the morning and that doesn't really work with her schedule of activities, and then her lunch and noon nap ruin my chances of exercising in the afternoon. I plan to try an exercise class at a gym walking distance from our house that is offered frequently throughout the day. I figure, if it takes only five minutes to get there, I can commit to doing it at least twice a week when Justin is off or my mom can come over to watch Ella.

There are women in our MOMS Club that set such wonderful examples of healthy living for their children. They run daily with their kids in their jogging strollers. I've heard moms say, "As long as I can get at least three miles in a day, I'm happy." Or, "I feel so much better when I exercise." Or, "I'm so much nicer/happier when I exercise." I've gone on a walk with a mom and her daughter said, "Mommy, I want to run!" while she leaned forward in her stroller like she was trying to make a horse go faster.

I want Ella to think that way about exercise.

I want to think that way about exercise.

I did, once upon a time.

I'm going to try to get that back.

Training Pants

Look at the pants that are supposed to make potty training easier because they let the girl feel wet (and uncomfortable) but don't let the pee run down her leg (and onto the carpet/couch/chair):





The Disney princesses disposable Pull-Up is size 2T. The Gerber Training Pant is size 2-3T (the smallest they have).

I thought about including a picture of my maternity underwear for size comparison, but figure you can use your imagination. Why do I still have that stuff in my drawer, anyway?

To her credit, Ella has not peed in the training pants yet. Sadly, she does walk around pulling at them every now and then, which causes me to constantly ask her, "Do you need to go pee-pee or poo-poo in the potty?"

"No," and she shakes her head.

Sometimes I pick her up and run her over there anyway because she has That Look, but nothing happens, except we read another book or two. I keep telling her we can go to the living room and read on the couch, and sometimes she takes me up on the offer.

The training pants are supposed to be easier to pull up and down, and they are, but I had to roll the waistband over twice to get the crotch near where it needs to be. Plus, the training pants are all squished into her leggings, so I still have to help her. It's too cold to go around without pants on today. She can't wear her jeans because they're too hard to take down, and she doesn't own many regular elastic waist pants (which aren't as skintight as leggings) because she's so skinny for her height that the 2T pants just slide down her little tushy.

Did I mention it's raining? Ella is fascinated, pointing out the big windows and saying, "raining" and "water." I say, "Yes, it is raining. Water is falling from the sky." This house has a skylight in the bathroom, our bedroom and the dining room and they amplify the sound of the raindrops, so she points up, too. "Yes, it's raining. There's water falling from the sky. It's loud, huh?"

"Loud."

So, that's how my day is going. How's yours?

Eleven Dinners

Of the 31 nights of March, there are 11 for which Justin, Ella, and I will be together for dinner. Four of those dinners have already been allotted to family, friends and church (it's Lent; there are Wednesday night supper & services).

That means seven just-our-family dinners in one month.

(There are two possible bonus dinners--days when Justin's shift is officially over at a time that makes it possible for him to be home in time for dinner, but I have learned to view those as gifts and not givens, that way I am less disappointed when I end up tucking Ella into bed before her daddy gets home from work.)

Today was one of those special just-our-family days.

So you'd think I would just be basking in the joy of our togetherness.

And I am. When Ella and I were walking to the car after our quick stop at Target, I was narrating the plans for the rest of our day. "And Daddy will be home when we get there, and we'll have lunch, and you'll take a nap, and... Is Daddy off today? Wait, Daddy is off today! I think. Yeah. We'll hang out with Daddy!" I was relieved at the prospect of not having to scrounge up a dinner for 1.5 on my own, thrilled at not having to figure out how to keep her entertained for the afternoon alone.

It was amazing. I have been wanting to get a pedicure, and he reminded me of it during her nap, but I didn't want to leave the house. I read news articles and a new blog that I found, instead.

We decided to get pizza for dinner because we just wanted to relax and spend time with Ella and also get other things done--like taxes and laundry and dishes.

But here's the crazy thing: I got grouchy.

I was mad because I was still the one changing diapers and waiting while she went pee-pee in the potty. I was hurt because she wouldn't let me help her put her pants back on, but she let him do it for her. I was cross because he showed her how to put her pants on while standing up and balancing by clutching his arm. (She was having a hard enough time just getting her feet into the pant-legs while sitting down! She needed to learn to do this by herself!) I was frustrated later because again she wouldn't let me help her put her pants back on, but she ran to him (while he was working on his computer), stood behind his chair (so he couldn't see her wobbling) and tried to put her pants on while standing on the tile floor. I was grumpy because she got hungry at around 5:30 (which has been happening lately, so I've just been feeding her a bit earlier than our usual 6 o'clock) and we were waiting for the pizza so that we could eat as a family. I was annoyed because she was running around the couch and getting hyper instead of winding down by reading books with me after dinner and before bed. I was disappointed because she wasn't as enthusiastic and focused as she usually is about helping me sort and fold clean laundry. I was irritated because I felt like the recess monitor blowing her whistle for the kids to go back to class (or, you know, to go pee-pee on the potty and then put her pajamas on).

All those silly grouchy feelings kept invading the general glowiness I felt about the day of togetherness.

I let myself lose sight of the fact that we came home from Target to a clean kitchen and a running dishwasher, laundry put away, and tax papers being organized. I forgot that he changed her diaper and helped her with the potty while I ran around getting ready in the morning. I forgot that he clipped some wayward flowers in the backyard because I asked him to do it while he was pulling old lemons off the tree (though while he was doing it, I was thrilled and Ella was fascinated). I didn't appreciate all the work he did, despite this being his one real day off. (Yesterday was what we ER-families call a fake day off--a day when the last shift ends so late at night that you have to spend at least half the day sleeping to be able to function.)

I was just discombobulated because he was here.

My military-wife-mom friends tell me of a similar experience when their husbands return from extended periods of time away from home. It's so awesome to have them back, but it throws off The Routine. We get stuff going, and it's not perfect and sometimes it's not even good, but it's going. Then, just when some momentum is built up and we feel like maybe we really can do this life we have, they come back and we have to relearn the system.

Don't get me wrong. We love our husbands. We want them with us. We'd (probably) like having them around all the time.

We're just not used to it.

So, now that I've wasted one of our seven dinners of the month being petulant, I'm looking to the next time on the calendar that we'll all be together. I hope I don't squander it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Picking up the Pace

So apparently my method of denial is not going to work.

I don't want Ella to grow up so fast, but I can't actually stop it from happening.

The girl started peeing in the potty all by herself last week. I thought I could go for a while without taking it seriously, but she does it several times a day, so I guess we might as well get her truly potty-trained and get it over with.

I mean, really? Who in their right mind wants to keep changing diapers given the opportunity to stop?

Me.

Potty-training  sounds like a lot of work. I've heard people talk about potty-training boot camp. That's where you let your kid roam around naked for three days and put him on the potty frequently, or something like that. Supposedly, they realize there's pee running down their legs, so they decide they'd rather sit on the potty when they have to pee. Something like that. I've also heard about putting the kid on the potty every hour on the hour. I guess with that method you're just hedging your bets that with a bladder emptied that frequently there won't be pee at, say, 4:27.

Personally, I'm just as happy to change her diaper a few times a day.

But, I mentioned to her Mommy and Me Montessori Preschool teacher that we had the potty-using experience this weekend, and she said we should seize the moment.

I think what I said after I told her The Story of the First Pee was, "I'm not really doing anything about it, I'm just kinda letting it happen."

Now, when I think about it, I probably should start doing something about it. She's not going to totally figure it out without some guidance, right? I need to put her in pull-ups when we go out. I need to buy training pants (the teacher recommended them) for when we're at home. I need to help her recognize that she needs to sit on the potty before it's too late. She has to know how to pull her pants up and down by herself.


Apparently, these Gerber Waterproof Training Pants are going to be one of the keys to our success. The problem with disposable diapers (besides being impossible for her to remove and replace by herself), is that they are so freakishly absorbent these days that kids don't even know they are wet if they are walking around with pants full of pee. It's good for comfort, I suppose, but not so good for realizing what your body is doing and when. So, if she wears these training pants, they will absorb enough pee that she won't be standing there with it running down her leg (I've seen that happen to other kids), but not so much that she will not realize she's wet. Then, and especially with Ella being Ella and her aversion to being dirty (she fell in the park this morning and stood up showing me the grass cuttings on her dewy hands and knees--I had to show her how to wipe her hands on her (white) sweatshirt to dry them off a bit), she'll start realizing that she has to pee and then go to the potty before she gets all wet and uncomfortable.

At least, I think that's how it works.

We'll see how it goes. The preschool teacher recommended trying to learn when she naturally has a bodily function so that I can try to predict it and get her on the potty beforehand. I'm supposed to write down "when it happens" and then, I guess, the next day we can try to have "it happen" on the potty instead of in the diaper.

Like I said, we'll see how it goes.

I got a funny compliment today. At least, I think it was a compliment. "You're giving her so much space," her teacher said to me, while we were all on the playground with the kids. This was the last class of the eight week Mommy and Me Montessori session. I don't remember what I said aloud, but I thought about how we got to this point. Ella can pull herself up on the play equipment now, whereas she used to need me to help her on the ladders to the slides because instead of leaning forward and using her arms to pull herself up and her legs to push herself up, she would lean back, which A) doesn't work at all, B) makes her fall off the ladder. She goes down the slide without falling over, whereas she used to collapse to the side or back and end up thrashing about on her way down. She chases/gets chased by some of the other kids instead of ignoring them, and when she gets pushed (accidentally or on purpose) she stands her ground (or at least doesn't just fall apart).

I have to give her more space.

I need more space.

And, if she's going to start preschool in September and I'm going to LEAVE her with the teacher and five other kids, we're going to have to start working on our separation anxiety.

I already miss her so much.