Does Santa's warning mean nothing to you children? 

December 18, 2017

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. The song says so, therefore it must be true. If you have a toddler though, you may feel differently. I sure do, especially after the last few days.

I made this fancy DIY advent calendar this year, with the hope of ensuring we covered all our Christmas bases. You know... drinking hot chocolate after playing in the snow, reading Christmas books, looking at Christmas lights, holding hands and singing Kumbaya. In all seriousness, I wanted the month of December to be perfect for the kids so that they'd have these amazing memories of Christmastime. Today, I'm feeling pretty foolish about that thought process though. I should know better by now. Any time you think something is going to be perfect, you're just asking to be made a fool of.

This weekend, we went to my work Christmas party. We got all dressed up and looked great. We got all the kids dinner before the other 416 people at the party so that they wouldn't get hangry. While eating a delicious plate of Christmas foods, our tweener decided to pout. Why? I don't know. She wouldn't say. The toddler proceeded to run around the ballroom, weaving in and out of tables, nearly knocking over elderly people. Why? Because she's a toddler...who wants to ruin Christmas parties. The kids got free Christmas presents supplied by my employer. AMAZING! Did they appreciate any of this? NOOOOOOOO. On the car ride home, covered in sweat from lugging a 50 pound diaper bag, a 30 pound car seat, a 16 pound baby, and a partridge in a pear tree out to the car I said, "We're not going to the Christmas party next year." And that is a BIG deal for me to say, because there's an open bar!

On Saturday, the advent calendar said we were going to make Christmas cookies together! What a fun thing to do, right?? NOPE. Have you ever tried to make Christmas cookies with a toddler and a tweener? I have, and I wouldn't suggest it. Toddlers want to eat all the things that go into Christmas cookies. EVERY 30 SECONDS. "Mommy, I have a question. Can I eat this half a sprinkle that just fell out of the dog's mouth? No? OK, what about this shmear of butter that's in my hair? Can I lick that off? Really? Still no? Why? Why? Why?" And the tweener, who wants to bake things independently now, gets flour Ev-er-y-where! There is flour in places that I didn't even know existed in the kitchen. I mean, why would you measure flour NEXT to the bowl that you're going to put it in? You should carry it around the island 4 times, into the living room to look at your tablet, and then dump it in the bowl in a big poof of flour fog. That makes total f*ing sense. Also, Mommy has a Type A personality. I want those cookies to look good! So as soon as the kids finally found something to play with for a few minutes, I snuck in the kitchen and decorated all of them myself before they saw me. And before they could RUIN the cookies.

Sunday night ended in a full-blown toddler tantrum about god knows what. The weekend ended in tears. Hers and mine. The weekend that was supposed to be this perfect weekend of family fun. I was so frustrated by the fact that absolutely nothing we'd do would result in a behaving, listening, kind toddler. No discipline tricks made a difference. Telling her that Santa would bring her rocks didn't make a difference, but only resulted in more questions.

I wish I had a happy ending or an important parenting lesson learned to end this blog post with. But I don't. The only thing that's making me feel better is trying to remember this thought that one of my best friends posted on social media the other day... The kids won't remember all this crap. And the tears. They won't remember that Mommy snuck away to decorate the cookies without them. They'll only remember snuggling together and watching Elf and eating a delicious home-made cookie after dinner, and singing Jingle Bells. At least I hope that's all they'll remember. And Mommy? Well, time will tell what I'll remember. Hopefully more of the good than the bad.

Wonder Women

December 1, 2017

A year ago, we went in for our anatomy scan with Riley. I was nervous, because the last anatomy scan we had (with Reagan) didn't go so well. All turned out OK in the end, but that is a story for another time.

This time, we went into the anatomy scan knowing that our baby had an irregular heart beat, which had been found during a previous prenatal check-up. We had to wait 6 weeks from the time the doctors found the irregular heart beat to the time we could actually have a specialist/high-risk pregnancy group complete the anatomy scan to find out more about our baby's heart. This wait was cruel, as it always is. Our doctors told us that a lot of babies have irregular heart beats at the beginning though, and it usually fixes itself by the time the baby is born. So we were holding on to that hope with all of our might.

So the day of the anatomy scan finally arrived. And like I said, this time around, I knew I should be nervous. I knew that the news we would find out after the anatomy scan could rock our world. And once again, it did. Only, it had nothing to do with our baby's heart. That had corrected itself, luckily, but they found another problem. She would never open her left hand.

After that initial scan, the doctor told us that most likely she just didn't want to open her hand that day, and we should come back in another four weeks to have it re-checked. We went off on our merry way ecstatic that her heart was OK, and thinking everything was fine, because that's what we were lead to believe.

Those four weeks went by, relatively stress-free, and then we made the short trip back to the high-risk pregnancy practice for a repeat scan. During the scan, I could tell that she still wasn't opening her hand. They took a lot of pictures of it but I couldn't tell what we were looking at yet. When the ultrasound tech was done, they told us we would need to speak with a geneticist. I had no idea what that would mean, or what the geneticist would tell us. But I was terrified. I knew something was wrong.

We walked into her office a few moments later, and she had these terrifying images on her computer, which she quickly minimized, so as not to alarm us, I'm sure. Well, too late for that. She then proceeded to show us pictures of our baby's hand, and explained that she didn't know what exactly was wrong with it or what had caused it. But it wasn't right.

She started to ask me all these mundane questions about our family, and how old my other daughter was, and if she had any birth defects. There was some med. student sitting in the room watching me answer these questions. And then I just broke down.

You never imagine when you wake up in the morning that someone is going to tell you that there's something wrong with your unborn child. We weren't prepared for that. I wasn't prepared to have to wait five unbearable months not knowing what could be wrong with my baby. We both planned on this being our last baby, and I so badly wanted this pregnancy to go smoothly, unlike the previous one. I wanted to consciously enjoy and remember every single moment of it because I knew it would be the last. And that day I felt robbed of all of that. The remainder of my pregnancy would be spent worrying about this little baby that I had come to love so much. It felt so unfair.

Riley is 7 months old now. She's a HAPPY, amazing, perfect little baby. Her hand is different, and when she was born, we found out there is also an issue with her arm, but she is perfect. I know we are lucky. Babies are born every day with more severe problems. But when it's your baby, you want so badly for her life to be amazing, and easy, and wonderful. Anything that has the potential to deny her that is almost unbearable.

So, I knew I had to be strong. And become even stronger. Because this little baby is going to need that from me. So will her sisters. We'll be the Wonder Women, because what other choice do we have?