Sunday, May 28, 2017

2nd Trimester, 2nd Child

Surfing from weeks 14-26 of my second pregnancy with "Skip".

+Happy Memorial Day weekend!
+Thank you to all those who have served!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coping Strategies

Before I was pregnant with this second baby 'the question' started to arise in conversations at the local fish taco shop, at birthday parties and while waiting in line at Joann Fabric: Are you ready to have another? 

Questions like this used to annoy me, but I've since realized that they are simply the most natural next thing to ask. To some degree, it almost seems cocky to respond "Yes!" because it almost feels like saying: obviously I have this whole parenting thing under control, parenting books are merely gathering dust at our house and our child is basically raising herself. For the record, I did not feel 100% ready to go to sleep-away camp, or high school, to surf Desperados in Fiji or really to have my first or second child, and yet here we are: totally, sometimes dully, fine. 

I have, however, struggled with anxiety and depression from time to time despite living a life I wholly love, appreciate and enjoy. I feel like it might be obvious in an internet space wallpapered with pictures of me enjoying these activities to say that surfing and skateboarding are two of my main coping strategies in life. A therapist once told me that anxiety is more future oriented and depression is commonly associated with feelings about the past. Surfing and skateboarding always bring my focus right to the wall in front of me. They are the best therapy. The thing is, I like to be sweating in cold water, even bleeding on hot concrete. I want to feel afraid and then the satisfaction of overcoming that fear. I want to feel busted wide open by life and what it means to live it. When you are pregnant, though, it's kind of frowned upon to huck yourself off ledges just for the rush. While I have still surfed throughout my pregnancies so far, I find myself needing other coping mechanisms to replace that adrenaline rush I thrive on, so I decided to outline a few of them here in case anyone out there needs them and also to keep the conversation about mental health and coping strategies open.

1. Home Improvement. Scott loves this coping strategy I've devised. What could be a better way to cap off a long, hard day filled with meetings and a timed lunch break than opening your email to see a bunch of obscure Amazon purchases such as 'White Enameled Soap Dish', 'BEKVAM Wooden Utility Step' and 'XL New Zealand Sheepskin'? Or arriving home to a disassembled bookshelf painted by a possessed pregnant lady with the same painting skills as Abu from Aladdin?

In all honesty, although I am extremely novice when it comes to home design, I have found a great amount of pleasure painting things white, honing my shopping skills online and at thrift and antique stores and trying to understand how to make our space function as well as it possibly can for our growing family. We realized early on in my pregnancy that we most likely would't be able to move to a bigger home in our neighborhood, so I have justified nearly every last 'Cedar Garden Sign' purchase with the reasoning that it is cheaper than a new house!

I've gotten a lot of inspiration from the blog Reading My Tea Leaves (life in a tiny apartment series // baby proof series), Pinterest and Instagram. I tend to be a copy artist when it comes to most things related to style (I frequently buy the outfit the mannequin is wearing). I don't necessarily come up with original ideas in this field, but I have learned a lot from looking at pictures, understanding what I am repeatedly drawn to and slowly (rather than impulsively, like I used to) adding to our material possessions by making sure that we love and use nearly everything we own (and pass on what we don't). This house is about 1,000 square feet and there are about to be four of us occupying it, some creativity and pregnancy specific angst were required.

2. Gardening. I am approaching gardening similarly to how I approached having pet fish: enthusiastically, but with low expectations. I grew a bunch of carrots last fall and took pictures of them in all their shriveled-orange glory only to have them sit in the fridge for a week slowly resembling decomposing fingers. We're still in the beginner phase here, but I feel like gardening is the perfect low impact, relaxing outdoor activity I need right now. I love learning new things and I feel like it's a really fun, educational and hands-on activity for Avalon. She helps me water the whole garden after her nap most days. It's a calming activity for both of us to immerse ourselves in during those quiet and sometimes trying evening hours before dinner and Scott getting home.

3. Motherhood. Of course, once you have kids you nearly always feel soaked to the core in all things parenthood no matter how many date nights you go on or how much 'me time' you take. I didn't really know how to put this on my list of coping strategies, but I have certainly kept myself busy and enriched teaching Avalon to do more for herself lately. Potty training, washing her hands, brushing her teeth and setting the table have been a few of the areas I've spent time educating her on lately. This is probably hilarious to my family since they insist I have the worst breath of everyone and that I failed cotillion. I know teaching some of these tasks can seem tedious, but, aside from the frequent contact with human waste, I actually really enjoy the process of learning how to teach someone something new.

We all wear different hats in our lives. Sometimes I'm sporting knee-high socks to the grocery store to feel like a skater, but since that doesn't feel like it's at the forefront of my identity right now, I will happily visit the library in maternity clothes I saw on an instragram icon and embrace the excitement that is toting a toddler toilet around in your car. We can do this. 

+What are some of your coping strategies for pregnancy or otherwise?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dear Skip,

Dear Skip,

It's a Monday afternoon and your sister is sleeping forever. Mondays and long naps go well together, but so do Tuesdays and long naps and so on. You get the idea. 

Mother's Day and my birthday have come and gone and now I have very few excuses to justify buying antique hurricane lamps on Etsy and insisting we need another sheepskin rug. Although, that's where you come in. "Nesting", as preparing for a baby is so lovingly called, gives justification to even the most perplexing of online purchases. 

No wait, that's not how I want to start.

Hi little girl. It's hard to know where to begin with this letter, but I'm sorry I haven't written yet. It seems a bit daunting to follow suit with these letters after doing them for your sister. There is so much room for comparison when it comes to siblings, and sisters.

I want to remember these days for you because I know you won't. I want to remember the time when you were a tiny somersault under my heart. I want to write to you so you know how much you were wanted.

As much as I count down the minutes until this season of getting wider, surfing less, being an onlooker to cocktail hour and not being able to see you breathing will be over, nine months, in the zoomed-out perspective of life, is just a hiccup in time.

I am 24 weeks pregnant with you. I am five and a half or six months along. The internet can't really decide. We surf together in cold spring winds, walk the aisles of Trader Joe's and call it exercise, wear socks with dresses and sandals and quietly hope no one will reach out and touch us.

The swollen ankles haven't come, but they will and when the do no one needs to hear about them, but I want you to hear this:

I have asked for you in whispers, in the rain, during church at Catholic school, in notebooks...underwater. I knew I wanted you long before you were you.

You are a quiet force, a gentle presence, a reminder that so much good is meant to be had while we spin around on this ball of water and compacted dirt.

It's impossible to express how thankful I am that you have chosen me to be your home. It's impossible to truly know how much I will love you and know you and how we will grow as mother and daughter.

But I do know I'm glad to have you in this with me.



"My mother was my first country. The first place I ever lived." ~Nayyirah Waheed

p.s. Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms, mamas, mums, stepmothers, surrogates, aunts, caretakers, grandmothers, godmothers, supporters of mothers and on and on out there.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Florida or Bust

I could start this post off by sharing the very wonderful quotes my mom provided me in Florida, totally out of context so that you might assume she is some kind of (endearingly) crazy person, alas I will not do that to her I am saving them for my book.

Ok, just one. 

One night as we were walking the quaint cobblestone streets of St. Augustine, the oldest city in the nation, according to Wikipedia and all of the local cop cars, my mom and Danielle began debating what constituted eating red meat in moderation after a glass of wine. I was generally ignoring them, trying to be the Harriet the Spy of the twenty-teens, snap chatting an out of control wedding after party atop a presumably haunted mansion from the 1920s when I overheard this:

Danielle: "Mom eating red meat once a week is not moderation!"
Mom: "Compared to the general population it is."
Danielle: "No."
Mom: "Oh Danielle, quit chopping off my balls."

I can only assume that she got caught between saying "quit busting my balls" and "quit busting my chops," however, for the benefit of everyone within earshot and now hopefully for you, she got confused. 

Anyways, a week or so ago my family and I went to St. Augustine, Florida. I cannot disclose the exact reason for the trip, however, since I know you are much more interested in how we slept with our 22 month old in the same small rental boat berth and how I avoided Zika, I will start there. 

Actually Zika is not a current concern in Northern Florida and the wind also happened to be blowing about 20 knots everyday so not much of anything was flying around, except, of course, for my Monica-from-the-Barbados-episode of-Friends style hair. 

One night Scott looked over at me romantically and said "I love how stringy your hair is in the wind." It doesn't exactly ring romantically in your ears, but I knew he meant that way so I reveled in it anyways as we explored that ancient city with our toddler and baby on the way. 

Knowing our lives are about to drastically change makes me appreciate the tiny details before it does.
-The three of us sleeping in the same room;
-The pack and play crammed between the end of the bed and the bathroom so I had to do a pommel horse routine over Scott in the dark just to get to it. 
-The way I could hear Avalon and Scott breathing while I read in the dark and the air conditioning hummed.

We played silly games at night as a family. One was Scategories without the category cards because they got left at home, so we made them up ourselves. One category created was WAYS TO HURT YOUR FAMILY which sounds depressing from the start, but for 'B' I wrote: Bang Them Into a Spikey Wall and Andy wrote: Bitch-Slap Them. He is fitting into this family perfectly. It was pleasantly obvious on his first, official family trip.

On our second to last day, Avalon woke up to the sound of our rental boat leaving the dock. She asked for me immediately. "Mamma! Mommy-Ma!" It always makes my heart flutter. That's part narcissism, part real love, I figure. I want to always remember the way she fit perfectly into the nook of my neck.

She got seasick after eating a banana an hour later, then fell asleep on my chest as the wind cranked through the bridge at 15 knots and we hid under a wool blanket. My new neighborhood chiropractor said to avoid bending over as much as possible, but as I sat there for nearly two hours I could only picture my spine making the precise shape of the letter 'C', with Avalon and baby Skip cupped in the center of it. I fantasized about this oblong pillow on our bed below deck being tucked carefully under my lower lumbar, but I knew some day I'd fantasize about this moment instead. The weight of two babies on me and the way in which the word mother subtly began to describe so much of who I am; how I wanted to own that word more than anything else before and maybe again.

This trip felt like a real vacation and also like a "Babymoon" for Avalon and I. My mom, dad, sisters, Andy and Scott gave me plenty of alone time without her to read a whole book and get a moderately noticeable tan, but Avalon was also extra clingy in a new setting. I'll cherish those memories most of all.