Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Thoughts on Being a Poor Mom

We’ve been having car trouble. Repeatedly. It has been something every month… and it’s starting to be every week. Some small thing. $50 here, $100 there. So yesterday Hubster and I went in to a local car dealership. We weren’t looking for anything flashy or fancy. Just reliable. Admittedly, it was one dealer, one lot. But the way the numbers laid out, we realized that a new vehicle wasn’t realistic for us. Part of it is our credit. It’s not great, although we have been slowly trying to improve it. Part of it is that Hubster has not been at his job for very long, about 3 months. But part of it is just that we don’t make a lot of money. The dealer said several times “Well, you just don’t make a lot…”. Which is mind boggling, because I know people who somehow survive on minimum wage, and Hubster makes more than that. But money just doesn’t go as far as it used to… although that’s the history of the world, right? Inflation.

Regardless, we are technically poor. We qualify for food stamps and WIC. It’s a weird thing to really look square in the face. Even weirder to write a post about.

I guess it seems so weird because I don’t generally think of ourselves as poor. Hell, we are doing a lot better than we were a year ago! I think back two or three years… And it seems like we’ve come a long ways. We are able to pay rent. We have food to eat and clothes to wear. We are almost always current on our bills. We don’t overdraft the bank account on a regular basis anymore.

Sure, our clothes aren’t the height of fashion. Most of my wardrobe is several years old. It’s starting to look a bit worn. But if it gets stained, torn or holes I put it in the “to donate” pile.

I had a good cry when we got home from the dealership. It wasn’t really about the car thing. It was about being confronted with the fact that for all the progress we’ve made, we are still poor. Our finances is the main reason our surrogate stepped down all those years ago. It’s why various friends and families weren’t supportive of TTC. But Seedling has everything she needs! Heck, she has plenty of fun extras that aren’t necessity!

I don’t have grand plans for our family. My dreams are fairly modest, even a bit archaic. A little piece of land where we can raise our own meat and garden. Teach our children about God and faith and the value of working hard and doing the right thing. But I also want to be able to give my daughter dance classes, and horseback riding lessons or underwater basket weaving if that’s what really strikes her fancy. I want to be able to help her go to college. And it’s a tough pill to swallow to realize that with our current situation I can’t do that.

Generally, I’m content. I have a wonderful husband who us a fabulous father to our delightful little girl. My basic needs are met. We are surrounded with loving family, a strong church, and I’m slowly making lots of great new friends through my mom groups. I just wish that society could see that my life is rich, even if its not in material goods.

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To the Power of Five

Today (Thursday 5/30/13) was a big day. Seedling and I went to visit my friend J and her daughter C. Seedling is now 5 months old (What?! FIVE?? How did that happen!) and it was very surreal to see my daughter next to a 5 day old baby. To realize she really isn’t that tiny anymore. Our day is no longer a stream of eat-sleep-poop. She is sitting up with help. Even standing with (a lot of) help. She has an ever expanding repertoire of squeaks, squawks, grunts and giggles. She can reach, grab and bring things to her mouth. We play endless hours of tickle games, singing along to music, dancing about the apartment. Heck, today was some major milestones of her rolling from her back to her tummy. And this evening succeed in getting her left big toe in her mouth.

Don’t get me wrong – I am loving this stage. But I get nostalgic, knowing she will never be that teeny tiny again. She won’t spend entire days in a milk-enduced food comas.

I’m thankful we still have lots and lots of time ahead if us. Although I’m aware (and terrified) of how fast it will go!

The little girlies, 5mo Seedling and 5do C:

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Insanity

I finally understand what happened to all parents everywhere to make them crazy. See, I’ve been staunchly anti-crazy when it come to talking to things that don’t talk back.

Most everyone agrees talking to plants? Crazy. Talking to your pets? Crazy (socially acceptable, but still a little crazy). So I’ve never done it! However, with Seedling I have to work really hard to talk to her. Tell her about the plans for the day. Narrate what I am doing, as I do it. Review all we’ve done that day.

Sample conversation: “Seedling, today we are going to visit Suzy. Isn’t that exciting? (No response) I know you’re excited, her babies will be there, aren’t you looking forward to playing with them?! (No response) Oh, and now I’m just going to pour myself some almond milk. See? I am just over here by the fridge, now I’m opening the door, now I’m pouring… Be careful you don’t spill! But if you do spill, that’s ok, we can clean it up (no response….)”

And she will smile or frown, giggle or coo, spit bubble or spit up. But it’s not like she really talks back. I can feel myself slipping into craziness as this is getting more and more second nature. I’m more or less talking to myself. Like a crazy person. But it’s totally worth it for the precious, adorable, bouncing baby girl.

I just needed to acknowledge it. ūüôā The little things that change when you become a parent!

Thoughts on being a SAHM

Way back when I first met Hubster, and we started dating, I made the statement that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Looking back now, I realize that I pretty much felt I was going to college to please my parents, society, and feminists everywhere. I basically figured I would get a degree and a job until I found a man, got married and had kids. I know, how very “unenlightened” of me. But from a young age I saw a great value in being a mom who was around!

This week my very dear friend Suzy and her husband Professor bought a house. Suzy and professor are the same age as Hubster and me. They got married the same year as us. They had a clear life plan. They stuck to it, going to college for a normal amount of years, graduating on time, obtaining jobs and saving up until they started their family, and now have two dazzling kids. Suzy is a SAHM now, but because per-kids they had both worked, they were able to pay off all their debt (including student loans) before buying their home. All before they were 30.

If left to my own devices I can’t help but wonder if we would be further along in our life. If we would be buying a home, instead if renting. If our debt would be paid off. Because here’s the thing: I was on the path. From high school I went to college. My first year is when Hubster, Suzy, Professor and I all met. We then transferred to different colleges, but we were on “the path”. Keeping in mind I was getting a degree… Well, mainly for fun. Because that’s what I was “supposed” to do. I was basically killing time until the whole married-and-babies thing happened. So what was I getting a degree in? Biblical studies. Until I changed majors to Theology. Until I realized that with Hubster pursuing a career as a firefighter I might actually need a job and career and what in the world would I do with a degree in theology??? So I took a year off. Floundering. Trying to figure out “what I wanted to do”. When the truth was that what I wanted could not be gained from a degree. But to say “I want to be a mom” was offensive to most people, like as if declaring I wanted to be a stripper. Because desiring to be a stay at home mom must mean I wasn’t very intelligent or intellectual. I was lazy and an unproductive member of society.

Finally I decided to go back to school to be a vet tech. And the truth is I fell in love with the field. So I had a new plan: vet tech/mom! But then we hit infertility. And a miscarriage. The miscarriage coming right as I was finishing my degree. So I made several highly emotional decisions in an attempt to work through the loss. Decisions that set my career back.

At the end of the day, there has never been a solid chunk of time where both Hubster and I have been working. One was always in school, or dealing with some medical issue, or just unable to find work in a struggling economy.

I know there are other reasons we aren’t on a debtless-home buying place of course. Things that were completely outside my control. My vehicle dieing, and having to take on a car payment a month into our married life. (That we just recently finally paid off! Woot!) The next month Hubster had a seizure at work, and was subsequently out of work with some pretty big medical bills. You know, stuff like that…

But maybe if I hadn’t floundered… Maybe if I could have embraced my SAHM desires, we wouldn’t have my student loan debts. I could have spent those years of I was in school focusing on learning better budgeting skills. Better housekeeping skills. Maybe we’d have a little less debt and a little more life skills.

Of course, can’t forget that becoming a mom (working, home, or other) wasn’t as quick and easy as we had hoped. So the real truth is that whether I had gone to school or not, our picture probably wouldn’t look that different. And I know I shouldn’t compare my life to my friends… The grass always looks greener. But I still have regret for money and time wasted. I lived the vet field, but I’m really glad to be home. To watch my daughter grow and change and learn. I’m even entertaining thoughts about homeschooling! (More on that later…)

I guess what I’m trying to say is I love being a mom. I’m so thankful I tried working (so I can’t wonder “what if?”) but even more thankful that now I’m home. I wish it hasn’t taken me so long to get here. But Im so grateful to finally be here.

I Feel Like a Real Girl!

That’s right folks, it’s not just Pinocchio that struggles with this being-a-human-being-thing! Autonomy, what’s that again?!

This afternoon my mom came and watched Seedling so I could go do something that harkens back to high school.

I bought a gown. I know, I know. The same lady who struggles to fit in time for showers and clean clothes went DRESS SHOPPING! *insert squealing girly sounds here*

This summer my brother will graduate from a very prestigious test-pilot program, and the graduation is black tie. Yes, I do still have some of my fancy dressed from high school… But I’m 75lbs heavier than I was back then, and I just had a baby. No way I’m fitting back into them anytime soon! The dresses I do have are fine for a Sunday brunch, a summer wedding, dinner date with Hubster… But no grown-up formal dress. And that seems like a basic wardrobe item. Not that I run in upper crust circles, but as we are moving toward a more adult stage of our lives, who know when we could be invited to a formal dinner party, or perhaps one of these days I will finally be able to convince Hubster to take me to the Opera or to a Ballet! *starts day dreaming about fancy theater outings…*

So back to dress shopping. I did a little Internet shopping ahead of time to get an idea of styles and prices. It was a little strange to leave the apartment today with only my purse. No juggling of purse+diaper bag+car seat. I got to the local mall and parked by the department-store of choice, and went in. I wandered the dress area… Most either too casual (aka not full length) or way too matronly (I’m not 98!) or they were for teen-prom (ok, I’m dress shopping but I’m not 18). I found a few in my taste and size to try, but not “the” dress I had loved online. The customer service lady told me they didn’t have any, but a store an hour away did or she could order it for me. No way I have the time to drive an hour for a dress. I tried on what I had found, and a similar dress to what I liked made by the same brand. It was pretty easy to see that what they had was ok, but not great. So I ended up ordering “the” dress, and got the size based on the same-brand dress I had tried on… Here’s hoping it is as awesome in person as in expecting. On the upside, free shipping and 10% off, if I have to return or exchange it I won’t have lost money on shipping and the event isn’t until June.

And now… What you’ve all been waiting for…. “THE” dress!

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Time Flies When You Get Through Your To Do List…

Holy cow, another week gone! ¬†To sum up…

Sunday: After all the tragedies on the news, it was so wonderful go to church; to refocus and spend my morning in prayer. ¬†I haven’t spoken on here about the tragedies, and to be honest, I haven’t read anyone’s blogs posts about it. ¬†I’ve taken a hiatus from facebook. ¬†It’s not that I don’t care, it’s all just too heartbreaking and I can’t handle it. ¬†But church was amazing. ¬†A deep breath of fresh air (Well, technically,¬†incensed¬†air, but you know what I mean.) unfortunately Hubster was feeling sick and could not make it. ¬†Then we went to my cousin Blithe’s Christmas party. ¬†It was a small family affair, Blithe and his husband, and Blithe’s brother and sister (all of them are my cousins) and the sister’s boyfriend. ¬†My mom, Hubster and myself. ¬†We don’t get to see my cousins as much as I would like, but we were really close growing up and it’s always good to get to see them and catch up. ¬†And here is the 38 week bump shot from Sunday (in pajamas, it was a last minute thought before bed):

38 weeks

Working is getting more and more interesting. ¬†Monday I had some SERIOUS baby brain. ¬†I give you these 4 examples: (I’m sure there are more, but I’ve forgotten them ūüėČ ¬†)
-Asking a question… only to ask the same question of the same¬†person¬†15 minutes later.
-Highlighting the wrong thing in a chart (Well,¬†technically I highlighted the important part… but I also highlighted everything else. ¬†Oops.)
-Almost forgetting to take my cats home. ¬†(I had taken them in for the day… and I had to remind myself several times since I would sometimes I forget I had pets in the building)
-I left my checkbook out after making a payment on my account – thankfully a vet assistant grabbed it and waved it at me!

Tuesday: ¬†Went and learned how to install the car seat in the morning! ¬†It’s a little crazy to see a car seat in the back of my car… ¬†then errands and KNITTING! ¬†LIKE A FIEND! ¬†HOLY COW HOW WILL I GET IT ALL DONE?!?! *deep cleansing breaths*
And then we went and toured our hospital in the evening.
First of all, here is a picture of our hospital (taken from their brochure)
Hospital Brochure FrontYa.  I know.  What was the architect thinking???

But it’s a great hospital, the only one in the area that has giant tubs for water births and several other “progressive” policies like that. ¬†Here are some thoughts from the tour:

Hubster said last night that he is thinks the set up at the hospital is better than the birth center, which I thought was funny – I would have assumed he would have preferred the lake view and homey ambiance of the birth center but he is just like a little kid, so excited by the lights of the big city! (At one point I had to gently pull him away from the window so we could keep up with the rest of the tour group!) So Hubster is totally sold on the change.
My first thought was that the building reminded me of an airport terminal and the rooms (with the oval windows) like being on an airplane… (And I’m not such a great flyer) and even though I work around medical equipment all day I was a little overwhelmed to see it all out and EVERYWHERE in the rooms. On the other hand, I felt like all the staff we met seemed very nice and focused on their work.
This morning I’ve decided to NOT think of the building as resembling anything to do with planes, but to think of it like giving birth in the St.ar Tr.ek universe because, well, that’s the only other thing the building reminds me of. And since Hubster and I are fans of St.ar Tr.ek that makes it all seem a lot more fun. (And I decided that if you REALLY use your imagination, our doctor Dr.B ¬†kind of looks like Sulu…) ¬†The tub room we went into that is meant for water birth was HUGE, someday when we own our own home, I WANT THAT TUB! Even with a whole tour group, part of me really wanted to climb in and take it for a test drive (but don’t worry, I maintained self control!) ūüėÄ ¬†While on the tour we actually passed Dr.B in the hall and Doula P introduced us, but it was just a quick “hello” and then we had to go our separate ways. ¬†I sent out an email last night to my parents explaining the visitor protocols so hopefully there wont be any surprises for them on the day of delivery!

Today I went in and “officially” met Dr.B. ¬†Here are my thoughts:

It went really well, the nurse was super nice and asked if I wanted an internal check, and I figured since I haven’t really had one to go ahead and see what’s going on down there. Cervix is most definitely still closed and baby is still somewhat high. Although I have been having increased cervical mucus… which I know that is pretty normal up to a month before delivery. (Hubster will be bummed by the cervix news, when we got home last night he was so jazzed about the hospital and excited to meet Seedline he was really hoping she would come sooner rather than later.)
Oh, and the Strep B test I had done with Midwife N came back positive but the nurse assured me that an IV wont stop me from being able to get into the tub (hoping and praying one of the two tub rooms is available of course!) so we will just have to keep that in mind as far as how long we can labor at home. ¬†(Once my water breaks I have to be getting an IV of antibiotics to protect the baby from the bacteria of Strep B that is living in my nether regions – it’s fairly harmless to me, and the majority of women have the bacteria, but can pose a serious health risk to Seedling) Hopefully my water takes a while to break so we can get some progress done at home, but we will just have to wait and see!
Dr. B was surprised I have not had any ultrasounds since my 20 week scan, they did a short one today to confirm Seedling is head down (Yay!) but he wants me to go in tomorrow for a more up to date scan, he made several comments about how big he thinks the baby is. Silly doctors, getting all stressed about the size of the baby – as long as we can get her head lined up correctly, that’s all that matters! (I’ve known several small/short women give birth to large 9 and 10lb babies) ¬†But I’m such a sucker to get to see Seedling, I’m excited for more ultrasound fun tomorrow! Next appointment with the doctor is Friday the 28th. ¬†(Ok, admittedly, a little worried about the “big baby” comments that it might change how willing he is to let me try to deliver vaginally… but also just trying to stay focused on not freaking out, staying calm etc etc.)

Ran some errands on my way home (including purchasing a nursing bra – apparently you can’t get a super accurate ¬†fitting for one until 2 weeks after the baby is born and the milk has come in, but I figured getting one would be important for those two weeks, I just tried to get one that wasn’t *too* expensive and felt comfortable.) sent some emails, ate some lunch, typed this monstrosity up and now, to get on with MORE KNITTING!!!!!!! ¬†I’m really worried I wont get it all done in time, Christmas is less than a week away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Weird Mental Head Space

Yesterday a person in our church posted a prayer request, because a woman he knew had just had a miscarriage at 6 months. ¬†Which is ¬†where I’m at in my pregnancy right now. 25 weeks. ¬†Approximately halfway through my 6th month.

(Thank you¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy#Progression¬†for this handy chart…)

Sometimes, as excited as I am as we prep the nursery and decide on a baby name and accept various gifts and hand-me-downs, I can’t help but feel this is like a little kid dressing up in her mom’s high heels – that this is all some very elaborate make-believe. ¬†Maybe it’s just that we’ve spent so long hoping and trying, it’s hard to imagine this all finally happening. Maybe it’s because a “due date” is a flexible thing, 2 weeks before or after are fair game. But mostly, I think it’s that I’m just so aware of how fragile a thing pregnancy can be. ¬†Being involved in the ALI, and even PAIL, communities I’m¬†surrounded¬†by stories of loss and grief. ¬†That is my norm. ¬†That is my expectation in pregnancy.

So, as Hubster has moments of “Wow, we’re going to have a baby! This is a huge responsibility! Am I going to be a good dad?” I am stuck in this place of “The baby hasn’t kicked in a few hours, or most of the day, is she ok? Is her heart still beating? Are we really going to make it to a live birth?” It’s hard to look ahead, unless it’s in this abstract, detached way. ¬†Such as “Oh, when/if there is a baby in the house, we have to start remembering to disinfect the counter-tops after Hubster spills uncooked steaks on them, instead of just a normal cleaning.” ¬†All my thoughts on parenting are, in some ways, detached. ¬†As if considering a concept that I may or may not actually get to attempt. ¬†I hope to do something things, want to avoid others… but there is a sense of¬†tangibility¬†that seems remote.

In a lot of ways, it’s like when Hubster and I sit and dream of our someday-future-vacation to Scotland where we want to do a tour of the various Scotch¬†distilleries. ¬†Will this happen? ¬†Probably. ¬†But not for a long time. ¬†That’s one expensive vacation, crossing the Atlantic, about $1,000 per plane ticket, then there is¬†accommodations, food, trains… ¬†It’s certainly more realistic than, say, dreaming of going to Narnia. ¬†So I recognize the possibility of the reality of us having a child… it just still feels so distant, uncertain, even with the third trimester just ahead of us.

If I do ever worry about my parenting ability, it’s in this “I’m so stuck in the presence, I haven’t really been hit or overwhelming by the idea of being a parent yet, does that mean I will be unprepared if/when it does happen?”

I also seem to be struck by how my friendships are changing. ¬†Do you remember, when you were really little, your parents were the coolest people? ¬†If you got hurt, you went to them crying knowing they would kiss and make it better. ¬†If you accomplished something exciting you couldn’t want to tell them or show them.

Then you start to get a little older, and¬†suddenly¬†your parents are kind of lame, they don’t get you, but you have these friends that seem more like family. ¬†“The family you choose” we always said in High School. ¬†You are sad or hurting so you would call them up, and go to the mall, or cry over ice cream. ¬†You accomplish something and you can’t wait to share if with them. ¬†These peers that understand all the crazy hormones, they like the same music, they relate to how annoying parents can be – it’s all very intense. ¬†And you think, “we will always be friends”. And not just friends, but we will always be¬†intensely friends, like we are right now. ¬†Even after I got married, I still had friends that I would call up and we would go the bar and stay out late and had each other’s backs.

But it seems I’m entering into a new phase where my friends (as much as I love them and need them in my life) just aren’t so¬†intensely important as they used to be. ¬†My flesh and blood family is becoming the priority again. ¬†Time with Hubster or my parents is just as, if not more than, important as spending time with my friends. ¬†I find myself¬†frustrated¬†when my friends are not flexible, to¬†accommodate¬†my changing work schedule or my desire to also spend time with my family. ¬†I listen to songs that (only a few years ago!) used to really speak to me about friends-as-priority, and now they just feel nostalgic… not my reality.

I know this is all normal, but it feels weird to be in the midst of so much mental change. ¬†I may only be 27 but it makes me feel old; I always pictured that when my life came back around to family-as-priority I’d be older than 27… and even with a husband and children I would still have intense friends. ¬†(They made it happen on the TV show “Friends!”, you mean that’s not real life?!) ¬†But it just doesn’t work like that. ¬†We only have so much time and energy to devote to relationships, and those intense friendships take up a LOT of time and energy. ¬†And being pregnant and trying to prepare for a baby takes up a LOT of time and energy. ¬†And starting a new job take a LOT of time and energy! ¬†It just can’t all be done.

Then on the other side of the coin, it seems that for all the horror, grief and loss that I see around me (both IRL and online) I also seem to have several friends (IRL and online) that are pregnant with their second child, and struggling with fears of how the new child will take them away from their first child. ¬†And I must say – while it seems to be a fairly normal emotion – I just don’t get it. ¬†I don’t understand worrying about how the second child is unfair to the first child. ¬†If anything, the firstborn gets an unfair advantage. ¬†Because no subsequent child will ever get the kind of undivided, focused attention. ¬†And perhaps it really isn’t good for them to have that – there is a lot of psychology these days about how children are raised thinking they are the center of the¬†universe, and then can’t adapt to the real world of school or work where they are not the most important thing. ¬†So I would think that having a second child as soon as possible would in some ways be better for the firstborn child. ¬†Of course, I do understand a couple saying “We are not ready financial/emotionally/physically/spiritually to have another child (yet).” but I just don’t understand this concern for the first born child. ¬†It’s not like anyone says “Oh, this secondborn child will be ripped off for having the firstborn child here, splitting my focus.” ¬†Or maybe it’s just nobody I know has said that? ¬†Please know, I’m not making a judgement here, it’s just been percolating in the back of my head, these musings that don’t make sense to me.

It feels good to get this all down, things that have been on my mind for a while! ¬†I’m sure I could have done these topics much better justice if I had separated them into 3 different posts, but I have so little time to actually sit with the laptop and have the mental energy to write, I wanted to get it all down before I forgot. ¬†Now to get in a shower before heading off to work!