Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Second Little Love (or What I've Been Doing for the Last Few Years)

I haven't introduced my youngest daughter, Claire, yet and that is just not right! Claire is a funny, loving, smart, adorable and dream-come-true girl. She's now just over three years old and is my almost-constant companion. Just prior to finding out I was pregnant with her, I was definitely beginning to think that Kate would be my only. I was beginning to make peace with that and I was so grateful and happy to be Kate's mom. I worried a little about her being an only child and wondered how that would be for her. I began reading a nonfiction book of essays about growing up as an only child, which were written, of course, by only children. I was just looking for reassurance that Kate could grow up happy and be well-adjusted (as much as that's possible with a mom who's slightly neurotic). And I know she could have.

To my great surprise and delight, however, I found out I was pregnant early in the winter of 2010 and I could not have been more thrilled. As had become customary with my pregnancies, I had to monitor the pregnancy by having HCG levels checked and then having an early ultrasound. I was ecstatic when I found out that the pregnancy looked normal. I won't pretend that I was relaxed and unworried throughout my pregnancy with Claire. Nope. I was riddled with anxiety throughout, unfortunately, but I also enjoyed being pregnant and tried to savor it as I knew it would be my last time.

I had a midwife and hired a doula and prepared to do anything I could to have a natural, vaginal birth as I had had a cesarean with Kate and I really wanted to have the experience of birthing a baby, holding her immediately afterward and trying to nurse soon after that. I did manage to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) with the help of my doula, midwives, the nurses at the hospital, and my supportive husband. I labored and delivered completely unmedicated which was so very exhausting and difficult but, man, was it worth it. I held Claire right away and tried to nurse her shortly thereafter. Claire made her entrance into the world a full month ahead of her due date so she had to stay in the NICU for a few days, but aside from being a little jaundiced and having low blood sugar levels, she was healthy (she actually has a kidney disorder called MCDK, but we knew that before she was born and it wasn't something that would put her in immediate danger). I was fortunate enough to be able to stay in the hospital with her and for the last night of our hospital stay she slept in my room with me.

Claire has been the most wonderful addition to our family. Kate was thrilled to be a big sister, although I admit that there was a period of adjustment for her and understandably so, I think; she had spent four years with my and Sean's undivided attention, so it was a bit challenging to have to learn to share us with her sister. She loved Claire from the beginning, though, and is a great big sister. Claire, as little sisters are wont to do, adores her big sister and wants to be just like her.

Here was Claire then:

                                     



Here is Claire now:

                              

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Best About Life

After reading and before singing last night, while Kate and I were laying in her twin bed in the dark, she asked me what I like best about life. No one has ever asked me that before. She's six, almost seven.

I told her, after giving it a bit of thought, that I like my relationships best. The ones I have with her, Claire, and Sean. And also those I have with other family members and friends.

I asked her why she asked. She said she's planning to write a 100 page book about a family with 100 members in it who will all be asked that question, and each page of the book will be each person's reply. Wow.

She said that after relationships, her favourite things are nature and the beautiful sights you can see throughout the world. She said nature is amazing because it's just like that—no one constructed it.

One of the things that I like best about life is my daughter's mind.

Monday, December 31, 2012

My Year in Review

I'm grateful for a wonderful year in which I got to visit San Diego, CA for the first time; turned forty and wasn't traumatized by it; participated in The Ultimate Hike in order to raise funds for children's cancer research and support my friend, whose son has leukemia, while proving to myself that, even at the ripe old age of forty, I'm capable of doing much more than I usually allow myself to believe.

I witnessed my smart, beautiful and adaptable daughter, Kate, switch schools at the beginning of first grade and flourish. I witnessed my funny, adorable younger daughter, Claire, turn two and begin talking up a storm. I remain constantly amazed by—and grateful for—them; the wondrous little humans they are and the infinite depth they add to my life.

This year we adopted our first family dog, who is testing us emotionally and adding to the chaos that is sometimes our life, but who is also adding joy and love to our lives, as well as forcing us to get outside and exercise more consistently. I'm happy she has joined our family.

I went out on a limb a few times this year and connected with a few new people, which felt great and has given me hope that even at this stage of life I can learn to put myself out there and be vulnerable, and that no matter what happens as a result of opening myself up, I'll be OK.

I think I've made strides this year in accepting myself for who I am and have been a bit gentler with myself than in years past. That is huge for me.

Although I haven't managed to figure out how to be ever-mindful of the abundance in my life, I do think I've gotten better at recognizing how fortunate I am and feeling deep gratitude for all that I have.

I'm looking forward to the new experiences, the family traditions and, as hokey as it may sound, the personal growth that the new year will bring!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Navel Gazer

I'm thinking about dusting off the old blog and making it public again (I suppose if you're reading this, then I did just that).

In all of the time I've been away, I only wrote one private post and that was way back when I decided to go private. I've since removed the post because it doesn't feel right just now to share such personal information publicly. I will say that writing the post was somewhat therapeutic for me, and it allowed for a bit of healing to occur.

I've just spent a bit of time reading through some of my old posts and I have to say that I no longer feel many of the feelings I expressed in them. I feel better overall, but, like most people, I've got plenty more personal growing to do. Part of me would like to delete some of the old stuff, as it doesn't give an accurate picture of where I am right now, but I've decided to leave it alone because those posts reflect where I was and what was happening at that time, and, hell, I spent time writing them, so I'd sort of like them to stick around.

A lot of navel-gazing went on in this blog and I suspect there will be a lot more of that to come, so—and this isn't meant harshly—if you'd rather not join me in gazing at my navel, then you probably shouldn't read my blog.

It's good to be back!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Going Private

I've decided that I'm going to make my blog private. This may not make a lot of sense considering that I don't post very much and not many people read my blog but, at least for now, it makes sense to me. Maybe the reason I don't post a lot is that people might read what I write. I know that's sort of the point of having a blog, but I guess I'm realizing that I just need to write for myself for the time being. So, that's what I'm going to do.

I'll likely still read many of the blogs I've been following, and I may comment from time to time. I thought I'd leave this note just so that you know why you're being met with a private blog if you should click over here. My husband will be the only invited reader for now. I may change back to an open blog, I may delete my blog, or I may switch to WordPress--I'm just not sure. I wish you all well.


Shannon

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Feel the Earth Move

Hey there. It's been awhile. I'm still not sure what I'm doing with my blog--indecisive much? I'll just jump in here and give you a few highlights from the past month and a half.

Sean, Kate and I were in California on May 17th, which is Sean's and my wedding anniversary. We celebrated our sixth married year together (there were ten unmarried ones before these past six) in Anaheim, without a lot of hullabaloo (I can't believe I just used the word hullabaloo). We moved from one hotel to another that day and didn't do a whole lot else, aside from taking Kate into the hotel pool. That night, I showered before getting into bed, and while I was in the shower the door to the bathroom started rattling. I called out for Sean and he came to open up the door. When he did, I peeked out from behind the shower curtain and looked at him. He said, "I think this is an earthquake" with a sort of half-scared, half-excited look on his face.

We were both a tiny bit scared, but realized within a short period of time that everything seemed okay and we were not likely to be swallowed up by the earth that night. However, the possibility of that, albeit extremely faint, gave us a little extra impetus to celebrate (if you know what I mean) our anniversary before going to sleep that night. So, so much for waiting until the end of June to start trying to conceive again. Long story short, I actually thought we got unbelievably lucky and managed to get pregnant, but it turns out--not so much.

So, this month, I decided to use an Ovulation Predictor Kit for the first time in my life. I just did my last of seven tests last night and all were negative. What's up with that? Either I started testing too early in my cycle or I didn't ovulate. The latter is certainly not going to help me in the baby-making department. I'm a little worried, but I'm not going to allow myself to be overly anxious about it yet. I'm planning on buying another kit and trying again for my next cycle. Hopefully, I'll find that it was just an anomaly.

In other news, Kate turned three! I can't believe my baby girl is three. On Kate's actual birthday, Sean and I took her to the Minnesota Zoo, and the three of us had a fun family day together. A week later, we had a larger birthday party for Kate, which included her play group friends, a magician (a little overboard, I know), and a lot of Tinkerbell decorations (we took Kate to Disneyland while in California and a Tinkerbell fixation ensued). My mom was able to fly in from Canada for a ten-day-long visit, so she was a part of the birthday festivities, which was very nice. Kate was happy to have a member of her family, aside from Sean and me, here to celebrate with her.

Yesterday, Kate rode her "big-girl" bike (equipped with training wheels) around our block three times!! I jogged beside her, every once in a while righting her leaning bike, and marvelling the whole time at how big she has gotten. She was smiling and giggling almost the entire time, amazed at her speed and amused that I had to run to keep up. Halfway through one lap, I actually got a little choked up about what seemed like a momentous occasion. My girl, in her pink, butterfly-adorned bike helmet, racing around the block with me yelling out instructions like, "slow down at the corner!" and "brake at the alleys!!" and "don't look back, keep looking ahead!"

And I admit that it occurred to me more than once, as I was yelling out that last instruction, that I could stand to do a little more looking ahead in my life. I think I look back and lament what's lost a little too much. I'm not making any grandiose promises to myself that I won't be able to keep, but I will say that, this week, I'm enjoying the here and now, and I'm looking ahead.

I've been getting out for some good, long walks over the last week, which I'm sure is partly responsible for my somewhat improved outlook. Last night, Sean put Kate to bed and I walked outside for a full hour, listening to music on my ipod and feeling really good. Exercise really can make such a big difference to my mood. I mean, just a short while ago I was feeling practically despondent, and last night, while walking, I was feeling like things such as happiness, a healthy life, productivity, another child, and better relationships were all possible for me. I am committed to walking five days a week, and Sean is committed to helping me achieve that goal.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Ladybug and a Wonderful Girl

Just before Kate's nap today, she found a ladybug crawling around on the inside of the screen door on our front porch. She came to get me, excited to show me her discovery. She wanted it to crawl onto her finger, so I helped and we managed to get it to do that. Soon after, I said we should open the door to set it free, so I opened the door and Kate eventually managed to get the ladybug to walk onto the top step that leads to our porch. The ladybug didn't go anywhere immediately, so Kate picked it back up, turned around and headed for the house, saying to the ladybug, "we'll be friends forever." I laughed a little--and my heart melted--and told her that a ladybug probably wouldn't make a good pet so we should release it. So, we started the release all over again; she didn't want to let it go, but eventually she did.

Afterward, we headed upstairs to get ready for her nap, and I suggested that we read one of her ladybug books (she has a few). She liked that idea and chose Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy (really cute picture book), and we happily read that. The book begins with Ladybug Girl saying something, so Kate--I think looking for confirmation--said, "that's Ladybug Girl talking."
"Yes," I said, "it is." And then I went on to point out the quotation marks around the speech, and started explaining how those marks indicate that someone is speaking. (I believe that this lesson was just a tad premature--Kate is not quite three-years-old and can't read yet.) As I was finishing my lecture, Kate said, "whatever."

"Did you just say 'whatever'?" I asked.

"Yeah."

"Where did you learn that?" I asked, trying not to chuckle. Well, it turns out she has heard one of her aunts say it (my youngest sister who is only ten), and a neighbour who is also ten. I explained that it's not very nice to say that, and she of course asked why. I told her that it's basically like saying that you don't want to hear what the person who is speaking is talking about (not that I can blame her in this case, though. I was boring her to death, after all). I have to admit, though, I was amused.

We finished reading our book, Kate correcting me when I made mistakes (it's amazing how kids can memorize almost every word of oft-read books, isn't it?), and then after flailing around for about fifteen minutes or so, as she was finally settling down, she whispered, "Mommy?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you right up all around the sky and back," Kate said, paraphrasing a line from Guess How Much I love You.

"I love you right up all around the sky and back, too, Honey," I said.

How--oh, how--can I possibly ever be depressed or anxious or whatever I am, when I have this wondrous, loving, smart and all-around wonderful girl in my life?