Huckleberry

Three is

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Three is a whiplash whirlwind. Three is fitting perfectly against my side and resting his small head in the crook of my neck. Three is hair quickly changing from angel fluff to real boy. Three is little arms losing their baby chub wrapping tightly around my leg. Three is I love you mommy don’t sing, NO MOMMY NO SINGING! Three is tiptoeing through a minefield tensely waiting for the next explosion, knowing it will come when you least expect it.

Three is frustration. Three screams for no reason. Three slaps and kicks and pulls hair. Three sometimes thinks that slapping, kicking and pulling hair are hilarious. Three spontaneously holds hands, climbs into laps and offers kisses. Three manipulates, controls, rewards and punishes. Three is possibly an abusive relationship that I cant, and don’t want to, escape.

Three is wild. Three is creative and independant and three needs his mommy right this instant and don’t you dare even go to the bathroom with out him again! Three needs stability and four books at night. Three needs Grer Bear tucked in bed next to him to cuddle at night.

Three makes grand declarations in half baby-half adult language. Three notices everything. Three can hear a candy wrapper being sneakily opened two rooms away.

Three is inspiring. Three is wonderful and terrible. Three is the sweetest words I love you mommy in an even sweeter voice. Three is exhausting.

And as of today, THREE is half over.

Thank God.

And also, can I slow down time? Because three is going too fast.

oh…that middle child.

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Yesterday Huck came up to me while I was working at his grandfather’s desk and said “I can’t find me.” Despite having rectified the no-printed pictures of the second born crisis, I hadn’t yet framed one for grandpa’s desk. Shame on me. Luckily this one was easily handled as I now have photos printed weekly.

So it was that this week, after months of asking, Huck started soccer. It wasn’t that we had meant to push his request aside. I just sort of got lost in life. Max had T-ball all summer then we had a baby and omg suddenly Huck had been begging for ages and no soccer had been arranged. I finally said to Zach, dude, Max was like I want baseball and BAM next day, baseball. We need to get this little Huckleberry in some soccer. BAM, next day, soccer.

Zach was insistent we take him to get him his very own new cleats (even if we already had some) and here I confess, I was wrong. Huck’s sheer glee over going to get his shoes for soccer was over the top and even if he doesn’t remember it, Zach, Max and I sure will.

Huck’s first day came early on a muggy, unbearably hot Saturday morning. We were miserable. Huck was sweaty, tired and in heaven. As he took the field Max remarked with a heavy sigh “Oh. They grow up so fast.”  Huck was the tiniest one on the team. His coach went out of his way to make sure that Huck got to grab a flag and get a cone in the games but he was thwarted by faster, stronger kids. At one point he nearly got the cone before it was swooped up by another boy. Huck stood in shock and then melted. It was so heartbreaking.

They played a game where they were cheetahs-running fast and making big kicks- and we heard his sweet little voice from across the field say “I A CHEETAH!” it was so cute and he was so, so happy.

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So we resolve to move quicker on Huck’s interests…he may have had to wait. But it was worth it.

 

 

 

 

All the boy babies are leaving…..

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He was adamant he carry his bag. To the car, to the school, and to put it on his name plate – there was to be no helping him. Thank you very much.

I knew that sending Huck off to his first day of preschool would be different than sending Max. First of all the simple circumstances dictated it; we had been in that school for three years and now know all the teachers, the classrooms, and most importantly the playground. Huck himself had been there every week since he was 3 months old, saving for summer vacations. He knew the teachers and the classrooms and how it works.  He is a different kid than Max. He maintained that I was staying with him at class, although I prepared him that I was going to leave, Daddy was going to leave but we would be back to pick him up just as we had with Max.

He has been waiting, waiting to do what brother does and his gleeful cry of “It’s mine day! Mine School!” when I told him it was time to go to school said it all.

He was first into the classroom sitting right down at a table until his teacher asked him if he wanted to take out some toys. You don’t have to ask Huck twice on that front, dude had toys less that 2 seconds later. I snapped a few pics, kissed that sweet, golden Dennis the Menace hair and we scooted out the door…

Call us if you need us, I told my very favorite teacher ever. (Seriously FB suggested I friend her and I didn’t because I don’t think it would be healthy for me…I love her that much. )

No matter how much you love the school and the teachers and how much you trust the administration there is, at least for me, a battle of instincts. My instinct is to run in and gather my baby in my arms and never leave him. What I do is get in my car and go to Starbucks and get a drink because in this instance my instinct isn’t in his best interest. He is ready. He loves to play games and do puzzles and he is so bored of me. He wants to go to school. He wants to paint and color and play and make friends. He is ready.

But he told us emphatically he does not want to go on the red thing on the playground. Which, incidentally next to the swings, is Max’s second favorite thing on the playground. He could spin on that all day. We assured him he didn’t have to go on it at all. He seemed relieved, oh that that should be the biggest worry about school ever, right?

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I needn’t have worried. Huck had been waiting for so long to do what Max does. By the time I got through the throng of parents at the door Huck was the last one in classroom…a situation that would have Max thinking I was never coming. I caught a glimpse of him and he was playing happily with a toy, he saw me and (thank God for small mercies) his whole face lit up. He raced to grab my hand and show me everything in his classroom.

I scooped him up in my arms and he rested his head on my shoulder, so tired from the excitement of the day. His teacher told me “Stephanie, he was perfect! He followed directions, he sat for story time. He was an angel!”

Of course he was. He saved his devilish side for me. I took him to get a donut, the first day of school deserves a treat, don’t you think? His chest was puffed out with pride all day.

It was, in a word, perfect.

 

 

One of the weirdest things about motherhood…

 

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When Max was a tiny cherub of a breastfed baby, I swear to you his tiny baby poops smelled like roses. Everyone thought I was crazy but I swear it was true. (Recently my very brilliant friend Stefanie remarked that baby poops smell like roses and that validated my theories) Anyway, Max had poops of roses. Sweet and precious!

Huck came crackling into this world a little sparkler of a person, long and lean where Max was round and chubby. His poops did not smell of roses, oh no. Rather they smelled of hot buttered popcorn. I promise you this is true.

Now, Piper. Precious, sweet a mixture of both of them. Quickly leaving her tiny newborn-ness behind and assuming full blown cherub status. Her sweet little breastfed baby poops smell neither of roses or hot buttered popcorn. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they smelled like.

Finally I remarked to my partner in crime, Max, that I couldn’t place the smell but that it was familiar. (are you jealous of the conversations I have with my children?) He said with utter certainty “they smell like wine.”

um….what? But here’s the thing; they DO. They smell like a good red wine.

Now lest you go thinking I am sort of lush, I didn’t eat roses with Max and popcorn upsets my stomach. I have had a grand total of 4 wicked apple ciders and one Summer Shandy since Piper has been born. There is no more reason that her poops smell like wine any more than Max’s smelled like roses.

As for how Max remembers the smell of wine? Well, we did let him take a whiff when we were having a glass like ages ago. That kid does have a hell of a memory.

But they do. So sayeth Max. So sayeth us all.

 

Motherhood is crazy.

The dance of motherhood.

I dream at night of being a ballerina.

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I am lithe and long as I glide across the non-existent stage. My arms slender and pale, ethereal. I am so thin and so very strong and there is no shame; everything is exquisite. The arch of my foot tells the story. The the soft folds of my ballet dress float as I turn, pirouetting. I am Suzanne Farrell. I am Gelsey Kirkland. Long dark hair trailing behind me as I spin and jump, so free. It is my ascension to heaven.

I wake drenched in postpartum sweat, feet aching from unconsciously pointing in slumber to nurse the new baby.

My great grandfather was a bit of a scum. He was run out of town and went on to have an entirely different and separate family. My great grandmother, not one to suffer fools, bravely filed for divorce in a time when that simply was not done. She had four children and worked so hard, standing such long hours her uterus prolapsed at work. She was strong, but she was not lithe.

We met this other family once. A meet up of my grandmother and her half-sisters, one thrilled to have more family and one very put out that Daddy’s Girl has a girl before her. Never mind that he walked away and abandoned that very girl. I myself was always desperate for family and wanted to know them. Wanted to be with them. Wanted them to love me.

They didn’t.

They shared stories of my grandmother’s absent father and of his other grandchildren. I had cousins, they said. And they danced. I love to dance! I told them, all of 13 and full of dreams not yet unrealized. I thought we are the same, those cousins and me. Scoffing I was told no they dance. Ballet. With Balanchine and Baryshnikov, who’s poster hung on my wall above my bed. My heart soared. Maybe I could meet them? Maybe I could just glean a touch of that world from them. They had both left NYC Ballet and moved on to be Ballet Mistresses of their own companies by then. We never saw my grandmother’s half sisters again. One meeting was all. I don’t know if they kept in touch, perhaps my mother does.

I saw a ballet once in San Francisco listing my cousin’s name as Mistress. Was she in the building? Were we close? I imagined her perfect, strong.

The baby has violent hiccups and I dance my own dance of bounces, sways, and rhythmic pats until she quiets, giving a shuddering sigh and relaxes her wisp of a body fully into my arms. Gingerly I kiss her cheek, she still smells of heaven. She settles into her bed and I crawl back beneath the covers and try to rest.

I am not thin. I am not strong. I am not even a success anymore. I feel sad for myself that I haven’t accomplished anything of great worth. No real goals achieved. When you are small years seem to take forever to pass and suddenly you blink and your thirties are gone. And here I still am, tied to the ground. Heavy. I miss the theatre. I miss my old friends who smoked on the fire escape at intermission. I miss the stories they told. It’s as if I missing a limb.

But truly I am happy here and now. There is no music more beautiful than my children’s laughter. There is no ballet as intricate as their play, beautiful and painful.

The sun rises, as it always does and things look brighter. My sons and I pour love over their new sister, kissing her head to toe while we wonder what she will like. Princesses they say assuredly. And baseball. I hold her impossibly tiny foot and she points. A good arch. I smile and wonder will she want to dance too? Will she want to act? Whatever she chooses I envision her strong and ascending upwards to her dream.

Perhaps motherhood is it’s own version of Ballet Mistress. My company my brood of babes. Warm ups are Yo Gabba  and the Wiggles. The music the Beatles and Green Day and Sophia The First. The steps are wild and unpredictable. More Twyla Tharp than Balanchine.

Beautiful.

From man to man to zone defense.

If I worried when I was pregnant with Huck that Max would have trouble with a new baby, that was nothing compared to how I worried about Huck when this baby would arrive. My sweet Huck is possessive, jealous and all around 3. He is the baby and I stressed about how to make sure he knew he wasn’t displaced, that there was just one more to love.

And for the second time, I was worried for nothing. Max thought Huck was the greatest thing ever and Huck thinks Piper is. Max does too, obviously, but for him this time he is the expert. He knows how this goes and he watches over her like a hawk beaming with pride at his baby sister.

Huck? Huck just wants his baby and woe to anyone who gets in his way.

very first glimpse.jpgWe were back in our room by 7 and the boys arrived around 7:30 to meet their baby. We always call the baby “their baby” and they love this! We did this with Max as well when Huck arrived. He still calls Huck “his baby.”  Grandpa lifted them up for a very first glimpse at Piper and it was magical from there on out. I am not sure how Huck grasped the concept so clearly, just as Max did, but he knew without a doubt this tiny creature was what had been in mommy’s tummy and was now out and finally available for snuggling!

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WMFirstMeet1.jpgZach told me that when this was taken Huck was saying to her “Hi Baby Piper. I take care of you. I get you milk!” so…..that’s basically perfect. And Max just took over, he is madly in love with his baby.

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Dr. Hussein came by to check on me and I was able to grab a pic of her and the boys. I am so grateful she brought Huck and Piper into this world safely. A good doctor who really listens to you can be hard to find, and she is a gem!

Before long it was time for the boys to head home to bed. I miss them the moment I am away from them. If I could have I would have headed home with them, I wanted us all to be together. I’m so glad my in-laws brought them right away to see her (and me!)

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So we start to adjust to being a family of five. And I attempt to find a way to protect Piper from Huck’s rather voracious Love Muggings. But it’s all good.

And then there were five. The birth of Piper; p2

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Having a spinal is so weird. There’s no other way to describe your legs going numb and that feeling creeping up your body. Since we had been bumped a few times Zach was in the room for all the prep this time and I really liked that. Plus it gave him a glimpse into my experience of a C-section. Husbands usually breeze in when everything is all pristine and ready to go! 1,2,3- BABY! This time Zach saw the spinal, and how nervous I was. He saw all the prepwork that went into getting me ready and he got to see the well oiled machine that was my team of doctors. I loved this team, they teased each other and joked with us telling stories and putting me at ease, but when it was time to go- it was ALL business. They kept the drape down until right before they cut so we saw them clean my belly- which I did NOT like, there’s a vulnerability to being on the table and it’s the weirdest things that make you crazy. The feeling of them cleaning and putting the beta-dyne on my belly made me repeat in some sort of loopy record “I don’t like that! I don’t like that!”

Too bad, sister, it’s got to be done! They made sure that I was indeed numb and honestly that was the worst part. The actual surgery went smoothly and quickly with minimal effort and Piper let out a big old cry right away! That is the greatest sound ever. I remember how long it took for Huck to cry, it was so scary that silence until he finally began to squall. Piper came out squawking and it was glorious! I kept saying she sounded like a little bird, it was just the tiniest but most insistent cry.

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I was thrilled they let us bring a camera in this time, so before we went in I set it up and told Zach to shoot everything. He sure did and I am so grateful to him for being able to both be there for me and still shoot like a maniac.

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(shot by Dr. Hammel, of course.)

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Zach knew the ropes at this point, he goes everywhere that baby goes while they put me back together. I chose to have a tubal this time, since the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be and truly? Who wants to go through this super fun time with me again? The inability to eat! The headaches! The rushing to the hospital to make sure baby cooks long enough! Good times! So yeah, this baby shoppe is closed. (But I confess if I was able too I would straight up be Ma Duggar. I love having me some babies. Even if those little buggers don’t sleep at night)

Zach headed off to the nursery with a tiny Piper and I got ready for the next part. Once you have the baby it’s totally unfair you still have like 25 minutes of surgery left. (It might not be that long, concept of time is wonky when you’re drugged!)

It was during the tubal that I learned via Dr. Hammel and the Physician’s assistant that it is indeed possible to fracture a penis. These two were hilarious! Stories from the ER, people. If you are ever in need and you score these two on your surgical team count yourself lucky. They are not only people of great skill but they can read a room like a great comedian and put you at ease with the most hilarious stories. Thankfully my abdomen was totally rendered motionless or it would have been very hard not to laugh!

Before long I was done and headed to recovery and hoping to see my tiny baby! Unfortunately, being early, her blood sugar was very low and they kept her in the nursery for a while and tended to her. I got to take a quick nap and before I knew it I had my sweet baby in my arms.

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Then all I wanted was my boys there. And I knew they couldn’t wait to meet their “Baby Honey.”

It was even better than I imagined.

I have an excuse, I went on vacation and then had a baby.

 

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We have a joke in my family, I suck at pregnancy but make great babies. I am three for three on sucking at pregnancies and hereby (totally unbiased of course) declare that I am three for three on awesome babies.

All through my pregnancy there was debate whether I was one week ahead of where the u/s said I was (and being desperate to be almost done I was on board for that extra week even if my OB was not. My girlfriend who worked in an OB office said this is normal when you have 2 or more doctors, they all – good naturedly- want to be right and sometimes make bets. I am totally not offended by that.)

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Anyway we went on vacation to Rehoboth when I was 35 weeks pregnant and miserable. Listen, if you are pregnant and miserable the beach is the place to be, baby! DO IT! Every day we rolled out of bed and on to the beach where I sunned myself like one of those sea lions on the Pier in San Francisco. Max wave jumped like it was his job and gave impromptu Beatles concerts and Huck celebrated the fact that he was privvy to the world’s largest sandbox. Huck never met a sandbox he didn’t love.

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Funniest part of the trip was when I packed a big thermos of ice chips to take to the beach and Max said “good idea, mommy. That way you’ll have something to eat if you get hungry.” How quickly they learn.

It was fantastic! I contracted here and there and had to take it easy a few times but mind over matter I was enjoying this trip! We took the kids to Funland and the boys went to the water slide park with Daddy and Grandpa while we took in the outlets. It was wonderful!

We were set to come home on Saturday and on Friday night it happened. Oh! The contractions! I was pretty sure the contractions were strong but mostly that I had somehow popped a hip out and the contractions were pulling it. I have NEVER had pain like that. Thanks to autocorrect I was able to send Zach a text that said simply “Pain” he came in and at one point we actually really thought this baby might be born right there in the shower at the beach house. Luckily the beach house had a vast amount of hot water and eventually they eased and I was able to sleep.

We managed the road trip home with a quick stop at Candy Kitchen for some supplies and my little contraction timer going the whole while! Every ten minutes like clockwork…I was relieved we were heading home towards my very own doctor and the hospital I was comfortable. The idea of a C-section by a doctor I had never met was a little scary to me.

Sunday was spent lounging by the pool at my friend Kelly’s house, Max and Huck splashed and swam and played with their friends and had a great time. I was so thankful for good friends who helped keep my kids busy and happy while I, yet again, sat with my feet up contracting. (Extra bonus shout out to Kelly’s husband Sean who is my chiropractor and who showed that hip who was boss and adjusted my midback and neck like a madman. God bless Chiropractors!)

But we were home, and if she was ready, I was ready. I was more than ready. All the contracting and not being able to eat anything can really wear a gal down. And honestly? I was bored of myself. Bored of feeling sick all the time. bored of being grumpy. Bored of throwing up. Bored of contracting. I just wanted her here safely and I wanted to be ME again.

But as I sat poolside I really knew just how lucky complaining, whiny, contracty, pukey me, really was. So lucky.

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This is what happens when you give a stranger on the beach your camera.

 

A good time was had by all…

We ended Huck’s third birthday celebrations with a good old fashioned party. My birthday philosphy is like this Kids+toys=fun. So I am sort of low key about it. Here’s a slip n slide, a splash pool some squirt guns, some water balloons and some sugar. Have fun storming the castle!

And they did. Our front yard ended up being a total mudpit and the ladies in the group removed themselves to the backyard for snacks and inside for other toys while the boys ran and jumped and slid till the pool was the most revolting brown and they were covered in grass and dirt.

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Huck being three and having not started school before, has a friend group that pretty much consists of the little siblings of Max’s friends. I was particularly touched that Max’s entire school class showed up to play, bringing little sibs along. Such a great group of kids, and you know? The kindness and love they have always showed Huck and showed him at his party was so sweet. They all seem to view one another’s little siblings as part of the communal group and look out for them. So a bunch of 5 almost 6 year olds partying for a 3 year old was just a good time. It was so sweet how they helped him with the pinata and always checked on him to make sure he was okay. Huck was a little overwhelmed by it all but he ended up having a great time and I had to finally truly admit that I love it here in Maryland. I do. I love these kids and I will miss them when they all head off to different elementary schools in the fall.

I am fairly certain that all the Lightning McQueen toys, clothes, and books in our area have been purchased. So if you’re looking for anything McQueen in our area…sorry. Huck just about lost his mind opening “mine presents?”

 

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He was so excited to blow out his candles he couldn’t wait for the song to be finished. It was great.

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Huck’s Auntie Kelly made his cake. Lightning McQueen of course!

Huck ended the day with a bonfire at his favorite, Miss Jackie’s and an outdoor movie. I think three was a success!

A completely fascinating post…

This will be a completely fascinating post if you are my mother. Or perhaps not even her, as the answer to “who will baby girl look like?” does not seem to be one of her dogs. (I tease but for reals if you need a dog trainer in the Denver Metro my mom is the shizz, she wrote the book. Literally)

I haven’t written much about this pregnancy because honestly I am bored of myself.  Certainly the world doesn’t need yet another oh yay! contractions all night for me again! post.  Or I am so tired of throwing up! (And really, isn’t that what why we have Facebook?) But honestly that’s really whats happening. Lots of contractions for weeks, we are now 33 weeks so at least we are getting to the time when if something happens we will be in a much better position than we were a month ago. And yes, I am a vomiting fool. All day, every day.

It’s so fun!

Did you guys see the movie Rosemary’s Baby? When she is so weak and in pain and can’t keep anything down and the baby is actively stealing everything? That’s me! Except baby G is obviously not the spawn of Satan but rather a really cute preppy guy named Zach who used to let me abuse his Abercombie employee discount in an effort to woo me. It worked. The upshot is that I’m not gaining any weight in the last month, I am actually losing weight since you know, puking.  The good news is the baby is doing great, rocking it at about 5 pounds of adorable. She is stealing calcium from my teeth and bones, protein from my muscles. That little brat. Explains why I am so weak and grumpy.  But one look at that weirdly precious ultrasound and all is forgotten. I’d love to see a brain scan while a momma sees her unborn on a 3d ultrasound because I swear I can feel those good in love hormones coursing through my body. Anyway, yesterday was a mad conference of my doctors and now I am to drink super awesome (and by that I mean totally gross) protein drinks and just attempt to get some protein in me. It took 5 hours of small sips yesterday but mission completion!

I’ve now begun a full list of things I am going to completely inhale when she is born. It includes Mexican food from every local restaurant and a lot of cheese.

One question was answered yesterday, will she look more like Max or Huck?

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Answer: Huckleberry.

I might think this was the same baby if I didn’t know better. Needless to say Max’s nose is a tad out of joint as he is the one who really wants a baby sister and feels “She should really look like both of us, that’s only fair.” Honestly I think she has Max’s precious mouth. She may have his eye or hair color. And if she gets those freckles, she’ll be a lucky girl. But a little girl Huck? Yes please! Whatever she looks like, I love her madly.

Now I have to go puke and later hit up the doctors again. Sheila E said it best…The Glamorous Life.