The “safe zone” of pregnancy…

It’s a girl…or was a girl I guess…

They think she just stopped growing. But she was there, actually she still is there-everything that is “supposed” to be there is there- I have the picture as “proof”. The grainy baby shaped white “blob” against the black background. She looked just like the other ones. Just like the other “pictures” I saved (to some day make the kids each a baby book-like the one for my firstborn…).

Everything was perfect…but then it wasn’t. All the tests show positive right away (the pink plus signs, the two parallel lines, the word “yes” and the actual word “pregnant”) with the first drop… and continue to do so…even after…

There were no tell tale signs or bleeding and everything looked completely normal…until it didn’t.

I just never expected this…everything started like it did with my other beautiful healthy children. I have lost pregnancies before-when we were trying and then succeed…but then I ended up with a heavy bleed… but I have never been to a doctor’s appointment before where the baby had no heartbeat.

How could it be fine and all there and progressing and then not?

How could you go weeks and weeks expecting, hoping, planning- happy, excited, involved. And then the nothingness…

Lots of women go through this everyday-most before the “safe zone” of 12 weeks (1 in 4 they say), but many even further along, and then there are the few who have to suffer through the unimaginable devastation of stillborns and infant loss.

We went weeks, months actually still hoping, praying for a detectable heartbeat and growth-it was there-and then it wasn’t…

We planned room arrangements, a new car, we found out the gender…

Perhaps everything was planned prematurely but we were so close to the safety zone…

I ordered a “gender reveal” princess cake…
A cake we never picked up…

I had lots of hopes and dreams for this child…a child that will now never be…

You can argue that it was still a fetus, that there had been signs (for example there was no severe nausea in the first trimester like with the others). That there was no “baby” yet. That nature got rid of a “defected” fetus…

But try telling a pregnant momma that-a momma who has known about the pregnancy from week 5…

Then the bleeding started…so close to the second trimester and the safe week. The doctor even said light bleeding does not necessarily mean…

But I knew…

But hope is a funny thing…

I had borrowed a heart monitor from a friend…it was pink and promised that you should be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat from week 10 (but you could try from week 8). I felt pathetic trying to locate my baby girl’s heart on my own-when professionals hadn’t been able to at our last appointment…

The dread when you feel the ultrasound technician’s fear, worry and sympathy is excruciating. I like being prepared, and even though you can never prepare for something like this, I was in complete and utter shock and disbelief.

Anything but that…I just wasn’t expecting it – at all…

We were supposed to go on vacation. We had been excitingly packing…now this.

My doctor said not to loose hope-that it was still “50/50”. We planned to still go on the tropical “all inclusive” vacation. We needed it. I needed it.

We hadn’t told the kids yet (but I think our oldest might have been suspicious). We were going to tell them that weekend…before this happened.

There was no blood the day before our trip, we hadn’t told anybody…

A baby for Halloween THIS year. A baby coming with us home for Christmas-everyone who knew were excited…

I told my hairdresser the baby had stopped growing…that there was no heartbeat…

I might be walking around with something dead inside me…

I felt uncomfortable, down, awkward, sick, like a failure…

This is how being in “limbo” feels”.

She encouraged me to go, to get away, to think about something else (even though the thought of “her” were all consuming).

Everybody encouraged us to go…
The white, sandy beaches, the sun, the food the service- it would be good for me-for us.

The kids were excited, they packed their own little backpacks-everything was done and ready to go…

Then my body started to betray me- the beginning of the end of this journey started…

 

Crushed Expectations

IMG_0561At first you might be mildly suspicious, but you are busy and life happens and more pressing things are on your mind…. (besides it is truly unimaginable…)

But then those sneaking suspicions resurface and you decide to finally just check, counting the tiny squares on your smartphone (because that is usually how we check our schedules nowadays).

And of course it doesn’t add up, of course not, but we have excuses- so many excuses (do breastfeeding on demand and having -just a couple- irregular periods since baby count…?) and besides it is IMPOSSIBLE, so there is that (protection WAS involved).

So the days go by until you finally just need to face the inevitable, because you just NEED to know, even though it’s impossible (well at least not very likely….). And so you grab the bull by its horns and take that stupid test- the same test that has terrified you, worried you, exhilarated you and excited (actually even empowered) you before.

The last few times you were happy, giddy- anxious but excited-willing it to show a plus sign, this time you are just not sure. And even if you are tired and weary (so darn tired) that same familiar excitement starts bubbling up from somewhere deep inside even if that is not the way you thought you would feel, that is not the way you should feel or at least it is unexpected because this is wrong and huge and overwhelming….

Let alone the timing…
The timing is so very, very wrong.

You have a baby, in fact you have more than one baby…but one that actually still IS a baby (nurses-check! Cries-check! Wears diapers-check! Crawls-check! Babbles without real words-check! Take naps-check! Is teething-check! Won’t sleep through the night-check! Needs you for everything-check!).
He needs you-that baby that you already have and the others in your family-they NEED you- and you are only ONE person (no matter how you try to split yourself up into two, three or even four….)

All this is true and yet…

Yet you know if that damn stick is negative, you would feel the slight sting of (of WHAT you crazy, insane woman you???) …
Disappointment…

The shock is real and all consuming. Even if all that you felt (and didn’t want to allow yourself to feel but felt anyways) is true, you are still in shock. The room is literally spinning so you sit down again (even if you have taken way too much time to yourself already, even if someone probably needs you right this second, even if…).

This will change a lot…

When you are a planner and an organizer the smallest things you didn’t plan (and can’t control-just face it-throw “controlling” in the mix) throw you off more or less (less or more?) and you have to regain your balance (your control) and make it right!

First you freak out (because that is who you are and that is what you do) … but then you calm down and you think, and analyze and absorb (and this doesn’t take long to be honest) and then you RE-PLAN and RE-ORGANIZE and re-structure and slowly, slowly you re-gain some CONTROL (needed some input from your mom because who doesn’t need their mom when big things happen?!)

A baby for Christmas, well actually for Halloween (or weeks before). But I would bring another one home for the holidays…another child, another baby…

This IS happening, as in THIS year, this same very year that we are currently in. Will I be able to deal with this?

A mom AGAIN …

I thought we only made babies in the summer. Beautiful spring babies!

Last time it was very different. Yes we endearingly called him a “surprise blessing” and our “bonus baby” but even though he wasn’t planned, we went for it and we knew (of course we knew) the chance and the possibility, and he couldn’t have been more welcomed and longed for and perfect.

This was one tiny (huge) mishap.

Even if different, I don’t mean this is not welcomed or imperfect in any way, shape or form (of course not, never) it just wasn’t on our minds at all-we didn’t know (of course we didn’t) the chance- risk? (because we didn’t exactly “go for it”) and there didn’t seem to be any possibilities.

I went to the obgyn the other week to get on birth control. With my daughter the regular birth control pill made my (her) milk disappear. This time I read that if you take the “mini” pill (progesterone only) it won’t.

I tell her my story and she laughs.

She actually laughs out loud (for more than a few seconds too), it’s actually quite rude…

Not the story about the milk of course…

The story about the mishap.

The celebrating New Years, the making the most of children sleeping- and not on top of us (a miracle in and of itself), the planned protection…and the…mishap.

She laughs…

She calls me OLD (can you believe it…? The audacity)

And the breastfeeding (at night still too and on demand). It’s suppose to make it IMPOSSIBLE…

It’s less than 2% “risks” she says, you have absolutely nothing to worry about…

But here we are…

I’m starting to get happy, starting to feel calm and “right” and perfect! I can do this!! I truly am super mom!

And we plan, and we talk, and we organize and we think, and we are EXCITED!

We are not telling anyone, we are waiting.

After the initial shock and blame (let’s face it who WOULDN’T blame their husband in this situation??) I have landed,  and it is nice and I feel strong, actually (thanks hormones??) I feel on top of the world…

We can do one more, we are supposed to have one more, this is good, this is right, this is US…

Am I nervous? Of course!
Am I anxious and overwhelmed? Naturally!

Am I happy?
Yes incredibly happy despite it all, because how can you not be?

You go around for weeks with this incredible secret that nobody knows (but you, your man and your mama) and you kind of glow (from within only) and you are kind of smug (because you are in on this huge, amazing secret).

When people say “you have your hands full” and you just smile and your insides don’t freak out anymore but they turn warm and your heart grows just a little…

Because that is the thing about hearts..they grow and they expand and they make room!

This could have been a funny, charming and beautiful story…

When you are expecting, you are just that “expecting”. Expecting so very much, you expect, you dream, you plan.

You take things for granted…

Really, you should never ever take things for granted in life…

EVER-how is that for a life lesson…?

Because when it all comes crashing down..

You don’t EXPECT it…

 

 

 

After rain comes sunshine!!!

After the appointment, I am completely drained. Driving home after an entire day at the hospital with our young daughter yet again in a bed hooked up to IVs, is like a fog. The baby boy sure hated the experience as well. But with no childcare available I had to bring him. What an absolutely exhausting experience. Entering the freeway I’m pretty sure I hit an innocent squirrel- just pile it on right (I really really hope I didn’t but am afraid I did).

This whole winter/early spring has really not been the best, as far as springs go. I have had better starts of years…
I know I’m an incredible lucky and blessed person so I try to look at the positives, and look forward. I really am!

My brother comes to visit in late spring with his family and his brand new baby boy (first time auntie over here holla!!!) and makes it to my littlest’s first Birthday party. We have a ton of fun, I haven’t seen my brother in so long and to see him as a dad is truly special. I have a busy schedule during the weekdays with my kids but we manage to meet up with my brother and sister in law for dinner everyday. We also grab the occasional coffe or lunch and make a couple impromptu shopping trips. We cook together, drink wine on the patio, share stories, splash in the pool and enjoy the kids-the sweetest little cousins!

Since my three kids all have birthdays in a row-the spring pretty much disappeared in some semi-chaotic (but totally fun) party planning and execution!

Our baby boy gets a big jungle celebration (just like his brother did when he turned one) with jungle music, decorations, cakes, cupcakes and fun gift bags! We have a bouncy castle, yummy sandwiches and tons of snacks…and bubbles…plenty of bubbles. Our baby loves himself some bubbles after all (second to food only). I can’t believe he is one, how did this happen? Stop robbing me of precious baby time already (why do the years get shorter not only the older you get but apparently the more kiddos you have?).

Our princess just wanted her birthday with family, a low key day playing with her new toys (first barbie and first lipgloss-did I mention the years are rolling by way too rapidly) and then dinner, ice cream and balloon animals (flower) at her favorite restaurant. Only three years ago, I was terrified that she would be okay and just look at her now! A smarter, more charismatic, pretty, little decisive three-nager you may never see!! The following day is a Minnie Mouse theme day, spent with grandparents and a BBQ and princess cake very fitting for our very special sassy girl!

Our big boy is turning 6 (did I mentioned somebody messed with the time..turning the dial onto rapid…I know I did and I know it’s cliche BUT how IS he six?). He has requested a “creepy crawler” party and the NAT (Natural History) museum gets to host us and 12 of his classmates plus six other friends and a handful of siblings. All these kinder kids were so great for about 30 of the 45 minutes planned lecture about lizards and snakes but then they decided (apparently telepathically) to hit the dessert table, run into the projector screen, and draw on the white board-all at the same time. No worries though, after a dessert break (having dessert before sandwiches) we got to pet some live (gasp) animals, play some games (competed crawling in snakeskin anyone!?). Then we sang for and had cake/s with the lucky six year old. Excitedly he told us after the party that he made “a new awesome best friend”. Thinking it was a classmate we asked him whom this might be as he proudly announced that it was the museum employee that had helped with the party!

Summer is fast approaching (what happened to spring? But as I said the winter months leading up to spring were arguably sucky…I will share but am just not quite there yet…) so moving on feels now kinda great!

We have some graduations coming up after all our birthdays! And then our summer can officially start!!

An adventurous week; difficult news

IMG_7161IMG_7160IMG_7162I can’t believe that we are back here…to the hematology department at Children’s Hospital. The flashbacks are acute and many.

I don’t know how they do it, I really don’t. I ache for them-these parents. I feel embarrassed to be here somehow and yet…I know I have to, we have to. Something IS wrong for real-just not as wrong, or as real as for most of these people here. The reality of what is going on on the third floor of this hospital for kids is devastating. I AM embarrassed to even feel sad because it seems I don’t have the right to somehow, and they don’t need my pity, and there is literally nothing I can do to help.

I praise these doctors for doing what they do, for pushing forward, for trying their very best, for smiling…
But the real heartbreak are these strong, brave little people who are just getting the toughest childhood imaginable…and their poor parents.

I have been dreading this appointment since my daughter was 18 months old. We found out when she was 11 weeks old, (just shy of 3 months) and cut her “tied tongue” to be able to breastfeed, that she had some kind of bleeding issue. She would not stop bleeding no matter what the tongue specialist, her pediatrician and the ER doctor did. She was loosing so much blood she had to have emergency surgery right away…

This tiny little preemie baby girl who had already been through so much in her very short life…
It was one of the worst days of my life. Seeing her bleed uncontrollably in the backseat when I rushed her to the ER is an image imprinted in my brain forever…

My baby girl was in surgery for hours, her little pale body and all that blood. Afterwards she was groggy and swollen in my arms. I felt awful. She wanted to eat so bad but was too hurt to feed. Seeing her in so much pain was agony.

We spent 3 days at Children’s Hospital before the 4th of July weekend and she still refused to eat. I didn’t sleep at all and was a wreck. Grandma and auntie were home with big brother because dad had to continue working (even though I’m sure that was extremely hard on him).

I remember the nurses trying to help squirting my pumped breastmilk into baby’s mouth with a syringe- it finally worked enough to get her off the IV. She was this little girl in a huge bed surrounded by rolled up baby blankets with wires and monitors…
It was utterly terrifying.

On day two we saw a couple of doctors from the hematology department. They drew a lot of blood to test our baby girl for a bleeding disorder. Since she was so tiny yet-still on the preemie scale, they couldn’t take too much blood from her little body-so we had to come back for a follow up.

The follow up was on the third floor of Children’s Hospital a week later. Baby girl had gotten her color back and she had finally started to nurse again. My mom was thankfully able to accompany us this time, having flown in on the 4th of July withstanding delays and cancelled flights. It was such a support to be able to lean on her as we entered what must be one of the most depressing places-full of sick-really, really sick kids.

My daughter had lost too much weight to be able to draw the required blood panel for the full spectrum of blood disorders so the doctor sent her home with a liquid that makes blood clot in the event of blood trauma.

The tests came back negative for any of the more severe blood disorders…and for leukemia. I have never prayed harder for these results..

Then again the unfairness of it all, seeing all the other kids and their parents. How do they do it? how do they live and breathe when their insides must be breaking.
These caregivers are incredibly strong that goes without saying but…these kids…I don’t have words, little superheroes who just deserve way better lives.

Hoping for them as I’m standing here at the hospital with my two (big brother is in school) happy, healthy (for the most part) children, is the same for them, that they will beat this, they will get better and this will all be a distant memory…

The reality though is a punch to the stomach and the embarrassment of even feeling like this when I’m fine and my kids are fine is raw and present.

This is the 4th time here seeing her hematology doctor. When we saw him when baby girl was 18 months old we still didn’t get to do all of her testing, because of her low weight. I was informed that in order to complete everything we needed to admit her to the hospital for a few days to monitor her while drawing the required amount of blood for the full panel of blood disorders. I declined these tests knowing that she didn’t have the more serious ones and signing papers that I declined treatment was really difficult-was I doing the right thing?

I promised (myself and her doctor) to keep a close eye on her, knowing full well that you can’t bubble wrap your kids (no matter how much you want to).

Fast forward until now, there is no more denial. Every time she bleeds from simple cuts and scrapes it is way too much- abnormally so. Her new pediatrician ordered more labs at her 3 year check up and testing confirmed without a doubt that our daughter does have a bleeding disorder. He sent us straight back here again…so here we are.

This has truly not been the best week..

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An Adventurous Week: Day 1

Well this week started off like all weeks after a NOT so perfect Sunday; (and nothing at all like I had planned and imagined it) the dreaded Monday came (Sunday’s are usually fine but I always dread Mondays because I think it’s somehow ingrained in me- even if I don’t have school anymore or a job in that sense- I still have to get up in the morning and I do have to parent-alone).

This morning started like most others with the added loaded promise that it was just the first of many without a break. It was the unwelcoming wake-up call, the too enthusiastic 5 year old, the complete opposite whiny three year old, the hysterically crying, hungry baby, the missing shoe, the toilet paper issue, the refusing to go potty, (and brush teeth and dress), the tantrum over the lack of favorite cereal, wrong yoghurt, dress, color of underwear (and you know my face…) the too long nursing session, the lack of wipes available by the changing table, the dog stealing the last waffle, the project due NOT in the backpack…and the list goes on and on..

We are out the door (two in pjs, one still hungry, one still in pull-ups missing a shoe) only slightly late and a new day has officially started and it’s bound to be interesting because with kids it always, always is.

Picking up my oldest after school, I have already taken care of the mishaps of the morning, both little kids have “proper” clothing on (who cares if the dress and leggings don’t match and are of different sizes, if the princess crown is crocked or if she is wearing “Sofia the first” play shoes since we never did find the other shoe…thank goodness the baby still lets me dress him…well maybe boys are just always easier in that regard), the kitchen is cleaned, a “better” breakfast has been consumed, teeth brushed, underwear and sufficiently wiped butt have been taken care of. We also managed to run to the store (out of organic, no added sugar apple juice…it’s still bad for them I knooow), taken a nap (well…) and had lunch (drive thru Starbucks-my best friend as of late).

We are here and on time. Little sister having trouble walking in her too big, plastic Sofia shoes. We listen to the list of things big brother didn’t do well today and then we walk back to the car, nurse baby brother, change his disgusting diaper (seriously it is stinking up the whole car) and strap everyone in, the three year old being the biggest battle. Then we wait for all the cars to disappear so that we can get out of our parking spot and leave the school (a good 20 minutes later…I am paying major overages charges on my phone data for sitting there enjoying, gasp, the freedom of my kids unable to go anywhere, checking e-mail and social media).

Starbucks drive thru AGAIN but this time they accidentally give us cream cheese instead of butter with the plain bagels- oh the horror (you could only imagine). After school program brings its own drama where the parents have to meet to discuss something crucial and alarming and oh so important while baby boy is screaming (probably hungry again, he is always hungry…even when he just ate).

I just have this awful feeling that while big brother is learning and the little kids are playing, they will get hurt somehow (I’m telling you it felt like I just knew) so I keep waiting for it. I don’t know if it’s mom’s intuition or what but it’s certainly freaky as first my daughter falls and skins both knees (always extra alarming with her blood condition) and then…

So I put the baby boy on one of those animal swings, knowing he is too little and knowing before I do it that I shouldn’t (not sure why I still do it but I am being extra careful). I am feeling like ridiculously crazy mommy and maybe that is why I am ignoring that little voice in my head. I put his tiny hands securely on the metal bar, thinking I have things under control…when all of a sudden his little body slides away as I’m still holding his hands and fall forward and under…

And that’s it, there is blood…

His mouth is bleeding and he is crying that real “I got really hurt cry”. First I’m examining his teeth, already jumping to extremes of fallen baby teeth but after I feel better that they all seem intact, I feel embarrassed by parental stares “yes I was watching (even holding) my baby and he is STILL bleeding…”

Since I am certain his little mouth didn’t hit anything I’m confused at first about the blood, but then realized he got scared when his body lunched forward and bit his own lip…hard (as evident by the tiny tooth marks) poor little guy!

(Semi-) surviving this evening we finally get in the car, only to discover that we are out of gas…

So we get home, calling dad to go pick up dinner (he does that on Mondays  because we always get home so late and close to bed time), only he is not answering.

An hour later, still nothing. The kids all ate and are in pjs with brushed teeth as I start to worry…

Christmas Magic

img_2766c1c91bc2-f84e-4545-ae8a-bdecc345a55c51db7a3d-a599-48be-bafd-f1b9ec9a0044img_2808img_2814img_2751img_2759img_2764img_2733img_27359da97ede-a66e-49f9-88e0-fdabc70f9a42img_2772img_2792img_2797img_2767img_2768So it’s Christmas and my oldest is really, really sick, poor guy. He has no energy and is burning up with an especially nasty fever (which is worrisome because we don’t know exactly what is the matter with him).

To top it off, our daughter has morphed into the spawn of… someone eh hm, NOT nice. In my silly naive mind I thought that the random displays of (what I now see was mild) tantruming behavior was IT for her terrible twos (I really thought it wouldn’t get worse). I considering myself lucky but also DUE for an easier two year old this second time around.

I clearly forgot that the worst year is NOT 2-3 but two and a half to three and a half and that the “treenager” (seriously) is way worse than the “terrible-two:er” and that it gets worse and worse (way worse before it get better). 2.5-3.5 is really a year of unnecessary parental exhaustion (read: mental breakdown) dealing with little kid-devils with their main mission being messing with your mind! They are so manipulative, calculated, smart yet evil at the same times as not making any sense…at all. They go from sweet and nice (still being “baby cute” and adorable) to needing an exorcist in a heartbeat.

The baby boy is still NOT sleeping through the night and seem to have been going back to the newborn stage of nursing around the clock and confusing day and night…

You know by now what no sleep DOES to this mama, I’m running on fumes, I need (need, need) my sleep!!!

This is the year that I of course have chosen (completely my own brilliant idea) to host Christmas! And don’t get me wrong I am excited, of course I am…

I want to show my in laws more of my traditions and customs and what I am used to celebrating Christmas growing up and I want to give that to my children as well merging my husband’s family traditions and the “American way” with mine and the Swedish!

To start it all off the stove top stops working and even if I prepped a lot of the food days before Christmas  (lots and lots of meatballs of course), I  still obviously need my STOVE and nobody can come out to fix it because, you know, it’s Christmas Eve…
And then there is a roof leak…in the kitchen. (Hi, welcome; don’t mind the precipitation…inside)…
We are late for church, unable to sit together with family and all three kids fall asleep during the ceremony.

Oh and I almost forgot, not because I’m a selfish, mean b*tch but because I literally have a million…at least a thousand…several hundred things to do (and mouths to feed, or so it seems) but my husband got into a little accident…

Well more of a “fender bender really” (yes the fender; is that what it’s called?? Got really really bent). I guess he had to urgently go get a really important (hmm, yes!) gift last minute (ya think!!??). Because you know he has so many gifts to take care of, so many names on that list, and so little time (read:me) and I just have EVERYONE ELSE (now there is a LIST). But all good, hubby is fine-the car not so much (we also just bought his car off of the lease…) but it didn’t exactly take away from the stress and chaos or add to the Christmas spirit!!!

It all turns out pretty great in the end with tons of Christmas magic with the help of family, Tylenol, many gifts, lots of hands to hold cranky babies and toddlers, an amazing Santa, a Croc Pot (full of meatballs, “prince sausage” and briskets) and a handy grandpa and tons of actually delicious food including great cold items (yes!) like smoked salmon, breads, crackers and cheeses and items that could go IN the oven like glazed ham and Jansson’s temptation (my very own favorite potato dish with breadcrumbs, cream and anchovies…minus the anchovies for me), lots of “glogg” (spiced wine) and yummy and decadent desserts curtesy of grandma!

After Christmas it’s hard not to feel slightly sad and kind of empty even as an adult. Christmas is truly a magical time of year especially for kids. But as a parent I think that you try to recreate that magic you felt yourself as a child. My parents sure bent over backwards to make sure all our Christmases were truly that, amazing, traditional and simply; Magical!!!

As a child I always felt low after holidays (vacations and summer breaks) and now I understand the anticlimax that follows Christmas for my own children. As a mom though you simply don’t have time sitting around feeling blue and as soon as school starts it’s go go go again!

This semester is way more serious than the last one – that becomes apparent right away! No more sweet, cuddly and forgiving teachers, no more “practice homework”, no more “volunteering is optional”. Spring semester in kindergarten here we come! Who is ready to dive in with us!?

First comes Halloween…

But of course I do- expose myself and my son to that “school drop off car line” again…but not for a very, very long time.

At first drop offs are back to finding an extremely limited spot insanely early in the school’s back parking lot. Sit and wait for what seems like an eternity while at least two out of three kids are screaming their little heads off, while trying to read e-mails and leave important voicemails (no one is answering their phone at this hour and honestly I wouldn’t have been able to hear them if they did), and let’s “face” it; checking Facebook!
Then march in (usually) extreme heat (always worse at pick up) or pouring rain (by the end of the year) with a very specific and demanding kindergartener in one hand, a hungry (always) baby bouncing (getting heavier and heavier) in the carrier and a tantruming (more often than not) two year old in the other hand. Following the exact same procedure at pick up (except then we are also stuck and kept from leaving the school until all the cars in the car line disappear…a good 30-40 minutes later…(not kidding, wish I was).

This has now become our daily routine and even though we don’t have much of a Fall per say here, the leaves do change colors and it slowly gets a little colder-at least at night.

Halloween creeps up on us way too fast and I can’t believe my son has been in school this long already. This is his absolute favorite holiday and as soon as October is here, he starts talking pumpkins, bouncy houses, candy and ghosts. The highlight is of course the dressing up in costume part! Since his school won’t let you do that, it’s up to me to figure out what to do for Halloween and where to take the kids trick or treating!

I offered to take pictures at my son’s kindergarten class school party! Like mentioned, they are not allowed to dress up or have candy but it is surprisingly festive anyways. The kids are so darn cute (hate people under 65 who say that, or even worse; “they are so daaarling”) but they are. Trusting and sweet and so excited to do their little poses for the camera and show off their art work and their classroom. You just get the feeling that these genuine traits disappear more and more the oldest they get and it’s almost like you can’t think too much about it, or you’ll get really, really sad.

We go to a neighborhood Halloween party at the clubhouse (which surprises me as well with how great it is-nothing like the summer BBQ fiasco where a bunch of old people ate really bad food and nobody was dancing to the poor live band, which was actually quite good). This even had a ghost house, a picture kiosk, a bouncy house, a costume contest (as well as a golf cart contest) and lots of treats and goodies! We were just excited to be able to go as the “Disney Family” and entered the contest as such!

I was just really excited to provide my oldest with some real Halloween fun IN costume but of course all he wanted to do was going door to door actually trick or treating. Something our neighborhood apparently does NOT do…

Thankfully we could rely on good friends living in an awesome trick or treat friendly neighborhood!

While my son got his fun, running ahead with his little friends, our little ones were both scared and exhausted, neither wanting to be in the stroller. It was worth it in the end though with all the candy we got (soo stealing the peanut M&Ms).
We did donate most of it to the troops a day later even if our son just tried to give away the candy he didn’t like-and you know the candy that wasn’t candy… like fruit, gold fish and Rice Krispie treats… (so proud).

The highlight of our Halloween however was this grand party that I randomly got invited to. Thank mommy, family- except that is not exactly true. It’s baby boy that we all should thank!!! He totally got us all invited!!

This sweet mom from our oldest’s school invited us to the best costume party ever, solely based on loving our youngest! His smiles and his flirting got us a really fun night! Everyone from Donald Duck, to Goofy, to the two Minnies and the littlest Mickey Mouse had an amazing time. The family hosting the party’s house was seriously a massive mansion you only see in the movies and from the valet parking, to the hired magician, to the craft table, the good food (OMG the food), to the dance floor and DJ, it’s fair to say we never wanted to leave. Even our little (ice) princess had a lovely time dancing and giggling dressed up as her favorite character! Overall a great first Halloween at our new location with all our babies!

Once Halloween is here, it’s like you blink and then it’s Thanksgiving and Christmas- seriously the Fall disappears in a fog of holidays and I’m always left wanting time to stop, or at least slow down enough so we can enjoy it more…

I wish Christmas would go as well as Halloween, our oldest wakes up with 104 fever on Christmas Eve (the day we celebrate), our daughter wakes up in the foulest mood ever, the baby will not stop nursing and the stove top stops working-and we’re (I’m) hosting Christmas this year (for the first year ever) for the entire extended family…

 

 

Drop off Disaster

I prep my oldest son even before we reach the school parking lot. He knows by now how to buckle and unbuckle himself and how to stand ready (hunched over) by the back “lift-gate” (we have been practicing). Okay, so maybe that needs some further explanation…
As you all know, I have three kids and we TRIED to put them all next to each other in the backseat of our new (oversized) SUV. Heck noo, did NOT work…
The oldest two were fighting like crazy, which made me frustrated and scream way too much. I was also worried about the tiny (okay not so tiny) baby back there.
After weeks best described as catastrophic, we had the brilliant idea to put the oldest in the third row!
It was a bit tricky with the big stroller and all the other baby stuff (car seat adapters, extra toddler seat and what not) but we made it work. We also had to teach our oldest to buckle himself. The problem is, I didn’t WANT him to be able to open the back liftgate on his own (way too dangerous). So every time he (we) went out of the car, I had to open it for him.

So back to the dreaded school car line…

As soon as we are on school property I yell for my son to unbuckle himself and to prepare with his backpack and such, for me to come open the back for him.

We have arrived early enough so that there won’t be a lot of cars…there still IS, but we are amongst the first in line (pat on back).

As we approach the green “drop off zone” I slow way down and then come to a complete stop in front of the school, I put the car in park (and apply the parking brake for good measure) and open the door…

As soon as I do this, cars (people of course but you know what I mean…) start honking (these are moms and nannys and the occasional dad, mind you) and by the time I’m in the back of my car there is also yelling (I’m not kidding).

When my big handsome boy jumps out with his backpack, I feel so proud of him but of course the moment is completely ruined by even more severe honks and yelling ( “hurry up”, “come on”, “unbelievable”, “must be a new mom”, “she will make me LATE”)…

As I rush over to the driver seat, a school “representative” runs after me screaming “this is NOT how we do things”.

Yet as I see my son struggle with his huge backpack I feel an urge to go help him out, to go steer him in the right direction, to show him the gate and his classroom. I swollow hard and manage a wave to the car behind me as I speed off away from the school parking lot.

Theoretically I know he knows where to go and that he won’t be lost (or gasp “stolen”) but I can’t help the moment of “mommy panic”.

As I drive off I feel sad and disappointed. Well that didn’t go according to plan! I almost want to call the school to make sure he made it to his classroom safely. I feel worried and stressed. I have to call my husband to relay the fiasco…
Well, that’s it!!! I will NEVER ever expose myself or my son to that car line EVER again!!!

The frazzled, slightly lost and confused new mom…

As I slowly walk away from my brand new kindergartener’s school, feeling empty and a little lost, baby boy starts crying on cue!

Nothing like a gut wrenching hunger scream to take you back to reality. I quickly realize that all three of us (it does feel like I’m missing one) have to go all the way back to the car so I can feed the baby before the “coffee with the school moms”. So we start walking…

The restaurant across the street is beyond full of mingling mommas. My little daughter is trying to hold on to me for dear life as I try to maneuver her and the baby in the carrier .

There is hot coffee, giggling mamas and their legs everywhere- my two year old daughter is basically being swallowed by the crowd. I don’t think this is the place for me and my young to be right now. There are no other kids here and I come to the understanding that these moms are older (not that I am exactly young) and so are their kids. I challenge myself to talk to at least three different moms. They all seem nice but very different from myself and not quite what I’m used to. I try to introduce myself, give a compliment and ask a question. The planner in me feels like I’m checking off a check list not being genuine or trying to make friends. But I do want to be genuine and I do want to make new friends. I try to get out of my comfort zone and not think “I have all the friends I need”. This is not only for me but for my kids-my oldest and the other two following him! It just feels like this crowd has a secret I’m not in on … but I should make an effort to find out what it is. Some of them are very cold and stand off-ish but I must say, most of them do seem warm and approachable.

I make my rounds and manage to talk to three different woman- all of them with older kids, their youngest being in kindergarten. Not a lot of babies or toddlers beings seen or talk about diaper brands (organic, cloth or *gasp* plastic) or potty trading tips being heard. It makes sense now that they all seem to know each other since they have other kids in the same school. I feel like a lot of new information is being thrown at me and I feel totally unprepared, unpolished, and frankly like I’m left out of some “perfect manicured mom’s club”. I am that frazzled new mom who makes the mistake of bringing her smelly, whiny little kids to a classy event. Except my littlests are totally behaved (AND they smell delicious…at least I think so but I might be biased…then I remember the leggings) and I thought this was a “come as you are, casual coffee after drop off thing”…

I’m officially exhausted after discussions school safety and security as well as the kids cafeteria menus and meal plans with mom number 3 and have to excuse myself (who am I kidding? She is so bored by my input-or lack thereof she is already seeking a more gluten/dairy free, pro huge fenced in/gated school mom after a couple of sentences from me even if I’m totally pro healthy eating and school safety!)

Trying to avoid my little girl getting trampled, our little gang (feeling totally misplaced) head for the door.

For the first couple of weeks, we are supposed to walk our brand new school kids to their classroom and drop them off and walk to their classroom to pick them up. More seasoned moms with older kids get to pick their kids up by car-stopping (more like a rolling stop) by the side walk.

I oblige and walk my son back and forth with his little sister and little brother for weeks. I park at the church the first two weeks but get by week three that if I’m early enough I can snag a parking spot at the actual school, and I won’t get stuck in the line of cars dropping off and picking up (that lines up around the school’s back parking lot-sounds confusing? That is because it is!!! The school itself call drop off and pick up “an organized chaos”…)

After the initial weeks of a lot of walking a baby who just wants to eat and sleep and hates the in an out of his car seat and a hysterically grumpy (worst little morning person ever…gets it from me…very proud) toddler who is forced to walk in a rush several times a day…my oldest son and I decide to be brave…

We decide this on the same day as our very first kindergarten play date and we are both very excited…until we are actually stuck in that school line of cars at drop off…

A Back-Firing Baptism…

The sun is blazing on the outside patio where we have set up chairs, tables, decorations and balloons. Way too hot for comfort (especially considering some of the guests are young babies and others 80 year old plus) It’s probably to late to change all the stuff around outside now however, we are already running around in a frenzy. At least the food is set up inside with the perishables and cake within reach in the fridge. We are still getting ready and struggling with nap schedules (or lack thereof) when the first guests arrive and we haven’t even poured the welcome drinks. My hair is wet and then the baby has a blow out diaper all over his special outfit (just thankful it wasn’t his baptism gown passed down by generations).

The Godmother is late due to an oven fire (yes, I’m serious, she sent me pictures of the fire truck and everything). I have no other choice than asking the guests for help (obviously my parents are already helping and my husband is trying to juggle the two older kids). Unfortunately my mom has hurt her arm badly and can’t use it properly, but mind you, is still running around helping and setting up, but hurting and unable to do so with her usual speed and precision (pretty dang close though considering her arm won’t even extend past the elbow).

As I change little man, finding him a brand new outfit, more guests arrive. I have to ask our niece to pour the welcome drinks and mix my special mango/peach mimosas without me. Our daughter has what we call “a no nap” meltdown and runs around screaming in her diaper, refusing her pretty purple dress and even though almost all guest have arrived we are missing two very special guests…

We have invited my Dad’s cousin-whom I haven’t seen for probably more than fourteen years. When I first came here, I stayed with him and his wife and they helped me settle in to my University. My parents have seen them a couple of times through the years at family gatherings in Sweden and have gotten updated about each other through other cousins but with me being so busy and life just getting in the way we haven’t been able to see each other. He did help me with a few things I needed as a newbie in this country (including chasing down somebody trying to steal my bright yellow suitcase and co-signing my first apartment contract) and has been nothing but nice.

I just recently decided that I really should re-connect with him. I wanted my dad’s cousin (my dad is an only child so cousins became closer to him growing up-some more like siblings) to see me now-sixteen plus years after he dropped off a young, anxious girl at a school campus far, far from home! I wanted to introduce him and his wife to my husband and my three children- but even though he had confirmed that they were coming they were starting to get seriously late and everyone else had already arrived. The godmother/one of my best friends had even arrived leaving her husband and two sons to deal with their oven being on fire. She even managed to get here without a speeding ticket this time! (Inside joke).

I have known this girl for fifteen years and we have been through a lot, she is really the perfect and obvious choice as my little baby boy’s sponsor and Godmother! While we wait for our (elderly) guests (increasingly worried they have mixed up the dates…or worse) she wants to go over a little speech I asked her to hold for the baby (just s few words of wisdom really or a piece of advice for the future). She tells me she has picked a poem and I’m thinking perfect, what can go wrong?!

It’s a beautiful old poem of encouragement and strength and she did a great job researching and finding this…except…

it’s also the speech held at every 12 step program meeting…

Thanks to my parents, my hubby’s parents (his mom helping with the food and guests and his father performing the ceremony which he has been able to do for all our kids, which is so so special), our chosen Godparents and all our wonderful guests we are finally starting to get close to what resembles a baptism (despite some food order mishaps-almost poising said “wonderful guests”).

In the end the lost guests arrive- better late than never (and it’s great to see them after all these years and introduce them to my new family) the sun is excruciatingly hot (but most guests are able to eat inside -and the food is a hit) and the ceremony is just beautiful (the Godmother is talking straight from her heart instead) and actually everything is close to perfect!

There is really no time for devastation after my parents leave (the trip was way too short) because my first born is starting kindergarten…

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