Conversations with P

P: Can you buy Mini-Wheats?
Me: Um, do those have sugar?
P: No – they are these strings what you can eat, that are all tied up in a ball, and there’s white toothpaste on one side that tastes like milk.
Me: Toothpaste? Well, we’ll see. I used to like those too when I was a kid.
P: They had those when YOU were alive?

Also…

P: X is my first best friend, Y is my second and Z is my fourth.
Me: Really? Well, you know I wouldn’t tell Z he is only your fourth best friend. It might hurt his feelings.
P: Well… I told him and he was okay with it!

Tonic

Thanks for letting me get that rant off my chest yesterday. I had another teary departure as I left the twins today – it’s hard to leave. Then on my way out I ran into the antepartum nurse who spent so much time with me, and was so positive, throughout my pregnancy. She gave me a major pep talk as we walked to the car. I came home to a sunny house and had dinner with the kids and then I – gasp – went for a walk by myself after dinner. The last few months have been home, hospital, home, hospital, rinse, repeat. It is amazing what a tonic that walk was. All the things I love about life are still here – rhododendrons, my favorite cafe, ice cream, pretty little Vancouver houses, parks full of children, Louisa May Alcott novels. The same songs still make me smile. There’s still so much to rejoice in.

24 Weeks

Not even sure who’s reading this but with some time on my hands, I thought I’d start writing again. I hit 24 weeks yesterday, which was a big milestone in PPROM terms because the babies are now viable. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that, as 24-week babies face many, many struggles, but it’s the first hurdle.

It’s funny how different it feels to have a true “high-risk” pregnancy. I remember last time, with M, we had some scary ultrasound findings that sent us into a tailspin. This twin pregnancy has brought news of that magnitude almost every few weeks: multiple hematomas, early oligohydramnios, echogenic bowels indicating possible cystic fibrosis, massive growth disparity. All of those things resolved by about 18 weeks and I was about to “graduate” from the high risk program and then I hit the scariest – PPROM.

You know what’s crazy, is that it really isn’t that uncommon. At the hospital, currently my second home, I see women with even bigger problems than I – HIV pregnancies, fatal abnormalities, being on the brink of very preterm labour. On the day I sat waiting in labour and delivery to be assessed for PPROM, two women lost their babies. I’m glad that my first two pregnancies were easy, relatively speaking. I think it makes it a whole lot easier to go through this without being bitter about what I’m missing.

Also, for some strange reason I just feel more empowered in my care. The first time I questioned every minor test and agonised over it all. This time, you know what? I’m just going with the flow. I’m in some kind of weird limbo territory and I feel very comfortable leaving it in the hands of experts. Of course all the big stuff is discussed with me – I’m an active participant and I’ve never felt rushed by my caregivers in any way. But I don’t want to know everything – sometimes it’s just too much information.

Here Comes 2013

I have been missing blogging and you, so Lindz‘s meme seemed like a good re-entry point.  Without giving excuses, I think if you read along, at least for a little while, you’ll find out why I’ve been a bit delinquent. I also deleted some of the questions where I didn’t have much to say.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Never done before? Have to think about that.  Got one! I left my two children for a weekend away – not once but twice.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
If I recall, my resolution was to exercise twice a week. So no, I did not keep it. This year my resolution is to do more writing.

3. What countries did you visit?
Other than Canada, we did a couple of trips to the U.S. We were in South Carolina and Georgia. We also went camping in Washington and Oregon.

4. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A greater degree of autonomy, and a bit more of a career plan.

5. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The last three months of 2012 were very, very hard for a bunch of reasons – some health related and because we moved twice. So there’s no particular date that remains etched, but I am happy to see these months go.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
A big achievement was just surviving the insanity of the last three months and seeing my marriage strengthen even in darker hours.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I’m not sure I had a failure, but I tend to be eternally optimistic about such things. Maybe my failure was getting sucked into a negative mindset.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Does being pregnant with twins count? (See how I snuck that in there?)

11. Whose behaviour merits celebration?
Uh… this is a random question. P has been a delight lately, and is turning into a wonderful little child. He was such a colicky baby, and a tantrum-prone (if hilarious) toddler. His report card described him as “bright and cheerful” and I can’t think of a better description. When I’m in the classroom, I see other parents ask if he can help their child that day, which makes me think he has a reputation for being a sweet and helpful guy. It does make a mother proud.

M is two, and I’m not sure any two-year old’s behaviour merits celebration but she cracks me up on a daily basis. I like two-year olds and she’s a darling.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and upset?

There are a few contenders… and some day I will write about them. Luckily none of them are people who have any more than peripheral involvement in my life, so onward and upward!

13. Where did most of your money go?
Every last penny and more went into buying a new home. I feel like calling it my “forever” home will jinx because who knows what the future will bring, but it is a home we will be in for a very long time. It’s a three-bedroom heritage home very close to our old place on the East side of the city. It also has a finished basement which we intend to rent out as a suite.

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
2013!

18. Compared to this time last year, are you: Happier or sadder?
It’s been a tough few months, but I’m about the same.

ii. thinner or fatter?
Fatter I hope – I’m 15 weeks pregnant with a baby who was intended to be #3, but who has turned out to be #3 and #4. Yes, we’re entering Duggar territory, folks. It’s been a bit of an adjustment mentally. Even 3 children is highly uncommon in our circle.  But it’s an adventure and I’m excited about it.

iii. richer or poorer?
After closing costs? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying over things I can’t control.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my head over a toilet bowl. I was pretty sick and slept for most of the day.

21. What was your favorite TV program?
I’m enjoying Call the Midwife these days, a wonderful BBC drama about nurse-midwives working with the poor in East London.  Romance, babies, melodrama.  It has just the kind of recipe I like.

22. What was the best book you read?
I’m ashamed at how little reading I did in 2012. But I did enjoy State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.

23. What was your favorite film of this year?
That one with George Clooney in Hawaii.

24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Gosh, I can’t remember what I did. Is that sad? I also don’t want to advertise my age but I will confess to being well-entrenched in my 30s.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012
I don’t know that I have a concept. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of clothes recently. And I have stopped buying as much disposable clothing and now try to only invest in a few expensive pieces a year. This article about the plight of garment factory workers making clothes for H&M, Gap and others has reinforced that choice. I’m still not sure what to do about children’s clothing though because I don’t think it’s feasible to spend a small fortune on clothing. I certainly buy less of it than I used to and make use of consignment stores, as well as handmade things. I wish there was some sort of fair trade designation for clothing.

27. What kept you sane?
My husband.

28. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Oh dear. I am getting too old to think about my life in song lyrics and I’m not even that old. But for some reason this question makes me think of the song Slip Sliding Away. It’s a song about the fear of losing yourself in your love for others…That resonates a bit as the soon-to-be mother of four.  But lest that leave you too melancholy, how about Still Crazy After All Those Years.  Really the whole Negotiations and Love Songs album.  I loved it when I was 21, and it’s definitely a record that grows with you.

School Days

P: Today at school, S____ said to Ms. Li, “You ARE A BAD TEACHER!” Like that!
M: Really? Why?
P: He was taking stuff off the calendar what he wasn’t supposed to, and then he ran away and Ms. Li stopped him. And then he said that!
Me: Wow.
P: Yeah. My mouth was like [freezes and makes shocked face]. And in my brain I was like “What the HECK-AH?”
Me: What did Ms. Li say?
P: She said “S____, you are making bad choices.”

Bucket List

I am a delinquent blogger these days. I was going to take pictures of my fabric buckets that I made and tell you to all come take my fabric bucket class! But then… I didn’t. And now the class is over, though it was lots of fun and the buckets turned out really well.

We are moving in just a few days. I am feeling very sad about it, partly because we haven’t found our next place yet, so we’ll be renting for 6 months. I’m a homebody, and I get such energy from my messy little nest. I feel a little discombobulated being in limbo – not knowing what school district we’ll be in next year, or what part of town we’ll live in. I want to take pictures of every corner of this little house – like the frog tiles in the shower that M and P love, and the spot on the floor that is stained, and the curved countertops. And the flies caught in the light fixtures. Then I would make a Youtube montage with some sort of dramatic operatic music in the background, and it would end with a video of a small plastic bag drifting slowly across our lawn.

I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. I think I need to cut out coffee completely or something. If I drink more than half a cup I wake up at 1 in the morning and my thoughts race through my head for five hours. Work and kids and work and things I wish I hadn’t said 16 years ago. With that I should go to bed, but hopefully I will be back sooner this time.

Back In Time

We’re gearing up for kindergarten tomorrow, and the importance of this milestone is suddenly hitting me. I love having an almost 5-year old who tells knock-knock jokes, warns his sister that she is doing something “dangerous” (or warns me!), beats me at dominoes around 50% of the time, and tells me that he is a “little worried” about his first day at school. But sometimes I wish I could go back in time and snuggle this little guy.
Baby P

Every Bruise is Kissed

P had his first day at “big kid” school this week. He’s been in the same wonderful home daycare since he was 11 months old, but he’s getting ready for kindergarten in the fall. He’ll be in an out of school care program, and they recommended that we start him at one of their summer camps this month so that’s he’s not having too many transitions at once. This way he’ll get used to after-school care, and hopefully it won’t be too many changes all at once. So we sent him off to their day camp with his backpack and lunchbox and dozens of other kids. Instead of being greeted by the motherly woman I’m used to, it was a couple of 20-somethings. They were very nice, but they were so young! P has to walk to his cubby and put his stuff away. He has to remember to put his hat on, and keep track of it when they go out. He constantly forgets what I’ve packed, so he doesn’t realise he has a swimsuit or a change of clothes. Or we forget something, like today they went off to a waterpark and we forgot to send a water bottle on this scorcher of a day.

For the last four years he’s been in a cosy home daycare where he was one of four kids. In a lot of ways he had outgrown the place, particularly this last year. I could have sent him somewhere different, and he did go to preschool a few days a week. But I trust my home daycare provider so implicitly. I never worry when my kids are with her. She’s so incredibly gentle and kind. For some people taking care of young kids really is a calling, and that’s the case for her. My instincts also told me P wasn’t ready to be a in school-like environment where he’d be with kids only his own age. He has years to be in school, but I wanted him just to be able to play. It was good for him to be around babies, and toddlers, annoying as they might be for him at times. I think it’s been wonderful that he and M literally spend 24 hours a day together (minus 2 hours of preschool), even bunking down in the same room at the end of the night.

So he’s spent several years in this wonderfully gentle environment. The woman who runs the home daycare ferries them all around the neighbourhood, toddling them dozens of city blocks to parks, the family centres, the library and the community centres. I’ve never heard this woman raise her voice, or even act annoyed – and I have spent a lot of time watching her reign over those kids. She also does almost everything for them, which meant that P doesn’t have to keep track of belongings, or apply his own sunscreen. When the younger kids nap, he gets her all to himself for some quiet time. P was such a high-needs baby, I really can’t imagine it otherwise. When he was tiny, he was always in her arms when I’d pick him up. He needed that, because even last year, he’d stand for several painful minutes mournfully waiving goodbye from the preschool window. Until very recently, he had no interest in ever being “dropped off” somewhere. I was even unsure if he’d last at the two hour bike camp I signed him up for while we were on vacation. (He loved it!)

Something has changed in the last few months. When we dropped him off at the daycamp, he just started playing. He wasn’t phased by the goodbyes. And now, instead of being the biggest kid, he’s the littlest. But although he loves older children, but they don’t always love him, and the interactions he tells me about are sort of poignant. They went to the splash park today and I asked him who he sat next to on the 40-minute bus ride:
Me: So did you sit next to E on the bus?
P: No, I chooseded to sit next to someone else.
Me: What was his name?
P: Um, I don’t remember. I sat with him both ways.
Me: Well did you have a good talk?
P: Yeah! I talkeded and talkeded. But he doesn’t know a lot about stuff. Like when we were in a tunnel, he thought it was a submarine.
Me: Well he probably knows about other stuff. What else did you guys talk about?
P: Well, when I sat down next to him on the way back, he said “Oh no! Not again.” But he got me anyway! [pause] Actually, we didn’t talk much on the way back. Oh, well one time he did say “Stop that!” when I fell on him. But it wasn’t my fault cause the bus turned around and everyone fell.

The wonderful thing about P, is that he really isn’t bothered by it. He tells me all of this in a matter of fact voice. Maybe he’s oblivious or maybe he doesn’t care, but he teaches me something. I was always such a sensitive kid. I still get misty-eyed when I remember how someone made fun of a drawing I did when I was 5.

I don’t think the transition will be entirely smooth. I notice already he’s being a bit more naughty to get our attention, but it doesn’t surprise me that much given how exhausted he is at the end of the day.

I was in someone’s office at work a few months ago, and stole a few glances at the graduation pictures of his kids. He saw me looking at them and said “You know, you’re looking at those photos thinking that time is so far off for your kids. But it isn’t. It goes by so fast.”

P in 2008

It sure does!

P