The Second Child: Some Notes on Two

I get distracted. By life. By stupid stuff. I’m trying to do better at putting down the phone with the Facebook and the Pinterest and the Etsy and focus more on the amazing young men I’m blessed enough to spend my days raising. They are both turning into such awesome little people. But it’s not easy sometimes. Especially being pregnant. And now, third-trimester exhausted by every little exertion pregnant.

But I have been meaning to write down, somewhere, the unique things about my current two-year-old, to whom I have unfortunately tapered off the monthly letters like his brother got up to two because he happened to be the first. At least I never was one to do baby books, because there would surely be a vast inequality in those as well.

But some of the things that Andrew is doing are things I’d like to remember. And just in case I don’t, here they are.

  • He wants to be just like his brother in all things, including bad attitude moments and temper fits. He tries to cross his arms, which he can’t quite do yet, and he will say, “Humph!” just like Michael.
  • He will come and ask for something, to play the tablet, the Wii, for a snack, etc. If the answer is, “no,” he will say, “Not talking you, Mommy!” and storm off to find the right answer elsewhere.
  • He loves his boxer shorts. So much that he’d rather wear a diaper instead of briefs when all pairs are dirty. He calls them, “bocket shorts.”
  • I don’t know if there is anyone else in this family who can make him laugh harder than his brother can.
  • He loves the Lego Movie and Star Wars. When I think his brother at this age was more into Curious George, Elmo and Thomas. Andrew doesn’t really seem interested in monkeys or Muppets in quite the same way as other little ones. Because his brother’s so long over it all, of course.
  • He is a climber and a jumper. Again, he watches his brother and will practice each move over and over until he gets it. Just like when he was a baby and working to crawl, stand and walk, he is tenacious about mastering those big-kid skills.
  • He’s pretty good at playing soccer. 
  • His use of utensils to eat is pretty impressive. Probably because he can’t stand to have food or anything remotely food-like on his fingers or hands.
  • He is a wonderful imitator. He can put on Michael’s mannerisms like a costume, and it’s pretty amazing and amusing to see this little mini-version of your big kid strutting around.
  • He is shy in new places unless his brother is being wild and crazy, then he will just do whatever it is Michael does. If he’s by himself, though, he is a lot more hesitant until he feels comfortable and confident enough to venture out on his own or hold a conversation. 
  • With family and friends he knows, though, man he can be quite the chatterbox. Which is great to see because his mastery of language and use of new words is quite impressive at this age.
  • Sometimes, he will just look in my eyes and smile. He says, “Mommy have brown eyes… and Andrew have brown eyes.” He knows the eye colors of Daddy and Michael, too, but he always seems happy that his brown eyes are like my brown eyes.

I’m so glad I get to hang out with him every day. And as much as I will miss my big kid when he starts first grade (!!!) in a couple of weeks, I am excited to have some more one-on-one time with my soon-to-be-middle child. He is wonderful and amazing, and I can’t imagine my life without his energy. Even if it occasionally reaches decibel levels I’d prefer to avoid.

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I love you, buddy.

Four Months

Dear Andrew,

You are four months old, now, and I’m finally getting the hang of this whole parenting-two-children thing. Or so I tell myself.

I honestly don’t know how I would do all that I’ve managed to do with any other baby but you. You are so pleasant to be around, and you don’t mind being put down for awhile when your brother needs me, in fact, you often seem to prefer your independence. You talk to yourself, you grab toys and blankets and just watch the world around you with those big baby blues of yours. You still fuss when you’re wet, but it’s often more like this attention-getting remark than an actual cry, like, “Hey, are any of you tall people going to do anything about my bottom over here?” Except for the times that you’re screaming about it like it’s the end of life as we know it.

You watch your brother and his big-kid friends with intent focus and wild flailing arms and kicking legs. When we put you on the floor, you can roll from back to front and front to back over and over again. You can spin like a compass dial, and I can see it won’t be long before M’s going to have to be way more careful about where he plays with his tiny Lego blocks.

Because everything goes in your mouth. You will fixate on an object, stare it down and reach. Your fingers close and automatically pull in toward your open lips. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re actually able to grasp the thing. Fingers, clothes, blankets, toys. It’s all fair game. You’ve even started grabbing your toes, too. Your brother finds this hilarious, that you want to suck on your own feet, and more, that you easily could.

I love your laugh and your baby babbling. I swear that you have already said several words, including, “Hi,” “Hello,” and “I love you.” Your brother has also been teaching you how to call him by name. Right now, it’s pretty much an “Mmmm” followed by some raspberries, but we’ll take it. You get mad when you have no one to talk to, and I often find myself wishing I had more time to sit and listen. Because these early expressions of language are fascinating to me, and I feel like I can actually understand what’s in your head based on nothing more than the way you’re holding your eyebrows and the inflection of your gurgles.

This month, you met a bunch more people who love you. You took your first airplane ride, and slept peacefully pretty much the entire time it took us to fly to Wisconsin and then back again. Your grandparents couldn’t believe how much you’d grown since you last saw them, how strong you are, and how happy. You melt us all with your laugh, that smile with the dimple showing, those eyes that just radiate your own love and awe. We’re so lucky to be surrounded by so many good people, and you made sure to let them know by offering lots of smiles and hugs and cuddles all around.

Every night, you get pretty cranky. And every night, you eventually fall asleep with me on the couch. I enjoy my snuggles with you more than you can possibly know, because at the end of a long day of spreading my attention thin, I get to curl up around you and feel you safe in my arms. You relax, you let go, you get me to do the same. This won’t last forever, this time we have when you’re so small and needy, for all the good and the bad of it. This won’t last forever.

Love,
Mommy

More M-isms

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted some of the hilarious things that my four-year-old has said. And some of these might have even been from before he was four. But I know that these always make me laugh, and I just found a whole list of things I had written down from way back, so enjoy.

  • Half asleep: “Where’s my ear?”
  • Me: “I love you.” M: “I love myself, too!”
  • Me: “You can’t have that medicine.” M: “But I have an ache!”
  • “I’m an old guy. I need some sleep.”
  • “Roger b’dodger!” Before shooting you in the kneecaps with a Nerf dart, “Irish Style.”
  • “Is my brain thinking about stuff?” (me: yeah, probably) “Stop thinking about stuff, brain!”
  • Singing: “I always love you, Mommy. And I love myself. Whenever I can. Because it’s great!”
  • “Sweet dreams, woman.”
  • “Wow my penis is getting big. That means I should hold it I think.”
  • “I think you got a little brain in your eye. It’s right there in that part next to your nose.”
  • Choosing a lollipop at the bank: “I’ll have a watermelon one, and Mommy can have the hash-brown one.”
  • To Daddy: “Hey, you look like a wookiee!”
  • “A salad–with dress-up!”
  • “It’s time for me to sleep now, or I’ll lose my Jedi powers.”
  • “Oh dear me. I have the coughs.”
  • “Should I cuddle you or jump on you?”
  • “I don’t want a Happy Meal. I want a mad meal instead.”
  • “Did you buy a liquor? Are you going to share that liquor with me?”
  • “Remember a bird that says ‘gobble gobble?’ That’s meat.”
  • “My penis is big as a uniform… or a platform.”
  • “I’m not a big fan… I’m a little fan.”
  • “Now it’s in your head.”
  • “You can’t not give a man strawberries.”
  • To a grandmother-aged woman at the grocery store: “Excuse me, little lady”
  • About baby brother: “I think his name is baby angel. Because he’s an angel. And you’re mommy angel.”
  • “I think he wants to be invited to our snack”
  • “I’m a brave man.” (after a blackout)
  • Doubled over, grabbing his middle: “Oh my God.” Daddy: “What’s wrong, bud?” M: “Oh my God… nipple ache!”

Sad Dreams

A few days ago, M woke up and cried to his daddy about a sad dream. I had already gone to work by the time he woke for the day, so I only heard about it after I got home. As I helped him get ready for bed, he told me he had had a sad dream, but he didn’t want to tell me. I soon learned why.

One of the reasons he didn’t want to say anything, I think, was because he knew that thinking and talking about it again would make him cry. Another reason he may not have wanted to tell me was perhaps due to the part I played in the sad dream.

He got worked up to the point of sobbing three times before finally falling asleep that night. And the dream? He dreamed he’d been flushed down the toilet. He ended up nowhere. And me? I’d done the flushing.

Yeah, that kind of made me sad about his sad dream, too.

The next day, he was still very upset about the dream. It was still vivid enough that it got him crying again several times. And the worst part is that there is nothing that his mommy could do to make it better.

And over the past few days, he’s continued to talk about how he doesn’t like his sad dreams. Apparently he had another bad dream one night again, not quite so traumatizing, based on his description, but apparently the feel of it stuck enough. It’s gotten a little better for him in that he’s not bursting into tears every time he says the words. But he still talks so much about how the sad dreams are sticking to his head and he can’t get them off.

I wish there was more that I could do. But I think he’s just going through some major brain development, perhaps his dreams are just getting more vivid in general. Perhaps he’s just trying to work something out that he hasn’t quite gotten the hang of yet. So in the meantime, I’ll hold him, give him cuddles when he needs them, and let him talk about it, or not, as he prefers. And hopefully the sad dreams will let go or be destroyed for good one of these days, too.

21 Weeks

Wednesday marked the beginning of the twenty-second week of this pregnancy journey. On Thursday, we went in for our ultrasound scan, to make sure everything is as normal as it seems so we can stay on track to have the birth center birth we desire. And no, we didn’t find out the sex. Not even a hint.

As a friend commented, “It’s a face. A gender-neutral face.” And what a great little face it is.

An ultrasound used to be anything but routine. And for first-time parents, it definitely feels a little bit magical. Or even a little deviant, peeking into a previously unknown realm, a deep and private place, and seeing a live and moving picture of this child before it has even opened its eyes to the outside world. With M, I had three ultrasounds. They were fascinating for this very reason. But with Baby X, the whole pregnancy has been a completely different experience.

The few times we’ve heard the heartbeat, baby kicks and moves away. The first visit when we so desperately wanted to hear that little galloping rhythm, baby kept itself hidden from us. I’ve almost gotten to feel like an uninvited guest in my own body. And while baby didn’t seem to mind the ultrasound, I still had a feeling that we were intruding. It was still fascinating, and amazing to see and capture these images, but there was a part of me that felt like I shouldn’t be looking at all.

When my test strip came up positive in August, I was shocked and tentative. We’d only just let our guard down enough to start thinking it wouldn’t be so bad to have another baby soon. It was incredible news, though, and I was very excited. But I was also trying not to count my chickens before they hatched. It was early. Only three weeks along, a barely missed period. Part of me even thought that this was not going to be our time, after all. So I waited for it to be confirmed. To become real.

The dream I had the night before I took the test indicated that this was the baby. This was a child that would stick it out and join our family. I held onto that dream in the back of my mind, underneath all the fear that maybe it wouldn’t be. But even after hearing the heart a few times now and seeing the fluttering beats, the face, the hands, the spine, and feeling the bumps and flips inside, it still doesn’t quite seem real.

I’m fascinated by my changing body, by the fact that this baby has made its presence known in completely different ways from its brother. And that’s the other thing. I have this four-year-old, this big brother in training, whom I’m trying to teach as I listen to him and learn from him along the way. He tugs at me and plants himself in front of my face and demands to be seen, to be heard. And I don’t want to be distracted from him. Though I am.

Recently, our family has settled into a routine where M doesn’t need as much from us as he used to. We can cook, clean, write or read while he plays or amuses himself for a time. We have found our own spaces. With an impending infant, it will all change again, and we’ll need to find ways to make it fall back into place. When we were expecting him, I couldn’t picture the life we’d have with M once he got here. Sometimes I try to picture what we’ll be like when we’re four. Because I know what having a baby is like. I’ve been through it once already. I know that even for all the feedings and diapers and sleep and lack of sleep, a newborn is pretty easy to fit into a life. Or to fit a life around. Another part of me knows that because this pregnancy has already been so different than my last, I might be in for some interesting surprises this spring. I’m trying to be okay with that.

Got the Beat

This morning, we had our monthly family visit to the lovely midwives at the birth center. Yeah, in case I haven’t posted anything in three months (yikes!) and you missed it, we’ve got a new bun in the oven.

The last visit, we had hoped to hear a little heart beating, but the bean decided to hide. But today, we got that confirmation that the little one is really there, developing as it should. I wasn’t really in doubt, let me say, because I’ve been sick, I’ve been tired, I’ve been thickening around the middle exactly on schedule and all that. But that heartbeat. That gets me. That made me smile.

And I needed that smile. I need that beat.

It’s been an eventful several months. I’ll need to write about them. Another day. Today it’s all about the beat. That perfect galloping little beat. That baby couldn’t hide, though it tried. It kicked at the doppler and moved away as we listened. We’ve got a feisty little one in there. Or maybe it just prefers its privacy. Either way, I’m excited. Still smiling.

Mean Face

The latest with the Nerf gun (not loaded) goes a little something like this:

“You want to pull the orange out so I can sha-pow you with the sha-powing?”

And then he points it right at you and makes this mean face:

Then he shoots you, “Sha-pow!” You collapse (to whatever degree you’re comfortable as long as your eyes close), and then he comes and saves you with a kiss on the cheek or the nose.

Ah, boys and their guns. What are you going to do?