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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Funny Girl

Eliza likes to do as much as she can on her own these days and tonight she decided she wanted to brush her teeth unassisted from start to finish.   She turned the water on, correctly identifying the hot and the cold spickets.  She wet the toothbrush down, she twisted the cap off her toothpaste.  When it came time to squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush, she couldn't quite get the past to come out so she plopped the tube into her mouth.  I laughed and Eliza grinned up her at me with her sparkling, movie-star smile.  

"I funny Mama!" she laughed, enjoying her ability to entertain me.  I looked at my little clown, so proud of herself and felt that love like an arrow surge through me.

It's moments like these that make up for the bad moments, the moments I have everyday when I'm desperate to get shoes on her thrashing feet on or tune out her screaming as I force her into the stroller or endure her pitiful cries for "Mama" after I've tucked her into bed at night.   In the middle of these bad moments, I often think I can't do this, I can't be a parent anymore.  I just want to go to the movies or go to dinner with friends, I'm tired of feeling like my life is over.

Then I have a good moment and I realize, this is my life now, the good and the bad moments.  This adorable little person with bad hair (I'm sorry, she has my hair!) and the enchanting smile who loves to play the entertainer will be off enjoying her own life before I'm ready.

Maybe then, I'll get a bit of my old life back but this is also one of the realities of parenthood.  A new life is placed in your arms and just like that, her life becomes mine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clever girl, even when she's bad

I'm back in the world of the full-time Mom.  Work went okay and it felt good to be around adults and eat food that was prepared for me.  I managed to make it home before she went to bed every night but one.  Although it felt good to be out and making money, around 6pm I felt like I hit the wall.  I suddenly missed my daughter so much.  I know this is part of the reason I've stayed with C as long as I have--to play the part of a full-time Mom.  As long as she's really little, it's so hard for me to be away from her for 12-14 hour stretches.

Eliza did okay with the babysitter and C, although on the second morning, she cried for me and refused to get out of the crib for a while.  On the third day, C got home before and a happy, giggling Eliza was visibly deflated when she found C coming through the door and not me.  I assured him that Eliza knows when he leaves he'll come back.  She's not used to it with me.  

A fourth workday was added and in those four days Eliza managed to get new paints (paints I had stashed in our utility closet that I didn't plan to give her until the paints she currently uses are empty), find her Easter presents (stashed in a closet that I'd successfully managed to keep her out of for two weeks) and learn how to play C and I against each other.

What do I mean?  Let me tell you about last night.

While I cooked dinner, Eliza demanded raisins.  I told her after dinner and continued to cook.  She screamed, she writhed on the floor, she tried to open the refrigerator herself.  I remained unmoved and continued to roll my homemade chicken nuggets in flour and corn flakes (yeah, they're delicious).  Realizing her anguished cries were only causing me to work faster, Eliza rushed towards me and started beating my leg.  Repeatedly she slapped my leg saying "I hit Mama."

Tired of feeling equal to the chicken breasts I beaten into tender submission, I washed my hands, scooped up my George Foreman daughter, and whisked her to the crib for time out.  As I lowered her into her lattice white cell, I noticed her two dolls and felt a surge of genius.  Taking the dolls out of the crib (I just want to add that one of the dolls was her Easter present), I told her she'd lost the privilege of playing with them for the night.  

When I returned two minutes later, Eliza immediately asked for the dolls.  I explained to her that she wouldn't be getting them tonight and prepared myself for more body slams and toddler howls.  Much to my surprise, Eliza seemed okay with my answer and the rest of the evening went smoothly.  Little did I know, my clever little girl had already crafted her plan.

Fast forward to 7:30 this morning.  I heard Eliza chatting in her crib and stepped into her room.  "Poppy," she said, shaking her head when she saw me.  "I want Poppy."

I'll admit to feeling a little slighted.  I know its selfish and stupid of me but I couldn't help it.  I'd only been at work for four days.  The changing of the guard I know will come had arrived.  I smiled at her, mildly pleased by the fact that she can ask for what she wants and called C in.  

C swooped in, wearing nothing but his bath towel, eager to play the hero.

"Hello, my angel, can you give Poppy a hug?"

Eliza pointed to the closet I'd put the dolls in and said, "I want my Elizabeth and her friend."

C looked angrily towards me.  I'd become the evil gatekeeper who kept his angel from her precious booty.  "Where's her Elizabeth and Felicity dolls?"

"She was bad so I took them away.  I'll return them to her."  Then I started to laugh.  How smart she is! 

"You have to give them to her now,"he said.  "It's the next day, you can't carry over stuff from the night before, she doesn't understand."

I'm not sure I agree with him on this one, at least the part about her not understanding.  Why else would she ask him and not me?  

"She's playing us against each other," I laughed as I returned the dolls.  "Already."

"She just knows I like to play with the dolls with her," he said.  "That's why she wanted me to get them, so we can play."

"Okay," I said, laughing.  The male ego in all its glory here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mama will come home

For over a week now, Eliza has acted the part of major drama queen.  She screams in agony if I help her unzip her jacket.  She squiggles away and unleashes howls of anguish when I try to secure an overnight diaper.  The echoes of her tormented sobs spin through the apartment for what feels like an eternity after I put her to bed.

Yes, my daughter is two, that's excuse number one.  I can also blame her newfound fowl mood on the clock change, a recent visit from my "in-laws," the fact that she doesn't understand why some nights she sees her siblings, some nights she doesn't.  Eliza's routine is disrupted frequently.  She's usually so adaptable but lately, that's not the case.  As much as she likes her siblings, C's parents, C's brother and girlfriend, seeing them all constantly over the course of one weekend overwhelmed her.  Throw in the sudden fixation on wearing nothing but "pretty dress" and I've got a red-faced, shrieking, writhing little ball of fire.

Where's my happy little girl?  I hate seeing my daughter in such despair.  I hauled her to the pediatrician last week because I was concerned something was physically wrong.  The doctor looked her over pretty thoroughly and didn't see anything.  No facial swelling (a teething indicator), no ear redness, no throat discomfort, nothing.  

Tonight's outburst started when I asked C to bathe her.  Eliza didn't want to take off her pretty dress.  That battle lost, she settled in the tub and it sounded like she had a good time with her father and her brother.  After more than a half-hour of bath time fun, I poked my head in to tell C it was 8pm and Eliza still needed to brush her teeth.  Once Eliza saw me, her laughter turned into tears.  She rushed out of the tub, followed me into her bedroom and threw herself at me.  She said, "I want my towel on me" and "rock" repeatedly.  I wrapped the towel around her and sat in the rocking chair.  

C left to take Harry home and I was stuck with a naked, sobbing toddler.  It was time for bed, I had a lot of cooking to do in preparation for my absence over the next three days (I'm working on a movie) and I needed her to go to bed.  "I want to sit on the potty!"  Eliza howled as I tried wrangling her into a diaper.  "I want my towel on me" she said as I tried to sit her on the potty.  Frustrated, I left her crying in her room for a few minutes and contemplated easy forms of suicide.  Pills, stick my head in the oven, there must be something quick and painless.  Eliza responded by peeing on the floor.  

I cleaned the floor and wiped down her legs.  Eliza held a hand over her crotch and continued to ask for the potty.  Thinking perhaps she had more pee to unleash, I again carried her in her towel to the bathroom.  She refused to sit on the potty and asked me to shut the door.  She slammed the toilet lid down and said "rock" and then it hit me.  On nights when I'm home alone with Eliza, after I lift her out of the tub, I wrap her in her towel, sit down on the toilet lid and rock her gently on my lap.  We play games and cuddle and generally enjoy a calming moment before it's time to get her ready for bed.  This is what she'd been asking for; a little one-on-one time with Mama.

I've been so busy lately, some of these moments have passed us by.  Perhaps my increasing busyness is to blame for her change in disposition.  I'm only going to get busier.  At two, I am the only constant in Eliza's life.  C's around, but he comes and goes without any regularity.  Some weeks, Eliza sees her siblings two or three nights, and other weeks, she doesn't see them at all.  C's parents blow into town and suddenly it's a party with C's brother and girlfriend rounding out the guest list.  The only person, the only stability Eliza can count on is me and the babysitter who comes faithfully two days a week.

I will work for the next three days with a heavy heart.  I will leave tomorrow before Eliza wakes up and I probably won't be home before her bedtime.  I know she'll enjoy the extra time with her father, her siblings and her babysitter but she's never gone three days without seeing me.  

I hope she knows that I'll be back. 

The Bleed Cont'd

Yup, I'm still bleeding.  There's no formula for what makes a "successful" miscarriage.  Sometimes the bleeding can go on.  And in my case, go on, go on and go on.  I spoke to the doctor yesterday who assured me it happens this way sometimes and since my blood test two weeks ago indicated still elevated hormone levels, a reappearance of the bloodletting was inevitable.

"It's all part of the body's healing process," she said.  

Great, what fun.  I've got a three-day job on a movie that's in town this week and I'm looking forward to the work.  I'll get to see some friends, make some money and get out of the house.  Eliza is wonderful as usual, but lately she's become very opinionated about what she wants to wear.  She wants to wear pretty spring dresses and sandals.  If only the weather would comply with her wishes.  It will be nice to go out without an hour long battle to get a feisty toddler into weather-appropriate clothing.  Although next time, I think I'm just going to take her out in the sundress and hope she learns why Mama wants her in pants.

But I'll miss my girl.  I might not see her at all for three days.  I've never gone three days in a row without seeing her.  She's become so incredibly verbal now.  She was always a big talker and has been speaking in sentences for a while.  But now we can have an actual conversation.  She seems to remember everything as well.  She blows me away with the stuff she remembers. Unfortunately, I have no examples to cite to you now.  The memory is so fleeting--what we think we will remember goes out of the mind as quickly as rain washes off a window.

Anyway, it's my last morning with my girl for a bit so I want to go sit with her.  I was going to clean the bathroom but screw that.  I want to sit side by side with my girl and eat cereal with raisins on the couch.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"What's girl doing?"

Early this week, I went to my OB to make sure my miscarriage was going okay.  I suppose miscarriages are never "okay" but since I was still bleeding after almost two weeks, I was a little concerned that I'd need more intervention.

My weekly eight hours of babysitting relief are too precious to waste sitting in a doctor's waiting room so I opted to bring Eliza with me to the appointment.  I came armed with a new sticker book based on the character Eloise and miniature tea cups and saucers.  We got through a few stickers in the waiting room, then I followed the nurse's aid to the examination room, took off my pants and settled on the lovely "chaise lounge" for a tea party with my daughter.  

Strapped in the stroller, Eliza seemed to enjoy clinking her "teacup" with mine.  Fortunately the doctor didn't keep us waiting too long.  "Oh, it's girl," Eliza said when the doctor looked at her and smiled.  Proudly holding up her bright pink teacup, Eliza said, "I've got my tea."

Since there wasn't a great spot away from the action, I told the doctor to leave the stroller at the foot of the exam bed.  "I doubt she'll be traumatized," I said.  Famous last words. 

Eliza's angle allowed her the perfect view of my vaginal exam and ultrasound.  "What's girl doing?" Eliza asked as the doctor conducted the vaginal ultrasound.  "She checking your cooter?  She checking your tushie?"  

"What is she saying," the doctor asked, her face bright red.  I calmly explained that yes, I've taught my daughter the word cooter.

"Oh my," the doctor shook her head.  Apparently, she has no plans to award me the title of mother of the year.  

It appears that my miscarriage has gone okay.  Sometimes, the bleeding goes on for more than two weeks.  She didn't notice anything troublesome, had them take blood and when I asked her why this keeps happening, before I could even get the words out, she said "age."

So there you go, I'm an old fart.  She told me if I really want to have another baby, she'd recommend me to a fertility specialist right away.  Being that I'm trying to get out of a bad relationship, I'll have to take a pass on that one.  

This is the hardest reality of all: knowing that the only way I might have the second child I so desperately want is to stay in this horrific non-relationship.  I could stay with him, continue to allow him to control me, pretend that he treats me well and try to ignore the fact that I'm not even a priority as far as he's concerned.  To illustrate this for you, let me tell you about my week--on Monday, he worked late, didn't see him.  Tuesday, he came home from work with his son, I went to class.  When I came home, he was in bed.  Wednesday, he went out after work, didn't see him.  Thursday, he came home because the other kids were here and played cards with them while I bathed and went through Eliza's nighttime routine.  Friday night, didn't see him.  Now it's Saturday and he's at the movies.  

The loneliness of being a full-time mother can be almost paralyzing sometimes.  And her father isn't even a friend I can call to cheer me up.

So I'm making the choice to have one child in my life.  I'm making the choice to walk away and in walking away, I leave behind so many possibilities.

"This one seems like she a pretty big handful," the doctor said when we were done and I seemed ambivalent about the fertility specialist.  For what it's worth, I get the feeling this doctor isn't for women of "an advanced age" giving birth.

She knelt down to my daughter and said, "I remember when you came here the last time with your mother.  You didn't talk so much then."

But she entertained us, now didn't she?  

I try to think that maybe I'll make something of myself, something that will allow me the financial opportunity to adopt.  And then I'll have the second child, the little family I so desperately want.