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Friday, May 29, 2009

Just a Happy Day

We celebrated the occasion of my second daughter turning one month old with a fun party at Karinna's yesterday.  The party was mainly for my older girl (as well as myself) as my younger girl did her part by sleeping through the entire party.  Eliza loved the party and I loved an occasion to celebrate during a rainy, kind of tough couple of months.  In many ways I felt reborn.  

It was a day to celebrate my daughter's passage from newborn into infancy.  I also celebrated my new life as a single parent, my metamorphosis from mother of one to mother of two, and the simple joy of knowing, this time I won't be raising a baby in an abusive relationship.  

It was a simple party but Eliza still insisted on heading to Karinna's in her best party dress.  Karinna, by the way, is my mother's next door neighbor who runs a day-care center out of her home.  Eliza has been playing with Karinna's "kids" since birth and loves going there to play with her friends.  I loved having an excuse to throw Eliza's friends a party.

I showed up with balloons and goody bags for everyone, funny party hats and a cake that looked like an oversized cupcake.  Eliza loved it all; the Strawberry Shortcake hats that one of the kids accurately likened to a nurse's hat, the pink maracas in the goody bags and the chance to blow out "the fire" on some one else's birthday cake.  It has been a tough time for Eliza and I was overjoyed to see her running through Karinna's spotless white kitchen with her head thrown back in laughter.  She not only enjoyed the celebration, she loved showing off her little sister to her friends.  She's so proud of being a big sister, it's intoxicating.  

Elena is a pretty good baby though she still has her nights and days confused.  I can't help but compare the differences between her and her sister.  She's a fussier baby then Eliza was but she's still pretty placid.  As the weeks have gone on, she's definitely showcased more of a temper and an opinion than the sleepy newborn who slept through most nights at the hospital.  She seems less decisive than Eliza, with weak cries that aren't quickly silenced by being picked up or fed.  While Eliza screamed until she got what she wanted, Elena cries meekly while I try a variety of different soothers from picking her up to singing to nursing as if to say "I'm not quite sure what I want but I want something."  It seems usually what she wants is to be held.  I try to fill that need as best I can but I'll be honest, it's harder with two.  I guess that's why they say the second kid is always less needy than the first.  They get used to not getting what they want on a daily basis.  

As my incision heals, I've been able to be more of a physical mother to Eliza.  I can play with her more and have her on my lap again.  Pretty soon I'll be able to run with her though I realize it's never going to be like it once was.  I'm not going to be able to run that fast with a baby strapped to my chest.  

I will always remember the morning of April 27th.  Eliza's waking up ritual has evolved over the past few months.  Back in the apartment I abandoned in New York City, Eliza would leave her room and climb into bed to cuddle with me every morning.  Here at my mother's, she'd wake up and call for me until I came into her room.  Closer towards the end of my pregnancy, she'd stand at the bottom of the steps to my bedroom calling my name.  

On the morning of April 27th, I went down the steps towards her knowing this would be the last morning of this particular ritual.  C was arriving that day for my scheduled C-section the following day and I thought he'd probably go to her first thing in the morning.  As we embraced that morning, I was very aware that by the next day, everything would be different.  What I didn't know was that my water would break later that day and that I wouldn't even see Eliza the following morning.  

When talking about beating stress, specialists often suggest closing your eyes and going to that special place and now my special place is reserved just for Eliza and me on that morning of April 27th.  All I have to do is close my eyes and it will forever be that day with her at age 3 1/2 and me, still relatively young at 41.  I hear her voice say "Mama" and open the door to reveal her at the bottom of the steps with her arms outstretched.  I waddle down the steps with my very pregnant belly and feel her little arms wrap around me and I know, this is it, this is the last time it will be just the two of us.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Missing Eliza

I miss my big girl.  She's spending the weekend with her father and I miss her like crazy.  Initially, he expected to have her back around 1pm tomorrow, now she probably won't return until 3pm.  It's only two hours difference but I'm so anxious for her to return.  This is what it's like to be separated--weekends without my wonderful daughter.

I'm enjoying my newborn and I have to admit, I managed to get extra sleep today.  But my mother's house is so quiet without my darling Eliza.  

Even before C took her, I've been missing my girl like crazy.  Missing the relationship we used to have that's now forever changed by the presence of this other person.  I love my young daughter Elena, but I miss the things I used to do with Eliza.  I can't do many things now because I'm still recovering from surgery.  But things are not going to be what they were and I've never been one to like change.  

Eliza is so proud of being a big sister and she seems to love the baby, but I feel like I spend the majority of most days reminding Eliza to be careful with the baby, with my boo boo, with my mother.  I dump her off at day care next door every day, desperate to get home and have a nap.  Because Elena refuses to sleep in her bassinet, she spends most nights in bed with me.  Since Eliza hates to come upstairs and find the baby in bed with me, now when I hear Eliza run towards the steps in the morning, I dump Elena in the bassinet like a philandering boyfriend caught in a rest stop bathroom.  

I am so jealous of all that C can do with Eliza at the moment: pick her up, carry her around, encourage her to jump into his arms, and spend an entire weekend showering her with undivided attention.  When I called her tonight, she barely spoke to me she was having such a breathlessly fun time with her father.  You bet I'm jealous even though I don't envy C at all.  C plays with Eliza for hours--using dolls as puppets, hovering under umbrellas in Eliza's bedroom pretending there's a rainstorm.  He is the perfect playmate for her--he never tires of playing with toys and slipping into the world of his imagination.  I suppose this is why he and I could never make it as a couple--C doesn't live in the adult world.  

While others might envy his ability to play with Eliza for hours, I find it rather destructive.  She orders him around and enjoys his complete dissolution into a make-believe world.  When she plays with other children her own age, she doesn't like that they don't take orders from her.  Last week, I watched him crawl around on all-fours pretending to be a horse.  Whenever he tried to sit up, she'd scream, like a brat frankly, "Get back down on the floor, horsey!"  While I took some satisfaction in watching him submissively creep around like a begging animal, I didn't like the message that his taking orders sent to our daughter.  Tonight, when he spoke to me briefly about their return tomorrow, she screamed "Get off the phone right now."  This is not how I want my daughter to act.  Talking is useless--C will forever be competing with me for her affections.

I tell myself when she gets home tomorrow and isn't that thrilled to see me after a weekend with her favorite playmate, that's okay, I'll be thrilled to see her.  That's what matters in the end, how I feel about her.

But I miss my girl, really miss my girl and the relationship we had that's not necessarily worse, yet different now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I hate C-sections

Thank you, Doctor Morgan for cutting me open two weeks ago after telling me my labor wasn't progressing on schedule.  I suppose some C-sections are actually necessary and life-saving but many of them aren't.  I'm not sure, Dr. Morgan, which category I fall into but I hate walking around feeling like my guts are about to spill out.

Thank you for making me thoroughly afraid of my wonderful but scarily energetic three-year-old.  Whenever she runs towards me I suck in my breath in terror.  She understands that Mama has a big boo boo where they had to cut into her tummy to take out baby sister.  Often she asks me if she's going to put me back in the hospital.  This morning when I was throwing a bit of a tantrum because I was experiencing new abdominal pain, Eliza curled up on the floor crying "Mama's never going to get better."

Thank you Drs, for encouraging C-sections so you can adhere to some kind of schedule.  I feel like less of a mother because I can't have my Eliza sit on my lap or help her get into the bathtub.  I am in a bit of an extreme situation here, having just left C and being holed up with a mother who is also recovering from surgery.  But with this new pain, I'm so terrified I will be unable to take care of my girls.  It's been less than two weeks and I know it takes time but the pain and my fear of becoming more incapacitated are starting to take over.  With every new ache, I wonder "Am I going to heal?"

My friend had a home birth for her second child.  I'm just too afraid of medical problems to go that route but she had the vaginal birth that she wanted.  The pain during labor was horrific she said, but her recovery was over within 24 hours.  As I toiled in labor that night alone in the hospital while C slept on the fold-out beside me, I was screaming for a C-section so in the end I suppose I got what I asked for.  But if my water hadn't broken, settling me into the hospital before the contractions started, maybe my labor would have progressed normally.  Once you go to the hospital, you're in a bed hooked up to monitors and IVs.  When the back labor really hit, I know I would have been able to endure the pain better if I could have gotten down on all fours but I was strapped to machinery, lying on my side, feeling Elena's head pound against my tailbone.

So thanks those of you in the medical community who've turned child birth into something that must be monitored, carried through in a scheduled fashion (you must dilate one centimeter per hour, at least), and controlled by the evil that is pitocin.  Thank you for scaring me to death as I wait for my body to heal and the day when I can allow my lovely little Eliza to jump into my arms.

I only hope she hasn't outgrown me by then.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Welcome to the World, Elena Michelle

My water broke around 7pm the night of Monday, April 27th, a little less than 24 hours before my scheduled C-section date.  The temperature hovered at 90 degrees.  We were about to take Eliza to a playground along the bay.  

Since my water broke, I decided to brave it out and go for the real labor and vaginal delivery I wanted.  I braved about five hours of intense contractions that came in one-to-two minute intervals from the hours of approximately 1-4am on the morning of April 28th but I stalled at five centimeters.  

So Elena Michelle, all seven pounds, ten ounces of her, entered the world rather quietly via C-section at 10:22am on April 28th.  Last year on April 28th, I landed in Israel with Eliza to see my best friend's eldest son Bar Mitzvahed.  April 28, 2009 happened to be his 14th birthday.  

I feel a little split in half from the surgery, but life as a single mom (with help from my own recovering Mother) is going okay so far.  I've only been home from the hospital for one full day, so it's early yet.  

I wasn't sure I'd love the baby, my feelings for Eliza re so intense.  It's funny how fast you fall in love with that little football, the minute they slide the baby in your arms.