I have a really good marriage. I just do. I think part of it is luck and most of is hard work, but in general, you’d have say, judging it as objectively as I can, my marriage is better than most.

Marc and I had a huge fight this weekend, and we’re all better now – but I feel all emotionally worn out. And with this pregnancy, any kind of huge emotional upheaval makes me physically ill, I also feel as though I was run over by a truck.

Our marriage is based on a lot, not just a strong chemistry, a genuine friendship and love for each other, we both, at the heart of it, want the other to be happy. We both believe in what we’re doing, raising our family together, making certain financial sacrificies to raise our children the way we want to raise them. We’ve both been damaged by bad marriages, Marc having had a divorce before we met and I grew up with divorced parents. We’re both very aware of how bad a marriage can be and in our own way, I think we both really work actively to make sure we never get close to even considering going down that road.

But I was thinking today about how it really is such a conscious choice. For me, anyway. I have to consciously think about it sometimes, to make the decision to stop being mad, to compromise, to figure out a way to work past whatever the issue is. I’m a relentless communicator, ridiculously so at times, and certainly when I’m pregnant and hormonal, I’m a pretty damn irritating one. I won’t let it go until it’s over. If we’re fighting over something, I have to know that we’re on the same page – we don’t have to agree, but I need to know that he knows what I’m feeling and I have to understand what he’s trying to say to me. Marc’s much better at action than with words – it’s very rare for him to get mad in the first place, and even more rare for him to actually express it – which makes it challenging at times because I need the words. I need the communication before I can let it go and move on.

And today – I’m grateful for a lot of different things. I’m grateful for my kids – who are Marc’s children in ways that still surprise me. Sam’s open affection, Jessie’s soliticiousness, their need to make everything better and okay and make everyone happy – they get that from Marc. I’m grateful for Marc – even when he doesn’t want to talk anymore, even when the thought of having yet another conversation/fight on whatever it is that we’re not in agreement on makes him want to scream, he grits his teeth and struggles thru it, and grateful for whatever semblence of sanity I’m able to maintain when I’m this pregnant and sore and emotional – that I’m able to always remember that in the end, I love this man, and he loves me, and that our marriage is precious and amazing and worth whatever it takes. And I’m grateful that we almost never fight, but on some level, I’m also grateful for the opportunity to make up. Because that’s what it’s all about – the making up 🙂

We had another snow day yesterday – and it was lovely. I had the opportunity to really pay attention to Jess and how much she does, as a big sister, to make life easier and more fun. Sam’s at a particularly tough age – three and a half is old enough to really, really bug his sister, and he’s embraced the role of irritating little brother. He asks specifically to watch shows that Jessie doesn’t like, yells at her for walking too close to him and in general, makes it his personal goal to make her day miserable. And I’m not saying that there aren’t times when she hauls off and whacks him, because there are. But mostly, she sort of rises above it, has mastered the art of pretending to hate shows she really loves because then she can watch them without him screaming. She gets him drinks, and helps him paint and engages him in games and projects all the time, somehow knowing that even when he’s snarling at her, he really does love her. Because he does – she’s his best friend and arch nemisis all at the same time. She gets that he’s three, and not the most rational of creatures. I was so proud of her, especially because I really kind of felt incapacitated yesterday – it takes a while for me to get up once I sit down, and it hurts to move quickly, so a lot of time, I’d ask her to fix whatever he was hollering about.

In other news… not too much going on these days. I spoke with Jessica’s teacher earlier today, inquiring about options for her. She just seems to be ready for more than what she’s getting in first grade, and I was wondering if there was any sort of gifted program at her school. There isn’t. Just isn’t. There’s no additional support for kids that aren’t special needs. If she was special needs, there’d be all sorts of stuff she could qualify for, but because she’s not special needs – she doesn’t get anything. I’m horrified by this – and so wish that we could afford some sort of private school for her. She’s such a smart girl – and so eager to learn and I wish that the school would step up and help her reach her full potential. She’s seven – and literally reading the Harry Potter books on her own. She’s plowing thru her math, seems to really like that the best of all topics, and is eagerly seeking out additional books and information on whatever science/social studies topic they are studying in class.

I’m going to just continue with what we’ve been doing – which is going to the library a couple of times a week, and encouraging her to learn as much as she can about topics that interest her. We’ve got a couple of homeschooling books at home too – I’m going to get some more of those and see how far we can get there. She is getting a lot out of school – socially, she’s a shy kind of kid, so I think it’s worthwhile for her to keep going – but I definitely do not think she’s working up to potential, academically.

Time for my morning bitch about being pregnant. First the disclaimer – I really, really already love the baby. And I’m always aware of how incredibly lucky I am to be able to get pregnant in the first place, and to be able to sustain the pregnancy. There are still parts that I LOVE. She’s incredibly active in the morning (could have something to do with my morning cup of coffee) and I feel her moving all the time. I love the shape of my belly – it’s big and round and I can’t keep my hands off of it.

But, man, it freaking hurts. Really, really hurts. My hips and legs are constantly aching, my bladder is almost useless at this point, and I’m so sore and achy and miserable with it, especially at night and first thing in the morning. I get stuck in positions and it takes serious effort to move myself.

And I’ve still got about two months to go.

In other news – Jess is home today with yet another snow day. Sam is feeling much better – he was randomly puking yesterday morning. He’s hands down the best family puker. It’s like a sneeze to him. He’d just toddle over to the bowl I had set up in the living room, puke into it, and move on. No drama, no stress.

Although why I bother, I’m not sure, neither of my prior birth experiences paid any attention to what I wanted…

Going into labor with Jess seemed better though. I went into labor at home, stayed home for a couple of hours, waited until the contractions were five minutes apart for at least an hour and then headed in. I was in hard labor for about eight hours, got the epidural, loved it, and then four hours later, I completely stopped dilating at nine centimeters and ended up with a c-section. It was back labor with Jessie.

Going into labor with Sam was a disaster from the very beginning. I felt the first contraction while I was waiting for an ultrasound to check the amniotic fluid level, and riding in the elevator down from my midwife’s office, my water broke. Mortifying – just really, really, embarassing, I looked like I wet my pants. We were already at the hospital, so just checked in, and after about four hours of half hearted contractions – they didn’t really hurt and I was so thrilled about having the baby eight days early (instead of five days late), my midwife decided I looked “too happy” to be in actual labor and we started pitocin. Which, for the record, really, really hurt. I wanted to postpone the epidural for some reason (can’t remember WHY I thought that was a good idea) and opted for Nubain instead, which did nothing for the pain, but it did render me completely incoherent and unable to open my eyes. I had to just lay there and suffer, moaning for TWO HOURS, until I finally got my epidural. I was six centimeters when they started the epidural, and ten by the time it was finished, and the nurse wanted me to push. It was all back labor, and I had NO desire or drive to push, just incredible leg and hip cramps. To this day, I swear Sam just barrelled out on his own, because I certainly had nothing to do with it. Mostly, I pretended to push, mostly because everyone kept yelling at me to, but really, I didn’t want to push, my thighs and hips hurt – pushing didn’t seem like the logical thing to do. Either way, I only “pushed” for about twenty minutes and out popped Sam.

So what do I want to do differently this time? Having done it twice – have to say that the C-section was a lot easier, seemed to flow better, and I had more of a connection to my body and the baby. Which I know is the exact opposite of most women’s reaction to an unscheduled section. And I know all the arguments in favor of natural childbirth – getting to hold Sam immediately after birth and nursing right away was amazing – the recovery time is SO much faster… so I’m planning on another VBAC.

I just don’t want to be as miserable with this one. My main impression of Sam’s birth is being sort of lost and alone. After getting the Nubain, I couldn’t talk or communicate, I just laid there and hurt. And everyone hollering for me to push was just baffling to me, I didn’t understand why I didn’t WANT to push, why was I getting leg cramps instead of contractions? Everything about it was strange and weird and unbelievably painful. I don’t think the epidural helped at all, it might have numbed belly contractions, but it didn’t stop my pain.

I’m not sure if it makes sense to NOT get the epidural, I know I’ll avoid any narcotics this time around. Labor at home longer? Because my water broke at the hospital, I ended up in there a lot earlier than I should have, with led to the pitocin, I think. I really want to avoid that this time out, so will wait at home until I’m in full blown hard labor. I had a great epidural experience after Jess, was able to get some rest and relax, but didn’t end up actually pushing. The epidural with Sam – I don’t think it worked at all, I know I hurt just as much after it was in as before, and it may have contributed to me having no urge to push at all, so there’s a part of me that would like to avoid it. Although with the amount of hip/leg pain I’ve got going on now, I’d almost like to hook myself up to one RIGHT NOW.

In the end, all the planning in the world isn’t going to make this go the way I want. This baby will come out the way she wants to – and my thoughts on it, while entertaining to me, aren’t really going to factor in, I don’t think. I’m just hoping that when I look back on this delivery, probably my last, I feel good about it.

I really like the baby part of pregnancy – but the labor part I’m really not looking forward to.

My baby is due in less than ten weeks – and I’m still without a middle name. First name is Julianna, after Marc’s cousin and grandmother and I need a name that goes with it. I’ve already nixed Rose because it’s Lilli’s middle name, and Grace, because it’s too popular. Marc doesn’t like Sophie. As it stands right now, I might have to go with Jessie’s suggestion of Julianna Chocolate Chip. Or skip the whole thing, and call her by Sam’s suggestion – Peanut Butter Cup Cup. If anyone has any suggestions – PLEASE let me know.

Not too much going on today – Marc’s working with Lilli on her science project. He’s got to be careful though, because his instinct is to do the whole thing himself and let Lilli and her friend just enjoy a playdate. Which brings up an interesting question for me – how much help is too much? How much independence do you allow your kids? For Valentine’s Day this year, Jessie’s teacher asked specifically for hand made Valentines, and clearly instructed parents to let their children do their own work. I ended up cutting out 25 hearts out of construction paper and let Jess write them out on her own. They were messy, some of them she signed from “Love your secret emir” (admirer), but I let it go because she did them herself. She’s seven, her artwork is clearly that of a first grader, and I thought that was fine. Not as pretty as I would have made it, but they weren’t my Valentines. And she brought home these gorgeous Valentines that were clearly designed and possibly executed by parents. I was so aggravated – because it was really hard to step back and let her make her own, and she ended up with these crappy looking Valentines as compared to some of her friends who produced pretty doily covered ones, with pre-printed stickers and artwork attached.

We’re pretty good with homework – she works on that independently, and I double check it. As long as she finished it, even if it’s wrong, I’ll usually let it go, because it’s hers, not mine. If I correct it for her, and she’s turning in perfect papers, her teacher isn’t going to realize that she still might need help. Am I doing the right thing? Are other parents correcting them before sending it in? Marc’s instinct is to do the work completely – he conceieved of the science project, which is measuring how long it takes water to freeze with the starting temp as a variable. He executed it – to the extent that he’s actually redoing the project this morning without Lilli even here because he felt the data was faulty as cups were on the door of the freezer as opposed to inside the freezer. He was in the middle of designing and laying out the poster when I pointed out that the girls weren’t actually doing anything for their science project. They kept him company yesterday, but that was about it.

I think, as parents, we’re so used to doing everything for our kids, that the kids don’t ever get a chance to really learn independence. If we don’t let them send in crappy Valentines – how will they ever learn to make pretty ones and be proud of them? If we plan out their science projects, do the experiments and make the poster, how are they ever going to learn to think for themselves? We want them to get the best grades, to be the best, and to not have to struggle – but only by struggling will they actually learn anything. But I don’t like being the parent who’s child brought in Valentines that were sloppy and childish compared to everyone else’s perfect ones. And I’m sure that Marc wants Lilli’s project to be really well done, and brilliant in it’s execution and presentation. But Jess is only seven – her hand made Valentines are supposed to be sloppy and childish. And Lilli isn’t getting anything out of this science project, other than learning that Daddy will do all the work for her.

I’m by no means a perfect parent. I struggle all the time. With letting go, with not controlling everything. I love controlling things – I’m pretty sure if I was in charge of everything – life in general would run a lot smoother. But I really try to ease back, letting them make mistakes and choices that aren’t going to do any serious damage, in hopes that when times get tough, they’ll have the confidence to be able to make the right choices. That’s my goal, anyway, that they’ll be able to stand on their own, and not only know that they are capable of handling whatever life throws their way – but actually be capable of handling it. I can praise them all the time, tell them how brilliant and smart and intuitive they are (because they really are) – but if I don’t give them the opportunity to experiment and do things on their own, they’ll never actually learn to think for themselves.

I’m just a walking incubator these days. Am gaining all kinds of weight (up until the 28 week appt, I had only gained seven pounds, and three of them were between weeks 24 and 28), but I’m starving now, a lot of the time, and the baby is moving constantly. My hips are sore, I’m eating TUMS like there’s no tomorrow, and am really really feeling pregnant.

I wouldn’t want it any other way – if I was offered the chance to adopt or be pregnant, I’d vote for pregnancy. If the choice was me being pregnant or Marc, I’d want to do it. As much as I complain – there’s something so magical about building a baby inside my body. Feeling that sense of creation, of … magic, for lack of a better term. What I’m happening right now, inside my body, is nothing short of amazing – and even when I’m moaning and groaning and complaining, it’s still the most incredible thing I’ve ever done.

In other news… I’m having a delightfully lazy day today – we all slept in until around eight thirty or so, which is unheard of. And I’m still in my pj’s and a robe and it’s 12:30. I’m heading to the mall this afternoon for a while with Becky, I have to get Sam some new underwear (he’s only got the three we bought a couple of months ago) and Jess needs new school supplies. House is in shambles, but with five kids here today (including Glennys), I’ve concluded that there’s absolutely no point in trying to clean anything. Jess is spending tonight at Annie’s house, and Mike Wilder and Stephanie are coming over for a scrabble marathon.

Can I just state for the record that I love vacation? I love not having to get Jessie dressed and fed and out the door by eight. I love the extra half hour that Marc and I can sit and drink coffee and talk in the mornings. I love the sound of Jess singing in her bedroom, and the sound of Sam and Jess laughing together (not so much loving the “Jessie HIT me!” and “Sammy’s attacking me!” that come wafting out out of the room when they’ve been together too long though). But mostly – this whole week has been utterly delightful. We did next to nothing – our only adventure was on Monday when I took the kids to Mill Stores and bought doll furniture. Every other day, we just stayed home, read a lot, chilled out and just sort of existed in this lovely little space in time – when it’s too cold to go wander at the park, Mommy’s too pregnant to want to do much of anything anyway, and the baby isn’t here yet.

I feel like we’re all in a holding pattern. Just waiting until the baby comes. I’m aware all the time of the fact that we’re on borrowed time, before too long, I’m not going to be able to just sit and sip coffee in the mornings, because I’ll be nursing and patting and calming down a screaming baby. I’m a little scarred, I think, after Sam’s babyhood. He just yelled and cried all the live long day. And I find that I’m gearing up for the first few months of this baby’s life like it’s a marathon, and I’m going to need all my reserves and all my strength just to survive it. Non-stop nursing, pacing, rocking, shushing, soothing – no wonder I’m so afraid my kids will be traumatized without me. I honestly don’t think I’ll have the ability to handle three kids if this one is like my beautiful Samilicious. My memories of Sam’s infancy are a blur of him just sobbing his little heart out all the time. Does colic run in families? Jessie didn’t have it – but Sam did, and please God, let this one be a peaceful, happy baby.

My body is already making milk for the baby. I walk around feeling all engorged these days, and it’s so odd. I’m still 10 weeks away from the due date and honestly, sometimes I forget that there’s a baby coming. I don’t forget that I’m pregnant, but don’t always remember that I’m going to have an infant when I’m making plans for the future. And my body is just moving ahead, getting ready for the new baby in ways that I’m not even aware of.

I’m very conscious of this window in time, when it’s just me and Marc and the two kids. Putting them to bed last night by myself (because Marc was at the gym), I was aware of the stress of it – trying to balance out two kids who both wanted all of my attention and barely managing to keep them both content, how on earth will I pull it off with three? Won’t one of them, by definition, have to go without? Without attention, without time, without me?

And I know, and believe all the arguements in favor of a big family. That it’s better for kids to have siblings than not. It dilutes the focus a little bit, gives them a sense of belonging to something bigger than just them. Teaches them lessons about getting along, about compassion and helping and responsibility and gives them built in playmates. I think having a big family is wonderful – except for days like this, when I wonder if I’m cheating them out of attention or love. Right now, Jessie is sequestered in her bedroom, because I told her if she can’t be nice to her brother, she can play by herself. Wouldn’t she rather have the whole house to herself and not have to worry about her brother begging her for love? Is that fair to her? To make her be kind or to suffer the consequences? Even as I type it, I know the answer… of course it’s okay to teach her that she has to be kind. To make it clear that being mean to your three year old brother, even when he bugs you, is not acceptable – and banishing her to her bedroom, clean, neat, filled with toys and books, is far from a brutal punishment.

I don’t know – I guess I’m just rambling now… but I’m feeling especially aware of the stresses that are already present in my family – two children who are demanding and wonderful and greedy for attention, and feeling guilty – will they hate having another sibling? Will they feel left out and lost and spend even more time arguing and competing for attention? And how will I handle it? How will I manage to be the best mother for each of them – give Jess and Sam and this tiny one all that they need? Forget about all they want, I’m not trying to make their lives perfect, but I don’t want any of them to miss out on what they need.

I have two children – and mostly, they get along great. Okay, mostly, it’s when I’m not here. I hear beautiful stories of them playing together and Jessie taking care of him and Sammy kissing her with cupcake frosting all over him when they’re with my mother. In public places, like if I go to Jessie’s classroom and take him, or at the synagogue, they are best friends and it’s beautiful. But at home, with me, mostly, they seem to fight. I know it’s not all the time, and that it just seems as though all they do is scream at each other. Especially because it’s February vacation and they’ve got a lot of one on one time going on – it’s natural and normal for them to fight and not an indication of crappy parenting on my part (regardless of what the little voice in my head says).

But every now and again, I’ll catch them just being so incredibly adorable together. Sam and I were just sitting in what we call the comfy chair. It’s a broken recliner than I can’t bring myself to get rid of, because it’s so big and cozy. Sam’s was all snuggled up and suddenly he started screaming and shaking and sobbing. I jumped off the chair, heart racing and dragged him with him, and figured out that it was an ant crawling up the chair that had freaked him out. It must have just surprised him – but his little body was trembling and he was so scared. I told him to go see Jessie to keep him safe and that I’d take care of the ant. And he ran to his big sister and crawled up into her arms. And then, then, I knew that I was doing a good job. He knows that safety lies with his big sister, she knows that part of her job as a big sister is to reassure him, and even though it was just an ant – it was so sweet to see him rely on her and her to naturally know just what to say to make him feel better.

Last night, we drove home kind of late. Kid late, not real person late, but we arrived home around eight-ish, and both kids were asleep. But they won’t stay asleep once we carry them inside anymore (they used to be great at that) and I ended up on my bed, with two sobbing, overtired children on either side of me. I was rubbing backs and shushing and thinking to myself wildly about where on earth I was going to stuff the baby when she comes. I mean, luckily Marc’s around, and can step in, but there’s something about major over exhaustion that makes my kids crave only Mommy, and if this one is anything like her brother and sister, I don’t have enough sides or arms to make it all happen. Why this didn’t occur to me about seven months ago is beyond me, but now I’m a little concerned….