Something has happened to me over the past seven or so months.
The ground has gotten really, really far away.
I’ve given up shaving my legs, because they’re close to the ground and have you noticed how far away that is?
Kyle has to help me pull my pants and socks off because my ankles are basically on another planet.
I can’t even see my feet anymore beyond the protrusion of my belly, so that means that they’re not really there.
Ruby is very, very close to the ground, so she has to reach up if she wants to be picked up. Better yet, sometimes she’s on a couch or a chair. Her toys might as well be in somebody else’s house for how easy it is for me to get to them. They’re also tiny tripping hazards, because I can’t see the ones near my feet, which means that they’re also not really there until I’ve tripped on them. In related news, if I make it through this pregnancy without tripping on a plastic zucchini and falling to my death, it will be a miracle.
I’ve been having a lot of introspective feelings about having babies and watching them grow lately. It feels like I’m somehow settling inwards to prepare for the birth of this new baby. I’ve been reviewing labor techniques and breathing patterns that helped me last time, and as the weeks go by, my confidence grows in my ability to birth this baby. My body knows what to do, and I coped well with labor last time. I feel like labor will probably be shorter this time (with Ruby it was seven hours from the time contractions woke me up to the time she was born), but it’s impossible to know for sure.
I’m not worried anymore about how Ruby will react to the baby. I think she’ll be alright. I am a little worried about who will take Ruby if I go into labor during the work day before my mom comes (when Kyle is an hour away, and Amy is unavailable), but I’ve made a list of people I might talk to about taking Ruby in the unlikely event that such a situation arises. I’ve had some passing worries about going into labor early, but that’s kind of a we’ll-deal-with-it-if-it-happens thing.
I am a little worried about Ruby’s sleep. Her sleep problems could probably take up an entire post, but suffice it to say that she’s never been a great sleeper. It goes in phases, some weeks she’ll sleep through the night, and other weeks she won’t. It can be nearly impossible to get her to go to sleep sometimes, and I wonder if we’ll be up at night with two babies who won’t sleep.
But overall I feel hopeful. I’m excited to meet this new baby. To know if it’s a boy or a girl, and to get to know Baby’s quirks and cutenesses. I find myself longing to nurse a newborn again–to feel the rush of love that comes with letdown–and to have Baby sleep on my chest and snuggle the way only newborns snuggle. The hormonal aftermath of birth is a roller coaster, but the beauty of the highs are something to behold. I know intellectually that I’m romanticizing the post birth experience. Baby blues, soreness, late nights, and struggling with nursing can all be their own nightmares to compare with the wonderful highs, but I want to bask in the peace and enthusiasm that these romantic projections are bringing. I don’t want to focus on the hard things that are coming; I will deal with those when they get here. For now I want to focus on the beautiful things that are coming.
Because beautiful things are coming.
As I hold Ruby before bed, rocking in our little rocking chair, I am struck by how big she is. This girl who was so tiny the day we brought her home from the birth center. I used to be able to hold her body on my forearm as she nursed, but now she fills my lap and arms. It all happens so gradually, so infinitely slowly that you can’t mark the change from one moment to the next. But with the inexorable press of time, her tiny body has grown and changed. Now she walks and runs, speaks little words, calls me “Ommy” and knocks on doors she wishes to enter. With enough effort, she can properly stack Duplo blocks.
But at the same time, she’s still so little. While walking is a feat long under her belt, she still falls down routinely because balance is hard. She needs a helping hand to go down the stairs. She often needs help getting up onto the couch, and all of the hurts in the world can be healed with a cuddle and a nurse.
I suppose it’s a paradox that will manifest in different ways as she grows. Big and small, small and big; learning so much while having so much left to learn. Perhaps it’s something we are all still going through.
Over the past two weeks, our small family has been sharing a stomach bug and a cold back and forth. I think there have been one or two days when all three of us felt well. I am pretty over being sick, especially the stomach bug. Colds stink, but they’re manageable. Stomach bugs leave you lying on your bed wanting to die rather than throw up or run to the bathroom again.
Thank heavens for family in the area. Yesterday was my day with the stomach bug and Kyle was still nursing his cold. Amy graciously took Ruby to church with her so that we (me in particular) could rest in misery without having to corral a small, energetic child at the same time. Seriously, Ruby woke up all bright eyed and bushy tailed and I thought I was going to cry if I had to deal with her all day. 18 month olds have no concept of “Mommy doesn’t feel good, please don’t climb on her tummy. Blegh.”
Ruby had her cold last week, so I was constantly chasing her around with a tissue to wipe her nose. She was fussier than normal because she’s teething (molars! They are the bane of Ruby’s existence right now) and sick, so sometimes I’d need to wipe tears off her face as well. In the midst of this sickness grossness I was crying about something that has since been resolved; Ruby saw me crying, and went and got me a tissue to wipe my eyes and help me blow my nose. It was so sweet, and it made me feel really loved. She may have just been copying what she has seen me do, but it reminded me that when Kyle and I show acts of kindness and caring, that those can be good traits that Ruby learns from us. I earnestly hope that we exemplify good, kind actions more than we exemplify other actions that are less desirable for copying.
Fortunately, today everybody seems to be feeling better. I cleaned my kitchen and finished the laundry that’s been lingering, and I feel like I can face the world again.
I’ve started babysitting two kids, a 6 year old girl and 3 month old boy, on Mondays. It’s been interesting having more kids around. For one thing, after living with a toddler, a 6 year old is practically like having an adult around. She can hold conversations, go to the bathroom by herself, dress herself, pour her own milk and cereal…it’s kind of beautiful. It’s nice to know that in just a few short years Ruby will be substantially more self sufficient than she is now.
The baby cries. Like, a lot. I think he’s a little fussy natured in the first place, but there’s also the fact that I’m not mom. The first couple of weeks, he didn’t nap or eat well, either. It’s getting a little better every week, and now he’s at least eating and napping better which seems to have helped tremendously.
I was curious as to how Ruby would do with the kids around. It’s actually turned out really well. The 6 year old seems to love playing with Ruby. They pull out all the toys and run around shooting each other with toy guns, reading books, and playing with the stuffed animals. This past Monday, I heard Ruby starting to fuss, but then she quieted down. When I walked past Ruby’s room, I saw the six year old sitting in the rocking chair with Ruby and some stuffed animals on her lap–it was really adorable.
We have an island that my father-in-law built for Kyle and I in our old apartment that has been re-purposed into a front table in our living room in this one. I made a table skirt for it and we hide the toys under there at night (to pretend that we don’t live in a toy war zone all the time). On Monday, Ruby and the six year old pulled out all of the toys from under it, and played house under the island, hidden by the table skirt. It is officially the coolest place in our apartment, and just perfect for little kids playing house.
Ruby’s really good with the baby. She pats him on the head and gives him hugs and it is unbearably cute. When she sees him she says “Bah-bee!” (Baby!).
Thus far it’s been a good experience, and it’s nice for Ruby to have somebody to play with, and somebody to follow around that’s not me.