“Will You Play With Me?”

Peanut turned 3 in May and for some reason, the moniker “Peanut” doesn’t seem to fit her anymore; I’m not sure why. So, for now I’ll just call her ‘M’. Bossy, demanding, moody M. To say three has been difficult so far would be an understatement. In fact, after talking to other parents, I’m pretty sure the “terrible twos” is a complete lie while the “atrocious threes” is vastly underestimated. Living with a three-year-old is like walking on eggshells at all times. We never know what’s going to set her off or why. We have to carefully watch our words and be ready to act on a second’s notice. What doesn’t faze her one second will throw her into a tailspin the next. The tantrums are out of control and occur on a daily -sometimes even hourly- basis and just when you think everything is fine, the most ridiculous thing will make her start crying uncontrollably. The opposite is also true, though: sometimes when things seem hopelessly awful, she’ll turn it around and be the funniest, goofiest, most loving kid ever. It’s like living with somebody with a split personality.

The biggest problem for me though is…well, me. This is really hard for me to admit but I don’t know how to play with my child. No, that’s not true. I often don’t want to play with my child. I don’t want to play with the dollhouse or the hedgehogs or the fabric sandwiches or the little people farm animals. I don’t want to pretend I’m a baby or a monster or a dog. I don’t want to have to build a lego tower or erect the Marbulous set (only to put in marble after marble and watch it slide down and then do it all over again) or pretend I’m in a swimming pool on our hardwood floor. You know what I do want? I want to read a book again. I want to go to the bathroom by myself again. I want to be able to go into another room without my daughter having a fit. I want to not feel dread at the words, “Mommy, will you play with me?” Most of all, I want to stop feeling like a horrible parent.

I thought that by the time M turned 3, she would be doing more independent play. She goes to a Montessori school -which puts a big emphasis on fostering independence- and they often tell me how independent she is, how she does everything by herself. Then I always wonder to myself, “who is this kid they’re talking about and what happens to her the second I pick her up from school?” Because my kid? My kid is not independent. My kid is wholly dependent on me for entertainment and company. My kid screams for me the second I dare leave her in the living room to go to the kitchen and start her dinner. When we go to the playground, instead of taking off and running towards the fun stuff like all the other kids seem to do, my kid takes my hand the second we get there and says, “what do you want to do?” as if we’re at the playground for my enjoyment and not hers. My kid doesn’t let me just be Mommy and instead insists that I “be a baby” or “be a monster…but a nice monster, not a mean monster” or “pretend you’re Gaga (her grandmother)” all. the. time. 

I want to enjoy it all. Really, I do. I have read countless articles and blog posts lately about how we need to put down our electronic devices, stop diverting our attention and just enjoy the moment because it all goes by so fast and before you know it, the kids are grown and they won’t want you anymore. I know this is true and yet it doesn’t offer any comfort. It doesn’t make me want to play dress-up princesses or never have a minute to myself. All it does is make me feel guilty. What is wrong with me as a mother? Am I missing that nurturing gene? I lose my patience and my temper far too often and then I feel even worse. I confess that M now watches more TV than I’m comfortable with because it’s the only way I can get a minute to myself.

Is this a phase? This non-stop clinginess? Or is this just her personality? She’s definitely an introvert, which has its own challenges, and she is extremely cautious but these aren’t necessarily bad traits. For some reason though, I find it exasperating many times. I want her to experience things, even scary things. I want her to take risks and get all the rewards that come along with those risks. I want her to be happy.

The guilt, though. The guilt is never-ending. Why can other mothers spend days on end with their kids, creating crafts and new games to play, while I feel like I don’t even know how to pass an hour? Why do I so desperately want another child when I can’t even seem to handle the one that I’ve got? And why am I such a failure that I can’t give her the one thing I know she wants most of all: a baby brother or sister? (She talks about it constantly. Always giving us updates on schoolmates that have siblings; telling us the stuffed frog is her brother and the doll is her sister; asking if she can be a big sister.) At least if she had a sibling, she would have somebody else to play with and wouldn’t have to rely on me and my husband to be her playmates.

I love her. I love her more than I thought it was possible to love anybody. I want to be the Mother she deserves.  I want to be able to look into her beautiful eyes when she asks, “Mommy, will you play with me?” and tell her that there’s nothing I would like more and mean it.

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This entry was posted on July 31, 2013. 4 Comments

Loss

The last year has been a tough one. We lost a dog and a cat, whom we loved very much, only a few weeks apart; shortly after that, I gave up my job (and what felt like most of my identity) and we packed up our lives and moved from NYC to Orlando. The transition was difficult -to say the least- and honestly, I only started to feel like I was getting my footing back a couple of months ago. On January 1st, I eagerly said good riddance to 2012 and thought 2013 would bring us much better luck.

In January, after trying to have another baby for about 1 1/2 years, we decided to seek out fertility treatment. We would have done it earlier but after finding out that our insurance doesn’t have any fertility coverage at all, we just couldn’t swing it. Finally, we decided that time was of the essence so we sucked it up and paid out-of-pocket for treatment. I did a lot of research on fertility doctors in the area and we settled on one who has a really good reputation. Although he said that IVF would give us our best shot at conceiving, especially given my age, we just couldn’t afford the $15,000 price tag so we decided to give IUI another try.

I wasn’t feeling particularly hopeful so imagine my surprise when it worked! Two weeks after the procedure, I took a home pregnancy test and couldn’t believe when I saw the word ‘pregnant’ on the stick. I was really happy but frankly, I was also relieved that we wouldn’t have to go broke trying to get pregnant.

My husband was so excited and while I tried to share his excitement, I couldn’t let myself. Maybe it was all the statistics I read about women my age and the increased likelihood of miscarriage. Maybe it was because I tend to be a bit of pessimist anyway. Maybe I didn’t want to jinx anything. Maybe I just had a gut feeling. Maybe it was all of those things, but I didn’t want to talk about the pregnancy at all and I certainly didn’t want to read the emails my husband now got on a daily basis telling him that the embryo was now the size of a lima bean and was in the process of growing kidneys. And the more time that passed and I didn’t feel anything, I got more worried. When the mild nausea I had in the beginning began to subside to nothing, my anxiety grew. I bought a box of home pregnancy tests and would take one every 3 days, relieved when I saw the positive sign yet still having a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right.

The day of our first ultrasound, when I was 7 weeks along, I was nervous all day. My husband almost convinced me that it would all be good with his infectious enthusiasm and positivity. Almost. The doctor entered the room and asked me how I was doing. I told him that I was nervous and all I wanted to see was a heartbeat; I think I let myself hope for a second that everything was going to be fine. Still, I wasn’t surprised when he told me that the embryo stopped growing at about 5 weeks and I would soon miscarry. He then said a few more things I have trouble remembering, asked me if we had any questions and left the room. All of this happened and I still didn’t have any pants on.

I think I felt numb and sad beyond belief. For some reason, I thought that because I had prepared myself for this that it wouldn’t hurt. Of course, I expected to be disappointed but I didn’t expect to feel such a deep sense of loss. I was growing a life inside of me that was no longer growing. We were going to be a family of 4 and we could already picture our daughter as a big sister. Whether I let myself be excited about it or not didn’t change the fact that I wanted this so badly and there were times I actually believed it was going to happen.

I was left with about a million questions but most of them I only came up with once the shock wore off and I had some time to let it sink in. By that time, the doctor was long gone – off to see somebody else who I imagine he was relieved to give good news to. I’m angry about a lot of things right now but most of all, I’m angry at the fact that the doctor didn’t let me put my damn clothes back on, sit with my husband for a few minutes while we absorbed the news and then invite us into his office to talk and ask questions. I realize that fertility treatments are big business now but I expected more than a quick brush-off.

So, it’s been 5 days now and I’m still trying to figure out how to process the loss. Here’s a little TMI alert (sorry): as I sit here writing this, I think I’m going through the miscarriage right now and I have pretty much never felt so alone. And the future feels so uncertain; do we keep trying? How much do we want to spend on the dream of having another baby? Do we go into debt doing more fertility treatments? Should we just count our blessings that we have a healthy and amazing daughter? Did we get greedy wanting more? I know some people feel that we were given a gift once and maybe leave well enough alone. I’m not sure how to respond to that. Yes, I love my daughter more than anything and feel thankful for her every day but does that mean I’m not allowed to want more? If it doesn’t happen naturally, is that supposed to be a sign from somewhere that we’re not supposed to have another?

I wish I had answers but right now all I have is grief.

Starting Something New

After pushing aside my apprehension and anxiety, I finally decided to pursue something I’ve been interested in forever…I’m starting real estate school on Monday! I LOVE real estate; every time there’s an open house somewhere, I want to go. Not just because I’m nosy (though I am) but because there is something about a home that really intrigues me. I think it’s interesting to see what appeals to different people and what can be done to a space that makes it not just a house (or apartment) but a home. Whenever my husband and I are in a different area, I always want to drive around and look at neighborhoods, check out the real estate and try to gauge the market. I pick up the real estate section of the newspaper wherever we go and I’m always checking out listings online.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, actually. A few years ago, while we were still in NYC, I took one real estate class but couldn’t continue because my work schedule made it impossible. Though if I’m being honest with myself, I think I was just scared. The market had  just hit rock bottom and all I kept hearing was that one would have to be crazy to go into real estate at that time. I couldn’t picture voluntarily leaving my comfortable, well-paying job for the gamble that was real estate. So I dropped it and pretended it didn’t exist.

When I was trying to figure out what to do here, my husband brought up the idea of trying again. I sort of considered it but pushed it aside; the idea made me nervous. What if I tried it but failed? What if I took something that is a passion for me and turned it into a terrible experience? What if I’m just not cut out for it?

It’s time to forget about my fears and at least give it the fair shot it deserves. I thought about not telling anybody because that way if I failed, nobody had to know but my husband but that seems like a cop-out. So, hopefully the class goes well!

On Trying Again

Sometimes I wonder how much I want to share with the world. I like to write and this blog has been a great way for me to express my feelings and experiences with those who care enough to read it but I have to admit that I struggle with how honest I want to get. I guess I always felt like there was some stuff that should stay private and while I still believe that to be true, I realized how much I appreciate it when other bloggers write about their lives in an open and unfiltered way.

So. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year now. Yeah, that’s a little tough for me to put out there though I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the stigma of infertility or the fear that writing it down somehow makes it more real or even the concern that people will judge me for wanting to have another baby when it seems as if all I do is complain about how hard parenthood is. Still, I feel like it’s time to share this particular part of my life with you.

My husband and I had agreed a while ago that for us, the ideal spacing between kids was 2 years. Not too close together to be completely overwhelming but not too far apart so the kids wouldn’t form a tight bond. I know everybody has different opinions on what the best age gap is but we both felt that 2 years would be perfect. In order for that to happen, I would had to have gotten pregnant when Peanut was 15 months old. Well, here we are – our daughter is now 26 months old and not only am I not pregnant but I’m wondering whether I ever will be again.

They call this secondary infertility, I think. I’ve tried not to over-Google it or anything but I believe that’s the phrase I came upon a few times when referring to somebody who can’t get pregnant after successfully conceiving the first child. (Or something like that. Hey, I’m no doctor, you know.) The funny thing is that I was always nervous I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant at all. From the time I was pretty young -a teenager, I think- I had a feeling there would be struggles with fertility. I was diagnosed with PCOS about 15 years ago, had really irregular cycles and just had a sense that it wouldn’t be easy. I would read blog after blog of women and couples dealing with infertility and for some reason, I could always relate. Even though I had never been through it myself, I just felt a kinship with those women.

When my husband and I got married, we decided we’d start trying immediately because we’re not exactly young. I was 36 at the time and he was…let’s just say he was older than that. (If he wants to tell his age, that’s up to him. Old people get pretty sensitive about that sort of thing.) At around the 5 month mark, I actually did consult with a fertility specialist because at that age, it’s recommended you do it sooner rather than later. I left the consultation and figured I’d talk it over with my husband and we’d decide what treatments we would want to pursue. Luckily, we never had to because I got pregnant just one week later without any treatment at all.

My husband tried to use this as proof that all of my fears were unfounded. See? He’d say. You worried for nothing. But even then I don’t think I ever let go of my fears. I thought to myself: well, this all happened too easily. Surely something will go wrong down the road. And so, here we are. I’m turning 39 (!) in less than a month and we can’t get pregnant. We’ve done one round of IUI which didn’t work. We probably would’ve done more except for the fact that I found out the IUI was unsuccessful 3 days after we moved to Florida. Welcome to Florida! You’re not pregnant!

This morning I called my husband’s insurance carrier to find out what our infertility coverage is. Before I tell you about that, let me just say that my benefits with the job I just left in NYC were awesome. Like, seriously awesome. Besides the amazing 401(k) with the 150% company match and the various discounts to certain retailers (which I actually never took advantage of but I liked to know they existed) and the classes the company offered and the adoption benefits (again, never used but nice to know they were there), the health insurance was great. We had $25,000 worth of lifetime infertility coverage. IUI, IVF, the whole gamut. Covered. Obviously, there were deductibles and co-pays but it was still great.

Here’s something I learned only over the last month: did you know that in some states, insurance companies are required by law to provide coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment and others have no such obligation? I didn’t but I certainly do now. New York is one of those great states that requires infertility coverage. Guess where Florida stands? Yup, Florida has no regulations concerning infertility coverage. So what I learned today is that the health insurance we have now with my husband’s new job will not cover anything they call “advanced reproductive technology.” Which basically means that unless your problem is easily treated with a pill, you’re shit outta luck. No IUI, no IVF, no nothin’.

I’m kind of angry, kind of sad and mostly just confused. What do we do? Do we just stop and consider ourselves lucky that we’ve got one amazing daughter who fills our lives with joy? How far do we want to go? I’ve never wanted to have an only child and neither has my husband (in fact, we both always wanted to have 3 kids though I think at our age, we realized that’s probably not very likely). Peanut has started asking about brothers and sisters and often points to pictures of families in books and says, “Mommy, Daddy, Peanut, Sister, Brother.” I don’t know if she has any concept of what a sister or a brother really is but I do think she’d be the best big sister ever. To make matters worse, it seems as if every couple with a child our daughter’s age has already had or is pregnant with their second child. It’s hard not to compare myself with other people and find myself constantly coming up short.

I often wonder if I brought this about myself. Did all my years of thinking I would have trouble having kids lead us to this? Did all my reading and relating to infertility blogs somehow take me in this direction? I know that sounds ridiculous but I guess that’s the thing about infertility – it finds a way to insert doubt into everything.

At some point, I’ll write about all my fears of not having another kid and I’ll also write about all my fears of having another kid. (Oy, it’s just never easy, is it?) For now, I just wanted to put this out there before I lost my nerve.

 

 

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Long before we moved to Florida and I had to leave my job, I had been thinking about the next stage of my career. Truthfully, as much as I may miss it now and lament the loss of it, the bloom had started to come off the rose when it came to my job. I had been in TV for a long time and it takes a toll; the hours are irregular, the pressure can be immense and there was always a sense that there may be a shelf life for my particular line of work. I had started to feel the expiration date coming quickly upon me a few years ago and while I contemplated what else I could possibly do, I came up empty. I’ve been working in news my whole adult life and I’m not particularly qualified to do anything else. I’ve got no skills other than working in television and though I have to believe that my many years of dealing with immovable deadlines, stressful environments, crazy people and high-tech equipment certainly gave me some kind of an edge over other people, realistically nobody wants to hire somebody for a job that they have no experience in at all. So, I stayed in my job that I didn’t necessarily love (or sometimes even like) any more because really, who was I to complain? The pay was good, the company benefits were great, I never had to dress up for work and I was damn good at it. But the whole time in the back of my head was the thought: what next?

This move was supposed to be my opportunity – the chance to break away from something just because it’s comfortable and figure out what it is that I really want to be when I grow up. You know what I’ve come up with? Nothing. It’s pretty disheartening, really. In fact, I met with a recruiter the other day and he asked me a series of questions to get to the heart of what I wanted to do and my answers were pathetic. If money was no object, what is your dream job? Hmm [pause for far too long while I try to come up with an answer]…dunno. If something were to happen to you right now, what would you regret? Um…not losing the baby weight earlier? (Yes, I realize this is not at all the answer he was looking for.) What do you love to do in your free time? Free time? What free time?

I walked into that meeting hoping for some guidance, leads and maybe even answers. I left feeling more lost, confused and in despair than ever. I started to wonder if I had any passion at all. You know what’s worse than not having your dream job? Not having a dream at all. My birthday is quickly approaching so I have to confront the fact that I’m soon about to enter my very last year of my 30’s (which FREAKS me out, by the way) and I can’t believe that I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I never imagined that I’d be this age and not have it all figured out.

Do most people really just work to earn a paycheck and nothing more? I want to work because I think it makes me a happier and more fulfilled person as well as a better mother but the reality is that there are family sacrifices that have to be made when both parents work and if I’m going to take time away from my daughter and husband, then it has to be something that I truly love. If only I could figure out what that is.

Tell me: do you love your job? If not, do you know what you would want to do if money wasn’t an issue?

 

 

Life in Florida Through the Eyes of a 2-Year-Old

After months of my computer locking up every time I would type one word and then weeks of only getting a flashing question mark when I tried to turn the computer on (this probably goes without saying, but getting a flashing question mark is a very bad sign…the only question the question mark is asking is, “how much are you willing to pay to replace your computer?”), I finally had to get a new hard drive and just got my computer back. Yay! [Also? Losing everything you’ve ever saved on your computer for the last 5 years? Not fun. All the pictures of my daughter being born, celebrating holidays, spending time with family…gone. BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER, people. This concludes my PSA of the day.]

So, anyway. I’ll return to this blog not with a long, ranty post of my depression, sadness and lostness I still feel. Not to worry, I’ll get to all that soon. Thank you to everybody who read, commented on and gave me support after my last post. It truly meant so much to me and really did help me. This will just be a post in pictures – all pictures I luckily still had saved on my phone…sorry about the quality of them but I’m still basically using a first generation iPhone – of Peanut and her new life in Florida. I gotta say that for all my angst here, she seems to love it. And I guess that has to count for something, right?

Checking out the Florida lizards

Watching her Daddy on TV for the first time

Her new favorite…strawberry frozen yogurt

Man, the supermarket aisles and shopping carts are big once you get out of NYC! (Also, we really miss my mom. Mom, could you please come visit again soon?)

Feeding the ducks

At the pool

Driving!

Getting ready for the olympics

Sleeping with our new kitten

At the playground

Trying some rock climbing

Ready for a night out on the town

On Being a (VERY) Reluctant SAHM

Well, the move is complete and we are now officially Orlando residents. We’ve been here for about a week-and-a-half now and my husband started his new job last week. He’s really enjoying it and while it’s nice to see him excited about work again, I’m having a really hard time.

Over the last 2 years, after I went back to work following a 12 week maternity leave, all I wanted was to spend more time with Peanut. I’d even fantasize about being able to stay home with her. When I had to work nights and I’d go a week or more without being able to put my daughter to bed, I thought there was nothing I’d like more than not having to worry about how my work schedule was affecting my ability to be a good mom. Of course, I would complain about having to juggle parenthood with a full-time job and of course I would feel guilty and of course I would feel as if I could never give any area of my life 100% of me. So yeah, I talked a big game about how great it would be to be a Stay At Home Mom.

But really? If you had asked me to be completely honest, I would have told you that there was no way on earth that’s what I would want. It’s easy to talk about it and dream about it when you know it’s not gonna happen. The thing is…I’m just not SAHM material. Believe me when I tell you this is not a knock on those moms that do stay at home with their kids. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I bow down to those parents because taking care of kids all day is hard. Like, really freaking hard. I know this just based on the weekends when by Sunday night I would start to feel a small -and secret- sense of relief at the fact that I would be going back to work the next morning.

So…I’ve been a SAHM for a week now. I’d like to tell you that I’m handling it with grace and dignity but I’m not. I don’t know who I am anymore without a job. I don’t think I ever realized how much my work defined me and it shames me to have to acknowledge that fact. I worked in television for 17 years. My job was a technical one that required skill and you know what? I was damn good. No, I may not have been the best in the industry but I was good and I took a lot of pride in it. I never had a typical 9-5 office job and while the schedule could often be tiring (nights, weekends, holidays, you name it), I loved it. The fact that I have to talk about it in the past tense now really bothers me. I spend most of my days feeling lost, depressed and resentful. And of course, the biggest one: guilt. Shouldn’t I be happy to be home with my kid? My amazing, funny, smart kid? Shouldn’t I be counting my blessings right now? Should I have my mom card revoked for not wanting to be home with my daughter all day?

But really, who am I now? When people ask me what I do, what do I say? I used to be a technical director? Now I’m just a mom? Yes, I know saying that I’m “just” a mom isn’t accurate. Being a mom is huge, it’s everything really; I haven’t lost all perspective. I’m aware that my family comes first and there’s nothing more important in my life than my daughter and making sure she’s happy and healthy. Yet here’s a truth I have to recognize: I’m not the best person for the job. I’m not the most qualified candidate to fill her days, to educate her, to cultivate her artistic sensibilities or to entertain her. Frankly, most of the time I don’t know what to do with her. I love her but that’s not enough is it? Maybe when she was just a baby and all she needed was to be loved, nurtured, fed and changed. But she needs more now – her time in daycare showed me that. She flourished in daycare and in fact, when she left her teachers wrote a note that said, “Whatever you do, keep her in art! She has an artist’s soul-the joy she gets from creating is palpable.” I’m ashamed to say, she hasn’t done any art since her last day in daycare. The guilt eats away at me. Oddly enough, I think I feel more guilty now then when I went to work every day. At least then I knew that she was in an environment that was stimulating her and she had friends to play with. All she’s got now is a sad, depressed, lost and confused Mom. And that just sucks. Don’t get me wrong: I love my daughter more than I ever thought possible and I truly believe I am meant to be a mother….just not one that stays home.

I’m hesitant to write about this because I’ve found that there’s no group that gets judged more than Moms. No matter what we do, people always have an opinion and seem to judge us more harshly than anybody else. I read an article online the other day written by a woman who was a SAHM for 8 years; she was about to head back to work full-time after all those years and was finally admitting that she didn’t enjoy staying at home with her kids. Based on the comments, you would’ve thought that she was confessing that she had kept her kids locked in the closet and only fed them once a week. They were practically vitriolic in their judgement. If you don’t want to raise your kids, you shouldn’t have had them; what kind of a parent are you that you don’t find satisfaction in being with your kids?; maybe you should’ve just gotten a dog instead…there were more but most of them were along that same line of thinking. Apparently, moms are only allowed to work if it’s absolutely and totally financially necessary. If it’s just something that we’re doing to feel like a whole, complete person? Well then we are terrible, awful mothers who should be ashamed of ourselves.

So yes, judgey people of America, you win. Because I do feel ashamed of myself. But that shame doesn’t do anything to make me happier or make me want to be a SAHM. All it does is make me feel guilty. I want to be completely present and available for my daughter when I’m with her and I think I can do that better when I’m not with her all the time. Today, I wasn’t allowed out of her sight. I literally couldn’t go further than 2 feet away from her before she would yell at me, “COME HERE Mommy!” I couldn’t make her lunch, do laundry, feed the dog or go to the bathroom by myself. The women that love to do this? That find complete joy and satisfaction in raising their kids themselves and can do it without losing their minds? I think you are Gods. Seriously, I admire you in a way that you will never know. Because I’m not strong enough for it and I wish I were. Instead I feel like I’m drowning. I know that being in a new, unfamiliar city where I don’t know a single person other than my husband and daughter isn’t helping. Still, I’m pretty sure that all the well-meaning people that keep telling me that it’ll be all better once I meet people or join some kind of a mom’s group are a little misguided. Yes, it’ll be nice to socialize with other moms but what I really need is to figure out who I am now and what’s best for my daughter.

And with that, Peanut just woke up from her nap…