Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Goodbye

The day that I have spent weeks dreading has finally come and gone.  Tim has finally gotten on that big boat we've been telling the girls about, and he's off.  This is how yesterday went:

It was an appropriately cold, drizzly, windy, and gloomy day.  We left at 8 to take him to work and drop off his many bags.  He said we should say our goodbyes then, just in case we were not able to see each other again later that day at the port.  But it was not a very emotional goodbye because we were both assuming we'd get to see each other one more time that day.  [Dragging out the goodbye into two installments is not the ideal way to do it, and not the way we normally would.  But Tim had promised Delaney she'd see his ship, thinking that it would be there at least a day or two earlier.  But it didn't arrive in port until the very day all the Marines had to load, and Tim didn't want the last thing Delaney remembers about him to be a broken promise.] So it didn't feel like the last time.  I didn't shed any tears on the way home until we pulled in the driveway and Delaney exclaimed upon seeing his truck, "Dada's home!"  His truck in the driveway has always been such a happy sight for us all, and now it's just a reminder he's not here.

The next several hours went by like any normal day for the girls and me.  I did some housework, took care of the girls, and spent a lot of time soaking up the encouraging words people had for me on Facebook.  I know I am not alone in this experience.

Tim had sent me an email saying I should plan to arrive at the port around 5:45 or 6.  So once we were done with naptime, it was time to have a big snack/ somewhat of a dinner for the girls, and get ready to go.  We left by 5 and at around 5:15 as I was driving through Havelock, I got a call from Tim.  He told me he would not be able to get off the ship until around 6:30, so he said if I get to Morehead City by 5:45, I should find something else to do to kill time.  I was definitely getting there by 5:45, so I thought, 'What to do, what to do..?'  I realized I was a little hungry, and I saw McDonald's coming up, so McDonald's it was!

Delaney was so thrilled to be going into McDonald's, especially when I got her and Sissy Happy Meals with Littlest Pet Shop toys inside.  I smiled to myself, thinking I'd succeeded in making fast food into a rare treat for them, which is pretty much what it was for me growing up.  (Except for the time my aunt made me have an egg & cheese McMuffin and I got carsick afterward.)  I had a nice time listening to their happy chatter at the table, and not having to be in a hurry.  I got a couple texts from Tim, saying, "Where are you?"  and stuff like that, but nothing saying, "Get here now."  But at around 6:20, I grabbed dinner for Tim and we left.

Finding the port in Morehead City was easy, and as I approached, I could see a ship behind the high-rise condos.  Then I could see the gate, and as soon as I saw that, I turned into the first parking lot I could find.
It was so windy and cold by the water.  The girls and I wandered around and I took lots of pictures of this ship which looks very nice, but that isn't Tim's ship as I had first told the girls.  Tim's ship was behind that one.
The minutes kept ticking by.  I decided to put the girls in the BOB and go for a little walk.  Further down the road toward the gate, there was another small parking lot full of people doing the same thing I was.  I gave myself a mental pat on the back for bringing the stroller and the Dum-Dum suckers, because we were out there a long time.  Tim texted me two different times that it would be another five or 10 minutes, and then a half hour would go by.  It was nearly 8 when I finally got a call from Tim and he was saying, "Where are you?"  And finally, there he was.  He told me he'd had a long miserable day with one problem after another.

Tim stayed with the girls while I walked out onto a dock to get a better view of his actual ship:
We went back to the car to warm up.  Before I took the girls out of the stroller I snapped this picture:
In the car, Tim gave the girls their Daddy Dolls.  Delaney liked hers, squeezing it to hear him say, "Who loves Delaney?"  Annie threw hers on the floor after just a minute.  Oh well.
Tim wolfed down the cold McDonald's meal because it was the first thing he'd had since breakfast, and then we drove to Dunkin' Donuts so he could get a coffee and I could use the bathroom.  In the parking lot of Dunkin' Donuts, Tim said, "So, should we rip this Band-Aid off now, and get the girls home to bed?"  I reluctantly agreed it was time.  It was well past 8 now, and we still had a 40-minute drive home.  At some point, we just had to get this over with.

Back in the parking lot next to the gate, Tim said goodbye to each of the girls probably two or three times each.  It kills him to be leaving them.  He told me, "Don't let them forget about me."
Then we hugged goodbye, trying not to cry and failing.  I just couldn't believe that when I drove away that would be the last I'd see of him for 10 months.  We lingered a few minutes, neither of us wanting to see the other one go.  Then he went back to the ship, and I drove home, and that was that.

I had tears running down my face the whole way home, but I said to myself, "This day is finally over.  Now I can stop dreading it."

Friday, March 25, 2011

The big question I'm pondering

Three days before Tim leaves, I find myself sitting here stressing about what I'm going to do for Delaney's birthday, which comes in July.  I already know when and where we'll celebrate Annie's, which happens in May.  We'll be in Florida with my parents, siblings and their kids, and we'll have a little celebration there.  It will be fun and it will be special, even though Annie probably wouldn't know any different even if it weren't.

Delaney is already anticipating her 4th birthday, and I want it to be great one for her.  Tim's dad is coming in July, and his being there will certainly help make it special.  But then the question is, what do we do?  I think about the type of birthday she would probably like, and I'm not sure how to make that happen in the middle of July here in NC.  A couple of the friends that I would like to invite (whose husbands are also deployed) are skipping town as soon as the kids get out of school, and going to the west coast for the summer to stay with family.  Hmm, can't really blame them.  I do have a couple of others I would like to invite because of course Delaney would want at least a few other children at her birthday party.  But then, where would I have the party?  In this house?  Boring.  We would all have to stay inside, because in July it's too hot to go outside between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.  There is no Gymboree or other fun air-conditioned kids' place that could host a party.  Then there's the issue of me being nine months pregnant and completely exhausted.  I can't help but think that a July birthday is really going to stink for her this year.  If the baby comes early, her birthday could be forgotten entirely.

Last year in July, we were in Pennsylvania with Tim's family, and that's where we celebrated her birthday.  It was so nice, and I know she loved having us, grandparents and cousins there.  A family vacation is such a convenient time and place to have a birthday, isn't it?  She's surrounded by people who love her in a setting that's already happy and fun.

So, what about a May birthday?  I looked at a calendar and calculated that if I were to have both girls' birthdays on May 28 in Florida, that would only be six weeks away from Delaney's actual birthday.  I picture balmy and breezy Florida, with cousins all around, and a beach in the backyard, and it seems like it would be perfect.  Then in July we could mark the actual day with just a birthday cake after dinner and some balloons.

I know this is laziness on my part, in my lack of creativity in thinking of a way to make her actual birthday happy and memorable, but I do think Delaney is going to benefit from my laziness this time.

I remember last year in Quantico, a friend of mine opted to have two of her kids' birthdays at once in May, right before everyone graduated school and most everybody left.  But I think her kids' birthdays were in May and June anyway, close enough.  Is six weeks close enough?  Does it really matter?

I've run this by Tim, and we can both think of one potential problem with this idea:  I might have some 'splainin' to do next year when Annie's birthday rolls around again.

I'm sure there are more pressing matters I could be attending to right now, but I've been thinking of this for weeks, and I want to make a decision soon.  I love this little girl, and I want her birthday to be the best one possible with her daddy not there.  Do I accomplish that by having her share a birthday with her sister?  Am I thinking too hard about this?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Starting to freak out a little

The reality of Tim's looming departure is really setting in for me now.  We've been scurrying around all week, trying to get things done around here, with only one break for Saturday night "date night in."  I've been having trouble sleeping, and occasionally out of nowhere I get teary.  I picture certain scenarios in my mind: driving home with the girls after telling him goodbye; thinking about the way the girls' faces light up when he walks in the door every day, and they yell, "Da-da!" I can't believe I'm staring a 10-month deployment in the face.

I've turned to cleaning as a way to cope (and blogging).  I know that on Sunday we're supposed to relax, but as soon as the girls and Tim were down for naps, I started cleaning the windows inside and out, and it took me four hours.  For some reason, I feel like having clean windows will make this easier for me.  They're still not completely clean, but professional window cleaning isn't in the budget right now.  I cleaned our bathroom too, and between the two of us, we must have done 10 loads of laundry this weekend.  I kept getting frustrated at the state of our house, and they way I can't ever catch up with the housework.  And these past couple weeks, we've made it worse with all our rearranging.  It seems like once we took one thing out of its place, it all snowballed from there.  I'm not a clean freak unless I'm stressed out.

Here are the results of our efforts -- alright, mostly Tim's efforts:
What was Delaney's room is now the girls' room.  

What was Annie's room is now the guest room.  I was going to have to paint, but since it turned out Tim was here this month, he did it.  I think it turned out really well.  The bed is Annie's converted crib.  I think Annie's teeth marks on the foot of the bed add charm.  Doesn't it look nice and cozy (albeit lacking any decor)?  The mattress and bedding are brand spanking new.  Now all we need is a guest!

We celebrated our 4th anniversary on St. Paddy's Day.  Here are the flowers Tim sent me.
I told Tim earlier today we're going to have to get all caught up this week on everything that needs to be done so that we can spend our last weekend together doing something relaxing and fun, instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Annalise at 22 months

Mmm.. yummy!
She is getting easier to understand all the time, now that she's regularly using phrases like "carry me".  The phrases don't always make sense out of context -- for instance, she says, "Cut up me" when she wants us to cut up her food -- but she gets her point across well.  She is making her will known, and that will is usually just to have/do anything that Big Sis has/does.  This can lead to some nasty fights when there is only one of a particular thing that they both want.  Sometimes it works out well, though.  A few nights ago at bedtime, Delaney selected a Minnie Mouse nightgown to wear.  I got out a pair of footed PJs for Annie, and was about to put them on her, but she was resisting and saying, "Dress."  I was confused.  "I am getting you dressed," I said.  But Annie continued to frown and say "dress," refusing to allow me to put her feet into the PJs.  Finally I realized, "Oh, you want to wear a nightgown like Delaney.  I don't know if I have one for you, Annie."  But I looked, and somewhere in the pile was a little nightgown with chickies on it that Delaney used to wear.  I held it up triumphantly, and both sisters were delighted they would both be wearing nightgowns to bed.

My favorite thing to hear her say is "I love you too."

She's been sharing a room with Delaney now for almost a couple weeks, and that is working out well.  They love it, we love it.  Their talking and giggling together in there is music to our ears.  She's still in a crib and Delaney's in a twin.  We have the other twin for when Annie's ready, probably sometime this fall.  I see no rush to put a toddler in a "big kid" bed.  The thought of it brings back memories of Delaney's first months in a toddler bed.  *Shudder*  But I've been lucky in that Delaney didn't attempt to climb out of her crib until she was 2 1/2, and Annie hasn't yet.  Other parents might not have the choice to wait because their kids are being little monkeys who climb out.  When the crib ceases to be a safe option, into the twin she will go.

Another place in the house that she and Big Sis are bonding is the bathroom.  When Delaney has to go, she invites Annie to come with her.  She's taught Annie to wave and say "Hi pee-pee," as it's coming out.  Then she says "Bye, pee-pee," as Delaney flushes.  Same thing with poo-poo.  Then they both wash their hands.  I know it's a little bit strange, but I'm hoping all her familiarity with Delaney's toilet habits will help a lot when it's time to start potty training her.

I love how she calls pickles boats.  She points at Tim's or my plate at lunch and says, "boat."  She always wants one, but then she just tastes it and makes a face.  And every time, she expects it will be different.  In a few days, Tim's going to take us to Morehead City to see his ship/ his "boat", and she seems especially excited.  I wonder if she's picturing a big pickle sitting in the water?

I love how when she finishes a drink, she says, "All gone.  I drink it all up!"

More and more, she is wanting to do things herself.  She wants to put on her own shoes, but usually she'll say "Help" when it's not working out.  She wants to buckle herself into her carseat.  Everything is "self", "self", "self", if you try to help her.  She just wants us to know she's her own little person and she can do things too.  When she is successful, she exclaims, "I did it!"  She's growing up quickly.

A year ago today: Annalise at 10 months

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Delaney at 3 years, 8 months

Her expression here reminds me of her baby pictures.
I'm sorry to say that I don't think I have it in me right now to write my usual monthly update.  I have been preoccupied these past few days, and suddenly I see that today's the 8th, and Delaney's another month older.  I think what I'll do instead is share my favorite pictures of the month.  I'll have to try and make it up to her next month.

There has been one change in Delaney this month, and I'm not terribly happy about it.  She now gets sad when I drop her off at preschool, like she doesn't want to be there.  This started a couple weeks ago, with some mild protests and clinging at drop-off time.  Then today, she followed me out into the hall when I left, and it took a few minutes for me to extricate myself, with both the teacher and me trying to tempt her with all sorts of things.  "You want to feed the fish?"  "You want a special treat when I come pick you up?"  She didn't cry, but she looked like she was going to.  She just said she wanted to go home.  Then she and her teacher walked me to the door, and I saw her at the window looking sad as I waved goodbye.  When I came to pick her up later, I asked how she'd been after I'd left.  I was told she was perfectly fine, happy as could be, her usual self.  When Tim asked her about it later, Delaney just said she got "scared" when it was time for me to go.  I guess it's just a phase.  Hopefully it doesn't get any worse!

I did tell the teachers that I'm wondering if this could be her reaction to her daddy's impending deployment, which is now happening quite a bit sooner than originally planned -- April instead of July.  (Semper Gumby!)  We talk about it between ourselves, we talk to her about it, and we don't think she gets it.. but maybe she does, at least a little.  As Mom tells me, kids are intuitive.  They may not always understand, but a lot of times they just know.

This post feels very disjointed with its happy pictures and not-quite-so-happy story to go with them.  There have been lots of happy times with Delaney this month too.  But this is the best I can do right now.

See what I mean?  Those were the days when she always looked at me when I took a picture.
You wouldn't know it looking at this photo, but Delaney still tells us about once a day that she doesn't "want Annie anymore."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Midwife visit

I had an appointment with my midwife yesterday afternoon.  You may remember that the last time I had a prenatal visit, it was with an OB.  This pregnancy is a little unique in that I see both a homebirth midwife with her own practice, as well as a regular OB/Gyn practice.  The reason for that is I've decided -- actually long before becoming pregnant the third time -- that I wanted to have this baby at home.  In my search for homebirth midwives, I discovered there was only one in my area, and the next closest was about an hour-and-forty minutes away.  Neither of their services are covered by our insurance.  So I chose the midwife closest to home after interviewing her and deciding she would be a good fit for us.   We pay her out of pocket.  I've also been seeing our insurance-covered OB/Gyn so that I at least have the bloodwork, routine tests and ultrasounds covered.  They have no idea of my real plans and I intend to keep it that way.

Of course, I didn't envision Tim not being present for the birth when I first made up my mind that it would be homebirth for the next baby.  But as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and realized he'd be leaving only weeks before the birth, I was not deterred.  If anything, I became more solidified in the idea that this baby ought to be born into the peace and security of our home.  I can't have everything the way I want it, but it gives me great comfort that at least I can do this.

My father-in-law Tim Sr. will be staying at our house from the middle of July to the middle of August.  He will be there to take care of the girls while I'm having the baby, and to help out with them before and after.  We're moving Annie into Delaney's room this week, and we're making Annie's room into a guest room with a real full-size bed, not the old air mattress.:)  I might even paint if I'm really motivated, because right now it's painted periwinkle blue and has pink curtains.  If there is any painting to be done, it will be by me because Tim will be either absent or too busy these next few months.  What's a nice color for a guest room?  Anything but the crappy off-white color that was there before.

At the time of the birth, I will have the midwife, her assistant, and the assistant's daughter, who will be my doula. I met her at this last prenatal visit, and she is an impressive young lady.  She's only 17 or 18.  She's the oldest of 11 kids, and helped at the homebirths of the four youngest.  She's been helping out her mom with births for a few years, and is familiar and comfortable with the birth process.  Her mom says she is a great cook, a great helper, and is basically her household manager.  She will come out with her mom and the midwife, and stay for three to five days afterward to help me out.

My mom will come for a week in August, and that will be really nice.

I don't really know if I am adequately prepared mentally and emotionally for becoming the sole head of our household and having a baby about a month after Tim leaves.  But I am at least starting to relax a little, knowing all the support I'll have, and how far I've gotten in planning how this will go.

As far as the visit went, my weight has been holding steady for a couple weeks at 121, so a total of 12 pounds gained.  I am doing well, the baby is growing well, just floating around and kicking all the time.  I had one complaint, that I've been tired and crabby every afternoon, and needing my hour + long nap more than I like to admit.  The midwife wanted to prick my finger to test my iron level again.  (She did it last visit and it was in the normal range.)  I begged out of it this time, because for some reason I really dread and hate a finger prick worse than anything.  Needles don't scare me, but someone pricking my finger and squeezing the blood out does.  I was encouraged to eat more iron-rich foods and increase my exercise.  In fact, the midwife strongly encouraged that in addition to my evening sessions on the treadmill, I should get the girls out for a walk first thing in the morning after breakfast.  To my surprise, I tried it this morning and liked it.  I'm not a morning person, but I enjoyed the brisk walk in the cool morning air, and with both the girls in the stroller, it was quick and easy.

As I left, the midwife's assistant said with a smile, "Remember, more leafy greens means no finger prick next time."  Produce section, here I come!

So that's my story so far.  I will be sure to update.