The Dog Days of Summer

by Lacey Appolito

Being a parent is a rollercoaster. Every day is different, though it can feel like ground hog day, and some days are better than others. This summer has been particularly challenging for me as a parent (and really as a functional adult, too).

For those of you who don’t know, I am a work from home mom. I own and operate an e-commerce business out of my home, but I also wear the hat of stay at home mom. My three kids, who are currently 5, 3, and 2 years old, attend a mother’s day out program for 20 hours per week during the school year, and I really do have a pretty sweet gig when school is in session.

BUT school ended May 18th, and summertime has been a little rocky to say the least. Caring for three children under the age of six is a full-time job. Every minute brings new demands for snacks, more milk, potty help, diaper changes, attention, redirecting, and SO. MUCH. REFEREEING.

On top of the daily grind, I am trying to run a business. When my kids are home for the summer, it is difficult to work on growing or improving Little World Organics. I do what I can to get by and then it is back to my kiddos, because they need me almost all of the time.

Now here is where things get really interesting… I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I am tired. I am uncomfortable. And most days the temperature is over 100 degrees, making our much needed outside time pretty freaking miserable.

So what is a super pregnant, stay at home/work from home mama to do?

Do better. I have to do better.

Better for my kids. Better for my business. Better for myself.

My little tribe and I have exactly one month until school resumes for the fall semester 🙌, and six weeks until our family grows by one, which will inevitably change our family dynamic forever.

During the dog days of summer, when all I really want to do is curl up with some Netflix in a very cold, dark room, I vow to:

  • practice patience
  • find time to work on my business while the kids are sleeping
  • be present when they are awake
  • exude love
  • minimize exasperation
  • play more

We’ve had a rough couple of days around here, and it is time to turn it around. Despite the enormous amount of energy it takes to pack up three little ones and take them to the neighborhood pool alone, I am going to do it. They need it. I need it. It’s time to breathe some fresh air into our summer routine. I am ready for a change.

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Snack time at the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When ‘Just One More’ Becomes Two

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By: Aimee Tafreshi

It’s the question that simmers under the surface among friends with kids. Are you done having kids? Will you have one more child? Part benchmark, part sheer curiosity, both close friends and passing acquaintances have murmured this seemingly casual but loaded question at a game night, at a park, in a bar.

My and my husband’s answers were usually similar in response. We already have three children. I didn’t want to go through a pregnancy again for health reasons. When I hold a baby, I don’t feel any strong desire to hold another one of my own. I’m almost 40! I remember meeting a Pilates instructor at a local watering hole on a rowdy night out with friends who seemed especially dialed into other’s feelings. If you don’t know, she said with her wise gaze boring through my soul, then I think you will have another one. I shrugged her words off. Maybe . . . but highly doubtful.

The encounter with the empathetic Pilates instructor was several years ago.  During that time, I merengued into some of the best shape of my life as a Zumba instructor. I was dancing so much that I couldn’t eat enough food to stay full.  I was dancing so much that the annoying pain in my right foot turned into a broken sesamoid bone, which took away my ability to walk for the good part of a year and required surgery to remove the crumbled bone. I hung up my dancing shoes and suddenly had to make an effort to eat healthfully and relearn how to walk so I wouldn’t pack on the pounds.

Post-foot surgery, I discovered two blood clots in my arms, which led to testing to determine the cause. I found out I had a genetic blood clotting disorder and immediately had to end my twenty-year relationship with birth control pills. My husband and I discussed vasectomies, an option I couldn’t quite commit to in the past, because I wasn’t one hundred percent sure. We decided he would undergo the procedure following the holidays, as his work schedule was conducive.

We were in a good place in our lives. Our children were 4, 6 and 8, and all of them slept through the night (mostly), toileted independently and could attend school or daycare while I worked at my new remote desk job. They had activities that required early Saturday mornings and weekday practices, a schedule that is not conducive to a needy newborn. How could I bring a baby to a five-hour swim meet in the Florida heat?  There was something liberating about being “hands-free.” I could fly on a plane with three children or take them to the movies or restaurant solo. Why would I want to disrupt this careful balance we had finally achieved?

It was the height of election season, so crazy was in the air. I got tired of watching CNN as I wanted to hear about anything other than Hillary and Donald.  I’m a news junkie, but this was twenty-four seven saturation. My husband and I threw caution to the wind and figured we’d leave the last few months of his virility to fate, God, whomever. This wasn’t a major effort, as we both strongly felt the pros and cons of adding another child to our family. I was settled into my new job, and we weren’t certain if he would continue on his current career path or make the leap into the private sector. Economics would dictate that we were finished, but our hearts were still open to one more.

In late November, after queasiness from the election began to subside, I started to feel a new sort of queasiness. Other than with my daughter, I was pretty lucky during my pregnancies in the morning sickness department.  But this time I felt different, and I knew that night I should forgo that cherished glass of red and buy a pregnancy test the next day. 

I was actually shocked when the positive test result appeared in a millisecond. Wow, there was no doubt, no faint line to scrutinize, no need for a re-test (though I think I did.) At around four weeks pregnant, there was nothing to do but wait. I didn’t know if this pregnancy would progress or fade away as several had. I didn’t even call the OB until six weeks; I didn’t want to waste my time.

My husband accompanied me to see the doctor at around seven weeks, and he congratulated us but recommended we might want to consider banking sperm in case this pregnancy didn’t work out. We assured the good doctor that we were at peace with our family if this one was not to be; we weren’t looking for a medical intervention.

At this stage, the doctor didn’t try to hear a heartbeat or get a visual image. Instead, I was told I would be giving myself a shot every night to deliver a blood thinner that wouldn’t affect the developing embryo. And as the delivery date got closer, one shot would turn into two daily, and then there would be more needles postpartum, to avoid post-cesarean section blood clots.

It took me until 9:00 that evening to give myself the first shot, after religiously studying the package insert, scouring message boards about injection techniques and telling myself it was a matter of life and death. Many months later I am a confident shot administrator (with the help of my nurse/husband who delivers the burning substance) and would feel comfortable injecting anyone in my family, if needed. The only battle wounds are bruises occasionally left by a needle. Once the shots are a distant memory someday, I will notice that witching hour every night, tucked between a shower and snack, and wonder what I am forgetting and then remember the days of the shot.

At ten weeks pregnant, feeling more confident but not out of the woods, my husband accompanied me to my next doctor’s appointment. The doctor hooked me up to his old ultrasound machine (this was his scaled down “island” office), and the unmistakable image of a small bean of a baby in a sac appeared on the right. My eyes scanned to the left (backwards, I know), and I saw a second sac with another blob inside. “Is that two babies in there???!!!” I exclaimed before the doctor had a chance to get a word in. He confirmed my impression and proceeded to talk as we filled out forms while our heads swam. We were now floating in an alternate, undefined universe. I honestly wasn’t convinced there was a viable baby inside of me until its image flashed up on the screen; never in my wildest dreams did I imagine two life forms sharing space in my womb.

Twins could certainly explain the extreme feelings of nausea and fatigue and the sense that my belly was beginning to show before the second trimester. I was immediately referred to the high-risk obstetrics group on account of the twins, blood clotting disorder and that lovely designation, being of advanced maternal age.

Since that time, my husband and I have made progress. We now accept that we are having twins. We were ecstatic to learn that one is a boy and the other is a girl, and my daughter will finally get the sister she has always wanted. My middle child is psyched that he will be elevated to “oldest son” status. And we have embraced the idea of having two newborns. Every time I see them on an ultrasound, bigger and more baby-like than the previous month, these two blobs become more real to me, taking up residence in my heart, each future version with his or her own dreams, talents and hopes. Still, I won’t completely believe this news until they hand me two crying infants at the hospital.

And while on the topic of twins, here are a few myths I’d like to dispel, in case you are considering adding “just one more” child to your family and think multiples could never happen to you.

First, not every twin birth is a result of a medical intervention like IVF or Clomid. In fact, back in the old days, women had twins well before these medical advances. Secondly, you do not need to have twins in your family to become pregnant with them. And finally, if you are an older mother and have already had multiple pregnancies, you are at a higher risk to have multiples. And if I were a mom who had undergone grueling rounds of IVF, I probably wouldn’t want strangers inquiring about whether my twins were “natural” or not. They’re all human babies, people. Growing and nurturing a life in the womb is pretty miraculous, whether one baby or more, regardless of how they got there.

And finally, if you do find yourself blessed (or cursed, depending on your outlook) with twins someday, many people will react as if you’ve been diagnosed with some incurable form of disease. Some of the reactions we have received are as follows: “Umm, congratulations?”; “I’m so glad it’s you and not me!”; and “Wow, we were going to have one more child, but not anymore!” I don’t take these comments too personally, because this is simply others’ reaction to how they would handle the news of twins. Yes, we are scared. And yes, we will be vastly outnumbered. But am I beyond excited to join the sorority of twin moms? My answer is “Yes” times two.

Aimee Tafreshi is a freelance writer and attorney who also contributes to Nameberry.com and her own blog once in a blue moon, aimeetafreshi.com. She is also a mother and professional chauffeur to three spirited, young children.

Baby Boy Part Deux

And the blog writing hiatus continues… The last time I found the energy to sit down and write something other than a grocery list was oh I don’t know, a trimester ago or so? That’s right. I’m preggers. Knocked up. With child and without an ounce of energy, which is compounded by the fact that I have a 14 month old boy who unlike his mama has enough energy to power the great state of Texas.

Thankfully I am feeling more energetic with every passing day. The first trimester was brutal. The past couple of weeks have evolved into doable. It’s no coincidence that my little fire cracker has found himself in mother’s day out twice a week despite the fact that I resigned from my teaching job in June to stay home with my growing boy.

And how is the stay-at-home life treating me, you ask? It’s hard. Really hard. I seemed to have had way more time on my hands when I was teaching, which probably doesn’t reflect positively on my role as an educator, but come on… I taught fourth grade. Those kids are independent. They could work quietly at their desks for hours on end while I worked quietly at my desk for hours on end. And by “worked quietly” I obviously mean trolled Pinterest for recipes I’d never find the time to cook and outfits I’d never find an opportunity to wear. But that’s neither here nor there now. My days of leisurely trolling Pinterest (or leisure in general for that matter) are long gone.

It’s funny how different the second pregnancy is than the first. Other than a closet full of clothes that don’t fit, I really don’t feel pregnant. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a whole lot of time to focus on this baby like I did when I was pregnant with Jack. Most weeks I can’t even remember how far along I am (15 weeks I think?), and don’t even ask about fruit-size comparisons.

I am happy to report that I have managed to remember prenatal vitamins each night, but I have been wayyyy more lax in every other regard when it comes to this pregnancy. With Jack, I didn’t drink any coffee during the first trimester and throughout the remainder of my pregnancy I would have one cup per day.

These days, a cup of one coffee is absolutely necessary to function within the loosest definition of mother, and most days it requires a second. I haven’t made the plunge into three cups daily, but I often wonder if that would propel me into good wife and homemaker status, as well. Guess we’ll never know…

During my last pregnancy, I avoided cokes (Southern for soft drinks) like the plague as I normally do in everyday life, but the past few weeks, a late afternoon Diet Dr. Pepper has become somewhat of a daily ritual. That ritual may or may not also involve a bean burrito from Taco Bell.

It has to stop.

Jack, the product of my perfectly executed first pregnancy, is pretty dang flawless in my opinion. Sure he’s strong-willed (stubborn) and the pickiest eater around (aside from myself), but other than that we’ve got ourselves a golden boy on our hands. I’m worried that my less than ideal habits with baby boy #2 (yes, it’s a boy) may equate to a less stellar version of baby boy #1.

I’ve got to turn this pregnancy around.

No more late afternoon Taco Bell runs. No more ordering pizza multiple nights in a row. More walking. Less chemicals.

Starting tomorrow, of course.

In my previous post I shared some photos from the first half of our summer. Below you will find pictures from the second half of summer, which include Jack’s first birthday and a trip to Florida, as well. Hope you are enjoying some cooler temperatures this weekend. We are loving this late summer cold-front here in Texas!

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Not interested in his smash cake AT. ALL.

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Not really interested in the beach either. Boo.

Paranoid & Pregnant

Anxiety is a natural consequence of pregnancy; at least that’s my theory. If you aren’t experiencing some form of anxiety leading up to the birth of your little nugget, then you’re either delusional or drugged… Maybe even both.

According to thebump.com, these are ten of the most common pregnancy fears:

1. Laying on my belly (and squashing the baby)

2. My face changing.

3. Eating something that would harm baby.

4. Losing the baby.

5. Baby will be deformed.

6. That the baby weight will never. Go. Away.

7. My water breaking in public.

8. Going into preterm labor.

9. Peeing my pants in public.

10. Being able to care for a newborn.

Without a doubt, my biggest fear throughout pregnancy was losing the baby. At my second prenatal checkup, it took the nurse f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to find little J’s heartbeat. After what felt like an eternity, the hollow swishing sound emitted from the doppler transformed into proof of life… We had a heartbeat.

Of course the paranoia didn’t stop there. As I approached the end of my first trimester, the nausea subsided sending me into complete panic mode, and once I could finally feel the baby moving, I would freak when there were any prolonged periods of stillness.

These are all rather common fears that pregnant mamas experience, and rightfully so. In addition to the normal, everyday worries associated with pregnancy, I dealt with the following, as well.

1. baths– I love a good, long soak in a bathtub- Especially when I am tired and/or not feeling well (hello 1st trimester!). While pregnant, I held off on baths for as long as I possibly could in fear of boiling my baby. That’s right. I was certain that the hot bath water would cook Jack’s brain and lead to permanent brain damage. My aching body trumped my fear during the third trimester however, and as it turns out Jack is pretty dang smart… At least in my completely *biased* opinion.

2. green tea damage– Did you know that green tea can inhibit the absorption of folic acid in your body leading to possible neural tube defects in a developing embryo? I learned this after I spent months on end guzzling green tea in hopes of neutralizing free radicals (whatever that means) in a quest to achieve optimal health. I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant and consequently didn’t know that I was pregnant until five weeks in… After realizing, “Holy crap I’m pregnant,” I turned to the internet and concluded that my five week old fetus was indeed screwed. Green tea, booze, baths, more booze, no prenatal vitamin. If only I had would’ve known! Luckily I was on a vegan kick at the time, and my normally subpar diet was replaced with a smorgasbord of super foods, like avocado, lentils, and sweet potato. Miraculously, Baby J made it out unscathed.

3. living near a highway– About halfway through my pregnancy, I came across a study claiming that children who lived near highways at birth had twice the risk of autism as those who live farther away. And guess who lives near one of Austin’s busiest highways? This girl.

4. maternal trauma– I can’t remember the exact study, but I am fairly certain that it linked maternal trauma during the third trimester of pregnancy to fetal brain damage. Coincidentally, I experienced some serious mental distress during my third trimester from a rather unusual source: squirrels. It all began when a hole was sealed near my neighbor’s roof (we live in a townhouse and share a wall) leaving a happy little squirrel family trapped inside.

Two of the baby squirrels made their way over to our house, and my heart sank a little deeper each time I heard them scratching and thumping against the wall in a desperate attempt to escape. After days of listening to the squirrels suffer, I convinced my husband to cut into the wall and rescue the helpless little creatures. Up until that point, I could barely eat or sleep because I was so upset about the whole situation. Then I read the trauma study, which only amplified my anguish. Luckily the squirrels made it out alive (barely), and I was able to find my zen once more.

What did you worry about during your pregnancy? Did you have any irrational fears?

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It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged… Between teaching, LWO, and a 9 month old baby boy who is in to EVERYTHING, my hands have been quite full! Here are a few pictures from the past month.

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For all of you non-Texans, it is somewhat of a tradition to take family pictures in the bluebonnets each year. 

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Sans baby at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man and Woman of the Year party.