tea party, originally uploaded by kelanew.

eva has been on the wait list for starbright preschool for, well, about half her life, actually. i planned that hoping a spot would open up right around the time that a future second child would come around, and we were close -- we had a spot confirmed for august. well, we got a call yesterday that they had a last-minute opening starting... tomorrow. we thought about it for about an hour, then took the spot.

for now, she'll be going thursday and friday afternoons (2:30-6), and starting in august she'll move to a more normal schedule of monday and wednesday afternoons. starbright is a lovely (and coveted) waldorf-based preschool, and the kids spend much of their time outdoors playing in the huge wooded lot. eva has a good friend (ella) who goes there, too, and i think they're both fairly excited to be going to school together.

this couldn't have come at a better time -- now we'll have a little while to get her used to school before the baby comes, and i'll have a bit of a rest during the last weeks of pregnancy, and she won't feel like she's beeing shooed out the door and replaced by the baby (as is the concern had we started in, say, june). also, i've been making plans in recent weeks to expand her social opportunities a bit, hoping to augment what we currently do by finding some contexts that would be better suited to *her* needs (as opposed to my own needs of hanging out with my friends :) now that school is starting now rather than in august, i presume it can fill that role very nicely. i think she's going to love it, and i'm sure i won't mind having a few hours per week alone with the baby, either.

ordinarily, they invite parents to bring a new child for 6 weeks prior to their start date so they can acclimate to the school setting. well, we had only one day's notice -- today -- so today we went to school. i explained to eva that i would stay at school with her while she got to know her teachers and the other kids, and then once she was ready, she could tell me to go. i figured i'd stay for three or so days, depending. we arrived, she and ella ran off to play together, and basically eva didn't even check in with me for the next two hours. she played, had snack, went potty (with her teacher, not me), played some more -- and thought it was even a good sign that while she played with ella, she also played with other kids or just explored on her own. well, after we had been there about two hours, she came running over to me. i thought perhaps she was needing to reconnect with me a bit, or just wanted to chat, but she said with a cheery yet very sincere expression on her face, "okay mama, you can go now. i'm ready for you to go." well, okay then! i wasn't expecting that she would kick me out... on the first day.

so, i went out front to sit in the car until school was over. about 45 minutes later, one of her teachers saw me while taking out the trash and said she was doing great. but i guess i should have headed in a bit earlier than i did, because at 5:48 they called me saying she was sad. (i planned to head in a few minutes before that.) and, wow, she was really sad! she even continued to cry as i held her, saying she was "sooo hungry" (not used to eating on a schedule, i guess) and that she was "just very sad". the first issue is that she saw other kids leaving and i guess wasn't totally clear on the fact that i would be coming back, too, and how exactly that all worked, given it was the first day. and i think she really *was* hungry (we simply could not convince her to eat much lunch today, and she didn't eat much for snack at school)... and then halfway home, after all of five minutes in the car, she fell asleep.

until the pick-up time started at the end of the day combined with the tired and hungry, though, she did amazingly well for her first day. i was there the first two hours, as i said, but she couldn't even see me most of that time, let alone come hang out with me. my mom laughed, saying that sounds just like eva's mama and her grandma, too (we were both very ready for school). i think she's going to do just fine.




yesterday was one of those days of emotional intensity -- probably to be expected when a mom at the very end of her pregnancy and a two-and-three-quarters-year-old toddler, each with their own incomprehensible emotional swings, join forces.

mixed in with lots of joyful playing with her cousin (we'd stumble upon them having created their own tea party in the playroom, or snuggled together on the couch looking at books together), eva had four big breakdowns yesterday. these were the sort of things that can be frustrating to a parent because on the surface they appear to be about nothing -- because the asked for soap was placed onto her hand one half inch to the left of where it should have been, because i put pita chips into her bowl (the way she had asked not five minutes prior), because the of the two towels offered after her bath, one was too small and one was too big. but after a retreat to our room, lots of screaming and sobbing, and a few deep breathes, the return of toddler language ("use your words", indeed) would clarify to me that in her perception -- which really, is no less valid than my own -- she had a perfectly good reason for being upset. it turns out, i then recalled, she had asked that she be allowed to have the whole bag of pita chips rather than just a few in her bowl, and i absent mindedly responded with a yeah-sure-whatever, then failed to deliver. that's a reasonable injustice in a toddler's world. granted, she could have pointed that out (with words!) rather than throwing the chips and screaming, but really, maybe she couldn't have. she is, after all, two. something i struggle to remember throughout the day.

apparently i need all the opportunities i can get to be reminded. after each of these intense interactions, i resolved to do better next time. i respond in anger at first, then calm down, which is better than staying pissed off and acting accordingly, but i'd prefer if i could just stay calm in the first place. on the first of these two events, larry and i "traded off" after the first aggrieved parent needed to breathe (and i mean literally aggrieved -- she bit my hair and pulled (what is that?) and later unintentionally kicked me in the belly; another time she bit larry's shoulder hard enough to leave a big red bruise). trading off isn't always an option, of course, and i was pleased that i managed to calm down the times it wasn't. if only i could avoid that initial burst of anger... only one of us needs to act like a two year old, and eva gets dibs on that.

eva, however, is actually doing pretty well at coping with these situations (given her age, that is). she starts out screaming and sobbing and hyperventilating, even throwing or hitting or (the new lovely development) biting. but quickly, through the screaming, she'll say "i'm so angry! i feel like throwing things at you! i'm very frustrated right now!". or, through the sobs, she'll say "i can't get calmer. i'm having trouble calming down..." she said that then looked up at me with a face mixed with anger and a longing for comfort, and reached her arms tentatively up toward me and immediately dropped them and looked at her feet, seemingly unsure what to do with herself and even more unsure of how i would respond. i reached across the literal and figurative space between us (that in her tiny wisdom she had begun to bridge) and scooped her up into my arms. her breathing immediately began to slow as she sank into my shoulder, the two of us a mound of spent emotions and belly.

this may at first sound like a tangent, but on days such as this, where we find our connection split apart and rejoined an exhausting number of times, i am so thankful that we still co-sleep. i know the benefits (facilitation of breastfeeding, reduced SIDS risk, extra sleep for mama, and so on) may seem to end after the baby stage is over, but i swear we get as much out of it now as we did then. without realizing it, i developed a ritual long ago of reconnecting to her as she sleeps, and i absolutely rely on that now. probably around the time all the toddlerness began, i found that i would lay down to join her in bed (after she had been asleep for a few hours already), and just stare at her sleeping face and breathe it all in. i smooth her hair back, and as i gaze at that peaceful face, all eyelashes and cream, how could i be irritated or stressed? watching her chest rise and fall, i subconsciously match my own breathing to hers and am reminded of her as her baby self, when a different intensity of emotion prevailed, when i was overcome with a physical need to hold her. the stillness is broken a bit as her jaw clicks around, squishing up her quiet lips, a remnant motion from her days as a nursling. there she is, my beloved tiny baby, growing into a child, into a person. each day she will travel just a little farther from me, needing me less, until one day all of this is a slightly blurry memory. even in a matter of weeks, my nighttime attention (like all of my attention) will be split between two. but for now, i can end each day -- whatever that day may have brought to us -- with her sweet face as the last thing i see as i drift off to sleep. soon enough i hear through my eyelids, "it's a beautiful day, mama, let's wake up!" and after a night of jumbled legs and arms, physically as well as emotionally reconnected, we're both ready to do it all over again.


bogumil superbus

big sister

until very recently, one of us (guess which one?) had become a bit stressed at our complete lack of having discussed baby names given that we were halfway through the third trimester. i was concerned that we might not find names we agreed upon until the very end, and after my experience last time of clutching a list of boys names while i was about a half hour away from actually pushing the baby out, i really wanted to avoid a last-minute decision. a person needs time to mull it over, to be sure. naming another person should in no way resemble impulse shopping. (damn, where did i put that receipt, anyway?)

well, it turns out my worry was for naught. we messed around for a week or so crossing names off a big list (a mix of the plausible and the slightly ridiculous), and made some progress. then, we decided to each make a list of our top names (i had about a dozen for each gender; larry had around five), and then compare the lists. we had a high degree of overlap (i was going to say a "surprising" degree, but it's not so unexpected, since we generally have the same tastes in names... and most things, really). armed with a list of our mutual top five or so names, i figured we'd mull it over for a while, and then start narrowing. but we both looked at the list and said: "i like this one" "hey, me too." and weirdly, that happened for both the boy and girl names. and there you have it, a full month before the due date, too.

i kept waiting for "The Name" to jump out at me, and i guess it did. there's still time should we decide to change our minds, but i think we're pretty settled. now we just need to find middle names, but that feels more fun and less stressful (says one of the parents who had to return to the hospital when eva was three days old to legally bestow upon her a middle name).

in the course of reading through names, we came across some that caught our eye. larry always makes lots of jokes about baby names (making the actual decision making process both more humorous and more frustrating). last time, our unborn child was often referred to as "strikeforce", a foreshadow of her future ninja training in her quest to take over the world, or so i am told. before that, she was lampwick. well, it goes without saying this baby would eventually get such a name (and panowah doesn't count; that came from eva). we'd both become impressed by the name bogumil -- i mean, how great is that? and then later, larry came across superbus (apparently the last king of rome, as in "superb"), and announces "super bus!"

now, you should know that when i'm pregnant, i tend to find things very funny. things that otherwise would illicit a chuckle or even just a grin cause a massive belly laugh. and i think that's just the reason -- the massive belly. i think saint nick and his bowl-full-of-jelly style of laughter was no exaggeration. i laugh and find the laughing itself so funny it spirals a bit out of control, until i fear i'm going to pull a belly ligament. "stop it! stop saying superbus, i'm going to hurt myself..." and then it's sealed; i'll find that same thing immensely funny from that point forward.

so, wee baby, in case you thought panowah wasn't enough of a fake name... you now have bogumil superbus. i really think (despite tradition) that it could work for a boy or a girl. so if anyone asks, that's what we're naming the baby.

just admit it, you secretly love it, too. it's perfect.


open letter

big sister

hi baby.

you might think -- someday, once you come out, and have a gender and a name among other key attributes -- in reading this that you existed during my pregnancy in my mental framework only as an upcoming sidekick to your sister, as a foil for her cute and humorous antics.

you might wonder, "where's the journal of when you were pregnant with me? eva has a whole book!" sort of an "i gestated in your uterus and all i got was this stupid nickname" type of scenario.

well, you'd be justified in asking these things (both your parents are second children, so we can try to relate). there are some legitimate key differences in a first pregnancy and subsequent ones. but you'd be wrong to think that those differences mean i (we) think of you less, wanted you less, that we are any less excited to have you join our family. not in the slightest. it simply comes down to a matter of split attention. your sister, who will always be "older" from your perspective, is barely more than a baby herself right now, and as convenient as it would be at various moments, we can't just hit the "pause" button on her while we focus on the amazement we feel in contemplating your arrival. breakfast still has to be made. so, the thoughts i have and have been having since the moment i learned of your existence don't always make it into a written record. but they're there...

these feelings are so strong, so real. it's overwhelming, really, when i think of how much i wanted you, how i was made to wait just long enough that i began to have sporadic but serious doubts that you would ever come to us... then the joy of the news. all that fear melted away, and i felt the same roller coaster of emotions that i felt the first time around (though i got to enjoy it more, since "fear" made up far less of the pie, since i at least marginally know what i'm doing this time). this pregnancy has been filled with so much -- so many things have happened, so much emotion has flooded through all of us -- that the time has flown by. i look down or in the mirror and am surprised at times at my shape -- when did this happen? wasn't i just 4 months along yesterday? in some sense, i feel caught off guard by the fact that you'll be here in a matter of weeks. on the other side, i feel like you've always been there, and i feel so comfortable in my body as it is right now (okay, not always *physically comfortable but in a broader sense) that i feel like i could just stay this way forever.

i intended to write more for you, but i didn't, and for that i apologize. but i'm writing now to tell you that the feelings are no different the second time around. i hear people say that while the second child never gets to be the sole focus of his or her parents' attention, this is balanced out by getting the more experienced parents that the older sibling, ever the guinea pig, never gets to have. i don't know how the scales tilt on this, but i do know how i feel.

so though i say i could stay this way forever, i wouldn't really want to... because what i'm really wanting, what i think about more and more every day, is finding out who you are. i am so excited for you to join our family. you are so loved already...

your mama




eva had another of her semiannual follow-up appointments with the pediatric endocrinologist today. it went well; they're pleased with her rate of growth (as has been carefully charted over the past year), and though she's not catching up, she's staying where she needs to be. she's 24.5 lbs and 33.5" (roughly, as best i'm remembering), which puts her at 3rd %ile for weight and 1st %ile for height -- and hey, we'll settle for "on the chart". good enough for us.

again, the theory is basically that she'll skate along at the very bottom edge of the chart, probably drop off a bit more throughout elementary school, and eventually catch up some time in high school (after hitting puberty later than her peers), to end up somewhere basically average, potentially around the 50th %ile. how's that for a detailed theory? in plain language, they're guessing she's a late bloomer. i'm not so tied to this theory, but i'm putting it here like a little time capsule. someday we'll say "that's exactly what happened!" or we'll say "oh, look how far off we were on that one..."

so, despite how little she eats (i swear it was no more than three bites of any meal or snack all day yesterday with the exception of a handful of pretzels), it seems she's doing okay. we have a repeat bone age x-ray and another follow-up appointment in six months. if by then she's still progressing well enough, we may only have to check in occasionally (to see if the above theory holds).