Lily’s first Mommy-less weekend (Spoiler alert: she survives!)

Me and the lovely Danielle, who lives in Minneapolis

For the first time since Lily was born, I took a solo trip to visit friends this past weekend, leaving for the airport Saturday morning at about 9 a.m., and returning home on Sunday at about 6:30 p.m. 

I felt nervous about this, but I ultimately made the decision to do it because I’ve been desperately longing to spend some quality time with my far-flung girlfriends (check out this previous post on the topic). Distance makes it hard enough for adults to maintain close friendships, but throw some babies and toddlers into the mix and it’s damn near impossible.

So when I heard that three close friends would be communing in Pennsylvania, I thought about how travel would only get trickier after July, when our second baby‘s due, and thus decided, on pretty short notice, to just go ahead and go for it.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that anxiety about my decision didn’t enter the picture – far from it. Though I was excited at the prospect of some aimless gal-pal bonding time, the potential for guilt loomed large as I imagined tearful calls from Lily telling me to come home. NOW. (Shudder.) Just thinking about this filled me with dread. Continue reading

Oof. (Or, anatomy of a really crappy morning)

I’m not sure what else to title this post, since it deals with the seemingly endless and impossible struggle I had with Lily on Tuesday morning.

Things started calmly enough. Lily had slept in a bit, and Joe had to get to an 8:30 a.m. meeting, so he only had time to bring Lily downstairs and serve her her standard breakfast order (Cheerios).

As usual, she was only moderately interested in eating – the world is a palace of constant distractions for a 2 1/2 year old – and while she’s done well using a “big girl” juice glass of late, she stopped paying attention long enough to drop, and consequently shatter, one that morning. I picked up all the pieces I could find, making a mental note to vacuum around the area later, and stayed calm while telling her that that’s why she had to be careful with the “big girl” glasses; they can actually break. (You know. Like Mommies.)

Soon after Joe left, Lily pulled her chair to the nearby stereo to engage in one of her favorite pastimes: pulling CD cases out one by one and handing them to me while also insisting on taking some of the CDs out and putting them into the stereo (where she randomly pushes buttons until the stereo does what she wants). I hate this game. And because Joe had had to leave before she was dressed, I was suddenly feeling quick-to-anger. So when CDs came toppling down, my voice rose, in volume and register. “Lily, PLEASE BE CAREFUL.” And when she told me to pick something up, without saying “please,” I yelled, “For the 5,000th time, how do you ask nicely? I really don’t like to be ordered around like a servant!”

I knew I was being irrationally short-tempered. Here Lily was, in a good mood, and I was steaming. But I couldn’t help it. I was just destined to have a shorter-than-usual fuse that morning. Continue reading

More differences re: the second pregnancy

I thought of several more things that are different this time around:

6. I felt like I was showing even before the little blue plus sign appeared on the stick. Yes, though some of it’s in your head, the female body does seem to immediately snap back into a “we’re going to need some room down here!” mode. (Thankfully, bulky winter clothes allowed me to hide the truth before we were ready to share.) But even so, I find I’m holding on to wearing my “regular” clothes this time, rather than diving right into the bin of borrowed maternity clothes. I remember, during my first pregnancy, hating the vaguely pudgy, “baby bump” stage that arrived during the second trimester, wherein onlookers couldn’t be sure if I was pregnant or “letting myself go.” So I started wearing maternity clothes before they were a physical necessity, in part, I think, because I thought it would send a clear signal to the world regarding my status; but I was also, in a way, trying on the idea of pregnancy and motherhood. These notions seemed so abstract to me at the time that having tangible items – like patently ugly maternity business slacks and blouses – somehow helped make something I couldn’t see feel more real. This time around, though, I don’t much care whether people know that I’m pregnant during this in-between stage; and I’m in no hurry to have my daily clothing choices limited.

7. Halle Berry’s pregnancy was concurrent with my first pregnancy, which was, to say the least, tiresome. Here she was, splashed across magazine covers, gorgeous and blooming in stylish designer maternity duds, while my also-pregnant sister-in-law and I were showing up for dinners wearing the same stupid black and white maternity work blouse. This time around, Natalie Portman is the Hollywood star who’s on the baby track with me; and she’s gorgeous, too, but less aggressively so, so it’s somehow less annoying.

8. For some reason – and this wasn’t true the first time – I haven’t had a bad hair day since conception. I don’t know what’s going on, but that’s been a nice, unexpected bonus.

9. During the first pregnancy, Joe went with me to every doctor’s appointment; this time, I’ve gone solo, and I’m totally fine with that. The first time, you’re both fragile and worried about everything that could go wrong. The second time, you generally assume everything’s fine unless you hear otherwise. This sounds less dramatic and romantic, perhaps, but it’s far more comfortable, too – a fitting general description of a second pregnancy.

Because who can resist the chance to wear those super-stylish maternity clothes one more time?

This is a Google Images baby, not our baby. Duh. I mean, it doesn’t even look like us!

Yes, for those who have read the blog for a while now, we are, indeed, closing our eyes and jumping – which is to say, in the face of all that could go wrong, and after somehow surviving Lily’s babyhood and slowly re-claiming some of the little pleasures we’d had to temporarily give up, we’re starting from ground zero again. The second (and definitely last) Grekin-McKee is currently scheduled for an early July arrival.

This was not an easy decision for us, obviously. Nurturing a baby is hard enough, but add onto that constant responsibility the need to engage with and love the child you already have, who will inevitably be a little heartbroken initially, and you’ve got a recipe for emotional and physical exhaustion.

So why are we doing this? (No, it’s not because it’d make for better blog material.) As with all tough choices, there’s no one answer that wholly satisfies. Both Joe and I felt that having a sibling, on a basic level, provides you with a person who bears witness to your life from its beginnings and shares (and thus understands) your history; as well as someone who might share the burdens, emotional and otherwise, that arise as parents age or grow ill and die.

Admittedly, that’s a bit bleak. So on the lighter end of things, I’d note that the other thing that finally tipped the scales for me was thinking, whenever Lily raced across a room to hug the stuffing out of me, how amazing it is to be loved so completely by a little person. “Who wouldn’t want to be loved like this even more?” I thought. “And how can I resist the chance to love another child in the same way?”

Cheesy and overly romanticized, I know, but it’s nonetheless true. The answer to “Why would I do this all again?” was ultimately: to feel and receive more ridiculously all-consuming love. Continue reading