Monday, August 22, 2016

Boy Trouble

As some of you know, I am now 36 weeks pregnant with our second son. I'm in the home stretch, for realizes, and despite all the things any 36 week pregnant woman can and should complain about, all is well. Everyone I encounter likes to remind me that I could "go any time" because I'm huge, and it's close, and asks us if we're ready. I answer, "yes. I think so." Meaning, yes the baby clothes are washed, the baby bassinet is clean, the swing is assembled (well, I'm doing that tonight) and the toddler has been thoroughly prepped on the idea that he will soon be a new big brother. He seems pretty stoked about it, and he genuinely seems to understand some of what this means. He tells me that when the baby is born I will be the baby's Mama, Eric will be his Dada and he will be his Big Brother! And he knows the baby will come to live with us forever and he says that that sounds fun. He kisses my belly and tells the baby inside that he loves him. And this is all without much prompting from me. We got a book, and he's watched the Daniel Tiger episodes where Daniel's new baby sister is born and when Daniel has to deal with the fact that there's another kid in the house (how good is this show!!!) and Cylas is into it. Things are going well for Cylas.

Things are going well for me too, but not as well. This has been a harder pregnancy, both physically (more morning sickness, fatigue, pain etc.) but also emotionally. When I was pregnant with Cylas, I had only one sleepless night of wondering/worrying about exactly what I had done to us! How this baby was about to blowup our lives so spectacularly and would we survive it. But I quickly remembered how much I had always wanted to be a mom, and how excited I was, and Eric really seemed excited too and all our friends were happy for us and Jasper had no idea what was coming, so I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing. People asked us if we were ready, and I would confidently answer "Yes! Ready! Bring it on!"

This pregnancy has plagued me with doubt and worry, mostly about how, this time, I'm also blowing up Cylas' life spectacularly and he had absolutely no say in the matter. And, sadly, I am plagued with doubt about what we have done because we are having another boy. But boys are great, you say? Yes, I know. I have one, and he is WONDERFUL! But, if I'm being honest, which is hard to be sometimes...I REALLY WANTED A GIRL! And this baby is a boy. Another boy.

It's a little embarrassing to admit, because I think it makes me seem petty and controlling and possibly like a bad mom, but I did everything in my power to conceive a girl this time. There are theories, and books have been written about them, and I read the books and researched the theories and took the steps suggested to up your odds of conceiving a girl. I did this for a few reasons. I like girls. I am a girl. I already have a boy. But mainly because I think a huge part of parenting is often about recreating the best bits of your own childhood for your children, and getting to relive them with your kids, and maybe healing some of the worst bits of your childhood by purposely doing things differently from what you experienced. Eric gets to experience this a lot with Cylas. Cylas wears his old t-shirts, and plays with his old toy cars, and Eric will take him to soccer games, and recreate other memories from his childhood. And don't get me wrong, Cylas and I have a lot in common too. Cylas is very theatrical. He likes to sing and dance and has an active imagination. I used to act out the Disney movie I was watching along with props and costumes, and just the other day, Cylas turned to me and said "Mama, sometimes I watch the movie Frozen, but sometimes I'm IN the movie Frozen." To which I replied, "I know exactly what you mean."

But I am still a girl, and Cylas is still a boy and this next baby is a boy as well and now I am outnumbered, which is just never how I pictured it. I worry that my sons will grow up and move out and find girlfriends and then wives and replace me, and their girlfriends/wives will hate me and I won't hear from them etc. etc. etc. I call my mother almost everyday, I don't know too many sons who can say the same. And it will be more of a challenge to attempt to recreate my childhood memories with two boys. They may not want to read Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. They may have no interest in my old American Girl's Dolls that I have kept in pristine condition for the last 15 or more years. They can't attend the all girl's school I went to and enjoyed so much. They have penises, I have a vagina. This all sounds petty, which is why I'm embarrassed to mourn it so much, but alas, I have, and I do.

This is not to say that I'm not excited. I know that once this boy baby is born and here and our life together has flow and I watch the brothers grow up together, it will all make sense. I watch Eric with his brothers and it all makes sense, but still, sometimes my disappointment is real, and thick, and occasionally overwhelming. And, as I said earlier, it's not all gender disappointment that is overwhelming me, it is the idea that we have one kid who we love, who we can handle, who we can keep relatively happy and keeps us blissfully happy and now we are bringing another soul into the house who will be a risk and a disruption to this seemingly delicate balance, and I won't even get to braid its hair and dress it in pink! Even in our modern society, this is still frowned upon.

But at the end of the day, I guess I have to say "Oh well, Bring it on!" because that is what is happening and it will all make sense. People have told me that you don't get the kids that you want, you get the kids that you need. I don't know what this means, exactly, but I know that it doesn't really matter. I do love and will continue to love all my children, current and possibly future (who knows...I hear 3 is the new 2.) I have one amazing son already and another amazing boy on the way, and this is what my family looks like. It may not have as much pink in it as I hoped, but it still looks pretty rosy.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Leaning Out

It's April (almost May) and I've been thinking about New Years Resolutions since, well, New Years. We had a busy start to our year. Cylas turned 2. We bought a new house and started prepping to sell the condo. And we got the great news that I was pregnant again. Bam! Knocked Up Part 2. It's a good thing too, since the new house will need people to sleep in the bedrooms. It seemed like I had my New Years resolution work cut out for me. Get the new house in shape, get my pregnant self in shape,  get Cylas' life/activities in shape, get my writing life in shape, basically, make our lives perfect. As always, easier said than done.

This pregnancy knocked me on my ass. If you remember, my pregnancy with Cylas was magical. I felt great. I looked great (remember my glow?) I had no strange cravings or aversions. I never threw up (well, once, maybe) and I worked my ass off, on my feet, producing a film, working my restaurant job, and living my amazing pre-parenting life. We traveled a little, we partied (safely, of course). We nested, and rested, and had an amazing 9 months. This time so far...not so much.

I'm 18ish weeks in and feeling it. Being a pregnant mom is much different than being a pregnant fabulous almost mom. That first time, you really only had yourself and that little bean you are growing and wondering and thinking (maybe obsessing) about to worry about. And, was it my imagination, or did people fall all over themselves to be helpful (and sometimes nosey) as soon as I started showing last time? At work, people lifted, carried, and excused any of my bad/lazy behaviors. People saved desserts for me and made sure my favorite snacks were readily available for me at the Craft Services table.

This pregnancy, my main companion is a very sweet, pleasant, always demanding two year old. He's a little less helpful. He never gets me my much needed snacks, rarely seems charmed by my need to sit down and rest, and seems positively devastated my lack of energy and ability to chase him around like I used to. We spent most of my first trimester in the apartment while I pretended to pack up for our move,  but mostly laid on the couch feeling utterly, miserably nauseous all day, while Cylas watched the same episode of Daniel Tiger (where Mom Tiger gets sick and lies on the couch while Daniel and Dad Tiger fix her lunch and let her rest) over and over and over again. I felt so guilty. Poor Cylas would crawl onto the couch next to me and say "Mama Sick?" and I would answer "Yes, Mama's sick so I can't chase/play with/take you to the park right now." He would nod, solemnly and watch the episode again while I would hate myself. After a few weeks, I got on a prescription medicine that helped a lot, all though, it made me super sleepy, but soon I was feeling better enough to at least handle outings, and the occasional play date.

We moved at the end of February with some help from good friends and family and Eric being a veritable super hero, painting the new house, moving all of our stuff, and doing the bulk of the unpacking as well, while I did my best not to throw up, and manage our toddler. But all of this has left very little room for my New Year's resolutions.

About a week before I peed on the little stick that told me I was pregnant with our second kid, I had lunch with two of my favorite lady writer friends. One is also a mom who writes and produces plays in her spare time and the other is finishing her master's degree in screen and TV writing at USC.  Both these ladies are extremely busy and extremely talented. We talked a lot about the concept of "leaning in." Well, actually, we talked more about the concept of "leaning out." How there are times in your life where you have to give yourself permission to lean out a little and not beat yourself up for not achieving everything on your to do list. Maybe you don't even have a to do list. Maybe you just need to lean out, look at your life and enjoy what you can with out a list of complicated intentions driving you forward and ultimately into the ground. At the time of this lunch, I was feeling good, it was early January and I did have a major list of intentions I wanted to set forth on for the year, but I also reveled in the notion of cutting myself some slack. I also get a little frustrated by the concept of "leaning in" as though it is always a choice you can make. In my experience trying to carve out a writing career, I'm not sure how to lean in anymore. I'm sure there is always more that I can be doing, and always more that I can be writing, but I have projects in development, I have meetings, I have a movie in the can, and the fellowship applications submitted yearly, and these things often feel a bit out of my hands at this point. I'm often waiting for people to buy, hire, and accept me and I'm not sure how to lean into that any further. So, as I was saying, the idea of leaning out, was appealing, and that was before this little parasite in my womb decided to exact his hormonal (yup, it's another boy...more on that in a future post) revenge upon my delicate system.

So for now, I'm embracing it. I'm leaning out people. I'm leaning way out! That means a lot of take out, a fair amount of TV (educational, of course) and a lot of quiet afternoons at home with Cylas. I'm still writing, and I still have an exciting project "in development" but I'm also not beating myself up over the fact that the new house is still not totally unpacked, not especially tidy, and that I'm not cooking a gourmet meal nightly (when did I ever manage that?) Cylas seems happy to have his mom back, albeit with a bigger belly and a little less energy, and doesn't seem to mind that he's had quesadillas and peanut butter sandwiches a lot lately. Actually, he's pretty thrilled about it.