The Reverberations of April: Pregnancy, Fear, and Birthdays

I still have dreams about the NICU. Two years out and I find that to be one of the most surprising remnants of Rowan’s birthday. Most of my dreams are stress dreams anyhow, though they tend towards scary wizards and plots Steven Moffat couldn’t come up with in his own wildest dreams.

I guess some nights my brain is too lazy to do any interesting time travel, so instead, I find myself back in the world of isolettes and beeping monitors.

The difference from two years ago is the slow downgrade from nightmares to stress dreams. The panic of the dreams is dulled. Even when the content is similar to those days after I came home from the hospital, they just feel different.

Shockwaves. They have slowed and weakened but every once in a while I still feel the mild aftershocks. My relationship with pregnancy and birth is changed forever. Sometimes I worry everyone thinks I am obnoxiously inserting Rowan’s story into every conversation. Less now than before, but I still can’t talk about pregnancy without it coming up. I guess that may never change.april birthday babies

Rhiannon is waxing on about birth stuff — it must be April.

What a weird fucking month.

Both my children were born in April. Cholestasis with Lorelei. Severe preeclampsia and partial placental abruption and a c-section with Rowan.

Once again I’m picking my way through that minefield of nostalgia. Next up comes the careful tiptoe through April 11th — partial abruption day.

The last couple of weeks have had me feeling on edge about my own health. A series of mild malidies magnified (say that three times fast) into me being convinced I was dying. Probably of cancer of the everything. This is a pretty typical way my brain likes to screw with me but this was above my usual background noise hypochondria. The suddenly I realized: April comes she will.

What a weird fucking month.

You can really see the difference between newborn Lorelei and Rowan when I make a side-by-side comparison. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how small he was.

He’s so big now. By which I mean normal sized. But by comparison, I mean huge.

He has this fantastic sense of humor and a laugh that catches your attention and makes it physically impossible not to smile. Except when he picks up the cat by his fur and laughs — he doesn’t quite “get” anger from others yet.

He’s still behind where Lorelei was at his age, speech-wise but he is exploding on his own schedule. Some of his favorite phrases right now are, “No! Stop!” and “Get out!” On one hand, I’m glad he’s learning to be assertive. I guess. As long as he uses those powers for good and not for evil / patriarchy. Or to tell me when he doesn’t want to do things he has to do.

He’s learning body parts.

He thinks my name is Dada. Which drives me freaking nuts.

He is so proud of himself about everything he does. It’s almost like he knows how difficult his start was and now he’s like LOOK AT ME.

Helping set up camp

He loves to dance.

I thought we had a lot of board books. Rowan has proven that a lot is not enough because if I have to read the same books over and over again I will scream. Zach bears the brunt of that, though.

Oh, Lorelei

Lorelei thinks Rowan gets all the attention. So what did I do? I started a post all about Rowan, even though her birthday is first in the month.

But while her birth took me a long time to come to terms with, it was really rather tame by comparison. It’s only in hindsight that I’ve really learned how dangerous Cholestasis can be.

She is my mini-me in so many ways. In some ways she is more extreme. In my attempts to not silence her or invalidate her anxiety, she has no problem letting us know how she feels. And she feels things very intensely. A simple request can send her into a screaming tantrum. She will happily leave her toothbrush lying on the bathroom counter (gag) but will lose her everloving shit if she has to use the same knife to spread both peanut butter and jelly. And woe be the person who asks her to use the same fork for two different foods.

Speaking of food, she is insanely picky. I was a super picky kid and I have produced two kids who are exponentially more picky me.

But then. But then she is the sweetest. “I love you mommy” flows from her as easily as the anger. She collapses into me. She asks for us to have talks at night. She wants to talk about her fears and her plans. Sometimes she just wants to talk to hear herself talking.

Parenting is hard, yo

I can barely believe I’ve been doing this parenting thing for seven years now. I remember so distinctly that feeling after we brought Lorelei home of, someone has made a mistake. I’ve barely been around babies. Shouldn’t there be some sort of licensing exam? WHO THE HECK THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO LET ME HAVE A BABY?!

I wish I could say that feeling has gone away. Instead it has intensified. The stakes are just so high. Yes, as a newborn a kid is more physically vulnerable. But when I told my two week old to please shut the fuck up, there was no risk to her emotional well-being. I, on the other hand, had to convince the universe I didn’t really mean it. Then I got freaked out that I had caused her impending doom. She just carried on crying like always.

Suddenly – and yet gradually – my words have begun to carry more weight. I assume it is going to multiply as Rowan gets older. Seriously, who the heck thought it was a good idea to give me responsibility over these small humans?!

Back then, I thought the important questions were breast/bottle, cloth/disposable, crib/cosleep. Those things were actually just blips. Now my words and actions are directly shaping future adults.

I have no idea what I’m doing.

My hope is that nobody does. Except internet sanctimommies. They know everything.

Sometimes I just let them attack each other
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