Monday, August 31, 2009

The Gift Of An Extra Year

I recently sent my two older children back off to preschool- a new preschool this year. And, this year, I had a decision to make.

Back in Indiana, September 1st was the birthday cut-off for determining what grade a child would go into. Thus, my two children- though both born in 2005- were in two different grades.

I live in Connecticut now and the rules have changed. The cut-off here is December 31st. This means my January '05 baby and December '05 baby could be in the same class. They could both be in the 4-year old program.

Truth? It would make my life easier They would both be in school in the afternoons, five days a week. I would have some time alone with just my infant...

Tempting? Maybe a tad. But I honestly never considered doing it.

My little girl SHOULD have been born in April of 2006. Chronologically, she'll be 4 on Christmas Eve. But really? She shouldn't have been born that soon. She's still small, weighing in at barely 27 pounds. She still has some language delays and communication challenges. Does she belong in a class with my almost 4 foot tall, 48 pound son? No way. And, really, would they both thrive and make friends as well if they were in there together? Not a chance. Trust me- I watched them at the open house and you know who they chose to play with? Each other. Now, that warms a mama's heart, sure. But I want to see them socialize with other children and learn to play with non-siblings too!

And so, when asked if I wanted to enroll them in class together, I politely declined.

I was thrilled when their teacher agreed.

"We call it the gift of an extra year," she said, referring to those "late in the year" babies.

It's a gift I'm delighted to give my little girl.

I think, as parents, we all need to think long and hard as we decide in what grade we should place these fall/early winter babies. I've seen people send their kids early for many reasons... to "get ahead" or to save money on child care probably top the list. I've also seen people hold their children- usually boys- back so they'll be "big for sports". I don't think these are good reasons. I think we all need to really examine our individual children, weigh their strengths, consider their needs, and then make the decision... not based on our convenience or preference but on what will be best for our precious kiddos.

Today, as I juggle my revolving door of preschoolers- C. goes in the morning, A. goes in the afternoon, I'm feeling grateful. Grateful for the gift of an extra year.
This post is linked to Gratituesday, hosted by Heavenly Homemakers.

My Story Monday: When I Found Out I Was Expecting

I've written a lot about my birth story- what happened shortly before I went into labor, what C's dramatic birth was like, and all about the scary hours and days that followed. What I haven't addressed yet- and what I sometimes get questions about- is how I felt when I found out I was pregnant with my second child.

I mentioned once before (when discussing a few of my thoughts on gender) that it took me fifteen months to conceive my first child. That's the blink of an eye for someone truly struggling with infertility but, for me, it felt like forever. I guess because, like most women, I just assumed that once I WANTED to get pregnant, I just would- right away. It's not that I didn't realize that plenty of couples struggled to conceive right away... I just figured I wasn't one of them. Anyway, that's all water under the bridge as that child is now 4 1/2.

Because getting pregnant had not been "easy" for me, I didn't think much about it after my son was born. He was growing and thriving and I recovered beautifully. Life went on.

When he was 5 1/2 months old, I was just starting to get back into my work-out routine. I felt great, albeit a bit more tired than usual. But, after all, I had an infant. This was to be expected. One evening, my parents, my husband, the baby, and I prepared to go out to Red Lobster for dinner. As my husband held the car door for me, I remarked, "I don't know what I'm going to order... shrimp just doesn't sound good to me." Only one other time in my life had I been opposed to the idea of shrimp...

"You're taking a test," my husband said under his breath as he closed the door.

Well, that I did. Shortly after we got home from the restaurant (I ended up eating mozzarella sticks, if you were wondering). I took the second test out of the "twin pack" we'd bought when I had found out I was pregnant with my son. I didn't think anything of it- I was sure it would be negative.

It was positive.

I left it on the counter and went back out to resume the card game with my husband and parents. I didn't say a word.

When my husband used the bathroom, he saw it on the counter, but he had no idea what two lines meant. He searched frantically for a box or instructions but could find neither. He ended up waiting a couple more hours until we were getting ready for bed.

"So... two lines. That's negative?" he asked.

I shook my head from side to side, wide-eyed and scared.

His face broke out in a wide grin and he caught me in a huge hug.

I dissolved into tears.

What would people think??? My first baby wasn't even a year old yet! Heck, he wasn't even six months old yet! We had recently moved to Indiana to be near my father-in-law as he battled cancer and my husband hadn't yet found a job. How were we going to afford this? When should I tell people? Would people expect my firstborn to "grow up" faster? Was he being displaced as the baby too soon?

Question after question raced through my mind.

"Isn't it wonderful that it wasn't such a struggle this time?" my husband asked.

And he was right.

I've felt guilty in the months and years since... guilty that, while I faced my first positive pregnancy test with pure and utter joy, I faced my second with trepidation. I wasn't sure it was the "right time". I wasn't sure it was the "best decision".

But I was always sure I wanted that baby. Wanted her as much as I could want anything in this world.

I didn't know then how hard we were both going to have to fight in order for us to be where we are today. But I knew I was ready to embrace my closely-spaced babies... my "two under two".

Who knew I was expecting a miracle?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Child Is A Cry-Baby

She started out so tough.

Born weighing only 1 lb 5 oz, she had to fight from the start.

When I took her in for her four-month inoculations, she stared the nurse down and didn't even flinch.

When she somehow came down with shingles at 2 years old, she never cried or complained.

She's 3 1/2 now. And she's a cry-baby.

I hate to say it, but it's true. And I don't know what to do about it. My little girl throws herself on the floor and dissolves into tears dozens of times a day. It's frustrating. It's nerve-fraying. And, yes, it's also embarrassing. I really, really want it to stop.

It's not just when she gets hurts either. Or when she gets into trouble. If someone says to her, "Oh, be careful, Sweetie, you don't want to bump your head.", she collapses in sobs. There are times when I've COMPLIMENTED the child ("Good job, C! I love the way you did that!") and she loses it.

So we've tried giving her lots of "positive attention". We've tried ignoring the outbursts as much as possible. I've coddled and comforted. I've ignored or scolded. I've had no success.


I'm at my wit's end. Anyone have any success converting a cry-baby back to a pleasant child? I'm all ears...

(***Just a side-note for anyone wondering: this did NOT start when the new baby was born. It had been going on for at least six months before that event. I haven't noticed it getting any worse or better since baby G's arrival in June.)