Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The fact that this is normal doesn't make me feel any better about it...

Two nights ago I had a complete breakdown- the kind where you are crying so hard you realize you can't breathe, and you don't really care. It was 11PM, Grant and I had just finished watching the dumbest movie (Something Borrowed- all the characters were kind of losers so you didn't really want anyone to end up together) and I went in to check on Purslane before I crawled into bed. She was sleeping peacefully wrapped around her sock monkey Tom, and I could just see the fading red mark on her forehead.

We had gone for dinner at some friend's house that evening and she fell off a plastic chair onto the grass. I was sitting right there, but due to my overall large body habitus just couldn't get to her. She had been chewing on the heel of a loaf of french bread and couldn't cry because her mouth was full- all I could see was tears running out the side of her eyes and her little arms reached up for me. My heart literally melted. I picked up my daughter, took the bread out of her mouth and she sobbed into my shoulder for a minute. She was fine, just a bump on the head, and was running around in no time. I however, was left with the terrifying realization that in about 6 weeks she will be at even more risk for getting hurt because I won't just have a large belly, but another child in my arms.

Grant and I try to be laid back parents when it comes to childhood injuries. We don't rush to Pursy's side when she trips and falls and unless there is obvious bleeding or something that needs checked out or cleaned- we are big "rub some dirt on it" or "no big deal-shake it off" sort of people. The exception is my paranoid fear of the concrete steps into the backyard- she has been known to literally throw herself down them in order to play with Elliott or get to her kiddie pool. There have been lots of scraped knees and face parts.

So somehow this falling off the chair got to me- even more so the realization that we are about to have two children and I will still only have two arms. I began to get angry at the child growing in my belly because he was going to take attention off of the child I have spent the past 16 months protecting and enjoying. She is a fantastic kid and I love hanging out with her. And so at 11PM, I laid in bed and sobbed. And I admitted out loud to Grant that I did not want another baby. I don't know what was more upsetting, the fact that verbalizing these feelings made me feel like a horrible person or the fact that there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. This baby is coming.

I have since talked with other Mamas about their experience with a second child, and everyone assures me this is normal and will pass. I will find that I am "capable of loving two children equally" and "your love doesn't divide, it multiplies." (Thankfully, these sentiments did not come from my friends directly, as they know better then to toss pithy epithets my way.) But I still have the lingering feelings that we did Pursy wrong by having another baby this soon- that she should still be the center of our world and deserves my undivided attention. We are blessed to have gotten pregnant twice, blessed to have a gorgeous healthy babe and more blessed with a healthy marriage that has been strengthened by the addition of children. We are lucky. So why is my blessing feeling like something that could tip the scales to a bad place? Telling me this is normal isn't helping me right now... but then again I have never been a big fan of normal.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photo Journal of our "Vacation" in Asheville, NC

The reason Vacation is in quotations is that the word Vacation usually conjures up feelings of peace, relaxation, getaways from the daily grind and lots of food and booze. The following is a list of reasons why our recent trip to Asheville was, in fact, none of those things.

1. We chose a destination 10 hours away. We have a 16 month old child who has more energy then the Brazil soccer team on speed, and does not fancy 10 hours strapped in her luxurious Britax rear-facing car seat. Add to that one 8 month pregnant woman who needs to urinate after thinking about taking a drink of water and that 10 hour car ride gets looooonger.


2. We stopped halfway to stay the nite at a Howard Johnson, because we are a poor grad student family and we decided to save our money for more important things- like the Klondike bar I suddenly developed a craving for every time we stopped at a gas station. HoJo's are generally a safe bet- they are basic but clean. Unfortunately, a spider had the same feelings and enjoyed his continental breakfast in the middle of the night on the back of my right leg- earning him the nickname "the MoFo at the HoJo".

 Pursy very faithfully performed her morning chores at the HoJo... she put the laundry in the "hamper"
 3. Finally in North Carolina, we had a fantastic time at a cabin with some of our dearest friends, Russ and Amy St John. These crazy kids have 4 biological babes and adopted Mae and Binyam from Ethiopia almost 1 1/2 years ago. For those of you adding it up, that is 6 St.John children and 1 Martsolf tornado babe. Has anyone stopped judging me for saying our vacation wasn't relaxing and peaceful??

Reid reading to Pursy..
 The big boys cooked breakfast every morning- Russ is a chaplain in the Navy and has to look like Captain Morgan in any photo. I think it comes with the job.
 Amy reading to Pursy...
 Jack being...Jack.
 Dada reading to Pursy...
 Belle reading to Pursy...
 The view from the back porch. Amy and I kept sneaking out here to have our perfect moment with the mountains, porch swing and coffee but the babes always found us...
 Or husbands found us..
 But mostly the babes just like being around their Mamas.
 These girls have the same Mom. Why do you ask?
 Pursy LOVED Mae...
 Pursy and Mama before Brett almost rocked us off the porch...
 If no one has noticed the theme, Pursy talked everyone in the house to reading to her...
 We finally resorted to this...
 Hot dogs and smores over an open flame...
 Jack's take on the family photo. He was not a huge fan of Grant and was not very subtle about it...
 This is what our family would look like if we had two 4 year old boys...
 I was just desperately praying I would not fall off the log and roll down the hill. Grant kept calling me Humpty Dumpty. I would have been mad, but saw the similarities...
 Dada was a bigger fan of Pursy staying away from the fire pit then Pursy was..
 What could be more right then a kid with a hot dog??
 Amy's post-run fuel..

4. Our trip home Grant was obsessed with finding legit southern BBQ. We did a very scary U-turn to come back to this place... and it was so worth it.


 Purslane is a big fan of the "parfait" style of eating. This bite is actually a piece of smoked BBQ chicken on a bed of applesauce nestled over a goldfish.

It was actually a fantastic weekend, and what Grant and I realized is that our days of the luxurious sleep until whenever, transition from coffee to beer sometime around noon, leisurely browse through whatever shops we want, read entire books in one day vacation is over for us. We are a family with kids and we vacation with families with kids. And once you embrace the crazy, it is actually fun to be awakened by two small children not your own coming into your room and asking you when breakfast is ready. I was thankful every morning that Russ has the spiritual gift of making coffee in less then 3 minutes, and having 6 pairs of legs to run after Pursy for a few days was actually, quite.... luxurious.



Monday, August 22, 2011

The Silver Lining

Over the past 8 years of marriage, Grant and I have said goodbye to some of the most fantastic people. For those of who you don't know the progression, we moved from Denver to New Orleans to Washington DC to State College in a matter of 4 years.

That is alot of being the new kids and alot of getting to know yous (or y'all or yinz).

Along with meeting people the "normal" way- i.e. school, church, work or neighborhood- we have met some of our besties in restaurants, on the city bus, dinner parties or bogarted them from other people. We are not ashamed to steal cool people and add them to our repertoire of "Things we Love".

I am a vagabond at heart and never had a problem with packing up and moving. The goodbyes were always hard, but my best friend was always in the seat beside me as we drove away from a place so I never really felt too lonely for too long. And as a paper stationery and nice ink pen junkie, I found keeping in touch with friends we left behind a nice perk.

One huge downside. RARELY you meet the person who you bond with right away and don't need multiple interactions to know that you are going to be close. So it takes a little while to build up lady friends each time I have moved. And sometimes important things happen before I found those ladies and I had to call someone from the place we moved from at 2AM because no one in my time zone knew me well enough to try and decipher what was actually bothering me in between the swears and heaving sobs taking the place of normal speech.

One huge perk. I have friends all over the country that I still keep in my repertoire of Things I Love. And last week I emailed a handful of them asking them to go to a chain store and look for a particular skirt for me that my local store didn't have. And one by one, these fantastic human beings came through for me. Getting the packages in the mail over the next week reminded me why I love these colorful women. Margo (lives in Orlando) couldn't find the skirt so went to a completely different store and found a teal skirt/dress as a pretty little substitute. Ariel (starting her residency in San Fran) couldn't find the skirt either so picked out an olive green wrap skirt that I am wearing right now. Shannon (sweet Nashville honey) found the skirt and bought two of them.

If I have to keep watching these girls grow smaller in the rear view mirror, I will always count them as some of my most valuable possessions. Their love and friendship has laughed me through a boring party, taught me about navigating the joys and perils of relationships, introduced me to amazing books and beer, and made me a better woman. Someday we must all get together for the most amazing and delicious dinner party ever. And linger a very, very long time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pittsburgh

Grant's parents took us on a trip to the 'Burgh two weekends ago.. here is how the trip went.

Pursy helps me pack...
 But it's a tiring job- she needs frequent breaks...
 Running in the hotel lobby is way cooler then running at home..
 Taking a drink break on the Incline ride..
 Something very interesting outside that Papa missed because he was busy talking...
 The Martsolf Family Vacation
 Pursy checks out Pittsburgh...
 Best seat in PNC park..
 She is smiling, but the outfit change means this picture was taken post-poop. Fortunately, she was on Papa's lap, and grandpas can't get mad about things like that...
 Gave up hoping the Pirates could overcome a 13-5 score in the bottom of the 9th...
 Nerdy family photo with the Pirate Parrot... Pursy missed it
 Gila monster at the Pittsburgh Zoo.. and Pursy's first lesson on what protective glass does. It took her a few minutes to get over her fear of being that close to animals.
 Finding lions with Dada...
 It took Ba petting the metal lion first and not being eaten that made P feel like it was safe..
 More animal finding with Dada...
 How does an elephant say hello?...
 More nerdy family photos... Pursy was so excited about the elephant.. until we got close enough for her to realize how big it was... this picture is immediately pre-freak out.
 Edited naked baby picture at the hotel...

That Catch in my Chest Again...

I go back and forth between my love of the infant all things itty-bitty Mama I need you, and my love of getting through an entire dinner- including wine and dessert- in peace. These things are completely mutually exclusive.

I realized last night that I have been so grumpy about being pregnant that I am literally 2 months away from delivering this baby- and have lost most of it focusing on what I have given up rather then what I am giving. I took care of a lovely woman at work last night who, as she clung to my arm on our way to the commode dragging her IV pole, said to me "The universe tends to look down on women, but we were given this gift that is just ours- and aren't we lucky? Men will never know what it feels like to carry our children right under our heart." My hormonal self wanted to burst into tears but my professional self kept it together.

This is my gift. The fact that for just 9 months, this baby is all mine. We are as intimately connected as two human beings can be. I feel his every move, carry his every weight, and my body literally protects him from anything that could harm his tiny body. This baby has an amazing Daddy and a sweet big Sister who can't wait to meet him and will join me in taking care of him. But for two more months, I am the only person on the planet who knows when he is awake and when he is asleep. Why am I so anxious to give that up for a cold beer on the back porch?



Everything has a season. This pregnancy with Knox is not the only thing that is passing quickly by- never to be lived again. Purslane is almost 16 months old, and needs me a little less every day. And I love her independence and the fact that she wouldn't eat a tomato if it were the last food on earth. I used to have to rock her to sleep every naptime and every bedtime- and she would stubbornly stand (or lay) there and cry until I did. She was a fantastic sleeper once she actually fell asleep, but it took her a while to pick up on the concept of "self soothing". Now I put her in her bed with a book and her sock monkey Tom, and she reads herself to sleep.



But today, she was not having it. She stood there and cried her eyes out- the kind of heaving sobs that make mothers evolutionarily want to pull their babes right back where they came from- the space under their heart. So I went into her room and picked her up, sat in the rocking chair and rocked her to sleep. Her head laid on my chest and her tears dried on my shirt. It didn't take long for her eyes to close- her eyelashes fanning out on her cheeks. And I sat there and held both my babes under my heart. This is my gift- I am so sorry I ever once complained about how I have suffered. These babes and Grant are my world.