Hooray! He’s sick!

A year ago + a few weeks, I had my nasty surgery. The decision to have the surgery meant that we had reached another decision — to not have any more children. This is because another pregnancy could be very dangerous for me — not only because I’d be high risk anyway because of the issues that happened with Alice’s pregnancy (preterm labor, etc.), but because pressure on my repaired rectal muscle from the weight of a fetus could be bad, and another tear during childbirth could equal a devastating physical problem for me because I don’t have enough muscle left to facilitate another repair.

I had always pictured myself as a mom of three, because I was the third child. I was a surprise, too — my mom said that she was “done,” after having my brothers 14 months apart (and one of them while Dad was in Vietnam — Tom was 9 months old before Dad ever saw him). She and my dad used contraception (more than one type), and I was conceived anyway. She decided that God must have plans for me, and though she was unusually emotional all the way through the pregnancy and didn’t really want a third child, she said that she cannot imagine her life without a daughter. That she didn’t know how much she needed and wanted me until I was here. Oddly enough, my feelings have never been hurt by the fact that I knew I was a surprise — because she never presented it as a bad thing. Just a “God had other plans” thing. Anyway, I had always figured I would have three, also, because all my cousins were from families of three (except for one aunt and uncle that had a surprise fourth), my parents were both one of three, my brother had three… I just figured I’d have three. But then Alice’s pregnancy (spotting, morning sickness, preterm labor, bedrest) was so HARD. And her infancy (colic, ear infections, ear infections, ear infections, sleep issues probably stemming from the ear infections and then developing into a habit) was so HARD. And I was having increasing difficulty going to public places with the two of them and being certain that I’d get to a bathroom in time for one of my emergencies (for those of you just joining in, I had a 4th degree tear during Helen’s birth that left me with no rectal control — the only weapon I had was sitting down, which you can’t exactly do in Target while pushing a cart with two children). So I decided that the risks of another pregnancy outweighed the benefits, and we decided to call our family complete.

Last April, Jerry had the famous V, and got the “all clear” (pun intended) after 12 weeks or whatever it was. And I scheduled my surgery. When I weaned Alice, it was about a week until my surgery. I was more focused on the surgery than I was on the passing of an era, so I didn’t dwell on it. Then again, I’m not exactly the type to hold onto stuff, either — I’ve always annoyed myself with the ease I can move into another chapter without looking back, while my friends from old chapters are still keeping in touch and enjoying the memories. For a sentimental fool, I have a pretty short attention span.

So. Surgery comes and I recover, and life resumes as normal.

Then, this past week, on Tuesday, I felt… odd. Queasy. Tired. Nauseated, with a headache. I ran around all day on Tuesday, and just felt HORRIBLE. No appetite. Had crackers for lunch. And a Sprite. Yuck. I told a friend of mine that it felt like morning sickness. And that I would be VERY VERY unhappy about that, because I had made PEACE with the decision to be a mommy of two and had my surgery. There’s no going back. Then I came home Tuesday evening, and Jerry said that I felt “warm” to him. So I took my temperature — it was slightly elevated. I’ve never been so happy to have a fever in my life! Morning sickness doesn’t come with a fever!! But I was so incredibly nauseated — I had to take an anti-nausea pill just so I could sleep, because my tummy would not settle down that night!

Wednesday through Saturday I felt okay… A little heartburn, but nothing serious. Today, I woke up with terrible heartburn (complete with the icky telltale belching), and an unsettled tummy again. I was green all the way through church, and Jerry was very concerned. While the girls were in Sunday School we went to the grocery store, and let me tell you — it was a VERY low bill. Elaine bought nothing on impulse! Haha!

And then we came home. And since we got home, Jerry has been flattened. He can’t keep anything down, not even the anti-nausea pills we have.

When he told me that he must have caught what I had, I said, “I’m so sorry you don’t feel well, but HALLELUJAH! We know that your V didn’t fail!” He at least was able to twist his face into a small grin, because he’s as happy as I am that my poor body won’t be going through that again (and this scare has been enough to make me ask my OB/GYN if he can tie my tubes when I have more minor repair surgery in the next year).

My poor guy… but my goodness he has made me a happy woman today. Even if I do still have heartburn.

Junior High Mentality

And Jerry wonders why I don’t have friends my age.

Women my age are mean. Most of us are brand new to parenting, so we’re this demographic’s version of a junior high girl. And heaven knows that junior high girls are the cruelest, wickedest creatures on the planet.

If you share with another new mom (or group of moms) a decision you made about parenting your small child (to spank or not to spank, day care or no day care, cloth diapers or disposable, breastfeeding or formula), you can pretty much guarantee that you will be made to feel guilty, unfit, and positively hell-bound for those choices. Almost always.

There are a handful of women in my life who don’t do this to me, and I love them. Most of them do not live here. I wish they did. I’d love to have healthy relationships with other women my age, who aren’t judgmental or harsh about other people’s parenting choices. It’s tiresome to be in this demographic. I feel like I’ve been forced to run a race I never intended to enter. I’d like to walk the course, thanks, and enjoy it, rather than compete with other women for the title of SuperMom.

There are other women in my life who are so gunshy by the experience of being around other mean and nasty women that they’re afraid to ask questions about what to do with their baby. Or they’ll call me to discuss a new decision facing them, and then feel compelled to make excuses for why they’re learning towards choice A or choice B. All I can tell them is the path that led me to whatever choice Jerry and I made, and say, “Every child is different. Do what is right for YOU and what makes YOU comfortable.”

I hate the constant comparisons. “My child doesn’t talk as well as Alice does, and Alice is younger,” or the reverse: “Look at little Johnny — he runs and jumps so well. Isn’t Alice doing back handsprings yet?” I detest feeling like we’re in competition. We’re not. We’re NOT.

So I tend to avoid my own demographic, choosing to spend my time in real life with women who have already DONE the parenting thing, or are further ahead on the course than I am. I can learn from their decisions without feeling judged for mine. They’ve outgrown the junior high mentality of early parenting, and have moved into the nurturing stage that is SO much healthier.

My dearest local friends are either childless, have teenagers, or are empty-nesters. I don’t really have very many close friends with little kids — maybe 1 or 2. And honestly, I like it that way. I love that I can talk to these women about something other than my little kids and how much better/worse at parenting I am than they are.

I’m so TIRED of the junior high attitude of young moms. Agh.