When I started my first full-time job at a public relations/strategic communications firm in West Hollywood, CA, my (older) girlfriends would ask me how work is going. I would give them the stinkeye and say, “I can’t believe you heffas didn’t tell me to brace myself for working life. You could’ve WARNED me about how FREAKING EVERYDAY it is! How you get home and you have so few hours left in your day but you have to get your ass to bed and repeat it all over again the next day! No wonder people are so much nicer on Fridays!”
So I really appreciate necessary buzzkills. Folks bombarded me with warnings about marriage: how hard it can be and how you HAVE to work at it. My own mama drilled it into my head that marriage is NOT a fairy tale where you turn into a princess. (Although, I could never have thought that growing up, watching my parents in their marriage, as there is no fairy tale starring a princess always having to placate and serve her fiery-tempered, macho, complex prince. But I digress.)
Similarly, I had heard some tidbits about pregnancy, about the nausea and the weird cravings. My mama had two very rough pregnancies, where she threw up daily for the first six months, lost weight instead of gaining the recommended amount (until the final trimester). While carrying me, her doctor actually advised that she abort me because it was too taxing on her health as she could hardly keep liquids down. So I braced myself for the worst and in both cases, with marriage and pregnancies, my reality was a pleasant surprise compared to the buzzkilling warnings I had been equipped with.
So when people ask how hard it is to take care of a toddler while pregnant, I always say something about how it can be hard most days, but not nearly as hard as it will be once the new baby arrives. You know, just bracing myself so that I am not shocked when it is crazy hard. I think I am trying to be my own buzzkill and this somehow helps me put things into perspective when I have a particularly hard day.
I took M to the doctor to check out a lingering cough that has been stubbornly hanging on for a month now. I called this morning and they said to come in 15 minutes from that phone call. I wore the shirt I had slept in and speedwalked 12 blocks to make it on time, all the while calling a couple local mamas to doublecheck their toddlers’ vaccine schedules, against M’s schedule. I get lightheaded and queasy if I don’t eat so I was strolling fast, on the phone with my Bluetooth, and trying to eat a PB&J sandwich with one hand.
As soon as our doctor approached M to examine his ears and take his heartrate, he lost it and wailed loudly into my ear for almost the rest of the appointment. I could hardly hear what the doctor was saying.
I was drenched from sweating through the entire appointment. I looked like I had played a quick game of pick-up basketball in the shirt I had slept in. So of course, right at that moment, I run into someone I know, also there for his baby’s check-up. (I don’t even remember what happened to my PB&J. I hope I don’t find it.)
On the way home, I decide to give M some playground time though he was very close to his nap, especially after all that energy he expended wailing through the doctor’s appointment. He ran around for a few minutes, while I talked to nannies and mamas. I placed him in the swing. Dude started sleeping right there in the swing, looking like a drowsy puppy. I speedwalked home because I needed him to take a real, fat nap in the crib, for my sake and his. Thankfully, I was able to remove him from stroller to crib successfully, then proceeded to prepare and consume my two lunches while he slept for 90 more minutes.
3. Frypan to the head.
He is starting to get antsy in his high chair. In order to get him to sit in it for lunch, he likes a wrestling match as an appetizer, meaning I have to coax him with a hearty, wrestling match in my bed. We wrestle as he giggles with delight, I hold him upside down, hanging him off of our king bed with his adorable, drooly upside down smile, and we just tumble about before he agrees to sit in his highchair. Again, I am a hot sweaty mess.
I was so pleased that he ate his bowl full of meeyukgook and rice that I rushed to the kitchen to see if I can get him to eat an orange while still seated. I dropped the orange from its bowl so I bent down to pick it up. Next thing I know, a small frypan falls down to hit me upside the head, like I am Wile E. Coyote. I lurch up to see where the hell it came from so that I can properly blame my husband for its lethal placement on the counter, when the bowl that was holding the orange, shatters onto the floor. SHATTERS. Meanwhile M is in the living room, starting to get annoyed in his chair. He starts imitating me loudly, “Uh-OHHHH, Uh-OHHHH, Uh-Ohhhhhh!”
I sweep the shards. I go down on my knees to wipe up every last shard. I am panting. My belly feels uncomfortable. I just wanna sit for a bit in peace. M is getting more upset but I don’t want to release him as he will inevitably come into the kitchen. I clean up everything but I am spent.
(Last week, I was trying to open up a small table to eat off of, lost my bearings and crashed belly first into the wall. Why am I turning into a cartoon character as this pregnancy progresses?)
4. TV intervention.
M starts begging me for some tv and his begging scares me because it is so pleading, like a crack addict. I try to divert his attention by tickling him and wrestling with him to get him to laugh. It works. He is laughing and smiling his Denzel smile, drooling rivers onto his seventh bib of the day. I am laughing at how happy he looks. We both throw our heads back to laugh. Then we connect, as in his forehead connects with my smiling, exposed top row of teeth. He has my toothmark in his forehead, from our laughing collision. He does one of those cries that is eerily silent for many seconds before he starts wailing.
I soothe his toothmarked bruise the only way I know how. We wrestle some more. He rewards me with laughter. All is forgiven.
5. Further diversion.
I still don’t want him to fiend for tv so I take him outside to our courtyard. I stupidly take a ball out with us because I know how balls bring him pure joy and how he always wants to play with another kid’s ball at the playground. Taking the ball out resulted in my playing fetch for one city block’s worth of courtyard, while M asks for “Mah! Mah! Mah!” (More, More More!). Both M and I are drenched in sweat.
And of course, his new thing. He wants to be carried. After our impromptu soccer match, he pleads with me, “Up? Up? Up?” with his clear, wide eyes, to carry him home instead of his usual running ahead of me. I try to get him to chase me instead, to make a fun game out of it, but he sounds like he’s about to cry and pleads again, “Up? Up? Up?” I end up carrying him and the oversized ball home. Of course I drop the ball three times on our way home which means further bending down and picking up, with M happily in my arms.
My belly baby kicks me and sticks his/her head right into my bladder. As a warning.
6. Giving in.
I give into his tv craving by letting him watch some Sesame Street Youtube clips. He especially enjoys the Will.I.Am, Bruno Mars, and Hootie Sesame clips. Note to self: Tell Kevin about the Hootie clip.
7. TWO MORE HOURS ‘TIL DADDY GETS HOME!?
Oh, Lord. There are still two more hours ’til daddy gets home. This is what happens when we don’t have playdates or activities lined up. But I am too scared and tired to take him to the playground lest he ask me to carry him.
Instead, I take us back to our beloved courtyard, my favorite default playground. This time, I take a picnic blanket though I doubt he will rest with me. M surprises me by actually lying down on the blanket with me for a few seconds, looking at the sky. I am so in love all over again, looking at the sky with him. I am so blessed. The sky is so beautiful. My hormones kick in. I want to cry. How am I so blessed to lie here with this tender morsel?
He’s had it with the sky after about seven seconds. He grabs my wallet and takes out all of its contents. I later find my library card near a tree root, my credit card by a squirrel.
“Up? Up? Up?” I am a sucker. I cannot resist though I no longer feel comfortable carrying my 23-lb boy around for more than a few seconds. But I carry him home once again. Doorman adds to my load by handing me a big package. By now, I think I heard Belly Baby mutter, “Bitch!”
8. More Youtube clips. But M is so picky like his mama, that he grabs my hand for each clip that bores him, for me to click onto the next one. He is going through a phase where he will not let me rest at all. Even when I’m on the toilet, he grabs my hand to come follow him. And he strong!
9. Daddy comes home.
Anti-climactic. I ask him to please let me just act like I’m not home for a bit. I write this blog post. I hope I can stay up to watch the Celtics game, Game 5 against the Heat. I’m not gonna edit this. Just wanna share it now. And THIS is easier than what life will be like come October. At least I’ve been warned.