It's funny, one of my biggest dreads has not been having a baby at all, but being in the third trimester. Historically, it's been a really horrid time for me, and considering the second trimester was mostly eaten up with feeling lethargic and awful, I had a lot of fear that the third trimester would only be worse.
But it really hasn't been! I mean, I know it will only get worse as the due date gets closer, but so far, I feel fine. Better than I did for most of second trimester, that's for sure. I feel energetic and optimistic. I feel like starting fun projects. I feel like taking the kids to the park even if they aren't whining at me to go. I feel like socializing with friends. It's been a long time since I really felt like doing any of those things.
I wish I knew what has made things so much better. The midwife was quizzing me at our last appointment -- have you been taking vitamins? Getting more sleep? Did you wean the toddler? No, none of those things. (Though perhaps Miriam is scaling down and perhaps that helps.) I have been getting outside more, for sure. This weather lately has been gorgeous. But it's hard to tell which is the chicken and which is the egg -- have I been feeling better because I've been taking walks a lot, or taking more walks because I finally feel like I have the energy to take them? I do know that walks that seemed like a million miles a month ago, seem like no big deal now. I often walk a mile with all three kids and the dog, which means our pace is very slow, but instead of feeling like I am trudging along while herding cats, I feel like we're having a leisurely, pleasant time.
And feeling good makes me feel optimistic. If I have time and energy now to spend on my own projects, that means I will have time and energy in three months to take care of a baby. Part of why I felt so panicky while pregnant with Miriam is because I was extremely overwhelmed and not handling life well with two, so I knew I would struggle with three. (And I was right.) But I am not extremely overwhelmed at the moment. Miriam is over two. She's not a whole lot of trouble -- well, not compared to the trouble she was at 18 months, anyway. And the boys are BIG. They are really good at managing themselves. Today I had a taco and a soda to share with them, so I handed Michael the taco and Marko the soda and they shared with each other. Without fighting! When I look back on how they used to bite each other several times a day .... well, there's no comparison. These days I might go for some time without seeing a sign of either of them, and I don't worry because they know the rules and generally follow them. If they had an issue, they wouldn't be attacking each other -- most likely they'd run to me tattling. Tattling is underrated. What's bad about seeking adult help when you're over your head dealing with an interpersonal problem? That's what I want them to do!
Here's how easy my life is: I get to take a shower every day if I want to. And no one kills each other while I'm in there.
Now, I'm still sticking with my resolution to focus on the present. It will surely be harder to have four kids than to have three, so I'm trying to soak up my time with three. (And to get some things done while I still can, like getting Marko reading more independently.) I'm enjoying taking them places, taking pictures of them, getting one-on-one time with each of them. The other week, we went to the playground and they were having a fine time, but I talked them into trying out the trails. And then the trail forked and they wanted to take the longer trail ... so I went with it and we had a fun adventure! It's been so long that I've been approaching parenting with the attitude of "put as little effort into it as possible and never do anything extra, because I'm barely managing the bare minimum and can't afford to make extra work for myself." Now it's more like, hey, you know, if I want to, I can bake something today! Or we could do a craft! Maybe work on something educational! Why not?
Lots of adventures, lots of pictures.
And all this stuff both makes me feel a lot happier about life in general, and less terrified of the new baby. Because if I'm happy and managing fine now -- well, that's a good sign. And it stops the clock I have running in my head of "time I've spent being miserable/not accomplishing anything I wanted due to having children." One shouldn't count the cost, but one does, and I've spent a lot of years on baby-having. Yet most of those years have not actually been miserable or unproductive, so why assume the remainder will be?
Well, that's the good news. The bad news is that my back is in rather horrible shape. I thought, after it was doing so well when I was pregnant with Miriam, that I had cracked the code on pelvic girdle pain and just wouldn't get it anymore. No, apparently it's more complicated than that, and while the tricks I learned last time do help, I'm constantly discovering new things that screw it up. Once my pelvis is out of joint, it's in pain all the time, whenever I move. I'm getting better at putting it back into place, but after this has happened, it's fragile for some time thereafter, so I screw it back up rolling over in bed or lifting a heavy pot. If I can go a week or two without injuring it, I'm sure it will be less delicate, but that never happens.
The good news is that exercise seems to help, not hurt, so it's not holding me back from walks. It does hurt to walk sometimes, but it seems to keep the joints mobile enough to keep away the extreme pain and stiffness I get when I sit for too long. Ditto for the way the kids have a million demands that make me run up and down the stairs all day -- it doesn't seem to be making anything worse.
Ooh, but I have exciting good news! A friend of mine handed down a spinning wheel to me which she inherited from her grandmother. Along with it came an entire trunkload of wool, some of which I probably won't use, but some of which is very nice.
Now wheel spinning is not quite like spindle spinning -- you have less control, plus you can't take it with you and do it for five minutes at a time between stuff -- but I am addicted to it anyway. It's just so mesmerizing watching the wheel go around and the yarn just pile onto the bobbin. And it's much, much faster. There are definitely projects that I'm going to be using that wheel for, even while others require the spindle.
In less cheerful news, we're starting to get really worried about Marko. On the one hand, he's really a delight to be around, a good listener, whip-smart, and tries very hard to be kind. On the other .... many of the worrisome behaviors that have troubled us for years, which we've assumed he'll grow out of, he hasn't. He still chews on his collars pretty much all the time. He throws major gale-force tantrums if you say something that isn't literally accurate, or if you try to switch up a routine he's dependent on. His stammer is still severe enough it keeps him from communicating with most people outside the family, even though he's finally reached the point of wanting to talk to other people.
Adding these things up, plus many other minor concerns, has settled us on taking him for a developmental evaluation. After all, we figured, knowledge can only help us help him. But I'm surprised how much anxiety it's given both of us. I mean, what if he winds up with some kind of diagnosis? Isn't there something wrong with putting a label on a child? Does this mean we've failed him by not getting him assessed before now?
I have to keep repeating that nothing is going to change my beautiful child; a label of any kind won't transform him from his wonderful self to some other, more damaged, kid. And it wouldn't mean all his quirks are now bad. They're a part of who he is. At the same time he seems to be held back in some ways from things he would like to do by those same quirks, and it would be nice to be able to teach him how to manage the world we actually live in a little bit better.
*bites nails* Well, the appointment is Tuesday, so I'll just be here worrying till then.
The kids are very excited about Halloween. Marko and Michael are going as skeletons. Because I loathe commercialism, I am spending just as much money on black clothes and white paint as I would have on premade costumes. Oh well. They can have skeleton pajamas to sleep in hereafter. I won't repeat past mistakes -- these costumes are going to be comfortable and they will be able to move in them!
I thought I would have to decide for Miriam, but nope -- she made up her mind immediately when I asked her, and has been quite steadfast about it. She wants to be a kitty. And when she knocks on the doors, she's going to say "meow meow meow." The cuteness. It's unbearable. For her, I bought a costume, because they had them at Aldi for nine dollars and there is no way I could make something that looked equally cat-like for any cheaper. I mean, it's basically just jammies with ears and a tail. But I'll assuage my crafty conscience by painting whiskers on her. She'll like that.
I am disappointed, though, that the kids didn't stick with their original ambition (dreamed up November 1st of last year) to be Luke, Han, and Leia. It would have been super adorable.
The election is super close now. Like I need more anxiety in my life. Right now I have a whole calendar of Stuff to Worry About: first, getting Halloween costumes done in time; next, Marko's appointment; third, election; fourth, Christmas presents; fifth, having a baby. By my calculations that doesn't allow me a lot of nights to not lie awake stressing out in.
Oh, and I forgot the World Series! I am very worried about this. I want the Cubs to win -- John's family has been waiting for them to win the world series for three generations! -- but if they don't win, imagine the disappointment, since they've gotten this far. And though the odds-makers say they're favored -- well, I just can't believe the Cubs will ever win. Last night I spent three hours watching them fail to score. It was not an enjoyable use of my time.
Anyway, I'll be happy when the election is over. However, I fear the anger that's been stirred up by it won't dissipate overnight. The people who said all Hillary supporters will go to hell are still going to be there. So will the people who said grabbing women was no big deal. Once you've said this stuff, it's out there, and enemies made in an online debate aren't necessarily going to kiss and make up. I do a bit of debating, from time to time, but I've had to bail on more than one discussion that got ugly.
And gosh, I really hope we don't end up with a reality-show star as President. Even if it means we basically have to have Frank Underwood from House of Cards. I remember some months ago hearing the Philippines' new president being characterized as being like Trump, and now he's apparently killing people by the scores. So, you know ... I would like that not to happen here. (Though maybe news gets distorted from countries away -- is it really that bad, Enbrethiliel?)
While I'd like to hopefully remark that perhaps we'll get Rand Paul or someone like him in 2020 -- let's get real. The Republican Party has been shattered, and the largest shard is the Trump shard. The establishment, social conservatives, and libertarians can't be counted on to stand together -- in fact, this election has shown that they'll mostly just move Trump-wards to get in on that sweet, sweet popularity. So I foresee some long, dark years in the GOP, where they abandon everything I liked about them, while at the same time not winning elections because most of America still doesn't like Trumpism.
Anyway, I guess I can pride myself on not having unfriended anyone this election season, and if anyone has unfriended me, I don't know about it. And it seems that's the best anybody can hope for.
How have you all been?