Monday, October 10, 2011

Well, Now That THAT'S Settled...

One of the major sticking points in my marriage has been the question of more children. I've been on the side of having one more, while Rodolfo is clearly happy with just Caitlyn.

He has a point. It isn't like we can just fuck a few times and have another baby. Babies are expensive for us. And the pregnancy itself turns me into a puking, terrified mess. I wasn't looking forward to the process of IVF and the daily shots of blood thinners during a pregnancy, but every time I would look at my daughter, I would find myself thinking "how could I NOT have another?". You know, because she is fucking awesome.

You know what the thing is about having one awesome kid though? You can fucking leave the house occasionally and do things with that one kid. And it came to my attention this weekend that the degree of difficulty of just walking out the door without anyone falling down a flight of stairs is dramatically increased when you are caring for more than one young child.

This past weekend placed me indisputably on Rodolfo's side of the fence. It started with a simple request from my little sister: she needed a babysitter for her daughter this weekend. My sister Samantha is like me in the way she raises her daughter. Much more laid back than our other sister and also much more attached to the idea that if you wanted your weekends free you shouldn't have had a kid. A., our other sister, has been sending her son away about half the time on weekends with either set of grandparents since he was 2 months old.

I guess it isn't the worst thing. It's not like she's sending him to the Home Depot with the day laborers to make a quick $100 or anything. But it's not my personal style, and it isn't Sammi's either. In fact, my niece Adrianna had never spent a night away from her mother until last weekend.

In Caitlyn's case, she has only actually spent 3 nights away from me since she was born, but she is also used to being at someone else's house. I went back to work when she was 8 weeks old and she's been eating, sleeping and playing in someone else's house for several hours a day, 3-4 days a week since then. She is adaptive. She doesn't cry when I drop her off. Sometimes when I arrive to pick her up from the babysitter's house, she barely acknowledges me. She's having too much fun playing with her new best buddy.

This was not the case with Adrianna. My youngest sister, her boyfriend and their daughter are living with my mother. When they go to work, my mom or stepdad will watch Adrianna for them. She has never had a reason to be anywhere without her mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. Ever. Until last weekend.

It isn't that she doesn't like me or that she doesn't know who I am. When I picked her up Saturday, she was all smiles. We stopped at Ihop for smiley face pancakes (where, with 2 toddlers in tow, I was asked if I wanted the regular smiley face with strawberries and bananas or the Halloween "scary" face with Oreos and candy corn. Are you kidding me dude? These kids don't need fucking Oreos) then headed back to my house where I planned to put Adrianna down for her nap.

Enter: Chaos.

You know how it is when a toddler is tired? How everything is the hardest fucking thing in the world to do? How they collapse into a fit of tears and tantrum at even the slightest provocation (and by provocation, obviously I mean anything you do)? How they kind of hate you for exisiting? That is what it was like from the time I walked into my door until the time Adrianna's dad picked her up Sunday afternoon. Times 2.

It started with the dog (damn dog AGAIN!). I had to take him out when we got home, so I put the babies in Caitlyn's crib thinking (wrongly, obviously) that they would quietly suffer the indignity for the 90 seconds I needed to let the dog go outside to pee. Bloodcurdling screams ensued, so I hustled the dog upstairs as quick as I could and took the kids out of the crib. At which point the bloodcurdling screams were quickly accompanied by a toddler leg magnet.

I'm used to Caitlyn, who has always had pets and is completely unimpressed by their presence. Still, as a mom myself and an understanding person in general, I realized that I might need to ease Adrianna in with my overexcited jumpy animals. The dog went into his cage and I went about the task of putting Adrianna down for her nap. Surely she would be more receptive to the dog when she wasn't tired anymore.

Adrianna, from what I was told, was pretty easy to put down for a nap. Bottle, 15 minutes of cartoons and out like a light. Except it didn't really go down like that. Because apparently Caitlyn's crib is lined with baby-eating monsters or something.

And OK people. I HAVE a toddler. A loud one. With a high-pitched scream. Who thinks it's utterly hilarious to see how many glasses she can crack with her best screech. What I'm saying is I have heard that high-pitched, deafening baby scream before. You know the one I'm talking about. The one you feel in your spine. The one that makes you reflexively put your hands over your ears. The one that she always seems to pull out in the middle of the grocery store. You know. But Adrianna. My god. Her scream was the loudest, gratingest (yeah I made it up. And what?) thing I have ever heard in my life. I thought my brain was going to start leaking out of my ears. And she did it absolutely every time I tried to put her down for her nap.

I know. She's a baby. Away from her mommy for the first time. I felt bad for her too. Maybe I could let her play a little longer till she was extra tired and had no choice but to go to sleep! For those of you who aren't moms let me tell you, that NEVER works. It just makes it 1000% worse. Overtired toddler is a natural phenomenon on par with tornadoes and tsunamis and shit, an unstoppable force which will leave you ruined in it's wake.

The entire afternoon went pretty much like that, with me trying to get Adrianna to take a nap and her refusing in the loudest way possible. Which, of course, caused Caitlyn to decide that naptime was fucking bullshit and she wasn't having it either. So I had 2 overtired toddlers on my hands till around 8:00pm, when both decided a 20 minute nap (Adrianna fell asleep while sobbing into my shoulder, Caitlyn passed out on top of one of her toys) would rejuvenate them for the night hours.

By 11:15 or so, Rodolfo got Caitlyn down to sleep by taking her out of the scream-center and driving her around in the car for 15 minutes till she passed out. Adrianna was a whole other story. She was blatantly exhausted but fighting it with all her effort. Between 11-12:30, she dozed off in my arms at least a dozen times. Each time, I stupidly rocked her for a few minutes before deciding she was FINALLY in a good enough sleep to put her down. And then she would wake up screaming bloody damn murder. Then I gave up. I held her in my arms and we fell asleep on the couch together around 1:00.

The next day we planned a day of pumpkin picking at a farm with my sister A., her husband and son and their friend and her 3 year old daughter. Let me break that down for you one more time: That would be a 3 year old, an almost 2 year old, and 2- 1-and-a-half year olds. And 4 adults. Sounds like it would work out perfect right? 4 kids and 4 adults means a set of hands for every kid!

Let's start by saying that when you think of pumpkin picking, you think of cool breezes. Which is probably why Adrianna's mom only sent her a couple of pairs of sweatpants and sweatshirts and not a single t-shirt or short-sleeved shirt of any kind. Which would have been fine, except we were in bizarro pumpkin picking land, where it was fucking 85 degrees outside. Adrianna is significantly chubbier than Caitlyn, so I didn't have anything to fit her and she had to wear her sweats. We picked up A., who quickly realized that she was going to "sweat her balls off" and offered up one of her son's T-shirts for Adrianna.

Fast-forward almost 2 hours of sitting in traffic and we arrived at the farm sweaty and irritated. Fast-forward ANOTHER half hour of waiting in line to get food for the 4 antsy, hungry, pissed-off toddlers we were carting around and every single one of us was on the verge of a meltdown. The kids were whiny. None of them would eat a thing. They wanted to play in the mud. Adrianna had to be stripped down to her diaper. Did I mention that it cost us $75 (yeah SEVENTY-FUCKING-FIVE DOLLARS) to feed our little group, where half the food went uneaten?

After lunch we assessed the situation. The line for tickets for hayrides, pumpkin picking and all the other assorted fun things for the kids to do had converged into a 70-person-long human barbecue. Fuck that. We left. Without pumpkins or pictures or funtimes, $75 poorer than we arrived, with quite literally nothing to show for it. Awesome.

As A. and I walked our individual toddlers the quarter-mile back to the car, we agreed that no matter how many adults in any given situation, the limit would be 2 toddlers per excursion. Then we mused over how insane our mother must be to have had 3 of her 4 children in a span of 4 years. When I relayed that conversation to my mother later that same day, she insisted that we were amateurs and promised to show us the ropes.

Adrianna's dad picked her up shortly after we got back and I was relieved. Two toddlers is not something I see in my future. IF I have another baby, Caitlyn will have to be at least 5, capable of shitting on the toilet, feeding herself and walking down a flight of stairs without giving me a heart attack. I just don't see it happening any other way.


AKD said...

We have these two embryos left that I feel morally obliged to use, since we made them - but I am not doing so for at least a couple of years. For lots of reasons, but this totally details how insane I think it would be to have multiple toddlers. My husband was the first of five kids, born over 8 years - I think his mom is nuts.

Jaclyn said...

We don't have any extra embryos, but I think I'd feel the same way... the obligation to use them at some point. But seriously, multiple toddlers is insane. INSANE.