Chapters End Where New Ones Begin

For the better part of the last ten years, I’ve been either pregnant or nursing. Two days ago, Buddy decided that he no longer needs to nurse to go to sleep.

I knew the end was coming. He’s four years old and I didn’t want to rush it, knowing that he was my last baby. I told myself that when he was four and a half, if he hadn’t stopped on his own, I would cut him off. That deadline came and went and I didn’t stick to it, but it wasn’t long before he made the decision himself.

I’m happy to have my body back. It’s finally mine again.

But I’m also sad about that chapter ending.

Boo is halfway through third grade now and Peanut is halfway through kindergarten. Buddy will (hopefully) be starting school this fall and I have no idea when my kids got to be so big. You don’t see them growing up in the little moments; it’s when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture that you realize how far you’ve come.

Grief and My Pregnancy

I woke up this morning with the realization that one year ago today, while my grandma was dying from cancer, I found out I was pregnant again. It was technically my fourth pregnancy, and my second in just a handful of months. At the time, I had a seven month old baby at home, too.

I honestly didn’t know if I wanted another baby. I’d had a very early miscarriage in August of that year, which had left me feeling relief, because my youngest was still so young, but I was finding myself looking at the possibility of another baby again, and I was anxious about it. The option to not have a baby was on the table, but the decision was initially put on the back burner because I had other things to worry about. In the end, I knew I wanted the baby, but it did take me time to get there.

The next few weeks were a blur, and sometimes I feel like I got cheated out of enjoying that first trimester. I was so focused on my grandma’s health, and then my grandma’s death and learning to get through the holidays without her, that I didn’t really get to think much about the growing life inside of me. By Christmas, however, the excitement was there, although it still didn’t feel real. It didn’t really feel real to me until almost the third trimester, and it certainly felt like the shortest of my three pregnancies.

Recently, I discovered that the only things getting me through the months following my grandma’s death were my kids. The first morning after she was gone, things were hazy, and that fog didn’t lift until many weeks later. It was hard to get out of bed most mornings for a while, but I did because I had to; someone had to take care of my kids, after all.

We got through the holidays and the new year, and then I was able to enjoy and focus more on my pregnancy. My older kids had birthdays, we bought a house, we had two big trips in the spring, then I had a birthday, and the baby was born. After that, my mom got married, we went on vacation in August, and once September came around, I realized that I hadn’t thought of anything else to look forward to. I had been so focused on making it through the baby’s birth, trips, weddings, and then our yearly vacation, that I was blindsided by a feeling of emptiness. In my head, there was nothing else after that.

Anxiety is a constant in my life, but depression comes and goes, and I think I spent most of the first year after my grandma’s death trying to battle it. The only thing that kept me going was having something to always be looking ahead to, and now that those significant dates have passed, I have to find new ways to cope.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, that pregnancy was probably the best thing that could have happened to me then. It gave me something to focus on, and something to hope for, in a time when I had lost one of the most important people in my life. Life really is all about finding the silver linings, I suppose, and I found mine in my pregnancy.

This is a hard time of year for me, but I know I can make it through. I’m so thankful for how far I’ve come and for all those who have been there for me, and I’m grateful for the support I had from friends and family this past year. I’m so glad that my son is a part of my life, and truly, without that pregnancy, I don’t know if I would have pulled myself up from my depression enough to take care of myself and my older kids.

There really is a silver lining on every dark cloud if you look hard enough.

I Dropped the Ball on Preschool

I messed up.

And I’m mad about it.

Earlier this year, people started asking me if Boo would be going to preschool this fall. I said no, I didn’t feel like she was emotionally ready. My biggest fear was that I would send her to school and she would be difficult and stubborn and that she would defy the teacher… like she does with me, all the time. It’s no secret that my oldest is extremely strong-willed.

However, over these last few weeks, I’ve noticed a big change from five or six months ago. Honestly, I’ve noticed a change even from just two months ago, when her brother was born. I’m realizing that I was probably wrong on her not being ready for preschool, especially since I have seen this strong-willed child actually¬†listen to people who aren’t one of her parents or grandparents. This is completely new and, actually, unexpected.

To add to it, she’s been asking about where the neighbors’ kids have been lately. When I tell her they’re at school, she asks me, “Can I go to school too?”

I had looked around a little bit at potentially sending her to preschool earlier this year. I emailed someone back in March and she had given me a list of places I could look into. I sort of did, but then I kept putting off doing more work on it. Part of that was because I didn’t feel like Boo was ready, and the other part was because I had a busy summer: my best friend got married, I had baby number three, my mom got married, and then we went on vacation. Only then did things seem to settle down, and by then it was the end of August.

Realizing that I’ve dropped the ball on getting her enrolled somewhere, I’ve started the process of trying to find her a spot at one of the preschools near us, but I only started that this week. We can’t afford to pay for a spot somewhere so I’m trying to find an opening at a free program, and that’s been proving difficult. Programs are either near capacity already (and giving preference to certain kids using criteria that wouldn’t fit my child) or not calling me back. I’m finding myself feeling frustrated.

Preschool should really be provided through public school for free, in my opinion. It’s not, though, so I’m stuck trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until the last minute with the other two.