In mid-2015, we moved to San Jose from Chicago. We were parents to 1 child and I was pregnant with our second, in my first trimester. No thanks to the road trip and all the health drama that accompanies this period of pregnancy, I actually lost weight and clothes that did not fit me postpartum after the birth of my son actually fit me in pregnancy. That joy was short lived. I started gaining weight in my second trimester and that never stopped.
We slowly settled into our new lives in California. From a professional life, I was suddenly thrust into the throes of living the life of a SAHM. All that I knew about SAHM living, hitherto, was based strictly on theoretical and some anecdotal knowledge. My mother was the first working woman on all sides of the family and was one of the biggest inspirations and influences on my life. Thanks to the kind of life she led, that I would have my own career and balance it well with my family responsibilies was a given. Nothing and nobody had prepared me for this other side of life.
Once Aaron started at his new job, I was left all alone with my 18-month-old son. I had no idea what to do with him all day. He didn’t know what to do having me around all day either. That first week after Aaron went to work, was one of the worst from those early days. I suffered a lot in terms of self-esteem issues, lack of professional prestige, and not to mention, identity. Who was I if I wasn’t a professor? That aside, I now had a little person completely dependent on me for the major part of the day, how am I expected to deal with this new normal? Did I mention I was pregnant?
With no car, all the new adaptations, and so much of emotional and hormonal changes happening, by the time that first weekend rolled around, I was ready to quit my SAHM job! Like, that was possible! Something had to change and it did. Aaron started taking the train to work for a couple days of the week. Now that I had a car, it was easier to do things and the very first thing I did was drive to a craft store with TJ and buy all kinds of things that would keep him occupied and give me something to do with him.
…and so we learned how to be around each other. I was new to the whole craft thing. I had to look things up, learn to create things so I can teach them to him. I learned about felt stickers and foam balls and pipe cleaners (!!) and different kinds of markers, different kinds of paints, and all sorts of other artsy craftsy things. This is not to say the moments I did these things with him were good times. We did have those few good times that lasted for maybe a glorious minute or two…but mostly, they were moments of frustration and impatience (on my part). I was not used to teaching things to a little person.
I got upset if he colored on the table instead of paper. I got angry if he colored crayons all over the chair or attempted to taste them or worse when he broke them into multiple pieces. I got angrier when he actually did taste markers and his tongue turned a bright blue. I did not know what was developmentally appropriate for his age when it came to coloring inside lines or being able to draw patterns, or peel the backs of stickers or be able to glue something or grasp its concept or figure out googley eyes. I wasn’t sure if what he didn’t know to do was because he had an at-home nanny before we moved here and we never taught him how to do those things or if he was perfectly developmentally right where he should be in say, not knowing how to hold kid scissors. Either way, I didn’t have all the patience he deserved because, well, I was pregnant and short on that particular stock of patience anyway.
As he neared his second birthday, I was only getting bigger, more short-tempered, and more uncomfortable. Yet, one thing I am pretty damn proud of myself is that I kept doing everything I could for him till my 40th week which is when my in-laws came over to help with the new baby after her birth and everybody convinced me that perhaps it is not the best of ideas to drive at 40-weeks pregnant and which was finally when I decided to take a break.
Leading up to that week, in the 6.5 months that I got to be with just him before the arrival of Baby E, here are some things we did, my son and I;
- Attended story time at our local library every single week. We did not miss a single week regardless of how uncomfortable I felt with my body and movement.
- Attended every single Music Together class every Friday except the last one during my 40th week.
- Visited the Happy Hollow Zoo multiple times.
- Visited numerous parks and playgrounds, playdates, and playspaces.
- Constantly read to him and he made the library’s ‘1000 Books before Kindergarten Program’ list twice in 4 months (after which we continued reading but no longer participated in the program).
- Visited our local mall a few times.
- Cooked and baked together numerous times.
- Toured preschools.
- Did a lot of gardening.
Amidst all those memories from those early days, there are three that I especially remember:
- TJ would go get a book and come over to where I was plopped, usually my Laz-E-Boy which I had and have monopolized since the pregnancy. With some help from me, he would climb up into my lap. Once comfortable, he would pull a nearby blanket/throw over on both of us to be cozy and then sit, all ready to be read to. This was such a loving and cozy feeling. This was how we always read; him snuggled close to me, his back to my chest with his head sometimes resting on me too; a book in front of him held by me and me then reading to him.
- At times when I was completely out of it, I would just lay on the carpet and rest. He would drag a cushion from whatever part of the room it was in, and bring it over to me to rest my head and then go and drag that blanket/throw from my chair and put it over me. That done, he would go and play by himself quietly for a few minutes…maybe about 5-10 minutes but that is a lot of independent play time for a 20-month-old, and just enough for a quick snooze for a very tired and pregnant second-time-mom.
- During my second/third trimester, I had two tragedies strike my family. My grandmother’s sister to whom I was really close passed away in November and in January, I lost my grandmother who raised me and to whom I was extremely close. During many a quiet emotional moments, I would cry by myself with tears flowing continuously. My little boy who would observe me, would pull a dining table chair close to the kitchen counter (back when we had a raised one), carefully climb on it, reach for where the Kleenex box was, pull a few or sometimes grab the whole box, and bring them to me. He would then proceed to touch a tear drop and wipe it. Ahh…my heart ached at this love and the love that was making me cry.
…to be continued