Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 119: Musings on the Eve of My Second Child’s Birth.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: The Staud Maya Dress.

Amidst all the incredible sales raging around the Memorial Day holiday, I snapped up a few pieces but am particularly excited about this Staud linen tie-front dress in elegant ecru. Chic and versatile! Could be worn with Hermes Orans during the day or with little kitten heels and big earrings (<<these are a current favorite and will look incredible against the cream linen dress!) in the evening.

You’re Sooooo Popular: Pillow Covers.

The most popular items on the blog this week:

+These ultra-chic and ridiculously discounted pillow covers — an easy way to spruce up your couch for the new season.

+The best food storage containers.

+My favorite caftan.

+This skirted one-piece, which I have, on good authority, heard is incredibly flattering. On sale for less in different colors here and here.

+An easy-to-wear linen blend dress for under $35.

+A darling and affordable scalloped + striped dress.

+One of my favorite sweaters, on sale. Would look so chic and timeless with white skinnies.

#Turbothot: On the Eve of Micro’s Birth.

By the time this post is published, micro will have been here with me for at least a week, a fact I can scarcely fathom despite the fact that I am writing this at four days overdue and therefore this pregnancy feels like it has lasted an eternity. But I wanted to to take a minute to capture how I feel right now, on the eve of his birth, as I did the same just before mini was born.

The third trimester of this pregnancy has been challenging. I am absurdly fortunate that both my pregnancies with micro and mini have been straight-forward and largely without complication from a health standpoint, and so I recognize that I am lucky. But between chasing a toddler, carrying a baby that has been sitting very low and therefore sending shock waves of pain down my abdomen and legs with every twist and movement, and a “dry run” that sent me to the hospital with contractions at thirty-four weeks, I feel emotionally and physically drained, as I have been sitting on the edge of my seat, convinced I am going to go into labor virtually every day — every minute — for the past six weeks. Because mini was breech and I knew I would be having a c-section, it simply never dawned on me that she might arrive early and throw everything into chaos. I focused on the scheduled date and assumed that would be the day she’d be born. With micro, I have been convinced that I will go into spontaneous labor at any minute — and so things like ironing my sheets and getting manicures and ensuring that the fridge is stocked have left me on the edge of my seat: “Will I be able to get this done?” “What if my water breaks while I’m in the middle of this?” Of course, these are inane and irrational concerns. Who cares if the sheets aren’t ironed or my sister has to run out for a gallon of milk while looking after mini? Life will continue. But they have been on my mind, plaguing me, urging me to rush through the quotidian activities of my life — in large part, I know, because I am accustomed to looking after one child and the thought that I might not leave everything just so, prepared, gives me deep pause. I think, too, because micro initially settled into a breech position, then flipped to head-down, and is now four days overdue and is likely going to require a c-section for delivery, I have been agonizing over the details of his birth. So many of you have written (beautifully! encouragingly!) to relinquish control and just accept what will come. I pray for the strength of mind to do this, even in these final hours before he arrives. But it is tough, mentally, to prepare for one eventuality that I am familiar with (c-section), then shift to wondering what a vaginal birth might be like, only to realize that I will probably need a c-section after all. The emotions, the concerns, the unknowns teeter in front of me and tear through me. I continue to want to prepare for something — but don’t know how.

But, these anxieties are nothing compared to the emotional weight of deep mom guilt. Though I know this is a brief season, I feel a heavy mantle of self-reproach resting on my shoulders as I find myself with less patience for mini’s two-year-old-ness. I am lethargic by the time her nap rolls around around 2 P.M. During these last two weeks leading up to micro’s scheduled c-section, I have been too afraid to take mini out on my own on anything but the briefest (and most contained-in-her-stroller) of excursions, as there are times where sciatica pains make it feel as though my legs are about to give way from beneath me and it is frankly too hard to chase after a highly-active and exuberant mini. And there have been nights where I wonder how I am possibly going to make it through her bedtime routine. I am embarrassingly pleased with myself when I give her a bath, as it is painful to bend over the tub and chase her around for a thorough hair scrub, and exhausting to wrangle her naked little body afterward, as she invariably defies my attempts to lotion, diaper, clothe, and brush her. But by the time she is laying across my lap in the dark of her nursery (often after about a dozen micro-crises and skirmishes) and I am saying her prayers and affirmations, I feel a swell of emotion — part tenderness, part remorse — so wild and intense that I find myself fighting back tears. I feel frustrated with myself, with my body, for lacking the energy and enthusiasm to be the mother I know I can be. I feel upset at the thought that her final weeks as an only child might not represent me at my best. And then there was one night where an over-tired mini and an over-tired me got into a battle of the wills over brushing teeth and Mr. Magpie and I decided to put her into her crib without the entire bedtime routine. I heard her wailing from her crib: “I want my mamaaaa” for twenty minutes. I wept. I was convinced I would go into labor and her last night as my only baby would be overshadowed by one of the only times we have ever skipped her entire bedtime routine. Mr. Magpie convinced me that it was more important to draw boundaries — to show her that we meant it when we told her it was bedtime — and that in the grand scheme of things, this was a moment of positive parenting.

Deep sighs, deep breaths.

I am surprised that I have not experienced several of the emotions that many other mothers have warned me about on the eve of the births of their second children: concern that they will not be able to love the second child as much as the first, wistfulness that they have not felt the same tender excitement about the birth of their second because they are too wrapped up in caring for their toddlers. Neither of these seemingly common anxieties have crossed my mind, to be honest. I am principally — deeply — worried about how mini sees me, whether the changes in our interactions now and especially in the near future will harm or upset her. I have never felt that I would not be able to love micro as much as I do mini. Maybe it’s easier because I am having a boy rather than a second girl, and so everything feels new and fresh and different? And — I feel connected to micro, anxious and tender-hearted to meet him, overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising him as a man of substance — many of the same emotions I felt on the eve of mini’s birth. I spend less time dwelling on all of this than I did with mini, but there have been countless 5 a.m. wake-up calls where I lay in the preternatural quiet of our bedroom and feel him move and can hardly breathe I feel so excited and overcome and shocked that he will soon be here, in my arms, my own to love and nurture. Who is he?!

But if my experience with mini’s birth taught me anything, it’s that childbirth and motherhood consistently outsize, warp, and defy any expectations I carry into them. And so I am in some ways not surprised that I have felt so differently from the many other mothers in my tribe.

At the end of the day, I have returned to two thoughts that reassure me in my irrational, possibly hormonal, though candid and true frettings over mini’s wellbeing in all of this:

First: “Does she feel loved?” I know the answer is yes and so I force myself to keep moving.

Second: I am working on giving her one of the best gifts a child can receive: a sibling. In the long run, these few weeks will give way to what I hope will be one of the most important, nourishing, meaningful relationships of her life.

And so we keep marching…

P.S. My registry for baby number two and what to wear while nursing.

Blast from the Past: Reading, Elasticity, and the Greater Than / Less Than Equation.

Musings on my most cherished pastime — reading — in relation to the death of my grandmother:

“That evening, as with countless others to come, I took comfort in the escape of fiction, but something had changed.  I now saw a disparity, a widening gulf.  I felt that I had seen something in real life that could never be approximated on a page, that would be illicit or impossible in the world of fiction.  I realized, for the first time, that whereas I had formerly seen the magical worlds of Ann and Nancy and Laura as greater than my own, the “right arrow” in the equation had flipped: I now saw my own experience outsizing theirs.

The arrow’s direction has flipped and flopped with time, with the quality of books I am reading, with the relative quietude or amplitude of the happenings in my life.  There are stretches where I find myself drinking in the experiences I am reading in a hungry spectatorship, anxious for the thrill or drama of another world; and there are other times where I feel that everything I am reading is a footnote or a corollary to the enormity of my own life.  There are times where the words of others seem to negotiate the terms of an experience — like when I saw that lilac bush while walking along the northside of Sheep Meadow and my day was instantly transformed via the magic of a poem it conjured— but there are other times where everything I read is adjunct to the swell and swing of my own emotions.  And I am grateful for this give-and-take, this elastic relationship I have had with fiction as it alternately fuels and receives my soul.”

Post-Scripts: Extravagant Bath Oil.

+As a post-partum treat to myself, considering buying this bath oil, which receives RAVE reviews. It feels like just the thing a sophisticated mother would treat herself to once the children are asleep, along with a big glass of red wine and a good book.

+Adore these limited edition jammies for Maisonette. Mini loves the carousel in Central Park and I think she’d get a kick out of them.

+I have it on good authority that this toffee is worth shipping to yourself.

+Love the look of this plaid bubble/romper for a baby boy with a big navy monogram on the chest.

+You know I love a good polka dot

+I’ve had a couple of moms suggest that I put together a little box of special treats for mini to use when I’m nursing micro, as (understandably) this is often a time of jealousy, i.e., “Why is mom only paying attention to the baby right now?!” I’m thinking of buying a few of her favorite puffy sticker sets, a new coloring book and special bag of crayons, a new play-doh set, a couple new books, and a couple of special snacks (she loves freeze-dried fruit like this, which is somehow cheaper to buy on Prime than it is to buy at Whole Foods, where it retails for $6.99).

+My sister — whose tastes in literature tend to run a bit more “high-brow” than my own — claims that this YA novel gets really good reviews as a well-written book on its own standing. Contemplating reading it alongside her.

+Pam Munson magic.

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4 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 119: Musings on the Eve of My Second Child’s Birth.

  1. This post had me nodding along — just wanted to say, from an outsider’s perspective, that you’re doing a great job. Remember to give yourself space and patience to adapt to these lifechanging times!

    I’ve never (!!) read a YA novel … like, even when I was a kid … and had a colleague recommend The Sun Is Also a Star to me as a great toe-dip into the genre. I even went so far as purchasing a copy, but never did read it. Maybe this is the push I need to bump it up the reading list! Let me know how you like it 🙂


    1. Aw, thanks, MK. So good to hear that affirmation…just what I needed to hear this morning 🙂


  2. “Does she feel loved?” – I love that as a guiding question. When you’re in the thick of parenting (the brushing teeth war! Uuugghh once I convince the baby it’s a good idea, she’s so compliant – but getting to that point is sometimes such a headache!), I think that’s such a wonderful question to ask. You can’t always be your daughter’s friend, but you can be her guiding light.

    Hope you’re enjoying these beginning days with micro! Littlejohn’s is indeed amazing toffee (it used to be my go-to present when I lived near the LA location). Also check out Brandini toffee – we swung by their store in Palm Springs and ended up with a couple huge boxes, it’s so delicious!

    1. YES – so glad to hear another voice chime in on Littlejohn’s! I did end up ordering it for my father in law 🙂 We shall see what he says. Going to check out Brandini’s next time I need a similar gift.

      YES – “does she feel loved.” I can’t recall where I read or picked that up (some article or other) but it has stuck with me for the better part of mini’s life with us. Any time I’m feeling down or experiencing #momguilt of one flavor or another, I circle back to this. And I reassure myself that there is absolutely no way in hell mini does not feel loved. At the very very least, during her bedtime routine, we squeeze in tons of hugs and “I love yous” and of course her litany of affirmations. The question has proved immensely useful during this transition to a family of four. I’ll write more about this soon, but one of the most difficult parts has been my feeling that I am failing her in some way by not being able to pick her up for a full six weeks (damn c-section scar!) and having to balance her needs with my son’s. She was my entire universe for the past two years and I am struggling to accept that I can’t continue to be her everything at every moment of the day. I know this is in part hormones. And in part grappling with change, at which I’ve never been good. But it can be really challenging, emotionally. So I need to keep this question in my pocket. She is loved, she is loved, she is loved.


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