The Minutia of Motherhood

On a typical day I wake up around 6am. I meditate for twenty minutes, shower, get dressed, unload the dishwasher while eating my breakfast, pack up Emmy’s snacks, water bottle and cup of milk for school. I do all the things I need to do so that when she wakes up I can be there when she opens her door and says, “Mama, I waited for the light to turn green!”

You see Emmy has a special clock set for 7am. At this time it turns green signaling it’s time for her to get out of bed. That’s when our day together begins.

Emmy then picks out a pair of undies so she can change out of her night time pull up. I grab her Minnie Mouse cup full of milk and my coffee, and we head to the couch. Some mornings she’s grumpy and whiny, others she’s talkative and chatty, others she’s just quiet. Some mornings she protests changing out of her pull up. Others she does her famous joke.  Mimicking a line from a Mickey Mouse Christmas movie she holds onto her weighted pull up and says, “If I eat any more turkey, I’m gonna need new clothes!” We laugh and oftentimes daddy is there laughing too. She then happily changes into her big girl undies.

Always, always, we snuggle up together and she plays with my hair as she drinks her milk from her Minnie Mouse cup.

It’s not lost on me that she used to play with my hair as she nursed, and then as she bottle fed. Drinking milk and playing with mommy’s hair has been a consistent comfort for her whole life so far. As much as it sometimes tries my patience when I’m not in the mood for my hair to be tousled and pulled, I know it’s a precious ritual that I’ll one day look back on and miss. So, it continues on, day after day.

Some days we sit in silence snuggling together after she finishes her milk. Other days daddy is there too chatting with her. Most days “Momeo” (Romeo) our Rhodesian Ridgeback comes wandering out, plants himself in the same spot and stares, expecting his first scoop of food.

We often put on the TV or she asks for her “scream” (iPad) and she quietly enters the day. I wander away and continue doing all the things I need to do to keep our lives running smoothly. Feed the dog, pack up the stroller, make her breakfast, walk the dog. Oh, and somewhere in this all I take my first sip of coffee- always magical.

Every day, within all the minutia and chores, I am there- steady and consistent. I am the mama I always wanted to be.

I couldn’t sleep tonight because I began thinking that there may be a morning soon where mommy is at the hospital having baby brother, and I’m not there for the morning ritual. As much as I know that it’s okay- as much as I know she will be totally fine in the care of her loving grandparents- my heart hurts knowing I won’t be there with my hair as she drinks her milk.

And it’s more than that. It’s knowing so much won’t be the same once baby brother arrives. It just can’t be. So, I cry thinking of all the shifts about to occur. I cry because endings are hard no matter how beautiful the next beginning will be.

As a mom there are so many details. There is so much to be done. There are so many intricacies that make up my day. All of these things are mostly silent and unseen, but all are molded and centered around this one precious girl. Soon my attention will be divided into the details of two, and I wonder how that can be.

Tonight I mourn the loss of our endless time alone together. Our quiet and calm Minnie Mouse Cup mornings will soon take a shift as I recover from birth and nurse a new life.

While I mourn I also feel hopeful. Although our mornings may become very messy and chaotic for a while, eventually we will land at a new normal. We will find a new way to start the day that involves the two souls daddy and I love and dedicate ourselves to.

There will be soon new version of our Minnie Mouse cup mornings that involves the endless details that mothering two children brings, and at that point my heart will have multiplied in size and what is more beautiful than that?

 

 

 

 

To My Girl

To my girl,

Soon you’ll be a big sister. Not the only kid in the house anymore. Soon you’ll see lots of changes in your life. My heart aches knowing it won’t just be us anymore, but my heart also tingles knowing you’ll have a buddy and lifelong companion.

☀️

I want you to know you’ll always be my sunshine. You’ll always be the one who taught me how to be a mama. I suspect you’ll be good at this big sister thing. You’re a leader. You know what you want and aren’t afraid to express that. You’ve humbled me to my core and you’ve shown me beautiful parts of myself I didn’t know were even there. Thank you for teaching me new things every day, and for reminding me of how this life is one big miracle. I’ll love you forever and ever with every part of my heart.

☀️

Love,

Mom

Challenges and Beauty

It’s a challenging time.

I’m 37 weeks pregnant with lots emotions and physical pains. Meanwhile I’m caring for a three year with all of her emotions and processing about getting a new addition to our family. My husband’s working hard to support our family while also offering lots of support at home. Our dog Romeo seems to be responding to all the changes too! He’s been more destructive when we’re out so I’ve had to keep him in my bedroom when we leave.

We are all doing our best, but it’s hard!

I’m not looking for sympathy or advice. I just think people don’t talk about these hardships enough, which why I am sharing now.

Honestly, sometimes my best doesn’t look so great. Like yesterday when I was losing my patience trying to get Emmy and me out the door. I was surprised when Emmy responded to me by talking me through taking a balloon breath, something I do with her when she’s feeling big emotions.

“Mama, are you frustrated?” Emmy asked me.

“Yes I am. I’m very frustrated. I just want you to get on your coat and shoes so we can leave.” I told her.

“Don’t worry, mama. You just need to calm your body. Fill up your balloon. What color is it?”

I’m kind of taken aback. “Hm. It’s purple.”

“I’m sorry I don’t have a purple balloon but here’s a red one.” She grabs a pretend balloon and places her hands on my belly. We take a deep breath together and let it out slowly like a balloon slowly releasing air.

“Thank you Emmy. I feel better now.” I really do actually.

We hug for a while. I tell her thank you. Then we get on her shoes and coat and are out the door.

There are lots and lots of chaotic moments. Loud moments. Frustrating ones. Ones I’m not proud of. Mixed messily within them are moments like this one. Where my three year old circles back and teaches me what I’m forgetting. And it’s during those moments that I remember again that it’s all worth it. It’s all beautiful. It’s motherhood.

Miscarriage and Rainbow Babies

Prenatal Yoga Center in NYC has been monumental with my journey into and through motherhood. So, I was truly honored to be a guest on PYC owner Debra Flashenberg’s podcast Yoga Birth Babies.

In this podcast, Deb and I talked honestly about our experiences with miscarriage- something so many women go through. When I lost my twins in April I promised myself that I would always tell their story as a way of honoring them. I remember sobbing in the shower when I was in the depths of my grief and hearing the words “someday my pain will be something else.” This is the something else.

Listen here: https://prenatalyogacenter.com/blog/rainbow-babies-with-jessica-mougis/?fbclid=IwAR1SKHTe5GAR0-MxH1shmQPIMvJjDX-cfWDTJH0HOTRC6oDj1-9tTHRURlM

Raisins Saved My Dog’s Life

A few weeks ago I brought my dog Romeo for his routine wellness visit. Besides the vet informing me he could switch to “senior” dog food now that he was seven years old (what? My baby isn’t a senior!) it seemed uneventful. They did test a small cyst in his backside but I wasn’t worried

However, a few days later I received a call that the cyst came back as mast cell cancer. We would need to do a chest x-ray to check if any other tumors had developed and bloodwork to be sure he was healthy enough to undergo surgery to remove the cyst. Thankfully, all came back clear so he had surgery. A few days later we received the good news that they were able to remove all the cancer and he was bound to live a long and healthy life. Relief.

Less than a week after his surgery, I left to go pick up my two year old daughter Emmy from school. Even though I almost always remember to close the kitchen gate-to prevent Romeo from stealing food off the counter- for some reason I forgot to close the gate that day. I came back from getting my daughter to see an empty 16 oz bag of raisins empty and shredded on the floor.

Shit! Raisins are poisonous for dogs.

I called his vet immediately and they said to bring him in so they an induce vomiting. I thought that would be it, but they informed me they would have to keep him overnight on an IV to flush out his kidneys. They would do bloodwork in the morning to check his liver levels to be sure he was okay. I cried right then and there. Again? We had to leave our first baby out of our care where he was scared? My husband, Steve, and I were both very upset.

The following morning we decided to get out of the city and distract ourselves. Steve had been on the lookout for a new bigger car for our growing family and he found a good one in New Jersey. We made the drive out and test drove the car. We really liked it and decided to move forward buying it.

While waiting at the dealership I got a call from the vet informing me that Romeo was doing well. He ate a bit and went for a few walks. She suggested they keep him one more night as they wanted to monitor him for 36 hours. Another night? Well, that sucked but I wanted to be sure he would be okay so I agreed.

About two hours had passed since we arrived at the dealership and Emmy was getting antsy. Steve and I decided I would take her home, and he would stay at the dealership to finish up all the paperwork.

We had a birthday party to get to later that afternoon so my plan was the find a parking spot near our apartment, hang out at home for an hour or so, and then head over to Westchester for the party. When we arrived back in the city there were no spots to be found even after I circled for about twenty minutes. I double parked in front of our building and ran upstairs to grab the presents for the birthday girl, Emilia. We would just drive over to Westchester early and maybe stop for lunch.

In the meantime, I warned Steve my phone was dying. I’d charge it when I got to the party.

About twenty minutes into my drive with 10% battery left on my phone and no charger, I got another call from the vet.

“We have some alarming news. We ran bloodwork and while Romeo’s liver levels look normal, his red blood cells came back extremely low. We did an abdominal ultrasound and found a mass in his stomach has ruptured and he’s internally bleeding. He needs to be transported to another hospital as soon as possible for surgery.”

What???

I made a quick exit off the parkway. At this point Emmy was screaming in the back seat. “I want to go to Emilia’s party!” I have no idea where I am and I get lost. I call Steve to tell him what’s happening as my phone battery dwindles to less and less power.

My mind immediately starts racing. I have 8% battery.

I need to get directions to get home first. Then I need to figure out which hospital to bring Romeo to and where it is. I have to coordinate with Steve who is stuck without a car at the dealership while all the paperwork goes through.

I call my dad who lives in the city. I tell him what’s happening and say we need help. I’ll need help with Emmy when we get to the hospital. He’s away for the weekend but says he will call my stepmom Leslie.

5% battery.

I get the name of the hospital. I call my dad to tell him. I call Steve to tell him. Emmy is screaming, guttural screams. No doubt reacting to my high anxiety and stress. She’s confused. “I want to go Emilia’s party! NOW! I want to go NOW!”

My dad calls. “Are they bringing Romeo to the hospital or are do you have to.” I begin to say “I need to pick him up and…”

My phone dies.

Now we are on our own.

I’m on track getting back into the city. At this point Emmy is completely unhinged and trying to climb out of her car seat. I try to get her back in from the front seat but have to keep driving.

In a state of complete anxiety and panic we eventually make it to the vet. I double park in front and grab Emmy out of her seat. She has ripped of her socks and shoes. “I need hugs mama. I need hugs.” she says. My sweet girl is confused and scared. I am

too. I’m trying to breathe. I walk into the vet panicked with a thirty pound shoeless toddler in my arms.

Did I mention I’m also 18 weeks pregnant?

I manage to calm Emmy down with hugs, explanation and swaying. I get the address of the hospital from the front desk worker and within a few minutes Romeo is brought down to us. We give him huge hugs and kisses and I tell him it’s time to get in the car and go to the hospital. I tell him he’s going to be okay.

In the back of the car I have the birthday present for Emilia, who is Emmy’s age. To get Emmy back into the car I tell her she can open the presents and we can play with them at the vet. This is probably one of the biggest blessings in the shit storm we are in. Thank God for those much needed distractions at that time.

We get to the animal hospital and my stepmom Leslie is standing right at the front desk. “Is this Romeo?” the man at the desk asks. I tell him yes and within seconds they are bringing him downstairs to take a look at him. I hug Leslie. Seeing her there waiting brings me the first feeling of comfort I’ve felt since I got the call. Leslie sits with Emmy, opens the presents and they play.

The vet comes up to speak with me. “Romeo has a large mass on his spleen. It is most likely a very aggressive form of cancer. We are taking a look right now to determine the next steps. This kind of cancer typically leaves dogs 6 months to live.”

Shock. What??

Steve walks into the door minutes later. I tell him what’s happening.

We go to talk privately in another room and are in total shock. We are devastated.

The vet comes back.

“We took a look and it indeed a large tumor on his spleen. In 2/3 of cases a tumor of this size is an aggressive cancer. He could maybe have a month to live. We suggest going straight into surgery to remove it as he is bleeding internally. We will write up an estimate and bring it up as soon as possible.”

While she delivered this news with the utmost warmth and compassion it was a horrible horrible shock.

We asked the vet what she would do if it were her dog. “In this case, I would go forward with the surgery. I wish it weren’t this expensive but it is. I totally understand having a family and if this isn’t an option for you I would understand why you’d want to euthanize.”

We just bought a car. We just paid for another surgery but if there’s a chance he could survive this and we get more time, we had to move forward. We signed the paperwork. Do the surgery.

We eventually head home and wait for word that he’s prepped for surgery. He goes under and surgery goes forward. I get a call that he’s stable and awake, though very out of it.

The next day is the NYC Marathon. My sister in law is running in it. I want to see her at the finish line. Meanwhile we wait for word on Romeo. Can we pick him up?

We finally hear in the late afternoon after a brutal day of waiting that we can pick him up. The hospital is near the finish line of the marathon and there’s tons of traffic. I don’t care. I’m going to get my boy.

As I sit in traffic I track my sister in law on the NYC marathon app on my phone. She’s crossing the finish line as I park my car to pick up Romeo. I’ve got tears in my eyes of pride for her and fear for my boy.

He comes out with a huge cone on his head. Obviously confused and out of it but calm as always.

The first night and day home are the hardest. He’s in pain. He won’t eat. He won’t move. He lets our little whimpers every now and then. I feel so helpless watching him suffer.

With each day he improves a bit more until we see the normal Romeo again. The one who is within inches of you every time you have a snack. The one who quietly follows you around so he’s always unassumingly close by. Our sweet sweet boy.

It takes a few days, and a scare where his incision opens up a bit and bleeds bringing ANOTHER visit to the vet, but we eventually get back the results.

Romeo has beat the odds and his SOFTBALL

sized tumor has come back benign.

He is part of the 1/3 who survive this kind of thing. He is going to be okay.

After the emotional roller coaster of it all, we are left now digesting this traumatic and scary incident.

As I write this I wonder how the hell raisins managed to save his life. Had he not eaten those, his tumor would have eventually quietly burst inside of him and we would have never known. It would have been too late once we realized he was sick. We would have lost him.

I’ve not much more to say besides God works in mysterious mysterious ways. And what can look like an utter shitty and hopeless series of events can lead to a saved dog, a grateful family, and a whole lot of appreciation for this precious, fragile life.

Toddlers

Toddlers are insane. Toddlers are irrational and volatile. They are sneaky ninjas. They are menaces and maniacs.

Toddlers are amazing. Toddlers are spirited and enthusiastic. They are vibrant and alive. They are passionate, curious and constantly yearn to explore. They are my heroes.

My name is Jessica, and I’m am exhausted toddler mom.

I know I’ve made claims in past posts about dealing with toddlerhood, but I had no idea what I was talking about. I thought that was part was challenging, but boy oh boy, it gets harder.

Before I elaborate, I just want to send a shout out to all the parents out there. I am amazed by parents of multiple children because I find raising one child to be a great challenge. I am amazed by single parents doing it on their own because I have tons of support and am still struggling. I am just amazed by you.

As a toddler mama, it is my job to trust. It is my job to protect my daughter when she needs protecting, and to support her when she wants to explore. It is my job to reflect back to her the very wonderful girl she is on the inside. This means sometimes saying no, and other times saying yes. I am always close to her because sometimes toddlers hit or fall or get scared. I am there. I am present with her. And doing all this? It’s not always easy. And it’s definitely not perfect.

Last week, Emmy declared a nap strike. The way we had been approaching nap time was no longer tolerated, and she vigorously protested. She even climbed out of her crib, opened her door, walked out and said, “NO sleep.” At 21 months I was pretty shocked by this. Damn, girl’s got opinions, and strong ones at that!

So began the Nap Strike of ’17. And mama was at a loss.

After 8 days of struggles with her nap, I finally took a break and my husband took over. It took him a few hours but he reset the nap time ritual so that her stuffed animals are now involved. We call it a “nice nap” and we talk about how she is a big girl because she takes said “nice nap.”  Since the dada reset, things have been doing pretty well. *Knock on wood!

What did I learn? I learned my daughter is strong-willed and when she has an opinion she’s going to let me know it very clearly. (You go girl, and also I’m tired.) I learned I need a break or else I will indeed burn out.  I also learned what it means to make a decision for my child that she really hates, but I know is best for her.

I’m writing this as she naps with the following: a stuffed animal dinosaur, cookie monster, broccoli, hippo, turtle and two baby dolls. She asked for more but I had to draw the line somewhere, right? Emmy Duck

 

 

 

 

My Own Thing

I’ve been talking about starting up my own kids yoga class for over a year now. I have come up with about a thousand excuses for why I wasn’t going to. Then it hit me. What am I waiting for? So finally, I took the initiative to start a kids yoga class this summer at Gymboree, Emily’s favorite place. The best news? She could take the class too!

It is absolutely terrifying to put myself out there and say- this is what I want to do. I’ve never done anything completely on my own. In the past few weeks a lot of experiences have made me realize that even if I fail, it doesn’t matter. The important part is that I listen to that inner voice that’s saying. “Just give it a try.”

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