Paging Captain Ahab! So on the eve of my 34th week, my second-time moms' group had its first meet-up! It was blustery, overcast, and cold -- ah, spring in Northern California -- but it was also warm, friendly, and funny. Second-time moms' groups can be unpredictable. I was on an email list for another one that just struck me as uninspiring. This one took off like a shot as we immediately had lively discussions about bringing meals to one another (deemed too difficult at the moment) and breaking the group into first-timers and second-timers (which involved managing the bruised feelings of one first-timer who didn't feel welcomed).
When I got to the playground, three of us had our toddlers in tow, and the fourth was just there with her belly. "Excluded!" I said, pointing her to the exit. Everyone laughed, and I knew I'd found a good group. Taking yourself too seriously: yawn.
I've been feeling forlorn lately, wishing for my East Coast friends and generally feeling like I don't know enough people here. I depend heavily on the Internet for my social life, and I'm starting to realize that doesn't actually work. Great as a stopgap when you can't get out, but words on a page are not the same as flesh and blood friends. I was nearly kicked off of my neighborhood group for making a small, slightly off-color joke, and an online bulletin board has devolved into the sort of place where people pop up out of nowhere to crap on the heartfelt emotions you just posted. Duh. Friendships can't be pigeonholed into the times when you can post to a bulletin board or answer email. You have to make an effort, pick up the phone, get your butt out of the house. So that's been my priority in the past week, and I feel 10 times better for it.
I also feel 10 times worse, because ugh, I think this child has started to stretch out and fatten up. I keep doing my little stretchy exercises, but can barely stay physically functional. I know, I know -- I sound like a broken record, and things are not really so terrible -- just some hip pain and stiffness. But owie. My sister did this as a SAHM with a much more rambunctious toddler than mine, and as far as I can see, she handled it 10 times better. In fact, it seems like every other mom I see manages this belly-toddler thing better than I do, with my late-afternoon naps and unexpected torrents of tears. An excellent pal has offered up her pool, so let's see if a little bobbing around on the high seas makes me feel less like a Greenpeace team should be showing up to pour buckets of water on me and roll me off the beach.
Thank goodness it's summer, so we have the stepkids more often. I have this advice for anyone juggling a pregnancy and a toddler: Get some stepkids. Whatever you have to do -- beg, borrow, or steal -- you need two stepkids, preferably 9 and 13 years old. My darling Penelope, who thinks I hung the moon most of the week, cannot be bothered with me when the kids are here. Either she's chasing Eli around and demanding that he sit still while she bounces on his stomach (I have never seen such a patient little boy), or Max is wheeling her around the living room in a hilarious uneven tango and teaching her inappropriate phrases. Who cares that when I get her back, she's covered in "tattoos" of butterflies, ladybugs, and the occasional smiley-face? It's washable marker, and I got a nap.
And you really haven't lived until you've heard your toddler say "lake titicaca" and then dissolve into peals of laughter without having any idea why what she just said is funny.
Well, anyway. I'm off to a doctor's appointment and another round of antenatal testing. I am bringing a snack bar, a Hershey's Kiss, and a very small vuvuzela to ensure she doesn't sleep through the monitoring this time. I also have to ask how long we do the progesterone shots. Like I said, I'm stepping into Week 34. At what point do I throw caution to the wind?