Monday, February 02, 2009

This one is not pretty

I am having a huge meltdown.

I am freaking out about being stuck. And when I feel stuck, I feel like I'm drowning. I panic and I flail.

It started innocuously enough, as Nick pointed out the river, how pretty it looks, and how the ice has melted. And then I noticed how one of the bridges was reflected in the water, and how it was hard to see where the bridge stopped and the reflection began.

Which led me to European bridges, and how gorgeous the bridges on the Seine are. Which immediately became if I were single I'd be going to Paris to visit friends for President's Day weekend. And since I'm married and knocked up and Nick will work that day whether or not they have it off, my big outing will be, I don't know, Pentagon City?

Recognizing that it's not like I flitted off to Europe every long weekend when I was single. But I did occasionally grab a super-saver fare and go. Because I could.

I've never been in something I couldn't walk away from. I've left plenty of jobs, and places, and people. Even marriage, you're not stuck. Even if you feel stuck, you aren't actually.

But a baby? A baby is forever. You can't really come up with a way to serve stuck more stuckly.

Nick tried to help by making light of it, which only served to root me more firmly in my stuck-stuck-stuckity-stuckness.

It is physical. I get near tears. And it feels like I'm in a trunk, with a heavy lid closing. Panic. Huge, huge panic.

And it moves fast.

Suddenly, I go from not only never having the option of going anywhere interesting ever again to having a life entirely comprised of the following: Getting up at the crack of dawn in order to get the kid fed and hauled to day care, so that I can get to my extremely ordinary job on time, get through my tasks, and leave in enough time to pick the kid up from day care, get him or her bathed and fed, and get to bed in enough time to get up early enough to start the entire bleak process over.

And this, this hamster wheel cycle is suddenly the rest of my life. With maybe an occasional big outing to the Eastern Shore.

It's not that I don't love Nick. It's not that I don't want the baby.

I just suddenly feel like my life is on a very narrow, pedestrian path, and the walls on the side are very solid and high. And the direction it's taking is totally beyond my control.

And this, this lack of control makes me completely lose my shit.

43 comments:

  1. Yes. Yes. Yes. And no. Also, babies are mobile! They fly! They go to dinner! They like babysitters! But then you won't be able to look at them. And you will be in Paris, pining for your baby.
    I felt exactly the same way, except I waited until after the baby was born. I can't remember if you read this: http://trouttowers.blogspot.com/2009/01/motherhood-vs-marriage.html
    Please forgive my narcissism in attaching the link.

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  2. I loved that post. I do remember how much I loved it. I just didn't feel like this then, and now, I can totally relate to the idea of sticking my head in a cranberry bog - but I can't yet relate to life being fantastic on a Segway. I can visualize, even feel the restriction without an inkling of the broadening, if that makes sense.

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  3. Sorry you're feeling stuck - I'm sure a lot, if not all, pregnant ladies feel this way at some point. I don't have kids so I can't say I know exactly how you feel. Think about your parents and how you grew up - experiencing so many cultures and people and places. I'm sure there will be things that change with a baby, but not everything will change - like yours and Nick's love to travel. And family being nearby to watch the baby while you're in Paris :)

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  4. I don't have anything to contribute, not anything meaningful. I am pretty far from gettnig pregnant, but though I can't sympathize, I can empathize. Sometimes when I see baby socks or hear a toddler laughing I swear I want a baby so bad my uterus actually hurts, then five minutes later I think about that, being stuck and I practically have a panic attack. I hope yours passes soon.

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  5. I love how honest you are in your posts. Everyone feels like this sometimes, even if they aren't married or pregnant. Lots of factors in our lives lead us to feeling stuck, and some kinds of "stuck" are concrete whereas others are probably psychological.

    Your life is still full of possibilities, and we know you'll feel that way soon! :)

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  6. The direction it's taking isn't really beyond your control, I don't think. This is still your life. One that you decided to share with Nick and the baby, but your life nonetheless. And one of the reasons you and Nick picked each other is because you trust each other to help you make your lives work together.

    So remember that you can figure out how to make all of this work for you, and you'll have Nick to help you figure all of that out, and you've got a ton of friends and family who will want to help, too. Yes, you have people relying on you now. But also, you have a lot of people on whom you can depend, to help you still be you along the way.

    I really and truly believe that you're going to have far more going on than you can imagine right now. And it's going to be lovely.

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  7. You know, now that you're having a baby, you're introducing a new variable to your life. It's like an equation, and you'll find a way to balance both sides. You can still feed your craving for adventure and travel while nurturing a little one to be a good human being.

    Honestly, I would consider parenting much more of an adventure than flitting off to Paris to see bridges over the Seine.

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  8. Yes, you're right. You're stuck and your life is over. There are no more adventures and, from here out, your life is on a narrow path. Embrace it. It's the best narrow path you'll ever take. It's better than all the other options. When I look at my son and he smiles at me, it's better than the view from Kilimanjaro. I hate diapers, but when my daughter hugs me, it's more joyous than swimming around the mangroves of Lamu (Kenya). Take it from an expert, my father, the greatest adventurer I've known (played golf in they Himilayas on a course "founded" by a Scotsman where the "rough" was a 2500 foot drop off a mountain) who said to me, "you [kids] are the greatest time I've had... and when you went away to college, it was the most depressing event I've experienced." Paris ain't got nothing on your little fruit.

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  9. Your life will never, ever become pedestrian. You are too unique a breed for that to ever happen.

    And I'll go on a President's Day outing with you! I was just going to sit on my couch and watch Tyra. We could at least make it as far as the outlet malls, although I wouldn't be opposed to a day trip to Philly, Richmond, etc.

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  10. you will never be pedestrian, frekcled is right.

    And THIS is your next big adventure. You just don't know it yet. :)

    Hugs your way, I'm sorry you're having a crappy time of it.

    Love yOU!

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  12. first - you should go out with freckledK to Tysons, the Filene's Basement is being liquidated and is to close by EO the month.

    second - as many have said you're not stuck at all. okay, yah, you will be for the first few years. there's really not much getting around that but by the time that kid is 2 you can hit the road much easier. yes, you'll have to carry some bigger bags for diapers, snacks, toys, etc. but the point is it's doable. and just think about how wonderful it's going to be to expose your child to all those wonderful places and experiences! you'll want to bring them when they're old enough to really enjoy it and remember it too... the first few years are really just for cheek pinching and cooing over anyway.

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  14. I think your feeling is pretty normal, but remember, that as someone else said, babies travel (I know I did). Your life is what you make of it -- you do NOT have to be the boring mom. Your routine does not have to revolve all around the kid, you can still have YOUR interests, YOUR life. My parents used to play tennis daily, my mom paints, and they did tons of other things that did not include my brother and I, while they also included us in things that they'd enjoyed doing as well (traveling was one of them, but they have also taken trips and left us with my grandparents instead).

    Your life is what you make of it. So no worries.

    And you just confirmed what my sister has always said "marriage and kids are for life, what's the hurry? The only thing that's temporary is your single status" -- be thankful you didn't get married and knocked up at 22.

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  15. Just remember the best advice I ever got from a song, "...the trick is to keep breathing." It would surprise me if you didn't feel overwhelmed. I think everyone feels the need to escape from time to time, and if they say they don't, they're lying!

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  16. I completely agree with Jo. This is the greatest adventure of all. I understand that you chose it and now you can't UN-CHOOSE it and that is the problem, not that you want to be that you want the Option... but I think you just have to know and decide that you wouldn't WANT to un-choose it, anyway. So there, Life. Take that.

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  17. I cried leaving the hospital with my daughter because I was scared to death. What the FUCK was I going to do with this little person FOREVER? I also had PPD which is NO fun and if you are prone to deprssion be on the lookout for it. But, once I had that dealt with, something amazing happened. I absolutely cannot imagine my life without her. Believe me, I have meltdowns. I cry and scream and tell my hubby that I don't want to be mommy anymore. But, really, this is your miracle. And you'll know it. My mom told me once that you don't truly know your capacity for love until you have a child. She was absolutely right.

    Are there days that I want to RUN? Absolutely. But then my daughter snuggles up and says "I love you mommy" and it's better than Paris.

    But, now that my daughter is getting a bit older (she's 3.5) we're planning to go to NY, just me, my mom, and her. She already talks about our girls weekend. "No boys, mommy!" Kids travel. And you will too. What a wonderful childhood memory for your kiddo. Paris in spring!

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  18. Sending you hugs!
    You'll be fine, you'll love your new life. And the baby. Keep in mind that you're not in this alone. You and Nick are a team, and when you feel weak or anxious, he'll pick up the slack and help you through it.

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  19. I wish I could say that the feeling will pass and never come back. It will pass, but it will revisit you from time to time. Motherhood can definitely bring on feelings of, Jesus, will I ever have any time to myself, to get a decent night's sleep, to read without interruption, to just not be so fucking needed all the time? But it also brings on feelings of, Holy crap, this kid is the cutest, funniest, best thing ever, and I made him/her!!

    The good thing is, you're in a city where you have lots of family and friends that you can lean on for support -- people that you can call to say, "I need a couple of hours, could you come and watch the monkey for me?" The best advice I can give to a mom-to-be is to not be afraid to ask for help. If you ask, you will get it. And it will be OK. xoxo.

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  20. wonderful post, i can't say that feeling ever goes away. however, an overwhelming sense of love comes with the lack of control that makes everything alright, i promise! (((hugs)))

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  21. Hey chica, we are not preggers yet but there are many days where i have this discussion in my head and sometimes with Rich. It is scary, and it is a huge life change, and no you won't be as mobile as you were before. BUT, on the other hand, you and Nick have the opportunity to exert a huge amount of control - control over how your will help shape a life and persona for the little person you are growing in your belly.

    Think of showing your child all the amazing things you like to do - like travel, etc (maybe hold off on the wine consumption and potty mouth until a later age).

    Also don't forget to sometimes still take those moments for yourself. It's insanely important for you to still be "Lisa" while you're "mommy" - you, your child and your hubby will benefit from that.

    Good luck !!!

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  22. I wish I had words of comfort, but I don't. This rings far too true. However, perhaps it's comforting to know that you are not the only one who panics and flails - and at least you've gotten to the husband-and-baby stage?

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  23. Although I haven't been there yet myself, I'd say that that sounds pretty normal for some stage of pregnancy, when you realize that it's for real and there's no backing down. But in several months, when you hold your baby, it's going to be all worth it. At times it will suck, but your life isn't over. My parents took me to Hawaii when I was 4 months old. We travelled all over, we took trips, they took trips without us. Your life will still be your life, but it just might need a bit more forethought to go to Paris for the weekend. Still totally possible though. And you'll be able to bring home the memories to your child. Or take him/her with you and create brand new ones. Hang in there.

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  24. *hugs*

    Just remember this... by the time you moved out of your parents place, you had traveled more and had more adventures than most people do in their entire lives. By the time I was out of diapers - which was fairly early, my mother potty trained me and my older sister at the same time - I already had many tens of thousands of miles of air travel under my elastic belt. By the time I moved off to college, I'd stepped on six of the seven continents. Africa was just the Cairo airport.

    Anyways, my point is that kids don't mean your adventures are at an end...

    Anyways, *hugs*...

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  25. HKW - Thank you. You point out something really big - I grew up so differently from the life I'm living and the life my kid is going to have. It's kind of hard for me to imagine how this is going to be, and how it's going to be interesting, terrible as that sounds.

    Bliss or Miss? - That was meaningful. I appreciate the sympathy, I really do. This is baby-specific in some ways, but not all.

    mysterygirl! - Thank you - I'm glad you appreciate. You are right about the stuck - I've been stuck in so many ways so many different times. And it's always about ME rather than what's actually going on. (Once again, I'm my own biggest impediment.)

    Dangy - That was a very good reminder. It's not actually beyond my control; it just seems like it when I get all spun up beyond reason. And Nick is really, really good. And it's not like he actually wants me to have a narrow life. As I said to you earlier - it all just FEELS like it in the moment. And then I have good friends who remind me that it's not actually reality. :)

    Jo - Yah, it's true. I think the variable is just scaring the shit out of me. It's so far beyond my ability to imagine concretely, you know?

    Anonymous - I will be really psyched if I feel that way. Until I'm really depressed that they've gone to college. It's just impossible for me to imagine.

    FreckledK - Thank you for saying that. I hope it's true. As for the outing, I may take you up on it, depending on how things pan out. I had two friends email immediately to say, "come visit!" and there is some chance Nick will take the day off and we'll go somewhere...I do feel good knowing that there are awesome people around to do stuff with.

    Sarah - Thanks for the hugs. It is a big adventure. It's just unknown and daunting.

    notsojenny - No! I love Filene's! Are they all closing? As for the hauling the kid around, it's true, it's doable. My parents certainly did a lot of it.

    Beach Bum - Thank you for that. I really need to feel like I can have my own life and it's not going to be only about the kid, all the time. I mean, I know it needs to be for a while. And yes, you are so right. Thank goodness I didn't get all married and knocked up at 22.

    J - Shockingly enough, I forget to breathe sometimes. I suppose that's probably true; I just don't hear other people talking about it. I'd feel better if I did.

    LiLu - YES! I want the option! I want what we're doing! But you nailed it. I cannot UN-CHOOSE it, and I find it terrifying. Even if I don't want to un-choose it.

    Cheryl - Thank you so much for writing that. That makes me feel a million times better. I mean, I'm sorry to hear about the PPD (and I am definitely aware that that's possible for me) but it is such a relief to know that someone who is so happy to be a parent still has the same FOREVER kind of panic.

    Susan - Thank you! It is true - he's so good, and he'll pick up the slack.

    Wendy - This was really helpful. I really do love hearing from happy mothers that they're not always all oooh, roses and sparkles and perfection! And I am terrified of being needed All. The. Time. But yes, I have wonderful, loving people around who will help, and who will give me a break when I need it. Hugs to you.

    mrsmac - Thank you, thank you.

    Alisa S - What a valid point - I do actually have a lot of control - and I appreciate you pointing it out. So nice for me to hear when I am feeling totally out of control. Not necessarily over all of my life, but definitely in terms of caring for and shaping the new little human - which is actually something I will find really rewarding an interesting. As for the wine consumption, I can promise to hold off on that, but the potty mouth is questionable. :)

    UnderCoverElizabeth - It really makes me feel better knowing I'm not alone in this. And I did panic and flail before about plenty of other things, so I should bear in mind that I am at a stage I really wanted - and one I fretted endlessly that I'd never get to.

    Sarah - I do believe that. And some of this is just huge fear of the total unknown. Maybe I'm not even someone who can manage all of that, you know? Fear, fear.

    VVK - Very, very true. Lots of miles and lots of continents. :) Hugs to you, my friend.

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  26. OK, you know I have mad crazy admiration for you and this just makes me admire you more. Dude, this is some honest shit right here. And guess what? This is what will make you an awesome mom and will ensure you will never, ever get stuck.

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  27. Something you said in your responses struck me. "I am terrified of being Needed. All. The. Time."

    Keep in mind that, except for whatever period of your baby's life in which you are nursing exclusively (assuming you do nurse) -- usually 6 months or so -- you really aren't Needed. All. The. Time.

    The baby may make you feel that way, but one of the best things I ever did for my kids was leave them with other people from a very early age. When my second child was 6 months old (and my first was just over 2!), my husband and I went away for a weekend and left Grandma at our house with them.

    The lack of control is scary. And it is magnified by the hormones. But having kids does not mean your life is over. It just means it's different.

    Can you think of this as the biggest adventure you'll ever embark on?

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  28. Oh chica. This is something that alot of first moms go through in their pregnancy. The fear. The paranoia. The sadness. I have this thing - when the desire outweighs the fear, I go ahead and do it, figuring that what's all and good with the universe will take care of the rest.

    The universe will take care of you, too.

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  29. Lemm - Thank you, my friend. It's so nice to hear. I hope that's the case, I really do.

    Mommy Writes - You know, I don't actually have a real view of it. my good friends with babies haven't lived nearby, and so I've not seen or heard about the day to day, but most people seem so utterly consumed with their kid, and so I assume it's constant need.

    But I am so glad to hear you started leaving your kids with other people early. I know people that didn't even leave them for a night with a babysitter for years! No break, ever! I can see it as a huge adventure - in good moments. In panic moments, very hard. It's not that I'm not excited. It just feels very overwhelming.

    Kate - Oh, thank you. I think it's true, if desire outweighs fear, you'll figure out what to do. And I like the idea that the universe will take care of it (and me!) too.

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  30. Lisa,

    Just so you know, no amount of Paris or the romance of traveling can even compare to the moment that kid is born and you are helplessly, hopelessly, so smitten by this new love that traveling will be the furthest from your mind (mainly, you'll just want 10 minutes to your self to shower!) But it's LOVE!! like no one can explain. You really will wonder how you survived all this time without that little person in your life. And I think you should just teach that kid a thing or ten about traveling! Start with travel books and stories and before you know it he/she will be packed and waiting by the door to see all those places you have been. How exciting to have an adventuress spirit as a mom!!! Lucky Kid! But one word of advice? Don't bother taking him/her to North Dakota. You might as well go to the dark side of the moon and get Nasa to fund the trip. Nothing here but cold.

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  31. Hmmm. What to say? Your commenters have already provided you with great support and advice. You know me - I'm not one to sugarcoat the parenting role and I'm not going to start romanticizing how I feel about children, including my own, now because you would recognize it as a big, fat lie anyway.

    So I'm going to tell you this: when you feel the way you were feeling when you wrote this post, go back and read it and all these comments again. It will be a good reminder of just how much you're NOT stuck and how much control you DO have.

    And remember these things, too, because I wish someone had told me about them before I got too far into this parenting thing. It would have saved me much angst, guilt and feelings of failure.

    (1) It's okay to be selfish sometimes.
    (2) It's okay to have high expectations as long as you can be flexible, too.
    (3) You're going to make mistakes, but kids are resilient. Thank goodness.
    (4) It's okay to say "leave me alone" or "not now" or "go find daddy."
    (5) Limits and boundaries. Easy to set, hard to keep. Don't beat yourself up if they are moving targets.
    (6) Lies are useful parenting tools. No one likes to admit it, but if they tell you they never lie to their children, they're lying.
    (7) Yes poop is that fascinating when it first comes out of YOUR baby.
    (8) Listen to Wendy. She knows. Don't be afraid to ask for help or a break before you need it.
    (9) It doesn't get any easier as they get older. Or cheaper. But it does get more interesting and rewarding.
    (10) Parenting will give you a sense of freedom to hand out unsolicited advice, even to those to whom you did not give birth. Go on with your bad self, we all do it.

    You're going to do fine. We're all pikers with that first one.

    Hugs to you and your little lemon.

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  32. big hug:) You will be a wondenful mom

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  33. According to Geraldine 'Jerri' Antonia Blank, a white baby is worth "Seventy G’s on the black market...twice that if the eyes stay blue." So...there's that.

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  34. Kids can be all consuming, and some people just aren't comfortable leaving them with a sitter. And if that makes them happy, that's fine.

    Just remember that how "they" do it and how "you" do it can be wildly different. And that doesn't mean anybody is wrong, just that you're different people with different kids.

    Other piece of unsolicited advice: it's also okay if, after the baby is here, you find you don't want the same things and you actually would rather be home with the munchkin. It doesn't mean you're regressing into a pile of goo.

    Off my soapbox now. :)

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  35. Lisa,

    I can sooo relate to this whole feeling (it's me, anonymous from chicago), but I had my first baby almost 3 years ago and then 3 months later hit the road and was back to work. I travel 3-5 days a week all over the place. Did I miss my girl? of course I did. Did she survive? yup. Was I stuck? nope. I had my 2nd last June. In September, I had business in London, so my hubby tagged along for 10 days in London, Manchester and Edinburg. and the 3 month old survived. and the 2 year old survived. and I survived. AND I had FUN! Your life, work, family balance will be what it needs to be for you. Don't create artificial barriers or standards of the kind of mom you're "supposed" to be. Be YOU and YOU will be the best mommy for you bambino. If you try to put yourself in some BS box, then you and Nick and bambino will all be stuck in an unhappy box. OK, getting a little cliche'd with MBA bingo boxes, but you get the point :) Do what's right for you. breastfeed, or don't breastfeed, work or don't work, travel, don't travel. who cares what anyone else thinks? you're as stuck as you think you are.

    btw - I travel so much and did when I was pregnant both times - in Vancouver 3 weeks before my last was born - and I swear that travel made my kids great fliers. Airports are their favorite places and they never scream or cry on planes. they just LOVE it. Your's will too. After all, there will be a little bit of you in there!

    hugs,
    Carrie

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  36. Hi Lisa,

    I just wanted to write you a note of encouragement. There are 5 kids in my family, we lived on the east coast until about 12 years ago. My parents decided to move the family to Budapest. We left everything,and my parents started a whole new career. Half way through the year, my mom became pregnant again, we spent a year back in America then returned to Budapest. My family stayed for 10 years. Through being in Budapest my parents have had the opportunity to see the world; Korea, Morocco, Switzerland Istanbul... many of those places with the whole family in tow!

    Having a baby doesn't need to change anything, it can make spontaneity a bit tougher, but think of what an eclectic life you're child will have if he/she comes along on your travels!

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  37. Not being pregnant, I can't imagine exactly what you are feeling, but I do know what it is like to feel stuck, and it is no fun.

    Last minute trips to Paris may be off the table for the next few years, but I don't think that means they are gone to you forever. Your own childhood is proof that amazing adventures can be had with kids! It just might mean that for awhile, you get to be the lady who holds up the airplane line with her stroller. ;-)

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  38. Lynn - I have heard this before, and I am really excited to experience it. It's just impossible to visualize. As for ND, I loved my time in the summer there, because I just loved my grandmother so much. It took a long time - until I was a teenager - to realize that beyond hanging out with my gramma and trips to the community pool and the A&W for root beer floats, and a whole lot of reading, I just had nothing to do in Minot. But I do have really fond memories. Hang in there - winter in ND is so tough.

    Lisa - I absolutely love this list and I always love how candid you always are. I will definitely look back on this post. Maybe I should even print it out and put it on the fridge for bad days.

    *moosie* - I'm glad you're back in the blog world! Hugs to you!

    Italian Bird - Thank you! I hope so!

    Anon - That's not a bad sum. And I don't know what my odds are of the kid having blue eyes...Mine are, but Nick's are brown. But my mom's are brown, and I got my dad's blue ones.

    Mommy Writes - That's really good to bear in mind. And so nice to have someone say, listen, it's OK to change what you want when you get there. I do appreciate it.

    Carrie - This was great to read. Thank you so much for the thoughtful note. I am so glad to hear things are going so well and everything is working so nicely with such an incredible travel schedule (wow, is that a lot of travel!) and two kids. I will try to remember to just be me, and us, and figure out our own path. Hugs to you for this.

    Coffee Breaks - Thank you for the encouragement. I believe that is possible, even though it's hard to picture us working it out right now. But I love all these stories of overseas travels with kids! Gives me hope!

    Ryane - Yah, stuck in whatever way is the worst feeling. As for the woman with the stroller, ahhhh! I'm going to be the woman I always hate! Noooooo!

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  39. Lisa, you WILL travel again. Maybe not real far, real soon, but it will happen. (I speak from experience). For now, keep yourself healthy, take day trips (to the Eastern Shore!) and look forward to the day when you first hold your unbelievably perfect and beautiful baby, that you will love so, so much you cannot even imagine right now. You will be tired, there will be exhausting and yes, boring days, but boy is it worth it. And you are up to the task! I guess now would not be the best time for me to mention that Rob and I just returned from ten days in the islands - ha! Hey - you and Nick could certainly go somewhere in the next couple of months, right? I strongly suggest St. Croix, USVI. Third world enough to remind you of India, but still part of the US (for whatever that is worth!) Why don't you plan a trip NOW before the baby arrives? We planned our trip ONE WEEK before we left . . . there are some great rates to be had! :)

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  40. awwww sugar...
    i get that way i call it "arrrgh im trapped" my "boy friends" call it fear of commitment..whatever.. maybe we should grab a box of (read truck load of) Kleenex and see revolutionary road??
    that said...never fear...i have it on good authority that they still let babies into france.... deep breathes...
    xoxo

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  41. I have absolutely no doubt that I'll feel EXACTLY this way if I'm ever pregnant. Even never having been pregnant, I imagine that I know just how this feels. Because we tend to panic and internally explode in much the same way.

    But Lisa, you're going to be an incredible mom. The solution: take the kid to Europe with you for the weekend. Be a different kind of mom.

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  42. You will feel stuck. It can be very, very frustrating. Your husband will never feel as stuck as you feel. It will feel unfair. But, at least you are mentally preparing for it now!

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