December 20, 2012
December 13, 2012
Granted, he's been battling a tummy bug since Saturday (though he's never been sick enough to take to the doctor), his sleep has been out of whack lately, and his appetite is about as predictable as Wall Street. I'm finally conceding the fact that he's regressed to an itty bitty baby that can't handle more than the most basic of food choices. Why does it get under my skin when he won't eat what I've prepared for him? I need to not take that personally.
Meanwhile, said itty bitty baby was up at 2:30 or so this morning and, after listening to him cough and squawk for an hour DH went in to comfort him. I followed soon after and elevated his mattress on one side to help promote draining. Fed him a bottle since he'd only taken about half an ounce before bed (which he gobbled up hungrily), which sent him happily back to sleep. Sometime before dawn, I dreamed I was very good friends with Brittney Spears.
I need more coffee now.
December 7, 2012
Meanwhile, in infertility clinics all over the developed world, thousands upon thousands of women and men are crying, waiting, testing, and spending tens of thousands of dollars on treatments - absolutely desperate to conceive a baby.
Just what the f*ck is wrong with people?
Reason #367 why I cannot watch the news anymore.
Sigh... end rant. "A person's a person, no matter how small." ~ Horton the Elephant
November 27, 2012
November 16, 2012
The other night, I dreamed that I went down to the beach to join a friend. I noticed that the shore dropped sharply just where the water met the sand. We were talking when I noticed the water level swelling - either the tide was coming in fast or it was a wall of water heading toward us - so I turned to head back, away from the shoreline. It was a hard, uphill climb but I made it to the top of that slope.
But then the landscape in front of me began to undulate just like the waves. It reminded me of an animated movie or Japanese painting, and it was actually beautiful in its own way but I realized I was trapped between the ocean and the land. All I could do was lay down and watch the waves of sea and land move above me as I stared in bewilderment. I didn't drown, though, so I guess that's good.
November 7, 2012
November 2, 2012
October 26, 2012
Inside I am on my knees, screaming, holding my hands to my ears because I can't bear to hear it. I am also filled with hatred for, and ready to fight and defeat, the enemy - the one who seeks to utterly destroy all of God's children through whatever means possible.
What if my son became someone's victim? What if he grew up to be some innocent child's tormentor?
The heavy, inevitable irony of knowing that I ultimately have no control over my son's fate is crushing. Like every parent, I want to shield my son from the evil that surrounds us in this world. It is horrific, undiscriminating, rampant, bloodthirsty, and ever-increasing. The days truly are evil.
Sometimes I want to come unhinged when I hear about another death, knowing this is someone's dear child and so is the perpetrator. I don't quite know how to sort out this reality in my mind and heart. Yet, suffering and sorrow and the gut-wrenching reality of our world is with us every day, and we still choose to have children and infuse them with all of our hopes and dreams for the future as they continue whatever legacies we clothe them with.
I need to seek God's heart and will in this. I'll post again when I've done so.
October 24, 2012
I will admit right up front that modern fashion is an anomaly to me. Why do they insist on destroying the female figure with... God help us... empire waists? The last time I looked good in an empire waist was before I needed to wear a bra. I was about 10. And then I see what some teenage girls choose to wear (crazy tight stuff on top and bottom), and I think I'm better off looking tastefully plain. Then again, I'm bored with my wardrobe and seriously need some color. Suddenly I was on a mission.
I did a lot of googling and found a couple of blogs by women who are close to my age, not really "skinny" themselves (though curvy and beautiful), and have at least one pinky finger on the pulse of the fashion world. I read up. I got myself schooled. And then I went shopping. I decided to try the dreaded skinny jeans.
First up: Kohls. I grabbed several pairs from different brands, since I know better than to think one size or style will fit. I hit the dressing room. And I found one pair in dark teal that didn't look hideous! Plenty of stretch with a just-below-the-belly-button waist that's actually flattering enough that I don't totally need to restrict myself to mid-thigh length tops. Feeling confident, I went to Old Navy a couple days later.
The super skinnys from Old Navy? Horrendous. Ridiculous. Just plain dumb, making all the wrong things look bigger. Oh, that's right - I can just wear big flouncy tops to balance out the abomination in my midsection! But then I tried on the Sweetheart skinnys, which turned out to be a more generous cut somewhere between a skinny and straight leg that doesn't cut off the circulation in my feet, and I think I can do this. I bought a winter white pair (may as well be daring) and a red pair. Ooooh... I can't wait to wear those with a caramel-colored sweater and black boots. I'm so gonna rock this look.
Or at least I hope I can rock this look, because today I'm wearing the winter white skinnys with a lilac flouncy top and I'm thinking it doesn't look horrible. I asked my husband and he gave me a mild thumbs-up (he's got no problem being quite honest with me). There's hope for me yet.
Special thanks to: The Domestic Fringe and Musings of a Housewife.
October 15, 2012
Today I met them at a park with a small lake for a walk - a perfect outing for us, even if it's close to his feeding and nap times, we can adapt - right?
It started out well enough. Six of us women, each with a baby boy under a year. Cool. Then we started walking. Normally, my son is the get-along guy. Today he decided that his stroller is a torture device made exclusively for him by a specific demon in a corner of hell. He wailed. I picked him up and carried him, trying to wipe away the ooze of snot running into his mouth. I put him back down and he was cool. For about 10 minutes. And then the wailing and the carrying and the wiping and the mommy thinking her arms aren't made for hauling a 22-pound baby around the lake resumed. Then, near the end of the walk, I finally figured out he was starving and so I went about feeding him the second we got to the pavilion. After his bottle, I laid him down to change him (before burping him - what the hell was I thinking??)
He laid there nice and calm, and after changing his diaper I noticed spit-up had dripped down his cheek, into his hair, onto the changing mat, and into his ear. Yeah. I was that mom today. Oh, the ladies were cool about it and understanding, but with the exception of one person they all seemed to be talking to themselves.
Oh yeah. And they were all about 15-20 years younger than me, none of whom worked outside the home. Exactly what in the world did I have in common with them besides the under-year-old baby?
Complete unequivocal disaster!!
So what did I do? I went to my mom's house. Thank the Lord she was there and had nothing better to do than hang out with her daughter and entertain her grandson for a while so I could regain my sanity and find my bearings. We had good conversation, I had half a glass of wine and lunch, the boy had a nap and a good lunch (that kid can eat).
I finally got home just before 4:00 and promptly took a quick nap while DH played with the boy. I live to fight another day.
October 12, 2012
I'm convinced that what I really need is a better way to rest within my mind and heart. I can't always just stop what I'm doing and chill out (yoga helps, but it's only once a week). I remembered Jesus' invitation to "take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29 NIV) but I just didn't understand it. I wondered if 'taking up a yoke' was an expression in that day, but an expression for what? A burden? That's what it sounded like to me. I wondered what kind of burden Jesus has, and why it would be so light.
Then one day a friend posted this on her Fa.ceb.ook wall:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." http://bible.us/Matt11.28.MSG
Ohhh.... that's just what I needed to see. "Yoke" doesn't make any sense to me, but "unforced rhythms of grace" definitely does. A little gear in my soul clicked into place.
So now, before bed, I read that passage and consider each part. I am meditating on it. Every time I read it, God reveals something else to me bit by bit, angle by angle. And it occurs to me that all I really want is to be closer to Jesus. His life is the key to mine.
At our small group this week, one of the leaders asked us each to answer the question "What do you love about Jesus?" I immediately had a picture in my mind of an ocean with turbulent waves, dark clouds, swirling winds.. and in the middle of this a small island: no waves crashing on it, no rain falling on it, no clouds covering it, just perfect sand and stillness. Since I was near the end of the circle I had a few minutes to consider putting it into words. I said what I love about Jesus is that he is always an island of calm and peace, no matter what storms are going on in my life. I am finding rest for my soul, even if I constantly have to keep swimming back there.
October 8, 2012
Morning was rough. The boy woke up shortly after 5 and we laid in bed waiting for him to go back to sleep (which he usually does). Finally at 6 something it was time to call it a day so we made coffee, and he was way too crabby/hungry to wait for that 7 a.m. feeding so I fed him at 6:30. Naptime was at 8 as we slogged more coffee, trying to decide on an agenda for the day. We thought of some errands to run and packed up. In a fit of desperation at our perpetually dirty home, we also did a bit of housecleaning. Not too much though - this is family day, remember? LOL
That sounds easy. It's not. It's pretty damn exhausting, getting ready to get out of the house with a baby. Formula? Dispenser? Bottles? Blanket? Towels? Diapers? Extra toy? Jackets? You need to have your shit together if you're going to be gone for more than an hour or so - a lesson every parent learns the hard way at least once.
So we ran some errands, chilled out at my mom's to feed him (which is really nice to be able to do now that's she's retired, not to mention giving her a little extra baby time), then headed to a park to give him his noon nap while we walked around a lake. That was a good walk - just not long enough for his whole nap. Then again, I don't think I could have walked for two hours. One was acceptable. Acceptable enough, in fact, that I was lucky enough to get this pic from the boy:
Stopped at Ta.rget (my second home now that I have a baby) for formula etc., then came home and fed the boy again. Sat on the couch with a beer, the three of us, and just watched him play with his bottle lid. Played peekaboo with one of his little towels. Before I knew it another half hour had passed.
Sometimes I get nervous, wondering what we'll do between the afternoon nap and his bedtime. The good thing is, he's ridiculously easy to entertain (and is fairly good at entertaining himself) and my worry is for naught.
Oh - now it's almost 5 and we'll give him some solids. Nighttime bottle is about 6:15, bedtime by 7, happy hour at 7:01. Yup. That's about the size of it.
October 5, 2012
At first, sleeping was easy. Not because I slept a lot after the boy was born, but because I became a master at sleeping whenever I had the opportunity. Not so anymore - he's been sleeping through the night for months, while my own sleeping habits have gone from "light" to "abysmal." Most nights I'm able to fall asleep, but I wake up 4-6 times a night (yeah, not very restful). Occasionally I will lay awake for hours with some stupid song in my head while my brain refuses to settle down. God has given me supernatural strength to perform well at work and do good parenting regardless of how little sleep I've had, and for that I am really grateful.
I know the bedtime routines to follow. I've been drinking warm milk just before bedtime for a while. But it just. Keeps. Getting. Worse. So I went to complain to a doctor, who gave me a prescription of something very mild. I took half a pill last night. I slept reasonably well until the boy woke us up about 5:20. He went back to sleep right away. I did not. Sigh...
Maybe it's the gunshot race-pace of daily life, the ever-present knowledge that No Housework Is Ever Done, making sure the boy is well-fed and well-rested, efforts to maintain relationships with my husband and the world at large, trying to stay productive at work, going through Weight Watchers (down 12 lbs so far), squeezing in at least a couple of workouts a week, shopping for and cooking food, trying to round up the papers so we can close on a mortgage re-fi, checking Fac.ebook - you know, the usual.
Insomnia with a child that sleeps 10-12 hours a night is so completely unfair. I'm trying to pray into this more and let God show me why this is happening. I'm going to a lifestyle coaching session in a few weeks to see what they say about it. Otherwise, I'm kind of stumped. I can't really be less busy - the boy's needs will only increase as he gets older. One thing we definitely need to do is hire a cleaning service. Then at least I wouldn't have that albatross hanging on my shoulders every day. Now if only I can remember to find one and hire them!
I asked the doc when I might find that rhythm again - a new equilibrium. He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
September 28, 2012
Shortly after the boy was born, we started fantasizing about him sleeping through the night. Wanna know a secret right off the bat? Sleeping "through the night" is qualified as a meager five hours. So here we were, pining for the day when we could get some real rest and I could stop feeling like a frequent-fueling gas station. So I did what I normally do when I set a goal: I read books. I picked a handful, each with its own philosophy and steps to take to ensure that magical sleepy baby wonderland. (oh yes, it's true that newborns sleep about 16 hours a day - just not all at once.) I quickly learned that sleep is absolutely critical to the health of a child, let alone an adult, and inadequate or poor quality sleep leads to cognitive development issues and a host of other things that I'd just as soon avoid if at all possible. Like every parent, I want to give my son the best chance at being the best person he can be and he probably won't be his best if he doesn't get enough sleep and I know how much I absolutely hate it when I lose sleep so of course it must be The Most Important Thing In The World to him. Gee. Sounds just slightly uh... dramatic... now that I write it down. Ha!
Anyway, one book was downright lackadaisical about it - let them sleep when they sleep and whatever you do, don't wake a sleeping baby - while another was regimented and strict with a down-to-the-minute schedule to guide me through the day (there's always that inevitable "now what do I do with him?" moment - even now when he's seven months old). The latter was *highly* recommended by my SIL. After deciding that Guidance was what we truly needed, we followed what we called "the nazi book" nearly to the letter. Day One sucked. So did Day 3 and 5... but at some point after a few weeks, it actually started to work. At about 3.5 months of age, this little angel started sleeping about 12 hours a night. Yes, we were turning mental cartwheels. We also recognize that every baby is different, and some babies just sleep through the night sooner than others. There's my disclaimer. There are parents/friends who are not so fond of us because of this early success, so we don't mention it too much.
And so, I have become a clock-watching, schedule-timing, generally well-slept mama. And when that schedule gets out of whack, watch out. Not so much because of me, but because of the boy. He's supposed to sleep 30-45 minutes around 9:00 a.m., then about 2 hours around noon. And actually, that hasn't been too hard to accomplish at home especially in the morning. We've learned to work our weekend lives around his nap schedule, and believe me it pays off. Perfection isn't possible, so we strive for general consistency. And we're not above going for a loooong drive to facilitate the almighty nap.
Daycare is another story. I can't remember the last time he slept 2 hours at noon - it's usually 30-45 minutes. This is probably because he's such a social baby that he just doesn't want to miss anything or anyone (because he's still generally very happy and good-natured despite this). So, every day we pick him up from daycare and every day he passes out within a minute of strapping him into the car seat and would gladly sleep the rest of the evening except that we have a Schedule To Keep, dang it, and we are going to keep it so he doesn't wake up in the middle of the night! LOL
Sigh... okay, reality check. I cannot control every part of his little baby life, and that will become more true every year. I'm really trying to go with the flow and help him get the sleep he needs as best I can. But this is starting to get under my skin. I'm hoping that when he moves into the next age group in a couple of weeks, this will sort of resolve itself since they have slightly more coordinated nap and feeding times.
In the meantime, I must remember to respect the nap when I can and recognize that it just doesn't always work out that way. I guess the boy will survive, eh?
Maybe this is one of the reasons I am now afflicted with insomnia and frequent wakings myself. Hmmm...
September 26, 2012
It does make me wonder. If the average woman in a developed country (such as the U.S. or Great Britain) ages chronologically a bit faster than she does biologically, it makes sense that fertility is the first thing to take a hit - the canary in the coal mine, if you will.
Obviously, I don't think it's that simple. Every body is different and there are many, many reasons why someone would suffer infertility. In my case, the specialist told me I had an "egg quality issue" two years ago. And while ultimately I believe God chose to heal my body and heart, I certainly did pursue health as a means of improving my chances of conceiving successfully (I was a Weight Watchers lifetime member before I got pregnant, and am back on the program now). That was a pretty short time frame, though, and not likely long enough to really turn things around if, in fact, that was the problem (and I have reason to believe that wasn't the whole picture).
The question I ask myself now is, How old am I really? Am I too old for anything? I once thought 42 was horrifically old to be giving birth. Now I kind of laugh at that idea and wonder what the future holds. I sincerely hope to be healthy enough to live long enough to see my own grandchildren.
September 25, 2012
so far it's a good read, and fairly entertaining. i'm only in the second chapter and already tried one of his suggestions: whole-milk greek yogurt blended with whatever fruit i have around. in this case, it was canned pineapple which i roughly pureed with the ol' stick blender (a device that i can't imagine how i ever lived without). my sweet little baby loooooves it! plus, yesterday i put a bit of cinnamon in his oatmeal. again, loves it.
tonight i will finely mince leftovers from yesterday's dinner: slow-cooker cuban-style pork and sweet potatoes. it's got a little spice from green chilies and cumin, and i'm okay with that. if i can avoid giving him super-bland food, i will. food is one of life's greatest pleasures, and i sincerely believe that the more adventurous we are with it, the more enjoyable it is. so why not start now?
at first, the idea of feeding him real food in addition to the bottle was pretty intimidating only because it's another thing to add to our warp-speed daily lives. like my former boss told me about raising kids, the minute you get used to something it changes. so we're changing to bottle + real food.
now if i can only get around to remembering to start brushing his (2) little teeth twice a day.
September 21, 2012
September 18, 2012
then it was my own blossoming of becoming a serious (if poorly funded) foodie, relishing every opportunity to try new foods in interesting combinations.next it was getting a book called Baby Led Weaning, one that eschews pureed food in favor of finger-sized portions of anything baby wants to play with and, at some point, eat.sigh. i know, i have plenty of things to worry about. but the forming of my baby boy's eating habits is pretty darned important and it really does start this early. the problem i want to solve, or rather avoid, is the typical american picky eater: can't stand to try anything new, only wants to eat something if it's mass-produced in the form of a "nugget" and is well on his way to a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits that manifest in either a spreading waistline or diabetes (both of which have been plentiful in my family). only problem with the book above is that i think my son needs the nourishment of solids sooner than he will master his pincer grip. and so, i'm looking for inspiration. my dh's brother and his wife only pureed whatever they were eating for their little girl. seems simple enough. the grocer is packed with aisles of spoon-feeding convenience. hmm, not sure how i feel about that. now i'm seeing books about how the french have everything figured out, and there's another one from a food critic about how he got his daughter to be just as adventurous. okay, this week i'll blend what i made for dinner yesterday: chili mac. hey, it's nutritionally balanced and packed with protein and only slightly spicy. it's worth a shot. oh fine, i'll try some green beans too.but i'm still going to give him long strips of whatever's handy that he won't choke on: banana, peach, celery (which he loves gnawing on). maybe a blend is the best tactic, as this critter's already big enough to be twice his age (97th percentile in length and weight). this is going to be fun!... right?
i look in the mirror and i don't see that. i've seen other women my age - some look like me, some look much older, some look like they think they're much younger. or maybe i'm one of the latter haha!
but i guess it's true. i'm at that point when some people make radical changes in their lives. i've just made a radical change by becoming a parent for the first time. not so much by choice as by circumstance. do i wish things could have been different? ... in a way, yes. there are plenty of advantages to starting a family as a younger woman (physical stamina, youth in general). but, not only are there some specific advantages to becoming a parent now (self-confidence, inner strength, earning power, life wisdom), but if i spent much time regretting my current circumstances i would be shortchanging the incredible gifts that God has given me. what are those?
- freedom from fear
- physical healing
- emotional healing
- deep understanding and closeness with Jesus
apart from what i've been through in the last two years (read more on that), i don't think i would have received these things. certainly not so dramatically anyway.
but why, i sometimes wonder, did God let me go through all this? i don't think too long about that, actually. i know from the Bible that sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives specifically so He can work a miracle through us. i'm referring to John 9 where Jesus tells his disciples that a man who was born blind that "this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (NIV). besides, if i posit why God allowed me to go through two miscarriages and a severe depression i'm doing more than guessing His will - i'm imposing it in a way. the fact is, i cannot judge God because it's impossible for me to know His full will for my life. that, i suppose, is what i will learn in eternity when He can display my life before me and tell me the full spectrum of how he used me to help others or show His glory. that, dear reader, is the only reason that matters.
anyway.. so what am i in the middle of? life? i don't know. i could die tomorrow for all i know, though it would be great to watch my son grow up here. i'm in the middle of a lot more than the average lifespan of a woman in a developed country - i'm in the middle of God's story. so i'll look around and see what i can be involved in, be the best mom i can be, work to my full potential, and seek God's will in all of it.
otherwise this middle-aged stuff is crap.
September 12, 2012
September 11, 2012
In a key exchange between the two, the scientist tells Picard that "time is the fire in which we burn." Meanwhile, Picard suffers the loss of what would have been the continuation of his family line through his nephew. In realizing this, he weeps for the possibilities of seeing the family name continue since he had sacrificed family in favor of a career and never got around, it seems, to starting a family of his own for whatever reason. In a turn of events, Picard is caught up in the nebula and is instantly transported to his unrealized dream: a family home with his wife and four children at Christmas.
Oddly enough, and yet not so, that movie was pretty influential. It really illustrated the loss of what could have been and helped to force us to deal with our fear of having children (not having any idea that when we finally tried we'd have other issues to deal with).
One random memory I have from my late 20s is from a sci-fi convention. I was sitting in the audience watching movie preview reels. I looked at the row in front of me and noticed a double stroller with twin baby boys who had the most amazing bright, blue eyes and beautiful smiles. Something shifted in me and I burst out crying later that day when no one was around. I tried so hard to ignore my maternal instincts that apart from experiences like this, I actually convinced myself that I didn't want children.
Or how about this: In the animated movie Up... well it's recent enough that I probably don't need to describe the heartache that the characters experience - and invoke - in the first 20 minutes. That's a movie that we refused to watch once we were diagnosed with infertility. Now we watch it through eyes of wisdom and compassion.
Another influence would be the child-free couples we've known over the years. I couldn't help but look at their lives and wonder if their reality would someday be ours, even as I struggled with my own issues. Yet another would be looking at the lives of couples with several children and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted on their behalf while feeling relief at our comparatively simple lives.
So what's the point of this post? I'm not sure. I guess it's first to illustrate how movies, media, and relationships can and do influence us on our journey toward parenthood. The second is to express a desire to be an influence.
If I had the opportunity to be an influence on someone else who was considering parenthood (apart from any infertility struggles) and was near or over 30 and in a committed relationship, I hope that our example of delaying things almost to the point of no return causes someone to address it sooner rather than later. I kind of wish someone had let me know the truth of how most women's ovaries age. Knowing that fertility starts to decline rapidly in our late 30's might have gotten me to quit procrastinating. Maybe not.
If I could influence someone who suffers with a diagnosis, I hope my life illustrates the hope of Jesus. That there can be joy within circumstances, that one answer may not be the final answer, and that regardless of what happens God does have a plan that moves us beyond what we experience.
As it is, I can honestly say that my son is a big influence on me now. Sometimes I think about the fact that I almost missed this. I can't believe that I put this off for so long - I was really punishing myself for imagined difficulties, thinking I was better off for some reason. Don't worry, I stop short of actually feeling guilty.
These days I'm also influenced by other couples who have chosen to embrace adoption - especially foster adoption. They are absolute heroes in my eyes.
May 11, 2012
Here is another thought about Mother's Day: I can celebrate the fact that I have several children waiting for me in Heaven, as I believe God is taking care of them and they are all wonderfully happy in eternity. How they got there doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they are.
And another thought: I am truly grateful for my own mother, for our strong relationship and now for the chance to share motherhood with her as I begin this new chapter of my life. I am also grateful for all of the mothers that have shared their wisdom with me: my stepmom, my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my aunt, and my women friends. The act of mothering is not limited by blood or family status, and we women should be mindful of this very important fact as we impact the lives of those around us. As a wise person once told me, "whatever you do, be a mother to someone."
I don't know what your situation is, gentle reader. You may be on any number of trails in the mothering journey or you may have decided that your journey has ended for any number of reasons. My prayer for you is that, if you do not have children, you find a way to mother someone and build those relationships as you are given the opportunity. Who cares if there isn't a Hallmark card with your name on it? The greatest gift we can give each other in this life is love – indeed we are commanded to do so.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
And who doesn't need a mother's love?
April 15, 2012
My feelings are mixed like oil and water in a blender that never stops spinning.
Many years ago, I considered myself some sort of quasi-feminist who really believed that a woman should work while raising a family (never mind the fact that feminism was originally all about choice). I didn't hold a high opinion of stay-at-home moms, and felt sorry for the ones that tried to re-enter the workplace after a baby hiatus. If I'm really being honest, I'll admit to a bit of prideful contempt. I know, shame on me. I've become much more even-minded and compassionate in recent years and do appreciate the contribution women make as the center of family life. I have not, however, understood the sacrifice.
Now, seven small but life-changing weeks into motherhood, I have worked my ass off from power-sleeping to reading and implementing every baby-rearing book I could get my hands on between feedings and changings and floor gym sessions and soothings. It's a whole different level of exhaustion. And you know what? I wouldn't change that for anything. Anything. In fact, for the only time in my life, I wish very much that I could stay home with my son for at least the next year and a half. If not much, much longer.
Okay, it won't be that bad, I tell myself. I'm going back four days a week for as long as possible. And I will be working from home one day a week (still need a sitter, but it's less hectic and I still get to spend more time with the baby). I think I'm afraid that I will have a mental meltdown next week. I'm afraid that the professional veneer will melt away from tears of frustration and agony as I purposely separate myself from my son so I can make money and keep our very good insurance intact while saving money to move to a house some day. None of these are lofty goals or selfish ambition.
Of course, I have yet to take a look at the budget to see what we really need to live on, but I already know the answer is the same. This isn't the time to stop working, simply because of where our careers are and the benefits that are now too damned expensive to lose or replace on our own. Not to mention the fact that I have a great job in a time when such a thing is almost a luxury in an atmosphere of high unemployment and shrinking bottom lines.
In the meantime, I have attended play dates, visited friends with kids, gotten out of the condo with my son every single day even if it's just to the grocery store, and tried to squeeze as much as I can from my baby sabbatical. I wish now that I'd taken 12 weeks off instead of just 8, but that last month would have been unpaid and would be perhaps too big a sacrifice right now.
So I'll join the ranks of working moms whom I suspect know deep in their hearts that Having it All means not having the opportunity to fully embrace either one. And that breaks my heart.
March 4, 2012
At 3:55 Saturday morning my water broke, and so began the journey down the tunnel called the birthing process. I'd planned to keep my medication options open and alerted our doula as we drove to the hospital. Some hours later, my dilation had still not progressed so they gave me two doses of a medication to help this process - a medication that also had the effect of intensifying my contractions and bringing them closer together. My doula arrived just as I was having the epidural administered - I knew I was not going to cope well enough to endure this without it, but it didn't bother me because it was my choice. In fact, it wasn't the horrifying experience I'd built it up to be in my mind. It was kind of a non-event. So, even though it meant losing mobility and having a catheter, I conceded. No regrets.
The doula was still very useful and a great aide to us though. We talked about our mutual experiences with miscarriage, she massaged my feet quite a bit (which sped up labor, actually), and she was a great source of calm and inspiration during an uncertain time. My mother and good friend also hung out in the room until it was time to push, and even though I wondered how I'd feel about having people in the room it was a welcome, warming distraction to be surrounded by their love and support.
I'll spare you the details of the rest, except to say that the epidural never quite took effect in one area of me so it was by no means a painless experience. In the last couple hours, I pushed with each contraction and didn't have the energy to open my eyes in between them - in fact, I'd let myself doze off in between them to conserve my strength - so when the final moment came I was able to muster the strength to finish. I did insist on drugs right after, as the epi had been disconnected and I got some stitches to repair five tears (yeah. ouch.).
All things considered, it was a perfectly normal birthing event with no complications.
Now, here I am a week later lost in a haze of round-the-clock feeding, burping, changing, adoring, praying, praising God, posting photos on Fac.ebo.ok, crying, and crying again because I cannot believe the unfathomable depth of this blessing that God has given my husband and me. It really is one of those things that everyone says is wonderful but no one can really articulate. I'm grateful and terrified, confident and conservative, wanting to learn and wanting to just rest. But all I can really do is live in the moment whether that means wanting to rip my eyes out of my head from lack of sleep or gush love and gratitude as I take another pic of him being completely wonderful and beautiful, and beyond anything I've ever known.
Oh yeah, I'm hooked. Smitten. In love. My heart no longer belongs to me. Pardon me while I go cry some more and hold my son.
February 16, 2012
I have to admit I'm kind of disappointed, but it did spur me to go for a 20 minute walk after work today. Meanwhile, I sleep like crap. I pee every half hour (baby's head is nice and low). I'd walk more if it didn't make my lower back feel like I was pushing an anvil.
Oh yeah - I've entered the bitchy stage. Bwa-haha....
I know I'm being a bit impatient since I'm not at the arbitrary magical due date yet - it's just more challenging since I'm uncomfortable and exhausted and whatnot. Besides - technically the kiddo is still "on time" if he comes anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after that due date. Not that I wanna go another three weeks like this, but it is rather reassuring.
I try to give this to God daily and submit to His perfect timing.
In the meantime, I try to find the humor in all of this. Probably my most hilarious recent moment was trying to cut my own toenails. I know, I know. I should just get a blasted pedicure since my feet look like they're retaining helium while shedding the latest layer of alligator scales (sexy!). Since my sinuses like to swell overnight, I snore about as loud as a freight train carrying a bunch of snarling bears crashing through a tunnel. Those are the highlights.
I shouldn't be impatient. I should be one of those women who loves being pregnant because she's just so damn grateful to be pregnant in the first place. But I'm... just not. I do, however, love feeling my son warble around. I love singing to him and saying "good morning" and watching in amazement as he moves like a fish in a bowl toward my husband's hand whenever he touches my belly. Truth is, I'm already in love and I cry whenever I think about the nurses putting him on my skin right after birth, cord and all, unwashed and pure.
In other words, it's a mixed bag. A bag of fresh fruit that doesn't even have a name flown straight from Eden, putrid rotten fish from the bottom of a swamp, gourmet chocolates filled with raspberry cream by reincarnated Mayan priests, and water. Buckets of water. Because that's what I'm required to do - drink oceans of water.
January 28, 2012
I decided to do some research, as I suspected that there was more to this curse than a painful childbirth. It just felt a little too simple. I mean, why is childbirth painful in the first place? Well, every contraction is the muscles moving the baby down through the birth canal – it's a top-to-bottom squeeze, if you will. So every contraction is one step closer to the birth. They're progressive.
Ironically, when women react fearfully toward - or tense up against - the pain & pressure, it can make the process take longer and can lead to interventions. In a normal situation, the key is to embrace it and not fight it so that the body can do what it was built to do. Epidurals can make that process easier by relaxing mom's muscles (and if they're used very early can also extend labor time), but so can various relaxation and focusing techniques.
Okay, enough background.
After the fall of Adam and Eve, God tells them what live is going to be like from that point on. What I find interesting about what he tells Eve is the difference between the KJV and NIV versions. The KJV says "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…" That sounds different from the term "pain" that NIV uses. Obviously, a closer study of the original Hebrew version is in order.
The interesting thing about Hebrew text is that it is layered. Each character often has more than one meaning, and in context can mean different things. This is very much unlike English which – except for all our duplicate words that can mean totally different things depending on pronunciation – are generally single-purpose and not multi-faceted.
All this is to say that I found a fascinating biblical study about just this subject which I found very revealing. In a two-part series, Jack Ke.lley of gracet.hru.faith asks and presents plausible answers to some key questions about this:
- Why would God command Adam and Eve to populate the world and then make childbirth so painful? Is that really His intention?
- Do the terms "increase" (NIV) and "multiply" (KJV) necessarily mean the same thing?
- What does the verse really mean and to whom does it apply?
What I like about Jack's study is his honest search for the truth. But now I'm at a stopping point, as his is the only one I've found so far. I'm not one to stop with one study and declare "ah-hah! I knew it!" My search is incomplete. But I'm fairly convinced that the NIV translation isn't providing the whole picture.
Anyone know of any resources that actually pay attention to this scripture? If so, please share!
January 20, 2012
Around 10 this morning I actually had lower back pain - something I have not experienced at all during this pregnancy - which only lasted about a minute. I thought it was a bit odd.
Around 3:30 this afternoon, I got a nice solid dose of cramping during which I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. It passed within 30 seconds.
Shades of things to come. I am drinking my raspberry leaf tea every day now, as this is supposed to help tone the uterine muscles (and thus make them more effective for baby's birth day).
Still haven't booked a doula, but am leaning toward hiring one direct from the hospital. If they get back to me on time...
January 8, 2012
I should stop here and say that Louie has been an amazing dog. He doesn't chew on things, doesn't bark at people, isn't aggressive, and just wants love most of the time (when he isn't sleeping 16 hours a day). He doesn't do a lot of normal dog things either, like fetch or sit (looks incredibly uncomfortable). We adopted him from a local greyhound organization and really loved him.
With a string of recent stomach upsets plus an infection, I started to realize quickly my own capacity for taking care of this senior hound coupled with the impending responsibility of a newborn. If I felt overwhelmed and exhausted now... Well, we wondered if it was fair to the dog to keep him on when we'd be learning how to be parents and cleaning up a different set of bodily fluids on a daily basis.
Very early Christmas morning, we woke up to an absolute disaster in our master closet. We sprang into action with the washing machine and carpet shampooer - even had to clean some extra clothes and a dresser - and we knew what we had to do.
Yesterday we drove Louie and all his accouterments to a foster that specializes in taking care of senior greyhounds, lives in a big house that backs up to a nature trail, and has three other dogs to keep him company. We knew we were making the right decision. He'll be much happier there, and won't get ignored by owners who are learning how to take care of a baby.
This morning was hard, though. I woke up thinking about how I didn't have to take the dog out, how for the first time in years we could just sleep in and not worry about cleaning up the latest illness... and cried. Eight years is a long time - almost as long as our marriage so far - and it was the end of an era.
We're in transition from being fur-kid parents to skin-kid parents. In a way, caring for Louie has prepared us (I can't even count how many batches of poo and barf we've cleaned off the carpet and the dog), yet of course we're nowhere near prepared. But we are definitely ready. Even at this moment, our son is shifting around in my belly and I'm incredibly excited. I never thought I'd have to let go of something really significant in order to take hold of this, but I do. I really do.
Oh, someday we'll probably get another dog. But it will be a few years, and not unless we live in a bigger place with a backyard. We'd have moved by now if it weren't for the real estate market crash, and we have many thousands of dollars to save before we can sell the condo and put a downpayment on a house. So there it is. We're stuck here for now, but like many other people we're doing the best we can with what we have.