October 31, 2009

October 30, 2009

This week has sucked big green ones.

TGIF, seriously.

Charlie has been under the weather for most of the week. Not even the vibrator (which has now been replaced by the vibrating component from Charlie's old swing) has kept him asleep for long at night.

And Roy and I haven't been feeling so great, either, but we're thinking it's mostly sleep deprivation making us feel like we've been run over by Mack trucks repeatedly.

I'm looking forward to Halloween and some rest this weekend. I'm still not sure what Halloween has in store for us, as it really depends on how Charlie's feeling. I did take him out today, and he did fine, so we're thinking all will be good for tomorrow.

Since it's the end of yet another month, I thought I'd go over on how I did with October's goals. Out of the five, I accomplished three. I found a mom's group in my area (and even attended a get-together), we took Charlie to the pumpkin patch, and I did edit a ton of photos (although I still have more to do).

I was unable to finalize my annotated bibliography and thesis proposal because I have yet to hear back from my second reader on my thesis committee. I submitted my work to her back on October 6, so I'm definitely in the WTF stage - especially since I have made the attempt to follow up with her several times. I have one more chance to submit my proposal this quarter. Otherwise it'll have to be submitted next quarter, which I was hoping to avoid. Oh well. I've done what I can.

I also was unable to attend an ICAN meeting, but that's because no one from my local chapter has contacted me yet. I did, however, get invited to another nearby area's meeting, and so I may just start attending those meetings.

All in all, I'm proud of all I did accomplish in October, and so I've decided to set some more goals for November (and roll over my two from October).

1) Finalize annotated bibliography and thesis proposal.
2) Attend an ICAN meeting.
3) Do not eat any candy for the entire month. (In other words, quit eating candy cold turkey. I am so bingeing tomorrow.)
4) Get new life insurance policies for both Roy and me.
5) Blog every day.
6) Try not to get sucked into Facebook (and FarmVille) too much. (I rejoined Facebook and am completely addicted.)

So that's that. Have a happy Halloween, everyone. Stay safe.

October 27, 2009

Charlie the Fat and Sassy, Sleep-Fighting, Snotty Nose Champion!

(This is long, but it's worth it. In my opinion, of course. But since I wrote it, of course I think it's worth reading. But read it anyway. Because it's good.)

Last night as I crawled into bed beside Roy, I felt tears falling down my face. This is the curse of motherhood, apparently - I tend to tear up quite often.

Why was I crying? Because motherhood rips my heart to shreds. I love it so much, and I love being needed by Charlie. I don't think I realized how much I love being needed until I had him.

Thus one of my new biggest fears is that someday Charlie won't need me anymore. And that's why I was crying.

So, Charlie must have heard my tears. Because he spent the whole night needing me (and Roy). He woke up at 10:30 and didn't fall back to sleep until 3 AM. He'd fall asleep relatively easily when one of us was holding him but would pop right back awake once we put him down. All our normal tricks didn't work.

So I found myself taking him for a car ride at 1 AM. It put him right to sleep. Came back and snapped his car seat to the stroller and BAM! Awake. Roy and I immediately took him out for a walk. At 2 AM. That didn't really work. He finally fell asleep after he ate around 2:30. He woke up several times around 5 AM, and after that, I don't know because Roy, AKA Angel of Mercy, handled things until he woke me up at 7:30.

My theory? The dreaded four month wakeful. Charlie wasn't crying or upset. He was just awake. Apparently the world is really, really interesting right now. I think he's been in this stage for awhile, though. Hopefully last night was the peak of it.

To complicate matters, this morning was Charlie's four month (or so) well check-up visit. It went really well. Charlie's weight remains off the charts (21 lbs 3 oz), and his height and head circumference are catching up (both in the 90th percentile). We asked the doctor a number of questions about random things and then Charlie got three vaccinations. (He was supposed to have four, but we asked if we could just do three.)

This morning was also when we noticed that Charlie was having a harder time than normal with breathing. (I have taken him to the doctor for congestion before, but the doctor told me that because Charlie has such a tiny nose, which he inherited from his mama, it's going to be easier for him to get stuffed up.) With the Santa Ana winds in full effect, Charlie turned into a snotty nose today.

So basically, if you take a baby who is operating on hardly any sleep, give him three shots and some saline drops to unclog his tiny little button nose, the day isn't going to be pleasant. I took Charlie on a long drive after his doctor's appointment to get him a nap and then I took him grocery shopping. Charlie's Uncle Paul, another Angel of Mercy, came over in the afternoon and spent some time with Charlie, while I took a much-needed nap. Soon after Roy got home from work, we started the looooooooooooooooong process to get Charlie to sleep.

We had decided that Charlie needed to sleep in his bouncy chair so that he wouldn't be flat on his back. Unfortunately, he would only stay asleep in the bouncy chair if one of us stood there and gently shook the top of it (near his head). I decided to hit the drug store and buy anything that could help alleviate the situation. I came home with another humidifier (we've been borrowing one and have been using it every night), some Vick's VapoRub for babies, some Chex Mix, and some instant coffee. Roy got the new humidifier up and running while I slathered Charlie's back and chest with the Vick's. But he still wouldn't stay asleep unless the top of his chair was shaking.

Roy mentioned the swing we have in the garage, the one that's a giant piece o' crap and that we almost sent to the junk yard to die. It has a separate vibrating component. That gave me the idea to go look for something else. And then I found it, and we put a new battery in it, wrapped it in a washcloth, and taped it to the top of Charlie's chair. He's been dead asleep ever since.

So that something else? It really is what you're thinking it is. That is, if you're thinking it's a vibrator.

So, there you go. My fat and sassy, sleep-fighting, snotty nose baby is sleeping in a bouncy chair with his mom's old vibrator taped to it. I knew all that time I spent watching Sex and the City would come in handy.

This is one for the baby book, truly.

October 26, 2009

Do I Dare?

Ugh. I am seriously considering participating in NaBloPoMo next month. I tried it last year but threw in the towel early on when I ended up in the ER one night and couldn't write my post for that day. (I can't believe that ER visit was almost a year ago! Wow!) But I did it up right in 2007, though.

So what do you think? Me, writing a post a day for the entire month of November? Would you actually tune in to read my drivel for 30 straight days? Do I have what it takes to post for 30 straight days? I'm already exhausted. Life is beating the crap out of me.

Eh, why not get beat up some more?

October 25, 2009

This Weekend

-Charlie spit up his entire bottle down my shirt after I was all dressed and ready to go out on Friday night.

-I ate in an entirely vegan restaurant.

-I went to see RENT! with my homies, and it was ohhhhhhhhh-mazing. On the way over, we reminisced about our weddings, and on the way back, I got to play DJ and we rocked all the way home.

-I left my wallet in Angelina's car, and she so kindly returned it to me, along with her copy of movie version of RENT for me to borrow. Now that's service!

-I went to a meet-up for a mom's group I joined at the beginning of the month. And it was there that I realized that Charlie was the perfect buffer for what could have been a very awkward first encounter with about ten women I'd never met before. And it was also there that Charlie sat up unassisted for the first time. Not for long, and not very steadily, but he did it. (No photos, because I was a little busy making sure he didn't fall.)

-We went to the mall as a family, and it was horrific. I even had an epiphany of sorts, which I may even write about.

-I cleared out my inbox from 2100 emails (no lie) to approximately 300. I realized that I subscribe to way too many daily emails from various sites, and so I spent a good portion of Saturday night unsubscribing.

-I slept in both Saturday and Sunday, thanks to Roy, who always takes baby duty in the morning so I can get some extra Z's and he can get some extra Charlie time.

-I ended my cheap shampoo experiment and went back to using my uber-expensive shampoo, and my hair feels ohhhhhhh-mazing. I still need a makeover, though.

-We went to Lowe's to get some material to fix Charlie's closet rod, which was ruined when Kerwin climbed on top of it one day. See?

-I watched a couple of episodes from the first season of Ugly Betty while Roy cleaned the bathroom. Yes, my husband is a rockstar.

-We went to family dinner and then brought Charlie home, where he fussed and fussed until we put him to bed. And he's there now, mostly sleeping but still fussing off and on.

-I paid a bill, went through a big stack of mail, and am about to take care of some other random things before heading off to bed.

The Amazing Ducklesman and His Cute Top Gum Take the World by Storm!

One of Charlie's best features (in my opinion) is his very prominent top gum. You can see it perfectly from certain angles, and I never fail to say, "Look! There's his gum!" My sister-in-law Mandy and I even have a joke that Charlie someday is going to be a star in a movie called (you guessed it) Top Gum.

So, anyway. About the gum. I adore it. I love it so much that I "made up" a song about it and sing it to Charlie a million times a day. Once I got his reaction to it on video. And the video happens to showcase Charlie's top gum quite nicely.

(Note: Charlie's newest nickname is Duckles. We've always called him Chuckles, but within the last month or so I started calling him Chuckle Duckles, which soon got shortened to Duckles. Hence, the Ducklesman song in the video.)

October 23, 2009

Friday Cuteness!

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm all dressed up (in Leslie terms), ready to go with two homies to see RENT!, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm wearing a postpartum girdle of sorts under my clothes. It does a lot for smoothing out the ol' muffin top.

So earlier I was in the kitchen washing dishes (more on that later), and I saw Charlie enjoying the wonders of discovering his feet. He actually started sort of playing with them last night but has been doing it a lot today. Of course, Mao had to get in on the action. I caught it all on video, because that is just how technologically advanced I am.

(If you're wondering why Charlie's chin is so very shiny, it's because it's covered in drool!)

About the dishes. Our dishwasher hates us and is leaving lots of soap residue on our dishes. Unfortunately, it is so tough to get it off once it's there. I've tried a multitude of things: different soap, soaking the dishes in almost boiling water (without soap), running some vinegar and Charlie's Soap in the dishwasher (separate cycles, of course). Got any ideas?

Have a great weekend, everyone! I'm not sure if I'll get around to blogging this weekend, but either way, I'll see you next week.

(Oh, and PS - What are you doing this weekend?)

October 22, 2009

Stars and Favorites

My first six months using blogger found me bookmarking quite a few blogs. I sorted them under my favorites tab on my piece o' crap HP and checked in on each blog every day. Then I heard about Google Reader, and it seriously changed my life. No longer did I have to go to each blog - instead, their RSS feeds came straight to me! Genius, I tell you.

With my use of Google Reader, the amount of blogs I was reading exploded. Before I knew it, I was so overwhelmed with RSS feeds that I had to sort them into folders. I was still able to read them all, though. And as I read, I was starring all the posts I liked. I'm a person that likes a lot of things, so if you click on my starred items folder, then you probably won't be surprised to see at least a thousand posts that I like or that contain some element (like a link) that I want to reference again.

But seriously, if you asked me to list some of the things I've starred (without referencing the starred items themselves), at this moment I can only tell you two. One is the very first blog post I ever starred. The second is a recipe for granola. (I actually made that granola last week, and let me tell you - it was tasty!) I am insane with the hoarding of cool blog posts. It's a sickness, I tell you.

Anyway, being the completely obsessive headcase that I am, I quickly found myself with too many RSS feeds in my reader. (A lot of this is due to discovering flickr - did you know that you can subscribe to photostreams? And that there are so many talented photographers on flickr that it makes my head spin? Which is basically a recipe for disaster.) Every once in awhile, I'd do a great big purge and unsubscribe from thirty or so blogs. But still, for at least the last year, I've had 1000+ unread items in my Google Reader. Obviously I just cannot keep up with everything that I want to. And that sucks. Because there's so much good stuff out there.

(And that is what I love about this blogging thing. People are writing. And reading. And taking photos. And being crafty. And making friends and contacts. It's great. I truly love it.)

But like I said, I can't keep up with everyone. So I do have a hierarchy I follow when reading blogs. I start off by reading and commenting on my friends' blogs. And that's usually as far as I get. Everything else seems to fall by the wayside, including some blogs that I adore. So this morning I made a "Favorites" folder. I moved all of my favorite blogs (excluding the blogs I regularly comment on) into that folder, so once I'm done reading my friends' blogs, I can read some other blogs that I happen to love, even though I haven't really connected with the bloggers writing them.

But I still haven't unsubscribed from all the other blogs. And I've never dared to "mark all as read." Because I'm afraid I might miss something. I wish that I had the time and energy to keep up with all 400+ of my RSS feeds. Yes, 400+. I told you I was obsessive! Can you imagine if I was commenting on each post? I'd love to, but I'm a big time lurker.

So, tell me, how many blogs do you read? Do you comment on all of them?

October 19, 2009

I think ICAN, I think ICAN.

Around the beginning of the month, I emailed the leader of my local ICAN chapter to find out if there are any support meetings available to women who are dealing with birth trauma/C-section emotional recovery. When I didn't hear anything back, I emailed The Feminist Breeder (from whose blog I originally heard about ICAN) to see if she had any ideas about how to get in touch with someone local. She put a call for help out on the ICAN listserv, and then I got blasted with emails linking me to tons of resources, as well as some emails from people offering me their ears. I was invited to attend a free webinar about VBAC. And so I plugged into the webinar. I was unable to participate by speaking, but I sent in my birth story, and it was read out loud. Other women shared their stories, too, about both C-section births and VBACs.

I know that I've griped a lot about Charlie's birth on this blog. I know that it's got to get old to hear someone complaining about something as minor as a birth experience gone wrong when there are real problems in the world, especially when said complainer has a healthy, happy baby. I used to be one of those people who just didn't get it when a woman got upset if her birth experience went wrong. Like so many other people, I equated a successful birth with a living, healthy baby. And don't get me wrong. The best thing really is getting the baby at the end.

But the baby and the birth experience are separate. And I think that's what a lot of people just don't understand. I love Charlie with everything I am. There is not a day that goes by when I don't think about how lucky I am to have such a wonderful little guy. But you know what? I hate the way he was born. I hate what I had to go through to get him out. It totally sucks, and when people offer me their platitudes of "at least you've got a healthy baby," I want to throat punch them. I know they mean well, but it's condescending and invalidating and dismissive to say things like that. It's like saying "It was his time" when someone dies or "at least your baby is living" when someone is dealing with having their baby in the NICU. Saying things like that completely sidesteps the issue at hand.

Our culture is obsessed with looking on the bright side. People don't want to hear about other people's problems. They just want people to think positive. It's ridiculous to deny yourself the right to feel, no matter what those feelings may be. But our culture almost requires it.

I'm here to say that I'm pissed. And I'm sad. I feel like I'm broken, that my body failed me, that my doctors failed me, that the hospital failed me. But most of all, I feel like I failed myself. I didn't put much thought into what I wanted Charlie's birth to be like. I just knew that I wanted the baby. So I went for a "normal" birth, with an epidural in the hospital and all the other BS that came with it. I okayed the induction even though I knew it was perfectly normal for me to be "overdue" with a first pregnancy. I didn't research pain management techniques. I trusted my doctor. I trusted my body. I let my birth experience happen to me. And dammit, I'm not a person who just lets things happen. Not me. I research. I prepare. I go into situations armed with knowledge. For Charlie's birth, I did the minimal amount of research and preparation. And look where it got me. I've got a nice incision scar on my lower abdomen and a much deeper one on my psyche. I remain, unfortunately, traumatized, saddened, and angered by my birth experience.

There is absolutely nothing I can do about any of this now besides accept it for what it is and try something different next time. When all this was very fresh and new, I swore I would never go through the pain of labor again. No way in hell would I do that to myself after all I went through. But the further I get from Charlie's birth, the more I think about the possibility of having a VBAC. The thought of actually having a vaginal birth both thrills and terrifies me. Since we aren't even trying for another baby yet, and who knows when we will, I have a lot of time to prepare for next time, whenever that may be. To face my fears and all that cliched stuff. Who knows, maybe I'll end up scheduling another C-section after all. It'd be the easiest thing to do. It'd take the guesswork out of everything. There would be no fear that I'd end up with another C-section after laboring forever.

I'm not completely down on C-sections. I can't see myself becoming one of those women who goes around saying shit like "your body was meant to give birth," because let's face it, for some women that is just not the case. Some people have very valid reasons for needing a C-section. I think my beef is with the need to rush women into giving birth before their bodies are ready and with how much doctors feel the need to intervene. I'm also sick of the fear-mongering, a lot of which comes from freakin' doctors. It's disgusting and manipulative.

I am definitely down on the way that my entire birth experience unfolded. It was so cold and scary and painful, and I spent hours truly believing that I wouldn't make it out alive. I never expected birth to be a walk in the park. But I never expected to miss Charlie's entrance to the world. I never expected to be pushed through some baby factory and to have my son cut out of me. I never expected to feel so alienated.

I give myself pep talks when I am feeling down about all this. I remind myself that none of this really matters in the long run and what really is important is that I am a good and loving mother to Charlie. But then I have to call bullshit on myself. Because, dammit, it does matter. Giving birth is a transformative experience. To act like it isn't is naive.

I refuse to live my life in denial. I refuse to ignore the places that hurt. This is a place that really, really hurts. I talk about it with the hopes that giving it a voice will help me to heal. It doesn't mean that I'm negative. It means that I'm going through something that really affected me. It means that sometimes I have to repeat everything I've said before because for whatever reason I am revisiting this painful place. So if you're reading this and rolling your eyes, as my inner critic always does when I write again about how badly things went when Charlie was born, have patience with me and with this place that's all bruised and battered. It will never be the same again, but I'm not entirely convinced that's a bad thing.

Celebration of Life

Yesterday, on the three week anniversary of her death, Roy and I went to Jewelyn's funeral - or, as it was more appropriately called, the celebration of her life. And it really was a celebration of her life. From the Hawaiian dancers to the eulogy given by two of her dear friends to the heart-squeezing slideshow, it was a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman. I cried and laughed and sat there in disbelief. And something unlocked inside me.

I could go on and on about how Jewelyn's death has affected me, because it really has. I could talk about how it's reopened the wound of my own birth experience. I could talk about how I cried the other night as I fed Charlie - out of gratitude and sadness and the inability to understand, really understand, the circle of life. I could talk about how today I feel so alive, so open to every minute of each hour, so aware of each blade of grass and gust of wind.

But I won't.

Because at this point there is nothing to do but to say goodbye. To wish upon Jewelyn the most beautiful peace and the safest of travels. To send healing and goodness to her husband and daughter and friends and students and loved ones. To recognize that life is oh so painful, but all that pain is so worth it, because without that pain, we would never grow or change or learn.

And finally, there is nothing left to be done but to celebrate life and all its complexity. I hope you'll join me, today and every day.

(Goodbye, Jewelyn. I hope to see you and your fabulous smile in another life.)

October 15, 2009

Our Cloth Diapering Adventure: Getting Started

There have been a few people out there who have asked me questions about cloth diapering. Since I absolutely love using cloth diapers, I figure I'll also love writing about them. I plan on writing several posts on our cloth diapering experience thus far. And of course I'll be sharing random pictures of Charlie in some of his adorable diapers. I hope you enjoy!

A lot of people gave me the side-eye when they found out we planned to use cloth diapers for Charlie. For some reason most of the comments were negative. One person got downright pissy when she found out. She kept telling me that there was so much poop to deal with when having a baby and why would I do that to myself and then I just kind of tuned out. I didn't understand her reasoning. Babies poop no matter what kind of diapers they're in.

And yet people ask me all the time, "But why would you want to deal with all that poop?" And I just have to wonder, "You mean the poop that comes out of all baby butts, no matter what kind of diaper they're wearing?" I don't get it. If you're a parent, you're going to be dealing with poop. You're going to have poop on you at some point. It's inevitable.

I think that a lot of people don't realize how easy cloth diapering is. It's just like using disposables. You put on a clean diaper and take it off when it's dirty. The only difference is you don't throw away the cloth diaper. You wash it. And then you dry it. And then you put it away and use it for next time.

It's simple, really. There is none of this rolling around in poop that people seem to think goes along with using cloth diapers.

But getting started can be really overwhelming. It definitely was for me. Gone are the days of plain ol' prefold diapers with diaper pins and plastic pants. Today, there are choices upon choices for cloth diapers. And with all those choices come lots of abbreviations and confusion.

So what I did to get started was email Jill, who writes the ever popular Baby Rabies blog and ask her a ton of questions. She's written several good posts about cloth diapering. She directed me to some good sites. And then I spent a lot of time doing a lot of research.

We decided that the best thing to do was to not commit fully to one type of cloth diaper, but to try several different ones instead. This is something I would recommend to everyone, because you never know which diapers may or may not work for your baby. I'll get back to this point in a later post.

To start our newborn stash, here's what we purchased:

-four size 0 Kissaluvs fitted diapers (which are excellent for newborns)
-two Drybee's stage 1 fitted diapers
-a dozen Chinese prefolds
-a dozen Indian prefolds
-three XS bumkins diaper covers
-three Thirsties diaper covers (one XS, two small)
-two small Bummis super whisper wrap diaper covers (one of which is in the first picture in this post)
-four BumGenius one size diapers
-two wetbags, which are used for storage of dirty cloth diapers when you're out and about (we have one Mommy's Touch and one Wahmies)
-two Wahmies diaper pail liners
-two Snappis

I'd say we spent about $300 on all this. (I got some of the items on sale.) Yes, that's a lot of money to throw down for diapers. But when you take into account the fact that we plan on using these diapers and accessories for multiple children, it makes more sense. In other words, this is $300 we'll never have to spend again, like we would if we were using disposables.

And while we're on the subject of disposable diapers, I don't think that people who use them are evil. I've had several friends tell me why they are using disposables and not cloth, as if they felt the need to justify their choice to me, and honestly, I don't care what kind of diapers they use. I like to think that people make these decisions based on what works for their families. Yes, the huge amount of waste that is generated as a result of disposable diapers is troublesome, but I also think that there are other ways to be eco-friendly.

Cloth works for us, but it doesn't work for everyone (obviously). I do think that people should at least educate themselves on cloth diapering and the benefits of it, but I don't exactly lose sleep over it at night. We are doing what is best for us, and I'm very happy with that.

October 14, 2009

Oh hai, I hate my hair.

Maybe it's because I'm feeling vomity. But tonight I hate my hair. I want to shave it off and start anew.

Allow me to stroke my own ego for a moment, but when I was younger, I had beautiful, soft, fine, blonde hair. It has never behaved well or done anything ladylike at all. It's always just kind of hung there looking boring, but at least it was a pretty color and felt soft, you know?

I started highlighting it when I was about 25. I swore I would never do that, but I suffer from the towhead curse, which means that my once pretty blonde hair turned darker and mousy as I got into my 20s. The highlights have always made me feel good about myself, because they look natural and they give my hair that little umph that it needs.

But now my hair feels drier than it used to, and you can see my roots, and I am just not good at styling my hair nor do I feel like putting the energy into it.

Which leads me back to the whole hating my hair conundrum.

I think I need a makeover. Anyone want to help me?

Sunday Morning at the Pumpkin Patch

On Sunday morning, we braved the cooler temperatures and took Charlie to the pumpkin patch. I think I was more excited about it than anyone. Which isn't saying much, since Roy doesn't get excited and Charlie really only cares about what he can chew on.

We saw some fun and interesting creatures.

We got up close and personal with this guy.

We wandered through the lamest maze ever.

We did a mini photo shoot with Charlie while we were there. Obviously, he really enjoyed it.

We did a quick swoop through the pumpkin tent but decided that all the wares were way too overpriced.

(Charlie was shocked and amazed at all he saw.)

And then we left and continued on with our Sunday.

I loved the pumpkin patch! It was so fun. We didn't go into the petting zoo, because we felt like Charlie is still too young, but hopefully next year. Still, it was a great time, and the weather was perfectly overcast. I'm totally ready for Halloween now.

October 13, 2009

Jewelyn's Legacy

If you're not reading my blog in a reader, then you'll see that I've added a little something on the side. ------------>

You can click there to be directed to Jewelyn's memorial site so you can get updates on her daughter Gabrielle. If you click over, you'll see that Gabrielle was released from the hospital last week and is doing just wonderfully at home. There are some concerns because Gabrielle was deprived of oxygen for awhile before she was born, but there won't be any conclusive evidence that anything might be wrong until she's a few months older. However, for now, she is doing well, and that's all we can ask for.

I figure that everything with Gabrielle just has to go well. It would be cruel of the fates to curse this beautiful little girl with something terrible or incurable since she has already lost her mother. And I was thinking last night that while the memorial site is so great, it sucks so bad that it even has to exist. I feel so sad every time I look at Jewelyn's maternity photos. It's just not fair.

I wish I had known Jewelyn better. I said before that I knew her casually, and that really is the best way to describe it. I hadn't seen her in almost two years. She'd asked a mutual friend for my email address several months ago, but she never emailed me. I wish I would have emailed her. I feel like I missed out. I'll never have a chance to really know her.

Even though I didn't know her well, Jewelyn's death has really hit me hard. It's a reminder of how fragile we all are. We're all just teetering on the edge of life, aren't we?

October 12, 2009

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Had I not decided to quit my job, today would have been my first day back to work.

My last day working was April 30. I spent much of that day saying my goodbyes and gathering my things together, deleting personal things off my work computer and making sure that the people who were covering me would be completely set up in my absence. And then I walked out, went home, and basked in the glory of my maternity leave. I can't even remember what I did for most of those weeks, but I do remember the quiet. The calm before the storm, if you want to be trite about it.

Since things have calmed down with Charlie, I've been feeling really happy. Granted, I have days that suck and flashbacks to his birth, but overall I'm doing really well. I honestly feel like I've come into my own as a mother. I feel like I know Charlie inside and out. The other day on one message board I frequent, a question was posed: "Do you feel in tune with your baby?" I was really surprised when I took an honest look at my relationship with Charlie and realized that yes, I feel incredibly in tune with him. I know him.

All the same, I still feel like I'm in limbo, and I'm not sure why. When I actually put in my notice at work, I didn't feel anything resembling closure. As a matter of fact, I felt more like I did once my wedding was over. I don't know what to do now. I mean, obviously I am a mother to Charlie and all that, but my life really lacks structure at the moment. Since I'm not big on putting Charlie on a schedule, I am flying by the seat of my pants most days. And honestly, even if I was into putting him on a strict schedule, I'd probably still be flying by the seat of my pants.

I am so used to being an employee that I don't know how to manage my life outside of a paid job, I think. I've always been on someone else's clock, and I've rushed around making my whole life conform to that person's expectations. Being a mother is similar, because I'm never off duty, but it requires me to be flexible, and I'm learning how to be that way. I've come to realize that I'll probably never get to shower at the same time every day (but at least I'm showering) and some days I don't get to fix my hair at all (but at least it's getting washed). Some days I have to walk Charlie around the block to get him to nap, and sometimes he'll conk out in my arms. Every day is different. And yet every day is the same.

Being a stay-at-home mom means that I get lonely. I love hanging out with Charlie, and I've come to realize that he is a pretty low-maintenance baby (even with all his sleep issues), but I do really miss adult interaction. There's only so much playing with the same toys and reading the same books that I can do. I can only talk in a baby voice for so long. I always wonder if Charlie is incredibly bored. I'm not bored, per se, but I think that we need to get involved in some activities outside of the house, other than the requisite running of errands, that is. Plus I feel fat. Charlie keeps me incredibly busy, but I still can feel my ass spreading every day.

So that's why I've joined a couple of mommy groups, with the hopes that I can strike up some friendships with some other like-minded mommies. And I've enlisted the help of my two brothers-in-law, who come to watch Charlie twice a week (on separate days), so I get a few hours twice a week to take care of some of my own stuff. I still have a thesis to write and other stuff that I'm working on. It's not like my brain has turned to mush and that I only care about poopy diapers, but at the same time, I can't deny that my life has completely changed. Charlie comes first. He has to. I don't resent this fact at all, but I am still not entirely sure about what it means for me.

I guess one of these decades I'll figure out what it all means. Until then, I'll just keep flying by the seat of my pants or something.

The Future Foretold

I wrote this post a month ago but am just now getting around to sharing it.

The other day I opened my poetry folder on my computer, and this was the first file I saw.

Letter to My Future Child

I don’t even know you,
but sometimes late at night
my thoughts turn to you.
The world revolves around broken promises,
but I can’t make them to you.
I don’t even know if I want you,
and if I did, are you in the realm of possibility?
I can see you face etched
into mine and my love’s.
You will have red hair, fair skin,
a love for books, perhaps the need
to conquer the darkness with words.
I want to have you
because I don’t know if I can conquer
what I know you have the potential to do.
In writing this, I reach inside the depth
of my being and find an infinitesimal you.
You need me, you love me—
that is my reward. I will never be recognized
for anything but being your mother,
and even that is a thankless job.
I don’t even know you.
I want to be filled with something other than myself.
You are the greatest gift I could give,
the only possible legacy.
Through words I find you;
through words you will know me.
Words are not the same as promises.
I can give you one but not the other.
But someday we will meet;
we both will have arrived,
and the dark emptiness will be cleansed
with your first cry.


I was struck by a few things about this. First, all of my poems are filed in separate folders, so when I opened my poetry folder, I saw this poem and a bunch of folders. Odd that this poem didn't have a home. (It should have been in the "Complete and Total Crap" folder that, yes, actually exists.)

Second, the mention of red hair. Charlie has red(dish) hair and it's been that color since he was born (but it's also always had a lot of blonde and brown in it, too). I was so surprised to see that I mentioned back in 2004, when I didn't even know Roy, that my future child was to have red hair. I was with someone else at the time I wrote this, and frankly if I had had kids with him, the likelihood of our child having red hair would have been pretty slim, I think. (Even though I have red hair on my side of the family and actually my hair used to look strawberry blonde sometimes, before I started highlighting it.)

Third, my mom had a dream during my first trimester that I was going to have a boy with red hair. And when she told me, I wasn't at all surprised. I just thought, "Yes, of course I'm going to have a boy with red hair." And part of me was hoping that Charlie would come out with red hair because then I could call him Charlie the Red.

I guess what strikes me the most about this poem is how lonely and unsure of myself I sound. I was still so convinced that there was something terribly wrong with me. At that point in my life, I had a boyfriend who I'd been with for going on four years, but things were on their way to ending. He didn't want children. And I tried to be okay with that. But deep down I was really longing to be a mother. And wanting to get married if the right person came along. I tried to make him fit into that mold. We even went ring shopping together. I wanted a "normal" life more than I cared to admit.

But that's not why things ended. I'm not sure if I could even put into words why it ended, but I guess it was that ol' classic "we didn't know how to love each other" type of deal. It was pretty painful at the time, but I met and married someone who is so much better for me.

And I ended up with my Charlie the Red, whose hair is actually on its way to turning blonde as I write this. I have never actually called him Charlie the Red anyway.

It's a happy ending. But one that makes me pause and think about how strange and wonderful and complex life is.

October 9, 2009

Fat and Sassy Roly-Poly

The other day I was walking Charlie in his stroller and some guy we passed asked how old Charlie was and then proceeded to delightedly exclaim, "Man, he is fat and sassy!"

I tried to be offended but truthfully I just thought it was hilarious.

But you know, Charlie is a little on the chunky side. (Which, you know, only makes him cuter.) Yesterday I did a little photo shoot with him to celebrate his being four months old now. His cloth-diapered butt and his chubby thighs are so big that he has a hard time fitting in his bumbo chair when he's wearing anything other than just a onesie. I wanted some photos of him sitting up, though, so I propped him up against the back of the chair. And this is what happened.

I couldn't help but laugh. Hard.

And when I turned him over, I didn't feel any guilt for laughing, because this is what I saw.

One fat and sassy, but happy, roly-poly.

(Big props to my friend Becki for handing down this sweater to Charlie. I'm a sucker for argyle, and it matches his quilt perfectly.)

October 8, 2009

Four Months

Dear Charlie,

Today you are four months old.

And we survived this month. We survived your first cold. We survived your return to newborn sleep habits. We survived your first wedding, where you proved yourself to be a very calm and mellow baby. And then you screamed the whole way home.

And we survived the death of someone I knew. I have thought for hours about how I would go about explaining death to you, and truthfully I can't think of a good way to tell you that eventually the people we love leave us. Life offers us many tragedies, but this is one of the greatest. It is never easy to say goodbye.

My hope, Charlie, is that we will all have a long, happy life together as a family. I want this more than anything. The day you were born was truly the greatest day of my life, but like anything great, it was so complicated. Your entrance into this world was accompanied by more pain and sorrow than I would ever wish on another human being, but it's not your fault. It's just the way it happened. I have spent all these months trying to come to terms with it. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I am closer to moving through it. Not past it. Through it.

Because this person, the one who died? She was a wonderful woman, and she had complications during childbirth. Her daughter was removed from her the way you were removed from me, but the difference is once I woke up, I stayed awake. And she didn't. She is lost, forever. She never got to see her baby in the flesh, and she never got to hold her. Her daughter will never know her touch or her voice or her smell. Charlie, we are so incredibly blessed to have each other, to have this family.

There are many people in the world who are not as lucky as we are. And it's our job, our duty, as human beings to be kind to them. I know that I haven't always been the best person I can be. But you're teaching me how to be better. Just by being you.

You are truly the best thing that has ever happened to me. From your chubby little cheeks...

...to your sweet baby tummy...

...and your scrunched-up, yet peaceful sleeping face...

....and your lopsided, full lips...

...you are an absolute wonder to behold. You have taught me what it means to be good.

I want you to always know just how much I love you. No matter how many times you wake up during the night, no matter how much you spit up on me, no matter how loudly you cry, no matter any of that, I will love you with everything I am until the day I die. And then, beyond life and in that great unknown, I will still love you.

Yes, there is no good way to tell you that eventually you and I will have to go our separate ways. But Charlie, I will always find you. Even after we're separated, I'll always be a part of you - and you of me.