Hungry

By the time I’m awake enough to make breakfast, Bebe is usually fast asleep in my lap. Breakfast turns into brunch and lunch happens around 2:00pm. Which is good because Nerdboy has a long drive home from work and dinner is sometimes a little later than we’d all like.

(Just kidding, Bebe gets to eat whenever he wants.)

Saturday in the Kingdom 

I am surrounded by three sleeping boys:

The little milk-face in my lap.

The canine cuddled on the couch across the living room.

And the Dad, sleeping in our bed upstairs.
His coffee gets cold on the kitchen counter. Mine gets cold in front of me, forgotten as usual as I read.

I am the only one awake as the sun glimmers in the haze on a beautifully March morning. It’s still below freezing outside, but there is hope. A potential 60* for my birthday next week. And, eventually, summer.
Le chien gets down and paces some more. He hasn’t been out yet. 
I look down from my phone into this little muffin’s sleeping face and admire, as always, his eyelashes, brows, funny little hairline. I can’t believe how much he’s grown since he was born.
Milkface wakes up, his great big eyes looking around us.
The dog gets up again and walks upstairs to inform his boy he needs to go out. Or perhaps to lay back down and guard his human’s sleeping form.
Milkface smiles, cozy against my breast.
It’s Saturday in the kingdom. All is calm. All is right.

Mornings

After I pour the half and half into my reheated cup of coffee, I pass by the pack n play to make sure he’s breathing before I sit back down at the computer.

The dog, my beloved fluffy companion, is curled on the couch by the window, awaiting some attention which has been seriously lacking the past few months.

It is still very cold outside and snowed a bit yesterday. I’m wearing a heavy open fronted sweater over one of the two borrowed maternity shirts I wear almost every day. They gained favour by opening down the front enough to make feeding easy.

The baby wakes and reaches for the stars hanging over him in the play crib. He’s grown quite adept at aiming for them.

I think about the first time I saw him. I’d been looking at my husband as he held my hand. With a sense of confusion at the voices telling me to turn my head the other way, I did so, and there was this messy muddy baby covered in goo. I’d forgotten what the purpose of this stage of the crucible was. We’d been at the hospital so long that I’d forgotten why we’d gone there. I didn’t expect anything out of the experience except another step in the journey that had taken up nearly all of the three days following Christmas. After forty-three and half hours of contractions, the later of which were at an intensity that was literally off the chart, three hours of unsuccessful pushing, and the final decision that if he wasn’t able to come out on his own we’d have to go in and get him, it was hard for me to remember there was a bright side to it all. When the surgery was done, I’d go to the recovery room, then Nic and I would go home, just the two of us. Business as usual. I had completely forgotten that we had a very good chance of going home with somebody else. I’d forgotten we were there to get our baby. But there he was. Messy but alive.

A minute later they brought him, cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket, to my husband while they stitched me up. At one point they laid him down next to my head. I couldn’t hold him yet. But I remember his eyes. The deepest, darkest blue I’d ever seen. With lashes thick and dark. And so, so beautiful.

Then they took him to the nursery and, after they were done closing the rift in my abdomen, wheeled me back upstairs to my room in the maternity ward.

At around 8:00pm they brought him to me. I’ll never forget that vision: Tiny angel in a Christmas Tree hat, swaddled tightly over a little kimono shirt and a Huggies diaper bearing Winnie the Pooh. His face glowed when he heard me speak to him. And then he was in my arms.

I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t even stand. I was full of medications and anesthetics and completely worn out. My dream of keeping him in the room with me every night was dashed. He could have stayed, but I knew that as exhausted and delirious as I was it wouldn’t have been safe. So after he nursed for the first time and I held him for a while, he went away and I tried to sleep. I kept waking up. It was horrid being alone, in the darkness. Falling asleep after all those hours of pointless labor should have been easy. I kept waking. Occasionally a nurse would come in to check my vitals. Finally at around 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning he came back. It was like in His Dark Materials when Pan had been too far away – that pang in my heart, almost painful, finally eased.

At some point, during one of his midnight visits to me, he was placed in my arms, the nurse left, and instead of feeding, he laid his head on top of my bosom and went so happily to sleep. One time I heard him crying all the way up the hall. Once he was in the room I called to him, and his face split into radiance and he stopped crying immediately. He knew me. He knew me!

 

***

A shower and a few diaper changes later, I sit eating two left over slices of pepperoni pizza and thinking about my postpartum body. The baby cries and I give him his lunch as well.

I gained about 55 lbs during our pregnancy, 20 more than the outer limit of what I was *supposed to* gain. I think of my friends who had at this point already lost more than they’d gained. I still have 19 lbs to go. I try to remember that some of those women were horribly sick their entire pregnancies and I was fortunate enough to have a relatively easy one. I try to remember that every body is different just as every pregnancy is different. I think of my cousins and friends who had easy, short labors, those who have two or three kids, and I wonder why I didn’t get to experience that. Two pregnancies, only one baby to show for it. A three week bleed with a ten hour laborious miscarriage at 11 weeks. A 43.5 hour labor, three hours of pushing, and still I needed a c-section to get my baby out. I think about this and remember: afterwards we were both safe; we were both healthy and, most importantly, Alive.

I look at this little milk-sotted face, sleeping against my breast, (he smiles in his sleep, his eyes slightly open), and I know that while I could never do it again, it was in some way All Worth It. I get jealous of friends who got healthy pregnancies on the first try. I think of those ten months of trying before we had a successful healthy low-risk pregnancy. The tests and exams and poking and prodding and fruitless perfect lab results leading to more questions and fewer answers. I remember the tears, the frustration, the agony, the guilt, the wondering – why couldn’t I succeed in this? And then I look again at this little face. He wrinkles it in his sleep and I wonder if in his dreams he remembers his harrowing journey to reach us. I kiss the wrinkles away and tell him it’s okay and that I’m right here.

Will I ever forget our trials? Probably not. I know with all my heart I could not be looking at This face if it had worked out any other way. I start to lower him into the pack n play to nap and he grasps at me. We sit back down together, his little head resting on Mommy’s Magical Dinner Pillows ™, these ridiculous breasts that finally have a purpose.

He turned two months on Sunday. My little sugar pea. Our sweet and perfect son. My whole magnificent world.

IMG_1861 (2)

Our little miracle. photo by Jenny Rader, brilliant and devoted nurse

 

 

Miracle.

And sometimes, just sometimes, after hardship and heartache, you get a miracle.

Expected January 2016

Expected January 2016

Oath

They say that the family of the 21st century is made up of friends rather than relatives.”

-Tim, Spaced

I believe this is very true, but I believe it’s a combination of both.

For all the friends, and a few special relations, who have come together, who have supported and loved me, regardless of blood, who have been there in person or from across the world, when I needed a shoulder to cry on, an ear to hear my troubles, worries, and joys, whose hearts have joined me in celebration.

Our friendships have shaped who I am as much as, if not more than, my heritage has done.

You are my family.

We have built my reality, my personality, my history, and my life. Together.

Thank you, from the center of my being.

Thank you friends and siblings. Thank you caring relatives and in-laws. Thank you, sweet husband. Thank you, dog. Thank you teachers and classmates. Thank you professors and directors. Thank you, internet friends, those who have reached out and helped me understand and face the hard times, and for sharing amusements that have made my days brighter.

Thank you to those who have traveled for me, and who have put me up when I needed a place to stay. Thanks for having my back, even if our views sometimes differ. Thanks for holding my hand when I am whiny, or distraught. Thank you for taking me shopping when I was broke, and holding together my pieces when I was broken.  Thanks for everything.

Thank you for being my family.

Because most of my blood relatives are pretentious assholes.

My oath to you:

(This was, for the most part, in fact meant to be my tribute to the female guests at our wedding, but through the works of our dj, who gave an inaccurate introduction to my speech introducing Oath, only one other guest understood it was for more than just my bridesmaids. So here, I dedicate this song to all of you. My girlfriends. My guy friends. My family.)

Bonus:

*I know the punctuation in this blog sucks today. I don’t really fucking care. Sorry.

A Letter

Dear Baby,

 

I’ve been thinking about the future and in a non-morbid more-of-a-practical way I’ve been thinking about things like my immanent demise. Not like, (good gods I hope not), tomorrow or anything, but as I’ve learned ever so deeply this year, things don’t always happen how or when we think they will.

 

You haven’t even been conceived yet, but I’m thinking a lot about you. You see, your father and I want to meet you desperately. It took a long time after our great disappointment this past year to get excited about trying to meet you. It is scary and hard to trust that we might or might not get the chance.

 

You see, your older brother was supposed to be born next week.

 

I say brother because I am certain that is what he would have been. Of course, we will never know for certain. And I say supposed to because if everything had gone as planned, he would have been.

 

But as I’ve said, things don’t always go according to plan, or expectation, or hope.

 

But we’re finally managing to stay positive that you might someday arrive, and hopefully, that day will be soon.

 

As I said, I’ve been thinking about the other side of things a bit this week. Like, your daddy and I should each write a Last Will and Testament. I’ve never thought about needing one. But now that I have a husband, it seems so much more important. And if you come to stay with us it will be more important still. And then I started thinking just now, what if something happened to me after you arrived and you never really got to know me personally. You would have stories from your dad, and your grandparents, and your aunts and uncles. You would have stories from our friends. And hopefully you would feel like you had known me even just a little.

 

So I decided to write you this letter, baby girl. This letter is so that you know a few more things about me that you’d probably hear from your dad and some other important people, but I want you to hear it from me, too.

 

Because I assumed you would be reading this after I was gone, I had at first written it in past tenses, though perhaps it would be more comforting, though potentially more confusing, in the present tense. It might be a little muddled, but I hope it is ok.

 

Dear Baby,

Mommy was a dancer. She loved modern dance and ballet. Sometimes she even did belly dancing and ballroom dancing (which she learned with Daddy before they got married). She loved her pointe shoes, but they hurt her feet a lot. Hopefully some of them will survive so that you can see them. But don’t put them on your feet, because you might get injured if you do so before your teacher says you are ready. If you ask Nana, that is why Mommy’s ankles always hurt her so much. When she went to college, Mommy danced an awful lot and got very good at it. She even taught other kids to dance after she graduated. She doesn’t think she did a very good job at this, but she loved helping those kids enjoy dance as much as she did. There are a few photographs of Mommy dancing, and if you can find a VHS player you can even watch a video of her. Movement was very important as a mode of expression, as an art form, and as her voice, when words would not suffice. Mum hopes you will find that joy as well, whether in dance, or another artform.

 

Mommy loved to make costumes. She loved to sew and to knit. She loved playing make-believe and she loved fairy stories. But really she liked to be practical too. Sometimes these things worked very well together.

 

Mommy hoped that you would love Harry Potter like she did and that you will always be brave even when you are really very scared. Mommy hopes you will read To Kill a Mockingbird so you can understand about courage from the words of Harper Lee and Atticus Finch.

 

Mom liked to cook and to bake. Well, she Loved it, really. But it took her a long time to find the confidence to do it. She was often afraid she was messing everything up but was particularly giddy when something turned out just right, because that made it seem like it was really beyond perfect.

 

And Mommy loved you more than all of it.

 

So, now, little baby that hasn’t even been conceived, I hope you know a couple important things about your mother now. I hope you will never have to read these things to know them. I hope you will know them from me personally. Because I want you to help me to sew pretty clothes for you. And I want you to help me measure the flour for biscuits. And I want you to dance with me and your daddy, and laugh, and read fairy tales, and be brave warriors. I want us to do all these things together. But in case we can’t, now you have this little letter, from me to you.

 

Love, Mum.

The Procreation Question

We probably all know someone who has asked it. We have probably, most of us, been the one asking. It is a seemingly polite question that holds in its core the potential for horribly painful reactions, whether or not the asker ever sees the result.

 

“You just got married! When are you having kids????”

 

This happened to us at Sam’s Club just this afternoon. A well meaning relative, who hasn’t been up to date on our situation, as he is from a section of the family we simply don’t see very often, congratulated us on our recent marriage and followed it up with, “So when are the babies due? How many months??”

 

I spent the next fifteen minutes balling in the car before I could breathe enough for us to get back on the road and go to Wegmans, my eyes red and puffy, and the ache rising in my head.

 

He didn’t know. He meant well. But that one simple question is like a knife right in the heart. Even when I think I am finally going to be okay. 

 

I want children. I want them very much. And I was going to have one. And then that opportunity vanished in the space of a breath.

 

And I cannot hear the question of “When are you going to have children?” without at the very least a spasm of misery. Because I was going to have a child. I was going to be his mother. I was going to love him unconditionally. For all the days of our lives and more.

 

All we can say when people ask us is, “Not right now. We have a lot going on. O yes, in the future. Yes, we want them.”

 

And I know each questioner is trying to be polite. Okay, some are just being unbearably nosy and selfish. But for the most part, it is a simple, common question, intended to be kind.

 

I am sure I have inquired. I am sorry if I offended or upset you. I had no idea what you might have been struggling with, or what you wanted or didn’t want. That’s probably why I asked.

 

I can’t tell you not to ever ask. Someday, maybe I’ll be ready to respond without choking on my words. Right now, though, it’s impossible. Either I’ll blurt out “Well, after I ‘get over’ the loss of my first pregnancy,” or more likely, I’ll politely say, “O, not right now,” and wish I had a better, more truthful answer, that won’t feel like an attack. 

 

Just, right now, I can not handle it.

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