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Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Hallucinations

The calm of early morning.  The sun isn’t up yet with it’s bright, loud rays.  Both babies are sleeping.  

Suddenly the sound of tooting fills the air.  There’s nothing like the beautiful sounds of a baby pooping noisily in his diaper to make you want to jump up and dive into the day.  Like the sounds of some strange morning bird welcoming you into the morning.

So that was my entry into today.  Not so bad as far as wake-up’s go.  A gentle reminder that I’m needed…if only to facilitate clean bums.  I should put that on my resume.  Clean Bum Facilitator.  2012-2018.  Also, Hourly Nose Wiper.  2012-???  Some humor required.

In any case it’s almost Christmas!  My favorite time of year!  I am sitting here clacking away at the keyboard under the glow of Christmas lights.  They make everything shinier don’t they?  Sometimes I keep them up all year and just start calling them ‘party lights’.  

The lights are about the only Christmas-y thing I’ve done this year.  I just got my cards sealed.  Not mailed, mind you.  But sealed.  And waiting for their stamps.  

The tree is up and the presents are bought and mostly wrapped.  There have been mentions of Santa to Ellie who is only now beginning to grasp the total-awesomeness that is Christmas.  I’ve been playing Christmas music and watching old Christmas movies.  Poor kid is going to be so stuffed full of Christmas she’s going to burst into tiny candy-canes and glitter.  She’s either going to love it like me or want to throw up at the first mention of Jingle Bells.

Ben is 5 weeks old this Christmas.  Bill and I both bought those little hand imprint things you can hang on the tree.  Five years of marriage and we’re still working on…talking to each other.  I’m not a psychic but I suspect even in another 25 we’ll still be working on that.

Anyhoo so Ben is 5 weeks old this Christmas.  Needless to say I didn’t break the bank getting presents for him.  I mean, I didn’t ask Santa for too much on his behalf this year, seeing as he’s still working on figuring out those weird arm things and how they move.

Have I mentioned how much I love Christmas?  Having young kids at Christmas time makes it that much more fun.  Now if only I can figure out how to make it snow here in Texas I’ll be all set.  I can’t wait until Ellie is old enough to rush into the room on Christmas morning and wake me up at 5am to go open presents and then whine for two hours until the rest of the house is up.  I’m looking forward to my payback…although as I got older it was always mom and I up early waiting for dad and Tony to finally drag their butts out of bed.  (How can you SLEEP on Christmas MORNING!?)

I fully intend on never growing out of that phase.  If I do, put a stake in my cold, cold heart because it’s too late for me already.  Not that it’s too late for dad and Tony.  Well, maybe not for dad.

ANYHOO.  Merry Christmas everyone!  Forget the to-do and the have-to, and if you have snow where you are, do me a favor and cuddle up in a chair by the window with a steaming up of hot chocolate and enjoy the view for me.  In the meantime - from my family to yours I send much love and wish you all light and joy and lots and lots of Christmas cookies.  If you can’t find love or light or joy, try eating some snowman cookies until you start hallucinating.  Either way, I hope you have fun this week!

Thursday, December 15, 2016


“In raising my children I have lost my mind and found my soul.”  Lisa T. Shepherd

My first week alone with Ellie, my two and a half year old and Ben, my month old newborn can be summed up as…learning to surrender.  

Surrender to the fact that I will be a sleep-deprived, overweight zombie.  I will not be in my best form.  Ellie will not be having loads of happy memories…(Sitting on the couch watching TV while I feed Ben and try to wipe her runny nose with my free hand.)  I will lose my temper from time to time.  I will be racked with remorse.  Which will contribute to another loss of temper.  

It’s funny when I finally accept this I feel instantly lighter, more free, more myself again.  More patient with her (and him) because I’m being more patient and kind to me.

My arms will ache from holding and rocking Ben all day.  My heart will ache when Ellie wants me to play with her and I can’t because Ben just spit up gobs of milk down my neck and while it pools in my bra he proceeds to leak yellow runny poo from the other end totally overwhelming the tiny diaper and leaking onto my shirt.  

This actually happened and that’s not the worst part… 

I’m so sleep deprived it wasn't until hours later (Hours!) I realized I had forgotten to change…by the time he was clean Ellie was screaming for lunch.  Literally screaming... 

So.  I feel pretty sexy right now, needless to say.

There’s nothing like wiping two layers of dried snot and strawberry juice from a toddler’s face while covered in baby milk throw-up and poop to make you feel like a superstar.  SUPERSTAR!

Ellie and I did manage to decorate the tree this morning - the first time she’s been old enough to participate.  We listened to Christmas music on my iPhone while she hung everything I gave her on the same two branches.  Christmas memories, right here.

Anyway, I managed to feed the dog AND myself most meals most days so I consider this week a resounding success.  The bar seems to be getting lower as I go.

I’ll probably never win ‘Mom of the Year’ - if they don’t have that award they really should - but if everyone is fed and feels loved at the end of the day, that’s reward enough for me.

I may not be a superstar mom but I'm here.  And I'm trying, REALLY trying to not totally screw them both up.  That oughtta count for something!  And hey, when I start getting sleep again, think how much more awesome I'll be!  Or, human again, at least.

Cheers to real moms who try to be a good one even when you barely feel like you're being a good 'you' let alone a good mom.  I salute you.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Moments of Stillness

I have a small moment of stillness.  Right now.  Dad has Ellie out to the store to get blueberries and strawberries.  Ben is sleeping.  I should be napping too but instead I want to enjoy some quiet time while I’m not comatose and oblivious to the peace.

Moments like these are precious.  I have relaxing spa music playing and I’m eating a Hershey Bar.  Ahhhhhhh.

Mom flew home yesterday and Bill goes back to work on Monday so…this precious moment is to be savored.  I may not get many more for the next five days.  I saw a mom at the pediatricians that had three boys and a newborn swaddled to her chest.  It was a boy too and I looked at her and thought….you either don’t believe in birth control, you REALLY wanted a girl or…you’re a different beast altogether than I am.  

Motherhood has impressed upon me two distinct lessons about myself.  1) I’d do anything to protect my kids.  The wildest Mamma bear in the farthest reaches of the most remote and volatile forest has nothing on me.  The past 36 years of civilization falls away in the face of the fierce and iron will used to protect my cubs, I mean, babies.  2) I’m also really, really selfish. 

I’d step in front of a speeding bus to scoop Ellie to safety and stand in front of a firing squad to give Ben five more minutes of life but I really, really, really, really just want to sleep for like, three hours straight tonight.  And to leave the house without having to figure out where I’m going to duck in to nurse or if I can make it home in the two hours between feedings.

I knew the first few months would be difficult for me.  I am selfish, I love my independence and my freedom.  I love doing what I want when I want.  Nursing a new born does not lend itself well to a wild and care-free lifestyle.  I know this.

I’m reminded of when we were trying to get pregnant with Ellie in Virginia.  I couldn’t wait to be a mom.  I couldn’t work as I hadn’t gotten my social security number yet and so the days dragged on.  I was impatient and bored and lonely.

I spent the days going to yoga classes and shopping.  (Terrible right?)  One of the teachers, Masuda, had a class on enjoying the present moment and of recognizing that we will never be here, now, ever again.  

This moment is an island we are visiting that we can never visit again.  We can go back to the same places and see the same people but it will never be as it is here, now,

I took her advice to heart.  I began to focus on the details around me.  The sun streaming in the windows and falling around us like melted butter.  The white ceiling fans circling lazily overhead.  

You could just see the tips of the oak trees from the windows in the second floor of the class and I used to watch the sun shine through the green leaves while we did our poses, or meditated.  There was such peace.  I let go of my monkey-thoughts bouncing all over about the future and the past and just sank into the moment like you would a hot bath. 

We all go through cycles in our lives, of blooming and budding and resting and strengthening our roots. 

Right now, a little house-bound, recovering from the C-section, nursing around the clock and unable to take Ben out with too many people until he gets his shots, it feels a little like root-strengthening time.  

It certainly isn't fun-blooming-flower-bursting time…

So I will focus on the details.  The jaunty way Ben’s hair sticks up in the back.  The way he smells, the way his cute little face bunches up when he’s getting ready to cry.  The way Ellie has taken to her big sister role, dolling out kisses and always wanting to hold him.  She sings when he’s upset, and reminds us to be quiet while he’s sleeping.

There are moments, I’m feeding Ben and he’s happily eating, I can see Bill outside playing with Ellie on her slide, and I think…this is the good life.  I’ll focus on those moments, on enjoying this sort of lonely, kind of isolated, certainly a little boring, time at home root-lengthening.

There is a joy in the exhaustion and every little fat roll appearing on his arms and legs are evidence of a job well done.

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Burning Couches, Oversharing and Goals for the Month

I’d like to burn this couch when the nursing calms down.  Then all of my maternity clothes once my stomach shrinks to a Jabba-the-hut-junior size instead of the full ’Return of the Jedi’ size it is right now.

I keep pressing down on my stomach and frowning hoping everything will compress back to size but I still look like I’m 5 months pregnant.  And FYI pushing on your belly does NOT make it smaller.  It was worth a try,

I guess I’m being impatient, it’s only been three weeks.  I don’t do ‘house-bound’ well and ‘couch-bound’ even less so.  Ben is still feeding every hour to two hours round the clock and poor Ellie had to tuck ME in last night because I went to bed at 6:30pm.  If you had asked me what was more exciting, suddenly winning a million dollars OR getting into bed and resting, I would have chosen ‘bed’ a thousand times over.  Really, really.

Keep your money - I just need to sleep.

Am I over sharing when I say I forgot how torturous nursing is for the first month or so?  Can I talk about how my T-shirt feels like sandpaper on my nipples?  And how I’m leaking everywhere and the stupid boob pads have two tiny pieces of tape that do NOT hold it in place and after I nurse and put the flaps back on the bra it always twists and that TINY piece of tape gets stuck on my boob and THAT HURTS SO BAD!  Or that I’m still wearing sanitary pads three weeks later IS THERE NO END TO MY UTERUS LINING!?

Maybe not - that could be crossing the line between funny and Ewwwww.  It’s a fine line.

So.  My objectives for this month are:

Staying sane
Get baby as fat as possible
Sleep when I can
Eat when I can - bonus if anything is still hot when I do
Find cashmere nursing bras and soft fur-lined nursing tank tops
Clone myself
Clone myself again

Survive.  Survive.  Survive.

Part of survival is catching sleep when I can (I haven't washed a dish since before Ben was born) accepting help when it's offered (Thank you to everyone who brought/is still bringing me food!), focusing on the present moment and being grateful.

I am trying to find the ease and joy in each moment no matter how exhausted and short tempered I am.  And then focusing on forgiving myself when I can't find it, when the only thing I CAN find is the overwhelming urge to eat tubs of ice cream and rip someone's face off, not necessarily in that order.

It helps to remind myself to be grateful for all my blessings, of which there are way too many to name here but mainly all the help I've been given (thank you mom!) our good health, our warm home, and, of course, ice cream.

“(Motherhood is) the biggest gamble in the world.  It is the glorious life force.  It’s huge and scary - it’s an act of infinite optimism.”  Gilda Radner.