Monday, November 5, 2012

She let go

Two weeks ago, I lost my mind (and not in the "she's so crazy, isn't that hilarious?" kind of way).  I lost the ability to think rationally.  Everything came crashing down and I couldn't see my way out.  I couldn't cry enough tears to fix myself.

And then the fog cleared and the anxiety lifted a little and I could take stock of what had happened.

I am very sorry for those I took down in my moment of most crazy.  If it wasn't something, it would have been something else.  It is no one's problem but my own.

A dear friend sent this to me this morning via email.  It very justly sums up everything I've been feeling and struggling with the past two weeks.

"She let go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. 
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore."

Ernest Holmes

She let go.  I'm working intently and without haste to close the gap between my head and my heart.  To breathe and be thankful for all that I have been blessed with.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A big mess

I, myself, am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.  A big mess.

Don't judge me, but I'm about to reference Grey's Anatomy.  I was watching last week and I had a little revelation.  I'll call it a little revelation because, right now, every day day presents small, eye-opening incidents.  Plus, Shonda Rimes has a way of making her viewers fall in love with the characters and then she does crazy things to them, like plane crashes.  

Grey's Anatomy viewers the world over have been saddened by the plane crash that killed off some of our favorite characters.  The first few episodes of this season have been no fun, all drama.  We've all be mourning with Meredith and Derek and Christina and Callie as if their losses are our losses.  And then, when you least expect it, Miranda Bailey has a human moment.  In the vortex of all the awful that's swirling around her, she's worried about her little boy letting go of her hand.  A small problem compared to what everyone else is dealing with.  But the chief cared.  Someone cared.  

For about 13 weeks exactly, I have been a mess of a person working hard to figure it all out on my own.  Outside, I'm a functioning adult caring for an almost 5 month old, working a job that I love, and living the perfect life with my awesome husband.  And yes, with the right perspective, it is all perfect.  Maybe I'm lacking the right perspective.  

Or maybe I'm having a human moment.  

A meaningless conversation with a good friend sends me into a panic because it is just that.  Meaningless.  And certainly the hallway at work is not where you answer the question, "How are you?" with, "I'm staying awake at night worrying over the future of every relationship I have, including ours.  I am a walking trap of anxiety, disappointment, and guilt. I can't really breathe."  

No, meaningless is not doing it for me right now.  I need a good run with a good friend.  

I am about to pay someone to have that conversation with me that I used to be able to have with a friend.  And that makes me a little nauseous.  But I can't keep staying awake at night and coming home from work with furrowed brows.  These thoughts can not keep ruminating in my head.  

Parenthood is hard, whether we are home or away or single or married or rich or poor.  Parenthood is hard, not because we are doing it wrong.  Just because its hard.  Like life.  Like friendship.  All are hard because we love them so much.  We love life and we love parenthood and we love our friends, and so we want to do it right.  

But I'm not sure there is a way to do it right.  We just listen to life as it makes demands and we respond thoughtfully and we remember that, sometimes, the more out of control things feel, the better.  Because then it is less easy to pretend we are in control.  

We are not in control.  We're just not.  

I am a mama and a wife and a sister and a friend and a neighbor and I am very shareable.  I am making time and making myself available. 

You, too.  You are enough.  You can be shared, and all who share you can have enough.  

We must think abundance when it comes to ourselves.  There is enough to give and enough to keep.  

And, finally, lately, this is where my broken heart lies.  Not quite okay with where I am.  Logically, realistically, I know.  I know that I've got it good.  But that doesn't make it sting any less.  It doesn't make the transition any easier. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

E, Myself, and I

There’s a lot to be said about spending the majority of your time with a person who is unable to communicate verbally.  Actually, there’s not.  Its pretty quiet.
As I approach month 4 of motherhood, I’m very grateful that the tearful moments are becoming less and the joyful moments are more.  I’m enjoying all of the new skills Emerson is acquiring–slobbering, eating her fists, grabbing onto her paci lamb, trying to laugh, holding her head up, etc.  It seems there’s a newness to every day in the Green household.
Our latest breakthrough: sleeping through the night. I am hesitant to share this news with anyone for fear that I will jinx myself into waking up at 12 and 2 and 4 all over again.  But for the past week, we have had nights of 9-5 sleep.  And then 5-7:30.  I can’t decide if the exhaustion I still feel is from the two months of night duty before or the shock of too much sleep to my system.  Either way, I’m waking up a happy mama. And I’m learning how to function without sleep, when necessary–I’m almost back up to full speed.
This is not to say that I am normal.  I don’t know if I will every be the person I was before E.  I have spent many hours mourning the loss of that person, that schedule.  I really, really miss my friends and I am keenly aware of a shift in dynamic that I can’t fix.  That makes me sad.
I’ve tried walking it off and I’ve tried running it off.  I just can’t shake my anxiety.  Which makes me feel guilty.  Which gives me anxiety. I can’t breathe.
And then I get to play with a sweet, chunky, smiley girl and it makes it almost all better.
The transition back to work has gone well so far.  Matt has been excellent at his new post as dad-on-duty and my mom has helped a ton.  We are very lucky that we do not have to drop Mowgs off with strangers or germy kids. While I would rather stay at home and play all day, I have been happy to be back at work with my friends and the kids.
There is a lot of work to be done, though, to make up for all of the work that I didn’t do last year.  My pregnancy brain took over my life and between buying a house, getting married, and having a baby, I don’t remember much else about last year besides floating around at work and not being very good at any one thing.  I was okay at a lot of things, but not great.  So, I’ve got a lot of work to do to redeem myself.  Anxiety.
All of the anxiety squeezing at my lungs has made me a bit more prayerful this summer.  When we brought Emerson home from the hospital, I prayed that she wouldn’t stop breathing, that she would sleep, and that maybe I could sleep, too.  And my prayers transitioned as she started to grow and we got more comfortable.  I prayed for her to eat well, to take a nap, to smile at me when I was feeling sad, to grow into a good person, to know that I am trying my hardest to be a good mom.   I pray that when we go on walks in the afternoon that we both feel fulfilled afterwards.  I pray that she is comfortable in our home.  I pray that she is a daddy’s girl. And I still pray for sleep.
“We forget that joy, like rest, is a basic requirement~we need joy in our lives. We think that it really isn’t necessary, that most of life is meant to be endured, not enjoyed. And yet we are God’s children, and He desires that we be happy. Joy and rest are intimately linked. Resting helps us unclench and let go of all we need to do, so that we can open our hands to receive.”
As I’ve been praying, I’ve been reading.  While my brain has only been able to process written word in small amounts and very slowly for the past 3 months, I’ve been given several tools that have played a key role in my poor readership.  One of them is a book called Champagne for the Soul by Mike Mason.   Constant reminders that joy in life takes work, is necessary, and can only be found if you look the right way.
Joy changes how we define happiness. Happiness is not always feeling wonderful. It might be doing the best I can in a tough situation, or being confident I can overcome anything, or giving myself a break, or letting God’s grace release any pressure to perform.


How to think faster than our blackest thought.  Give yourself a break.  No pressure.  Its okay to be not okay.
I am praying that the difficulty I am having and the heartbrokenness I feel are only preparing me for the challenges ahead.  Because I know that this is not the most difficult part of parenthood.  It is the most beautiful.
Every day, every moment, provides possibilities for joy. In no situation is it impossible to turn to the light.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Irrational Thinking

Note: This blog was started on Wednesday, July 25.  It takes a while to get two hands on a keyboard these days. 

Every once in a while Every day, I cry.  Sometimes its happy tears, but lately the tears have been tired, at-my-wits-end-tears.  Today Emerson and I cried together. 

This morning on our stankin' hot run, I ran out of things to try.  A 4 mile run at 7am without a baby is much different than a 4 mile run at 9am with a jogging stroller for many reasons.  But neither of us was crying because of how hot it was or how hard the run was.  

Emerson was crying because she's still new to this world and is trying to figure out how to live.  I was crying because I'm still trying to figure out how to live with her.  

Right now, we are living each day hour by hour.  We are still figuring out which hour she will want to eat, sleep, poop, and sometimes just cry.  And just when we think we are in a routine, she proves us wrong.  We haven't slept in three days--I'm talking naps, nighttime, nothing.  This lack of sleep causes me to think irrationally.  

At 3am, my wide awake little girl looks less like my sweet cutie and more like an alien.  I honestly don't recognize her.  It may be the lack of lights and my lack of sleep, but I have had moments where I look at her, wide-eyed, and think this is not my baby.  My baby eats well, sleeps, and wakes up happy.  This alien baby who is awake at 3am is not mine.  (I also swaddle her tightly, causing her to resemble a torpedo, not a baby)

My irrational thoughts extend into real life, causing me to question my worth as a person if I can't take a shower, if my friends even like me, and if sometimes my baby has it out to get me.  

Lately, here's what has been on my mind:

1.  The government should take measures to warn against driving with a baby.  Much like the DNT TXT N DRV mission that they are on, there should also be a DNT DRV W A SCRMN BB. Or, don't drive with a screamin' baby.  If you thought looking at your phone for 5 seconds whilst sitting at a red light was distracting you from your duty as a responsible driver, try driving for 15 minutes with a baby who is screaming and choking and hollering from the backseat, just out of arms reach for you to soothe her.  That deserves our government dollars, ya'll.  Now I know why some women tell me that they didn't leave their house for 8 weeks.  

2.  Baby poop really doesn't stink.  This is a thought addendum to a previous statement where I said: Whoever said that the poopy diapers of infants smell sweet was lying.  In retrospect, I hadn't been a mom long enough to come to a conclusive answer.  Now that I'm a whole two months in, I feel sure that I can positively say that baby poop does not stink.  My mom nose has come on full force and baby poop smells like sweet bread.  No lie.  And, have I mentioned I'm not sleeping and losing my mind? 

3.  Cracked nipples aren't all they are cracked up to be.  

4.  There is a very big difference between pregnancy-brain and new-mommy-brain.  Pregnancy-brain was a bit muddled and unclear.  New-mommy-brain is a beast because you have to actually function and think semi-rationally through the muddled and unclear brain you developed during pregnancy, plus you have about 5 less hours of sleep.  The milk doesn't go in the pantry and the used nursing pads don't go in the refrigerator.  

My tired, irrational mind has brought me to tears an embarrassing amount of times.  I have to talk myself off the cliff a lot: its okay if I don't get to shower every day.  My friends do really love me, they are just busy.  And my baby doesn't know she's hurting my feelings when she won't sleep or eat.  

Sometimes I have to call in reinforcements to talk me off the cliff.  If you have fielded one of these phone calls, thank you. 

I am very blessed to have a baby support staff in town.  My mom and my sisters have helped me almost every day since we brought Emerson home.  Sometimes one of them will just come over and sit with me so that I don't forget what it is like to talk to a human who talks back.  And my mom even gave me the best gift ever: a full night of sleep.  While waking up soaking wet from the neck down was not ideal, sleeping from 10:30pm-almost 8am was a great recharge.  

So, I'm determined to survive these first months of motherhood and will allow myself to cry when I need to, just like Emerson.  And just like any baby, there's always a solution that will dry up those tears.  We started that bad run crying together and we finished it like this: 

While she doesn't talk back, she's a pretty good running partner.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Alpha Monkey

I am a mom.  I grew a person inside of me and that person is now part of the world.  I made someone who will think for herself and walk and talk and be something.  And I'm still not sure how it all happened.

In the 7 weeks that I've had to figure it all out, I'm still living each hour by trial and error.  I still have to convince myself that standing up out of the chair while she is asleep is not going to cause her to scream now or hate me when she's 13 (she'll most likely do that regardless of how many times I stir her while she's sleeping).  When I'm frozen, breathless, by her crib, I have to remind myself that 1. She's surely not listening for me to breathe and 2. I do need to leave the room.  But there are a lot of unwarranted fears that come along with motherhood.  Many of them are concocted in my head.  Many of them come from what everyone else has to say about caring for a child.

In the 7 weeks that I've had to figure it all out, I've come across something that every mom struggles with, it seems.  For 7 weeks, I haven't been able to put it into words.  And then I ran across this blog from one of my favorites.  Alpha female monkeys.

A friend of mine had her baby one week after I had Emerson.  We have gotten to share the many joys and struggles of the beginning of motherhood.  We have also swapped advice or information on good products.  I will admit, however, that there was something inside of me that wanted to advise and warn her about all of the things to come in the week ahead (because I was a whole week ahead of her--duh!).  So, the alpha female monkey phenomenon happens to even the newest of us.

It does make me feel better to know that all of those seemingly normal women who smothered me with sage advice and backdoor comments are only acting out of instinct.  There was no physical way they could bite their tongues.  Something literally takes over their bodies and they must shove everyone out of the way to care for your child.  Give them a break--its natural.

But because you are wondering: Yes, my baby is getting plenty to eat and, actually, she's rather plump.  She's sleeping like a champion, so she's probably not tired.  In general, we keep a clean, dry diaper on that little bum at all times.  And, given the manly burps and farts that come out of her, I doubt she's got a horrible gas bubble sitting in her belly.  Babies sometimes just cry.

When my blogger friend says this, however, I think she may be taking it a bit too far.

All you have to do is gently, but firmly, hold their arm and whisper, "I know what you're trying to do. You're trying to steal my monkey baby. Don't bother though because, let me tell you something, I am the Alpha Female here so you need to back the hell off and go back to smelling your ass."

Personally, I just go for the silent nod and ignore.

But I do like to imagine these alpha female monkey women as gorillas instead of the cute, small monkeys that they really are.

Because my baby likes me more than gorillas.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Battles with a breast pump

Despite all of the unwarranted pregnancy and parenting advice, there are things that people don't share with you concerning the first days of parenthood.  Mostly, I think, because nothing compares to the exhaustion of a new mom and most people choose to omit those tearful, fearful, tired hours from their memories of new mommy bliss.

Quickly, let me first say that Emerson Eloise is a very sweet, easy baby.  She only gets upset when she's really hungry.  She sleeps a lot and loves to snuggle on anyone that will hold her.  She smiles when she's content.  She smiles when she's pooping.  She smiles when she's passing gas.  She smiles when she's nursing.

I know that at 9 days old, those smiles don't mean anything from her end, but during the early morning hours when I'm falling asleep in the rocking chair, its those little smiles that keep me awake enough to un-swaddle, burp, re-swaddle, and switch sides.  And change the most atrocious poopy diapers.  Whoever said that the poopy diapers of infants smell sweet was lying.  Or they had lost function of their olfactory cortex.

When Matt is home and on daddy duty, he likes to call it diaper roulette.  It can knock you down.

Somehow, we ended up with a baby who rarely even cries when she's getting her diaper changed.  Strike that.  We ended up with a baby who NOW rarely cries when she's getting her diaper changed.  That's because she spends about 18 hours of her day in a milk coma.  Eyes rolled back in her head, can't wake her up, breast milk stupor.

Before the breast milk, however, we had a baby who screamed at my nipples because she was so over the non-belly-filling colostrum.  I took it personally, too.

Evolution is going to need to catch up to the mouths of hungry babies.  I think most women are unsuccessful with breast feeding because it really sucks watching your baby cry and not having what she needs.  Emerson came out of the womb pooping (literally--all over the doctor and nurses) and sucking (she had sucking blisters on both wrists from sucking in the womb).  She was hungry before she ever took her first breaths.  And so, the five days it took for my milk to come in were almost too much for her.  Almost too much for me, too.

As we prepared for Emerson's arrival for months, Matt and I established a few basic ideas on child care that we thought were unwavering.  Among the many pretenses we had, we both agreed that we did not want to introduce a pacifier or bottle until we absolutely had to and we wanted to use cloth diapers.

We didn't make it out of the hospital without a paci.

We haven't attempted to put a cloth diaper on her because of the massive amounts of poop and pee this small human produces.

And we supplemented with formula on Saturday to try and quell the screaming-at-mommy's-nipples habit she was forming.  It worked!

And so, we've scratched all of our previous plans and gone into survival mode.  Which, in reality, is nothing new to this experience as a whole.

Our c-section experience was, perhaps, just as beautiful as any birth experience.  All of my fears and feelings of disappointment quickly dissipated as soon as the doctor started laughing, saying, "she's pooping everywhere!" Matt got pictures of Emerson's great entrance, poop included.  And she was perfect and pink and screaming.  Which, from what I hear, is about as close to a perfect birth as you can get, even if its not what we originally planned.

So, I will take the paci and the occasional bottle and even the disposable diapers if it makes the experience easier and if it allows me to enjoy these rough first weeks as a new mom.  Beautiful and rewarding, but rough.

Besides all of the physical changes and atrocities that come with being a new mom (most of them not blog-appropriate--if you want to know, call me), there's also a very overwhelming sense of responsibility.  I say overwhelming and I mean it.  For the first few days, I don't think I let Emerson lay down by herself. I watched her breathe.  If she made a face, I held my breath.  How is it possible that I am responsible for every aspect of this child's life?  And how do single, poor 16 year olds do this?

I have used every resource possible to survive without losing the last of my sanity.  I appreciate my mom and sisters and brothers and dad for coming and sitting with me just so I feel like a part of the real world.  I'm thankful for all of the calls and texts and little visits.  And my very dear friend who came over before 8am one day to sit with me and put her hand on my arm and told me to take a deep breath.  All of the food that has been delivered has sustained me as I'm eating more now than I did when I was pregnant just to keep up with this hungry little mouth.

Every day is getting a little easier and I'm starting to feel like a real human again.  Especially when I get to take a shower.  A luxury I won't take for granted again.  I'm also able to laugh now about the moments that brought me to tears in the first days.  Because we survived those moments, I suppose.

Yesterday morning as Emerson was swinging, I ate my breakfast and drank some coffee (with Miralax in it, mind you--like I said, call me if you want to know physical atrocities).  She got red faced and upset so I went over to the swing and sat by it, holding her paci in her mouth for her (because, apparently, 9 day olds don't own that skill yet). I starting singing a Beatles song to her (the first time she's been serenaded) and I messed up every word in the song.  And I sang it wrong over and over and over again.  And it didn't matter.  She went to sleep because I was singing and talking to her, not because I have a good voice and know all the words to the song.

And we might survive parenthood, after all.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

First Mother's Day (technically)--38 Weeks

Lately, there's been a storm of "How To Mother" articles swirling around the internet.  The "Are You Mom Enough" article that has graced the cover of Time magazine, complete with the hot 26-year-old mom with a 3 year old attached to her nipple, is causing uproar among seasoned moms everywhere.  

I am not a seasoned mom.  I'm technically not even a mom yet.  Not legally, anyway.  But I'm only about 2.5 weeks from meeting the little human that's been growing inside of me, so I'm going to go ahead and claim my mom-ness.  

The recent firestorm of mom-ranting has made me very thankful that I've failed to research every aspect of pregnancy and beyond.  Matt and I do not have an established parenting game plan.  We were just planning on winging it.  Loving E and giving her as much love as we can and taking every step as it comes.  

All of the "Mom Enough" discussions put me a little on edge as a first-timer.  I grew up in a house that didn't follow a parenting plan.  In reality, we didn't really follow any plans at all besides the survival plan. The hope-we-can-get-to-the-grocery-store-sometime-this-week plan.  We played outside a lot and ate a lot of popsicles.  We slept in our own beds and mom tried to get us to take a nap every day.  We used a lot of bandaids.

Almost 9 months ago when Matt and I started this process of becoming parents, we let ourselves get wrapped up in a birth plan.  An ideal situation for us that would involve the least medical intervention possible.  We went to Bradley Method classes for 12 weeks (which were…whoah…a lot of information) and wrote our own birth plans and got set on what we wanted the birth experience to be.  And E is very stubbornly breech.  

So, all previous plans out the window, we scheduled a c-section for May 30th.  And its taken me about a month to be okay with this plan.  I have mourned the labor I'm not going to get to experience.  I've gone to the chiropractor, I've taken baths with icepacks on my belly, and I've done a million downward facing dog poses--this baby is comfortable where she is.  

But she's healthy and she's getting fat! And she's about to make her appearance in this world one way or another.  So the c-section will not be my birth or parenting failure.  It can still be the joyful, beautiful birth experience we were planning on.  

A plan of any kind opposes my natural personality.  I'm surprised I let myself get wrapped up in a "birth plan" in the first place.  The firestorm of "Mom Enough" discussions have made me very aware of my reluctance to establish a parenting plan in my own home.  We can only do what makes sense to us.  Breastfeeding until our child can walk up to me and verbally request it probably won't make sense to us.  

What does make sense is taking all of the wonderful parenting examples that Matt and I have been exposed to throughout our lives and applying them to our own parenting practice.  

At week 38, I can feel her practicing breathing inside of me.  Of all the things I've felt her do, this is the coolest!  Soon, she will take her real first breath.  I am equal parts ready and excited to meet her and not be pregnant anymore.  Matt is ready for me to not be pregnant anymore, too.  

But pregnancy has not been a total bust for us.  It wasn't until week 37 that I was TOTALLY over it.  Part of that is due to the fact that I can't run anymore.  I'm just unable to ask my body to do it anymore without sending it into labor.  And so, I need pregnancy to be over now.  I'm ready to feel normal again and not tired.  And I'm really ready to be a somewhat fun person again - I know that my friends are over it, too. 

Plus, I just don't think that I'm one of those women who are euphoric in pregnancy.  It is amazing, yes.  But, I like being not pregnant more than I like being pregnant.  Matt says that people stare at me in public like I'm a mystical creature.  Let's be done with that.  

Our house is finally ready to welcome E as well! 

The "nursery" before we started working on it. 

The finished product :) 

We are ready! 

And I am ready to be a mom. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kitchen Feet

I found a piece of my writing from 2006 and it is so funny to look at it now.  I wrote it for an undergraduate creative writing class under an image assignment.

Today I am pregnant, I have green and blue Fiesta Wear dishes, and a Matt (not a Nate) that will hold my hand when things aren't perfect.

Kitchen Feet

Nathan carried the high-heeled terry cloth slippers, the heels hooked over the edge of his hands, across the blue-flecked linoleum to Claire, who was frying eggs and hickory-smoked bacon in a cast iron skillet at the stove.  He put the right slipper on the Formica top, took the spatula out of her hand, and handed her the left slipper.  “Aren’t your feet cold,” he asked.
            “These hurt my feet,” she whispered back, her toes wriggling, feet pigeon toed out like a dancer in fifth position.  She laid the slipper beside its match, picked up the spatula, and minding the spattering grease, flipped the strips of bacon over, one by one.  Her free hand gently found its way to her belly.
            She didn’t know what she was going to tell them, how she was going to do it.  Nate wanted to walk her down the aisle, maybe not wearing that white dress, to prove to them all that it wasn’t an accident.  That they weren’t an accident.  His simple solution.
            Nathan moved from the stove and sighed.   Claire’s hands slowly remembered what they were doing and they moved the spatula under the egg, careful not to break the yolk, and rolled the egg over, exposing the burned underbelly of her absentmindedness.   “Maybe we shouldn’t do this today,” he said.
            “They’re coming here today,” she answered, stammering through they and today.  “They are coming here and you think they aren’t going to notice?” 
            “Nate,” Claire trailed off.  Like two teammates after a loss late in the game, they were unable to reassure or comfort one another. 
            She put the bacon and overdone eggs on the green and blue Fiesta Ware plates that her parents had sent her when she moved to Dallas after graduation, and carried them to the small wooden table already set by Nathan.  He stared up at her as she set the plates down like an untrained puppy begging at the heels of its owner, and although she noticed the gesture, she sat down avoiding eye contact.   Nathan blessed the food, out of habit more so than sincere thanks, pausing for long seconds in between wishes and hopes and praises.  
            And then he grabbed her hand, the way he used to do in college when they would sit and eat their lunch together outside in the grass.  The way he used to do when they were riding in the car, regardless of how long the trip was.   He grabbed her hand, squeezing slightly, relaxing the fingers just enough, letting her hand fit and melt into his.  
            “Hey Nate,” she said, head down, eyes peaking up from under her too-long brown bangs. “My feet are cold.”     

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Oh, Belly, Belly.

Growing up, we attended church at OLPH (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) Catholic Church.  Incidentally, that's where I also spent two very bad years of elementary school.  One of the most distinct memories I have of going to church there doesn't even include the church itself.  As we were leaving mass one Sunday, a man who lived across the street from the church came out of his house in his underwear to get his newspaper.  The whole modest carload of us were in amazement that his man would exit the privacy of his own home into the public eye wearing nothing but a pair of worn, thin boxer briefs and maybe some socks.

The most knowledgeable "they" of the pregnancy world have said that in labor and childbirth, you will lose your modesty.  As I am leaving the second trimester and entering the third, I'm convinced that I may be entering a stage of premature modesty loss.

Sitting in a lawn chair in front of my house with my shirt pulled up over my belly, I can't help but think what the children leaving school across the street must be thinking.  Will I forever be the lady who sits outside of her house nearly naked?

Or two weeks ago when two poor, unsuspecting Mormon boys made their way down the street and were forced to talk to three women--two Catholics and a bare-bellied pregnant woman.

Admitedly, this is not a practice I would have partaken in pre-pregnancy.  I'm not one to hang out nearly naked for the heck of it.  But pregnancy has done a lot to alter me.

Most days, when I wake up in the mornings, I have to remind myself that I'm pregnant.  I lay in bed for a few extra minutes and wait for the little person inside of me to wake up inside of the belly that doesn't feel like its part of my body.  And the majority of my experience with pregnancy has been much like that.  I'm constantly in awe that there's an actual person growing inside of me--while, at the same time, I'm prone to forget that she is in there at all.

I would not say that I am in love with being pregnant.  I do love it.  The selfish part of me really misses being selfish--a glass of wine or a beer, upward facing dog, B-cup bras, sushi, and seeing my toes.  In general, I like being not pregnant more than I like being pregnant.  This is not to say, however, that I am not enjoying this experience.  It is magical and I am beyond excited to meet little E.  I'm just not walking around oozing pregnancy awesomeness.

From the start, I decided to approach this pregnancy like I would approach training for a marathon.  Like I have approached training for a marathon in the past.  And the thinking was this: some days the run feels really good and some days it just doesn't.  But the finish-line is looming, regardless of your preparedness.  So, I'm training to give birth.  And just like with running, there have been many days that have brought me to my knees and I've cried and cursed the hormones that were making me cry.  Growing a kid is not easy.

There's a very fine line, I've discovered, between knowing too much and knowing nothing at all.  I love my doctor, but every time I leave an appointment, I feel like the failure mom.  I need a sign that says, "Help! I've never done this before and I need you to hold my hand!"  When I do the research, I feel like I come off as though I think I can do the doctor's job.  When I'm not clued in, I feel stupid.  So, I'm a little lost.

Growing a kid also has its benefits.  So far, it means I get to take a nap every day without feeling guilty about it.  I am allowed to truly live up to the motto "run to eat." I can expose my belly in public.  And I can wear baggy clothes without judgement.  I can also shop for maternity clothes that actually fit, building a new mini-wardrobe.

Matt Green gets the award for Husband of the Year.  In the 7 months of my pregnancy, I've completely forgotten how to take care of myself because Matt does almost everything but bathe for me.  He pays the bills, takes the trash out, does the dishes, cleans the kitchen.  I don't even know what kind of food to buy myself in the grocery store because I haven't had to grocery shop since we got married.  The man has shown me every day why I married him--because he's a good man with a big heart and he will do anything to take care of me and this baby.   He's just not allowed to tone-deaf-serenade anymore.

Our child is also not allowed to have his head.

Can you see those pretty, pouty lips?

And the answer to all my heartburn questions…we are sprouting hair.  (This is a picture of the top of her head zoomed in--don't worry yet, her head is still normal sized)

Mowhawk Mowgli, as my sister has fondly renamed her, is weighing in at a whopping 2 pounds and 5 ounces at 28 weeks gestation.  She's perfectly on track as far as growth, which is huge for us considering my Crohn's and its propensity to produce underweight babies.   She can still run and do yoga, which makes her mommy very happy.  Currently, her head is resting right under my rib cage and her feet are touching her forehead.  Yoga has made her very bendy.  

I can not wait to meet her and kiss those little lips and smell that hair and see just how big her feet really are.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

20 weeks

Half way.

Craving: the sunshine, Coke, red grapefruit, sleep, mint anything.

Mowgli is the size of a can of soda, coincidentally.  We found out on Wednesday that she is, in fact, a little girl with little girl parts and a little girl nose and a cute little butt.  It was so magical to see her on the ultrasound screen and to watch her move as I felt her move inside me.

Perhaps we will start working on the nursery soon.  As of right now, it is the store-all room for odds and ends that don't fit elsewhere in the house.  So, perhaps we will wait until I really feel nesty.

Naturally, I immediately went shopping after we found out.  This having a girl business has great potential to be expensive. 

I love being pregnant.  I don't mind that my brain has turned to mush and my body is on its way (well, I do mind a little).  And, to be quite honest, I still have no idea what I'm doing.

I haven't read one pregnancy book.  Not What to Expect or How to be a Mom or The Simple Guide to Child Birth. I'd rather not know.

It goes back to the fact that I am not a planner.  It stresses me out and makes me worry, gives me zits, and ruins a perfectly good time.  So, early on in this incubating relationship, I decided that there would be no need for all of the "what ifs" and "could be's."  Unless something is going wrong, don't tell me!

I do get the reminder emails from The Nest and What to Expect When You're Expecting dot com, but given that the illustration on the front of their book is from 1947, I just don't trust that a lot of the information is sound advice.  We have ultrasounds now.  And you don't really need to know what to expect.  That is part of the experience.

So, for now, we are just winging it.

Right now, I expect to feel her move every day.  And that is like a little secret joy that I get to experience all day long.  No one else can feel it, which is part of why it is so amazing.  I was able to feel her move at about 16 weeks and her kicks keep getting stronger and stronger.  She can kick a book that is sitting on my belly and she is even kicking the laptop has I write this.

This is our 20 weeks bump.

And this is our 20 weeks picture.

So far, we still enjoy running and yoga.  Lately, we love to lay in bed and read and drink tea that Matt makes for us every night.

Only 4 months to go.  That seems like such a long time to wait!  I can't wait to meet my little E. E. G. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Begin anew

I'm not much for resolving to do anything.  Chances are, if I have made a list, I am beyond stressed out and actually afraid that I will shut down and do nothing but read a novel.  I prefer to work by a small mental mobile (think something over a baby's crib) of tasks and ideas that need to get done (or that just look pretty), in no particular order, until I remember to do them.  Therefore, a strong, hard, written on a piece of paper New Year's resolution is just not my game.  I don't think that I have ever really made one.

To begin this year, however, I have decided to tack an idea onto my mobile, to float around in my head and remind me to stay focused on the good.  To remain positive when negative is always easier.  To be comfortable hugging again.  And to never be satisfied.

All of that in one idea?  Well, you have to understand that the mobile in my head is not actually concrete.  It is an idea itself, and therefore capable of taking any form, including an idea embracing ideas.

So, for your visual reference, I've drawn you a small version of my mobile to your right.  While its much larger and prettier in my head, this will suffice.  If you will just imagine the little ideas or reminders or tasks dangling all around (in a much larger quantity), I think you may understand.  And if you can, don't imagine them in words.  Maybe pictures.  Or shards of light.  Nothing academic or rigid.

While a list gets lost and things remain unchecked, I usually work pretty well using the "hope I remember" system.   That was, until I got pregnant. Another matter all together.

So, while I was watching all of my friends have a grand time on New Year's Eve, I started thinking about what I would like this 2012 to look like.  2011 was a really great year and I have great expectations for this year.  I only know a few people who can say they bought a house, got married, and had their first child all in the matter of 12 months.  26 is a HUGE year for me.

I'd like to remember to be a big person.  For so long, it wasn't a choice.  I had to either be bigger than myself or fail to achieve my goals.  So, I would like to entertain that idea and everything that comes with it, especially as I begin to fall into a routine of work and home (which will be promptly interrupted in about 4.5 months).

I would like to remember every single moment of Mowgli's life from the moment she (or he) takes her (or his) first breath.  While this isn't really possible, I hope that I have the mental clarity and wherewithal in the first few months to appreciate all of the little moments, even when I'm emotionally and physically exhausted.

I hope to remember the things that make me happy on the days that make me sad.  To be a bit more quick to realize all of my blessings when I am tempted to lay down and give up.

I want to be able to pull from my mind all of these sweet days and nights of being married to Matt without distraction.  "They" say that the first year of marriage is hard, and "they" weren't talking about pregnancy hormones when "they" said it, but I think "they" forgot about all the shiny new emotions that come with sharing your life with someone.

I would like to remember how good it feels to do something for someone else without being prompted or paid.

I'd like to remember how to dream and think like I did when I was 18.  Open mind and open heart and trusting that anything is possible.

I would like to keep trying to remember the girl who was confident and open enough to hug any person at any time.  I love to hug, but somewhere along the way, I stopped being able to hug just anyone.  I want to be comfortable in that.

I want to remember how I feel and how my face flushes every time I feel Mowgli kick.

I'd like to be able to recreate every great run that I experienced in this past year and all the emotions that come with that.  The things that I've seen and smelled and felt.  All the sunsets that took my breath away and all the reasons that they did.

To simply remember to turn my eyes up when I am lost.

I guess I resolve to do nothing but think a little bit more than I talk and to love a lot more than I've ever known myself to be capable.  

Happy new everyday!