Posted in family, kids, Life

Motherhood (Raw and Uncut)

Well, hello, you good people of blogger-land, Facebook, Twitter and various other internet locations. I hope you haven ‘t forgotten about me. I know it’s been a few days. I did not turn my computer on once this past weekend (I never sat my phone down once, though)- I needed a break from the constant stat-checking I’d been doing. So on the sixth AND seventh day, I rested. And also the first day of the next week, and then it just started to become a bad habit. I figured I better sit my ass down and dredge up something clever to say quick before you guys didn’t like me anymore. I have no idea if I will be able to achieve that or not, seeing as how I have a headache, Nick Jr. is blaring out of the TV, and my toddler is periodically climbing up behind me and doing something to my hair. I’m pretty sure she is checking me for lice. I hope she doesn’t find any.

So, while I was rushing around trying to cook dinner, keep the baby occupied,  and not accidentally step on the dog (simultaneously)this evening, it occurred to me that this was not exactly what I’d envisioned being the mother-person in a family would be like. I don’t really know where I got my weird idea that it would be this easy and totally gratifying experience…perhaps it came from every woman with a child I know saying, at one time or another, that their children were the greatest blessing of their lives. Not that they are NOT, don’t get me wrong. I’m a subscriber to that particular belief, myself. I think it’s a chemical imbalance you develop at the moment of conception that keeps you from throwing your infant out the window after the third sleepless night in a row.

Now, girls, if you really think about it- how many times have you conversed about motherhood with a childless person, and contributed blatant honesty in your statements? Because when I think about it, I realize that I have been guilty of a whole lot of glossing-over-of-the-truth, myself. Which is weird, because I am normally a really, brutally honest kind of girl. I can’t help but wonder if maybe this is another instinctual glitch deep in our animal brains meant to encourage the human race to be fruitful and multiply. Or maybe it’s just what we’ve been conditioned to say, as mothers-“She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” “I can’t remember what it’s like to NOT be a mom.” “It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”. All of those things are true, and maybe we are scared to tell the WHOLE truth…but here, again, is one of those things that no one really talks about so everyone feels bad about it. Thinking that they are the only freakish, soulless female in the world who ever thought about how nice it would be to have a nervous breakdown just so she could stuck in a mental ward for a week or two, and rest, kid free.

Well, if you are thinking those thoughts, love, rest assured- you are not alone. Here are some other things you either already know or, if you don’t, you really ought to be told:

-Pregnancy may or may not suck for you, but I encourage you to enjoy being the object of such affection and attention while you can. The minute you pop that baby out, it’s like you barely exist anymore. Of  course, that isn’t really true, but after months of people doting on you and treating you so sweetly, it’s a bit harsh when it all gets yanked away overnight. You may find yourself  spouting the words “I just had a baby” an unreasonable amount of times in all sorts of inappropriate conversations. I know I did! I wanted people to know I wasn’t just dumpy, I had leased my body out to a smallish human for almost a year. It got a little too small for her and she had to move out, but she left the place a mess!

-People will give you so much advice that you will not know what the hell to do. Everyone sounds very sure of themselves. When you tell them, timidly, that you plan on going back to work when the baby is four months old, they will look at you like you just added “and I was going to just leave the baby out in the yard with the dog.”  to the end of your sentence. These well meaning folks will find fault with anything you say that does not mirror what they believe to be right. Don’t worry about it.

-After the first two days of being a mom, you will probably have to be alone with the baby. It’s okay if you don’t really feel all that excited about this stranger you just gave birth to. I was shocked by how ambivalent I felt towards both my kids for the first little while after they were born. I mean, I LOVED them and thought they were amazing, but it wasn’t how I thought it would be. It took a little bit of interacting to get to that adoration phase.

-IMPORTANT! The first three months of being a mom is sort of nightmarish. I mean, it is freaking hard. You are fat, tired, sleep deprived, soggy and  isolated from the real world. Your whole life suddenly revolves around this fragile little person that you can’t even leave alone while they are sleeping (I checked my infants constantly for signs of life  while they slept, even poking them when necessary) . It is really a thing you have to go through on your own, no matter how great the dad may be. He isn’t the one dealing with the hormones, the body changes, the life altering craziness of it all. But it will get better. It really does. And I’m not just saying that to encourage you to breed, I promise.

Wow! That was really long, really quick. I think I will have to do this in segments-Yay! A plan! So I’ll meet you back here really soon, and we will talk about the truth about toddlers, ok? Now I’m outta here. I have jury duty tomorrow. Oh! And feel free to add your thoughts about how much infants suck, sometimes. And how much we love them, anyway.

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Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Little Wonder

I know my topics bounce around a lot. I get a lot of ideas in my head throughout the day about what I want to write about, and the one that yells the loudest is the one that wins when I sit down here at my keyboard. Tonight, I want to take a few minutes to write about my littlest girl, Camryn.

I’m going to be really honest here (as if I am ever anything else) and tell you that, when I found out I was pregnant, I was not exactly thrilled. A year, almost to the day, prior to my last pregnancy, I had sat in the same bathroom, peed on the same (type of ) stick, and seen the same results. I was numb. I was definitely having the baby, but I wasn’t okay with it at all. It was a major blow, a big mistake, just not good. So when I went to the doctor due to some minor spotting just a few weeks in, and he told me that this baby inside me had no heartbeat, I was not at all prepared for the total, horrible grief that took a hold of me. I was devastated.

Fast forward a year. I wish I could put into words that odd, detached, yet somehow terrified feeling I got looking down at that little, all powerful, EPT. That’s “early pregnancy test” in case you somehow did not know that. The worst part was, it had looked like it was going to be negative. (I know, I know, they tell you to wait a certain amount of minutes before trying to read it. Show me ONE woman who does this.) It had done all the stuff it seemed like it was going to do, then slowly, sloooowly, that second line appeared.

I was scared. I was OLD. I mean, I know 35 is not really old, but in terms of having another baby, it kind of is. I had actually sort of convinced myself that I had “old eggs” and was in no danger of getting pregnant. I highly discourage this as a method of birth control. It has a few glitches. Anyway, so there it was.

Now I’m going to share with you something that will probably make you think I am totally nuts- if you don’t already. At no time during my entire pregnancy did I believe anything other than that this was the same baby. What I mean is, that baby that I had miscarried had come back, a year later, when it was a better, more feasible time for it to be born. I don’t know that I have ever shared that with anyone other than Devon, who is the other co-creator of this child. I really believed that, and I still do. I got a do-over. It was the right time.

I had a lot of the normal worries of pregnancy- will my baby be healthy, is everything alright in there, etc. I had some of the added worries of a later-in-life pregnancy- will my baby have Down’s Syndrome? Will my body be able to do this? And then I had some worries about things that women who have other children undoubtedly have- will my daughter (who was already 12 at the time) be okay with all of this? And the biggest question of all- How will I ever be able to love another kid the way I love this one?

The answer arrived in the form of Camryn Faith, on November 16th, 2010. It was a scary delivery. She had some problems with her umbilical cord, and every time I had a contraction, it became compressed, cutting off her oxygen. I listened as her heartbeat disappeared. So did the whole room full of doctors and nurses. I don’t know that I have ever felt so helpless before in my life. Finally, they wheeled me off to surgery (my very first one, ever) and not ten minutes later, I heard my little girls first cry in the world.

I’m pretty sure I had postpartum, this time around. Everything was harder for me than it had been the first time- of course, the first time, I had been 22, clueless, and the baby had come out via the normal and standard orifice rather than through a man-made one in my abdomen. It was hard. I think it was a good two weeks before I really started bonding with this perfect little girl. But once it started, look out.

I have had her for a while now, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep her. Sure, she likes her dad a little more than she likes me, but whatever. If I was a baby, I probably would, too. He’s more on her level (BURN! Ha!), not that I’m jealous or anything. I am such a better parent this time around than I was the first time. I have so much more sense, and so much more understanding of what it really means to be a mother. I am forming a human being here, that will someday go out into the world and be a grown up woman. I want to do this right.

Camryn is a blessing. Not just to us, here in this house, but to the people she meets. She is one of those happy, smiling, laughing kids that cheer people up. There are rarely times when she is fussy or unhappy- she wakes up with a smile on her face and goes to sleep the same way. She is above average smart, and I’m not just saying this because I am her mom- her doctor has verified this for me time and time again. She’s a toddler and she has an amazing sense of humor!

But Camryn is a blessing for even more important reasons than just being a ray of sunshine in a sometimes rotten world. She did something to my heart. I don’t know how to describe it other than this- because of her, my heart burst wide open, allowing me to love in a whole different way. Maybe I was just too young with Aisley, too selfish, still, but now I am so aware of how precious children really are. And every single one of us was a child at one time. See the implications, here? Every face on the planet is a face that has been loved by a mother, a father….every one of us have had a moment we don’t recall, where someone has watched us as we slept and loved us until their heart ached. Camryn has softened every hard part of me, and opened my eyes. She is my little wonder.

Posted in Uncategorized

Routine Maintenance

Recently, I had the extreme pleasure of being sent for my first mammogram…although I am only 36, I had been having some increasing pain in my left breast- so much so that I finally went to the doctor to have it checked out. Mind you- living, as we do, in this wonderful age of Google and WebMD, I was already a complete basket case by the time I got there. I found myself waiting in my doctors exam room, in that thin, blue, paper “robe” they give you, fighting back tears, sure I was lugging around a boob full of stage IV cancer. I lay there on the exam table, fondling myself like a sixteen year old boy (only I was looking for lumps, thank you.)while salsa music played through the speakers in the ceiling, making me feel like I was in some bizarre indie movie. Right before my doctor came into the room, I found them- two small lumps I hadn’t been able to feel before.

She found them right away, too. Very cheerfully, I might add- “Oh, yep. There they are. Two lumps, here, and here!”  Gulp. “They feel cysty to me.” (I swear she said “cysty”).

“They don’t feel cancery?” Was my intelligent, well thought-out question to her.

“Nah. But let’s send you down for a mammo and get it checked out.”

Great! Which is how I found myself, a few days later, at the breast care center, in another room, in another robe, standing awkwardly in front of another overly-cheerful doctor type woman. I knew she was a different woman, however, as she had a German accent. And she was white, while my doctor is not. Why all the cheerfulness, I could not tell you, but I suppose it is to lighten the mood of what could become a very, very bad day.

Lucky for me, the worst part of the day ended up being the part where I had to stick my left breast into a machine that would then proceed to be turned on and used to squash that breast until it was approximately a foot and a half long. I am not shitting you, read this sentence back to yourself, replacing my breast with your own, and tell me it doesn’t sound ridiculous. It sounds more like a medieval torture device than cutting edge technology. Which must be why, looking down at my long, flat, left breast, I got the worse case of giggles I’ve had in a long time. So much so that the radiology technician also started laughing.

“What’s wrong?” She asked me, catching her breath.

“This is fucking hilarious!” I gasped, falling apart all over again. I really did say that. I have a problem maintaining my composure in frightening medical situations that are also, oddly, funny. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has been around while I have had my babies.

So anyway, it turned out fine- whatever the “cysty” lumps were, they vanished  in the minutes just prior to my mammogram, making me look like a lunatic- which I was okay with, considering. But it did make me think about the stuff girls go through as part of the routine maintenance of being female. I’m not just talking about the medical stuff, although you would think that would be enough- the yearly subjecting of one’s vagina to a speculum, need I say more? While the men among us suffer through, what? The occasional fondling of balls by a hot nurse who asks them to turn their head and cough? Oh, brother. Must be tough. I’d like to see how well they’d fare with a glorified shoe horn in one of their orifices, being cranked open like an old garage door whose contents are about to be handled and examined. I bet there would be a shortage of gynecologists if men had our genitals- it would probably be a much riskier profession.

Having lived with a man for the past several years, and believing him to be fairly representative of your average, works-with-his-hands, every day guy, I gotta say- this is some bullshit. His grooming routine requires less than ten minutes of his entire day (not including showering or baths, which take so much time as to be a little suspicious. I don’t really want to know what he is doing in there.) He brushes his teeth, he combs his hair. If he can’t find a comb, he puts on a beanie. He puts on clean clothes. If there are no clean clothes, he sniffs the ones he thinks may be cleanest. He puts them on. That’s it. If he’s really trying to look snazzy, he may shave or put some gel in his hair and wear a button down shirt that he dead refuses to iron, so it looks like it has ruffles down the middle of his chest. No amount of pleading from me seems to make a difference, so I stopped trying. Let him wear ruffles, then. Whatever. Apparently, he’s secure in his manhood, right?

The stuff I need to do to my skin alone, before I even start putting on my make-up, takes me longer than his entire regimen in the morning. I bet you women spend a quarter of their lives devoted to their appearance- thinking about clothes, make-up, acne, fat, toenails, fingernails, eye brows, teeth whitening, underwear, hair cuts, beauty products, other women’s clothes, jackets, purses, make-up…it never really ends, does it? And that is just the thinking part. Don’t even get me started on the activities we actively engage in pursuing, maintaining, recapturing, correcting and still, never really achieving more than an evening at a time of feeling ENOUGH.

You know, I started this blog with the idea that I would do a bunch of different stuff (above and beyond all the crap I already do) to my face and my body in the hope of achieving a feeling of prettiness again, which I feel has been fading from my life lately. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, though, I have so enjoyed writing about other stuff, it has made me so happy, that I have started to FEEL really great again. Because I have felt so great, I am going out into the world with this light inside of me that people respond to like you wouldn’t believe. I am happy. And wouldn’t you know it, I had it all wrong- sure it’s nice to be beautiful, and every single woman in the world deserves to feel that way, to be that way, in the eyes of the people who matter most. But physical beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, anyway, and when it is me beholding myself in a mirror, I am always going to fall short, every single time- no matter how much time, money and effort I put into it. But should I catch sight of myself in the middle of what I am doing right now- sitting in my kitchen, in my jammies, with no make-up on and my hair in a pony-tail, I bet you I would think-“Whoa!” When I see the face of a woman passionately involved and enraptured by the thing before her. Or if I look at a picture I have of myself immediately after giving birth to my oldest daughter- the look on my face, that smile…

You know that saying, “beauty is only skin deep.”? I get what it means, but it leaves a lot unsaid. True beauty comes from a much deeper place, a place that may not exist for some of us until we are older. Which is why God makes young people so gorgeous, so that they have at least aesthetic beauty until they grow up a little and have actual value. Otherwise we would kill them. So if I have to age and get wrinkly and whatnot, at least I have this- the consolation that my true worth was never my appearance at all. Even if it means I have to stick my breasts into machines every once in a while.