Archives for April 2012

Love Letter to Noah on his First Birthday

It’s like you knew you were turning one.  Your face has changed this week.  You stand a little taller.  Your expressions and movements are more focused, more animated, more controlled.  You now say Mama to me and I know you mean it.  (Here’s a tip: as much as I love to hear this one now, don’t overuse it, baby.)

 

Thank you for being so forgiving this past year.  I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when you arrived, and you made it pretty easy for me.   You smiled, you slept for hours, you stayed in a good mood the entire time you’ve been alive.  You really are the happiest baby on the block.  Everyone comments on how smiley you are.  We’ve grown together, trying to figure out who we are becoming.

 

Just as much as I’ve made you, you’ve made me into a new version of myself.  Your birth taught me how strong I was; your life has taught me patience, sacrifice, and selflessness.  It’s also burst my heart open with a love that can’t be described, so volatile as it is.  So raw.

 

Watching you grow fills me with such joy.  And sadness.  But mostly joy.  You make us laugh.  Your scrunched up smile is infectious.  You shake when you get excited (or get in trouble).  You make these hilarious farting sounds over and over again with your mouth.  You learned how to use a straw, then learned how to spray me with water from it.  You get crazy excited about your toys, flinging them everywhere and squealing.   You have learned to climb over everything.  You have no fear.  You are such a boy.

You have a zest for life, just like your Daddy.  You are goofy, like your sister.  Your smile is just like your Grandpa’s.  You have the diligence and focus of your Aunt Jannie.  You scrunch your face up just like your Grandma.  I’m not sure yet what you get from me.  Definitely not your agility.  Maybe your intelligence…?

 

Your sister loves you, so so much.  And you can’t get enough of her either.  You crack each other up.  Of course, you bother her too, already.  You want to be doing what she’s doing, and you follow her, hoping she’ll pay attention to you.  She loves to carry you around, and hold you down, and make you squirm.  I’m sure that will go on until you outgrow her and get her back.

 

I love rocking you to sleep still.  Even though all the books say I shouldn’t be doing this anymore, I can’t help it.  I love how you still put your hands up by your ears when you’re laying in my arms, it’s your relaxing pose.  You did this in utero, you came out of me with those hands up, and it still for you is the position that puts you to sleep.  And I still watch you as you sleep.  I don’t know how you can’t feel my stare, because I look at you for a long time, trying to memorize your face as it is; as a baby.  You are becoming a boy so fast.

 

 

Sometimes when I’m holding you, I wish I could absorb you back into my body, keep you safe and protected there.  Keep you mine.  But you are not mine.  You don’t belong to me.  You belong to you.  Since you were born it has been a process of me learning to let go, inch by inch.  Each and every day you yearn to be a little more independent.  As soon as you came out from inside me, it has been your job to learn how to be separate from me.  And my job is to let you.

 

 

 

 

I will do my best at this job. This balance of teaching you, protecting you, holding you, and letting you go.  It may not be perfect.  I will stumble a lot along the way.  But my promise to you is that I will make sure that you get to be the best you possible.  I will provide the frame, so you can build who you are meant to be.  You will be loved, whomever you become, whatever you choose in this life.  You always will be so loved.

Things happen for a reason…

My sister Janet has been my rock for most of my life.  I’m older, but she’s definitely more pulled together.  I’ve kind of always floated around wearing rose-colored glasses, and she’s the pragmatist, helping me clean myself up through messy break-ups, messy jobs, my mostly messy life.  Just once I’d like to be the one helping her through something.  And now’s the time, and I am utterly useless.

Janet’s right in the middle of IVF; the final hope in a struggle with infertility for the past four years.  There’s nothing I can do to make this easier for her, and on top of it, I feel guilty as hell.

What am I guilty for?  Hmm, let’s see.  Well to start, it was supposed to be me that had all the problems.  I was told at the ripe old age of 17 by an idiot old man gyno that it would be “challenging” for me to have kids.  I was naive and trusted this one opinion, and as the years progressed and I experienced other minor health issues I became convinced this might be my curse.

What the hell do you know, this turned out not to be the case.  As soon as I stopped birth control I was pregnant with Noah.  Like, within 2 weeks.  I was shocked that it was so quick, taken aback a bit, thrown off course.  But I was very happy.

The second go around, when Noah was 6 months old, I also got a surprise.  This one I was not so ready for.  Exhausted from caring for a newborn, depressed that I was away from my family, feeling isolated and alone while my husband worked 6 days a week, and dealing with my own emotional fallout of Katya’s birth mom coming back into her life, I was ill-prepared for this.  I spent the first three nauseated months wishing my pregnancy away.  Yes, I’m guilty.

It turns out I can get pregnant about as easily as I can order drive thru at McDonalds. Guilty.

I complain often about my kids, about being overwhelmed (especially after days like this), about the ills of pregnancy that get me down.  I daydream about how my life used to be.  I envy my sister sometimes, and think about how nice it would be to travel unhindered, to stay up late drinking wine, to sleep in with my husband.  To have one uninterrupted conversation with my husband.  To have one day go by without getting spit up on, or boogers on my nice shirt, or poop under my fingernails.  I sometimes wonder if I was truly meant for this.  I sometimes cry that this might be all there is.

And then I think, well, you bitch.  You have the luxury of thinking that, because you have kids already.  Poof, and there they are.  You had a choice.

She doesn’t make me feel guilty, mind you.  Not at all.  When I called, crying because I was pregnant so much sooner than I wanted to be, she never once told me to shut the fuck up.  She never once said to me that I should be happy that I never had any problems at all, that I didn’t have to wait each month in agony, wondering if this just might be the time I get my baby.  She understood me, and my journey, and that it was separate from hers.  She let me vent, and then told me things would be alright, that I could handle this just like I handle everything else.  She’s good like that.  She’s so much stronger than me.

And now, I can’t think of anything to say to her to make things better.  Me, woman of many words, and I’m at a loss.  So I throw out – Here, have my uterus! Have some eggs!  Anything I can offer to assuage the guilt that its her and not me.  But I can’t fix it.  I can’t make her body work for her the way she wants it to.  And I’m her big sister, so I am supposed to have the answers, the solutions.  I can’t just offer her my shoulder to cry on.  I have to do, say, something, anything to make this better.

There is nothing.  I can’t even fully imagine not having my own children, now that I have them. I now know what she’s missing.  And my heart breaks into a million pieces because of it.

Saying nothing, however, is better than saying something stupid.  To all the people that say things happen for a reason, I say bullshit.  Maybe that works for when the lady in front of you in line buys the last Snickers bar, or your kid doesn’t get into his first choice of preschool.  But tell me what reason there could be that a loving, healthy, stable, middle class married couple can’t have their own children?  When dumbasses everywhere get all the babies they (don’t) want?

Well, maybe they were meant to adopt those unwanted babies!  And yes, maybe down the road that’s what will happen.  Maybe someday that will make sense for them.  And that would be a miracle too.  But it’s not that easy to fight the evolutionary, biological calling to create someone of your very own.  The very human desire to make a person with someone you love.  In fact, it’s pretty damn hard.

I’m sure once she stops thinking about it she’ll get pregnant!  I’m sure if she thinks positive thoughts she’ll get pregnant!  Everyone has a friend who has a cousin whose boss “just gave up trying, and then like magic, nature took its course!” Shut up.  This isn’t some sci-fi movie  where you can dream your ovaries into working with some Inception-like mind fuck.  I’m really glad that “meditation” and a “juice vacation” worked for your friend’s cousin’s boss, but there are a million different reasons why people have trouble getting pregnant.  Her doctors can’t even figure out why she’s not, so keep your suggestions about “relaxing” to yourself, please.

The waiting is killing her.  Which is killing me.  Remember what it was like, sweating through those two minutes after you’ve peed on a stick, wondering if your life is about to change?  Well, imagine waiting those two minutes after you’ve spent the past four years taking your temperature, counting your ovulation days on a calendar, swallowing pills, seeing doctor after doctor, more pills, more pokes, more blood tests, uterine samples, ultrasounds, self-administered shots, egg harvesting, finding out you only have two semi-viable embryos, and knowing that after these two minutes are up so is your only chance at having your very own biological child. That is her life tomorrow.  I sit here pregnant with my surprise baby, and she sits in Phoenix, praying that the two little fertilized eggs floating around inside her are still alive, and have decided to stay awhile.

I want to be there with her.  I want to bear some of the burden of this pain.  I want to make it alright.  I want to say I’m sorry that it’s her and not me.  I want all of that to mean something.  But it doesn’t.  Or at least, it doesn’t mean enough to change anything.  And if I can’t change anything, what the hell am I good for?

 

 

Things that were a good idea at the time

We all have a few things on a list like this.  I try not to harp on things I’ve done in the past too much, because I’m one of those people who thinks it’s inspirational to say “never have regrets.”   Do you feel inspired?  No?  Well, maybe you won’t feel so much like a dumbass about your stuff if you read mine.  ***

1. Piercing my nose at 21 to show how badass I was.  Note: red, oozing, infected nose does not look badass.  It looks like you have a cold.

The "smolder."

2. Dating a model.  He handled every situation with a lot of smoldering.  Smoldering doesn’t solve much.

3. Investing all my retirement savings in real estate in 2008 “to ride the wave”.  More like “tsunami of destruction of your foreseeable future.”

4. Piercing my nose at 33 to show how badass I was.  See note from number one.  Also note: most 33 year old moms (by “most,” I mostly mean “me”) with pierced noses do not look badass.  They just look pathetic.

5. Telling my in-laws the names I picked out for my unborn child.  Not sure why I was surprised to hear “oh that’s horrible!

6. Natural childbirth. Holy Cervix, Batman!  That hurt probably about as much as being drawn and quartered. But at least that way, you get to die in the end, instead of being torn up and broken and then having to use all of it immediately after.

7.  Glass bottles.  This morning Noah dropped the 103rd bottle on the floor which shattered all around his feet.  We’re breaking up, glass bottles.  I’d rather poison my babies with BPA.

8. Asking Jan for organizing advice. Type A event planner + lazy ass = feeling like a bigger lazy ass.

9.  Foregoing birth control right after Noah was born.  Turns out you CAN get pregnant even though you’ve just given birth.  Don’t know how I missed that biology lesson.

10. Posting NDB’s full frontal pic in my last post.  My mom thinks I might go to jail now.  Or at least scar Noah for life.  S0 she made me take it down.  I will try to avoid jail.  On the scarring, however, I’m not making any promises.  Note: Moms ruin everything!!

 

***These are just a random sampling of the two million dumbass things I’ve done that seemed like good ideas at the time.

 

Maybe You Should See a DIFFERENT Kind of Doctor…

Hi all!  If you are visiting from UBP12, I’d love it if you kept reading…:) But def head over to my “intro” post where I describe myself, my family and my friends in gory detail here…

I had to take Noah to the doctor a couple of weeks ago for a terrifying bout of what I now know they call “the common cold.”  My doctor is used to seeing me, as they probably are used to seeing all nutjob new moms who spend too much time on the internet diagnosing their babies.

We had initially gone in because Katya had a sore throat, and it turned out she had strep throat.  It should be a little concerning that I was more worried about Noah’s sniffles than what turned out to be a gross infectious viral disease for Katya.  But in my defense, when your baby can’t talk, everything seems more serious, and when I asked Katya how she was feeling, all she said was “my neck hurts a little” because she didn’t want play time cut off.  (I know this will change in about one year when kids get meaner and homework gets harder and symptoms get majorly exaggerated so she can stay home.  I used to do jumping jacks when my mom left the room and then put my head under three layers of covers until she came back so I felt hot and sweaty and “feverish.”  I sure did fool her!)

Noah had been sniffling so I had the doctor check him out too.  All clear, just a little cold, should clear up in a few days.

Katya started her meds and was fine and back to school, but Noah’s cold didn’t clear up.  I was sure he now had strep and an ear infection, and maybe pneumonia thrown in for good measure, and if I let it go unchecked the internet said he might need to be hospitalized and the weekend was approaching and I just didn’t want to chance it!

So I brought him in again two days later.  “Didn’t I just see you here two days ago?” Dr. John asks.  “And we checked his ears and throat, everything was perfect, two days ago…?” “Um, yes, but, you know, he still has a runny nose…” I paused for effect.  “…And it’s thick and green now!” gasp in horror.

“Ok,” resigned look.  “But, mucus often gets thicker when it’s starting to clear up.”  She checks his ears and throat.  “Ok, still not red!  I think he’ll be fine and good as new in a few days.  Just give it a little bit of time, Val. ”

Translation:  “Thank you for the business and all, but we really don’t need to make this a weekly date.  You’re starting to scare us. ”

Which reminded me of one of our other unneccessary visits, especially the one when NDB was about 4 months old.  I was changing his diaper at my mother-in-laws during dinner, and for some reason noticed that the skin under his penis looked swollen.  As an inexperienced and overly anxious new mom, I examine my baby from head to toe every 22 minutes or so, and this, I tell you, was not NORMAL!

Immediately concerned that he is growing a tumor, or has swollen lymph nodes that indicated some looming health disaster, we call the emergency number for the doctor. Fortunately they have late hours, so Mat and I tried to describe what we were looking at.  “I’ll just take a picture and send it to you!” Mat finally says.

(I had the picture posted here but was severely reprimanded by my mom, and so I removed it.  Moms ruin everything :/  )

“Um, ok,”  the nurse says after viewing the picture (and laughing behind our back.)  “Go ahead and bring him in if you’re concerned, but we close in 15 minutes, can you make it?”

“Yes!” Knowing full well that there is no way in hell we can make it there that quickly.  But they don’t need to know that, because I have an EMERGENCY and I want them to STAY!

So we leave dinner half eaten at the table, pack up the kids in a rush, and race over to the doctor’s office.  Of course we’re late, they’re all waiting to go home, and we show up with our baby who we believe now has some abnormal growth expanding exponentially every second that might make HIS PENIS FALL OFF!  Or make him look like this guy…

Please, God, No!

Dr. John takes us in and starts examining.  “So…you were concerned about which part…?”  As all three of us start poking at his balls and penis so I can show her what I mean...

“Um, I think that’s just the fat pad underneath the genital area.” She says finally as she finishes her exam.

“No!  It seems like it got all swollen all of a sudden, it has to be something!”

Exasperated and tired and ready to go home Dr. John says, “I think he’s just going through a growth spurt…it’s just part of his baby fat. There is absolutely nothing wrong.”

“But it didn’t look like this 3 hours ago!” I protest, quickly spiraling into insane, crazy-eyed psycho mom.

“I promise you, there is no tumor.  It’s FAT.” She says.

“So what you’re saying is… we have Fat Baby Syndrome?” Mat says, resigned to the fact that in spite of his better judgement I was able to take him to Loonytown.  And that he’s married to me for the rest of his life.

“Yes.  Fat baby syndrome.  That’s all it is.  I think you should go home and get some sleep.” as she pushes us out the door.

Of course, I checked on Noah’s penis every hour on the hour for the rest of the night.   You’ll be happy to know that nothing more developed and he eventually grew into his out of control genital baby fat pad.

I’m sure that we became one of their “crazy parent” stories, especially because we have a picture to prove our insanity.  And you’d think that after a few more episodes like this, I’d use my doctor visits a little more pragmatically.  But alas, I am a new mom, and will do what it takes to ensure his proper care.   Until they stop letting me in.

 ***Pretty sure this picture will someday embarrass Noah to no end, so that’s why I dug it out of the trash bin and resaved it.  Because you have to start early gathering ammo to use against teenagers.  

Then again, he’ll probably turn the gun on us, and use this as evidence to prove we’re still nuts.  

Dammit.