Ruining it

Every day I wonder,

Am I breaking her?

Will he get better?

Every night, I lie awake

Staring into the dark,

Sure of my failure.

Why did I scream?

I could have slowed down.

I just don’t have enough

Left in me to not

Ruin everything.

Everywhere but here

“Nothing had lessened it as much as I’d abused it.”  Finnigan Bell, Great Expectations 1998

Twenty years ago I dreamed of being a writer. I poured out poem after poem about love, heartache, frustration, and ever-present teenage angst. I could sit in the sunlight on a crisp fall day and words would flood my mind, aching to be put to paper.

Today, I do write. I am a writer. Not even a little bit how I imagined it might be; of course the things I do didn’t even exist for many years past those baby teenage years. The world is wider, my story smaller, and mostly, I write to share the knowledge of others.

I reminisce often about those days when words flowed so easily and meaningfully. I know just a few people who still write like that: their lifetime of loves and hurts not closing them off, but allowing them to be even more and greater.

I wonder if I’ve neglected a craft that I could have used to take a different path.

But I only have this path, going forward. Should I pick it up again? Should I let it rest and do the work I love now? Is there a both?

 

Only afraid in the dark

2016 is going to be the year that makes me tough.

Or maybe tough isn’t the right word. Let’s try ‘resilient.’ It sounds a little more like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Which theoretically there is. Remains to be seen though.

I keep trying to write about this thing we’re in, whatever it is. Phase. All of motherhood is one phase after another. And in their own way, they’re all hard. This one is, by far, the hardest. At least as far as I can remember. Sleep deprivation makes all things fuzzy and, to some extent, rose colored.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand… Oliver is sick, again. I’ve long since lost track of how many times. It started in September, I think, right at the beginning of flu season. Oliver scared the crap out of me by waking me up with a fever of nearly 105 degrees. Every time I tried to give him medicine, he threw it up, so we headed off to the ER at 3-something in the morning. They sat with us while we rode out the fever, and finally got some medicine in him, and then we were sent home, exhausted.

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A couple of weeks later, it happened again. We had just been to his doctor so we knew he had an ear infection, so we were ‘prepared’ with antibiotics and fever reducer. But again he woke up at 2am burning up. He was still a couple of hours away from being able to get another dose of his Tylenol (I didn’t know I could double up acetaminophen and ibuprofen yet.) So when he was already running a temperature over 104, we went back to the ER. They tried to give him medicine, which he promptly threw up like usual. They did a chest x-ray, a urinalysis, monitored his blood oxygen, all looking for what could be causing his crazy fever, because, according to the doctors who examined him, his ears didn’t even look that bad.

Finally the fever broke again, and they were just about to send us home, but they wanted to check his pulse/ox one more time, and it was low. So we were transferred to a pediatric hospital and admitted. It was an exhausting whirlwind of dehydration, several hours of trying to just get a damn IV started, a mega-dose of antibiotics, no clear diagnosis, and eventually going home. The only good thing I can say about this episode is that the hospital staff was amazing, and now we were finally armed with the tools to combat his high fevers from home.

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He continued to get sick though, every week or two. After the third (?) time since his hospital stay, I sat down with his doctor and said we need some answers. We agreed to look into allergy and immunology testing, and he gave us the name of a fantastic specialist. We were seen within a week, and again, I was super impressed with the level of care we received. The doctor heard everything I had to say, and actually told me I had done well and my instincts and experience were spot on. So now we knew what we were up against, finally. Officially: Transient Hypogammaglobulinemia of Infancy. Basically the immune system he was supposed to start developing between 6-12 months old is lagging behind. They think he will catch up and be ‘normal’ at some point (usually by 3 years old), but he will have to undergo regular testing to see what progress he’s making. And, his situation is further complicated by food and environmental allergies. And… AND… There’s no treatment, unless he were to not outgrow the condition.

Here is where we wait for that light at the end of the tunnel. But we’re not there yet.

Basically we do everything we can to protect him (including cancelling the trip back to Indiana for Oliver and me [even though that was kind of a bust because Brandon and Nora came back with colds, and he got sick anyway]), we almost never go out except for our weekly grocery runs, and even then I sanitize every surface within a foot of him and make him wear mittens the whole time.  And still he gets sick.

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Not one night goes by that I don’t reach out in the dark to feel his forehead.

I know in my head what the doctors say: that some day this will all be a distant memory. But my heart is tired. A sick baby burning up with fever is pitiful. He still scares me sometimes in the night, a couple of hours before he’s supposed to need medicine, too warm.  The rest of the time, I can be brave and roll with whatever his little body throws at us. In the dark though, you never know.

Peace

I think it’s fairly safe to say that motherhood is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Also, a lot more joyful.

The victories of every day are so sweet when you learn to slow down and be in each moment.

I imagine this could be true of any life, not just one of motherhood.

I barely remember myself the way I was before. But now I am here, grown and changed and better for it.

I still may weep in the hard times; there’s still plenty of them, but the resilience of my children has rubbed off a little on me.  Be wholly in this moment, and then move on to the next. Embrace the pain or frustration, along with the warmth and wonder.

Happy holidays, friends.

 

Dusts off keyboard…

So, um…. hey!

It’s been a while. Sorry about that.

Motherhood is kind of a nutty time warp.

This year has been especially busy, what with moving to Colorado and all.

Oh yeah, did I mention we moved to Colorado? No, I guess not.

It’s kinda beautiful.

mountains

And even though we miss our friends and family back in Indiana, I don’t think we could have gotten any luckier falling into a community that supports us. And we love visitors! (Please come!)

Oliver turned one year old. I’m still in denial. But he’s getting so very big, and just look at that handsome smile!

messy smile

Nora… what are the words? Three-and-a-half. She’s beautiful, smart, hilarious, stubborn, kind, and on and on. She’s settled very well into her role as a big sister. I hear myself constantly repeating things my mom said to me. I imagine this trend will be sticking around for a while. But, egads, she fills my heart up with love.

Nora

Brandon is really loving his work, and it keeps him very busy. Also in the spring we’ll be looking to buy a house, since that wasn’t really on our radar when we first got here. So another move…. *shudder* and then we should be finally settled for a while.

And me? Well there’s play dates, story times, parks and hikes, and all kinds of fun activities to fill our days. And I’ve found a groovy little yoga spot to get away to when I need some ‘me time’. It’s kind of perfect. (If I could move all my Indiana mom friends out here, it would be truly perfect, but I’m getting a little greedy.)

Perfectly polished

These days, I’d like to think I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin. I don’t color my hair anymore. I rarely wear more than the tiniest smidge of makeup, if any at all. Lately, I don’t even touch my blowdryer either, unless I get the rare opportunity to shower in the morning instead of before bed. And most importantly the time I save skipping all these things I’m able to invest in preparing good food, or even working out. Or just snuggling with my kids.

I definitely didn’t used to be this way. In my early teens I began sneaking into my mom’s makeup drawer. At fifteen I let my best friend (and her mom) highlight my hair, and didn’t stop coloring it for almost 15 years. I obsessed about being just like the perfectly polished “popular” girls who always sported the latest jeans, gorgeous tans, and never had a hair out of place.

You could definitely say motherhood changed me. Having a daughter in particular. Also, having a loving husband who preferred my fresh face and free flowing hair. I realized I want Nora to grow up and see my gray hairs, and my wrinkles. Oliver, too. I want them to look deeper and see beauty as a part of a kind spirit and gentle soul.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about looking put together. I’d like to think that when the need arrises, I can still pull off a little black dress and heels. But that’s not really my life these days. And when I see the woman at Kroger with her perfect cat eye, low lights, highlights, waxed brows, and designer labels, I only wonder if she’s happy. Those things just don’t do it for me, I guess.

And the result is so freeing. I can smile without wondering if I need to touch up my lipstick. I can cry without mascara running down my face. I can laugh and run and play at the park with my kids without worrying about all the time I spent flat-ironing my hair that morning.

Twinges

Four months old is a very magical age for babies. They start showing a lot of personality and playfulness, which is, quite frankly, so fun. Plus things are (starting) to get a bit easier (for some moms/babies). You begin to maybe, kind of sort of have a little bit of a routine going, you might even be feeling like you’ve had a night or two of something that resembles sleep lately. You feel like breastfeeding is almost easy now, and you’re looking forward to starting solids in a couple of months. Which means your baby is practically grown up, right?

(Trust me, two years later when you’re wondering if your toddler will EVER learn to use the potty, you’ll know you were wrong.)

So here’s the thing. My very lovely midwife took a much needed vacation and got the month of December off. She is one seriously incredible woman and after spending lots of time with her over the past three years, I’ve grown to love her and her work immensely.

But now vacation is over. And all of the sudden my Facebook feed is being flooded with delightful pictures and baby announcements and oh-my-holy-crap what is this I’m feeling?? It can only be described as Twinges.

We are very VERY much done having babies. It is known. But that also means my time with Rhoda is really and truly done, unless sometime in the future I get into some form of birth work. (Not at all beyond possibility, just definitely not a ‘right now’ thing.)

So I get these Twinges. Sadness? Jealousy? Longing? Joy? Reminiscing? Probably all of these things. I can see why people get a little crazy and start thinking, “maybe just one more.”

But, no. Twinges they may be, but they are just little sweet pieces of my memories flooding in with fondness. They cannot override the part of me that says OH HELL NO when I remember that my mental mantra through Oliver’s birth was Never Again. Beautiful, yes?

And as my husband said, if all else fails, “You may just have to un-friend her for a while.”