life

A First Mother’s Day

It’s my first Mother’s Day as a Mom. My son is 6 months old and we took advantage of that and went to a nice restaurant for brunch. I’m anticipating future Mother’s Days may lean towards activities that support a lack of ability to keep still.

My favorite thing as a Mom is to hear Noah’s giggle. It’s insanely adorable and I’m not sure there is anything I enjoy more on the planet, not even the GutterPunk coffee at Envie. (You think I joke, but talk to me about the combination of booze and coffee in-person and watch my face light up).

My favorite Noah book is the Pout Pout fish. Whoever gifted him that, thank you. I’ve turned it into the Pout Pout Fish rap, which I’m sure A. is grateful for. Noah has started getting interested in books beyond just eating them and I am delighted.

We do a lot of dancing and clapping right now. Noah hasn’t started doing either, but he really enjoys when we do. Hopefully, some kid takes pity on him and teaches him how to actually dance, otherwise he’s doomed with us as examples. But at least we’re having fun.

Noah’s favorite activity is smashing. I have a feeling this is phase that will last him quite some time. He’s just realized he can hold things in his hand and smack things with them, nothing can wrong with that right? Our friend’s 6 month old spent about an hour with us yesterday and her Mom said she wasn’t a smasher, well by the end of lunch she was. You’re welcome.

My Mom celebrated Mother’s Day by opening her very own garden shop, a longtime dream. I’m really proud of her and she continues to be a great example to me to not give up on dreams and continue to try new things. Someday I’ll write that book…

Thank you to my village of Moms. I appreciate all of the in-person, phone calls, emails, and Facebook responses to my many questions and moments of “OMG!” Some of you I’ve known most of my life and some of you I’m just getting to know, you’re all amazing and I am so grateful for your help and support. I know that Noah and I are both better for it.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Some Days Are Awesome

Everyone tells you that the first 6 weeks are the hardest, and I am seriously hoping that’s true. Yesterday was a tough one with lack of sleep and fussiness. I also may have spent some of Thanksgiving sobbing in the dark because he wouldn’t stop crying and it’s really heartbreaking when that happens. Today is a good day though.

I took issue, before I had my baby, with people calling it a job, usually in the context of “the hardest job” or “hardest working” when referring to at home Moms. I understand better now why it gets the comparison, but I still don’t think it’s applicable or fair to either side. My baby is not a job, I know this because he can’t fire me and I’m not getting paid. I also don’t get time off right now. It was pretty rare that my job cost me a full night’s sleep. I could also call in sick to my job and take vacation.

Right now I am 24-7 Moming it. I’m breastfeeding so that means I’m the only source of food, so if he’s up, I’m up. We also don’t have any sort of schedule yet because he’s a newborn so I’m not leaving him for more than an hour, which I’ve done once in 16 days (but who’s counting). He’s made me happier than any job ever has and my last two jobs haven’t made me cry. At work anyways. I’m also pretty good at my job, I am a complete novice to baby care. I watch in awe as other experienced Moms can hold him and comfort him seemingly without any effort, while it’s more of a 40/60 success rate for me.

But today is a good day. Today is one of those awesome, I am so glad to be on maternity leave and not at my day job, days. Last night we managed to avoid any 2-hour awake periods, so I got sort of a fullish night sleep in my shifts. I was able to eat breakfast and coffee at a reasonable hour while he chilled in his swing. We had a secret project that we did this morning that went awesome. And we just went for a 45 minute stroller walk that got him to sleep and got me and Wallace some exercise, and one of my best friends called and I got to catch up with her while out and about. I finally looked at our insurance options and was able to make a decision on where to add him. And I ate lunch at a normal time before I was starving and desperate for food. Tonight my parents are coming and will get to meet him for the first time.

Today is a good day.

img_4461

I’m Thankful for Noah

2016 was a rough year for our country. A lot of terrible and tough things have happened and a lot of people are ready to close the books on it and not look back. For me, however, 2016 is a year I will treasure forever. 2016 is when we welcomed our son into the world.

It’s been a tough journey getting to him. It started in 2014 and was derailed by a cancer diagnosis. I had to deal with the risk that chemo brings of never being able to have kids. But I was lucky and got pregnant soon after my doctor gave me the green light this year. That was followed by a pregnancy that was anything but glowing. I had trouble gaining weight due to the nausea that plagued me for almost the entire pregnancy, I was exhausted, sore, and all of the normal pregnancy challenges. I spent several hours in the hospital when I went into preterm labor, afraid and not ready. Luckily Noah decided to wait a few more weeks. We had another scare when my midwife picked up an arrhythmia and there were also concerns about his growth. After hours spent in fear limbo, we were again cleared. Finally Noah joined our family after 32.5 hours of labor, healthy and without needing a c-section.

It was love at first sight. Even though he proceeded to poop on me twice within his first few minutes of outside the womb life. Everything I had been afraid of in becoming a Mom (what about everything I would be giving up? what if I didn’t bond immediately? ) faded away and didn’t matter at all. Being a Mom is like breathing, it doesn’t require thought. My world shifted in an irrevocable way and I didn’t even feel it happen.

There are challenges. I cry pretty much every day. I think the blog “why is my son crying” could have a precursor blog for new families called “why is Mommy crying?” Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s hard, there’s a lot of crazy emotional surge going on post baby. The struggle is real.

There’s a lot of things you can’t prepare for. I understood I wouldn’t be getting much sleep, but it’s different knowing that in theory and living with not knowing how much sleep I’ll get in a night or when I’ll get woken up. It’s really tough. Most physically tough things you have the ability to tell yourself you just need to get through an amount of time and it’ll get better. It may be years before I can sleep in my own bed and get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Luckily the reason that I’m going through sleep deprivation torture has the sweetest face and I love him with all of my heart. Once I manage to get myself up it’s all better, sometimes I sit there at 3am just looking at him as he’s fallen back asleep and marveling at how beautiful he is.

I also have an amazing partner in this that I am thankful for. He continues to take care of me through the good stuff and the tough stuff and he’s also head over heels for our beautiful son.

So thank you 2016 for changing my life in the best way possible.

img_4353

RIP Theodore

Theodore, I fight the urge to say that you were taken from us too soon, but really you lasted beyond any expectation we had for you. You came into our lives about a year ago with a circus themed box from Barkbox. Your brother, Telemachus the tiger, was only with us for a few short months before meeting his end.

Wallace adored you. Unfortunately, that kind of love can also be damaging. While he affectionately groomed you and carried you around and tried to share you with whomever was sitting on the couch, there was a dark side to this as well. At times he would gnaw on you and chew, and we feared the end was near. Despite this hot and cold love, you lasted for months, enduring it all without a complaint (one of your finest attributes was truly that you didn’t have any squeaker).

I wonder if Wallace knew that the violent part of your relationship was reaching an escalating moment, because the week before your end he placed you on the kitchen stool next to me and went and laid down in the living room. It was the most reverence I’d ever seen him give to a stuffed animal.

IMG_3849

A few days later it was all over. I looked over at Wallace, who was on his dog bed, and there you were. For the first time, Wallace looked sad gazing upon your fluffy entrails that surrounded him. I’d never seen him show remorse after murdering one of his stuffed companions, you were the first, and there have been many. Wallace remained there with his ears back and I truly believe if he could have undone his actions, he would have. It was much like the harsh childhood lesson I experienced at a young age when I learned the hard way that My Little Pony manes don’t grow back after you cut them off.

So thank you Theodore for your endurance and your companionship. You were missed, it’s unclear if Wallace retains memory of previously adored stuffed animals, but in that moment you were mourned.

Theodore is survived by the Quilted Pig, Puppy (the cat stuffed animal), the rope toy, some Mardi Gras stuffed throws, and a collection of outdoor toys.

Technical Family

Ever heard the one about someone saying that they’re going out for a pack of cigarettes and then they don’t come back? Well family lore has it that that my Dad’s birth mother told her 5 kids she was heading to the grocery store before hitting the road.

I heard this story fairly young, I can’t remember the exact age but I knew in elementary school that Grammy and Grampy were actually my great-grandma and great-grandpa. Little kids are weird with facts so that was something that I mused over as a kid infrequently. I remember one night at my uncle (great-uncle technically)’s lake house, explaining to my friend who was spending the night, my non-traditional family tree and the story, as I knew it. It’s really no wonder that I had a friend in middle school tell me I was too weird to be friends with anymore. (more…)

The Distance From Here to There

I’ve tried not to dwell on the anniversaries that are popping up around me. They’re not on my calendar, and although the scars are always there, they don’t have dates engraved in them, just a general sense of time they appeared. But then there’s social media. Facebook has a nifty feature to look back and see the things that happened on a date all through the years you belonged to the site. You can see where I’m going with this.

Usually it’s fun and interesting because I think I joined in 2004, so there’s a lot of years on there and a lot of different life stages captured that are fun to look back on. But August is a tough month for this, the last week in particular. I don’t re-read my posts because it’s still too fresh, but I have re-read the last couple that were a year ago and it’s a sort of out of body experience.

The person writing them is me of course, but it’s me at my worst/best. It’s me in an impossible situation that is so far from my normal day to day that I can recognize it’s me but it’s a very different me. I imagine that it’s sort of like if you had a baby, you’d look back at yourself in the delivery room and what you did to get through giving birth and you’d know that was you, but the way that you dealt with it and reacted to it is so outside your normal thought and emotional realm that it’s like looking a different person.

I read a couple of those posts and I remember people telling me how strong I was for writing them, but I marvel at how angry I was. I’m still angry about certain things, I’ll let you know if that ever goes away. But there’s a difference between a simmering anger that normally takes the back seat with other life things going on, and a raging fire of anger that was consuming me that I see in those posts. Albeit watered down by pain meds. I have a temper that burns hot and burns out quickly, but in those posts I see someone on fire with no dampening in sight.

Having never lived alone because I stayed with and ended up marrying my college boyfriend, there are few things that make me feel more self sufficient than traveling for work. I have to go to somewhere I’ve never been or am unfamiliar with, figure out how to get where I need to be. Be completely self-reliant while also convincing those that I’m going to see that I’m someone they should rely on and trust with whatever we’re discussing/working on. There’s no one to bail me out or to hide behind. It’s deeply satisfying to succeed.

That’s what I was doing a few days ago when these unpleasant anniversaries reared their heads. I was away from my friends and family, but working 13 hours day and being a BOSS. A year ago I felt helpless and choice-less and so so angry. A few days ago I felt in absolute control and so very capable, and it couldn’t have been a better contrast.

I Took the Pirate Flag Down

I took the pirate flag down today. I’ve been meaning to do it for a week or two. One day I just looked at it and realized I didn’t need it up any more and didn’t want it up anymore. It was very large and black on my bedroom wall and dominating my space. When I needed to feel more like a badass, more like “fuck the world, I’m still here” it was there. Now life is starting to seem gentler and I’m finding a new way in it and the flag seemed very harsh on my wall.

My birthday was last week and it was weird. Part of the weirdness was I felt like I should feel like it was an accomplishment getting there, but I didn’t, and was annoyed to even feel that way. The after effects of this rough ride are annoying. Now that I’m not putting poison in my body every other week or recovering from surgery I feel like I should be able to be back to B.C. But that’s not the way it works and it’s really annoying/frustrating.

I had a bit of a wakeup call a couple of days ago when I saw this video:

It was hard to watch, but it is also inspiring and a kick in the ass. For most of us, when we hear we need to make lifestyle changes for longterm benefits, we put it off. Or we say “fuck it” and just don’t worry about it. But if I get cancer again in the near future I am going to feel like the worlds biggest asshole for not taking care of myself. I’ve already played the “it can’t happen to me” game and lost big. It would just be supremely stupid for me to go through all this and then not do what I need to do to give myself my best shot.

However it sucks having to make major lifestyle changes. It’s hard. As someone who doesn’t love eating right, exercising, or being the sober friend at happy hour (I have had a year of experience with that off and on now), it’s freaking tough. Then we can add the fact that I’m 31 so this isn’t a lifestyle many friends are sharing and then add the fact I moved somewhere that loves bad for you food and delicious drinks. It just makes me want to burry my head into a pile of pillows and not come out.

Kate Moss once said “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” She was unfortunately wrong. Try Commander’s Palace’s bread pudding soufflé. Or Drago’s chargrilled oysters. Or a glass of good wine after a stressful day at work. I could go on and on…

I gave myself a free pass that got too comfortable while I was going through treatment and the immediate time after because I needed something good. When your bones ache, you’re exhausted constantly, having hot flashes, etc, food was the only good thing I had going because nothing else felt good. Now I’ve got to close the book on indulging myself and accept the fact that I got dealt a bad hand and I’ve got to work with what I’ve got. Folding would be stupid with stakes this high. So the pirate flag has come down.

IMG_3429

Just to show it’s not all hard times.

IMG_3397

Gratuitous Wally photo, i.e. how he spends most of his time at my job