Friday, July 2, 2010

What I Really Felt (when I saw my baby)

I always knew love at first sight as a rare, romantic occurrence.

It happens, sure, but certainly not for my husband and I.  With us it was more like infatuation at first site. 

And not even with each other.

No, ours was a mild acquaintance that grew to inseparable friendship that evolved into strong and honest love (another story for another day).

But I still reserved the phenomenon of love at first site for the birth of our first child. 

Children were my dream.  I was that little girl playing mother to children mere years my junior. 

My younger cousins would huddle for a place on my seven year-old lap and looking back I am sure my aunts and uncles adored me for the hours of relentless entertainment I provided their children.

My pregnancy was uneventful, but I thrilled at every little nudge and panicked over the mildest of cramps and slightest of temperatures.

Labor was typical.  Long and hard.  I planned for an epidural only to completely miss the window in a narcotic-induced fog (yet another story for yet another day).

So when I finally peered upon my slimy, purple son I was tired.  And angry.  And amazed.  And hungry.

But I was not in love.

I knew I loved him, and I managed a few drunken "That's our baby boy"'s before they whisked him off to the weighing station.

I practically swooned over my husband as he sweetly stroked the arm of our screaming baby, saying over and over, "It's okay buddy, it's okay."

But when it came time to hold that little thing I just wanted someone to take him away and let me sleep.

Now much of those early emotions were a direct result of the late-in-labor narcotics I begged for.

But hours later after an all-too-short nap I gazed down at this little life shooting tiny, pointy needles into my delicate nipples (or something like that) and I felt resentful. 

I mean, I was more than prepared to mother this creature, just right after I caught up on the entire night's sleep I missed while birthing him.

In the course of the next few days I oftentimes peered into his clear, plastic cradle and literally hurt with love.  But other times it felt like spying on a shriveled stranger.  (It didn't help that the blonde-hair, blue-eyed newborn of our imaginations ended up looking distinctly Asian and not at all like my husband and I.)

I cried a lot that week.  When my husband wanted to watch the basketball tournament on our tiny hospital television.  When I watched an elephant ultrasound on the Discovery Channel.  When we were served applesauce with dinner (a pregnancy favorite).

Looking back I view this tearful time as a kind of grieving process.  While I thought I was bringing home a little bundle to snuggle and tote around like one of those fashionable dogs, I was actually losing a whole world that, despite marriage and my best efforts at selflessness, revolved entirely around me.

And on top of that this particular little package, while sweet and sleepy and seemingly good-natured, did little to make my heart soar.  At least not how I imagined it.

I loved my son from the very beginning, and at times I think even before that.

But I didn't realize that you could fall in love with a child as well.

And now, two and a half years later, when I sneak into his room at night and lay my hand on the slow rise and fall of his chest, the love I imagined from day one hits me like a brick.  Knocks the wind right out of me. 

I find myself searching to both contain and express a love beyond words and actions. 

Sometimes I wonder if I could possibly love him more, only to realize the next day, as he laughingly reports his recent flatulence, that somehow it doubled over night.  And if it keeps going at this rate how will I even survive him leaving in just 15 and a half short years?

I guess I wish someone told me beforehand.  That it's not like movie love.  That my deepest, natural instinct would still be to sleep and not to hold and adore my son for hours at a time.  That those feelings would eventually overwhelm me, in the days and weeks and years to come.  That it is different for everyone.  That it is okay.

But I suppose part of becoming a parent involves making those discoveries on our own.

And realizing the parents we were in our imaginations rarely reveal themselves in our reality.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coming Back (with no excuse)

I'm not sure if I should apologize for my extended absence or try to explain or what.

Does "it's summer" count as an excuse.

Seriously though, we were away this past week. 

But I've got nothing for the week prior.

I wanted to write a Father's Day post about my husband and all the ways I love watching him with our children.  His two little men.

But instead the Tine and I spent all our free time creating a collage book about Daddy (and I spent all my free time redoing his work so my compulsive brain could stop spazzing every time two pictures overlapped).

Then we left for camp.

Which is a post in itself.

But I will give you a quick taste.

A one room cabin.  Two families.  Five kids (two babies).  100 middle schoolers.  Three new mom friends.  Zero breaks.

If you do the math you can imagine blogging time was quite limited (though I'm not going to lie, there was internet access... my kind of camping).

So I will return to both this and your blogs.  I can't wait to hear about vacations and summer adventures and life (that I completely missed these past couple weeks). 

And I also can't wait to tell you about the perils of changing poopy diapers in the woods and The Tine's first water balloon fight and the understanding of a mom who's been there.

But until then I will finish my coffee, get my family back into a much-needed schedule (for me, not them), and enjoy my boys as the days slip by way too fast.  And I will see you all soon!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh, My Aching Womb

I do not want another baby right now.  I don't.

But also, I do.

I want to pee on a stick first thing in the morning.  I want to experience that palpable mix of anticipation and joy and fear.  I want to say out loud that I dread those two pink lines, but know in my heart that their creeping appearance is my deepest desire.

I long for those first few months where the knowledge of this budding life belongs to my family alone.  When a discreet smile remains the only outward sign of an inward miracle.

I want my husband to run out for saltines and soda when the pallor of sickness replaces the glow of pregnancy.

I want to wonder for weeks whether the tiny spasms in my stomach are the jerky dance of a forming baby or just post-burrito gas (and yes, we eat burritos enough to actually wonder that).

I want to spend weeks composing carefully crafted lists of baby names, then throwing them all out around eight months in favor of the one that just feels right. 

I want teeny tiny newborn clothes and checklists of baby essentials.

I want to partake in some serious nesting.  Clean out every closet, reveal the elusive bottom of the laundry basket, wipe down every inch of the mini blinds, bleach all surfaces into sparkling white conformity.

I want to pack my bags with tennis balls and magazines and quarters that will never leave their duffelly home as I scream for help from the hospital bed.

I want that moment as we drive to the hospital when the anticipation, joy and fear that nine months earlier marked the beginning of this journey return like a flood.

I want the incomparable relief of gazing upon a healthy baby, who is yours, and knowing that the pain really was worth it (even though you may have let a few profanities fly just minutes earlier when your husband said the same thing).

I want to feel that aching sadness for a tiny, little life experiencing cold and hunger and pain for the very first time.

I want to cuddle and nourish that life, knowing that in the vast, bright world these arms are the only home he needs.

But as we all know newborns become infants, and infants toddlers.

And while I am sure the toddler years will remain my fondest memories down the road (way down the road), I just don't know how I would coerce one more living being into my car or provide enough acceptable lunch options for three preschoolers (without going crazy).

So I will demand that nagging baby-addicted voice stop immediately.  Because The Tine needs a sandwich.  The baby some attention.

And mom needs a break.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thoughts on a page (that end in a pool)

I wonder if I should write something.

I don't really want to write something.

If I did decide to write something, would it require me to think?

I don't really want to think.

Unless I can think about french fries, or my bed, or the way the fan just spins round and round and round and...

Okay, so this won't work.  Perhaps I should think on a deeper level.

Ketchup.  Mmmm.  And vinegar.  No, not vinegar.  Mayonnaise.  Oh yeah, mayo.  Let's throw some mayo on those suckers.

Oh crap, deeper thoughts... deeper...

Deep wells.  Wells are deep. 

What if the well on Lost actually represents the depth of suffering man must aspire to endure...

Okay, too deep (plus, I just threw some deep-sounding words together and possess no idea as to what I just said).

Balance.  I need some kind of balance.

I could write about how I dream of changing the world (perhaps in my fifth grade composition notebook).  How sometimes I just can't seem to settle down or stop thinking about what to do with my life and my family that will somehow make a difference.

Or I could explain that some days I am so content with peanut butter sandwiches and spit-up covered couches and wet, milky kisses that I don't want to move an inch.

Too confusing.

Perhaps I should think about bed after all.

The tickle of a cool breeze through the soft folds of my t-shirt sheets.  (Yes, I am an adult with two children and I love myself some t-shirt sheets.  So what?)

Or that moment right before you drop off where you feel all floaty and fight sleep just to enjoy the knowledge that it awaits on the other side of your heavy eyelids.

Oh, and how about when you're fading in and out and notice something wet on your pillow that you soon realize is just a tiny spot of your own drool.  But you are so happy that after 15 hours of spoon-feeding babies and chasing toddlers and scrubbing questionable brown gunk from the corner of the bathtub you are actually relaxed enough to drool, you just turn over and go to sleep, right there in a mini pool of your own saliva.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Five Minute Memories

So a quick update on the weekend of spontaneity!

Sorry I'm a bit behind on this, but I spent every free second of the past three days with my feet up and my nose in a book, trying desperately to recover.

We woke up Saturday morning, stuffed the troops into shorts and t-shirts, played the old "I don't know what I want for breakfast" bit with toddler for about thirty minutes, and finally hit the road around 10.

Our first stop... the grocery store.  Pick up some food for a picnic lunch.

Our first meltdown... the grocery store.

It all began with a simple request.  Some Lunchables please!

(I guess I should note here that both the request and the meltdown were courtesy of yours truly.)

I have not eaten Lunchables since I was a little girl and thought they would make for a fun afternoon.  I know the preservatives are terrible, but just this once, I thought.

Plus baby just entered his deepest phase of car sleep.  I knew that more than five minutes in the store would result in awakening, followed by approximately thirty minutes of contented baby noises and the remainder of the trip in wild crying, forcing mom to squeeze between car seats shoving toys, fingers, and possibly breasts in said baby's mouth while stomping her feet as they inevitably fall asleep.

Anyhow, my health nut husband (and I mean that in the kindest possible way, honey) decided to get some crackers, deli turkey, and natural cheese instead.

Fifteen minutes and an incompetent deli worker later he sheepishly ducked into the car, bracing himself for the wrath.

And he got it.

The baby awoke as I suspected and all I wanted were some freaking Lunchables.

I completely flipped.  There was hardly a plan, but already things were not going according to it.

I dreaded our two hours in the car with our now wide-eyed baby, but since I could not possibly beckon a spark of anger towards my tiny little man, I found a target in my husband.

Sparing the gory details, I will simply state it was not pretty.

Eventually I apologized and we moved on with the day, but it was a rocky start.

Plus, my husband was pouty when I told him a four hour trip to a semi-nearby city was out due to a Sunday afternoon commitment.

So instead we began our adventure with a picnic at a state park just a couple hours away.

Already I began thinking that the lack of planning was a bit of a mistake.

There was an amazing, little beach at this particular park.  The facilities were brand new and sparking clean.  Families everywhere donned brightly colored swim suits and cautiously tiptoed into the cool water.

My family and I stood sweating in our jeans and sneakers, dressed for the weather back home.

After explaining to our sweet, little toddler (who was convinced we were spending the day at the beach) that we, in fact, could not take him in the water, we packed up our picnic and took off for our next destination.

A nearby mountain resort that boasted a huge Memorial Day Celebration weekend.

After checking the internet that morning I timed our arrival with that of the "children's games on the lawn."  I thought it sounded like something out of Dirty Dancing and anxiously hurried my family along.

But when we entered through the gate I noticed an immediate lack of cars... and people... and events.

I expected an outdoor venue crawling with running children, anxious parents, and friendly vendors.

We found, instead, a few lone stragglers and some mountain bikers descending a long, dirt path.

After finding a parking spot near the so-called center of the festivities, we plopped the kids in the stroller and set off for, well, something (we hoped).

Before I knew it we stood before a daunting ski lift and a long, luge-like slide.

I noted a glimpse of excitement in the eyes of husband and toddler.

So, although I pictured The Tine jumping off the lift and tumbling down the rock-covered mountain, I swallowed the lump in my throat and asked my husband if they would like to go.

It was not like me at all.  I am the queen of safety and the enemy of adventure.  But I couldn't handle any more disappointment on either of their parts, so we bought two tickets and waved furiously as my two year-old son became an extremely proud speck in the distance.

I played with the baby as though I had not just sent the loves of my life to their ultimate demise, and, in an ironic twist, I actually enjoyed the moment.  For five minutes I stopped picturing disaster and started imagining my smiling son twisting through the exhilarating curves of the longest slide he ever imagined.

With wind-blown hair and wide eyes the twosome stepped off the slide and toddled excitedly to my waiting arms (okay, that was just the little one).

After ice cream and dinner (in that order) we began our return trip home, deciding a night in our own beds necessary to survive the rest of our picnic-heavy weekend.

So it wasn't all that we hoped, but also it was.

And with summertime quickly approaching I hope this adventure is only the beginning.

Because the fighting and stress is a small price to pay for those five minute memories.
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