Tag Archives: mama

Stardust.

Dear Spoon,

I likely will not show you this letter. If I ever do, it will be at a time when you doubt your strength. It will be at a time in your life in which you have nearly given up. And frankly, I hope you never have a time like that.

We have had a hard week, you and I. It’s been both beautiful and terrible, and it has made me question so much about myself. It has shown me so much about others. It has made me realize and re-evaluate central truths in my life. It has made me question everything. And most importantly, it has brought you, full throttle, into my world.

After a couple of weeks filled with “false starts”, I went into labor on Yule. We first went to the hospital midday on Tuesday. You were finally born Thursday morning. It wasn’t the easiest labor, but I feel so grateful for the wonderful midwife, Jabke, who guided you into the world, as well as for Aaron’s help, and the help of my sister, who upon arriving to pick up keys to our house and expecting to meet you, found us in the thick of it all. She immediately jumped into what we laughingly referred to as “nurse mode”. She has not disengaged from that in any way, even coming here today to help me teach you how to eat. Without their help, I’m not sure if we would have made it through as well as we did. I hope you know how very much your Aunt Erica loves you, and based on how you were interacting with her today, I think she may already be one of your favorite people as well.

I want you to know how strong and healthy you are. I feel very lucky for that, and even at three days old, your strength (and often stubbornness) leaves me in awe. You might be one of my heroes already, kid. As we got near the end of labor, both of us were running a fever, and your heart kept racing. The NICU team assembled in the back of the room quietly, and my heart sank. The second you came out, though, you began screaming, and I knew you would be okay. As it turned out, you were better than okay, your APGAR score was 9.9. More than one person in the hospital said to me, “That little girl’s a survivor.” and they are absolutely right. I hope that you know that no matter what happens in your life, you will be okay, and your daddy and I will be right beside you, helping you and cheering you on the whole way.

Our first night home went really well. We hit a rough patch yesterday and today, because you are having trouble eating. But we’re working on it. We’re learning, you and I, and we’ll get there. There is no giving up in this family, and besides, I don’t think you’d let us. We have spent a lot of time in the car, me in the backseat next to you, as you watch the light and shadows pass over your face. At night, you sleep in your Moses basket next to my bed, and when I drape my hand into it, you gently stroke my fingers in your sleep. I will always remember that feeling. We have also spent a lot of time listening to what I call “your favorite radio station”: static seems to calm you so much. Last night, I had the passing thought of galactic static, and wondering how much of what we were listening to was the result of transistors and wave frequency here on earth, and how much of it was an interstellar echo of the big bang. Though most of it is terrestrial interference from all of our machines and cell towers, I somehow think you may be listening for the latter. Always remember, Spoon, you are made of stardust, and you can do anything.

I love you.
mama

Spoonie's birthday

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homestretch

Dear Spoon,

We are finally getting down to the wire, you and I. We’ll reach 38 weeks in the next couple of days, and you have spent the last week letting me know that you’re ready to be here. I’ve had a lot of contractions, and feel like I have the flu. The contractions haven’t been regular yet, but I figure as soon as my body realizes what’s supposed to happen, you’ll be here.

I packed a bag for the hospital the other day, and it is in the car with your car seat. I’ve been trying to stay as active as possible — working on the house, taking the dog for walks, and going to yoga — but some days it wears me out. We have been talking about doing an easy cross country ski trip this morning; I’m not sure if we’ll go. I can’t imagine I’ll make it very far, and we want to stay somewhere that’s not too hilly, and has a pretty low elevation. We haven’t decided for sure if we’ll go yet, but I’m craving the snow and the quiet of the forest. It may be our last trip for awhile.

Now that you’re nearly here, I’m hoping that you wait a couple more weeks. There is still so much I would like to get done. I’m planning on sewing most of the day tomorrow, so that should help. I want to finish the last of the trim work on the house, and make some meals ahead that I can freeze, so that Aaron has plenty to eat after you get here, with minimal cooking involved. Somewhere in all of this, I need to make Christmas gifts for everyone.

I imagine at some point, you will blow the whistle on my plans, and we’ll head to the hospital — ready or not. I suppose that’s okay, too. I’m looking forward to having you here, and I think it really may be soon. You have been pretty quiet the last couple of days, other than shifting from your side to lying on your belly, facing my spine. I had a really strong contraction during yoga yesterday, but only one. I’ve been having a lot of contractions like that lately. I think you are getting yourself ready to be here.

I hope that when the time comes, we can stay home as long as possible before going to the hospital, which will undoubtedly be loud and chaotic, and that when you arrive into the world, it is into a peaceful and quiet space. I hope that your daddy and I are the very first to hold you, and that we get enough time together with just the three of us to let you know how much you are loved and welcomed into this world. I hope that you make it through delivery easily and calmly, and I am looking forward to holding you once you’re here.

<3,

mama

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PSA: things a pregnant woman doesn’t want to hear.

I had a conversation with a couple of friends about the crazy things people say and do when someone they know (or just randomly encounter) happens to be pregnant. After swapping stories for a bit, (and a few good laughs) we came to the conclusion that really, no one has advised the general population on etiquette in regards to expectant mamas. People are excited, and want to somehow be involved, or whatever, and they don’t always understand that some of the things they say are really appalling. So, I decided to create a handy guide of what not to say to someone who is expecting.

I have been hesitant to publish this, because I realize it may come off as a bit crass, so here is my disclaimer. I have a really dry, sarcastic sense of humor. I always have. Occasionally, it can get a bit morbid. I have never responded to these statements as I do in this post, and probably never would (with the exception of number 7), but this is what I am often thinking in response to some of the really inappropriate stuff I have been hearing at least daily for the last few months. I’m hoping it gives insight (and a good laugh) to others, rather than offense. Please take my responses with a grain of salt and a chuckle.

So, in no particular order, here is a list of 12 things you probably shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman:

1. “How are you feeling?”

This seems really benign, and while I appreciate that you care, it gets a little annoying when this is the opener to every conversation. Especially if I’ve already heard it 20 times today. From you. I will of course, tell you I’m feeling fine (because I am, thanks), and if I’m starting to get particularly annoyed by this, I will immediately ask you how you’re feeling. Gets old, doesn’t it?

2. “Oh, my gosh! Look at how big you’ve gotten!”

I have no idea when it would be considered okay to say this to anyone other than your 10 year old nephew. Imagine someone saying this to you when you aren’t pregnant. How would you feel? Awkward, I imagine.

3. “I can’t imagine you as a parent.”

Okay, I realize that as a pregnant person, one can be a little hypersensitive. But just to put this in perspective, basically pregnancy is nine months of vacillating between, “Yay! I’m going to have a baby!” and “Oh, my god. What if I mess this up?” You may have the best intentions with this statement. It may be a casual observation. But here’s what the mama-to-be hears, “Wow! I can’t imagine you know what hell you’re doing. Good luck — you’re going to need it!” Not. Comforting.

4. “You know you’re never going to be able to do __________ again, right?”

This statement is really only okay if the blank is filled in with the name of some illicit substance. Because most parents know that while the first few months will be hectic, you will once again be able to go for a run, go camping, ride a bicycle, take a shower, etc. You will probably be taking a small person along with you. If you’re very lucky, the two of you will like some of the same things. Being a parent is not a life sentence of incarceration. Your life will go on. And hopefully it will be much, much better than it was before you had a kid.

5. Anything involving you or someone you know/once met/read about who had a horrible labor and delivery.

I’m going to move a 7 to 9 pound person through a 10 centimeter hole in my body. I think I can come up with quite enough anxiety toward that on my own, but thanks for your offer to help add some.

6. “Don’t do __________!”

(Usually in reference to something along the lines of opening a door.)

I’m pregnant, not dead. I still have perfectly functional arms, legs, and brain. I’m still probably stronger than you are. And I’m not foolish enough to do anything which will put my baby in jeopardy. Carrying a bag of groceries never killed anyone.

7. “Hey, will you pick that up off the floor for me? Heh, heh, heh.”

No.

8. “How long are you planning to breastfeed?”

I happen to live in a quirky little town in which there is a large contingent of people who believe that they should breastfeed their child until the kid is old enough to vote. And, unfortunately, they think everyone should do the same. They get really excited about breastfeeding. They want to talk all about it. They want to know the details. For me, talking about breastfeeding is right up there with talking about bowel movements. Your breastfeeding issues? I don’t want to know about it. How often or how long you breastfed your kid? Not any of my business. Please extend me the same courtesy.

9. Anything involving how your kids have ruined your life/your plans/put a crimp in your style. Followed by a meek, “Oh, but it’s so worth it!”

Seriously? You’re an adult. You knew what you were getting into. You also knew how to avoid it if you didn’t want kids. No one likes a martyr. I’m not going to pity you or regret my decision because you regret yours. (And truthfully, I hope you don’t really regret your decision — for the sake of your kid!)

10. “Have you considered a water birth/home birth/hospital birth/giving birth while standing on your head?”

No. Clearly, I have not considered my options, because I am an idiot. Please tell me about your beautiful birth experience while singing in Swahili and eating lychee on toast. *sigh*

11. “You look great! Your face isn’t even that fat!”

Uh… thanks? What the hell kind of comment is that?

12. Who’s your gynecologist?

I still can’t believe I’ve gotten this question. More than once.

Of course, etiquette goes both ways…

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currency

I have been struggling with this present and impending redefinition of who I am. This morning, while reviewing my bank account, I came to the realization that in all reality, my part-time salary covers so little of our expenses that it might as well not exist. I flashed back to a time when I had a nicer title, a nicer salary, a more “professional” (and full-time) job with a tidy little office, and I began to really feel like a bit of a failure. I have to remind myself some days that I chose this. That we are okay with this. That my value does not have to carry a dollar sign in front of it.

I went and sat next to him for a moment, and told him what I was thinking. That I feel like my job is a joke. Going to work is absurd when I am not contributing enough money or respect to our family with what I am doing. That I feel like a failure. And asked him again if I should get a “real job” after the baby is born. Clear-eyed, he said, “Being a mom is a real job.” And I realized yet again that I must find a different way to measure my value. To measure my freedom. To know that I am contributing enough. I am still working on how to do that.

I am wondering what it will be like to not get up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning and drive somewhere to earn money. What will it be like to have my morning to do list include things like “make breakfast”, rather than “grade exams” or “run such-and-such report”? Do people even eat breakfast during the week? What does that day look like? And how, exactly, does one place a value on changing diapers, or doing laundry, or growing food? Am I giving up some part of my freedom? My independence? My identity? Or is it only a change in how those things are measured?

Sometime in the next month or so, I will stop working until at least June. Sometime in the next four to seven weeks, I will welcome my daughter into the world. Sometime between now and then, I hope to reconcile all of this, and hopefully find some peace in these changes.

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“Babywatch 2010”

Dear Spoon,

We went to the doctor yesterday. You are still so big! It’s great. Keep growing in there (just remember that at some point, you do have to come out!) We also made our next appointment. They want me to come in every two weeks now; the countdown has begun. The realization that we’re not too far away from you being here has my head spinning. My immediate response, of course, has been to make jokes about how this parallels Aaron’s work — referring to it as “Babywatch 2010”, and of course, making doppler jokes. You have been “head down” now for quite some time, so I guess you’re eager to come join us, too. We’re looking forward to seeing you, and our midwife thinks you may even come join us a couple of weeks early. (Just not too early, okay?)

As is my habit, when things come down to the wire, I tend to add more things. (Why do I do that?) We replaced my car this week, and there is lots of room in the new one for all three of us and the dog. I think we will have a lot of camping and hiking trips in the near future, which makes me very, very happy. This weekend, we are finishing the kitchen remodel. A couple more small projects on the house, and then I need to sit down and do a bunch of sewing for you and finish the dress I’m knitting.

I wish you could see the leaves starting to turn on the maples right now, and the doe and fawn we saw near the park a couple of weeks ago. I can’t wait for you to see those things next year. You’re going to love it!

Overall, things are going really well. In short, you are happy and healthy, and will be here really soon. Please forgive me if I seem a little stunned by that — all of a sudden this is overwhelmingly, passionately real. And we are loving every minute of it.

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half-life

Today was the first day of classes. My students sat sleepy and a little shell-shocked as they introduced each other and went over the syllabus. Just like every year.

This year was a little different for me, though. Today was my first day working part-time. Half way through the day, I gathered my things and left. Without my own classroom, leaving as everyone continues on with their day, and aware that halfway through the year I will be out for several weeks or perhaps longer, feels strange. I have always been one of the first to arrive on campus, and generally one of the very last to leave. I have become accustomed to kids hanging out in my classroom for hours after school, waiting for rides home from parents, waiting for the game to start, looking for somewhere to be. It felt strange today to explain to so many who came by that I am only half-time. Halfway here. Already halfway replaced.

The original plan was to spend afternoons working on things for the business; to maintain my certification and insurance while moving on to something new. Halfway out the door. While that is still the plan, it has been altered a bit; half the day now being dedicated to getting things finished around the house and preparing for the baby. To be honest, I’m not totally certain what the “preparing for the baby” part entails. Sewing, undoubtedly. Available time for the appointments which will increase in frequency in October and November. Organizing everything to make our lives easier for those months when we won’t sleep. Perhaps it is just so I can slow down enough to wrap my head around all of this.

Today, I felt a little lost, frankly. I stopped by the library to pick up some books I had placed on hold, then picked up a cup of tea and wandered into a baby consignment store, wondering if there is anything I need for this child still. (It turns out there is. And a lot I don’t need, but they will happily sell to me.) I came home, had a bowl of soup, and took a nap. Now I’m blearily staring at the computer, realizing that normally I’m not home for another two hours.

I’m sure I will adjust. Or I will start subbing in the afternoons until I get too large or exhausted to do so, or until she arrives, whichever comes first. Either way, this schedule will only persist for about three months or so. It still feels so strange to realize that I am heading into my sixth month of pregnancy, and it is already more than halfway done.

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Hello, Spoon.

Have I mentioned how ridiculously excited we are for you to get here? Today I bought some really lovely hand-painted yarn for you. I’m going to make it into a dress. I think you’ll like it, it’s soft and marbled shades of red and amber and brown. I bought a couple of story books for you at the library sale today, too. I’m really looking forward to reading them with you. On the way home, I tuned the radio to the classical music station, and cranked the volume up in hopes you could hear it. We discovered the other day that you seem to have a fondness for classical music — especially Mendelssohn. When some friends started playing Mendelssohn on Sunday afternoon, you stopped kicking and pounding, and started gently rocking your whole body back and forth.

You kick all the time now… it seems you never stop. Sometimes you wake me in the middle of the night with your kicking. I imagine you lying there, trying out your legs and arms, moving everything, and trying to learn how it all works. It’s good to know that you’re there, but it still feels so strange and foreign to me. Aaron hasn’t been able to feel you yet, but I think it’s because of where you are. He was a little too late every time you let loose with a kick so hard it moved my belly. Soon, though. He’s so very excited about you getting here.

We have been working on your room. It is next to ours. I hope you like it. We are hoping to finish painting it in the next few days, then we will get your crib and dresser assembled. Aaron has been working really hard on your room, and is determined to do it himself; it really is rather endearing. I have been scrounging everywhere for toys, traveling gear, and clothes for you, and I must say, we’re doing pretty well in that department. While Aaron is out of town this next week, I plan to do a lot of sewing for you. I hope everything I make works well and fits you.

I keep talking to you more. It still feels a little silly, of course. But I have been trying out different names to call you. So far, the one I like the best is your nickname, “Spoonie”. I think that one may stick. I’m sorry. I promise I will stop calling you that before you start driving.

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