Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Motherhood After Three Years

As is evidenced by my prodigious online presence here on the internet, I am obviously a very conscientious poster.  Or maybe not.  I'll readily admit that blogging regularly is not my forte.  I see that my last entry was from 2011, four months into my new career as a mother.

Well, yesterday, my daughter turned three.  People keep telling me it seems impossible, where has the time gone?  But I can tell you that I remember every single moment of it, and it has definitely been three years.  But maybe I'm being unfair to my daughter.  You see, in the three years since she was born, the following has happened:
  1. I moved from St. Louis to Fort Worth with a two week old (I should note that I had amazing help from my mom and dad during this).
  2. I started looking for jobs the minute I had moved, and I started a job as a paralegal less than a month later when she was six weeks and three days old.
  3. I got hired in the position I am now, then as a law clerk, now as an attorney, doing exactly what I knew I wanted to do.
  4. I studied for and took the bar exam.
  5. I passed the bar exam.
  6. My then-husband (note the "then") was out of work for almost six months after our move.
  7. He lost that job six months later, although he was fortunate enough to find something else soon afterwards.
  8. We started the process to build a house, and then had to stop because of the job loss.
  9. We decided to try and build a house again, and it was completed in March 2013.
  10. The great furlough of 2013 occurred, and I was unemployed and useless for almost three weeks of my life.  (Don't even get me started on this, because that is a separate "Things I Hate" post for another time.)
And all during this time, marital discord ran rampant.  So, it came as no surprise when my husband and I separated in February 2014, and our divorce will be finalized in July.

So, in three years, I went from a happily married mother to a single mother, and I feel every single moment of those three years.  I feel every heartache, heartbreak, tear, and sigh.  I feel every smile, laugh, and joyful squeal.  I feel it all, and it feels like a lot - like three years worth of roller coaster emotions.

But regardless of the roller coaster, when I look at the amazing little person that fills my day with kisses, smiles, and sunshine (also demands, boogers, and tears), I'd ride the roller coaster all over again.  People say that you'd walk through fire for your children, that you'd do anything, it's just that kind of love.  And I always wondered what that actually meant.  I mean, in theory, okay, it seems fine and dandy, because you are told you are supposed to love your child that way.  But what does that kind of love feel like?  How do you know you have it?  I never was sure, until maybe this last month.

As I sat alone, grieving for what is happening right now, for what has already happened, and feeling lonely, I thought about the fact that regardless of what happened between her father and I, I had my daughter.  Not only did I have her, but I knew that I would do it all over again to have her again.  Every single tear, angry word, heartache, and broken heart would be worth it.  After three years, I finally felt like I had a love that was worthy of my daughter.  And that was a little balm to my bruised heart, exactly what I needed.

I still have my moments when I wonder if I'm doing it right.  I still wonder if she's ever going to learn that panties are not for pooping in, potties are.  I always hope that she won't resent the fact that I didn't stay home with her, that I have a job that I love.  I pray that she'll always know that no matter what happened between us, her father and I love her more than anything in this world, and that we are now and always will be partners in raising her.  But at least I know now in my heart of hearts that I love her the way she deserves to be loved.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Motherhood after four months

Today, Ella turned four months old. (Side note: she had a well child checkup, and was 26.25" and 17 lbs. 6 oz, 97th percentile for both categories.) I tried to remember what life was like four months ago, and compared it to life today.

Four months ago: my schedule was my own. When I had a day off, I could do what I wanted/needed to do, and there was very little concern about unexpected interruptions. I was massively pregnant, yes, but that was okay.

Today: I had big plans for my day off - Ella's doctor appointment, appointment with State Farm, errands out at the mall, getting the rest of the outfits ready for the Christmas pictures, cleaning the dining and living rooms, getting the laundry caught up. What did I get done: the doctor's appointment, State Farm and half of my errands. Ella had a bad reaction to her shots and she needed to come home. The rest of the day was a wash.

So I got to thinking how much easier it was to get things done. But I also got to thinking that I wouldn't trade that ease of finishing my errands with the happiness that I have now.

This morning, I got to go in a wake up my baby girl. Her eyelids fluttered open and the first thing she did in the morning was squeal with delight and smile at me. She was happy to see me when she first woke up. What could be a better start to the day?

Four months ago, my day was made if I got a new pair of shoes or a fantastic deal at TJ Maxx. Today, my day is made when I get a little smirk and a giggle when a tickle Ella's tiny toes, or a smile first thing in the morning when I wake her up, or when she snuggles into my shoulder when I'm holding her, or when sometimes I'm just the only person who will do and make things better for her. Four months ago, my life was just so empty. I don't know what made me happy.

My daughter has shown me what my life was missing, she's made it so full when I didn't even know it was empty. She has shown me love that I didn't know existed. The last four months have been the best of my life.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering that day

Tuesday, September 11. This is a day that I will never forget. I've been watching 9/11 remembrance shows this evening, and it's made me do exactly what I don't want to - remember that day.

An event happens once in a generation that people will always remember. For my parents, it was JFK. I visited the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas once, and I was struck by the magnitude of that event. It was emotional and difficult to make it through. For my grandparents, it was Pearl Harbor. Frank's grandmother lived in Hawaii when it happened and actually saw the Japanese bombers flying over. But neither of these things are to me what September 11th is.

In May of 2001, I went to New York City with my high school choir. I remember taking a night time cruise around the harbor and seeing the twin towers lit up, the Statue of Liberty, and the New York skyline.

I remember that day, and I know where I was when I heard.

It was a beautiful day. Everyone was excited - President Bush was in Florida, about 45 minutes from where I lived. He was slated to be in Tampa later on, and everyone was kind of hoping to catch a glimpse of his motorcade.

I was sitting in Mrs. Rowe's English class and everyone was whispering that something had happened in New York. Meaning well, my teacher told us that it was no big deal and that she wasn't going to turn the television on because it was an accident. We settled down, trying not to think about it. I went to lunch, and headed to the choir room where I normally ate. And that's when I found out. America had been attacked. My life changed forever.

I know I wasn't there in New York when it happened, but it was no less real to me. I think everyone in my generation lost something that day. I can't tell you what it is that we lost, but there was some sense of security lost forever.

We all know where we were, and we know who we were watching the coverage with. We remember seeing people jumping from the buildings, watching the footage of the second plane crashing in, and staring in horror as the towers fell.

I remember September 11, but I cannot dwell on it. Why? Because it was the day that I realized I didn't live in a safe haven, it was a day that made me realize bad things could happen here. Now that I have a daughter, I pray that she never has to live through an event like that. I hope she never has to sit transfixed in front of the television watching as an unimaginable horror unfolds in front of her.

Maybe I didn't lose someone in the attacks, but the collective American psyche did. So here's to remembering, but here's also to living and trying to move on.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pointless ramblings of the totally uninformed

Immediate disclaimer: this post is not directed at my husband, who is probably the most understanding and sympathetic male when it has come to my pregnancy.

As everyone knows, I am pregnant. Today, I'm at 38 weeks and I'm preparing to serve my precious daughter an eviction notice. (Yes, I've read through the state and federal rules of civil procedure, and I have come up with an effective and legal means to deliver proper notice without fear of later having said notice found insufficient. Pitocin, anyone?) Here's why: I'm 40 pounds heavier, it's the start of summer, it's been in the 90s every day this week, and I only have window units to park myself in front of. I'm exhausted and bored and being outside too long (i.e., walking to and from my car to go into a restaurant or store) dehydrates me enough that I get dizzy and have a headache. I'm waddling and have a baby head bumping around in my pelvis, hitting pelvic nerves and making me randomly kick things. I am routinely head butted in the bladder and made to pee my pants. Contractions come and go, and my abdomen regularly feels like it has a massive charlie horse. I won't even get into the phone calls to the Women's Evaluation Unit and trips there to find out what the heck is going on with my baby.

Now, that being said, this is all worth it, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it for anything in the world. To say that Ella is my world would be an understatement - I literally live for her, every second of my life is dedicated to her, making sure she is healthy and growing and getting ready for the best possible entry into this world that she can make. What pisses me off: anyone that would say otherwise.

Being pregnant, you make personal sacrifices, and I'll tell you that they don't even feel like sacrifices, they feel like necessary courses of action. My child is more important than a few cold beers after a hard day or an amusement park ride or blue cheese on my salad. I am not in the least bit bitter or annoyed about the changes I had to make when we decided to have her.

In the beginning, pregnancy is joyful - you have just found out you're having this precious bundle of joy. Maybe you feel sick, but it's exciting and happy and what you wanted. In the middle, it's exciting because you start to see your body changing, you can feel your baby moving, and the sonograms start to look like a little person. Near the end, you start preparing knowing that the baby will here soon, and you want to make sure that your home is ready for her. But at the very end, you're playing a waiting game, and you feel like a ticking time bomb. At any moment, you think you could explode. Your energy is sapped, your concentration is waning, and all you can think about is, "When is this going to happen?"

But back to me (naturally). I'm at the stage now where it's the very end, and the doctor has assured me more than once that my baby is probably coming early (unusual for a first baby), and yesterday she told me that she would be surprised if I made it to next week. Exciting news, right? Well it should be. Unfortunately, there are those that squash my excitement, and for no apparent reason. Further, these people tend to be totally uninformed about anything related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Now, if you don't have a clue what you are talking about, whether because you've never had a child before OR because you physically cannot have a child, can someone please explain why you feel you need to add your two cents in? To take that a step further, why do you feel the need to make comments alleging that my interests at this point relate more to my own comfort rather than the health and wellbeing of my child?

I have done everything I should have done, I have prepared my home the way I should have, never missed a doctor's appointment, took my vitamins even when they made me so nauseous that I threw up, rested when the doctor said, got active when the doctor said, and refrained from any activities potentially dangerous or hazardous to Ella's health. I started this before we decided to try and get pregnant. I have been a good mother to my child so far.

I may be uncomfortable physically and I may be bored out of my mind, but I want her to come when she's ready. I'm ready to be a mother, but not at the expense of the health of my child. And any suggestion to the contrary disgusts me, and people who say those kinds of things to expectant mothers should be ashamed of themselves. Her birth isn't about my convenience, it's about when the time is right for her.

More than anything, those comments hurt. Maybe these people don't think before they say it, but they should. Not only is it hurtful because it suggests that I don't care about my daughter the way I should, the hurtfulness is escalated by the sheer magnitude of what I'm feeling and experiencing right now. I'm a bundle of emotions and feelings: a little nervous, a little scared, really excited, and unabashedly in love with my little girl. Most expectant mothers probably feel this way. And the last thing we need is someone saying otherwise.

So, to those who are totally uninformed and clueless about what it's like to be 38 weeks pregnant and anxious to meet your baby, I say this: your ramblings and commentary are pointless because you don't have any kind of reality to base it in. Shut up, and keep it to yourself.

As for me? Well, I'll do exactly what my favorite coffee mug says: Keep calm and carry on.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things I Hate: Gum Smacking Edition

Today, I'm going to write about something else that I passionately hate: gum smacking. This was inspired by some experiences at the recent graduation ceremonies that I've gotten to attend (p.s. - hooray from me, I'm a J.D.!!). So without further ado...

Thing I hate today: gum smacking.

Originally, I thought my hatred was of chewing gum, because in theory that is the root cause of what I hate. But it struck me, that's not it, because I enjoy chewing gum, sometimes it's great when you need to get a certain taste of out of your mouth. I, for one, enjoy the taste of Ice Cubes Cooling Lemon gum. It's refreshing and delicious, and not to gummy-tasting. So, I will not spend the rest of this post hating on chewing gum.

I hate gum smacking. I hate it for several reasons:
  1. It's noisy. I hate the sound of anything involving chewing and noise. In high school, I very blatantly told a girl I always ate lunch with that she needed to stop her noisy chewing because it was annoying.
  2. It's gross. You wouldn't generally chew with your mouth open with anything else inside it, like regular food, so why would you do it with a food derivative? (Because that's what it is, a food substitute.)
  3. If you do this, you look like a cow. To be more exact, you look like a cow chewing cud, and that is not attractive. I'm not exactly sure when it become socially acceptable or desirable to take on bovine qualities, but in America it has. If I may make a point - a few years ago when Catherine Middleton's (i.e., the new Duchess of Cambridge, loved the royal wedding, BTW!) mother was caught on camera chewing gum with her mouth closed, the British paparazzi gave her such crap about bad manners, it was ridiculous. Here, people show up at fancy things all the time, smacking gum unabashedly, and it's no big deal.
So, to be frank, I don't understand why someone would want to make themselves look like a cow. I also don't understand why people can't wait like AN HOUR to pop in a piece of gum, instead of smacking like crazy at graduation ceremonies, weddings, special events in general.

Take my advice: don't do it. You look bad and you look like a cow. So again I ask: why do you want to look like a cow? Unless you are a real BBQ enthusiast (like my father), I don't think you should EVER want to take on bovine qualities.

Note: this hatred also extends to gum popping. I HATE gum popping, almost as much as I hate gum smacking. Just a side note.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My daughter is a jerk...or why my Saturday was infinitely more exciting than yours.

Thursday, I had a doctor's appointment with my OBGYN and found out some exciting news (pardon if this is TMI) - I lost my mucus plug and I'm already 1 cm dilated (not much, but still something). So needless to say, I spent Thursday night studying and bargaining with God and Ella, that she would please stay put until at LEAST 12:30, so I could finish my final. I preferred 10:30 that night so that I could go to Frank's graduation, but I wasn't going to be picky. Friday came, and I took that final and saw Frank graduate. At that point, I breathed a sigh of relief and had a little conversation with Ella: "Okay, sweetheart, you did what I asked, now I'm not so picky about when you decide to come. But if you could wait until next weekend, that would be even better."

Saturday, Frank and I went to our infant care class where we learned to bathe, feed, diaper, and swaddle a baby. Afterwards, he asked if I'd like to go to lunch, and I told him Panda Express sounded good, so being the good husband that he is, he took me to the food court at the mall and got me my orange chicken. I was about to go get an ice cream cone from Ben and Jerry's (I know, I eat so well, don't share this with my doctor), but I decided I needed to go to the bathroom first.

I waddled my way back, did my business, and walked about to the stall to go wash my hands. Halfway there, and something happened. GOOSH. I stopped mid-stride, wondering if what I thought had actually just happened - had my water just broken? I ran back to the stall, and sure enough, there had been a sudden gush of fluid. I wasn't quite panicked, just surprised - that would be Ella's style, literally holding out until I had just finished what I absolutely had to. It would be too much to think that I could have a relaxed weekend, naturally she would want to make it all about her.

So, I waddled, very quickly this time, back out to where Frank was waiting for me. "I think my water broke!" He stood there silent for a second, clearly stunned, and then grabbed my hand and said, "Okay, let's get you to the hospital." We got to the hospital, found the women's evaluation unit, and settled in to wait for the attending physician to make it back to examine me.

Three hours later, after several examinations and some blood work, I found out that my water had not broken. What had happened: my precious sweet little baby girl stuck her head in my bladder, essentially dividing it in two. So I went to the bathroom, thought I was done, got up, and at that exact moment, Ella moved her head, resulting in a gush, but not of amniotic fluid. Essentially, I wet my pants (although not intentionally, and because of the little jerk).

I was feeling more than a little embarrassed, but was reassured by both Frank and the doctor and nurses that I did the right thing - it was much better to be safe than sorry. But here's what I learned:
  • My water breaking will feel exactly the same, with only a minor difference.
  • I'm already 50% effaced, so that means this baby is coming sooner than I thought.
  • Where the maternity unit is, and where I need to go when the time actually comes, and not because I should have been wearing Depends.
  • My husband is amazing - when I was freaking out a little and completely upset about having wet pants in the mall, he was holding my hand and keeping me calm. I wasn't sure how he would be in labor, but I learned a lot about him that afternoon, and it was all good.
  • My daughter is a jerk. She literally made me wet my pants. Frank said that she probably decided to pull that stunt so she could get her picture taken (I had to get another sonogram done to check my fluid levels).
So, that was my exciting Saturday. Can you top that?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When life hands you lemons... happy and put them in the fridge, because those things are expensive!

So, it's finals time, and I'm deliriously skipping through my last round of law school finals EVER (sorry if that was salt being rubbed in your wounds). This is the time of year where everyone gets stressed, and we're all probably a little homicidal (because everyone knows that running out of tabs at 6:30 in the morning is a NATIONAL EMERGENCY when you've got a test in less than 3 hours and you want to get your outline finished, so don't ask if they're really important!). There's sometimes a little depression - like can I possibly cram all of this knowledge from the last 4 months into my brain in time for a final? can I regurgitate it all back in a coherent form? will I find a job anytime soon?

Needless to say, sometimes I have to stop and back away and consider it all for a moment. I have to actively look for things to be happy to be happy about, because I know they are there, and sometimes I find them in surprising places - like when I'm being actively pissy and purposely finding the glass half empty (a change from my natural disposition - it's neither empty or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be).

So, here's an unusual post: things I love and things that make me happy.
  1. My husband. When I am ranting about things like the lack of sticky tabs at 6:30 in the morning or requesting to be tucked into bed at 7:30 because I'm just exhausted, he just smiles indulgently and does it without a question. He knows when to laugh and he knows when to be quiet and he knows when I just need a hug. I'm kind of demanding (shocking, right?), but he loves me anyway.
  2. My daughter. Taking finals while pregnant has been an experience - she gets bored and starts stretching, sometimes there's a contraction that can take my breath away for a moment, and I need to pause for a moment before I go on. But I'll tell you this: I wouldn't change a minute of it. Every time I feel her squirm, I know she's growing and healthy, and has one hell of a little personality. And I wouldn't trade her little nudges during exams for anything. Maybe it's her way of making sure I know that she is supporting me.
  3. My parents. To say that they support me is an understatement. I don't think they always understand what it is I'm talking about or the latest thing I've gotten into, but they put on a good pretend face and go with it. Not to mention, they've literally let their house be taken over by baby stuff while we get ready to move back. Now that's devotion.
  4. Archie. He's a ball of fluff with a prissy attitude, and probably the nicest cat in the world. Even though I don't appreciate always being kneaded at ungodly hours because he wants to show me how much he loves me, it's worth it when he snuggles up next to me in the mornings when I'm having a slow day and sleeping in. He's my little snuggle bunny.
  5. Frank's snow cone machine. We just added this to our household inventory this weekend. Cherry snow cones whenever I want? Yes please!
  6. My craft project bin. Even though there are 4 projects in various states of incompleteness, I love looking over and seeing the possibilities in that box. I know that there are a bunch of things in there that will one day be beautiful, and I get to be part of that process.
  7. My friends. Misery loves company, and I love the miserable group that I'm surrounded with. There's nothing better than a great group of girls to turn to and hang out with. I wouldn't trade them for the world.
So, there's a few small reminders to myself of why life is good, even though things are a little hectic. It'll all calm down eventually (probably just in time for Ella to be born).

Happy Tuesday, everyone :)