Sunday, August 29, 2010

14 weeks anniversary

Andy came up with a brilliant idea for a novelty book we should write: Things You Never Expected to Hear Your Spouse Say... Until You Had a Baby. It could be a whole series -- ...Until You Had a Toddler, ...Until You Had Kids, ...Until You Had Teenagers...

I think what I said that prompted the idea was (queue baby voice), "Do you like my finger?"

Yesterday, Andy said that he had never known I had this side to my personality -- I think he was talking about the googly-eyed, silly, baby-talking mommy side -- especially when we were first getting to know each other, when the idea of having children was as far from my brain as space travel.

This week, Andy and I celebrated three years of marriage. On our first anniversary, I initially began to want to start a family. On our second anniversary, we lost our first pregnancy. On the third, we've got a baby who's more amazing than either of us could ever have imagined. I never knew a baby could be so happy and fun, never knew I could love so much.

When our baby cries in his sleep, I touch his soft hair and tell him, "Mumma's here." And whenever I do that, I feel a little stunned at how quickly the words come out, and how much they mean.

Is there a way to feel more balanced between being a mother and being a wife? Am I supposed to find one? Are there times when I'm so absorbed with being Fletcher's mother that I'm neglecting everything and everyone else? If actions speak louder than words, what exactly am I saying?

To the man who has been with me almost ten years... My partner, who shared vows with me in a garden three years ago. Whose humor keeps me going, whose good sense I admire, whose loyalty and depth and good nature make this life we're building so easy to enjoy. I love you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

three months old photogenicity

official three month photo

Andy and I were never that photographically-inclined. We especially haven't enjoyed being the camera's focus, as he always manages to look stoned and I always manage to look like a smiling-too-largely pale zombie.

But now we're parents, which means we're predisposed to think that there's nothing in the world that's better to look at than our baby boy. It doesn't help that the grandparents think so too.

The fact is, he seems to be moving in fast forward. He spends all his time rolled onto his side now. He's gripping onto his new three-month-present (Freddie the Firefly) and even putting it in his mouth when he gets lucky. Pretty soon he'll have full control of those hands. He'll be rolling over regularly. He'll be saying more than ingoo, endee, and ahmee.

So we need all the photographic evidence we can get. Lucky he didn't inherit his photogenicity from us.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


To the baby
I was never
to meet.
To the baby
who answered
endless months
of yearning.
To the baby
whom I cherished
in every moment
of its shaky existence.
To the baby
I'll never see
never hold
never name
never know,
whose presence was,
despite its brevity,
To the baby
I still
one year later
To the baby
I couldn't save.
I love you.

August 5, 2009 (conception) - August 22, 2009 (miscarriage)

basal body temperature chart, baby number one

basal body temperature chart, Fletcher

Friday, August 20, 2010

12w 5d fear

I don't know how soon I was supposed to return to being a completely calm, confident, well-adjusted, happy person.

What's wrong? Why are you sad?

I still have horrible moments, sometimes horrible days, where I'm so completely happy that I have Fletcher, and yet so irrationally wrecked. I can feel, almost see, the waves of hormones washing over me, the undertow dragging me through my lowest emotions.

Sometimes, it comes in a flash and I'm able to soften it just by thinking happy thoughts. Maybe not enough to fly like Tinkerbell, but enough so that I avoid the What's wrong? questions.

I found a hair today. That's all it took to set me off. That one little hair, which had come from my baby's head, made the dam holding back a build-up of surprising emotion crumble.

Having that strand of hair meant so much to me now, when I'm just 6.14 miles from home, where he is healthy and happy with his father.

What if he wasn't? my morbid thoughts wondered. What would finding this hair mean to me if he were gone?

When writing a story, I've always felt that it's important to be able to pinpoint a main character's absolute greatest fear. And then to have that fear come into play in some way during the course of the story, as an obstacle or a kind of villain that the hero has to overcome.

For myself I never had, or never knew of, a "greatest fear." There was too much gray area in the haphazard collection of things that I feared, everything from abandonment to bankruptcy, from disfigurement to not being liked, from death to making mistakes. It was all a murky cloud of awful, which I tried to come out from under, in order to live my life without constantly looking up at that potentially-falling sky.

Is it better or worse now that I have and know my absolute, 100 percent, greatest fear? The one wrong that would trump all others, the one disaster that would render me useless, broken, destroyed?

Does it make all the other fears milder or less oppressive by comparison? Now that I know there is a single thing that would kill my soul, a single thing that I can't survive, can I be relieved knowing any other horror can be survived?

I haven't been able to step out from under this particular dark cloud, though. I've read that morbid thoughts are common for new mothers, whether they have depression or not.

They say it's a mother's job to worry, but when the fear rises up my throat to choke me, it isn't a "job." It's the villain of the story.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

12w 2d sun

Ready for the cliche? He's growing up so fast! I mean... Holy drool-pile, batman! Is it possible to be teething already? He is 13 pounds, 11.5 ounces of cuteness. He's started to work on figuring out those hands, and he definitely has the whole shove-hand-in-mouth thing down.

His feet are garnering some attention as well, and he's discovered the joy of splashing those feet in the water during bath time.

Before I had him, I imagined I was going to wish he could talk to me, tell me what he wants. But I discovered today that I'd rather be able to talk to him, to tell him exactly what he means to me. To all of us. I began with a letter, below.

not a morning person?

Dear Fletcher,

When you're older, will you know what you mean to me? If you could take the years of my life and look at them like the rings in a tree trunk, everyone would be able to see the moment you entered into existence. That ring would suddenly shine, bright gold, like the sun.

The rings will continue to change in color and shape and texture. You won't be able to remember these first years of your life, but I'm holding myself responsible for their preservation. Can my memory hold? Will the memories be enough, someday when you're grown up and gone? Tonight, I am watching you sleep, and all I can think is that you are my life.

Per our routine, I came home on my lunch hour today to feed you, and you smiled at me the whole time. You made funny noises and held a whole conversation with me that way. Your eyes lit up when we looked at each other and I'm sure that I've never felt this glow inside until you were there. My little sun, making me glow.

When you're older, it won't be quite this way, quite this barrier-free. But I hope we can have a close relationship. Even when you've grown and moved out and moved on, I hope you'll recognize the way you light me up inside, the way your smile makes the world better.

When you're older, will you know that you came from a great love? It seems like it's more common than not for marriages to fall apart today. I want to spend the rest of my life with your father, hand in hand, heart in heart. I can't imagine not feeling that way, not wanting him with me through every stage of life I have left to live. I don't know what I'd do without his partnership and responsible nature, his common sense and humor, the way he is just exactly the father I want for you, the husband I want for me.

When I walk in the door and I see the two of you, looking at each other or laughing at each other or him holding you while you sleep, it's like every restless thought in my head and every sliver of panic and worry wedged inside me vanishes. Because there you both are, the loves of my life, and I have everything I didn't even realize I needed.

I hope you'll always know what a light you are to everyone around you. To everyone who has looked at you, held you, smiled and laughed with you. You light us up. You have us captured. You are loved.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

11w 4d vesiculation

So my baby has an acute or chronic inflammation of his skin, characterized by redness, itching, and the outbreak of oozing vesicular lesions which become encrusted and scaly. Sexy, no? He was already bright red and dry before the delightful "oozing" began.

Eczema can be allergic or non-allergic. Let's hope for non, seeing as there's only one thing in his diet, so... yeah.

On the plus side, even if his sole food source is turning him bright red and scaly, at least we can be certain he's getting nourishment. Our little peanut now weighs a whopping 13 pounds, 11.5 ounces.

There really aren't words specific enough to describe what it's like when something is wrong with your baby. Let's just say, once you reach that moment, all your trepidation about sticking a thermometer up your baby's butt vanishes. You need to know his temperature. You need to obsessively analyze his temperature ala Google. You need to stare at his dry, scaly, legion-filled face and bite your nails. You need to consult every acquaintance you have on Facebook. You need to call the nurse hotline, just to hang up twenty minutes later and realize you're no farther ahead than you were twenty minutes ago.

You need to send him to his doctor, and please please get a trustworthy answer. Suddenly all the tiny "symptoms" he's had the last week start adding up into calamity. The drooling. The cough. The one slightly swollen eyelid.

Even when you get an answer, you can't settle. What if it's not the answer?

Twenty-four hours after the panic first set in, I was better. Comfortable enough to finally do the thing I'd been dreading since the beginning of it all, since his first night sleeping there in our bedroom, tiny and needy and mine.

He slept in his crib. In his nursery. Where I couldn't see him or reach him. At least, not without opening two doors and crossing two feet of hallway.

I fiddled with the monitor for five minutes, volume down, volume up, nervous and unhappy, before finally embracing the new parent cliché. Full volume. I didn't care if it disrupted my sleep. I needed to hear my baby breathe. Hear his stomach rumble. Hear his legs kick.

And when he cried a little faster and a little louder than normal in the middle of the night, I let myself believe it was because he liked this new arrangement about as much as I.

Monday, August 9, 2010

11w 1d limit

The act of discovery, both for baby and for me, never fails to surprise. Baby is discovering himself, and his world. I am discovering things I never knew about myself, new experiences and capabilities and emotions.

Finding my own limits is especially interesting to me. I didn't know I had a limit to what I could handle watching on TV or in movies until this whole new parent-world was opened up to me. I first tasted this limit last year, in August, when I turned down an offer to see "The Time Traveler's Wife" in the theater, and when I agreed with Andy that I shouldn't watch "Revolutionary Road." After the miscarriage, there were limits to what I could handle watching.

Then last night, channel surfing, the best thing on TV was "House." Part way into the episode, I became filled with anxiety. I tried to force myself to watch -- after all, I loved this show and had never had trouble with any of its gore or drama -- but it was too much. A baby had died, and the postmortem autopsy and emotional exchange between House and the mother incited too much panic.

The list of new discoveries since Fletcher's arrival is endless, and each discovery has been a kind of surprise. How it's possible to feel such powerful love and attachment. How I don't have any trouble with the concept of changing diapers, don't even notice a smell. How fragile life is. How I depend on him. How sometimes, when I look into his eyes, I can see his independent soul thinking away. This person we were able to create. This miracle.

I find it comforting that there are still things I don't know about myself. Limits I have time yet to test, emotions I've yet to feel, experiences I've yet to have. I can be a part of Fletcher's journey while continuing my own.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

10w 2d strength

Even after a night like last night, having Fletcher feels like winning the lottery. That must be the difference between taking care of someone else's kid, and taking care of your own. He could sprout horns and fangs, and it wouldn't put a dent in how lucky I feel or the overwhelming amount of love I have for this miniature person.

He was having problems after bedtime, moaning and generally being unhappy all through the night when normally he'd be sleeping soundly. Instead of only waking up once to eat, he was continuously needy. Not crying, really, just having problems. The only thing I noticed amiss, though, was how violently he would rub his face on my shirt when I held him. Deciding that acne was better than this bothersome dryness, I applied some baby oil this morning, and perhaps that will solve the matter.

Because normally, he's remarkably and delightfully happy. He's turned us into a household of silly-faced, coo-voiced, smiley singing idiots.

When I put him in his feeding seat for the first time this past weekend, it was like I saw his future flashing before my eyes. I saw him as a toddler, and then a little boy, sitting in this chair with his cheerios. Even the picture I took above makes him look way beyond his years weeks.

He's been holding his head up since the day he was born, but he keeps getting stronger and stronger... holding up his weight with his legs, punching and kicking, rolling over when the mood strikes. Andy said that from an angled upright position, he was lifting his head and shoulders forward all by himself yesterday, like baby crunches. Even Grandma Quandt, who's known her share of babies, says he's the most advanced for his age. Though I wish this whole growing-up thing would slow down, I can't help but be proud of what I see as his strength, determination, and a solid foundation for what I hope will be healthy and happy years ahead.