Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen

About a year ago, I started this blog. And what a year it's been! To recap, I:

1. quit smoking (Yay for me!)
2. got pregnant after believing I never would
3. had a kid

I had originally wanted to write only about snarky, tongue-in-cheek life observations like these, but they really take a LOT of time to create, what with all the pictures and editing and whatnot. Humph.

I wanted a place to vent about minor social frustrations like these.

I also wanted to have a way to get stuff off my chest, have a forum for conversing about semi-deep thoughts and/or personal stuff like this.

However.

I have a career as a full-time teacher in a public school. If you know anything about the state of public education in today's climate, you know educators are under a lot of pressure. Everything you hear (and more) is true. Summer is winding down and I'm about to undertake my 6th year of teaching.

But this time I'll be doing it as somebody's mommy.

I simply don't have the wherewithall to keep up a blog, a job, and be a good parent. In case you didn't already know, I'm pretty type-A. I'd like to get stuff done well, or not do them at all.

So with sadness and smiles I must say, "Goodbye" to my short stint as a blogger. I had really wanted so much more for my little slice of the internet, but maybe it's for another time.

I do have a feeling that I'll be seeing you again, though. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's Like Groundhog's Day, Only a Thirty-Something Asian Woman Is Bill Murray

As you probably know, I'm a new mom. And while I love my kid and welcome the new addition to our family, I desperately miss two old friends that have disappeared with his arrival - the insides of my eyelids. Oh, eyelids! How you've comforted me, given me respite, and kept me happy my whole life. Will I ever see you again?

Like them eyelids, kid? I made those eyelids, and I demand you use them.

In recent Type-A personality attempts to start getting this kid on some kind of predictable schedule so that I can hang out with my two buddies again, I've begun documenting our activities so that I can create some kind of regular daily plan that works for the whole family. Mr. TBAIC's gotten a new work schedule as well, so circadian rhythms in this house have pretty much flown out the window. Everything worked great a few weeks ago. Our daily lives went something like this:

6am: Kid eats.
7am: I eat.
7:30: Stroller walk around neighborhood.
8:00: I shower and breath a sigh of relief. Feed kid.
9 - 11: I do something productive around the house.
11: Kid takes a nap while I eat lunch and watch mindless tv.
1pm: Kid's awake! I feed him.
The rest of the afternoon was punctuated by play and other grown up productive stuff. Then, Mr. TBAIC awakes, we eat dinner, then settle in for the night.

Lately, my non-Gosselin's been particularly uninterested in that late morning nap, much to my chagrin. Oh he gets sleepy, don't get me wrong. But he fights it like crazy. Here's what yesterday's schedule looked like:

10am: Feed kid.
10:30: Lightly bounce in my arms on the exercise ball til his eyelids are sufficiently droopy.

It can strengthen your core AND lull a baby to sleep. Whodduhthunkit?
11am: Lay down gingerly in bassinet (we're trying to get him to sleep in one spot, now). Look at that face. What a little angel!
11:07: Kid cries. Bouncing part deux.
11:35: Lay down in bassinet ever so gently. Slowly, just a centimeter at a time, pull my arms out from underneath his sweaty little body. Do they make baby deodorant? Stand up and watch for signs of arousal. Take a deep breath and leave the room.
11:38: Kid cries, mommy curses quietly. Makes plans to chug a bottle of wine if, and when the child ever sleeps again. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
12:07: I have anxiously checked the time every 2 minutes or so since laying him down last. SCORE! Take THAT, baby! Right about now I'd be high-fiveing myself if it wasn't such a noisy activity.
12:10: "WAAAAAAAA!" Defeated, I trudge down the hallway.

This cycle basically repeated itself over and over again until around 2pm, no joke.

2pm: Eff the bassinet. He can sleep wherever he wants to. I put him in his swing. He sleeps like the dead until 5:15. I even vacuumed around him and he didn't wake up.

My saving grace. Oh, how I heart you.
Sound familiar to anyone? Is there a magic pill or something I can buy? Oh please God, tell me there's a magic pill....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Want to Go to There

I've been thinking a lot about Hawaii lately.

Sadly, I did not take this picture.

Not too sure why. Even though I live in Florida, I'm not particularly beachy. I do, however, love a good waterfall, rain forest, and constantly moderate climate. Florida has none of these.

This totally reminds me of Gilligan's Island. But it's not.

Furthermore, there are cute sea turtles...

... like this guy, found here.

And a laid-back, easygoing lifestyle.

The "aloha spirit" found here.

Three years ago, I bought a couple of plumeria plants. Now, I am decidedly NOT a plant person. Plants fear me, and rightly so. But I was  pretty determined to keep these bad boys alive. We went through three freezes, and each was a little hairy. But they survived. The guy I bought them from said they'd bloom in three years. He wasn't lying, and finally, this year they produced spectacular blooms.

This really is my picture.
Plumeria are what Hawaiian leis are made of. When I bought them (just like now) I had images of the islands in my mind. Don't they make you think of tropical isles?

La Isla Bonita

In my mind, I imagine moving there. My son grows up in paradise, "hanging ten" on the weekends, and surrounded by people who resemble him. I'm pretty sure this is just a pipe dream, but I glance at that possible future when I see my plumeria.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Last Year

Around this time last year's when I found out that a colleague was pregnant. It shouldn't have been a surprise. After all, she was in her mid-twenties, crazy healthy, and she and her husband are really attractive people. You do the math.
And while I was happy for her and her family, I found myself struggling yet again with the same complex layers of emotions that I'd been feeling for years upon discovering that a friend was pregnant. It was an emotional lasagna, filled with equal amounts of joy and longing slathered in between chewy bits of frustration and jealousy, topped off with a hearty sprinkling of guilt for being ungrateful for the bounty I already enjoyed. Maybe it was my lot to nurture and enjoy other people's kids. Maybe I wasn't being punished by the universe for some unknown transgression. Maybe it was random. Maybe this was just the way things would be. Maybe I shouldn't want. I should just accept.

Mm. Psychological stress be damned. I still love you lasagna. Not my photo.

This was my struggle a year ago.

Fast forward three hundred and sixty something days. I have an entirely different set of layers to sort through.

Right now, my ten week-old son lies snoring on my chest. There are billions of babies on Earth at this very moment, and maybe thousands are also snoring on their mother's chest. Billions upon billions of people have been born, lived, and died since we began to stand upright on the African savannah. In the grand scheme of things, neither my kid or me are special in any way. We are only blips on life's radar screen.

I know that in my head.

But my thoughts tell a very different story. When he smiles, the universe screeches to a halt - crickets stop chirping, people freeze their conversations midsentence, and electrons stop spinning around their nuclei. When I watch him study his father's face, everything else ceases to exist except for the three of us. When his lip quivers because he's about to cry, civilizations could crumble around us and I wouldn't give them a second glance.

What? Bin Laden was killed? I wasn't aware....

Last year, just the thought of you was important to me, baby boy. But I had no idea how much. When looking at him, I often think about my life a year ago. So many things have changed during the course of a year, so many impossible things.

It still amazes me.

Hold on tight, spider monkey.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New

We're about a month into our new lives as a 3-person (and one cat) family. Everything is new and different. Everything. I have a new appreciation for the late afternoon sunlight that filters through the window because of the way it captivates my son's attention. What was once just a pair of boobs is now a full service diner serving the most perfect manna 24 hours a day. Laundry used to be a chore. Now it's a fun activity that gets me off the couch and outside for a few sweet minutes. (What? "New" and "good" do not necessarily overlap.) Baby farts are the cutest thing ever, and a good poo is the highlight of my day.

This fascinates my kid. Oh, and this is not my house, just some pic from the internets.

I also have new talents. They all involve completing tasks single-handedly. I'm not referring to any kind of newfound independence, I literally mean doing stuff with one hand. If you're holding an inconsolably crying baby, you gotta make do somehow. Adaptation is not only necessary, it's vital. Here's a fun list of stuff that I've newly discovered can be done successfully with one hand.
  1. blogging
  2. laundry
  3. potty (including both numbers 1 and 2)
  4. making a sandwich
  5. paying bills
  6. cooking (ok, that's probably an exaggeration since I'm referring to making a sandwich, but whatever)
  7. eating (This doesn't sound like it'd be difficult one-handed, but have you tried it before? Yeah, that's what I thought.) 
I have a carrier that would allow me to hold the baby hands-free, but we've only used it once with success. (Mom's got to get better at tying it together on the fly.)

All in all, that's a (VERY) brief summary of the new. Now, there's a crying baby that needs to be soothed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Birth Story (i.e. Think REAL Hard Before You Read This Because It Gets REALLY REAL, Folks)

Starting in mid April, my students started asking me almost daily, "When are you going on maternity leave?" I knew they asked because 1. they were honestly curious and 2. they wanted to know when they'd finally get to have a sub. As my April 20th due date grew closer, their questions became more frequent. My answer remained the same: "I'll leave when he comes out." The reason for this particular reply was two-fold: 1. it was the honest truth and 2. they needed to know that I wasn't leaving early (i.e., they weren't getting a sub early!)

They got their wish on Monday, April 18th. *Here's how it all went down. * Not for the sqeamish!

Labor started on the night of Sunday, the 17th. I'd done my normal Sunday stuff (grading, lesson planning, etc.) and we'd eaten dinner and settled in to watch Family Guy. I went to the bathroom and noticed maybe a teaspoon of blood in the toilet. Hm. Bloody show? Isn't this supposed to be mucousy? Better call Heather. Heather was our doula. The word "doula" is Greek for "amazingly indispensable, worth every penny, every pregnant woman should hire one." I was initially reticent about getting a doula because a. I shave my legs and b. I don't have a hemp-based wardrobe. But oh-mah-gawd, am I glad I got over myself. Ok, back to the story. For the life of me, I don't remember if she confirmed it was bloody show or not, but I do recall her advice to "go to bed."

Indispensable Heather.
 So I did. That was at about 9:30pm.

Around midnight, I woke up feeling crampy. Knowing that the hospital would keep me for 4 hours regardless, David and I were both pretty dedicated to staying at home as long as possible. So, I didn't make a big deal out of it - after all, maybe it was false labor? I padded out into the living room and pretended to watch tv with my husband. Stronger contractions began soon after, and my Lamaze training kicked in. (Again, really glad we prepared.) I asked David to begin timing them. At that point they were about 4 minutes apart, 1 minute in length. I could still talk through them, and they were pretty managable. Around 1am's when things started getting hazy for me. We both stayed in the living room, trying to distract/alleviate the pain. I tried the birthing ball (not super helpful for me, but I think it's because I didn't stay on it long enough) and other various positions that we'd learned in class. Leaning on the couch helped the pain some. Speaking of pain, it really wasn't too terrible at this point, but I didn't fully anticipate where it would hurt. I had tremendous back labor because of how the baby was situated. Sometime between 1 and 2 am I emailed my boss between contractions to let her know I would certainly not be coming in anytime soon.

I'd been feeling a tad nauseous off and on. A few hours into labor I told David, "I'm gonna puke - get something now!" He quickly got a trash can and held it in front of my face for me as I lay on the couch getting rid of my dinner, and as I heaved, I farted - several times. So, there I am, a laboring woman laying helplessly on her living room couch, puking and farting her brains out, and there's her husband sitting right in front of her holding a trash can (bless him, really, for doing that) laughing mercilessly in her face at each heave/toot. We both had a good laugh over that later.

More walking around, different positions, Lamaze breathing, etc. for the next couple of hours. The tv might have been on but I didn't notice. (Hell, Hitler might have been resurrected in my backyard and I wouldn't have noticed at this point.) At around 4:30-5am I told David that I thought we'd better go to the hospital. The contractions weren't necessarily closer, but they were becoming harder to deal with. I told him where everything was (my hospital bag, etc.) and he began to load up the car. That's the only time I recall him acting at all frantic, and then it was really only a touch. When he'd loaded the car, I stood up and whoosh! there goes my water! Oooh! I recall groaning. From there on out, each contraction pushed more and more water out. I then told David to cover my (car) seat with a garbage bag so that I didn't soak it. (I'd read that on the internet somewhere. Thank God I remembered.) The evening air was chilly - that's the last time I remember the weather being coolish, and I again sent David inside to get my robe as I hunkered down for yet another contraction in the car. I was pretty afraid of having contractions in the car because I couldn't move around. But somehow I managed. I remember some of the drive: stopping at the light that takes you from our neighborhood to the main thoroughfare, each bump or swerve during a contraction was... interesting. I remember David asking, "Do I need to exit here?" and me thinking, "No, and we've already had this conversation! Plus, you've been there 18,000 times!" But I know he was under stress, so some amnesia's to be expected.

David dropped me off (we'd already pre-registered) and went to park the car. As I sat in the wheelchair waiting for his return, I contracted again and there went my water, again. Thank goodness it's 5 in the morning and nobody's here, I thought. That's when another couple showed up. Lovely. At this point's when inhibitions began to disappear, though, and I stopped caring who saw what.

They got me up to labor and delivery. (Later, I found out that it was a full moon, there were an inordinate amount of births that night, and I got the last room. Score!) David briefly told the nurses that we were planning a natural birth (which I was sort of wavering on at this point, to be perfectly honest) and they started stripping me down and hooking me up. Normally I'd be all shy about that kind of thing, but remember, inhibitions flew out the window a long time ago. A nurse checked me and I was 2 centimeters dilated. Are you kidding? That can't be right. Heather arrived soon after, and that's when it all becomes just a swirling mass of jumbled events, and several people coaching me on: Let's lean over here for a while, don't breathe too hard or you'll hyperventilate, look at me, focus, start breathing at the beginning of the contraction instead of the peak... And me: Am I doing ok? My back hurts! Uuuggghhhh!

video

Time went on forever, and in the blink of an eye all at once. A few hours later, they checked my cervix and it was ready. I think I already knew that, though, because with later contractions I wanted to push. So I did. And dear God, the noises that came out of me, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I'd sound like that. They were like animal sounds, and they just came, like my normal higher order brain switched off and a much older, instinctual brain came alive. My whole body, really, became taken over by some ancient knowledge that I wasn't aware of. Pushing came naturally, (and it really is like taking a huge dookie) and I only recall pushing a handful of times. Heather was there and explaining things every step of the way. David looked me in the eye very close and held my hand. I remember thinking about my grandmother, and how she said labor "really wasn't that bad, and why did those women in the hospital scream so much?" Lies! I thought! But truly, at this stage the pain wasn't in the forefront - getting the baby out was the priority. I remember the last push, and the sensation of his whole body coming out of mine. After getting the head out, the body was no big deal at all, and it felt exactly like you'd think it would.

Heather said something like, "Here's your son!" and held him to my chest. I sobbed. Mightily. I've waited so long for you! Do you know how much I love you? David! Can you believe we did this? I can't believe I just did this! While I had my Lifetime tv moment, I delivered the placenta, and the doctor began stitching me up. This is when I found out I had two tears. Though this was one of my biggest fears about labor, frankly, I don't know why I was so freaked out about it. During labor, I had no idea anything was tearing. The stitching back together paled in comparison to labor and delivery, so fuhgeduhbouditt.

Our Owen Michael was born at 7lbs., 2 oz., 21 inches long at 7:51am. Heather then spoon-fed me the most delicious yogurt I'd ever tasted while David visited our son underneath the french fry warmer. I remember being very concerned with the time, partly because my view of the clock was obstructed by the french fry warmer.

When I told people I wanted a natural delivery, they usually either seemed fearful for me, or thought I was naive. I've got to say, though, that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Sure it hurts a lot; it's called labor, duh. But with enough preparation and a willing mind, it's really not that bad at all. Of course, it helps tremendously to have a supportive team. I'm pretty sure I would've fallen to pieces without David and Heather.

Our son.
Owen and his father.