If I only had a brain…

I stood in my child development group, bouncing up and down, swaying back and forth, trying to soothe my screeching child, when our leader looked over and calmly reassured me,

“You are a great mom.”

It seems like a thoughtful and encouraging comment, right?

But I couldn’t stop the devil on the shoulder from whispering, “No, you aren’t.”

At 5:30am, when my daughter has decided that it is a perfect time to kick her little feet in the air and declare it morning (and breakfast time!), I often struggle to resolve how I am going to get to the end of the day. Merely bare bones survival. How will I find it in me to wake up, feed her, feed myself, and make it to the precious time when I will crash into the soft caress of my pillow once again. With such low expectations, it is impossible for me to reflect on this attitude and exclaim, “Woo hoo! I am SuperMom!”

Wait a minute...that's the cat...so, where's the baby?

Wait a minute…that’s the cat…so, where’s the baby?

Combine this trudging through the day with a complete lack of brain activity, and, well, yeah, the result is keys in the freezer, coffee poured on cereal, loads of laundry run without detergent, and hair washed with shave gel.

I recently read this article about how a child’s DNA has been discovered in their mother’s brain. Creepy. But, seriously, I am beginning to think another DNA exchange may occur. One where the mom’s brain cells attach, and leave, with the placenta.

It would explain sooooo much.

Honestly, due to the zombie-like status and self-doubt, I often feel like my daughter ends up being a 15lb shadow. Hanging out in the baby carrier as I fold laundry, chop onions (which you should NEVER do with a baby… it only leads to tears), or pay bills. It is on these days that I wonder if “a mother’s love” is really enough (this was especially questionable on the onion day). After all, when I became a mother, I knew NOTHING about raising a child. Does motherly instinct automatically embed itself with all this traveling DNA?

I am left confounded at the erosion in my confidence over the last 6 months. If you had told me during my professional life, “You are a great organizer” or “Wow, that is one good-looking spreadsheet”, I would probably have agreed and taken the compliment (after all, if you need a sexy, multi-tabbed, inter-linking, color coordinated spreadsheet, I’m your gal). So, why do I find it so hard to believe that someone thinks I am succeeding in motherhood? Is it because the stakes are now so much higher? Because I am responsible for another living being? Because adults are always blaming their parents for one thing or another and with each move I wonder if this will be the thing my daughter discusses in therapy 30 years down the road???

Why is it that we are our own worst critics?

And, really, is anyone actually good at motherhood? Or are we all just flying by the seat of our pants?

Liebster Award – Somebody Loves Me!

liebsteraward

I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Momsasaurus! She is another mommy blogger striving to find balance in a world of binkies and bumbos. Thanks, Momsasaurus! Then, I was nominated for a Sunshine Award! sunshine-award-1Thanks, 1tric at My Thoughts on a Page! So, I thought I would combine the two. Here goes:

These are both awards given to bloggers by bloggers to help build community and get to know each other. It is also a great way to help your readers learn more about you. Here are the rules of the Liebster Award (the Sunshine Award had ten similar questions, so I am going to default to these…just call me a rebel.)…

1.  Copy and paste the award on your blog. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Nominate blogs with 200 or less followers who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.

11 Questions from my presenter:

1. What one change would you like to see most in the world?

Well, this is totally dorky, but I am going to quote Amy Grant’s song, Grown-up Christmas List for this one, as it normally makes me tear up whenever I hear it. So, grab a glass of wine to go with all this cheese…

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.

2. What is a culture you admire and why?

I do not know if this counts as a culture, per se, but I am going to go with the Quakers. I went to a Quaker University and was astounded by their desire to find ‘center’ and peace in a world so full of chaos. I remember how the concept of spending time in silence and meditation was so foreign to me when I began my Freshman year. This is something I still value whenever I can get it.  I also admire their emphasis on caring for the elderly and serving those around them.

3. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Every summer, I would spend one week with my grandparents. I loved being the only child during that week. My grandfather had trained the local blue jays to sit on your hand for a peanut, so I would spend hours out in the garden squealing when a bird Corningwareswooped down and landed on my hand, and rolled with laughter on the cement paths when they tried to nest in my grandfather’s coarse, curly hair. After giving the birds their daily allotment, into the house I would go to deliver a bouquet of freshly cut roses to my grandmother. She would then tie a fluffy, ruffled apron around my waist and assign me the task of measuring out the dry ingredients for a cake, dumping everything into her large corningware bowls. After baking, we often would finish the afternoon walking up and down the Santa Barbara Pier. It was perfect.

4. What first inspired you to start blogging?

After I became a mom, I realized how quickly my little one was growing up. So many little moments were being forgotten before they had even happened. I wrote my first post The Dog Ate the Umbilical Cord: Reflections of Pregnancy and the First Twelve Weeks of Motherhood after having a bit of a down day and panicking that my baby was going to be a teenager very soon (she turned 5 months old this past week). Not knowing what to do with this piece, if anything at all, my hubby suggested that I start a blog. And so it began…

5. What impact has blogging had on your life?

I find blogging a soothing way to sort through some of my feelings, so in a way it has been a bit of online therapy. I also have really enjoyed finding other moms who blog – it is encouraging to know that my fumbles and failures during this new phase of life are somewhat normal.

6. What is the most profound thing you have ever done?

Give birth, in a tub, in my living room. I have never felt more alive than in the moment I pulled my daughter out of the water.

7. If you had one super power, what would you want it to be?

I am afraid that if I go with telekinesis, it will be a bit too close to Stephen King’s Carrie, so I will go with Omni-linguism. Languages have always been difficult for me to pick up, so the ability to simply understand them all would be awesome.

8. How do you spend your free time?

What free time? I have a five month old.
One day, I will return to some of my hobbies which include quilting, gardening, and canning jams and jellies. For now, I keep pretty busy with a baby and a blog. Here and there, I sneak in a bubble bath.

9. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Ireland. One day, you will find a very content Carrie eating Shepherd’s Pie and drinking a beer in a pub near some big castle, researching some of her ancestors. And, perhaps meeting up with Tric. =)

my dream vespa :)

my dream vespa :)

Getting my motorcycle license. I really would love to own a Vespa and zip to and fro on it. Currently, this is completely impractical as I do not believe they make baby side cars for Vespas…

11. How do you imagine your life will be different in two years?

I will have a 2-year-old! Beyond that, well, it is anyone’s guess.

11 Random Facts About Me:

1.  I’m a tetrachromat. This freaky condition allows me to see color much differently than the average person and gives me a trump card whenever picking out decor for our house with my husband. (Sorry, hunny.)

2. I am somewhat obsessive about Christmas. I have a countdown going year-round on my computer (291 days to go!), I own more Christmas music than any other genre, and I find nothing more enjoyable than admiring twinkle lights while sipping a peppermint mocha.

3. I studied Musical Theatre. Favorite past roles include Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible and Jack’s Mom in Into the Woods.

4. I have been in a French ambulance. (horrific bout of food poisoning…I will not go into details)

5. I have a mole inside my belly button. Gross, I know.

6. Autumn is my favorite season.

7. I cry at Hallmark commercials. Furthermore, I weep at ASPCA commercials, especially the one with Sarah McLachlan. What can I say? I’m a softy.

8. During my career in non-profits, job duties have included:

  • Mopping up a flooded shark tank
  • Leading full moon hikes through sand dunes
  • Giving a bearded dragon an enema
  • Assisting with cutting open a Jeroboam of Champagne with a sword
  • Pumping the pedals of a 1910 player piano
  • Arranging a black tie gala for 200+ guests
  • Sampling wine and chocolate truffle pairings

9. My father was quite the marksman. He put a strong emphasis on proper training, and so I have been trained to throw knives and shoot various weapons. Tomahawks and spears were never my strength…

10. My Amortentia (Harry Potter love potion) would smell like rain, freshly grated nutmeg, freshly baked bread, burning wood, ocean air, and coffee.

11. When I was young, I had two hamsters named Ding and Dong. This was all well and good until Ding died.

11 Questions For My Nominees:

1. What one piece of advice do you wish someone had told you?

2. Chocolate: Milk or Dark?

3. What is your favorite childhood memory?

4. What first inspired you to start blogging?

5. What impact has blogging had on your life?

6. What is the most profound thing you have ever done?

7. If you had one super power, what would you want it to be?

8. How do you spend your free time?

9. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

10. What personal goal do you doubt you will ever achieve but still strive for?

11. If you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?

My Nominees:

The sisters, Wendy and Karen over at After the Kids Leave. These ladies live an ocean apart, and write letters to each other in their blog. I am always laughing at their clever banter.

Melanie Jean Juneau at The Joy of Nine. Yup, you read that correctly. She still uses ‘Joy’ as a descriptor for raising NINE kids! I am in awe!!!

My dear friend, Emily, at things that make you happy. She is giving up processed food, one box of Velveeta at a time. =)

And, my absolute favorite blog to read, Jenny at The Momplex . She has made me snort my coffee on more occasions than I would like to admit.

Wanted: Baby Chauffeur

The Chauffeur

The Chauffeur (Photo credit: Paparagazzo)

The soft roar of the engine.

The car seat snuggly creating a cocoon.

The inconsistent movement as we bounce across miles of pavement.

This, my friends, is the Holy Trinity of baby sleep.

We have all heard the horror stories:

“He just would not go to sleep!”
“It was 4am and she had been screaming for hours!”
“She was teething and it screwed up her sleep cycle!”

The answer: Driving in circles around the block.

Not actually going anywhere, just driving. My sister-in-law (mother of a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old) called me the other afternoon, “Are you home?” she asked. After I had confirmed, she proceeded to drive over. Why? It was her only way to win what she is affectionately referring to as The Nap Wars.

The problem with all this driving (other than the high impact on global warming) is that the mother of the inconsolable child is the one behind the wheel. This means:
a) the driver is most likely exhausted/frustrated/delirious
b) the driver is spending more time looking in baby mirrors to see if she has claimed victory than actually looking at the road
and
c) the driver is not accomplishing anything else (like a nap for herself, perhaps!).

Thus, I would like to propose a new career path.

A baby chauffeur.

A kind soul with excellent earplugs to loop around the neighborhood for hours on end. For an hourly rate, just snap your child(ren) into their seat(s), kiss them goodbye, and then go take a hot bubble bath.

I absolutely realize it is the fuzzy haze of sleep deprivation that makes this seem like an answer to pleading prayers.

But, imagine how many little car seats could fit into a limo…Stretch limo

As extreme as this may sound, this would get many mothers I know one step closer to regaining balance in their lives. Because, frankly, motherhood is code for crazy. Why? I believe it comes down to the fact that once you become a mother, pride and vanity get thrown out the window, replaced by a new protective, primal, instinctual being that guards her young with the ferocity of something out of Animal Planet. Once shy women now bark at strangers who almost knock over the stroller, once loud and boisterous women hush and coo with the calm caress of a gentle breeze.

But, as much as we snuggle, sway or swaddle, sometimes, getting that little one to give into gentle dreams means taking a drive.

So, fellow moms, I am calling out, for the sake of sanity, let us join together, admit that we haven’t relaxed since we were pregnant, rent a limo and a fellow named Jeeves, fasten our children in for a soothing drive and claim an afternoon for ourselves, in golden silence.

Who’s with me???

The Ghost in the Pool

Confession: I don’t like to get my face wet.

Not in pools. Not in the shower. Not even when washing my face at the end of the day.

Combine this weird fear with the fact that the sun is my #1 enemy and, well, one can come to the conclusion that swimming has never been my sport. Not that I have a sport, per se, unless you count the repetitions of my biceps curling as I lift my coffee cup to my lips each morning.

So, as any good parent would, I signed myself and my daughter up for newborn swim classes. Because, by golly, I am going to enjoy things vicariously through her.

One of the most wonderful things about carrying a giggling, smiley newborn: you are instantly hidden under an invisibility cloak. You are simply the holder of the previously mentioned cuteness.

This led me to believe that it was okay to squeeze my postpartum self into a modest one piece and try to forget about my stretch mark stained thighs, my not-so-firm stomach, the varicose veins resembling a map of Amazonian rivers, and my translucent skin (this one has nothing to do with pregnancy). Nevertheless, I shoved all my insecurities aside, wiggled into my suit and went to our local pool.

I stood there, waiting for class to begin, saying hello to the other parents, meeting the kids, wondering how my little one would do in the water and trying to ignore my pulsing blue veins that could act as a living demonstration of the human body’s circulatory system.

This is when Malibu Barbie walked out of the changing room. Holding her daughter on her sculpted hip, she sauntered her tan skinny self towards the group, chatting with her mother.

“Oh, Mom, I just CAN’T believe it has taken me THREE WHOLE MONTHS to get my stomach back. You never told me it would take THAT long.”

SERIOUSLY?!?

Ferruginous Duck Deutsch: Moorente Polski: Pod...

When I look at the body that once housed my little miracle, yet now resembles a discarded chrysalis, I wonder if it will ever return to normal. And, to be honest, my normal was, well, just normal. I had what good friends refer to as The Duck Butt, and had never known pigment (except, of course, for a few freckles to break up the monotony).

Throughout my life, people reassured me that looks don’t matter. I had a charming personality – that would carry me through. But, whether I like it or not, I realize we live in a judgemental society. One that sees cottage cheese on legs and hairy moles on chins.

So, how do I give my daughter self-confidence?

How do I enforce that even though we live in a world where people judge you first on looks, then on personality, that it is the latter that makes you beautiful?

Will she believe me when I tell her that I will ALWAYS love her, no matter what she looks like?

How do I assure her that her body is a beautiful creation, one to be respected and loved, despite what we might see as its imperfections?

And, perhaps most importantly, how do I teach her to not judge? To look past the packaging and discover the hearts of others?

At the end of the day, I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. However, I hope and I pray I can model confidence in myself and love for others.

So, here we are, ready to swim. May my fears and insecurities never get in the way of me being by her side, ready for any adventure.

swimming

A Mile in Her….uh, Slippers

I feel I should preface this post by admitting the day prior to me writing this was not a great day of motherhood. I woke up feeling nauseated, my daughter was uncharacteristically fussy all day, and my husband came home early feeling not all that hot either. So, our household cranky quota had been met and then some.

In all honesty, I feel it was a day destined to fail. Combine the previously mentioned crank factor with a diaper malfunction that resulted in me being soaked in urine, and well, yeah. It was one of those days where the morning had melted into the afternoon, I had yet to shower, I had accomplished nothing, and dinner had been demoted to leftovers. My daughter had been doing ‘emotional eating’ all day, where she nurses simply to nurse, which due to a stomach the size of a walnut, results in ungodly amounts of milk being upchucked onto mommy. In these situations, I often imagine her with an accent of a dirty Frenchman saying something along the lines of Dis? Dis is your offering? Ah-phew. That is what I think of what you call milk. Try again, mommy. She then proceeds to hurl milk curds on me.

So there I stood in my slippers, 1:30pm, still not showered and realizing that, no, the milk had not gone sour, that smell was merely me.

It was in that moment, staring blankly into the refrigerator, hungry, dirty, and exhausted, I realized just how judgemental I had been in the past. I admit, I used to think motherhood was a fairly easy job. After all, you just have to keep a little human alive, right? How hard could it be? I used to raise my eyebrow at moms who were late to meetings, how they showed up to events disheveled with whiny children in tow.

Well, universe, I apologize.

I get it now. I understand how sleep deprivation is not one or two nights with interrupted dreams, rather it is made up of months years of not having eight glorious hours in one continuous chunk. I understand how this little person in your life is EVERYTHING to you. How when they cry, you ache. (And not just because your milk has let down). I understand the frustration that comes when you want nothing more than to hit the snooze button, but no matter how many times you put the pacifier in, they spit it out and continue to cry. Although I still find it disgusting, I understand when moms say they don’t know if they brushed their teeth that morning…*shudder*. I understand how you can end up at the end of another day, still in slippers, wondering what happened.

And, I understand that even with all of this, you would never trade it for the world. How one gummy smile still makes you tear up with joy. How the clench of little fingers wrapped around your thumb can counterbalance the piles of laundry and the rank diapers. How to coax out one squeal, you will throw pride out the window and dance around your living room singing 17 rounds of The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Prior to motherhood pregnancy, I wore cute shoes. Peep-toe pumps, strappy sandals, beautiful boots – I loved them all. I used to think a day in stilettos was challenging. Little did I know, a day in slippers can trump that and then some.

Life has once again taught me to think twice before I judge. To put away my sneer and to remember the age-old proverb:

Before you criticize a person, walk a mile in her milk-soaked slippers.

When Life Gives You Lemons… Make Lemon Curd

Lemons.Don’t get me wrong. I love lemonade. In the summer, when it is hotter than Hades, I guzzle down gallons of the stuff. But, let’s face it, lemonade is relegated to summer duty. And lemons, true lemons, come in the winters of our lives.

Things never just break. The oven will break on Thanksgiving, the air conditioning will break when it is 110 degrees out, and you will break out the night before that big interview. (all have happened to me – the oven on Thanksgiving – twice.)

So, I propose a new use of life’s lemons: curd. Preferably paired with some hot buttermilk pancakes and a metric buttload of butter. Because in times of true lemons, I don’t want a refreshing drink. I want soul comforting carbs. And sugar.

The holidays can often be a ‘lemon’ for people. There is extra stress, unachievable expectations, a calendar crammed with events, not to mention the financial strain. With all of this, I am still one of those freakish people who love the whole thing. However, even I admit that everyone is entitled to one good annual holiday breakdown.

This year, I went into the holidays knowing that they would be much different. Having a newborn, I had a strong desire to lock in traditions which will make my daughter’s Christmas experience magical for years to come. But I often found myself mourning the things she will never know. This sense of loss hit me the strongest a few days after Christmas.

My present this year was a beautiful wrist watch from my husband. I have not had a watch as an adult, though I always wanted one (hopefully, it will help me to actually be on time to things…ha!). The watch was a bit large, so I went to have a link removed for a better fit. The jeweler happily adjusted it and when he was done, asked me to put out my wrist so he could see the fit. I giddily thrust out my right hand ready to see my watch in all its glory. He looked up at me and exclaimed, “Ah, a left-handed lady!”.

This seems like a very innocent comment, yet this would be the cause for my holiday breakdown. Why? Well, I am not left-handed. The reason I wear a watch on my right hand is because my father put my first watch on me and HE was left-handed. In that moment, I was transported to my six-year-old self, with my dad, getting my Strawberry Shortcake watch velcroed on my wrist for the first time. I then looked down at my little girl, sleeping in her stroller, and the reality of our situation hit me.

She would never know my father.

She would never eat his Sunday pancakes, never go and cut down her Christmas tree with him, never feel his Christmas beard tickle her cheeks.

This spring will mark the 12th anniversary of my father’s death. Yet, with the birth of my daughter, I find myself reliving the grieving experience with every tradition. My husband likes to say that we humans die two deaths. The first, our physical departure from this planet. The second, the last time someone else speaks or thinks of you. My heart is heavy as I realize I alone hold the responsibility of continuing the memory of my father to my daughter. It will be up to me to share with her how much he loved the holidays. How his eyes lit up as he gave something special to my brother and I each year. How his resemblance to Santa always made me happy. How the smell of his coffee cup wafted through the air as we tore open presents. How he drove us around to see the lights sparkle on rooftops. How certain carols made him tear up every time.

And therein lies my Christmas lemon. I hope one day I will be able to make something good of it. To value the years I had with him instead of chewing on the bitter pith that he is no longer here; that he will never know his granddaughter.

As I pack up the last of the Christmas decorations, I pack up pieces of my father. And I hope and I pray that I will become as good as a parent as he was. That even in the craziness of the holidays, I will be able to carve out traditions with my daughter. Through these, I hope that the memory of my father will live on for years to come. That even though he will not know her, that she will still know him.

Maybe next year we will make lemon curd… and spread it over some of grandpa’s special pancakes.

Lookin’ for Love… in the Social Security Office

I have discovered two things about traveling with a baby.

1) Everything takes at least three times as long and requires at least three times as much stuff. Between blankets, binkies and bucket seats every trip requires much more effort, thought and pre-planning. And heaven forbid you get out the door only to realize that you forgot to put the back up outfit in the diaper bag. Because the epic poo-splosions happen when you are not prepared. Always.

2) People around you either love you or hate you. There is no indifference when it comes to someone with a child. Either they are all up in your face wanting to know how old, boy or girl, name, weight, and how often they poop or…
They ignore you. Simply pretend you don’t exist and try to take a route far away from the thing that may upchuck on them at any moment. I especially enjoy the ‘about face, march’ types. These are the people who are busy in the grocery store looking at various tomato sauces, look up, see you, become intensely terrified by your presence and panic. They then turn around and speed walk away from you. Often forgetting the tomatoes that moments before had captured their full attention.

This being said, when crammed into tight spaces where people cannot run in the opposite direction, many take the approach of ‘if I avoid eye contact with the mother and baby, perhaps they do not exist’. These are my favorite. Mainly, because they often just resume life around you, forgetting that you may be listening in. So it was in the Social Security Office this morning.

I tend to think that people go to government buildings for very specific reasons. In this case, I was there to register my offspring so that I can deduct her on my taxes. Around me were a hodgepodge of what you would expect. The guy who lost his card somewhere, the overly affectionate couple who just got married and were there, together, holding hands, to officially change her name and a few folks who were proudly entering into American citizenship for the first time. And then there was Bob. Bob was a multi-tasker.

Across from me in the utilitarian plastic seat/bench combos was Ruby. By all accounts Ruby was an attractive older lady. She was in her early 80’s, but she still had it. Her silver hair was done up in ‘grandma curls’ (the kind you go get done at the salon once a week) and perhaps she wore a bit too much rouge, but all in all, still classically beautiful. I noticed her when I sat down, and, apparently, so did Bob.

Now Bob was walking in my direction, saw me, shuddered, and did the ‘about face, march’ technique. To his delight, this put him in the path of Ruby. I would like to point out that Ruby and I were the only people sitting in our row. There were MANY open seats around us. But, why take one down the row? Bob saw opportunity here and was not going to let this one slip through his fingers. Down he goes next to Ruby with a smile and sly “Hello”. Bold move, Bob. Bold move.

Most women are natural nurturers. We typically see the wounded and want to heal them. Whether or not this gives way to pick up lines, well, I’m not sure. But, in Bob’s 85ish years on this planet, the sympathy card must have worked for him before. Otherwise, why open with, “Well, my wife died.”? Certainly not your typical, “Hey, Baby. What’s your number?”. Now, granted, I have not been privy to many senior social events, so maybe this is how it’s done, nevertheless it seemed odd. BUT IT WORKED! She was powerless to his puppy eyes and downtrodden expression. She took his hand, expressed her deepest condolences and they proceeded to swap dead spouse stories (all the time forgetting they were in a public government office, not at a clubhouse bar in Florida playing Canasta). I got to hear about their families (oh, those crazy youngsters!), his bowling league, her love of Bunco and before either of them had been called up to a service window, it was determined that they were two lonely souls, living in a large city of strangers.

Bob scored her number. You go, Bob. They are going to have lunch next week. And then, who knows?

I am guessing that neither of them imagined this would happen when they left their homes this morning. Just another day running a few errands. But Bob saw something he wanted and he went for it. I wonder what would happen if more people lived their lives in this manner. Unafraid. Willing to just jump right in.

As I begin this journey called motherhood, I hope that I can bestow that kind of bravery on my daughter. Teach her how to go for what she wants in life. To live without fear of what others will think, without fear of failure, without fear of rejection.

Who knows, maybe this could lead her to love. Even in the Social Security Office.

The dog ate the umbilical cord: Reflections of pregnancy and the first 12 weeks of motherhood

A few years ago we found out that Casey had an issue with his pituitary gland. Doctors explained that this meant two things. One, we would start down a journey of tests and treatments. Two, we would never be able to conceive. As someone who always wanted to have children (and grandchildren) this was a devastating blow. We both tried to put on a brave face. We attempted to accept the idea that we could fill that void with traveling, being a great aunt/uncle to our niece, our careers, etc. However, the news loomed in our relationship as a dark, taboo subject. If I mourned the idea of not being a mother, would that mean that I was not supporting my husband? I would be lying if I denied weeping when my period came, hoping and praying that the next month would be different. Yet, it never was.

I came to accept the idea that motherhood simply was not going to be part of my path.

So, one can imagine my surprise when I was late. As someone who, in my later years, had menstrual cycles that you could set a clock to, being late caused immediate alarm. Something was wrong. I was going through menopause at the ripe age of 29. I needed to go to a doctor.
However, one thing would stand in the way of me expressing my terror to my doctor. The annoying question, “Are you sure you aren’t pregnant?”. Knowing that this could be the cause of emotional breakdown (past experience…), I went and bought a test.

Shock. Disbelief. Joy. Pure joy. Then more shock. And then, uttering the one word to my husband which had been banned from our vocabulary. Pregnant.

Pregnancy was an adventure all in itself. But, having been told I would never have the experience made each gut explosion, swollen ankle, and kick to the ribs a bit better. Yes, it was uncomfortable. Yes, at the end, I was waking every two hours to pee. Yes, my feet swelled every day like loaves of bread rising. I was sore, cranky, and barfed in more public places than I would care to confess. But, at the end of each day, the gratitude of having the experience far outweighed the negatives of pregnancy. And, it was nice that with the utter lack of hair loss, I did not have to snake my shower drain the entire 9 months!

Then came the birth. We decided to have a planned home birth. All natural. All in all, my labor was about 19 hours. About 14 hours into it, I was exhausted, crying, and leaning against our bathroom wall telling my husband, “I get it. I see why people want the drugs. The pain is everywhere.” The was, by far, the darkest hour. Sure that I was close to the end, I insisted to be checked. I was 5cm dilated. Time for a mental regrouping. I lay on the bed taking in the idea that I was only halfway there. And, then my water broke. Then began the real work. I was quickly moved back into our birthing tub and during the next few hours time stopped. Everyone in the room disappeared during contractions and Pain came to greet me. For me, Pain was a very real person that entered the room during contractions. She came and she went, but she was no longer unwelcome. With each contraction, I could feel the baby move down, giving Pain purpose. I remember coming out of the birthing zone a few times during this phase of labor. The first time, the midwife was trying to coach my breathing and I smacked her away and defiantly swam to the other side of the birthing tub (not my finest moment). The second time, I heard Casey’s gentle reassurance that I was doing a great job. I sensed his presence there, and was so thankful to have him by my side. When our daughter came out, she shot out with three pushes in a grand total of about 5 seconds. The moment I pulled her out of the water, I changed. As cheesy as it sounds, in that wet, slimy moment, my world shifted. I watched my blood pulse through the umbilical cord to this little squirming person and finally understood the phrase ‘love at first sight’.

The next few days merged together in a blur of tar-like poop, constant eating, engorgement (aka hard rock, gravity defying, porn star boobs), and admiring this little creature that used to be connected to me. I often woke in the night just to check that she was breathing. I stared down at her, still in disbelief that she was mine. There were no other people coming to be her ‘real’ parents. I was her mom. Her only mom. We began to experience ‘firsts’. First coo, first walk around the block, first pacifier, first grasp, first bedtime story. There were moments of confusion: “What is the dog eating?… Oh My God, the umbilical cord fell off!!!”, moments of fear: “I don’t want to cut her fingernails. You do it!”, and moments where I could feel my heart growing: “She’s smiling!!!”.

Now, as I sit here with her giggling on my lap, I am left simply with one word:

Miraculous.

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