Thursday, December 20, 2012

And still.

Everything I feel I can not adequately express. Everything I think to write has already been written. But I can't not acknowledge. I don't want to add anything to the infamy surrounding this man and his actions. But right now I am craving community.

My heart is still heavy, so very heavy. I think it will be for a long time. For those babies, for their parents, for the loved ones of those teachers, for the classmates and colleagues who must find a way to breathe and carry on in impossible circumstances, for our broken nation.

I'm terrified for my child. I hold her to me with both arms stretched across her tiny body, I hold her so she can't get away, so she can't be taken. Because it feels like this world is coming for her. Coming to take her from me, and I can't bear it. I take in her smile and the way she kicks her feet against the floor. Her hand clasp and the dip in her upper lip. The fuzzy hair and stretch of thick black lashes that frame her brown eyes. Her nose, my nose, that crinkles when her smile starts to turn in to a laugh. I rock her to sleep every night, and before I lay her down, I inhale until her baby sweetness fills my lungs. I put her down with tears in my eyes and thank our heavenly Father for another day with this one.

I am waiting with the rest of you. Waiting to see how our leaders will respond. What they will deem "the answer", and what they will overlook. I'm waiting for them to attack the method and ignore the madness. It's so much bigger than gun control or mental health or anyone's constitutional rights. It is the entirety of our culture. Of our society and its ills and vices. And what can I do? What can I do to ensure my child's future is worth having? To be able to send her school not 4 or 5 years from now without a gun in the classroom for her supposed protection? To go to a movie without planning an escape? To be rid of this tightness in my chest?

I can pray, and oh how I do. Constantly. Trying to give my fears to the Lord and not take them back. And I can try to be good. And I can, God willing, raise my daughter to do the same.



When my spirit is weighted, my hands crave something useful to do to lighten the load. I love this project and will be participating.

From that status of Kim Haskill Stanfied:

If you know a teacher, or have kids in a school, please pass on:

A building has been designated to house the students from Sandy Hook Elementary School. They are in the process of transporting desks, chairs, supplies and so forth to this location. My neighbor is the president of the Newtown PTA and we met tonight discussing what we can do to make these children feel comforted upon their return
to school.

Please join us in "The Snowflake Project".

We are asking your students to make and decorate a snowflake. We will hang them in the hallways at the stark, new building where the Sandy Hook students will be returning. PLEASE NO WORDS! We want just a cheerful, happy (glitter and sparkle) environment for the students entering the new building.

Please pass on to any teachers you think may want to participate.

When you send your snowflakes, please include a note to tell us where they are from (your school, class, town, etc) to display along with your snowflakes. You can send them to me directly, and I will give them to our PTA.


**UPDATED ADDRESS**
Connecticut PTSA 
60 Connolly Parkway 
Building 12, Suite 103 
Hamden, CT 06514

Thank you so very much!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A break for hilariousness.

In the throes of laundry and bottle sterilizing and continuing the streak of not shaving my legs, but this is on the internets and I think we all need to take a moment, pour a holiday gin, and read Hipster Puppies.


Because...

mango muttered something about auto emissions and then flicked a second cigarette butt into the woods
[via sunshine]
mango muttered something about auto emissions and then flicked a second cigarette butt into the woods

And also...
there was an npr story about that, let me find it
[via michelle h]
there was an npr story about that, let me find it


And my personal favorite...
penny fears kindles because “then how are people going to know what you’re reading?”
[via kaitlyn k]
penny fears kindles because “then how are people going to know what you’re reading?”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Merry Christmas from Hue and Hum

No elaborate intro required. This is a lovely yuletide greeting from Hue and Hum who are a wife and husband conglomeration of creativity and artistry, the likes of which when you come across you just can't keep to yourself, so with that... Merry Christmas from Hue and Hum...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cherish

I think when people tell you to cherish the tiny baby days because they go by so fast, what they're really saying is "Don't worry, don't fret, don't cry in the middle of the night feeling alone and hopeless and trying to salvage any bond you might have with your baby, because the screaming and the inconsolable colic and god knows what.. it will end. You will get your sweet, loving, smiling baby back and you will be a success, and it really does all go by so fast that one day it will just happen and you'll be sitting down on the sofa at 8 o'clock with your angel asleep and you'll eat your first hot meal in months and snuggle with your partner or check your blog reader in peace, and you may find then that you miss the days, mere weeks prior, when your baby needed you and only you, even when they were screaming without breathing and seemingly beyond repair, and you won't remember how it felt.. you'll know it felt horrible.. but you won't remember just how, and you'll realize then that that time.. that teeny tiny wrinkly warm skinny legged little baby time is fleeting. Ever so fleeting, and you'll miss it, and no matter how you thought you failed, you actually did ok, and you needn't have worried. Because upstairs, the baby you love deeper than anyone else could is fine, and even, should the smiles first thing in the morning and at every diaper change and splash of the bathwater mean a thing at all, starting to love you back.



(4 day old Eliza. Broken heart soup.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Story of a Girl.

I meant to have this written by one week, then by one month, and then two... and she was three months old last Tuesday. At first, I never wanted to leave her. If she was peaceful and napping I was either staring at her in the bassinet or holding her on my chest where she belonged. This computer didn't move from my desk for a solid six weeks. At some point we were in the throes of colic.. or was it dairy?.. or maybe just gas? Whatever it was, we were in it, rocking and bouncing and pacing our baby all over the house. Then we demanded quiet from the world to focus on the new us and we started to work it out. We found our rhythm. It was then that I began to pen this story. I've written at three in the morning, alone in the nursery, over tears and anxiety and the sweet heaviness of missed sleep and new motherhood. In the car driving nowhere just to be out, with this new life in the backseat, dozing over the hum of the afternoon. And in the mornings, in the graciously long mornings, when I would bring her to bed to nurse and lay beside me and she would do so as though she's been doing it all along. Which I would realize then, she had.

I've been trying to put this story into words that feel right. How do I write about something wound in between and within every part of who I am, that made me who I am? How to write about it without missing any of it? Without getting off track... but then, how could I not? Oh, this impossible, necessary task. 

I want to remember those weeks where we waited.. and waited.. and dodged well-meaning messages on Facebook, asking what was the hold up and had we tried eggplant parmesan and sex? Those last days were a wonderfully indulgent time I got to spend with my mother; time I realize now was the beginning of something new for her too. Something we both had to fight for in a way, fight our own expectations and disappointments about how it all should have been. Learning how to just be there for each other and not dampen each other's joy. Up until the moment my daughter came in to this world and every moment since, my mother has been showing me how to give love unconditionally, and now I see that I will never feel I have given enough. It's a relationship where you're giving just to give - and if you don't have it, you find it.. you dig your hands in until it's made. And you cry and pray and bargain and beg and feel enormous guilt the entire time. And it's a privilege.

My belly never dropped, mostly because it never really rose. From the time I started to show this baby girl was sitting low. At 30 weeks, strangers were asking if I was about to pop. No one, and I mean no one, thought I would make it to my due date. I did squats and took evening primrose oil, so naturally, they were right. I strode into my 36 week appointment expecting my doctor to check my cervix and announce, "You're 10cm! Push!"

Not. Even. A Fingertip.

But it was week 36, so who cares. I upped the evening primrose dose and carried on. Week 37 I  started having regular Braxton Hicks contractions. Regular in that I knew for sure that's what they were, but there were maybe 5 or 6 altogether. Still, I hoped, but there had been no progress. Week 38 I ballooned. Big face, big legs, big arms, no ankles. For sure this was my body preparing for the beginning of the end. For sure. I waddled into my appointment, hoisted myself up on the table, said my selfish prayer, and as you can imagine.. still nothing. I left that appointment and cried. Sobbed really. My body wasn't working the way I wanted it to and despite the fact that yes, it was still only week 38, and yes my water could have broke at any moment, and yes, I could have woken up to mind numbing contractions overnight... it was all so unlikely. And I like likely. Likely things happen to me. Unlikely things, so very rarely.

So that following week I did things with evening primrose that one should never do, and whatever suggestions were on my Facebook page or sitting haughtily in my inbox.. they all got a shot too. My reflections on pregnancy deserve, or at least warrant, an entire post all their own, but for the sake of brevity - pregnancy was, at seemingly unending times, a misery made bearable only by the out of this world love and contentment I felt every time our baby moved against me. And now that I know it was her, my Eliza, the whole time... well... this is why women do it over and over again. So by week 38 I was done. I wanted to give birth and begin. Like a fool I wanted into the fryer. And I wanted to be one of the girls who go early. Unlikely.

Week 39 I arrived with no makeup, a sadly overstretched "Save the Ta-Tas" t-shirt, and black sweat pants just nice enough to pass for scrubs on a pregnant woman no one was going to correct. I was crying before the nurse had even shut the door. My doctor said she would sweep my membranes if she could and she said it the way you say something convincingly because you know you won't really have to do it at all. I left with induction instructions, wet kleenex, and misplaced rage.

I wanted to time contractions, trade astonished looks with Mike, take a shower and straighten my hair, do familiar things the old familiar way while on the verge of something so fantastically new. I wanted to drive to the hospital in the middle of the night with darkness and quiet surrounding us. I wanted to wake my parents with a phone call and hear their anxious excitement. I wanted to give them an experience, give them something back for all they had given me, make up for some of the hurts. I wanted a lot of things that wouldn't have changed anything that mattered.

Sometimes it feels as though I've been on a crash course in my life. That I've been ricocheting off the consequences of my mistakes since I was old enough to make decisions for myself. I wanted this to be different. I wanted to face it. I wanted to feel every contraction, to bring her into this world just as she was, to do what God had made my body to do... but my body wasn't. It wasn't giving way... my body, for which I thought I had so much respect, wasn't giving in to me. This shook me and stole my confidence. I still hoped, but... And as I began to accept that I would have to be induced, so dwindled the conviction I had for laboring without an epidural. I would still try, but I was just as unconvinced as my doctor weeks earlier. Oh, how I wish I had given myself a chance. You'd think a lifetime of tripping, stumbling, face planting, and always getting back up, albeit often with help, would have rendered me better prepared.

Sunday, July 22nd, I kept Mike up until two in the morning. I was scared and unsure. Was this necessary? Couldn't we wait? What if she wanted to come on her own Tuesday or Wednesday? A biophysical and stress test had shown she was happy and healthy right where she was. After this I would say the only way to be okay with an induction is to believe that it's necessary, and that I did not.

I prayed I would go into labor overnight. I woke up Sunday morning to Mike bringing me coffee in bed. My mom came over with breakfast and kept me moving. She got me out of the house and held my hand as we ran pretend errands and I stopped in various bathrooms to pee and not cry. Mike's parents arrived. People ate and chatted and I went upstairs to take a shower. I got out and discovered, at 40 weeks and 6 days, that oh why yes in fact I had gotten a few stretch marks. And then I did all the familiar things the old familiar way, half holding my breath, waiting, praying, feeling alone. Trying to feel excited. Talking to my baby girl. Pretending not to hear God.

Oh my word, what I know now. How I would have spent those moments.

I packed a few last minute things and leaned heavily on my mom while she prayed for us all. I weighed 187 pounds the night before I gave birth and she held me up like it was nothing.

Mike and I got into the car with our moms following behind, and off we went, on the way to the hospital to have our baby. I called my dad and choked it all back while he told me he loved me and was proud and wished me luck. I told him things wouldn't really get started until the following morning and I would see him then. I wished my water would break on the seat.

We checked in to the hospital like it was a Sandals resort and waited for the nurse to come. In a blur I was in a gown, in a bed, and then induced. As the nurse was getting me prepped and asking the usual hospital questions she kept mistakenly referring to Mike as my husband. Not an absurd assumption, but given the circumstances, it was mildly comical. One of us (I can't remember who) corrected her, and rather than save herself from another potential blunder, she proceeded to then ask how long we had been together (prior to finding ourselves together in a delivery room, one of us with a foley bulb receiving a bear hug from her cervix, you mean?) and Mike, not missing a beat or an opportunity to demonstrate yet again why he is exactly who I want to be with on this parenting journey replied, "41 weeks."

Stunned silence filled the room just a smidge past the point of comfortable before I laughed hard enough to probably pee myself a bit and one of the nurses asked, "Really?" It was exactly how I'd always envisioned that moment would be.

Our moms came in to say their goodnights. I was ready to tuck in and sleep through to morning, expecting per my OB's schpeal on induction the week before that I wouldn't be anywhere near active labor until 8 or 9 the next day. I was having tiny pitocin contractions that I could just barely feel and could easily sleep through, so once my mom was convinced that I was not in gut-wrenching pain and we were all again reassured that the show wouldn't really begin for several hours, our moms went home to get some sleep. Mike was gone before his head hit the pillow and I  reclined to watch Taylor Swift lyrically assault whatever ex-boyfriend had landed her on the VMAs this year. This was around 11pm. I drifted off and woke up a few hours later to what I had been hoping for all week - real, strong, this is it contractions. They started right in the middle and spread outward, pulling my stomach in from the sides, taking my breath with them. I woke Mike and he helped me breathe, let me squeeze his hand, and reminded me that I am amazing and someone he loves. At one point he looked at the monitor and said, "Hold on, this is a big one baby." I might have said something unkind just then.

The contractions got more intense and closer together very fast and I was struggling to stay focused and breathe. It was too soon for it to be this hard, I told myself. If my slow to respond body had to make it all the way to tomorrow morning before "active" labor began... there was just no way. Of course, had I not been full of preconceived expectations and focusing on other people's perceptions of what my body could do I might have realized I was already in active labor and so much closer to giving birth than I thought. The room was dark and sterile and cold and I wanted to be out of that bed, but for whatever reason, didn't. I rolled over to find Mike's face and as I did the foley bulb that had been placed to dilate my cervix fell out. They told me when this happened that I would be 2-3 centimeters and they would increase the pitocin. This was around 4am. The nurse checked my progress and raised her eyebrows. I was dilated to 4 centimeters. They upped the pitocin.

She told me every centimeter to ten would take about an hour and the thought of six more hours, each one exponentially harder than the last, seemed unbearable.. and terrifying. And then I would have to push, which she told me for the average first time mother takes about three hours. Three hours. And since likely things are likely to happen to me, I decided to ask for dilaudid to calm the next wave of contractions and give myself time to regroup, refocus, and hopefully make it to transition. The one bit of encouragement still lingering were the words of the doula who had given us our tour - if you can make it to transition, you can do the whole thing.

Mike called our moms and gave them the update. Knowing what they know, they got up and rushed back to the hospital. I still wasn't expecting anything for many hours to come. The nurse came back to check my progress and I was at 6 centimeters. A nurse practitioner broke my water. The dilaudid was wonderful, as most narcotic pain relievers are. I became a happy drunk and asked Mike all sorts of inappropriate questions. The haze was short-lived, however, and about one hour later I was back to bed rail clenching and throwing down with God, one contraction on top of the other, reaching from my throat to my knees. I couldn't breathe, I was shaking uncontrollably. I tried to tell myself one contraction at a time, but it all felt like one long incredibly painful merciless trial without end. I was in transition and had no idea. I asked for the epidural. Mike hesitated and asked if I was sure. In his voice I could hear that he wanted to tell me no, do not give up this thing you've wanted for so long, do not give up on yourself, you are doing it, you are already doing it. But he didn't say the words and I didn't ask him to. He was there for me and me alone and knowing this I asked the nurse to stop this pain and bring me back from wherever I had gone. I felt so alone and I wanted Mike with me. At the time this was the only way I knew how.

I clenched through I don't know how many more contractions before the anesthesiologist arrived. No, I don't have migraines or diabetes or high blood pressure or anything other than a human being trying to be born through my vagina so could you please for the love of God put that damn needle in my spine?!? Oh, the numbing burns you say? ASK ME IF I CARE! While waiting, I had one last shuddering full-body spasm and a feeling of wretchedness so awful I thought my eyeballs might be melting from my face. I threw up no less than 6 times on my nurse and also on Mike and then steeled myself against every evil on earth in order to hold still long enough for the epidural to be placed. The relief was immediate and I thanked every one in that room.

I could still feel contractions, but they were reduced to mildly uncomfortable flutters. I was encouraged to sleep and rest up for pushing, which I still believed was several hours away. It was around 6am. My dad had arrived and came in to see his girl. I remember a kiss on the forehead and a good luck and then I was asleep. I don't know how long after, if it was five minutes or an hour, but at some point Mike went to sit for a few minutes in the waiting room with our parents and I woke up to the very early beginnings of daylight. I also felt like I was going to crap my pants. Having read a hundred other birth stories I knew rectal pressure meant I was probably fully dilated, but not wanting to jump the gun on my never unlikely, no progress prior to labor self, I did my best naive first-time mom impression and told the nurse I thought I needed to poop. She checked my suddenly not-so-stubborn cervix, looked at me, and said, "You're 10 centimeters and I can feel the baby's head. You need to call Mike, you're ready to push."

"Call him with my phone?!", I said.

"Do you know another way?", she said. And I decided right then that I liked her very much.

So I called him and it turned out he had just put his feet up on a waiting room sofa. He didn't answer but saw me calling and was already on his way back to the room. I felt another wave of pressure and strong urge to push and frantically called my mom. I told her they all needed to come back. I wanted to see my mom and dad before. This was the "it's time" call I didn't get to make. On the way back, Mike ran into our nurse who told him I was ready to push. He walked in and gave me this look, like "are you ready?", followed shortly by our parents. I got to tell them it wouldn't be long and I got to see their faces before I turned them into grandparents. It was good.

The moments just before getting ready to push were so joyful. I was staring down what I thought would be three hours of godknowswhat and the scant hour if that of sleep was hardly what anyone meant when they said to rest up for pushing.. but this was it. This was pushing. The last step. The last wait.

There was no keeping anything a mystery. A nurse grabbed one leg and showed Mike how to hold the other and we were off. Not being able to really feel contractions meant relying on the nurse to tell me when to push and for how long. When asked, I do admit to regretting the epidural both because I know now that I was so close to being fully dilated, and because it did rob some of the experience of pushing. But there was an energy between Mike and I that kept breath in my lungs and strength in my limbs. It's hard to describe in words that don't make the whole thing sound completely unintentional, like one giant tumble into the best time of your life, but something about not knowing each other long (a little over a year when Eliza was born) and also knowing with certainty that this is exactly who I want to be having this experience with right now.. It brought it all down to him and I. There wasn't years worth of figurative or literal bs, outside expectations, family pressure... It was just two people who met like two people do, decided to like each other despite unfavorable odds, fell in love, questioned their sanity (mostly me), went on a three day break over Thanksgiving, missed each other, got back together, realized they were pregnant (oh hey! me again!), moved in together, had to go through several several months, years even, of relationship building in a matter of weeks to avoid killing each other, found respect, found real love, began to build a life.. and then.. were in the delivery room, putting it all on the table, hoping it was enough.

We're no different than anybody else, really.

So what if he's right in the thick of the most miraculous, triumphant, and let's be real, horrifying thing to happen to my body since the navel piercing of 2000? We haven't had time or care to hide anything from each other before, so why start now? I'm glad he was there (and I mean there) to greet her, to tell me she was coming when I couldn't see through tears or the sobbing. I'm glad he was there to tell me it was something impressive even when I questioned myself after, when I felt remorse and sadness at having given in to the pain. I am proud of carrying her and bringing her into this world. I am grateful, so grateful to God that she arrived healthy. I am. I will come to peace with how it happened in time, because that was on me.

I pushed for an hour. We almost lost Mike in the last ten or fifteen minutes. The adrenaline got him and he had to tap out for a few. It was very had to be there hilarious. And touching. A nursing student the size of an Olsen twin took his place until blood flow returned to his face. But he made it back for the very end and dragged me through those last gruesome pushes. I will hear him saying, "Here she comes" for the rest of my life. I replay those moments every time I miss her, every time I miss him, every time I want to remember this thing we did together on approximately day 382 of being in each other's lives.

There was cheering from everyone and one final push that hurt so badly I thought my chest would burst wide open.. and then.. I heard her cry. I heard that very distinct down and up wail that is so distinctly hers. I felt all things old rush out of me and one very wonderful thing rush in. It was a small fraction of the love I feel for her today but it filled the space. The nurse brought her to my chest and her eyes, oh my sweet God, her eyes.. they sought me out and locked in and all I could see were her tiny lips opening and closing, her nose (my nose!) breathing the air I had labored in, her hands looking for something familiar to hold.. She was as desperate to be loved as I was to love her, so I wrapped her as tightly as I could and grabbed her almost see-through fingers and they may have melted right into mine for all the warmth I felt in that touch. We were tethered together for nine months and it wasn't until she was laying against me, in the world, that I felt that we were one. This girl made me a mother. She made me someone who has given birth to a beautiful, healthy baby, a life that was not here before. Actually having that experience makes you realize what an unlikely thing that is. What else will this child do in her already magnificent life?

There are so many things to write about, so many things to share, and I hope I will find time to share all of them. To bring you up to speed and share the good and the very, very hard. For now, here's a few pictures and a prayer for all the mothers and the mothers to be (those who know and don't know yet).. I pray for health and peace and some way to deal with the inevitable guilt. I pray that we all stop comparing and questioning and have faith in ourselves to do the hard things and take a little credit for the good things. And enjoy our children when we can and forgive ourselves when we can't, when we just can't. Because it is seriously brutal sometimes. And this is why God blessed women with the task.

And to it, sisters, do it well.

Amen.

Eliza Violet Carter
Born July 23rd, 2012 at 8:55am.








Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mid-day Nursery Splurge


Just a quick Etsy share in the middle of the work day. No biggie, right?

I've been looking for something like this for a long time.. saw lots of beautiful work on Etsy, but nothing that really made the heart flutter, until I happened upon this a few days ago.














It's fresh and feminine and kind of italian paperie-ish with just enough whimsy. One very pleasant email requesting a custom color palette was exchanged, name and initials confirmed, and hopefully in the next two weeks these little lovelies will be hanging above a crib.

LittleLion Studio on Etsy. So far, so good.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Maxi, Stockholm-style

I have a thing about Kohl's. Mainly, that I hate it. I know it's popular among the bargain hunter set and as a self-proclaimed finder of the deal I should embrace its perpetually disheveled racks and celebrity monikered lines, but oh mah gad... that store kills me. Nothing ever really fits me, the fact that there's always 30/40/50% off everything makes me feel like I'm never actually getting a deal, and the cult following behind Kohl's cash is just a little too purple kool aid for my tastes. But sometimes I get a bag of well meaning purchases from my mama and maaaybe some of it turns in to a merchandise credit... sometimes.

So tonight I decided to face my nemesis in search of a new duvet cover and maybe a set of sheets for our bed. In search of serenity, I was.

Well, this is where the story gets humbling friends. There's no clever way around it really... I got past the "what parent allows their daughter to wear that?!" junior's department, the Lexus crossover driver populated Dana Buchman section, and even the mish-mash of jewelry, Simply Vera bags, and Jennifer Lopez fragrances... I could see the wall of linens ahead, but then out of the corner of my eye I spotted this...



Maxi dress, clean lines with a subtle suggestion of chevron, flattering racerback neckline, and if I dared to dream, it was a non-maternity dress that might just fit over my very third trimester maternity belly. There was a fleeting moment of doubt, some nervous lip tugging, and then I grabbed it in all four available sizes and headed for the fitting room.

This is what happened...




Yes, I tried it on with sunglasses. I was wearing zero eye makeup and I don't trust my un-enhanced reflection in dressing room lighting. 

Yes, I'm also making a Rachel Zoe face. I admit it! I make celebrity stylist duck face when I try on clothes. I'm ashamed, alright?!

But back to happy times.. this dress is a dream. It drapes beautifully, doesn't hug anything it shouldn't, has a sexy neckline and "shoulder silhouette" yet still works with a big girl bra, and comes up high enough under the arms to keep the "hey baby!" side boob under wraps.

And... I'm wearing a small. A SMALL! This from the girl who was a solid 6 pre-pregnancy and whose hips and thighs have plumped up to a healthy 8 post.

There I am folks. Just another deprogrammed Goldie Hawn to a scheming Kurt Russell, dressing up in another woman's clothes, giving myself over to my captor.

Best 40% off I ever spent... just please don't tell my mom.