Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Little Things

Jenny at The Bloggess had a great idea for a contest to bring out people’s pictures that unintentionally captured the treasures of life – at least that what’s I took it for. If you clicked from her blog and just want to see my entry, scroll to the end. It’s the last one in the post….but I will cast one of those chain-mail curses on you if you do that.

Like many moms, my favorite subject for photos is my child. I have taken more pictures of her than I can count, and I won’t delete any of them even if they come out totally blurry. I love taking pictures that capture elements of her babyhood that come and go so quickly.

Some of them are physical appearance, like her baby toes…

Her mismatched eyes…

Her roly-poly baby thighs (already vanished away and replaced with new little miniature gymnast legs)…

Some of them catch parts of her personality, like the teenager that lives inside my preschooler…

Or the way she hates having her toenails trimmed (2 years later, she still manages to get that exact same look on her face, even though the face is so different)…

And then there is my other baby, who was so displaced at first that she had to resort to dolls to find a good lap to sit in… (picture also known as "IM IN UR CRIBZ, STEALIN YOUR RAGGEDY LUVZ")

But my very favorite picture of Natalie is one that I took about 7 months ago and haven’t gotten tired of looking at yet. I have it up at work and at home, and it fascinates me, encourages me, and sometimes brings a happy tear to my eye even though I have seen it a million times. This is one of those shots I took holding the camera at arms length, blindly attempting to get myself and Natalie in the frame. I had been trying to get a photo of her for an Easter card, and then we just started playing. She was all smiles, so I decided to humor my husband and try to get a picture of us together. There aren’t many of those because I am incapable of keeping my eyes open in a picture. I was just snapping and snapping, and Natalie did something that made me laugh. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember the feeling it gave me. I gave her a little kiss and accidentally managed to capture the moment:

I love this picture because it is a picture of my baby’s happy love face. For me, it captures the magic of the way she looks when she is happy and she still thinks that I am somehow responsible for making her feel that way. This one picture captures so many expressions of love – her dreamy-closed eyes, her thoughtless smile, her hands drawn up in a moment of surprise. I even love that it shows the little red splotches she gets on her chin from drooling all the time because every mom knows that you can’t separate baby love from drool.

This picture represents all the reasons that motherhood is worth it and that I am putting myself through the *ahem* joys *cough* of pregnancy again. Maybe I should look at it more often.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Fear

The Fear is back. I went about a month without worrying about this baby, about whether he would be here healthy and whole and in his full time. Last night and Friday night and now this morning, I have pain under my rib cage, and I am familiar with this kind of pain. It is the pain that the nurses tell you is heartburn if you call them after hours, but that heartburn medication doesn’t help. Last time I believed them and told myself to toughen up – pregnant women get heartburn. Now I know better. Now I know that it could be heartburn and nothing else, or it could be another sign of my best pregnancy friend, pre-eclampsia. It is power and it is a curse. Since I know better, I will not just take the nurses’ word as gospel. I will ask for tests; I will see the doctor. Since I know better, I will not be able to go through the day like everything is fine until I know for sure that everything is fine. I will spend hours fearing what is probably, in all honesty, heartburn, imagining that it could be the first sign that my precious son is not OK.

Speaking of my precious son, his name is Isaac Bernhard. Isaac means laughter, and Bernhard is his daddy’s name. We weren’t 100% sold on the name, but once Natalie adopted it and began telling everyone that her brother’s name is Isaac, we felt committed.

I read on another blog of a pre-e survivor where she wrote all the reasons she was thankful to have gone through this disease. I guess this is something that Oprah says to do – to change the way you look at major events in your life. I’m not sure I can really do that 100% until I am through this pregnancy, but I think it is the right idea. Our sermon at church this weekend dealt with the issue of how sometimes the things that happen to you don’t make sense in the 70 or so years of life on earth, but that the truth is that they are always for your ultimate good in the eternal picture. I believe that is true. The verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” This is very similar to Romans 8:28, but Solomon was more poetic than Paul, and I like his version better. It’s part of the “To every season” passage that most people are familiar with from the song- really beautiful stuff.

So here’s my first stab at it: I am thankful that I had preeclampsia because it has made me treasure my unborn child in a way that I missed out on the first time. With Natalie, I was just pregnant. I didn’t think much about the baby inside or what she would be like. I was young and na├»ve, and I was excited about having a baby but it just wasn’t real to me. With Isaac, I think about him like a person and I want to get to know him now and take care of him because I don’t take for granted that everything will be perfect when he comes.

And I am thankful of course for my Natalie – for the memories that I have from 2 years ago of her first autumn, getting ready for the holidays while seeing them through the eyes of a child for the first time.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just Call me Stay-Puff in the Morning, Baby

Yesterday I woke up puffy. I knew it was going to be a super-awesome pregnant day when I put my bare feet on the ground over the edge of my bed and it felt like I had squeezed them into a pair of too-tight shoes. I instinctively made fists and felt that familiar chubbiness of my fingertips being not quite able to curl all the way in to the bottom half of my fingers. The day before, I was fine – this is an overnight thing with me. I had gained 2 pounds since I went to bed, and since I am not a sleepwalker, I knew that the water retention had finally made its appearance. I had little rings around my ankles by 10:00 a.m., and by lunch time I was huffing and puffing to get all my extra self up to the top of the parking garage.

Then, miracle of miracles, I woke up this morning and it was all gone. It’s like maybe the universe decided that since I was FINALLY feeling good in my pregnant body and not believing that every day was just 24 hours closer to some kind pregnancy disaster it needed to send that little warning shot over my ramparts. Like “Hey there – don’t get all cocky and think you can just be a normal pregnant chick. Remember how your dysfunctional body doesn’t do this right? Yeah, it’s still like that.”

So, I’ve taken off my rings and retired my high-heels for the duration, but I’m trying to believe that this was just a one-day thing. I have gone over and over what I did and what I ate the day before, though, and there just aren’t any salt binges or over-exertions to explain it away. I did eat a couple extra pieces of chocolate, so I guess I’ll blame them. Nestle’s, you are officially uninvited from my baby shower. Don’t tell Ghiradelli, she’s still on the list. It’s just the cheap ones that make you sick, right?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On a lighter note

Mama (to husband who just came home in the middle of the night from playing softball - or maybe it was 9:30, but it’s all the same to me lately because I’d been in bed for at least an hour) : Would you rub my back pleeeeeeze

Hubby: Would you rub my back?

Mama: How am I going to rub your back while you are rubbing my back?

Hubby: I meant after.

Mama: The point is that you rub my back until I fall asleep since you just woke me up.

Hubby: Maybe we could just face each other and reach around.

Mama: If I do that you are going to try to jump my bones.

Hubby: That’s disgusting. I would probably try to have sex with you.

Mama: Nevermind. You clearly aren’t getting the point of this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lactivists Unite?

Yesterday I had the much-beloved glucola screen –yea! I hope I passed it this time because failing means a 3-hour glucose tolerance test and fasting.

Yesterday I also heard about Facebook taking down pictures of nursing mommies. I can’t say I am outraged, but I am confused. Before I jump on the Facebook The Oppressor wagon, I’d really like to see the kinds of pictures that they actually took down. Were they the traditional shots of a latched on baby that show some cleavage and not much else? Or were they shots that actually showed mom’s boobs in all their glory and just happened to include a baby about to eat? I can see the need for Facebook to have a generic rule despite the nature of the picture that is something like “no nipples.” I’m just saying that if you have a rule you need to have a rule. The same principle applies in reverse – if you leave up pictures of women in string bikinis that show “everything but” and take down pictures that show the same amount of boobie with a baby instead of a bustier, then you don’t have a leg to stand on in my book.

I breastfed my daughter for a full 27 months of her life. I never had to buy formula, and I never regretted the decision. I breastfed Natalie in my home, in the mall, at the zoo, on an airplane, in the car (in the parking lot), at church, in a movie theater, and probably lots of other places that I can’t remember. I pumped milk at work for 9 months and also pumped in my car (yes, driving), at a wedding, and in many many bathrooms. (As I’m typing this, I am finding that Microsoft does not seem to recognize “breastfed” as a verb and keeps warning me that I am making fragments…) I am really proud of this, and the experience totally transformed the way I feel about my body. I was lucky, and I was never accosted by the boob police in public. I was (I believe) very discreet and never showed more than a flash of breast, and I never tried any very controversial places like a restaurant or grocery store. Oddly enough, the places that I was most uncomfortable were in the homes of friends and family. Those were the places that I was most often banished to a back room away from polite company. I met the most resistance from people that I knew, not from strangers.

The bottom line - in no way shape or form do I consider breastfeeding to be obscene. It doesn’t have anything to do with pornography, and it isn’t indecent exposure. Still, mommies, have some respect for the people around you. I think it’s like changing a diaper in public - it’s natural and you have to do it sometimes, but it’s just polite to make every reasonable effort to keep your little one’s little ones shielded from public view. Take the same measures with your own body is all I’m saying here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm just here for the free tears

Yesterday I saw a professional counselor for the third and final time. I have struggled with my own demons as long as I can remember, and I think I always thought that if I could just make that phone call to get some help, it would come to an end. In August, I had something I can only describe as an anxiety attack that was so severe that I could not drive myself home. Maybe it was the baby on the way, or maybe it was just my time, but I finally got a list of counselors from my insurance company and tried to make an appointment.

The first strike was that I had to call six before I found one who would see me. The others were either not taking new patients, not seeing patients at all, or had moved their offices across town. These phone calls were next to impossible for someone like me to make, and I’d just like to say that the people who answered the phone did not make them any easier.

I finally found one person who would see me. She was the one who had no information on the internet and was unknown to a friend of mine who is also a counselor. I made my appointment for the next week and when the time came, I went. She had no waiting area, so I had the choice of either standing in the hallway outside her office or sitting in the reception area of a busy lending firm that was apparently accustomed to hosting the unstables that come to see the counselor down the hall. She was 20 minutes late to see me, and when she finally appeared, I got the feeling that she was no more thrilled to see me than I was to be there. I told her about the “attack” and that I thought maybe I was finally dealing with the trauma of my first pregnancy. She was not really listening, I don’t think, and just kept telling me that pregnancy got better in the second trimester (I was 19 weeks at the time.) I was there no more than 30 minutes, including filling out some paperwork, before she dismissed me on time despite starting late. She said we would work on relaxation techniques next time and sent me on my way.

The second appointment was a little bit better. We did some “meditation” and all I could do was cry. She asked what was going on, and re-visited the past pregnancy because that was all I could think to talk about. She told me that she thought maybe I was finally dealing with the trauma of my first pregnancy – what a thought. Anyway, at least she was listening.

The third was a disaster – late again, and I had no idea what to tell her. The only question she asked me was how my week had been. I couldn’t really think of much to say, so there was silence most of the time. She called me a perfectionist (as in “stop being a perfectionist”) when I explained that I hadn’t been able to clear my mind to do the meditation crap on my own.
I guess I expected her to have some supernatural ability to see that the things I was telling her were just the surface – that I really wanted and needed help with much deeper things. That seems a little unrealistic in retrospect, considering I have 25 years or so experience at convincing people that I am perfectly fine and no one has been able to figure it out yet. Anyway, she didn’t get it either and I don’t see the point of paying her to listen to me ramble about my week when I can do it for free on the internet without getting asinine feedback (or at least without feeling compelled to respond to any of it.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Gentle nudges

Yesterday was the day from down under. Thing after thing went wrong at work, and the biggest problems were happening in Georgia, where I have no way of fixing them. I am already confused about what my job will look like after the new baby comes, but yesterday another option was thrown into the mix. I am very reluctant to make any decisions now, but my department is restructuring and 4 months is a little too long to bide my time without any job definition, I think. I got so stressed out about it that I put baby Isaac on the waiting list for Natalie’s daycare last night. The first opening they had was for June 1, so I guess I still have some problems there. I’m out of time for writing, so this will all have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Adventures in Aggieland

First, you have to check this out – people are still crazy.

Second, my family completed the first of 3 consecutive trips to College Station to watch Aggie football live this past weekend. We left the house at 2:30 and made it home at 11:00. It was only in the high 80’s outside, so it was OK as outdoor sports go. Natalie spent all day Friday in anticipation of the event and had to wear her Aggie shirt and suck on only her Aggie pacifier (a.k.a. “plug”). She woke up from her nap and the casual observer may have thought we were going to Mickey Mouse’s Birthday Extravaganza based on her reaction to realizing that it was time to go. I spent a long time wondering why a 2-year-old would be so excited about an hour car ride followed by 2 hours of sitting around a grill followed by 4 hours of staring at a football field followed by another 2 hour car ride (this time with traffic.) On Sunday, even after the reality of the event must have sunken in, she would still only wear Aggie gear and use the Aggie plug. Why? How can this be exciting to her? It occurred to me that maybe this is what cheerleaders look like at 2 and I entered momentary panic. Then, on Sunday night, I was reminded of the secret - the devoted adoration that can only come from a daughter for the daddy that is wrapped completely around her fingers (and who happens to believe that the solar system revolves around Kyle Field).