Friday, August 29, 2008

Living within the lines

There are fine lines between optimism, realism, and pessimism. I wrestle with which lines I will live within all the time.

I am aiming for optimism with a few toes over the line in realism.

It works most of the time. Sometimes it lets me down. Like when Kevin and I were first looking at houses. I was insistent that we needed a guest bed and bath on the first floor for when my parents came to visit us. I didn't want them climbing stairs all the time during their visits.

They aren't coming to visit anymore. They cannot.

My dancing around in optimism land had made me not realize that. It didn't dawn on me that their visit in June was their last visit here.

Now that Momma has started chemo again, I find myself trying so desperately hard to remain optimistic. One thing that has helped that is that I know that the better I am at handling it, the easier it is on her. I didn't understand that until I was a mother. But I understand now that one of the hardest parts of her illness is knowing how much her children hurt for her, and for ourselves.

So I keep my foot, at least one at all times, across the line of optimism. It is all I can do some days to plant it there, but I want to be hopeful.

Hopeful for one more birthday.

One more Christmas.

One more New Year.

Little Bird's first birthday.

And as we pass each milestone, I'll dig my heels in a little more to hope for another.

Because like Andrea, the late Punk Rock Mommy said, "I am not “dying”. I am living with a terminal illness that eventually I will die from." Momma knows this statement well.

Momma is still living. I know it is hard, or rather I can only imagine how hard, to take the chemo again and again. But I'm so grateful for every extra day it gives us with you.

And I am hopeful that we are talking about many many many extra days.

I am so grateful for our trip to BlogHer this year, and for pictures like this.
Little Bird and his Nana.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Things are hopping

I hope you've stopped by the new blog, Triangle Mamas. Girl did a beautiful job of whipping up a logo and a template for us. She's an honorary Triangle Mama now. In Pennsylvania, but so what?

Abby has introduced herself. And so has Susie. Since most everyone here is a transplant, we're all sharing how we got here. I'm going to work on my transplant story next.

I really like it over there. It's cozy and the company is terrific. Hope you can stop and sit a spell.

And if you are a Triangle Mama and are interested in writing with us, please let me know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On the market

Our house is officially on the market. When I saw the listing online last night I cried. I love our house. We have put so much time and work into it, planning to stay here for awhile.

That plan was derailed.

A new job for Kevin in a different city. It's just too far to drive, and as much as I love where we are, it certainly isn't fair for me to push to stay here when I'm not the one commuting. I know that moving out of Raleigh will also enable us to have something newer, larger, and nicer. I know these things.

But seeing our house out there, on the market, made me sad.

I followed the photographer around today, wondering what she saw through her lens. Did she see a house that was updated and ready to sell? Did she see the home we have created?

Did she see how we removed our disco ball and put it in storage for the time being so that people wouldn't get their chuckles from the pictures on our listing?

Some people won't like our artwork. It's modern. It's local. It's funky.

Some people won't like our paint colors. The family room actually has the word peach in the name. Yes, I know. The eighties live on in our family room and we like it.

Some people won't like our backyard. Because it is seriously neglected.

Some people won't like Lovely's bathroom. Unless Pepto Bismol is their favorite color. I should never be allowed to pick paint colors. Ever.

What I hope they see when they look at our house is a kitchen that is large and inviting. I hope they stand in it and can imagine how well a family fits there. How there is room for 2 or 3 people to be helping at the same time. How it is designed to cook and bake and to serve a family.

I hope they see a master bath that has been brought into this century. When they look at it, I wish they could see through the walls and the floor to know how much work Papa and Kevin put into transforming it.

I hope they can stand in the nursery and know how much love went into every board we laid. If they knew that, then they should also know that I was seven months pregnant while laying that floor. I wish they knew that it was a nursery that carried me through the loss of one baby and into the gift of another. That I sat in that Lemon Chiffon room and prayed and prayed for it to be needed for our child one day.

Beyond all of the things that other people will think are weird in our home, I hope that they see a family who has been happy here. Rooms for children. Rooms to make music. Rooms to cook together and eat together.

I hope they can tell there is a lot of love here.

And I hope, seriously hope, that it doesn't smell like dogs. Ha. Hahahahaha. Ha.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Click and give for Miss Cheetah Pants

There is a new button on my sidebar. My friend Kris of Ladybug and Lizards has a daughter named Hayleigh. I call her Little Miss Cheetah Pants. Hayleigh has juvenile diabetes.

If you have it in your heart and in your wallet, please click on Hayleigh's button in the sidebar and donate to the JDRF walk-a-thon.

Hayleigh deserves a cure. Any amount will help.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The house hunting continues

Holy crap. Kevin showed me this house tonight. I didn't want to look at the pictures, but we did. It turned out not to disappoint, earning it's own blog post in the series of incredibly bad houses for sale.

Here's the kitchen. The cabinets are probably older than me, but thank goodness they put in granite countertops and cheap appliances with some stainless on them. Now? It's a gourmet kitchen. Right.

Here is the room where you pile up all of your crap. Why? Why would you take a picture of this room and think that it would help you sell your house?

Ah, an extra bedroom. If you are a bird.

But best of all? That is a DISCO BALL in the cubby next to the fireplace. Most people would put firewood in that cubby. But not this house. This house comes with a disco ball in the cubby.

Someone had better snatch this one up quickly. It's a catch.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I could die from the cuteness

Christopher is six months old. Here he is in the outfit that my friend Anne and I made for him. The tub pictures were the studio's idea. I thought I wouldn't like them due to the cheese factor, but it turns out that a high cheese factor in baby pictures? Works.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Can I lure you over for a visit?

A new space.

I'm looking for some company. And some writers.

Care to pop on over and say hello?


Being my own therapist for now, I'm focusing on the positive today. The people who have put a little bandaid on a wound, held a hand, passed over a tissue, or have just given me a little time.

I started thinking about this while I was marathon rocking Christopher yesterday. There are so many more people who have made me feel good about myself this past week than who haven't. I wonder why I'm focusing on the the negative?

Because I let myself.

Lunch at Bach's house. Christopher and I had a wonderful lunch with Bach who has "graduated" from piano lessons. We get to just be friends now, and I'm looking forward to Christopher getting to know his Aunt Bach.

Meeting Susie at the Museum of Life and Science. A real life blogger! Right here near me! I was so excited to get to spend the morning with her and Logan. It was so comfortable. I finally got to see the butterfly house, and Christopher was fascinated with them as they flew by. We braved the heat and humidity to go see the bears and the wolves. The boys took a break to nurse by the wolves, and then we headed inside for some good ole air conditioning. It was like spending the morning with an old friend, only we had just met. I'm hoping to see them again soon.

Another lunch date with Boo. I missed her birthday, like I do every year, but a belated lunch is better than no lunch at all I suppose. Christopher sat in his highchair like a big boy and behaved in a swanky little bistro that I was surprised had a high chair in the first place.

A phone call with Girl. There are some people who can just heal your soul just by having a normal everyday conversation. Girl is one of those people. It doesn't matter if we are deep in my thick emotional baggage or just talking about Joann's, it's another patch in the quilt of friendship that I can curl up with when I'm feeling badly.

Papa stopping by. He has been a frequent visitor the past couple of weeks, and I really like it. I don't usually know he's coming, and in the past, that would have unnerved me a little. But now? I like the company, and I love how much Christopher loves to see him. Grandparents are so important. I'm lucky that he has a Papa so close by.

A new CD. The Dude has a new CD coming out, and he brought by a burned copy of the finished product. He does most all of his own recording using some really nice computer equipment, but I get to do backing vocals. I love doing backing vocals. It's my favorite place to be onstage - singing behind someone, making harmony. I love it. Anyway, the new CD is really good, and it makes me feel really good that he uses my voice when he could easily just record his own backing vocals.

A visit to Winston-Salem. An old friend is living there for a few years while her husband does some post doc work. We have gotten to see each other a few times, always with her doing most of the driving. So Monday, Christopher and I packed up and drove over to Winston to have lunch at her house. There is nothing like being at home with an old friend. The Gail Pittman pottery, the familiar blue and yellow, the beautiful antiques, and the lunch that she was inspired to make because of the baby shower her mother had thrown that weekend back home. There is nothing like poppyseed chicken to make you feel like you are back in Jackson. It was so good to see her, meet her dogs, and just spend some time together.

So there are things. And people. And events. There are reasons for me to feel good.

I just need to remember and acknowledge them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Please sir can I have another?

No posts. When there are no posts, there is usually too much to say and not enough freedom to say it.

My throat physically closes when I am overwhelmed. It aches. I'm choking back so many of the things I want to, need to, say that my throat aches and feels as if I couldn't get a poppyseed down it.

I used to be able to turn to writing at that point. I suppose I still could, but this has become a shared place. A place where I respect those who come to read, and a place not to air all my distress. I think I am alright with that, because I do love the company.

But I'm quiet these days. My feelings have been hurt over and over again. So much so that I took to beating myself up last week. Kevin pointed it out. I had never noticed it before.

He asked me why I get so down on myself. Why do I claim to be such a failure, and believe it to be true?

Although I had never considered it before, the answer was easy.

I put myself down because if I'm low enough already, then people can't knock me down any further.

Pain management. Sadistic pain management.

It's true though, that I thought I mattered more to several people in my life. I thought that I meant more than I did. Coming to realize I was wrong has been a kick in the gut.

We talked about going back to therapy. Then we talked about what our therapist would tell us.

Focus on the positive.

Live in the now.

Don't give away your power.

Write a letter to every single person who has hurt you lately.

Well, I don't have time for that. Nor do I have the energy. And there goes my throat again. Closing up. Trying to silence me.

It's more comfortable being quiet. It's not that I like to brood, but sometimes I just don't want to talk about it. I don't want to tell someone they have hurt me because it would end up hurting them.

Maybe there's a pill for that.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Whatever it takes

There are things I didn't understand until I became a mother.

How I could function on so little sleep.

How going shopping would turn into passing by the women's section to check out the sales on baby clothes first.

How being done with work and home at night to bathe and put my baby to bed would be the highest priority of my schedule. Every single night.

That regardless of how career minded I might have been in the past, the fact that so many of my students have graduated or quit this year? Just means that I have more time with Bird now. And I'm happy about it.

I didn't understand that my life would change to accommodate his. I honestly thought that I would fit the baby into my life as it already existed.

You can stop laughing now.

My friend T has been my only friend with children. I have watched her children grow and listened intently to the things she has said about parenthood. Most of the time, I would nod and agree, but often, I wouldn't really understand.

For instance, there is a fear of choking. She watches her little ones eat carefully, making sure that the bites are the right size. Making sure that they chew and swallow. Making sure that they aren't left with something in their mouth that might choke them.

I didn't understand why, even if I did believe her and feel that she was justified in her motherly worry.

Then, a few nights ago, I gave my little Bird a Cheerio.

He put it in his mouth, squinched up his nose, and was quiet. He didn't make chewing motions or swallowing motions. He didn't make any sound either.

My heart leaped into my throat as I reached to pick him up and save him from choking.

My heart was faster than my legs, and by the time I had stood, he was gurgling and cooing at the Cheerio he had spit back out of his mouth.

It was a split second, but that was all it took for me to connect with that fear and understand all of the things that T worries about with her kids. They turned from things I knew to things I understood.

What I don't understand yet is how I can lose my patience with Bird when he is just a baby. I don't get why it upsets me so when I try to put him down after having rocked him to sleep and as soon as I let go of his sleeping body, his eyes pop open, he flails over onto his back, and begins to wail.

I don't mean a little wah-wahing. I don't mean some "I don't want to sleep here, please pick me up" tears. I mean full out, panic mode, red in the face, gasping for breath, unable to focus wailing.

He can't seem to stop. Leaving him there for five minutes? Only heightens it and makes it worse. Simply letting him lay in his crib and stand there with him? Only heightens it and makes him mad on top of it all.

So we do this. Rocking to sleep and then into the crib. Over and over again. My shoulders and back ache from the holding and the rocking. My one good nipple is sore from the hours he has been latched on in the past day and night and day. My patience is gone.

I lose my temper. I tell him "no," as if he is doing it to be a naughty baby. I leave him to go try and calm down, closing the door behind me not gently at all and going into another room to let out my own wailing.

Reason pounds through my head in bullet points.

  • He is just a baby.
  • This isn't manipulative.
  • There is something behind his clinging.
  • Maybe he has gas from the cheese I ate.
  • Maybe he is teething.
  • Maybe the painter man who he whimpered at earlier scared him and he doesn't want to be alone.
  • I will figure out why later and hate myself for losing patience.
  • There is always a why and no such thing as a bad baby.
  • I am an adult and should act like one.
  • I wanted this more than anything.
  • Is it so wrong that he just needs me to hold him right now regardless of the million mile list of things I have to get done?
No. There is nothing more important on my list.

I walk back into the room and pick up my child. I'm still shaking from how much the wailing has worked me into a frenzy. I look at him sternly and call his name. He looks at me and fat, wet tears roll down his face. Pushing past my frustration, I kiss him, hold him, rub his head, nurse him, sing to him.

I sit long past the time he passes out in my arms, snoring softly. And I wonder about myself. I wonder why I have to go around that horrific circle of impatience, anger, frustration, and selfishness just to get back to where I started? Back to understanding that he needs me and loves me just as I need and love him?

Rocking him. Holding him. Nursing him. Is it really such a bad way to spend an afternoon? Or from 4:00-6:00am if that be the case?

I don't travel around the circle often. Honestly, I think it is hormonal. It hasn't happened in a few months - ever since I felt like the postpartum hormones were leveling off. Then yesterday I welcomed my period back into my life. Joy. And today? I'm feeling edgy. Frantic. Impatient.

Instead of a Midol, I'm having a beer.

Maybe I'm a terrible mother after all, but Bird is now sleeping peacefully, and I'm feeling up to attacking that list now.

Whatever it takes, some days. Whatever it takes.

Friday, August 01, 2008

World Breastfeeding Week

Christopher is six months old now. I've already been asked how long I plan to breastfeed him, and someone yesterday commended me on having nursed him for so long.

While I will accept the praise because it wasn't easy, I'm not ready to start hearing that six months is a long time to nurse. I feel like we just got the hang of it, and I'm not about to stop now.

It's funny. So many people were supportive of my attempts and encouraged me to keep trying. Don't give up. All of them had their different time frames too. The first one I heard was two weeks. Then it was six weeks. Then four months. All of those deadlines passed without me feeling like we were getting it.

Truth be told, I don't know when it was. But I know that he was at least five months old.

It took us at least five months to "get" breastfeeding.

In those five months, he hurt. He had gas. He couldn't tolerate the dairy I was eating. He didn't like having to work at pulling out my flat nipple. He didn't give up.

In those five months, I hurt. I had continual milk blisters. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. The flat nipple ached from the tissue being broken as Christopher worked to make it work. It wasn't at all fun. I didn't give up either.

It was worth all the effort.

This week is world breastfeeding week. I'm so glad that I am still a nursing mom and that my child is still breastfed. I'm glad, and I'm proud.

If you want to find out more about La Leche League and World Breastfeeding Week, you can click here.

And if you want to join in spreading the word with me, then just grab that button and write a post. Then come on back and join us here with Mr. Linky.