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Everyday Life

Kaia is 11 months old!

August 8, 2017

Like a toddler who got what they wanted mid-kick, mid-scream, 2017 finally got me to surrender the notion that maybe my baby could stay a baby for at least another year. Here we are, bidding farewell to infancy and staring down the barrel of TODDLERHOOD. I tried to fight it, but I was no match for time. Toddlerhood means facing challenges I’m really sure how I’m going to handle like getting her to eat with utensils, potty training, and the urge to run full speed into traffic, so I’m pretty content to stay in the now with my little baby.

Her cake smash is later this month, and while I’m extremely excited to see her flail around and get cake literally everywhere and in every single nook and cranny of her body and clothes, I’m also a little upset that she’s coming up on such a big milestone. Obviously, I’m going to be a wreck on September 1st. I’m already contemplating keeping her up a little bit later (we’re going on vacation on the 3rd, so we’ll be working on pushing her bedtime to 9:30 pacific time anyway) or having her sleep on me so that I’m holding her at 10:02 pm. I’m so lucky to have the privilege of watching her grow into the person she is meant to be, but it still stings. A birthday is both a loss and a gain, a gray area of pride and heartbreak. I’m really going to miss infancy, and I’m going to miss the person she is right now. But even then — I know the best is yet to come. That’s always the case, isn’t it? There is so much good ahead of us.

Kaia at a glance:

  • Has 8 teeth
  • Grinds her teeth (it makes us cringe)
  • Loves to take objects out of containers
  • Laughs when we read Goodnight Moon
  • Likes to sit on top of empty boxes
  • Climbs over everything
  • Crawls under her crib just to sit and play
  • Leans her head over to one side to look at us and laugh
  • Is becoming more proficient in imitating sounds and her babbles of “bubble” and “blueberry” sound surprisingly accurate
  • Loves rice, blueberries, bananas, and Bamba (always bamba)
  • Waves
  • Leans forward and reaches for things she wants while making some kind of exclamation
  • Says “ca” when the cat is around and “da” when the dog is around
  • Enjoys holding things for us at the grocery store
  • Is becoming very gentle with her petting technique and extends her whole hand (she still does try to grab ears, but ya know, she’s a baby)
  • Finally started to babble “mamama”
  • Loves when we sing the itsy bitsy spider and the wheels on the bus
  • Tolerates being worn in a ring sling but still prefers her buckle
  • Wears a whole range of sizes from 3-6 month (shirts and onesies) to 12 months (shirts, onesies, pants).
  • Stands up to listen to stories
  • Isn’t a huge fan of the stroller these days
  • Won’t lay down for a diaper change 99% of the time (it’s funny AND MESSY)
  • Her favorite toys consist of plastic bowls, tupperware, a stainless steel bowl, and wooden spoons
  • Loves to open and close drawers
  • Screams at the top of her lungs when she is especially frustrated or especially entertained
  • Jumps when she is excited

It was real, infancy. Time for the next chapter!

Everyday Life

Real Talk About What Happened On The Night You Were Born

May 8, 2017

(There is this really sweet book called “On The Night You Were Born” that always makes me cry when I read it. It’s beautiful, and truthful in it’s own way, but it doesn’t paint a realistic portrait about what the night someone is born really looks like. I mean, this would probably freak out the kids, but still. A few friends and I had some fun rewriting the story to be a little more true to our realities, and the results were pretty funny to read. This is mine.)

On the night you were born the moon smiled with such wonder, and your father sat silently in a rocking chair while your mother whispered “this is freaking insane.”

So enchanted was I with the thought of your imminent arrival that I repressed memories of other people’s terrible birth stories, and had the wherewithal to ignore the woman in another room screaming “I can’t!” from the top of her lungs.

I sailed through contractions, trying to breathe, low-moaning, and attempting to relax my muscles. Until everyone heard it and everyone knew that I was in transition, and stuff was going down for real.

Not once had I felt such exhaustion, such pain. I felt like my body was being torn right in twain.

 When the polar bears heard they said, “You really should have gotten yourself drugged up for this.”

From far away places the geese were like, “LOL, it’ll just keep getting worse.”

The moon was somewhere, I’m sure,  but I hadn’t opened my eyes in hours.

And none of the ladybugs told me about rolling contractions.

So if you ever doubt just how special you are, just think of how I rocketed you out on a night so bizarre.
Listen for the geese honking high in the sky
(they’re apologizing for that time your face was mashed against my pelvic bone).

Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo
(it’s because they waited 42 weeks and sat through 36 hours of my contractions to meet you).

Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind
(know that I was so high on oxytocin that I couldn’t fall asleep until 5 AM the next day).

For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
had I ever experienced a night less zen
and I’d never want to, not ever again
(though I’m going to take one for the team and give you a person to hang out with in the woods).

On the night you were born, there were no dancing bears or doves in the sky.
And all I really wanted to do was lay down and cry.
The entire experience is a painful blur.
But were you worth every second?
Yes, Kaia, you were.

Everyday Life

Kaia is 7 months old!

April 13, 2017

Seven is a pretty big number when we’re talking about how long Kaia has been Earthside. I can’t believe Alex and I have a baby so big, and I’m pretty sure I say that every month. This stage that we are in is so much fun. I feel like we learn something new about Kaia each day, and it’s a privilege to become more and more acquainted with her personality. She is most content when she is outside being worn or being strolled (because it combines her two favorite things: her parents and stimulation), and she works extremely hard for the things she wants. She is so inspiring, and watching her grow makes me want to try harder, to do more, and to be better.

I was just looking at pictures of her when she was a newborn, and it’s hard to believe that the person in those photos is the one sitting up in front of me, trying to crawl, eating food, drinking water, babbling laughing, playing, and discovering the world around her. Having a child has made the months (which were already passing so quickly) fly by at warp speed.

How we’re doing

We are doing well. Most of month 6 was a lot like the previous month, and not much happened weren’t familiar with for most of it. We were confused and terrified for most of the month knowing that we had been in the middle of the really tough stuff (namely, not sleeping), but just as it started to seem like things were definitely not going to change, and just as every last book, friend, family member, and random person on the street made it explicitly clear that we somehow failed as parents by having a baby that nursed all night and would not sleep without being held — things changed. They changed a lot. Right before Kaia turned 7 months old, on a night where we  spent over two hours of attempting to nurse and rock and otherwise soothe her to sleep, we put her down in her crib so we could have a bit of a break, and she rolled over and slept for something like 6 hours straight before waking to nurse. On that night, pigs flew and snowmen were made in hell. Since then, Kaia has continued to sleep 5-9 hours before waking to nurse, and will often go back to sleep until 6-6:30 AM or even 7:30 AM some days. We have been much happier, I haven’t had any migraines, and we generally just feel like different people. My bedtime anxiety faded, so I was actually able to fall asleep faster, and Alex and I actually got time to spend alone together, which is something we really needed and missed.

While the sleep only started to improve less than 2 weeks ago, it was the catalyst for me, especially, to want to start to feel better in other areas. I was coming up on 1 year of constant pelvic pain when I decided that I needed to either do something about it or learn to live with it, or both. I stopped being active in the middle of my pregnancy when things got especially bad, and after pregnancy, gave up entirely on hiking, walking long distances, or doing anything physical that used to bring joy to my pre-pregnancy self. I called a physical therapist, but before ever setting foot into an office, I decided to see what my limits were. I started to walk 5-8 miles a day, and after the first few days, it was like I was a different person. I’m very happy to say that I am no longer in excruciating pain every time I take a step, and I am feeling far more like myself than I have in at least a year. I would definitely like to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and hopefully my ability to actually do things will help me with my goal. I’m so happy that things have gotten better around here, and truly, it has changed so many aspects of our lives. I’m always terrified that the other shoe will drop, but I’m very much enjoying the rest we’ve been given. Honestly, I’m so overjoyed that I could cry.

Our favorites this month

  • Pack n Play (when filled with toys, this keeps her entertained while we eat dinner)
  • Books written by Todd Parr (she loves the illustrations)
  • Netflix app for our iPhones and iPads (for entertainment during the shifts we take at night to hold her)

How Kaia is doing

Kaia spent most of her 6th month of life learning so many new skills. She started babbling, started sitting up, and started to make her first attempts at crawling. Of those things, I think the babbling has been what has brought me more smiles than anything (I usually just stare in awe as she is sitting or trying to crawl) because it is just so funny. She practices her “b” sounds a lot, so she ends up saying babababa over and over until she eventually starts screaming it, which is hilarious. As she got closer to 7 months, she started sleeping without being held, and since then, she has been far less fussy during the day and generally seems a lot happier. We realized that our fear of not sleeping at all prevented us from allowing her the freedom to explore what works best for her, and it turns out, sleeping on her stomach is her preference — and that’s hard to accomplish when you’re always on your side, being held by your mom. Sleep, combined with the mastering of the new skills she worked so hard to develop means that she is doing better than ever.

We started solids a week or so after she turned 6 months old, and she was confused by all of the new flavors and textures she was exploring. We just recently started to give her actual pieces of food instead of purée on a spoon, and she seems to be enjoying herself more (but we’ll talk more about that next month). We also introduced her small amounts of water in a straw cup which has been going okay, though most of the time she doesn’t actually drink anything. Baby steps!

Stats

We haven’t weighed or measured her length in a while, but she is definitely over 15 lbs! 6-9 month clothing now fits her very well, with Carter’s pants and onesies fitting too loose in the waist but perfectly in length, while clothing from primary.com seems to be best for her. We have also found great fits in clothing from the Gap, OshKosh, and Gymboree, and we are just so thankful that we had so much clothing stored and ready for her to use when she started to outgrow all of her 3-6 month outfits. It’s always sad to put away clothes, but if there is another little one in our future (not tomorrow or anything — I’ve come to realize that talking about kid #2 when kid #1 is so young is taboo AF), we are definitely prepared.

Likes

  • Same as last month, plus…
  • Stacking rings
  • Taggies toys
  • Spending time in her pack n play
  • Going on walks
  • Looking at pictures and listening to stories when being read to
  • Facing forward in her carrier
  • Board books (holding them, trying to turn the pages, and putting the corners in her mouth, specifically)
  • Todd Parr’s books
  • Little Owl’s Night (her favorite bedtime book)
  • Blankets, pillows, and soft toys
  • Zippers
  • Attempting to reach and pick up the things she is interested in

Dislikes

  • Same as last month, plus…
  • Unfamiliar people talking to her or making eye contact for too long
  • Diaper changes
  • Putting on shirts and onesies
  • Falling
  • Not having the ability to crawl

Firsts

  • First babbles
  • First time sitting unassisted
  • First time getting herself into a sitting position
  • First attempt at crawling (she moved forward with one knee and one hand before falling over)
  • First time drinking water
  • First time eating solid food

Sleep

A week or so after she reached 6 months, we moved Kaia into her own bedroom. She was outgrowing the weight limit in her bassinet so we had to have her sleep (or attempt to) in her crib, and she wasn’t really able to co-sleep successfully (putting her down, even in bed right next to me, was the opposite of what she wanted), so the timing felt right. Of course, because she only slept while being held, this didn’t actually change anything, but at least we felt like we were moving forward. Just before she turned 7 months old, she started sleeping independently, and it has been glorious. She’ll get 5-9 hour stretches before waking to nurse, and will usually wake up after another 3-5 hours before nursing again very early in the morning. She’ll stay down until 6:00 AM on most days, while we’ve seen a day or two where her wake time is 7:30. I think we’d feel less like screw ups if she could sleep  from 7 PM – 7 AM (with night waking, of course) but 11 hours and two wakings to nurse is nothing to scoff at, so I’m pretty cool with where we are for now. We know that we still have so many developmental milestones ahead of us that will likely mean disrupted sleep, but we feel confident that the worst is behind us.

Eating 

Kaia is still mostly exclusively breastfed because we’ve only given her solids maybe 6 times. She nurses every 2-3 hours around the clock, though sometimes I sneak in an extra feed or three just to see if that’ll somehow help her sleep better (which, by the way, it doesn’t). I’ve been terrified to give her solids without Alex around for fear of her having an allergic reaction (I’m incredibly paranoid given that she’s already dairy and god-knows-what-else intolerant, and at an increased risk for a peanut allergy as it is), though I do much better when it comes to offering her water. I offer her a straw cup with 1 oz of liquid twice a day, and while she hasn’t really gotten the hang of it, she has reliably taken a few sips. It’s fun to watch her experimenting with solids and water, but breastmilk is still her number one source of nutrition and hydration, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Things I want to remember

  • Her cute little babbles
  • Her scream-babbles
  • How she kicks her legs and flaps her arms when being carried
  • How she laughs when I look at her through the bars of her crib
  • The way she squeals when she sees the books she loves
  • Her smiles when we sing “the wheels on the bus”
  • How she watches the cat and dog with fascination
  • Her happiness when it’s time for her first nursing session after she wakes for the day
  • How she grabs my hand and puts her foot in it when she is nursing
  • Her fascination with the rain cover, sun shield, and zippers on her stroller
  • The faces she makes when she eats and drinks

I used to be so afraid of life with an older baby. I pictured chaos, not knowing what to do, feeling lost, and feeling overwhelmed a lot. I wasn’t sure I could handle it. My experience has been the opposite, and I feel like with every passing month life gets easier. Life with Kaia feels so natural. I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for our girl and our family.

Everyday Life

Kaia is 5 months old!

February 4, 2017

Kaia is five months old! I’m pretty sure this must be some kind of mistake because I was just in labor 45 minutes ago, right? It’s bittersweet to have packed away her newborn clothes, 0-3 month pants, and many of her 0-3 month bodysuits as the months have passed, but with each month comes a new set of developments in her personality and growth to get excited about. She is smiling, rolling, squealing, blowing raspberries, laughing, and making life more fun (and definitely more interesting) by the minute. Our immobile and sleepy newborn has morphed into an alert and active infant at warp speed. It is a privilege to watch her grow.

How we’re doing

Alex and I are doing well. While having a 5 month old is far harder than having a newborn (for us, at least), we haven’t been struggling too much. We roll with the punches, troubleshoot often, and do our best to embrace the season we are in. Some days are easier than others, and sometimes we find ourselves a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility of keeping a tiny human fed, happy, healthy, and sleeping decently, but the good far outweighs the bad.


Our favorites at 5 months

  • Boppy nursing pillow and positioner
  • Zipadee-Zip (it hasn’t miraculously increased her sleep, but it’s a fabulous crutch for people like us who are afraid to rock the boat too much.)
  • Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother
  • Books that celebrate diversity and acceptance, and/or star individuals of all races, cultures, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions
  • Books that celebrate women
  • Uppababy CozyGanoosh Footmuff
  • Dohm-DS All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine


How Kaia is doing

She is doing well: growing like a weed and developing new skills. Her doctor is impressed by her strength, vocalizations, and alertness, and so are we. While she is generally a very healthy baby, we found out recently that she has a milk protein allergy. This discovery initially led to the elimination of dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, sour cream and the like from my diet, and more recently led to the elimination of foods containing milk protein altogether. Kaia’s symptoms (like eczema, for example) haven’t improved just yet (this can take around a month), but we are holding out hope that things get better soon.


Stats

Kaia is about 13.5 lbs and 26.5 inches long. She is a long and skinny baby, wearing 3-6 month bodysuits, sleep and plays, shirts and dresses. The length of her clothing is just right, though everything is a bit baggy on her. I am still able to comfortably wear her in my Solly (stretchy) wrap, though I definitely feel her weight when wearing her in the soft structured carrier. Because she is so long, rocking her and transferring her to her bassinet is a little bit of a challenge these days with her legs dangling, but we’re doing a better job of not accidentally jolting her awake when we put her down.


Likes

  • Grabbing toys, our faces/hair, her feet, books, and anything else she can get her hands on
  • Sucking/chewing on her Manhattan Toy Winkel rattle, her hands, our hands, books and anything else she can successfully grab and bring to her mouth
  • Bathtime
  • Music (she is fond of “Love me Do” by The Beatles, “What’s Your Flava?” by Craig David, and “The Gnome” by Pink Floyd)
  • Story time, looking at pictures, and doing her best to hold books and turn pages
  • Em (our dog)
  • Sitting up on our laps or in her boppy
  • Rolling
  • Tummy time
  • Being outside
  • Being worn in a stretchy wrap


Dislikes

  • The doctor
  • Being worn in a woven wrap (90% of the time)
  • Loud noises
  • Music being played on an erhu (Chinese violin) by a man at Pacific Place
  • Being any distance away from Alex and me
  • Being taken out of the stretchy wrap
  • Being put down for changing or to be put in her Zipadee-Zip when she wants to nurse

Firsts

  • First time rolling from back to tummy
  • First time sleeping unswaddled (currently sleeping in a Zipadee-Zip).
  • First time splashing in the bath
  • First time holding herself up in a tripod sit
  • First time she has shown an interest in what we are eating, drinking, or holding


Kaia’s favorites at 5 months

  • Baby Einstein Take Along Musical Toy
  • Baby Einstein Octoplush
  • Oball
  • Lamaze Freddie the Firefly
  • Infantino activity gym


Sleep

As you might have gathered from the last post, sleep isn’t exactly going amazingly these days. Sleep began to get worse when she turned four months old, and managed to get even worse when she began rolling and we dropped the swaddle. We begin her bedtime routine at around 6:30 with the intention of having her in her bassinet by 7:30. She generally sleeps anywhere from 1-2 hours after she goes down for the night, and this is usually the longest stretch of sleep she will get. She wakes very frequently for the rest of the night, and only nursing will reliably get her to sleep and keep her asleep. I hold her for 1-2 hours per waking, and when I get brave enough to try to move her to her bassinet, it involves immediately starting the process over again. As a consequence, I end up getting about two hours of sleep per night on average. Alex has taken to letting me sleep in from 6:00-8:00 AM to get some extra rest, which I really appreciate. We’re not sure that this sleep situation is going to improve, but we’re hoping for the best!


Eating

Kaia is still exclusively breastfed, and nurses  every 1.5-2 hours during the day. If she takes a long (2 hr) nap, she will go as long as 4 hours between nursing sessions. Nighttime nursing is every 1-2 hours, and doesn’t extend past that these days. Frequent nursings mean that I have a very healthy milk supply, which is great. Next month she will be starting solids, and we plan on doing a combination of baby-led weaning and purées (which we will make ourselves). Baby-led weaning is appealing to us because it will allow her to explore food and eat on her own terms, but we are terrified of choking and gagging (the latter is normal but still frightening). Purées are appealing because there are no solid pieces to potentially get lodged in her throat — a comforting factor — though there is still a risk of choking. A study conducted by Fangupo et al. (2016) concluded that infants following a baby-led approach to feeding do not appear more likely to choke than infants who are spoon-fed, but here in the US where spoon-feeding is still the norm, going against the grain is intimidating. We are armed with the knowledge of infant CPR, and pray that we will never need to employ it. We are pretty nervous, but have a feeling that Kaia will enjoy herself.


Things I want to remember

  • How she approaches me with her mouth open, making a “hoo” sound when it’s time for nursing
  • The way she blows raspberries as her primary mode of communication
  • Her big gummy smile when Alex comes home from work
  • How she leans back in my arms to look at me when I talk to her
  • Her little arms around my neck when I pick her up
  • The squeals she makes when one of her favorite songs starts playing
  • The way she smiles when she sees me

We love our girl so much, and love being her parents.

Everyday Life

Running toward light

December 31, 2016

2016 was a journey.

I spent most of the year walking trails filled with sadness and fear, with an unsurmountable mountain of anxiety always looming ahead. I carried a heavy pack, stuffed and bursting at the seams with grief due to the loss of my grandparents, the loss of my first pregnancy, and the loss of the trust in myself, my body, and life itself. I spent countless hours in therapy, many in a hospital due to dehydration (the inability to keep down food or liquids for the first half of my pregnancy was to blame), and much of my time on the couch, curled into a ball, crippled with fear.

Although I was overjoyed to be expecting our first child, there were many times where I lost sight of that joy as I stumbled along the path, in the thickest of fogs, to the month of August (when I was due to give birth), and what felt like the end of my life’s journey. I was filled with such doubt. Doubt that I would survive, doubt that my baby would survive, doubt that my body could do something — anything — right in regards to bringing a person into the world, doubt that I would ever feel like myself again, doubt that I would ever escape from the lightless world I inhabited alone.

It took 41 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, 36 hours of labor, and 45 minutes of pushing before I emerged from the darkness on the night of September 1st. In an instant I had no more doubt, and in that moment, I felt no more grief. I faced and overcame my biggest fear, and once I did, I was filled with an unrivaled sense of relief. The skies cleared, the sun rose once more — there was never a night so bright.

During 2016, most of my dreams involved me running. Sometimes I would be running into nothingness, or running away from a bear on the side of a dark and narrow highway, or around the high school track in Bethesda, MD. Sometimes I’d be running in Radburn Park, or up the stairs of the Empire State Building, or down the street we lived on in Georgia. I was always running, and seemingly always running away from something. Maybe I was running from fear. Maybe I was running from the life I knew so well into unfamiliar territory. But maybe I wasn’t running from anything at all. Perhaps I was running toward a better life, or toward a new self, or toward the light — this light that now fills my life — I was so desperate to find in the midst of my despair.<

This year was a struggle, but when I squint through the fog, the never ending darkness, the confusion, the fear, the heavy sadness — I can see that there is so much beauty, and so much to be grateful for.

2016 brought me to my beautiful daughter, the most magnificent human I have ever met. It brought me to motherhood, a deeper purpose in my life, and the filling of a hole in my heart I wasn’t aware existed. It showed me that I am capable of doing hard things, and taught me to have faith that the destination can be great even if the journey is perilous. 2016 allowed me to grow as a person, gave me a renewed appreciation for life, taught me that there are some things that I just cannot control, and that it’s possible to go on without it. I confronted my deepest fears, and learned that just because I haven’t done something before doesn’t mean that I cannot. I discovered the ability to embrace change even when it’s chaotic and terrifying, knowing that it allows for growth.

I’m starting the new year with a calm spirit and excitement for the future. I know that I am up for any adventure, and that I can navigate any obstacle. I know that although everything in this life is a wild unknown — I’ve got this. I’m holding fast to a trust in life, and the knowledge that whatever happens this year will lead me to where I am meant to be.

Here’s to a new year, a new start, and new opportunities. Here’s to growth, and lessons learned, and change. Here’s to facing fear, and having trust, and climbing our mountains to whatever summits await us.

Everyday Life

Our rainbow to keep

September 19, 2016

Alex and I are thrilled to have welcomed our daughter, Kaia, into our family earlier this month.

On the morning of my scheduled induction, I was admitted into the hospital in active labor. Twelve hours later, with the help of Alex, a doula, a midwife, and a nurse, I brought our little girl into the world.

Labor was much more intense than Alex or I expected, but I survived, and I love when that happens. I’m so grateful for the prenatal care I received, my good health, and everyone who assisted me while laboring and delivering which made that outcome possible.

Life with a newborn has been wonderful. It’s less exhausting than we thought it would be (we get at least 8 hours of sleep a night), and so much better than we ever imagined. Kaia’s arrival is the most wonderful thing that has happened to us, and Alex and I agree that we couldn’t love anyone or anything more than we love her. She is beyond compare.

We have spent the last few weeks getting to know our little one, soaking up newborn cuddles, and enjoying our new role as parents. So far, this experience is like everyone said it would be: simply the best.

Everyday Life

I gave birth! (just kidding, that’ll never actually happen)

August 26, 2016

I’m 41 weeks pregnant. There are no words.

My journey through pregnancy

The moment I woke up at 40 weeks pregnant

7 days later, what is currently happening in my body

How I’m feeling these days

How Alex is feeling as he watches his wife become increasingly pregnant and miserable

When I’m climbing into bed after yet another day of no labor

My reaction every time someone asks me if the baby is coming, or if it’s time yet

When a friend tries to console me by telling me that this will all be over soon

My reaction when my midwife answers with what essentially amounts to “maybe” when I ask if my contractions should feel different than menstrual cramps

When someone due several weeks after me announces that they gave birth

Walking into yet another midwife appointment at 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant

Not getting the news I was hoping for in regards to my “progress”

Finding out during the NST that I’m actually having contractions which could maybe, possibly, magically be doing something to progress this whole situation

When I ask my midwife when I can not be pregnant anymore

When my midwife throws me a bone with the words “induction” and “next week”

When someone tells me to do what I have already done as a means to start labor

What I tell myself to feel better about being overdue

When the person scheduling my 41+3 appointment repeats several times that I might not make it until then

Waking up at 41 weeks pregnant

How I feel during conversations with anyone since I surpassed 40 weeks

 Whenever I take a step, or lift a leg, or get in the car, or get up from a chair

One of the many reasons I don’t sleep well these days

When someone 35 weeks along complains that they are still pregnant and want their baby

When I need to take the dog outside but I can barely walk because I’m in so much pain

When I see people with their newborns

My plans for the weekend knowing that my body has no intention on giving birth

How I feel about going into another week still pregnant, and about next week in general

When I finally and miraculously go into labor

The TL;DR for this entire post

Everyday Life, Hard Stuff, Pregnancy

An ache that ages but never fades

May 13, 2016

*This blog post is a jumbled, and possibly unintelligible spilling of raw thoughts and emotions. In other words: this is “real talk.” It feels a little awkward to write about this — again — publicly, but it’s equally awkward to pass this milestone without giving it any acknowledgement. As with almost everything, I’ve decided to say “to hell with it,” and just proceed, even if I do so in such a way that would make my high school English teacher cringe. We’ll see how it goes…*

It has been six months since I last heard myself wail with grief, six months since I collapsed on my living room floor, crawled to the front door like it was somehow an exit from my reality, and sobbed until I couldn’t produce another tear. It has been 6 months since I got the news: I was miscarrying my first pregnancy.

It still feels like this was weeks ago, not half a year. Even now, I still can’t believe it really happened. But nothing can undo these truths: I’m not having a full-term baby in July, I’m 26 weeks pregnant with a completely different human that is due in August, and there are pieces of paper I have to read at every doctor appointment reminding me of the fact that I have now been pregnant twice. My life has been changed enormously, so many dreams and hopes for the future have been lost, and I am not the person I was in November.

One week I am excited about this pregnancy and the new future I have ahead. The next, I am crying angry tears because someone who I imagined would be with me now, someone I wanted to meet, is not a tangible part of my life anymore. I still don’t know how my heart is feeling. I’m fine on the outside, but on the inside, I’m a kaleidoscope of emotion — not all of which are particularly pleasant, and color me anything but “fine.” I miss the baby we lost in November. I often wonder if they were male or female, what they would have been like. I think about them all the time. But I feel a deep sense of love for the baby girl I am carrying, and this pregnancy — despite its hard times — is very meaningful to me. I didn’t realize until the loss just how delicate this process is, and just how much it means to be able to carry a child until the second trimester, or until viability, or until delivery — given the astonishing odds that we may not be able to do so (~1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage).  I am part of both the lucky and unlucky groups of people, living in a purgatory I never truly imagined I would experience, even when I knew it was a distinct possibility.

Over the past 6 months I have climbed to the highest summits, and drowned in the deepest seas. I do it just about every day, actually. Every time I feel a tightening in my stomach or a non-specific cramp in my belly, I have to dislodge my heart from my throat and tuck it back into my chest. I can’t feel a single thing out of the ordinary and not immediately jump to horrible conclusions. Every time I feel the baby kick me so hard that the hand resting on my stomach jumps upward — the relief I feel is monumental — like taking that first breath after spending two minutes under water. It is that constant tension between the highs and the lows, and the panic and the joy, that makes my heart grow weary. It is knowing that my body has both betrayed and cooperated with me that has robbed me of trust. Even when things were going horribly wrong (I was miscarrying), things still felt like they were going right (I had morning sickness and was not bleeding). There is nothing steady to hold on to in the tsunami of a pregnancy after loss, and treading its churning water is exhausting.

Guilt blankets everything I feel. When I am happy, it eats at me. Am I allowed to be happy when the future is always uncertain? Does happiness mean I am “moving on” when I’m just not ready to do that? Does moving on mean saying goodbye, or even worse, forgetting? The loss colors the happiness of this new pregnancy a shade darker. I don’t want to forget it or pretend that it didn’t happen. That doesn’t feel right. But it also doesn’t feel right to let all of yesterday’s clouds to cover today’s clear skies. I don’t want this pregnancy and this baby to be somehow, always, about what we lost. That doesn’t feel like honoring or doing justice to any of these children or any of these experiences.

Grief is mysterious and complicated. Sadness doesn’t mean the absence of joy. Acknowledging the bad doesn’t mean dismissing the good. I’m still trying to figure it all out.

In hindsight, I didn’t let myself grieve for anywhere near long enough (for my own health) before embarking on a new journey. I saw two new pink lines on a pregnancy test just four weeks after our loss. I tried desperately to substitute one pregnancy with another, to bury the loss in the depths of my heart, to hide it and speak of it only in certain company. But no amount of substituting, burying, or hiding, would stop the memory of the miscarriage from screaming at me, or ringing in my ears like a heartbeat under the floorboards until it drives me mad. I have lost something I cannot replace. My heart is still broken.

Even then, I have gained something so unfathomably wonderful that my heart soars. I could have never predicted the cheer of anticipating a daughter, or of seeing her tiny features in black and white. I don’t sit for hours everyday with my head in my hands. I don’t walk the streets with tears pouring down my face. I appreciate the baby and the pregnancy I have — I really do — but no matter how much I appreciate this pregnancy, and no matter how happy I am, I cannot help but to be reminded of the one that ended. I don’t do it consciously. I’m not trying to be miserable. It’s a confusing space. Why my brain does this is just another mystery. It’s something that cannot be fully articulated or summed up in a blog post — it’s one of those things that needs to be felt to be truly understood.

I wish this had never happened. It is one of the hardest experiences I have ever had to endure.

But I like to think that this will allow me to be a better therapist. The more I know of depression, or grief, or a whole host of experiences, the more I can empathize. There has to be something good to come of this. But maybe that’s not true at all. Maybe not all bad things have to teach us something good. Maybe saying that is a way to ignore or even invalidate one’s painful experiences. Maybe this didn’t happen for any particular reason. Maybe the why is unimportant. Maybe not every story has a happy ending. Maybe the positive meaning, if any can be drawn from this, will always remain a mystery.

Though I might not be able to see the positivity of experiencing such a tremendous loss, I have regained the ability to see the positivity in what I have gained only because I have gone through that loss. I have recently started to feel truly connected to this pregnancy, because I have finally developed the capacity to see this having a positive outcome. It began when I had a dream about my grandpa, my first since he passed. In this dream, my grandpa and I had a very short conversation. I said that I missed him, that I was so glad to see him, and that I was so happy he was here. He smiled at me, and told me that he was happy to see me too, then added, still smiling, “but you know I’m not really here” (which I interpreted to mean physically). He winked at me, and I let just a moment pass before I reached out and hugged him. That hug felt so real. I woke up afterward feeling oddly comforted, and with a clarity and a hope I haven’t had in so long. Some people interpret a dream with these themes to mean that great changes are ahead, and someone is coming along in the future to help you process the loss. It was after this dream and learning about this particular interpretation that things started to fall into place for me. My mindset about the future began to change. August will undoubtedly bring great change, and I am going to meet someone new: our daughter. I know her presence will serve as the light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. All it took was that dream and I could suddenly imagine a successful outcome of pregnancy and childbirth, I could imagine holding my child for the first time, I could imagine going home and starting our lives as a family. While the past and that what-could-have-beens were taken, never to come to fruition, none of it can diminish the bright future that lies ahead. That future might not be certain, but it exists in some capacity. The path that leads to it might be fraught with grief, but the destination could well be worth the hard travel to get there.

I wanted to tell you that I — we — are okay, but that we haven’t forgotten. I wanted to tell you that this is a complicated journey filled with excitement and sorrow. I wanted to say that we love our daughter, and know we are so lucky. I wanted to say that I miss and love our little “blue zebra” (they probably take after their dad…), our daughter’s brother or sister, so very much that my heart physically aches. But even then, I have hope. I have hope that one day, all that I feel will make more sense. I have hope that this pain isn’t the end of our story. I have hope that the grey skies and rain will clear to reveal the rainbow we long for. I have hope, period.

***

“Mysteries, Yes”

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity,
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

-Mary Oliver

Everyday Life

Nine Years

April 7, 2016

To the one who makes me laugh,
who makes up a new name for me every morning,
wears at least 2 shades of blue a day (eyes count, unfortunately for you),
who has a contagious laugh,
is courageous no matter the circumstances,
but never foolhardy.
Who can cook like a pro,
loves portobello mushroom ravioli,
and who can’t refuse a fish taco if it’s on the menu.

To the one who takes the dog out over half the time,
and handles the cleaning and the groceries just because I’m pregnant,
and says that he actually wants to do so.
Who laughs at my stupid songs and raps
who looks at me with shock and admiration when I bust out one of Biggie’s,
and doesn’t think I’m lame when I cry while listening to “Jersey Girl.”
Who finds the best new songs,
and shows me the best gifs.
Who uses his whole arm while playing foosball (to generate the most power possible),
and can hit a ping pong ball from behind his back.

To the one who gives the best hugs
and says all the right things.
Who always puts me first,
and does everything in his power to make feel loved, important, heard, and safe every day.
Who is everyone’s friend
loves the little things in life,
and who never fails to make me feel a little braver than I actually am.

To my amazing,
loving,
warm-hearted,
smart,
empathetic,
funny
and wonderful husband —
my very best friend.

Happy anniversary,  Alex!

You are my life raft, the only one who can turn around any bad day, and the reason why I have had the courage to do big things. I am what I am today because you have been by my side. I cannot imagine my life without you, and could never have dreamed of a better husband or father for our daughter. The universe certainly looked kindly upon me on the day I met you, and I’ll never understand how I managed to get so lucky.  If it wasn’t for you, not only would I not know the kind of happiness that I do today, but I also wouldn’t have ever tried a taco from Taco Bell, heard of an oatmeal pie, or probably noticed that there were people who existed who said “mary,” “merry,” and “marry” the exact same way. 😉 You changed my life, and I love you more than anything in this world. Thank you for nine amazing years. Here’s to many more.

Everyday Life

Lies I Tell Myself (the late January edition)

January 28, 2016

I probably won’t need my rain jacket.

I probably won’t regret not wearing my rain boots.

If we take the dog to daycare today, she will somehow become so exhausted that we’ll reap the benefits even tomorrow. She will be calm, and sleepy, and not crazy!

If not, this kong will keep her occupied for at least 20 minutes.

I don’t need to write down the date and time of that meeting, I have a mind like a steel trap.

If I stay awake until I can’t keep my eyes open, I won’t wake up every 1-2 hours in the middle of the night.

Tourists probably aren’t here in the middle of January, so it’s safe to go to Pike Place Market to buy some pepper jelly.

The dryer is basically an iron.

I’ll do ____ later.

Anxiety: it’s okay, it’s just a feeling, and today is the day it’s going to go away.

The Giants might make it to the super bowl next year.

Moving to the suburbs would be okay, and we won’t mourn our ability to walk to work for too long.

I won’t exhaust all of my social energy by “grabbing lunch” or “grabbing coffee” with “only” four people this week.

I’ll take a 5 minute internet-surfing break and get right back to work.

I’m a perfectionist because I want to attain the highest level of personal achievement that I can, not because I struggle with feelings of inferiority.

The only thing I’ve eaten today was a mint and an ice cube: I can spring for the third slice of pizza.

I’ll start making a real effort to post on the blog more often.