She’s almost ONE!

I must have fallen into the rabbit hole as soon as I gave birth because this (nearly) year has gone by so incredibly fast. The other day when I asked my husband if he could believe our baby girl is about to turn one… he looked stunned (although, of course we know she is and we talk about it all the time). He said, “I remember the day she was born like it was five minutes ago!” and then this faraway look came over his face. Yep. It’s insane how everything pre-baby seemed like f-o-r-e-v-e-r and everything post baby is super time-warped. People can say, “It goes by so fast!” until they are blue in the face, but until you experience it, you – my friend – have no idea.

Our little angel, who used to be so calm and mellow, has turned the proverbial developmental corner and now screams (I mean SCREAMS) the split second she doesn’t get exactly what she wants. And what she wants is often completely arbitrary — or at least, it’s a mystery to us. A few days ago, she was happily playing in her play area in the den. She decided to crawl around and when she arrived at her playpen (which was blocking access to the kitchen) she screamed bloody murder! Two seconds before, she’d been a smiling, happy little muffin (that’s what I’ve been calling her these days). My nicknames go through phases… and I find that they spill over to people I love. So now I call my husband “Muffin” too!

She’s doing so many amazing things (well, to me, they’re amazing!) and I’m such a proud Mommy. She can stand and sit like a champ and can also “cruise” or walk, holding onto furniture. A few times, I’ve seen her stand completely on her own and I’m convinced she’ll be walking by her birthday – squeal! She is so cute that I find it really, really difficult to give her soft kisses. I tend to give big loud kisses and squeeze her all over. I have to fight the urge to just bite chunks of cute baby all the time. Okay, I know that must sound odd, but I’m sure I’m not the only one… right?

We’re planning a small, family only, get together for her on her actual birthday. And, I have to say, this is the first party in my life that I’m actually excited about planning. I don’t think I paid this much attention to my wedding – lol. Yesterday, I was reading a baby article to my hubby as he was washing our dishes (yay, me!) and it said something about toddler behavior. Naturally, we’ve come across the word “toddler” a million times, but neither one of us was sure when exactly toddlerhood began. So, I googled it and it turns out that the official toddler era is from 12 to 36 months. When the realization sunk in that our little bundle of preciousness only had another month of being a BABY, it was just too much to take. Mommy & Daddy had a little pity party for ourselves. We have so loved her babyhood and aren’t even close to ready to say goodbye. I can’t believe she’s going to be a toddler now. This whole growing up thing sure is painful… for the parents!

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Baby Update – 8 1/2 Months

I’ve been trying to get to the computer to write an update for nearly 6 weeks now (this was meant to be a 7th month update!) but time is such a precious commodity and energy seems even more so. As it is, I’ll probably be writing this in increments and publish when I’m all done. Did I already mention that my blog will end in October, after my baby’s first birthday? I may start another one after that — or not — we’ll see. I may want to when we start trying for baby number two. I imagine it will be strange returning to fertility clinics and procedures after already having failed several times, but more importantly, having succeeded one miraculous time. I feel so lucky. We have been so blessed.

My biggest surprise about parenting has to be how incredibly fast time goes by. And, this is coming from a person who has very consciously savored every moment. I feel guilty if I sneak a peek at a t.v. set or look at Facebook on my phone while she’s awake … because I’m not completely engrossed in the moment with my daughter. Yesterday, I picked her up from the changing table and scooped her into my arms, hugging her tightly, and said to her her, “Time is going by so fast, it’s making my head spin!” I was extremely emotional and teary. Sometimes, it really feels like I put her down for a nap and by the time I go back to pick her up, she’s grown or matured in some way. It is SO FAST! I want to hold on to my baby… I want her to slow down. I miss those days when she used to fall asleep on my shoulder for an hour! Now, I cherish the few seconds or minutes she falls asleep on me before I transfer her to her crib. So. Much. Distance.

I’m not sure I can even remember all the ways she’s changed since the 5 month update. Let’s see…. At around 6 months, her two front (lower) teeth came in. I hadn’t really believed my mother-in-law when she told me that my husband didn’t make a big fuss when his baby teeth came in, but lo and behold, my baby was the same way. I was expecting screaming, crying, and sleepless nights for the whole family. Instead, she seemed a bit cranky, clingy, and wanted to nurse (and sleep) more. Win! (Too bad that “sleep more” thing was only temporary, though.)

Just about the same time, the doc had us start her on solids (baby oatmeal, for starters). She took to solids like a champ. My kid loves to eat! I hear all these stories about babies spitting the food back, but not my little eater. She has yet to turn down food. My favorite thing about her eating (okay, two things, actually) is #1 – the way she opens her mouth super-wide, like a little baby bird in the nest and #2 – when she’s got food all over her face and she gives me a big, toothy grin in response to something I’ve done to make her laugh or smile. Ahhh, the simple joys of parenthood.

So far, in addition to oatmeal, we’ve given her: sweet potato, peas, carrots, kale, tofu, apples, pears, regular potato, broccoli, and corn. Last month, we also discovered her inexplicable love of cucumbers. Her two little teeth are enough to carve out all the flesh and leave the hard cucumber skin behind. It’s a great way to keep her busy & entertained for about 20 minutes, sometimes more. I try to remember to take a cucumber with me whenever we go out — that and a pacifier will buy me maybe 40 minutes of quiet time. I never knew how precious info like this would be!

Sometime around 6 months, when we went in for our monthly checkup, the doctor told us that her feet were curving too far inward. We’d been massaging them like he instructed for months, but the doc said they hadn’t improved enough – especially the right foot – and we had to get special shoes for her. They were these big, clunky, horrible clown shoes that looked like they were being worn on the wrong foot. And to top it all off, she had to be in them for 22 hours a day! The first day we put them on her, I had to hide my tears. I would cry whenever she couldn’t see me. It was so sad to see my beautiful and perfect girl in these awful shoes. Luckily, after eight whole weeks, the doc decided her feet had improved enough and she could get rid of the clodhoppers. My husband and I were over the moon! Our little girl’s chubby feet are so adorable, that it felt like a real sin to have them covered all the time.

Her sleep… oh, man, I could write an entire book about our trials and tribulations regarding getting our little one to sleep. Let’s just summarize by saying we tried absolutely everything — twice! We even went so far as to attempt complete extinction (otherwise known as Cry It Out / last resort) for nearly four weeks, but our stubborn little cherub, despite going to bed & taking her naps without much fuss, insisted on waking up with a burst of energy at 4 am every single morning. Nothing — and I really mean nothing — we did was ever able to change that. Miraculously, three times this week, she’s woken up between 5:30 and 6 am. I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’m hoping and praying that something has shifted and I will soon be able to sleep through the night. I say “I” and not “we” here because her father has always been able to sleep through the night. He can sleep through her screaming. It’s uncanny. I’ll never understand how Dads can do this… I’ve never met a Mom who could!

A couple of days before Mother’s Day, she said her first word: Mama! I wasn’t absolutely sure I heard her correctly because she only said it once… but since then, she’s been saying it all the time. I know she doesn’t know that it means me, but it’s still nice to hear. I keep trying to get her to say “Dada” now, but she’s not having any of it! So, “Mamamama” it is! I can’t wait to hear what words she’s going to say next. There’s a part of me that’s hoping it’s something really impressive.

I try my hardest not to compare her to other babies, as I’ve been warned that’s a recipe for disaster. It would be dishonest to say I haven’t noticed the differences, such as my friend’s baby who is three weeks older and has been crawling and pulling herself up to a standing position for a good five weeks now, but I can say that I’m not freaking out over the milestones. I mean, my baby has a gorgeous head of hair and teeth… and the most pinch-able apple cheeks you’ve ever seen. One cannot have everything. In fact, as soon as she starts crawling, I’ll be forced to be a lot more active, so I’m really okay to wait. Currently, she gets around by a series of well-coordinated routine of rolling over and sitting up. It doesn’t sound like much, but she can go pretty far.

Her newest skill is turning the pages of board books by herself and feeling textures in the touch & feel books. She just loves her books. I hope that’s something she never outgrows. In her moments of tantrum, she is quieted by chewing on either my cell phone, the remote control, or sharp edges of our no-petroleum jelly tube — these are all things I hope she does outgrow!

I’m sure I’ve left things out… that’s bound to happen when you’re pressed for time and still working to make up the huge sleep debt I’ve accumulated, but this will have to do for tonight. I hope my baby girl will know, someday, how much I am enchanted by every aspect of her and how very much her father and I love her.

Birth Story [Part 2… long and graphic]

The doctor says, “Get her oxygen, now!” A nurse straps the oxygen mask onto my face and instructs me to take deep breaths. My doctor says, “Breathe the oxygen down to your baby!” So I breathe, deep, quick breaths, visualizing the oxygen going to the baby. I don’t really know what is going on.

There I am with all five nurses, my doula, my husband, and the doctor (who usually doesn’t show up until the delivery) hovering over either me or the monitor showing the baby’s heart rate & my contractions, and I’m still trying to figure out what the hell is going on! Someone (I don’t remember who) tells me the baby’s heart rate has decelerated — apparently to a dangerously low level. They decide to insert an internal fetal monitor. I remember seeing one of these at the baby prep class… and a part of it actually goes into the baby’s scalp so they can accurately monitor her heart rate, since the external monitor is not nearly as accurate. It freaks me out a little, but at that point, I want them to do whatever it takes to make sure my baby is okay.

The whole chaotic mess lasts about 5 minutes before my relieved doctor announces that the baby’s heart rate is back to normal and she’s happy that the baby was able to recover so quickly. I still have no idea what happened or what it meant, but my husband has now gone ghost white and is covering his mouth with his hand, as if he’s still in some terrible shock. In fact, the look on his face is scaring me more than anything else. The doctor steps out and my husband rushes after her. This worries me as I wonder if there’s something they’re not telling me.

When they return to the room, the doctor explains that the baby’s heart rate dropped so low that she wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her brain, which is why they gave me extra oxygen. My husband is beside himself because he’s worried our daughter will have some type of brain damage. Our doctor reassures him over and over that the baby has more than a 5 minute supply of oxygen and no damage has been done… but she also stresses that we can’t afford another episode of the same. She says she doesn’t know if the baby’s head is too big for the birth canal or if the baby has a cord wrapped around her neck, but the monitors show that whenever I have a contraction and the baby’s head descends, that her heart rate slows down. She tells me that because she knows how much I want a vaginal birth… and I’ve already worked so long… that she’s going to monitor us for half an hour and see how well the baby tolerates my contractions.

“If she’s not tolerating them well, I’m not going to let her decel again – we’ll get this baby out!” she says. And by that time, I’m so afraid that some last minute tragedy is going to occur and that my husband’s long-time fear of us having an impaired child is going to come to pass, that I actually just want the doctor to wheel me in to the surgery room and get the baby out immediately. But I don’t say anything – partly out of shock and partly because I’ve now mentally/emotionally handed over all decision making power to my doctor. And I pray, with all my heart, that my baby is born healthy. This is the first time in my life that I have known real fear.

The baby doesn’t seem to be doing well, but not poorly enough to rush me into a C-Section, either. Everyone in the room is now staring intently at the monitors. No one is looking at me. Except for my husband, it almost seems like no one even knows I’m there. At a certain point, the baby isn’t tolerating labor even in between contractions. My doctor is trying to wait it out… and then notices that I haven’t had a contraction in a while.

At nearly 29 hours of labor, my uterus has reached fatigue and stopped contracting. There’s nowhere else to go now, and a C-Section is imminent. The nurses have been prepping the surgery room and now they prep me… putting me into a hospital gown and covering my hair with a surgical bonnet… then wheeling me into the O.R. My husband and the doula are given scrubs as well.

I’m in the surgery room and everything feels a bit surreal. Oddly, the operating lights overhead give me a feeling a familiarity – I looked up at similar lights during every egg retrieval. I find this thought strangely comforting. From beginning to end, this entire process seems to come full circle.

The anesthesiologist is there, ready to connect me to the morphine drip. His droll humor is now amusing. It’s something to focus on in the quiet, sterile environment. As he adds the morphine to the epidural, I begin to convulse. I feel like a fish out of water, flailing everywhere. To me, the convulsions feel violent and uncontrollable. My teeth start to chatter. He asks me if I’m cold. I can barely stop them long enough to form the word, “No.”

I take a closer look at the light fixture above me and notice it has a smooth metallic disc in the center, serving as a makeshift mirror, and the way it’s positioned, I can see exactly what’s happening on the other side of the “germ guard” they put up. “The nurses are going to prep you now,” someone says, and I watch them swab Betadine over my belly. I realize that I could watch my entire surgery. How could they not know? I quickly make the decision to close my eyes, fearing that seeing what’s happening to me will somehow make me feel it, too.

My husband and the doula arrive in their scrubs. My husband is seated next to me. He strokes my cheek and tells me I’m doing really well. The doctor’s assistant warns of an unpleasant smell. It’s flesh burning. It’s my flesh, as they cauterize the incision. It’s a very peculiar sensation to be conscious during surgery.

The operation lasts about 15 minutes, with all kinds of minor chatter. The anesthesiologist asks if we have a name for the baby and my husband says, “Yes. Samantha!” I smile. Because we hadn’t officially come to any conclusion, but earlier Friday morning, I had mentioned that I was really leaning toward “Samantha.” I guess 30 hours of labor will get me whatever name I want!

A few minutes later, the doctor says, “Yep, she’s got the cord wrapped around her neck! So that’s what was happening!” Then the doctor says, “Are you ready to meet your daughter? She’s coming!” And she pulls a very pink and healthy baby Samantha out! The anesthesiologist holds up a mirror so I can see my baby over the germ guard. But he doesn’t realize that I can also see behind the baby at the gaping hole in my body. I can see my skin cut open, the blood, the layers of tissue and fat, and the huge open gash. Luckily, seeing it does not make me feel the pain.

I turn my gaze back to my daughter. I’m overwhelmed. Crying. Convulsing. My husband keeps saying, “Oh my God, she is so beautiful!” in a voice that makes me cry even now as I remember it, because it was so full of unadulterated love. Even the doctor says she’s beautiful and quickly adds, “and I don’t say that to all my patients!”

She is beautiful. None of it seems real… but there she is, this beautiful creature of ours. Nurses are cleaning and weighing her. One of them asks my husband if he wants to cut her umbilical cord… yet another aspect of my birth plan goes by the wayside, as they were supposed to wait until the cord stopped pulsating before severing it. But it doesn’t matter… nothing matters other than the fact that we have a healthy baby!

The anesthesiologist arranges for photographs with me, my husband, and Samantha. They bring her close to me and she opens her eyes and gazes into mine. I am so in love already. I’m crying… still shaking… but so happy now that my family is all together and that everything has turned out alright. I tell her I love her. My husband sings to her — the same song he sang every single night when she was inside me: “My Girl.” For a moment, no one else exists. We are in our own brand new cocoon. The world is perfect.

When they take Samantha away, my husband follows her. I am still being sewn up on the table. Later, my husband tells me that when was on the other side of the germ guard, he saw me laying there, wide open, with my guts piled onto two separate tables. He says he’s never seen anything like that outside of a horror film where a zombie gets disemboweled. (Lovely image, no?) No. It’s brutal. This entire process has been remarkably so.

Eventually, I get wheeled to a recovery room. I still can’t move my legs and my belly feels sore. Thank God my doula was there with me, otherwise, I would have been completely alone. It’s a very strange feeling to have gone through all that… to give birth and then not have a chance to hold your baby.

When they finally brought her to me, I was overjoyed. I took her into my arms and marveled at her fine features. Her little nose, her big eyes, her chubby cheeks… and her little hands. And just as I touched her little hand, one distinct middle finger rose up to greet me. I turned to my doula and said, “Is she seriously flipping me off right now?” And she burst out laughing because it was undeniably true. My precious daughter’s very first communication to me was to give me the bird! It was hilarious. And I thought to myself, “Oh, she’s going to love this story when she becomes a teenager!”

Into the Rabbit Hole

Is it just me? How do people with a newborn get anything done – ever?!?! Thank goodness that I have my (amazing) husband to help out… but I only have him for another 10 days before he has to go back to work. I have no idea how I’m going to get anything done after that.

I know people always talk about how your life completely changes and you get no sleep and how the baby’s needs come before your own… and that all seems fine when you hear it. You think “I can do this!” But lo and behold, your life COMPLETELY changes and becomes unrecognizable — as do the days of the week or ever knowing what time it is. In fact, time loses all meaning. You operate in some strange, sleep-deprived alternate reality, barely able to hang on to any recognizable structure. It’s disorienting to say the least. Sleep is a distant memory… something you vaguely remember doing in more than 45 minute bursts a long, long time ago when you were child-free.

The baby feeds every 2 to 3 hours, but what it really looks like is this: feeding alarm goes off at 3 am (did you know you have to wake babies to feed them, at least initially?) – diaper change takes place first (because you’re hoping baby will be drowsy after feeding and magically go right to sleep – ha!) Easy diaper changes take only a few minutes, but it’s more likely that the baby will projectile poop as you’re changing her diaper and sometimes, not just once or twice. So, you go through 1, 2, or 3 diapers and manage to finally get her in a clean, dry diaper. Hooray! (She is screaming by now because, well, you woke her up – it’s cold and uncomfortable – and you introduced a wet wipe to her privates. Nobody likes that!)

Then the feeding commences. You have to have her properly positioned, which requires lots of pillows – and, in my case, since she can’t rest on my C-Section scars (or belly in general) it’s a little tougher. I can only use the “football hold” for breastfeeding now. Although, I started using the My Breast Friend pillow this morning which works quite well. Our baby girl generally feeds for 20 minutes on each breast, with a five minute burping interval in between sides. This is the part where I either try not to nod off, if I’m really sleepy… or alternately, stare at my baby in complete wonder, adoration, and gratitude for the miracle she is. These are love-filled, bonding moments. And I realize that what people told me is true: I can’t imagine life without her now.

If I’m lucky, I won’t have any issues with breastfeeding – other than sore nipples – as sometimes she falls asleep and is nearly impossible to rouse. (This is a bad thing because it shortens my 3 hr interval between feedings as she’ll be hungry sooner.) When the feeding is done, I burp her and swaddle her tightly. She absolutely hates the process of swaddling, but it’s our best chance at a calm baby afterwards. If she gets out of her swaddle, the shrill screaming isn’t far behind.

At least an hour has passed and now it’s 4 am. I still need to get baby to sleep before I can sleep. My mind starts counting down the hours. If I fall asleep now, I can get 2 whole hours before the next feeding! (This almost never happens.) What usually happens is one of two scenarios, either she’s screaming her head off for some unknown reason or she fakes sleeping for a good 5 minutes and I am lulled into a false sense of security before she starts whimpering, then crying, then screaming. Some nights, I get lucky and all the tricks from the “Happiest Baby on the Block” video actually work. Other nights, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more to get her to settle down and sleep. I try my best to fall asleep for whatever time I have left before I have to do it all over again.

At least once per night, hubby takes a screaming shift so that I can get some sleep. This makes me fall in love with him all over again! I have the BEST husband in the world!!!

I don’t get what people mean when they say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Um, yeah, I would love to. But when do I get to eat, use the restroom, take a shower, do the laundry?(Omigod, there is a TON of laundry all of a sudden and it’s all baby stuff!)

Oh, and speaking of “the baby’s needs come before your own” — I didn’t realize that actually looked something like this: I’ve had to pee for 4 hours but the baby is crying because she’s hungry and I now have to breastfeed for an hour before I can use the toilet or her screaming will wake up my sleeping husband whose been up with her all night! Or, I’m starving, but the baby needs to eat, poop, sleep, etc. and I haven’t had a chance to grab anything from the kitchen, let alone the luxury of a PB and J! It’s a good thing she’s as cute as she is because at the end of it all, you just look at her an melt and know, deep in your soul, that you would do anything for her.

I’m obviously ridiculously tired right now… but regardless of how any of this might sound, I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I love our little girl so much that I can hardly stand it. My husband and I are sooooo in love with her! It’s our mutual obsession. He says it has changed his perspective on life completely. He’s now afraid to die because he’s afraid of leaving her alone. All our priorities have shifted in a way that would only sound trite if I tried to describe it. I have never known real fear until now. The thought of anything happening to her is devastating beyond recognition. She holds our hearts. She is our world.

 

Super-quick Update…

I’m exhausted and clearly not equipped with enough arms for parenthood! I really, really want to write about my birth experience in detail (hopefully) soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to provide a quickie update.

After 6 months of coincidental clock checking at exactly 10:13 am and 10:13 pm, our daughter was born on October 13, 2012, exactly 13 minutes to midnight. She was born after 30 1/2 hours of labor (the first 24 without pain meds!) At 30 hrs of labor, we had a big scare and had to have an emergency c-section. I have mixed feelings about this, but no regrets about doing what was best to save my daughter’s life.

Luckily, she is perfect! And perfectly healthy. Born weighing 8 lbs. and 1 oz., measuring 19.75 inches… and, I have to say, utterly gorgeous!

Her parents are already madly in love with her! (If she lets mommy sleep a little bit more at night, detailed reports may come sooner rather than later!)

In Memoriam

As I write this, too early on a morning when I can’t sleep, my uncle is still alive. But today is the day the decision will be made to stop giving him medication (other than painkillers) – I think they call it “compassionate care” – and he will pass away anywhere from one to several days from now.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately and wanted to jot a few memories and impressions down, since our daughter will never know him, and the contrast of life within me and death outside me feels too poignant at the moment to ignore.

My uncle (my father’s second oldest brother) is and always was a mass of contradictions. He was borderline schizophrenic. Incredibly intelligent in some ways and unbelievably naive in others. He was, hands down, THE most inappropriate person I have ever known (of course, most of that simply could not be helped). He was many things, but one thing he was at all times was unfailingly honest, which made him in turn a delight and a terror to be around. You could always count on him to say something cringe-worthy… it either embarrassed you or you thought it was hilarious. Sometimes both.

When I was a child, I’d spend hours watching National Geographic with him – or any nature/animal related show on PBS. He transferred his love of the animal kingdom to me early on… along with his passion for conservation. These things, I will cherish. He was also a bit obsessive about not wasting water or paper as well as recycling everything. [Some of that has rubbed off on me, too – I go crazy when people waste paper towels or Kleenex – just ask my husband!]

My uncle was a devout Atheist. No joke – it was like a religion to him and he was active in Atheist organizations. As soon as I could write, he handed me stacks of money and instructed me to cross out the word “God” in “In God We Trust” and write in “Atheism” above it. I have a vague memory of this annoying my parents, but I don’t recall anyone putting a stop to it. My favorite was when evangelicals of any kind would knock on the door of his Hollywood home: Christians, Mormons, Jehova’s Witnesses, and the like. He relished challenging them and when they would try to hand him a pamphlet or book, he would immediately say, “I’ll buy your book if you buy mine!” and offer them a variety of materials from his Atheist organization. I have to admit, that still makes me chuckle. I’m no Atheist, but I have always admired the tactic.

A few days ago, when he was still alert, my dad told me there was a Korean priest who visited my uncle in the hospital and was trying to convince him to get “saved” before it was too late. He told me they’d been talking for hours and neither one showed any signs of changing their minds. I thought that was funny and kind of sad at the same time. Personally, even though I can believe it comes from a good place in a person, I think it’s the height of arrogance to push one’s beliefs on another human being, especially when they’re at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.

I remember when my husband first met my uncle. It was in Seattle, just over two years ago, when my favorite uncle (my dad’s oldest brother) passed away – some say from the cancer treatments that weakened his heart, but I think it was from a broken heart after the passing of his wife months prior. At any rate, I’d been telling my husband so many outrageous stories about my schizophrenic uncle that he couldn’t wait to meet him and see it all for himself. The afternoon my uncle flew in, I was with my dad, meeting with the real estate agents and attorney handling my uncle’s estate. We were at lunch. And I’ll never forget reading my husband’s text message letting me know my uncle had arrived: “The Korean woman sitting next to him on the plane was very nice, but she had no erotic juices.” I nearly spat out my Diet Coke!  It still makes me laugh to this day. That’s how my uncle talks… because that’s how he thinks. It’s crude, gross, funny, and always completely inappropriate – but the man has no filter.

Both of my uncles on my father’s side of the family, inherited their father’s “happiness gene.” (My grandfather’s tombstone reads “The happiest man in the world.” And by all accounts, he truly was.) My uncles were both happy nearly all the time, regardless of circumstances. My dad didn’t get those genes at all. He’s the worrier, the responsible one… and sadly (although I am grateful) the one left to take care of everyone else in life and death. So whether my uncle was ranting about religion, “Jew Judges” (a favorite topic of his after a difficult divorce and custody battle), sexual “hang-ups” (another favorite topic) or whatever was on his mind at the time, he was inherently jovial without a malicious impulse anywhere in his makeup.

I remember him once saying to me, over lunch with my dad and my other uncle, “There’s no reason for you to be so fat!” (I wasn’t fat, mind you.) But I was pissed off. And knowing that no one else was going to stand up for me or say anything, I quickly and sternly said, “You shut up! Nobody asked for your opinion.” There was a moment of complete silence at the table and then he smiled and laughed (even I was confused). And then he said, “I like that. I like that you put me in my place. I admire that.” And with that, all the tension was gone.

One of the saddest moments I had with him was in a conversation we had at the airport in Seattle. He was talking about his childhood and growing up and about some of his obsessive/compulsive behaviors, and it was obvious to me and my husband that my uncle was very aware of some of his shortcomings, and equally aware that he simply could not control his behavior or his thought process. I don’t know if it was a moment of clarity, or if that consciousness is always brimming under the surface, but it kind of broke our hearts a little. That’s quite a heavy burden for anyone to live with… to be aware, yet incapable of doing anything to change it.

In a few days at the latest, he’ll be gone and, I believe, for the first time in a long time, he’ll be free of all that imprisoned him here. He’ll be an amazing, happy, generous spirit. And someday, I’ll see him on the other side.

 

More “odds” than “ends”

Sometimes there’s a lot I want to talk about, but it doesn’t all go together. This is one of those posts!

So, I just read a snippet of Jesica’s blog “Just Smile and Blog” and I can 100% relate! She writes:

Normally I wouldn’t be one to put pictures of myself in my underwear up anywhere on the internet…or even a bikini… would never happen, but there’s something about this pregnant belly that makes your body feel like it’s not really YOUR body… and apparently that makes it ok.  Like it’s ok because I’m just this walking incubator right now NOT a real person.  This is not my real stomach, these are not my real boobs, IT ALL BELONGS TO BABY.  Hahaha, anyone else feel like this?  I know some people feel terribly unattractive and fat while they’re pregnant and I fully agree that in certain clothes I’m like UGH, am I really THAT wide?  But walking around in my underwear?  I feel really pretty and sexy and love my bump.

It’s only when I’m in clothing… and worse, have to go into the outside world that I start to feel big, fat, even unattractive at times. Like I’m supposed to look like a supermodel with a baby bump! But when I’m at home, or in my underwear, or naked walking into the shower… I feel beautiful! I just look at my belly and can’t stop smiling. I love the way it looks.

Just today, I thought… I should wear a bikini when I go swimming. (I haven’t worn a bikini since I was 15, mind you.) But there really is something about being pregnant – and maybe it is that it doesn’t completely feel like it’s my belly, that makes me love my body in a way I never did before. You know what? I’m not going to over think this. I’m just going to embrace it!

***

Next on the list of things to update is my mother-in-law. Remember about a month ago when she suggested we name our daughter Rhonda? And I was worried that calling the name “old-fashioned” might have offended her? Well… it looks like I can add her to the list of sensitive mothers. (So far, only my step-mother has succeeded in avoiding the list.)

My hubby calls his mom every Sunday on his way to work. Yesterday, she asked if we’d come up with a baby name yet. [I’ve decided that our pat answer to this should now be, “No, we’re waiting until she’s born.” Since that will probably be what happens anyway.]

He said we hadn’t and she went on to tell him just how much she still loves the name Rhonda…. “I know, Mom,” he says, and she proceeds to explain how it was such a shame that I didn’t like the name. “She said it was old!” his mother scoffs, and adds, “But I just think it’s so beautiful! Rhonda Lee.” (As if we needed to be reminded!) “Don’t worry, Mom, we’ll come up with something,” he tells her as he rushes to get off the phone.

I guess I need to learn how to lie a little more proficiently. Direct questions have always been my Achilles heel. Had she not asked, “Do you like the name?” I might have been able to swerve around the topic somehow. My husband is full of suggestions about what I could have said, but when lying (even white lies) is not in your nature, these glib retorts don’t roll off your tongue so easily.

He says she’s not offended, but I secretly think that when she’s not talking to us, she’s thinking, “I could have had a granddaughter named Rhonda if not for my meddling daughter-in-law!” Hahaha.

***

In other dramatic mother news…. I could call this “Crazy Mother part 3” but what’s the point? My mother, who is the craziest of them all, and the only person who can suck up all my energy in 2 seconds flat, is causing more problems and stress for me. So, what else is new?

Her new complaint is a doozy. I was talking to her last week (by which I mean that I was on the other end of the phone while she rattled off a long list of life-related complaints and chronicles of depression) when she said, “I’ve been meditating and I know now why I’m depressed.” “Why?” I asked partly out of boredom and partly out of duty. “We’ll talk about it another time,” she said, which – in my experience with her  signals a major red-flag warning – and I know I’ll be at the receiving end of said shit-storm. I groan. “Why? Is it something I did?” I reluctantly ask.

Finally, she gives in and says, “I feel that {insert step-mother’s name here} has replaced me as your mother!” I should have said, “Are you fucking kidding me, psycho?” But I actually said, “What?! What are you talking about?” And of course, I knew what was coming next. She’s the one who helped me plan the baby shower; she’s the one I turn to for advice on the party; she’s the one whose involved while my mother sits on the sidelines – blah, blah, blah.

This… coming from the woman who should be the one planning my baby shower, the woman to whom I gave every opportunity to help in even the smallest details and who categorically refused! I was livid and, in truth, ready for a fight. I reminded her that I had asked for her help and she had said, and I quote, “Can’t someone else do that?” And, so, someone else did! “But you didn’t even ask me if it was okay to go with her to pick out the things for the party rental,” she retorted, weakly. “I’m supposed to ask you for permission?” I said in a high-pitched, really getting pissed-off voice.

And a few minutes later, my agitated husband grabbed the phone and went to another room to have a word with my mother. Whatever else anyone can say about my husband, there’s no denying that he’s a diplomat of the highest order and a great, no, really GREAT bullshitter. And I mean that in the best possible way!

I really wanted a fight. I did. I was looking for an excuse to not talk to her for a long time (hell, any amount of time!) just so I could get some peace. But my husband was intent on putting out the flames. He explained to her that I was under a lot of stress and that whatever I feel, the baby feels (so, he does listen to me) and that keeping me calm was the most important thing for everyone to focus on right now. He did a lot of schmoozing for about 20 minutes before my mom finally calmed down. I was grateful… but still kind of regretted not getting that break I was looking forward to!

***

Well, that’s about it for my mad-cap adventures this week. Someday I will hopefully internalize the truism that you can’t make everyone happy. It is verifiably impossible. Maybe someday I’ll also learn not to let it all stress me out so much!

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