Saturday, January 30, 2010

2 weeks

He is perfect. His hands are beautiful, the fingers long and almost elegant. His hair is dark and full, his face exactly as I saw it when I dreamed of him. He is sweet, and sleepy, and loves his milk and snuggles.

Today my son is 2 weeks old.

I want to write that I was head over heels in love with him the first moment I saw him...but that would be a lie. I was terrified as the room filled with people, as they worked on him. I was in pain. And then I was...angry. Angry that I did not get to hold him right away, that his first feeding was formula, that I was hurting so damn badly.

In the hospital I was drugged. When I came home, I was focused on Lily and holding it together. My in-laws were here. I was trying to find a way around the physical pain, trying to recover. I held him, and I fed him, and I changed him, but in an odd way, I barely noticed him.

I felt guilty, because when I had Lily, I looked into her eyes, and I KNEW her. I had been waiting forever for her. And there she was, and I was lightning struck and in love within moments. I gazed at her for hours. Nothing kept my focus from her.

I wondered if I would ever feel that with Samuel. I waited for it.

And then...he opened his eyes the other night after his feeding. And he looked up at me. The world abruptly fell off a cliff as I stared into his eyes. I got chills as I whispered "Oh, THERE you are." He just looked up at me, and he knew me as well. It was a most sacred moment in the quiet. It was not lightning, it was not as bold or as breathless as I had with Lily, but it was exquisite.

So here we are, a family of four. We have spent the last week here at home, snuggling, playing, learning our new dynamic. I have spent it adjusting to being a mommy of 2. There has been very little sleep and some tears from all of us. But the moments I watch Lily kiss her brothers cheek, when I watch Mark take on the role of daddy again, changing diapers expertly, making bottles, rocking the baby, playing with Lily, I am so proud of who we are and how we have grown together. Samuel is the last piece of the puzzle, the one who makes the home complete.

And now I cannot stop gazing at him, tracing his fingers with mine. I cannot keep my lips from his forehead or my fingers from his hair. And I cannot help but feel my heart swelling as I look at his perfect face. I am utterly and totally in love with my son, the one I have waited for and longed for and prayed for.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A year away

The heartbeat was stilled, the soul gone. But he still is with is, and lives in us, forever.

Joshua, you will never be far from me. I love you. Someday...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And just like that...

Today was a good day. Manageable. Happy. I am sitting now with a sweet baby girl sleeping in her room, a baby boy sleeping on his daddy, and my laptop next to a warm cup of decaf.

Today was calm. I got out and a bout a bit, I got a great nap, and I prayed...alot.

I came to realize last night that I do not have to go about this on my own. I do not have to answer "I am fine." and put on a happy face when I don't feel it. I can ask for help. It is more courageous to do so than to not. It is not weakness to admit you can't do it all.

And I can't do it all. And that's okay.

My house is dusty. It is not picked up. Dishes are in the sink and flowers sit rotting in their vases. Trash cans are overflowing. But my baby girl laughed all day. She danced and sang. My boy slept all day while his sister danced around him. We all got out and got sunshine on our faces.

So this, for now, is what I can do. I can feed my boy and hold my girl. And I can throw a load of laundry in and scramble some eggs. And I can get through each moment knowing that if my kiddos are happy, warm, fed, and loved, my job is done. Everything else is icing.

I promise you one thing. I will never be less than honest here. It would be tough for me to admit if you asked me in person that I am struggling, but here is different. And if you struggled or are struggling, tell me. Be honest with me too. I know I can't be the only one. And I also know we are "supposed" to be fine. We are supposed to be so suffused with joy at the birth of a child that we cannot say anything negative.

But you know what? Joy in the first few days is fleeting. There are moments of intense beauty, but also sleeplessness and weepiness and insecurity.

So day 10 has come and gone. And I am trying to focus on blessings and what I CAN do rather than what I can't.

Here's to more days like this one.

Monday, January 25, 2010

In the mist

I am not myself these days. I can feel the disconnect from the rest of the world, a free floating feeling that takes over. My world has shrunk to my home and my family and my children. I am here, looking out. And it is as it is for every other mother in the world when they bring their second home, but I didn't know it would be this hard.

I am weepy from hormones. I have tracks along my arms from the countless IV sticks they gave me in the hospital. I am bruised and in pain. My back, shoulders and side hurt. It hurts to sit and it hurts to move. My breasts are full and aching and they bleed and split.

When I was in the hospital being induced, I spent the night alone. Mark had gone home to be with Lily. The room was quiet. The nurse came and went nearly silently as I sat and watched TV. I felt myself pulling away from the world, preparing myself for this new time in my life when I will not be as carefree. When I will be more tied down, busy and frazzled. I spent the night alternately crying and rubbing my belly. It was lonely...but it was also a freedom I hadn't had for nearly three years.

I had no idea that the first few days would be like this. I didn't know what to expect, really. I am happy holding my precious son, I am sad watching Lily adjust to this new life. She is my best friend and buddy and I feel as if I have betrayed her in a way. There is a polar opposite dynamic in almost all I do right now, and I am trying to find the balance.

Lily will be okay. She is loving and nurturing and smart. Samuel's needs are easy. But I am wondering if I will ever not be torn between the two and what is best or at the very least, what is not the worst. Am I making sense?

This past month has been a time of upheavals in our home. Mark has a new position which means less travel, but also less flexibility to help me when I need it. His hours are now much more rigid. Our home is on the market. And now a new baby.

I know I am supposed to get on here and tell you how dreamy this all is. But you know what? I can't. I won't pretend. This is not terrible, but it is difficult. I want to be everything to everyone, and it's just.not.possible. In the least. Somebody, for now, will always come up short. Whether it's Lily not getting to go to the park on a beautiful day, or Samuel not getting a bath everyday, there is going to be constant compromise. With Lily I could give 100% everyday. With two, I can only give 50%.

This is like moving through fog, through mist. It's figuring out what life looks like through a veil. There is such love and devotion here, but there is also frustration and sadness that I cannot give all to them both.

Nine days ago our family changed, grew, and became complete. I have never felt more love or more of my soul opening than now at this moment. God is stretching me, moving me to a place where I can grow as a mother and as a person. He is allowing me these feeling of inadequacy and confusion so that I can move to greater clarity. I have no doubt that life will turn, as it always does, and that things will fall into place as they always do. But I cannot say right now that it is easy. It is sacred and beautiful and exhausting and humbling. But it is mine. It is my experience, and my family, and my sweet little girl and my strong son. And together we will figure it all out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A new day

Friday began like any other day. But by 4:30, I was being admitted into the hospital to be induced. I was thrilled.

On Sat morning at 8:30, they began pitocin and I walked the halls. I walked myself to 3 cm within an hour and then returned to bed.

My OB predicted that when I dialated, it was going to be quick and suggested pain medication earlier than later. So by 4 CM and 10:30, I was receiving an epidural.

From the start the epi went badly. The needle hit a vein and my leg literally felt like it would explode. Once it was placed, however, and the pain meds administered, I felt wonderful. Euphoric. Sleepy. Happy. This lasted about 1 hour. Then feeling started slipping back. I could feel how sore my calves were. I could feel the contractions coming back. I could feel the tightening in my lower back, the slipping of the baby into place.

I sat up and discovered that the epi had slipped out. I had been receiving no medication for nearly 2 hours. They reconnected it and gave me a bolus of more pain meds, but it had already failed. There was no getting ahead of the pain.

From that point onward I felt everything, except for a 1 hour window after they gave me a 1/2 c-section dose of lidocaine.

I hit 9 1/2 cm at 8 PM. I wanted to push. They refused. I was feeling everything, and the pressure was the most intense thing I had EVER known. My world shrank to the pain only. In the end, I was simply sitting indian style, moaning and screaming and rocking until they agreed to let me push. This went on for nearly 3 hours.

There was hardly time for the doctor to get into the room. It felt so good to push that even when they told me to stop I couldn't. Samuel was born at 11:12 PM, after only a few hard contractions. The cord was around his neck.

I watched as the baby nurse worked on him, as people piled into the room. As the NICU team showed up. Their voices were hushed and their faces unreadable. I went from relief that it was over to terror as he didn't cry. 5 minutes passed, then 10. Mark went from Samuel to me, and at one point, everyone left my side to go to the baby. Those 2 minutes were easily the scariest of my life.

Suddenly, a cry. Small and wimpy and full of fluid. Then another, then suction. One by one, people left the room. My doc came back to me and began joking and smiling. I watched them as they kept working on the baby, but it was no longer with frantic precision, but with purpose. He was breathing, but shocked by the quick birth. His face was a mass of bruising. His blood sugars were low. I watched with a heavy heart as my precious baby's first feeding was administered- glucose and formula to boost his sugars.

I would like to tell you that when I held him for the first time, there was a chorus of angels. That the heavens opened and I fell in love. But that would not be true. The pain overrode everything, the intense after contractions in my back were like lightining. My blood sugar plummeted, and I was so pale and shaky Mark had to feed me.

They took me to the mother/baby wing. I was told that the baby would need to be in the nursery for the night because of his sugars and slow start. To tell you the truth, I was relieved. I took vicodin, Mark left, and I fell asleep.

I woke at 6 AM. The hall was quiet. I couldn't get out of bed, so I watched the sun come up through the shutters. And then, finally, like a wave it hit me. I have a boy. I have a son. And I NEED him. I have to get to him. I called the nurse and was told he had an incident in the night, turning dusky and needing suction and close supervision. He couldn't come to me.

I could have lain there and cried. I could have waited. But I didn't. I got up. It took an easy 10 minutes to make it to the bathroom. It took forever just to put on clean underwear. My leg was numb, but I slipped my feet into slippers and walked to the nursery. I held the handrail. I took one step at a time. But I made it.

When I saw my boy, my whole world shifted. I could not stop smiling. I sat in the rocker and put him to my breast. Without a moments hesitation, he latched on. His eyes were closed, but his little hand reached and laid on my breast. I have never felt such joy. All of the agony of my body faded.

His little head is covered in fine black hair. His eyes are gray. His feet and hands are perfect. His ears and nose are his father's. I looked him over again and again. My little boy, so hoped for and so loved, is here.

Recovery has been difficult this time. I lost alot of blood and have been very tired and a little lost. I am striking the balance between one child and the other, and it is difficult. But I am utterly in love with my family. It is perfect and complete.

And my little boy? The one I carried and wrote of and longed for and expected- he is perfect and a joy.

I am blessed. I am fufilled. And God is great and good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Samuel Elijah

01.16.10 @ 11:12 PM- Our little family became complete.

God is so very good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Pull

I am nearing 38 weeks now. Samuel is big and beautiful and healthy, and I am so grateful for that. My body, however, is starting to show some stress. High BP, and I am now on day 4 of a headache that won't quit. We have visited the hospital twice this week, and it's only wednesday. I'm on bedrest until he makes his grand appearance. All in all, it's nothing I didn't expect.

The thing I am struggling with most right now is having to give up a big part of my relationship with Lily- the day to day mundane feeding, dressing, errands, etc. I can't do it, and havent been able to since Sunday, when my headache hit. I am lucky that Mark is here, and lucky to have friends to help me.

But. I miss my girl. Right now, she just doesn't want anything to do with me, and while my mind understands this- after all, mommy is just lying in bed- my heart is shattering everytime she refuses to be near me. She wants to color and play and run around and watch tv and read books. All the things that I was able to do with her and cant now. She wants daddy. And he has stepped up and been so wonderful. I am very lucky.

But it's my job to take care of her. It's my job to dress her and read to her and make her lunch. I was born to be home and care for her. It's what my soul longs for. The guilt I feel is astronomical. She is drawing away from me and toward her father, and I know that that's okay. It's been really good for them. But for me it's hard to watch.

I am already feeling the pull between my two babies. Samuel needs me to rest right now, so he stays safe and continues to grow well. I need to rest so my BP doesn't spike and cause me trouble. But my sweet little Lily is lost to me in the process.

I know that this is temporary, and soon enough I will be able to run and chase and take her to the park again. But for tonight, and for right now, the house is empty and I am allowing myself to cry and be sad. This is what I have always wanted- to be a mother. I've always wanted to have children, to nurture and create a home. And I know this bedrest is temporary. But with every time she calls out for daddy instead of me, everytime she refuses to get in bed and snuggle or come when I call her, it is like my heart breaks a little. I miss her, and she is right here.

This is the thing that I never knew about motherhood- that I would NEED my child as deeply as she needs me- perhaps more. She is my world and my life and my best friend. She is my everything. When I hold her, when I smell her sweet head or rock her or read to her, I am absolutely complete. I am exactly who I have always fought to be. She is my medicine, she heals me and makes me whole.

And right now, she is not mine. I can't do for her. And as I watch her relationship with her daddy blossom like a flower, I can't help but feel sadness mixed with joy.

I think of all the times I have been upset with her, irritated. I think of the times I have pulled her off of my lap and sent her on her way, or was too busy to rock, too busy to read. What was more important? Housework? My own projects? A phone call?

I wish I had those moments back.

For now, I need to be as content as I can to hold my Samuel in my body, to give him more time to grow. I need to know that I am being a good mother by resting and keeping him safe, even if it means I can't care for Lily as I usually do. Even if it means that for now, she turns away from me, when she has always run to me.

And when I can do everything for her again, I won't forget these times. I won't forget these tears. I won't forget this broken heart or how I miss her voice and her scent and her need. I will remember just how much I need her too, and how the days may be long but the years are short. Soon she will not need me at all. But while she does, I will be here and treasure it.

Dearest Lily,

I love you, even if right now I cannot be the mama you deserve. I know you don't understand. But soon it will be you and me again, just like always. And I will make this up to you. You are my best thing, my one true thing. I can't wait to be yours again.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The fallen giant

I've been thinking about this post for a few days. Alot of times, I blog to get rid of things that are piling up in my head. Issues that I don't necessarily want to discuss with anyone, but that I need to get out in the clear. I know people read my blog, sure. I am probably too transparent here sometimes- too open. This is going to be one of those times. Feel free to skip this post.

My father. Just those two words open up a pandoras box in my mind. I the past few years, my relationship with him has tanked. I love him, but I am pissed at how he lives, and how his life affects my life.

Lots of people have shitty fathers. I realize this. Nobody has the patent on family angst. Everybody has it in some ways. But damnitt, this just plain hurts.

No call on my birthday. Nothing. No card. No call on Christmas. Nothing.

I know the phone goes both ways, and I did call him a month ago. The entire time he told me about how sick he feels, how he has been offered nursing care and rejected it, how he has somebody to come and clean but sends her away, how meal on wheels come and he tells them to f-off.

Not one question about Lily, about how I am feeling, about the baby. All about him.

Now yes, I am sorry he is sick. He had life saving surgery 2 years ago. He had a huge benign tumor removed from his HEART, in a surgery that drew doctors from all over to observe. His life was saved. He went home with an easy 10 years left.

He then proceeded to drink and smoke 3 packs a day. Again. After being saved literally from death.

He has since fallen 3 times, once not being found for 3 days and having to be in a nursing home for months. All three times, he was drunk. He is still drinking.

This man is my father. My father. And I'd like to tell you that it hasn't always been this way, but it has.

My parents divorced when I was 3. From that point, my father had me off and on while my mother was in a hospital or rehab or wherever the hell she would disappear to. And he was a hard worker who came home and was a hard drinker.

But in my mind, he was my hero. The one who would ride in and save me from my life. The one who loved me. The one who never hit me. He drank and passed out every night, but I made him into something larger than life. A savior. A giant.

He was handsome. He was strong. He was a god to me.

I didn't know any better. I didn't know what a father should be. And I was so little, and so needy.

And he failed me.

And I think of myself when I was little. I was quiet, and I was good. I tried to be invisible. How could this man see how vulnerable I was, and how sad I was, and how goddamn beaten up I was...and walk AWAY? HOW? How could he desert me for his own selfishness?

I worshipped him. Even when I was in foster care and he wouldn't show up for visits...I waited ALL DAY outside in the Vegas sun for him. I blistered my skin waiting. I'd sit until dusk. And then I would go in, and cry myself to sleep. How could he?

I just don't know.

It took me until I was in therapy to let go of my perception of my father. I had to cast him down, and see him as he really was, not as I wanted him to be. And even then, it took me until Lily was 6 months old to have the conversation I should have had long ago. To let go of my rage at him. To let him know that I remembered all of the shit he let me go through. It was a conversation where he denied and denied everything. It was a conversation where I wasn't taking any more bullshit from him.

I was thinking of the story of David and Goliath the other day. Thinking about how we all have our giants, our fears. But we still have to confront them all, head on. We have to cast them down, to see clearly around us to what is real and true. I had to be David to the image of my father. I had to cast the stone and bring it down, to see what was lying beyond it.

Doing so was way more painful that I thought it could be. And it is also something that was necessary.

But in this new year, I am making a resolution to do just that. I am old enough and wise enough and strong enough now to be my own woman, and to push aside all of the false and forced guilt I have carried through my life. My father made his bed. I see him for what he is, and I will not excuse it or make light of it anymore.

And I will not raise him up again, or allow my memory to be clouded by my need to have a parent.

He is who he is. I can love him, but I cannot change him. And I can have no expectation of him, either.

So let the giants I have raised up fall down this year. Let me take them all down, bit by bit, until I can see the horizon only. And then my path will be clear to the One who never disappoints, or abandons, or walks away.