Well, I had a baby

In the wee morning hours of Monday, April 10, I gave birth to another little boy. He had long, ancient looking feet, skinny legs, the softest skin and a wise, perfect face.

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Giving birth is crazy business. One minute, I wasn’t quite sure if I was ‘really’ in labor. The next, we were watching a movie, and I was draped over the labor ball breathing through contractions while telling Dan this probably wasn’t ‘it’. Then the midwives were here and I was in the bath, wishing I could just take a five minute nap, telling the midwife it was past my bedtime. Then I was on the bed, trying to lie down, trying to get comfortable while contractions roared through me – my midwives reminding me that nothing was going to feel good right now. “I can’t do it,” I said- and I meant it. I thought the baby would never come. That the contractions would break me. And then: I had a baby in my arms.

For a week, I sat in bed mostly, with Dan keeping the house in order, spoon feeding me meals while our little Charlie breastfed – seemingly nonstop. One night, he did not leave my boob from the hours of midnight to 4 a.m.

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We also watched all of Season 6 of Homeland – which I highly recommend.

My parents were here for the second week – playing with James, taking him to the zoo, helping with laundry, meals, letting me nap without the baby beside me. Making everything so easy. Making me long for a world where we are all neighbours and they could pop by for an hour or two.

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It all feels familiar but different this time.

Sometimes, when I look at Charlie, I feel like I have traveled back in time to when James was a newborn. To this dreamy, sleepless world where everything is both chaotic and quiet…enchanting and exhausting. I have to remind myself that this little boy is an entirely new person – with his own life and story before him.

With James, the days and nights felt endless. I couldn’t understand how there would be an end to any of it.

But this time – all I have to do is look over at my two-year old to know that it will end – in fact, it will end all too soon. Soon, we’ll be on a nap schedule. Soon, the night feedings will taper. Soon, we’ll move Charlie into his own bedroom. And before we know it, he’ll be walking and talking and showing us who he is.

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Only for this precious little while will he be so new – stretching his bunched up limbs, making his newborn gurgles and looking around, bewildered by this world of ours.

When I look at Charlie, I can’t believe we all began this way – every burly football player, every great poet, every tyrant and peacemaker – every single one of us – featherlight, needy and utterly helpless.

I’m home alone with him now- he’s napping in the swing. The house is quiet. I am waiting for Dan and James to get home. He’s so tiny. So precious. So sacred.

A letter to my little one at 39 weeks, 5 days

Dear Baby,

You can come out now. Anytime would be fine. No really: Can you please get out of my body?

I remember when I found out about you – remember how we had just moved into our new house, the painter was over when I peed on the stick and we had just returned from camping in Waterton National Park. Dad was doing laundry and I ran down the steps to show him the plus sign.

“I knew it!” he said. “You were acting crazy all weekend.”

A little lentil in my belly? I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I tried not to let myself believe it – after two miscarriages before your big brother, I knew to batten down the hatches on excitement.

At the 12 week ultrasound, you came into view, a whole person already. When the technician left the room, I sobbed and sobbed.

“What’s wrong?” Dan asked, confused.

How could I explain? That for two and a half months, I had loved you, my lentil, but tried with all my might to pretend I wasn’t attached, for fear you wouldn’t be there. I tried not to allow you into my life even when you were already there.

Thirty weeks scampered by. Your big brother grew from a babbling baby into a little boy speaking in complete sentences, full of opinions. It felt like you would be with us before we knew it.

People said nice things: Oh but you’ve not gained weight anywhere but your belly! It looks like you swallowed a soccer ball ! And later: a basketball!

I ate it all up.

But these final 10 weeks – oh, how they’ve dragged. On and on and on. And on.

Suddenly, the comments changed to: “You’ve GOT to have this baby early! You couldn’t possibly get any bigger.” (this, with six weeks to go.)

And then: “You’re twice as big as [my friend due on the same day]!”

The truth is, my little lentil, that weren’t so little anymore – you started to take up a lot of space in my belly. And while I have delighted in your little feet pushing at my tummy, the fact that you use my bladder as a trampoline I find less amusing. Also all this relaxin is making my butt bones very sore – I feel it flattening like pancake daily… so when you’re bigger and making fun of my mom butt, you can thank yourself.

As 38 weeks approached, I felt giddy. Everyone seemed to believe you’d come early. And somehow I became seduced by this idea. Any day now! I thought as 38 weeks came and went. Then suddenly, as 39 approached, I thought: Any day, in a walking-through-molasses-wearing-heavy-boots kind of way.

Like: Holy shit, it could still be two or three more weeks.

The truth is I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t pregnant. I can’t remember what it’s like to kick back and finish a bottle of wine with your dad after your big brother is asleep. Or have fun in like a holy-shit-I’m-having-SO-MUCH-FUN kind of way! Or not worry that my steak is too rare (even though I’m trying to be so much more relaxed about it all this time around). I want to eat sushi and wheel of triple cream brie – is it too much to ask?

When I walk outside and see all the runners, I watch them longingly as I waddle along. Will I ever sweat and feel fit again? Will I ever feel light on my feet – not like a 90 pound steel weight is jamming into my pelvis with every step? Will I ever (EVER) be able to fit anything besides these two black maternity tank tops? (actually only one of them fits now…)

In the last 48 hours, three women – 3! – told me they were two weeks or 10 days late with their second. It had never occurred to me I’d be pregnant for 2 or 3 more weeks! My god! The thought of it made me shudder.

Sometimes I feel like I’m going a little crazy- I wake up and have  twinge of a pinpoint cramp somewhere on my abdomen: Is it starting?! I have a weird pain in my hip – Labor?  My cell phone rings: Someone calling me to tell me I’m about to go into labor? 

But then my day goes on with no real sign of you arriving into our world. I go for extra long walks (listening to S-Town podcast) on the bluff and through Prince’s Island Park. I get dinner ready before the boys get home.

How strange to keep waking up thinking: This could be just another day. Or I could have a baby. (It’s very difficult to make a grocery list at a time like this.)

Sometimes, I wonder if you will ever come. What if I’m pregnant forever?

I know this on a rational level how absurd it is to consider being pregnant for the rest of my days- but on the other hand, some part of me believes this might actually be a possibility.

At night, I lie awake, trying to find a comfortable position. Lying on my right side, then my left. Stuffing a pillow between my legs. Knowing I need to ‘sleep while I still can!” and knowing I’ll wake because I feel like I have to pee so bad I might explode only to have a few dribbles come out  – and I’ll picture myself holding you.

A tiny baby, in my arms. I picture us in our sun-drenched bedroom, staring at each other, or both passed out from the exhaustion of ushering new life into the world.

I know it’s not going to be easy. Hell, I’ve been through it before. I know when you are here I will long for this very moment, when you were a silent mystery within me… yes, I’m sure this will all seem like a luxurious dream someday.

But I want you to feel sunshine. I want to tell you about so many things in the world waiting for you. I want you to feel what it’s like to stretch your limbs. To feel your mama’s skin against yours.

So – if you could just. Come. Please. That would be great.

Your loving mommy,

Sky

A few things I don’t want to forget

As far as shoulder seasons go, I’ve always loved fall. In the north, spring isn’t the prettiest time – muddy, naked tree-d and, in Calgary, I wouldn’t associate spring with warmth. But this weekend, I had a love on for spring.

It was warm. People were outside turning their faces to the sun like sunflowers. On Saturday, Dan opened up all the windows upstairs and the house filled with fresh air and sunlight. I walked into our bedroom and I felt something…Something new. And maybe I am feeling this ‘something’ a bit more with my giant belly, waiting for this mysterious person to join our lives.

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The truth about my first day of maternity leave

My first day of maternity leave.

My last day, Friday, was uneventful. Everyone was busy. They had a sweet farewell for me on Tuesday – with snacks and prosecco – and Friday felt like this non-event. So strange cleaning out my desk with no one around.

I was excited – ready.

Today would be perfect. James had a doctor appointment in the morning and we’d spend some time together. Then I had a pedicure booked.

But when we tried to leave the house, James melted down into a puddle when I put him into his warm coat instead of the blue coat he’s suddenly become attached to. He screamed and cried and hit me on the head. I sat him on my knee and explained to him that we never hit and he listened quietly before lifting his hand to go for another swipe. I blocked it and accidentally scraped his cheek with my thumb nail which sent him for another round of screaming.

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We finally walked outside into the cold morning to see Daddy off to work. “Let’s go to the playground,” I said.

“Yes. Playground,” he repeated.

I packed him and all his things into the car and we drove to playground and as I opened the door to get him out he said: “No playground.” And pushed away my hand as I tried to get him out.

At the doctor, he flattened himself out on the floor like a starfish—screaming—when the nurse tried to weigh and measure him.

Forget about finishing the morning together: I couldn’t wait to drop him off.

Of course as I pulled away, I felt horrible, relishing the silence in the car.

What if I just can’t be around my kid all day? What if I can’t handle him? What if I actually don’t like him that much? (Sometimes the voices in our heads can be really mean you guys!)

I came back home and stuffed my sandals in my purse for the pedicure. Should bring my book? Why no! That was trashy magazine time. I scooped up about five issues of People and settled in. Turns out People magazine makes you feel bad about everything in life.

What made me think I deserved this day – to be off work at a mere 37 weeks? Yes, my midwife had recommended it, but I was fine physically, if you don’t count not being able to walk for more than 15 minutes without slowing down my pace to that of an 85 year old, thanks to the insane pressure on my pelvis and bladder. Sure I was checked out at work but I could show up and do things for another week or two.

You’re a big bellied self indulgent piece of shit. I leaned back into the pillows and closed my eyes and tried to focus on very nice Thai basil sea salt foot rubbings.

The sun is shining through the window now – and I am trying to get grounded here.

When I am a sleep deprived, hair-in-all-directions mother of two who hasn’t brushed her teeth in three days, what would I have wanted to do with this time?

  1. Set some goals while you have any headspace. Not crazy ones. Small ones.
  2. Write.
  3. Try not to judge yourself too much.
  4. Spend a day all to yourself being as totally lazy or as active as you like—just don’t spend it online (and stay off Facebook always and forever).
  5. Make time for your husband and your marriage.
  6. Take lots of long, indulgent showers.
  7. Be patient with James. Something big is coming for him too.
  8. Listen closely to and enjoy the silence.

So I’m going to go take a shower now. Tidy the house. And go get my little guy.

Finding your way back

YOU GUYS. Hi. I’ve missed you.

I could give you 100 excuses for not writing here—but the fact of the matter is, I’m now on the third season of The Americans, so let’s be real. Time is in my life, I just haven’t used it very well.

The thing is I’ve been in a funk lately. I feel deflated—work-wise, life-wise, emotionally, physically, creatively, spiritually.

I’m in this place where I feel like I’m just going through the motions, rushing through the day and waking up to the next one. I feel buried in house to-do’s at all times.

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Hike I’m going to tell you about in just a second

And I feel like I’ve abandoned something essential.

Here are some of the things I think when I’m in a rut like this:

  • Everyone is killing it and has their shit totally together but me.
  • My education was wasted on me.
  • I’ll never be brave enough, smart enough or dedicated enough to make what I want to happen, happen.

Tracing the path to how I got here seems like a fruitless endeavor. I’m interested in how we get out.

How do you get out?

One day, I left the boys and the house and went for a hike with a friend.

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My hike with Sara

One day, I had an extra long lunch with another friend.

I keep looking for the right book. The one that will say all the right things.  (Any ideas?)

But of course I have been avoiding the one thing I need most: Writing.

I read this from Jennifer Egan in Brain Pickings last week:

When I’m not writing I feel an awareness that something’s missing. If I go a long time, it becomes worse. I become depressed. There’s something vital that’s not happening. A certain slow damage starts to occur. I can coast along awhile without it, but then my limbs go numb. Something bad is happening to me, and I know it. The longer I wait, the harder it is to start again.

James has been sleeping until 7 a.m. I can’t really explain how miraculous this feels after a year plus of obsessing about sleeping and longing to be well rested. I AM WELL RESTED. I am sleeping for 9 and sometimes 10 hours a night.

It’s hard to think about setting an alarm. I feel like I deserve to sleep and sleep and sleep.

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But this morning I couldn’t. At 5:45 I turned over. And here I am with my own quiet, not brain-exhausted-end-of-the-day, hour. (Plus I promised Dan one blog post this month and I gotta get that guy off my back.)

I wonder why it’s easiest to avoid the things we need most. They seem so hard sometimes. So daunting. So rife with the potential for failure.

But in the end, those very things–whatever they might be–are the only way out. Right?

What do you do dear friends? To find your way back to yourself?

P.S. Listen to Dear Sugar: How do I find the courage to be my own guide

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After so long away I don’t know where to start, so here are a few things:

  1. Inertia’s a bitch. When you’re in the groove, it’s all flowing. But when you stop, it’s hell getting started again.
  2. Also, when you haven’t written in a while you start to hate every word that hits the page.
  3. Work is busy. And being a working mom is busy. The days fly by in a blur. When we get home it’s a flash – eat dinner, play, bedtime-and then James is asleep. Sometimes I don’t know what to make of this pace.DSCF5290.jpg
  4. The other day he woke up sort of fussy and I wrapped him up in my arms in bed and he lay there clutching his blanket and sucking his thumb with his eyes closed for about 20 minutes. He hadn’t slept on me like that since he was probably four or five months old. It was like a narcotic.
  5. Have you listened to The Accidental Gay Parents Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 on The Longest Shortest Time? It’s amazing and you need to. Please do it right now. (This podcast I am loving so much right now).
  6. My desk is very cluttered. We are endlessly trying to keep our house clean and it feels impossible sometimes. I have to take deep breaths.
  7. In fact, I have moments when I bring up the laundry, see dishes on the kitchen counter, pans that need washing, James’s food not yet cleaned up on the high chair, toys on the floor, paper on the desk and I almost lose it. One thing at a time, I tell myself. It will get done.
  8. We’ve gotten into the habit of driving to the mountains on the weekends. Just for a day. James sleeps on the way there and we do a little hike or a picnic and just take it in. Whenever we are driving in we sigh at the beauty. We’re so lucky we say. So very lucky. It still feels insanely exotic to be in these giant mountains for a few hours on any given week. Here we are at Goat Pond with Erica, Matt and Lucy:DSCF5298.jpg
  9. A colleague commented on my ‘perfect Instagram life’ and my heart fell. I’m guilty like everyone, posting when we’re somewhere beautiful. Where life looks pretty. (hey look: I’m doing it here in this blog post!) I felt ashamed. Things are not perfect. And I’d 10,000 times rather be honest than perfect.
  10. In fact, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. I’m trying to dig into work; to navigate this crazy busy-ness and maybe I’m not doing the best job. I feel lost.
  11. Sometimes I wish someone would hold my hand and show me the path. Do this, they would say. And now this. I’ll sit here until you finish. Now you are ready for the next thing. I keep having to remind myself that that person is not coming for me. That I have to pull myself into the future.
  12. I pitched a story to Rebecca Egbert, creator of Little Mother’s Helper. I was drawn to this project and to Rebecca from the moment someone sent me her kickstarter campaign. The cards cover post-partum body, soul, heart and mind. They are both honest and comforting. They answer so many questions to the things I would madly google in the early days. And Rebecca’s newsletter and Instagram account are big heart-ed. Plus she was from Minnesota – and so. She’s obviously awesome. I pitched her a story for her blog. She opened up her arms to me. After so little writing, I was nervous that I couldn’t pull it off. I’m still nervous about what I sent her. It felt a little raw.
  13. After she accepted the piece by saying “I love you- I love this” she wrote: Now it’s my turn to give back to you. What else can I do for you, to help you? I was so taken aback that I didn’t know what to say. I mean: it’s not often that a near stranger asks you that question.
  14. Maybe I should stop dwelling on my own life and start asking more people what I can do for them. To help them. To give back.
  15. The post went up on Monday. My 35th birthday. I’m 35.
  16. I’m still not very happy with this post which I’ve been fiddling with for too many days now. But maybe that is what this year is about. Nothing at all being quite as you want or imagine it to be. But going with it anyway. DSCF5308.jpg

I love you guys. xo Sky

 

Good morning – 54 of 100

It’s morning and I’m here. I’m here at the computer and the house is dark and silent – except for the coffee brewing. I told Dan yesterday that if the coffee isn’t brewing, there’s no way I’m getting out of bed early.

I’ve been meaning to do this. I have been meaning to find space that is mine.

I’m weird about writing. Dan will always ask me what I”m working on. Or he’ll tell me “It’s fine! Write!” but then he’ll be sitting on the couch behind me and I just can’t. It’s like I need my own private planet to write on. And I really really don’t like talking about it – whatever it is – until it’s live in the world somewhere. Until then it is between me and my crazy writer head.

Now it’s 6:15 – in 15 minutes everyone will probably be up. Fifteen minutes.

I don’t know what to write right now except that I am here.

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And that I’m enjoying the littlest things right now. Maybe it’s because the weather has been so warm and the trees are just starting to bud. There’s that close feeling of the season changing – of promise for what’s next – and the way the warm sun feels on your skin.

The other day my work friend was telling me about her mother in law and their wedding. And I said: “I really understand the way moms are about things like weddings now. It’s just that you love them so much, it’s embarrassing.”

It is a little embarrassing! I asked Dan the other day: “Do you ever feel like we are living with a magical creature?”

“A magical creature?” he said, raising an eyebrow.DSCF5181

What I’ve been thinking about is how every day babies do things. The most simple things. They walk. They laugh. They sleep. They hold a toy up to you. They point to their belly when you say “Where’s your belly?” But for some period of time, the miracle of it all is never lost on you.

When do we all stop being these little miracles? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking around and looking people who look troubled or sad or funny and think: They were this totally innocent baby once too. This blank slate. This miracle.

James has been a bit of a snuggle bug lately. And snuggling him is like a drug. I have never wanted so much closeness. Sometimes in the morning, after milk, we’ll lay back on the bed and watch his tranquil turtle and make hand shadows for a while. He makes little coos and we just lie there together.

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Now it’s 6:31 and I need to get going. I am already thinking about my little boo. About his drowsy early snuggles. Our quiet dark time for little miracles.