Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A New (ad)Venture

Right now, I am not working.

Well, at least, not any work that I get paid for. Or any kind of recognition for.

I do house work. And baby work. I'm not gonna lie. I kinda like it. I've decided to make it my full-time gig for awhile. But no one pays me for it. Sad.

And, I knew when we made the decision, that not going back to teaching this year was going to be a bit of a financial stretch for us.

And by stretch, I don't mean like, a nice, giving 'cotton-lycra blend' kind of stretch.  I mean like, 'trying to put on your high school jeans and you can't even get them up over your thighs' kinda stretch. A 'somethings gotta be done' kinda stretch.

Which brings us to my new venture.  An adventurous venture. Starting next week, I am going to be taking care of two sweet little girls in my home.  A darling 2 1/2 year old 'A' and her cutie-pie little sister, 'K', who is almost 3 months old.

Thats right.  Two infants and a toddler.  With me.  All day.  All week.  All this year. You heard me. Close your mouth. It's not polite to stare.

Now, before you accuse me of having lost my mind, please remember that this arrangement allows us to:
1. Avoid putting Henry in daycare (a huge deal for me) and
2. Continue to live in the manner to which we are accustomed. (read: have shelter and eat food semi-regularly)

Both very good things.

So, it's happening.  There's no stopping it. Starting next Tuesday, I will be an all-the-time-momma to Bouncing Baby Boy Henry, and day-time-momma to two Darling Daytime Daughters.  That makes three. Three children. Three small children.

It will be great!  I can do this!  We need the money!  Other people take care of three children, and they are fine!  It will be great! The girls are so cute!  I am making an arts and crafts station in the sunporch for A to play with!  It will be great! I can do this! Did I mention the money?!  I can tell you all about my funny mishaps on this blog! It will be great! I can do this! A is potty trained already! I really like kids! I'm going to be home anyway, whats a few more kids?! It will be great! I can do this! Yay!!!

Seriously. Have I lost my mind?

You know what? Don't answer that. Just pray for me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


When Henry was born, things did not go as planned.  At 35 weeks, I had a full placental abruption and he was delivered by emergency c-section.  So, uh, no. Not as planned.

And it was really, really scary. Really scary. And then, it was really, really joyful. So joyful, so blissful, such utter relief, such celebration and rejoicing. In the first few days with my sweet boy, it felt as if those few moments before he was born, those moments of pure, clear terror, of dread, those moments where we peered over the edge of agony, it felt as if those moments just washed away. For a while, all I could think about was my sweet boy. All I could feel was joy, and relief and love.

People would talk about his birth; family, friends, doctors, nurses- I would talk about his birth- but all with a certain detachment. As if maybe it happened to someone else.  Or, maybe it happened to me, but in another life. In a parallel universe. Or, maybe, it happened, but it didn't matter.  It didn't matter that it almost wasn't okay. Because it was okay. We were all fine now. And we were so happy.

And, that's really true.  I'm not trying to dress it up all pretty for you. I really was (and am) so happy! My heart, my soul, my self were all wrapped up in the unbelievable joy of that perfect, precious little boy.

It was my brain though. My poor, exhausted, sleep deprived, brain. I think it just couldn't process it all.

A few days after coming home from the hospital, I stared having these flashes. Jolts. Hard rememberings. Uninvited, unwanted, I would remember. And it would be too fast. Too hard. With no warning. As I was falling asleep, or washing dishes, or nursing Henry, or talking to a friend. For just a quick second, reality would disappear under the remembering.  And it would take a moment to make it go away. To shove it away and be back in the now. I remember shaking my head a lot. Like one good side-to-side shake would get it out. Out, out, out.

I hated it. I felt so happy, I was so happy, so why was this happening? Why couldn't I forget? Why couldn't I stop remembering?

My heart, my spirit, my life had moved on. But my brain. My logical, rational, organized, OCD brain would not have it. It needed to process. It needed to understand. It needed to remember. And I wouldn't let it. Deep inside, underneath all the celebrating and rejoicing, beneath all the congratulatings and the cooings, the feedings and the cuddling, behind all the new-babying, my mind was just screaming at me.

Hey! it said. What happened?
Hey! it said.  I don't understand!
Don't you remember? I remember, and I don't understand.

We were on the floor, remember? We could see the pool of red creeping up, spreading out around your tummy and your knees, remember? Your socks were wet and sticky. Your hands were shaking. Your knuckles kept rattling against the floor. We could see the hands and knees of the paramedics, remember? But not their faces. You wouldn't look up. Remember the voices? The shouting. The banging.

Remember how cold it was when they carried you outside? The loud sirens in the ambulance. Remember, the phone rang? Remember the white walls inside the hospital? The loud voices. The running. Doors opening. People touching you all over. It hurt. Remember the nurse who held your hand? The one who said he still had a heartbeat?

Remember the doctor who yelled? Who said "Get out of my way, NOW!" And pushed the heartbeat nurse? The nice heartbeat nurse who held your hand. Remember the paramedic? The one who said "Holy Shit!"

Remember now?

Remember the shiny operating room? Remember the cold orange stuff they dumped on you? Remember when David finally let go of your hand? He had to.

Remember, we thought about the nursery? All the baby things.  All the clothes. All the presents. Remember, we thought about how this pregnancy was an accident? Not on purpose. A surprise. The best surprise. We thought about when you told David you were pregnant.  Remember how happy he was? How proud.

Remember laying down on the floor in the bedroom? Remember calling for David? David. David, poor David. Remember how badly we scared David?

Do you remember now?

Remember, our baby? Something was wrong. So, so wrong. Very wrong. Our baby.
Our baby.
Oh, God.
God, please.
Please, God.
My baby.
My baby.
My baby. Please. Not my baby. Not my baby.
Please, please.
My baby.

My poor brain. It remembered. And it needed me to remember, too. But I didn't want to. I still don't want to. It hurts. It's uncomfortable. Like my heart is wearing a too tight sweater, made out of some gross synthetic material. I want to squirm. I want to wiggle. I want it off, now.

Even now, months later, I want it off. I don't want to remember. I don't want to think about it.

Even now, when I remember, my body physically reacts. It tenses. Curls in on itself a little. As if it's bracing for a blow that has never come.

I don't want to remember. But, sometimes, my brain still makes me. Not in the same insistent, screaming, flashing way that it once did. But softer. Gentler. In a familiar voice.  The voice of a smaller, more confused, less sure version of myself. My poor little brain girl.

Remember? she says. Remember how scary it was?

"Yes," I say. "I remember. It was scary."

Why? she whispers. Why did it have to happen like that? Why did it have to be so scary?

"I don't know," I say.

And then, in her quietest voice yet, so that I can barely hear her, she whispers in my ear, What if it wasn't okay? What if he was really hurt? What if he died? What if he wasn't here with us? What would we do?

"I don't know," I whisper back. "But I'm still praying about it. I'm still writing about it. I still think about it. I do remember. But, please, please, can we talk about something else?"

Okay, she mumbles, as she softly fades back.

She is embarrassed that she brought it up again. She knows I don't like it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Post in Which I Justify Future Posts

Motherhood makes me introspective. It has brought with it so many weighty emotions, desires, and responsibilities. I often find myself sitting on the sofa, or standing at the sink, or driving in the car, totally lost in thought over some question, some issue that has been raised in my mind. Things that I took for granted before, ideas that I never gave a second thought to, emotions that I ignored- now it seems of the utmost importance to own them, to understand them, to know them.

Until now, I've never really been an 'unexamined life is not worth living' kind of gal, but I think I might be turning into one. I've found myself very drawn to my journal- the need to write down these thoughts, arguments, obsessions, musings. The catharsis of getting them out of the floaty-around space in my head and onto a sheet of paper.

Me- a journaler! And after all these years of desperately wanting to be the kind of person who wrote regularly, buying pretty blank book after blank book, making new years resolution after resolution. Here I am, craving a few minutes of time alone so I can grab my journal and write. Go figure.

So, here's the deal.  My journal can't take it anymore.  It's vibrating, positively pulsing, too full of questions, confessions, emotions that I dump into it. Poor little notebook. It needs a break. I'm going to give it a break.  I'm going to start posting some of these things instead.

And, it might get weird. I know how uncomfortable these things can be. Too personal. Too probing. Too much. You know.

And I don't really know anything about how blog etiquette works, but listen: you don't have to read them. You don't have to comment on them. You don't have to talk to me about them. You don't even have to come here anymore! Or, if you do keep coming, because you love the pictures of Henry and my fabulous wit, you can just skip over the weird stuff. No pressure.

Phew. Glad I got that out.  Here ends the post in which I justify future posts that you might think are weird. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Henry Wears Suspenders

Here I am with a series of photo updates. Let's get started:

Update 1: Henry likes food AND can poo!  We have left icky rice cereal behind, and moved onto delicious fruits: bannas, plums, and avocados. Yum, yum, yum.

Update 2: This is really more of a question... If Henry is using his bouncy chair as a core strengthening apparatus, does that mean he has outgrown it?  Please say no. I love this bouncy seat. It's okay to let him use it for doing sit-ups, right???

Update 3: Henry wears suspenders! Okay, okay, he also got baptized, but honestly, I was hard pressed trying to decide which of those two events deserved top billing in this post. Suspenders eked ahead at the last minute.

We have pictures of him alll dressed up and posing with his aunties,
and his uncle,
of Henry snuggling with his Nonna,    
playing with his Grampa,
and relaxing with his Nana.

There's even a few cute, up close shots of his sweet baby face.

But, wait, you say! Where is the family photo?  The requisite Mommy, Daddy, & Baby picture?  All these cute poses with his extended family, where's the Baptism Day Family Shot?

Um, I think we forgot? Whooops.

Here's the best family shot we got:
See David wandering off in the background with the diaper bag tossed over his shoulder? Nice. This one really captures the feel of family life.

Or, there's this great family photo: Henry, so cute, loving his feet. Aaaaaand, mine and David's laps. Can that count as a family picture? We're all in it?

Oh well. Next time we'll try to remember to pose together.

Actually, what we should really remember is that when you have a baby and a majillion people in your house and you are trying to get to church on time, you should leave yourself a liiiiitle extra time to get ready. Otherwise, while everyone is taking pictures with your admittedly adorable, dandily dressed son, you will be in the bathroom attempting to simultaneously throw your hair in a ponytail, blink on a coat of mascara, and chew on your toothbrush, all the while assuring yourself, that yes, this does indeed count as brushing your teeth.
Ah, well. Live and learn.

You know, that shot of Henry and our laps is not bad. Can I please call that a family photo?

Sunday, August 22, 2010


This morning, when I picked Henry up from the church nursery, he was sitting in a little swing, just inside the doorway.  I walked up to the door and said, "Hi Henry!"

He turned his little baby head, stared right at me for a few seconds, and then, slowly, a big fat grin spread across his face.  Then he said "gaaa."

Be still my heart.

It may have been the most gratifying moment of my life thus far.

(Well, at least in terms of the kind of gratification I'm going to talk about on the internet. Wink, wink.)

Friday, August 20, 2010


I previously reported that Mister Henry did not appreciate my attempts to introduce him to the world of solid foods. For about a week, he remained unimpressed with my efforts.

And then, one day, for no apparant reason, he decided to give it a whirl and proceeded to eat about 2 tablespoons of rice cereal!!!  Hooray! Streamers and confetti! Yippeeee!

Then, he did not poo for four days.

Four (4) days. One. Two. Three. FOUR.

That is a long time to wait for baby poo.  A long time. After spending about 48 hours peering hopefully into his diapers, we called the pediatrician who recommended apple juice.  Little Lad Henry refused to take a bottle (that stinker!) so we squirted it in his mouth with a medicine syringe.  That'll teach him.

After 72 hours, I started to worry.  Not about his health so much- he was acting fine and happy, and my mom assured me that he would not die of constipation. No, I was worried about when he would eventually poo. When, where, and on whom.

Henry was getting baptized the next morning, and I had this terrible vision of him holding in four days worth of poo until the worst possible moment.  I just knew in my heart that I would get him all dressed up,  up to the front of the church, hand him to the pastor, and he would joyfully, blissfully, thoroughly blowout his diaper.  There would be poo all over the pastor's suit,  poo dripping all over the communion table, poo contaminating the baptismal water. I could go on, but let's just say I have a rich inner life, and it tends to pessimism occasionally.

Thankfully, I was wrong.  He was a perfect angel all through the church service, no poo. (side note: Pictures to come. Get excited. He wore suspenders.) Through the whole day of celebrating with family and friends, no poo.  Everyone packed up and trickled out of our house, no poo.  Around 7 that night, we hit the official 4 day mark. 4 days, no poo.

I resigned myself to visiting the pediatrician's office the next morning.  Rumor had it, they were going to prescribe an enema. Motherhood has had a few gross moments in it thus far, but I was really hoping to NOT have to stick anything in anyone's butt for just a liiiiiiitle while longer.  Just a little bit longer. Is that too much to ask??

Then, that evening, sitting in his little bouncy gym, he did it.  Released a poo the likes of which no diaper could ever hope to contain. 4 whole days worth. It was everywhere. It was nasty. And I was elated.  ELATED, I TELL YOU!

Elated? By poo? Who am I??? I was consumed by poo for 4 days straight. I thought about poo, talked about poo, looked for poo, prayed for poo. And then, I celebrated poo with a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.  I knew motherhood would change me some, but no one told me how into poo I would be.

They should warn you about that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mothering Mistake No. 37

Mistake: Ignoring the weather reports.

Consequences: Rachel and a Very Hungry Henry, standing in Walmart entryway, surrounded by a mass of grouchy wet people, pushing a full cart of groceries, watching an absolute freaking downpour.
An absolute. freaking. downpour.
booming thunder
flashing lightning
a waterfall from the sky


Conclusion: After deciding the rain might go on for eternity, we made a mad dash for it, got completely soaked, sped home, wrapped up in towels, and fed Henry juuuust before he reached the brink of Very Hungry Baby Fury.

And, for the record, its still raining. Would it be weird to make hot chocolate in August?

Maybe after I towel off my groceries.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Family (Families)

I love my family.  They're great.
They're big and loud and funny and genuine and joyful. You'd love them. I love them. I love spending time with them. I love talking to them. I love visiting them. I love having them visit. And, I also kiiiiiinda like it when they leave.


This is something new.

When David & I first got married, I would cry almost every time we left my parents house after a visit. It just always made me feel so sad to realize that my life as a kid in my family was over- I wouldn't live there anymore, keep my clothes there, sleep there, dwell there.  As much as I loved to visit, it wasn't 'home' anymore, at least not in the practical sense of the word. And I desperately wanted it to be. For awhile, it almost felt like I was mourning the loss of childhood. The days when I lived in someone else's house, when someone else was responsible for all the big stuff, when someone else took care of me.  Now, we were taking care of ourselves, and it was scary.

I don't cry anymore when I leave my parent's house.  Sometimes I'm sad to go, or sad to see them go, but not in the same way as I once was.

Somewhere along the line, my idea of home changed.  And then, somewhere else along the line, my idea of family changed. My parents will ALWAYS be my parents. My brothers and sisters will ALWAYS be my brothers and sisters. They will ALWAYS be my family. Those bonds don't disappear or even weaken. But now, it seems the circle has expanded a little.  And the center has shifted.

Now, when people ask about my family, the first people I think of are David and Henry. When did that happen??? For so long, my family was my mom, my dad, my Justin, Mark, Mary Catherine, Franklin, and Annie. For so long.  And now, they spring to mind second.  Not less, just second.

My family is my husband. My family is my son.

My son, who is now hollering in his crib. Guess naptime, and therefore, introspective time, is over, at least for now. Gotta go check on my family.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Sister, Mary C.

Mary Catherine is here!
Aside from providing me with a lovely afternoon full of Doritos, diet beverages, a little gossip, and a lot of love, Mary also got this GREAT photo of Henry (taken on her snazzy new iTouch which I'm a teenytinylotta bit jealous of)

SO CUTE!  This picture is even better if you know that Auntie Mary C. knitted that blanket for Henry before he was born. And even better if you know that when I read to him before his naps, we snuggle under that blanket.  So, now, he associates the blankie with reading & snuggle time, and every time I put him on the bed and give him that blanket, he squeals and makes the big smiley cute face, pictured above.

What a blanket.
What a baby.
What an auntie!

And, yes, I have already asked her to move back in with us. You know, to do dishes, knit blankets, change diapers, provide me with entertainment, and take pictures of Henry. But, apparently, she has a life. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Solid Food and Other Adventures

Oh my goodness, I have so many things to tell you.
And so many pictures to show you.

Here's the biggest news:

That's right.
Henry has begun his journey into the world of food. What a great world, yes?  I love food.  We all love food.  If you don't love food, go away. We can no longer be friends.  Food is so great, so delicious, so flavorful, so satisfying, so varied.  So, tell me, with all the yumminess out there, why oh why are we introducing babies to food by giving them rice cereal??  Rice cereal?!  Is this really the way to convince kids that they want to eat food?

Have you tried rice cereal? I tried it, and it's nasty. But it's what the pediatrician said to do, and I'm a rule-follower (ummmm, sorta...) so I mixed it up with some breastmilk and gave it a go!

I gave him the first bite on my pinkie, because that's what the websites said to do. I guess it's because he's used to food coming to him from nice warm flesh... weird.

He looked a little unsure, yes.  But, not to be discouraged, I gave him my brightest & happiest 'yum yum you love this' face and kept on trying.

Let's just say, he wasn't fooled.  Rice cereal is gross, and he knows it.  
After a few minutes of terrible faces, similar to these, I was starting to feel like I was going to scar him for life and make him think that eating was always going to be a really unpleasant experience.  So, we decided to call it quits for the night.

He was extremely grateful.

Then, I said some really reasonable things to David, like "He hates food!"  "He's anorexic!" and, with a tinge of panic in my voice "He's going to want to nurse forever!!!  He's never going to stop!  It's going to be time for kindergarten and I'm going to have to say, 'Oh, I'm sorry, my child can't come, HE'S STILL NURSING!'"

Then I got a grip.  

It's been a week, and he's showing a liiiitle more interest in bananas & rice cereal, but not much. 
I think he knows that there is better food out there.  
I think he knows we are trying to pull one over on him.
I think he's holding out for steak and baked potato. Now THAT'S food.

In other baby news, Henry loves his penguin...

And, he loves his Dad.

And, I love his Dad!
Seriously, I absolutely love this picture. It melts my heart.  It's the cutest thing ever. Ever.
I want to have many, many more babies with this man.  Just so I can watch him snuggle up with them & read them stories.

This is dangerous. I should go.