- The wind is so wild that the sound is nearly unidentifiable. I pause to listen, wondering, What is that?
- Wind is my least favorite element of weather; except when I’m indoors and it sounds this intense, then I feel safe and protected from the big, bad world.
- Quiet, dark, single street light on a distant street peeks through the treetops. Pink glow of salt lamp + golden dots of fairy lights.
- = same thing every day
- Each day, after pressing my coffee, I place the paddle from my Aeropress into the sink in the same spot at the same angle: righthand side, slightly diagonal. If there is something already in the sink in that that spot, I place it inside the object. (#BohoBerryChallenge)
- The consistency of this routine fills me with comfort and delight.
- The residual cough from the cold I had weeks ago kicks up. I bury my open mouth hard into my elbow and feel fuzzy, fleece tickle my lips and nose, as it muffles the hacking noise.
- Worried because Levi coughed not at all last night and is still sleeping at 6am. Relieved that he’s still sleeping at 6am. Much of motherhood feels like this. Caught. Conflicted.
- My glasses are dirty.
- I write in my sleep, moving words, stringing them together like popcorn garland. By morning they’re gone–not even the kernel left.
- I also do jigsaw puzzles in my sleep: differentiating the lightest variances in color and shading, locking the piece in with the satisfying click.
- Have they done studies of the brain while doing jigsaw puzzles? There must be straight dopamine hits happening with every piece placed.
- Listening yesterday: Levi in other room talking to Didi about “lip stuff.” Didi responding, “I don’t know anything about lip stuff. Wait for mommy.”
- He didn’t wait, of course. I hear him saying his lips smell like candy. “They must have put candy canes in there,” as he launches into a detailed description of the lip balm production process that includes crushed candy canes.
- I don’t have a “hometown.” This all depends, I guess, on how one defines “home.” I define it as the place where my soul belongs. (#BohoBerryChallenge)
- In our increasingly mobile world, I wonder if that concept will no longer exist one day. Or if we will just redefine it for transient selves.
(It only took me over a month to compose this short post…)!
Levi turned three on January 4th. Between his birthday day, birthday party, first soccer lesson, and a friend’s birthday, I haven’t had much time to reflect, ponder, think.
On the eve of his birth day, Dawn and I did sit in bed, after he had gone to sleep, and stared at the pictures of his birth (thanks to our amazing midwife assistants, we have a series of images showing him emerge inch-by-(slow)-painful-inch). He was bluish grey like most babies upon arrival, and then oh so red. I cannot remember what his cry sounded like or even what his skin felt like, so having these images to return to is amazing and so helpful.
I have written my birth story here before, and I know that a lot of birth stories describe the joy, the wonder, the complete and overwhelming sense of love in those moments following birth. And yet, I feel confident that there must be lots of birth stories out there, my own included, where those are/were not the primary feelings and emotions. I would describe my immediate reaction/feelings as numbness, confusion, relief, and exhaustion.
Exhaustion: This one seems obvious. I’m sure it is a feeling shared by all newly minted mamas. Labor is exhausting. Forty-plus hours of labor without any food or sleep is…well, maybe we don’t have a word for that yet in the English language.
Numb: The exhaustion was so powerful, so dominant, that it left little space for other feelings and emotions. I think this is why in my memory I was filled with a kind of numbness. This wasn’t even a dumb awe caused by the wonder of the moment. It was more like: I don’t care about anything right now because I cannot. Like “I cannot” in its truest sense.
Confusion: The numbness was fed by the confusion of now having an additional human being in the room, in our home, in our lives. Obviously we knew this would be the outcome, and yet, when it came to be, I didn’t know what to do. I am a woman of routine, of structure, of carefully made plans. If ever I had to step outside of my life for an entire weekend, my first step upon returning to it would be to clean the house or read the news while drinking coffee and planning out the day ahead. None of these were options. It was completely disorienting. I remember lying in bed over those first few days with my iPad on my lap, trying to read the news, so I felt some sense of connection to the world. There are many wonderful things about home birth (and perhaps one would feel this way in a hospital too…), but after spending an entire weekend going no further than my own bedroom, I felt like I had come untethered from the world. I would stare out our bedroom window at the other houses, but I felt that they were a part of a separate universe that I was no longer a part of.
Relief: I was just so freakin’ glad that labor was over and that the baby was out of me. When Levi was crowning, my midwife kept saying, “Jenn, your baby has so much hair. So much hair!” And I was thinking, like I care about its hair?? Get. It. Out! I was so deep into my own sense of relief in that moment–so glad the pain was over, the sleepless nights were over (ha!)–that I couldn’t really give a whole lot of thought to this helpless creature on my chest. I have this one picture where Levi is laying at my breast, and I have my eyes closed and a very faint smile on my face. I look totally blissed out in this photo, and I love it. But I know that in that moment the bliss wasn’t really about him. While I was happy to have him earthside, I was more happy to just be done with the experience of labor.
The point of this three years later reflection is not to lament my long labor or the lack of immediate joy that followed, but rather to point out that it is normal (and probably quite common) to feel less than ecstatic. In fact, one might feel very little after the emotional and physical rigor of labor.
My other, more important, point is that the ensuing three years have been defined by joy. Surprise and joy. Surprise at the amount of joy that has come the older my “baby” gets. It matters not at all now that in those moments following his birth, I felt so little, because now I feel so much (too much at times).
Lastly, I will note what a funny (distorted) thing that retrospect can be. When I finally wrote my birth story a year and a half after the event, I said,
Looking back on it now, however, that moment makes me want to do it all again.
But that is inaccurate. It wasn’t that moment of his birth that makes me want to do it all again, it is the current knowledge of the awesomeness that comes after the arrival, and I mean long after the arrival (for me at least).
- Sleep configurations:
- Up late, up early.
- Asleep early (< 10pm), up early (5/5:15am) = magic. Same number of hours in the day but feels like more.
- I love mornings (filled with the fresh, starting over feeling, filled with hope and possibility), but I hate dragging my legs over the side of the bed so my feet can hit the floor.
- Already looking forward to “Spring” (March) break.
- I write reflections on the same things everyday (sleep, lack of sleep, coffee, kid and wife, mornings, writing). Sign of a boring, uneventful life (pretty much how I like it). Time to mix things up a bit? But how? And why?
- Levi coughs in his sleep, or is he waking? Either way, I spring to attention.
- Meal planning: No brown rice in the house, so will have to cook the Jasmine. Sometimes I love the bare cupboards excuse to have white rice.
- Planes, trains, and trucks in the distance all sound the same to my undiscerning ear.
- Four days this week without a meeting scheduled (hopefully I haven’t “spoken” too soon). Work might actually get done!
- Computer needs a restart.
- I hit inbox zero yesterday after days and hours and months of trying. Now, attempting to ignore the ding of a newly arrived email and the impulse to delete it (lest I get dragged down that rabbit hole).
Head cold edition:
- Every few words I write are punctuated by grasping for a tissue and loudly blowing my nose.
- I have congestion in my neck. My ears ring.
- My feet rest on the wooden rungs of the tiny table under my desk that holds office supplies.
- The utter silence and stillness of the room makes my own breathing sound dragon-like.
- While I love the click-click-clack of a keyboard, there is beauty in the silence of a pen gliding across a page.
- Occasionally the house bangs in reaction to the confusing temperatures.
- Didi, on Levi duty, lies on the floor of his room. She needs sleep.
- So now, as Levi joins me, while I try to write, I welcome him in an attempt to give her rest.
- A morning: made breakfast, played Sequence (for kids), played and cleaned up Play-doh, packed lunches, did dishes, gave hugs and kisses, fed and took out the dog, consumed coffee and oatmeal, played memory game, Facetimed with Didi at work–all before 8am (and all while feeling like I shouldn’t even be out of bed).
- The snow’s beauty has diminished, as it has fallen from the tree branches and turned to ice, but it still calls me and warms my heart.
- The dog stares at me expectantly, like I am supposed to read his mind (and with dogs, isn’t that all you ever can do?). He smacks his lips and makes pig-like snorting sounds out of his nose, before twirling into his curled resting position.
- I spit phlegm into a near empty trash can–not lined with a bag–aimed for the lone tissue and missed (cringe).
Slowly, steadily I return to writing and inch toward life as I knew it before the holiday season and Levi’s early risings derailed daily routine.
- Sun illuminates the backyard, casts shadows of bare tree branches on snow. I am not accustomed to writing in daylight.
- Fountain pen running out of ink scratches the page. Words are broken, incomplete.
- Every year I get hit with the post-holiday blues. Despite the increase of light, I know just how much more of winter we have ahead of us in the Northeast.
- It’s not that I don’t like winter. I love it. But it does feel a bit long and meaningless without the holiday festivities.
- We will play games and do jigsaw puzzles; huddle around books and TV; bake and cook and bake some more. We will make our own light.
- Freshly brewed ginger tea in ceramic travel mug, all day every day, to avoid drinking cold water in negative temperatures.
- Three days late to jump on the opportunity of the New Year, but I’m here now, setting goals, making the best of plans: five hours of writing per week; self-help/better person; meditation + movement; better with $$/savings.
- I have a sore pinky that doesn’t hurt when wrapped around a pen writing.
- Our neighbors’ cat, Marshmallow, saunters casually across our sunlit yard, seemingly oblivious to the arctic cold.
- A black desk is perpetually (and sadly) dusty.
To-do list edition:
- This morning is skipping yoga to squeeze in writing, as my son keeps waking earlier and earlier lately.
- This morning is boil the eggs and install the carseat; pack socks, undies, lunches, and snow pants.
- This morning is grateful for hot coffee and time to write and think.
- Tonight is unpack the laundry and order more Christmas presents.
- Today is eat the same thing for lunch and dinner.
- Tomorrow is roast granola, grab chicken and hot chocolate (after snow arrived this weekend, discovered ours all expired in 2015!).
- All this week: grade and grade and grade. Set sights on being done by noon on Friday for Levi’s Hanukkah celebration at school.
- If not done by noon, don’t sweat it and still take the rest of the afternoon off to spend with him.
- Today is call the vet to follow-up on (formerly) sick pup’s new diet.
- These days I am more distracted by social media than ever (I’m looking at you, IG!).
- Today (and probably tomorrow too…) my desk is sadly trashed beyond recognition.
- We are officially artificial this Christmas.
- The dog barks incessantly for no reason. He is back to normal.
- My intention for this holiday season: seek quiet.
- I struggle to break free from the news cycle–the endless 280 characters coming at me like the body parts of the 1980s centipede.
- We have new neighbors. It’s strange and strangely comforting to see lights on in a house that has sat in darkness for the five years that we’ve been living here.
- On the monitor, I hear Levi gasp for air. My heart and all my senses are on high alert. Was it a bad dream? Is he congested? Does he need me?
- Planning during writing time = my constant achilles heel.
- Dawn (accidentally) threw away my aeropress filter again. Against my tongue, my coffee feels thicker and grittier from my back-up Bialetti.
- We are both in the mood to clear space, get rid of things, feel lighter as we head into 2018 (but not the aeropress filter!).
- The full moon peeks at me between the naked tree branches. I sway side-to-side, and it moves with me, of course.
- Full moon + mercury in retrograde, they say. I never know exactly what this means but I wait for all forms of sh*t to hit the proverbial fan.
- This sounds like my life regardless of the location of moon, stars, and planets.
- I feel like I need to keep secret my thrill over frozen ground, my heart leaping over signs of snow in the forecast. I delight in mother nature telling us to eat carbs and hibernate. Move slowly, she says. Save energy, she says. I try my best to oblige.