Sunday, December 19, 2010

letters to W

My husband bought me a journal for Hannukah and I was at a loss with what to write. I have a journal I already write in, and I'm not ready to move on yet (still some pages left). I have this forum where I'm writing and thinking and processing stuff. So did I need a new journal?

My solution: I started a journal of letters to my son, and I intend to give it to him on his 18th birthday when he's officially ready to leave the nest. I wrote the first one--six pages of handwritten single-spaced text--and I'm really excited about it. My only concern is whether an 18 year old boy will actually appreciate this journal. A girl, yes, I can see her understanding and loving it. But I don't think I know any boys of that age who would respond well. I'm hoping, though, that W will be a slightly different kind of boy. That he'll understand and care for emotions in a way that a "normal" 18 year old boy will not.

As I write this, however, I see exactly how much I'm projecting onto W already. I see myself scripting who he is, and even though he's only one year old, I know that he is fully himself. He's already broken out of any scripts I might have had for his babyhood. So who am I to guess what he'll be like at 18?

The upshot is that I'm going to keep my Letters to W book going, writing in it every now and then when the mood strikes and on big occasions, like birthdays, starting kindergarten, his Bar Mitzvah. And if he gets it when he's 18, fine. If not, my only hope will be that he keeps it in a safe place and when he's ready for it, perhaps when I've passed (please, universe, at a ripe old age that allows me to see W grow up!), or maybe when he contemplates having children of his own. Or, perhaps his partner will appreciate it. I would love to read a series of letters between my husband and his mother, but in reality, they do not have a relationship that would bear out such letters. Believe me, that's true. She's not very emotionally connected to anyone, and maybe that's part of my goal, too--I'd like to offer as many models as I can for what love looks like. My Mom wrote a diary of my first few years and I have absolutely loved reading over it. She wrote little things, such as that I liked crawling into small places (under tables, in cabinets), and that's the kind of detail that might have gotten lost. I certainly don't remember these activities, but it makes sense that even as a baby I loved feeling cozy and secure (still do). When I first read about it, in fact, I assumed that all babies must do that and it wasn't special, but W *never* crawls under tables. He's an out-in-the-open kind of kid. Interesting.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

one year old

How in the world is it possible that W is almost one year old (on Sunday, December 12th)? People kept saying in the beginning that it would go really fast, and I have to admit, I spent the first few weeks/months hoping that was true. Our journey was very rough in the beginning, in part due to my undiagnosed postpartum depression and in part because of W's serious reflux. By about week four or five, I was really struggling and couldn't wait until he could go to kindergarten. Luckily, things got better--MUCH better--around 16 weeks and the fog started to lift. I started to think we could do it after all, and that maybe I could enjoy babyhood. But man, even thinking back to that start is giving me little shivers.

Now that he's becoming such a little man, an almost-toddler, I completely understand what people meant that it goes fast. Once he started to be able to DO things, those things just came fast and furious. One minute he could sit up, and the next, he was cruising down the ottoman. First he could smile in response to one of our smiles, and then, quite suddenly, he started saying "hi" and "bye" and "no." Crazy fast.

As a mother, I've changed a lot, too. I read too many books, spent too much time on the discussion boards lurking and reading assvice, and had some ideas that simply didn't work for us (sleeping on his back? Hah. He flipped over faster than a fish every time, causing me to spend hours hovering next to the crib to watch him breathe). I've shed a lot of those early desires to figure out how to do it right. I've learned that the best things to do are whatever works for my kid. That's not to say that all the advice was useless. I got a lot from that Weissb.luth Heal.thy Sleep book. The 7pm bedtime works for me and my kid. I'm not sure I would have figured that out on my own so quickly. But as I watch the other babies we know, I truly see that not all babies are alike. Not all advice fits every baby. W is, thankfully, an easygoing kid these days, and the daycare folks think so, too. He may not nap well, but he plays happily on his own while the other babies nap, so it works out alright.

Anyway, all this is making me think about my journey as a mother, not just what it's been, but what it will be. And what it could have been. This may seem like an odd digression, but my mother's mother, my natural grandmother Jeanne, died when my mother was 16 months old. Gallbladder surgery. Something went wrong and the story goes that because of WWII, there was not enough penicillin to go around. Jeanne died on the operating table, leaving my toddler mother and her older brother, my Uncle Mike, a 3 year old, to live with her parents. In those days, a single father was an anomaly, and to make matters harder, my grandfather worked as a traveling opera singer, so he couldn't take the kids on the road. My mother's grandmother, a salt-of-the-earth Swedish woman named Kit, raised her until my grandfather remarried and could take my mother and Uncle Mike home again when they were roughly 9 and 12. As a result of all this, my mother grew up always wanting to be a mother herself, like she was raising herself as she raised me and my brother. She wanted to honor her mother's legacy by becoming a mother. It's complicated, of course, because while she thinks she was an amazing mother, my memories of her are not necessarily the same. She clearly loved us, but she was bored being a full time mother, and she spent a lot of time chairing La Lech.e Lea.gue meetings and organizing playgroups. She was an incredibly active mother, a forgiving and open-minded mother, though, and for those things I'm grateful. I just think she was distracted, and probably was grieving her own loss of a mother while she was figuring out her own journey.
So my mother's journey was, in a sense, connected to her mother's journey, one that was cut off well before it's time. And my journey must then be connected to my mother's journey. I spent many years thinking that I was too selfish to have a child, that I would hate not being able to do what I wanted. And there is some truth to that. I miss reading my daily New York Ti.mes and watching taped Jon Ste.wart every morning. I miss being able to take three hour afternoon naps. I miss wandering around bookstores for hours, or just watching bad tv because I felt mopey and wanted to. Oh, there are so many things from my former life that I miss. And perhaps that anxiety was created because I did not like that my own  mother felt selfish somehow. All those mothering activities were really for her (how many boring meetings I attended as a young child!). And she spent a lot of time doing spiritual questing--she was a Rosi.crucian, a dedicated Bud.dhist meditator and yoga practitioner, a Catho.lic, and eventually, an Epis.copalian. None of that had much to do with me and my brother. I can clearly remember her telling me and my brother, probably ages 7 and 4, that she was going to go in her room for a few hours to meditate and that we should not bother her. Crazy, right?

And yet, in the end, my mother is amazing. She teaches me more about mothering now than she did back then. I think maybe I had to work through some of this selfishness anxiety, both alone and with my mother, for me to be able to finally become a mother myself. I wonder, though, how I'll see myself as a mother in a few years. Or worse, how W will see me as a mother. Will he think I, too, was selfish because I do read my New York Times on Sundays when he plays on the floor? Am I sometimes disconnected, looking at email or blogs, and does this mean I'm repeating some of my own mother's habits? Is mothering cyclical, generational? It must be. So what is my mothering legacy like? And how am I affected by these women I never met: Kit, the grandmother who raised my mother when she thought her own mothering days were over; Jeanne, my natural grandmother, whose photos I've seen and whose eyes seem so bright and alive.

I also wonder whether, if I had never become a mother myself, these connections, these journies, would have died with me. It's a sad concept, for me. Because as W turns one year old, I cannot imagine my life without him, truly. I can imagine a day or two without him, where I read and see movies and take long naps, but I feel such a strong kinship with his little spirit, and I have no idea where that came from or why it exists. I feel like I was meant to know him. Maybe that's just romanticized bullshit that I've internalized about motherhood. Or maybe there is something to it.

He'll be one in a few days, and I'll be celebrating my own new life as a mother and as a different person than I was before all this happened. One. Truly amazing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Name change

I've struggled with what to call this blog almost as much as I've been struggling with what this blog is about. Is it a blog about parenting after recurrent miscarriage? Sort of. Is it about being a full time university professor/administrator and a full time mother? Yes. Is it about finding a way to stay involved in the community? I'd like it to be. So what the hell is it? What do I want from this space? What online community do I belong to, if any?

The new name, The Second Act, is my latest attempt to formulate something out of these questions. It refers to the fact that I've thought of having a baby in my 40s as very much like starting a second act, a second life. My first act, from birth to the age of 38 or so, was all about me, to put it bluntly. I was figuring out who I was and what I wanted. I was a student for a long time (4 years of college and then 8 years of graduate school), and then I was a teacher and community organizer. I was becoming myself during those many years, and while that process is far from over, I reached a place in my late 30s where I was ready for a family. Ready for someone else to be at the center of my life. I fretted about the decision for most of my 30s. Was I too selfish to get off center stage? Did I live too much in my head and not enough in the real world for me to realistically be a good mother? Could I settle down with one man long enough to get to the let's-have-a-family conversation?

I did. I found love with one man, a fellow teacher, and found myself finally longing for a baby. It wasn't easy, and there were many times when I thought I had simply waited too long or wasn't going to be among the lucky ones to carry a baby to full term. But then, W stuck around and in December of 2009, he arrived safe and sound.

So this is my Second Act, and hopefully there will be third and fourth acts to come. For now, I'm sharing the metaphorical stage with my husband and my son, and I'm figuring out how to do all this. How to live this new life that I desperately wanted and that is not always rosy and simple. I loved a recent post over at Murgdan that I adored about how difficult babies can be, even when they were long-hoped-for and are cherished. I guess I want to be part of that conversation in my own minor way--I want to suggest to other women who are afraid, or who feel like their second act (motherhood in mid-life) is either not going the way it is "supposed" to go or is too hard to imagine. And I want to be a person, not just a mother. I write to remind myself that my First Act is not gone. I'm not a new person. I'm still me. I'm still that sometimes selfish, often lost, person I was, but now I've got additional roles and jobs to accomplish. I want to consciously write this Second Act into being.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving of Thanks

I'm not really a big fan of Thanksgiving. As a longtime vegetarian (20 years), turkey does nothing for me. Big groups are never my thing, either, so going to someone's house and making small talk with relative strangers is unappealing on many levels. But this year might be somewhat different. We're hosting our families and we're doing most of the cooking, which is nice because we control the parts that we might like. I'm even cooking the turkey this time around, and I got a free-range organic 20 pounder so that I feel better about the whole endeavor.

The only good thing about this so-called holiday is that it prompts reflection on what we're all grateful for. It's like a pause in my otherwise busy and overly self-critical brain. A reset. In fact, tomorrow I'm home from work doing some of the preparatory cooking, and I'm planning to take at least an hour and make a private list of the things I'm grateful for, just to remind myself of the joy of being alive.

I'm reading a cool book at the moment written by Jon Kabat-Zinn and his wife Myla Kabat-Zinn called Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Sometimes it gets a little woo-woo for me, but mostly, I'm digging it. And it reminds me often to stop and really see W, rather than just manage his day. Being a manager sucks, but being present with him and enjoying him (even when he's screaming and crying because he's overtired) is the best thing I can do.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grief for blogging friends

I have wanted to write for a while now about two of the bravest bloggers in the IF community: Mo and Will. I am so grateful for their writing (especially Mo, as Will doesn't write very often--it's her voice that I've gotten to know as a longtime reader). They've recently gone through another devastating loss and I weep for them, even though, as is so often the case, I've never met them in real life and probably never will. They have been through so much and I was so hoping, along with all of their devoted readers, that this last cycle was it. Recurrent miscarriage is an absolute nightmare.

I know they are loved far and wide, but in writing this post, I wish them much peace and love in the weeks to come. Their grief is theirs, but I'm grieving alongside, and I know that grief is so cyclical, so ongoing. I wish I could do more. It's all so unfair.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


MeKate had her baby! I'm so over the moon happy for her. I don't know her in person, but I've been a longtime reader and have hoped and prayed for good things for her forever. I'm smiling as I write this. Such wonderful news!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

writing fear

Right now, I'm feeling like thoughts are batting about in my mind, attaching themselves nowhere. I'm resisting the urge to edit them down. Focus them. I'm trying to write meditatively.

Ah. Take a breath.

The prompt for this post is provided by Kate, of Heartwork. It's about fear. So here goes. Her prompt is beautiful and provocative and I'm appreciative of this opportunity. Go read it and you'll see what I'm doing here.

I could be fully myself, unafraid and open, if only I wasn't afraid of losing something in the process. I could be whatever I wanted if only I was not afraid that by taking a risk, I'd lose out. I'd have to trade one good thing for one not so good thing. Or even that I'd have to trade one good thing for another. I guess I'm afraid of losing the status quo, because at least I know what the status quo is. At least now, I know what pain I feel, I know what hope I have, and I know the parameters I'm working in. I know the edges of this current existence, and so I know what I've got going on. I guess all this means that I'm afraid of the unknown.

The problem with this, if I may self-diagnose a bit, is that by being afraid of the unknown, I'm also afraid of the beauty of possibility. The beauty of the unexpected. And yes, this is true. As I sit trying to write meditatively, I felt a nod just now. Not of my head, but of something inside of me. Yes. I am afraid of change.

What a crazy thing. I know intellectually that change is okay. That life is change. I know that change is often wonderous. My life changed forever the day that W was born, and I have no doubt that it was a change I'll always be grateful for. My life is better--harder, more painful sometimes, but better on the whole. Change results in something beautiful in my life all the time. Even the change of seasons right now is amazing. We have a tree out back--I heard someone say it's a crepe myrtle, whatever that is--and the fall has made its leaves start to turn bright orange. It's as though the sun it shining right on it at all times, and it's mostly in the backyard shade. It is wonderous and beautiful. It was a lovely purple, a soft and peaceful color, just a few weeks ago. And now: it's shifting into this fiery warm thing.

So that's it, huh? I'm afraid of change even as I see it as beautiful. Even though I know it to be the essence of life. It's like I'm holding two things in my hands, one of which cancels the other out, and my goal is to keep these two hands balanced. Like I don't want to give over to change altogether, because then I lose the balance that keeps me feeling like I can handle the status quo. The moment I'm in. And I don't want to give over to just living in the status quo because I know there is possibility out there. Could it be that this balance is actually what life--my life, at least--is? Is there more than this? Is there less? Does it matter....

I won't edit this down, and maybe I'll even revisit this prompt. I'm curious, more curious than I was before starting this journaling exercise, about this fear of change. And actually, I'm going to sit and look at that tree for a bit (how can I find out if it's a crepe myrtle? I'll have to do some goo.gling!).

naming this thing

I really don't like "Wish on a Star." I thought it would work, but it doesn't. Another benefit of having no readers--no one can give a shit about what title I give my blog. Except me.

I need something more active, but can't go back to Wishing on a Star because it's already taken. Rachael's wishing on a star? Ick. I was thinking about Wishing on a Star: Life after IF. But I'm not really after IF, because we might try to have a second baby. I advanced age, the miscarriage problem, the pain and agony. Blah blah. So "after" If doesn't work. Life In IF? Life as a middle aged mother? This feels most true.

I'll keep working on it. But I literally woke up last night and wondered what the heck can I call this blog that I don't hate? Or that, g-d forbid, I might like?

More to talk about later. It's halloween and we decided NOT to dress up W for the holiday, but as it creeps up on 3pm, I'm wishing we had. How cute would that have been? Argh.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

too much

I have too much to say and too little, all at the same time. First, let me say that I just found out another blogger in the IF community has a blog with my same title (Wishing on a Star), so I'm going to change mine out of respect. I don't really see myself as being in the IF community at the moment, though one could argue that once a member, always a member. But she was there first, so for the moment I'm changing mine to Wish on a Star (dropping the ing). It still works for me, I think, because I chose the titled to honor W (wish) and the image of a star, which has long been an image that I associate with loved ones.

Maybe I'll come up with a better title later.

I have posts in my head about weaning (still working on it and still ambivalent), the surgical repair I just had to have due to 2nd degree tears after birth (holy hell!), being an academic and a mother (how they go together, or don't), how W's nursery is finally finished (though he's 10 months old), the impeding births for two of my favorite bloggers (both due any day now)...and that's just a start.So I'll get to work. I'll post again soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

a funny thing happened in zumba class

Yes, I know it's probably dorky to go to a zumba class, especially for someone without any real dancing ability. A funny thing happened, though, about five minutes in. I was trying to get the steps, failing at doing so (of course), and in the process, I looked around the room at all the other middle-aged women doing the same. Tears sprang to my eyes and I blinked them away, wondering what the hell they were all about. And then I realized why I wanted to cry: I was inhabiting my body again in a way I used to before the miscarriages and before W arrived. I used to get together with other women and do a hip hop dance class, in fact, and while I was terrible (truly...I am not downplaying anything by saying so), it was joyous. Dancing, or lumbering around, has always felt really good. In that zumba class, I felt a little bit of that joy, and it was mixed with confusion, and sorrow, and liberation, and strangeness in my body. My body was different, my lumbering wasn't the same at all, but I--the Rachael who has always been this person, as long as I can remember--was the same.

And so in zumba class on Friday, a middle aged new mom cried for a little bit while trying to keep up with the new steps. I think I was the only one, but maybe there were others crying for some of the same reasons.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

the friend who has gone missing

I spent many years in graduate school. Many. Probably too many. Anyhow, graduate school allowed me to have a rich and evolving community of friends. New students would arrive and we'd bring them into the fold. Other friends would graduate and we'd send them off with love and promises of eternal support via email or phone. We had fights. We threw lavish parties (lavish on a grad student budget, that is). We dated, broke up, and became friends with one another over and over again.

I'm reducing a lot of complexity down, but you get the idea. Over the course of nine years (!), this community sustained me and allowed me to feel less alone in the world. Exactly what a community should do, right?

But then I graduated and went off to my first real non-tenure track job in a faraway state. I got the big sendoff and the many promises that we'd all keep in touch. It was heartfelt from all directions, mine and theirs. And yet. That community has completely dissipated. I'm in touch with two of those folks still, one of whom is at my same university (a strange and completely random occurrence) and we're friends-at-work, though we aren't close in the way we used to be. And the other friend is almost 400 miles away and we keep in touch via phone. The rest? friends and that's it. Some of this can be attributed to distance and time, and other parts of it is due to lifestyle changes. My local friend-at-work has no kids and lives a very kid-less life. He's never asked to meet W in the 10 months of his life, and I expect they'll never meet. How strange is that? I didn't notice how odd that is until I typed it just now.

There is one friend I truly miss, however, and while we're FB friends, so I know where she lives, what food she's cooking (she's a wonderful cook), that her old sweet cat just died, and where she works, I don't really know her anymore. She was a central part of my old grad school community. She and I were like the linchpins, at least that's how it felt to me. We've completely lost touch. And I don't know how to get it back. We lost it somewhere around 2003--ages ago, now--when she accused me via phone of not calling her often enough. It seemed to me an odd accusation, as we generally called one another every few months when one of us finally had a free moment to call. I hadn't stopped calling her or wanted to cease speaking, but I had not called in a while. It was a weird year for me, too. I was changing jobs, changing boyfriends (again), and moving from one city to another. Things got a little lost. I never meant to lose her in the process. She and I were living three states apart and it seemed to me that this little fight would eventually pass. It hasn't.

When I joined FB in 2008 (also eons ago, now), I friended her and hoped we could really reconnect. She said yes to the friend request, but ignored the two or three emails I sent saying that I'd love to chat on the phone and really catch up. So here we are. I know where she is. She knows where I am. And yet there is nothing more. I feel a real sadness when I see a post from her that references the time in her life where we were close friends. Best friends, even. She posts about food she's cooking a lot because the FB posts link to her foodie blog, and so many ingredients or dishes are ones that she first used or cooked for our grad school community. When she does this, I get a twinge. Why are we not close friends again? What happened?

When W was born, I announced it on FB after not having mentioned my pregnancy there at all. I kept the pregnancy secret because I honestly wasn't sure it would end in a live baby, so I didn't want to deal with having to announce sadness to my most casual of friends. She acknowledged the announcement with a message that was cordial and distant. Kind, but distant.

Man, do I miss her. And I miss having that sense of community surrounding me. I'll write about this another time, but since leaving that grad school community in 2001, I've never gotten it back. I've not found another set of friends or colleagues with whom I could be as silly and comfortable. So maybe missing her is really a stand in for missing community? I recall a book in the past few years about female friendship loss and the NP.R commentary made me think of her and the other friends I was so sure would be in my life forever. They're not, and I'm feeling wistful about it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


W can now climb the stairs in our house, which are one flight of stairs broken into two bits with a landing between. Somehow it feels significant--he's in front of me, climbing away. Away. Mostly, it's exciting, and then it's also scary. (What if he falls down? What if this is the beginning of his very mobile stage? How will we catch up on babyproofing...we're already so far behind, and he's really only a fast crawler?).

Right now, though, he's in his crib crying, ready for a nap but not quite there. We're not exactly CIO people, so he won't cry for long. But it's the kind of crying that sounds to me like settling, not like distress. More ambivalence. Maybe that's what I should have called this blog--Ambivalent Mommy.

Am feeling so not profound this morning. Instead, I'm feeling like everything is moving slowly. And yet too quickly at the same time. It's a gorgeous fall day, though, so after the nap is finished, we're headed out. Out to see leaves. Out to enjoy a fall festival at a local arboretum (fresh apple cider!). And out to enjoy a day before the work week starts up again.

W is still crying. He's standing in his crib. I'm going to go do some soothing and calming. Hopefully I'll have something more important to say later?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ambivalence about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding was INCREDIBLY hard at first, and so I struggled and struggled to make it work. I was on the verge of calling it quits, around five weeks, and then it suddenly got easier, due to no brilliance of my own making. It was probably just timing and good luck. Since then, W and I have had a fine time of it. Pumping absolutely sucked, and my supply through pumping was never very good. I think I just failed on that account. I tried to pump every two hours and follow the directions, but the little bags would fill up with just barely enough to get him through half of the next day at daycare. Ugh.

Now, at 9 months, I'm feeling like quitting yet again, not because it's not working, but because I'm just feeling done with it. I want my body back. W is also biting more than I'd like and when he feels like it, he hits me as he feeds. Lovely. I feel some guilt, though, because isn't that what motherhood is all about? I know the facts, that he's probably had enough BM to develop the immunities we all want babies to have by the time we reached six months. That he likes formula a lot and is completely comfortable with the bottle. That he's more interested in food these days anyway, and the breast is probably largely providing comfort and not just nutrition. But it's hard. I may never have another child. On the last day I breastfeed, it may be the last time my body does this amazing thing of feeding another person. And my irrational brain asks whether W and I will still be close without it--irrational because I'm actually certain we will. There is plenty of snuggling time without feeding already, and there's no reason to think it will end.

So we're down to two or three feeds a day--morning and night. And eventually, I'll drop one of those, too. It's like this phase is ending and another is beginning. As many people have said before me, change is really what motherhood, and what life, is all about.

I don't have any readers yet, which is still fine with me, but I want to add one beautifully written link here to Mel's posts about breastfeeding at Stirrup Queens. Even though I was one of the lucky ones able to breastfeed, I absolutely support the idea that we STOP putting so much pressure on women about the wonders of breastmilk. In that awful time where I was struggling and wanting to give up, I encountered my fair share of lactation consultants who berated me for thinking about it. They had me convinced that the problem was all mine, and that if I just wanted it enough, I could breastfeed. I shed more tears than necessary because of those women, and while they were also sometimes helpful, I see no reason to package the tears and the help together. Anyway, Mel is saying it far more eloquently than I, so here are the links. If I ever do have readers, again something I'm ambivalent about at the moment, someone might find them useful. And if I don't, I'll revisit these posts again to remind myself when I'm faced with other new mothers who don't need to be berated or scared into thinking that breast is always best. Breast is one fine option among many. Breastfeeding does not turn anyone into a genius, and it doesn't make mothers into goddesses. In fact, it's damn hard work, and anyone who says otherwise can fuck off.

Breast is Not Best

Friday, September 24, 2010

I suck at this

I have wanted a blog for many years, not so much for other people to read, but to collect my thoughts. Journaling has gotten boring for me lately. I love paper, pens, special notebooks (my favorites have always been Moleskine ones). But I wanted a new outlet. I wanted to be pushed to write, not to find the notebook and say, "Oh, yeah. I keep a journal. Better start writing again."
And yet it's not working. I'm not giving up on it, though. I'm still convinced this can work. Maybe the issue is that journaling, either in ink-paper or internet form, is difficult right now. I can't find time to breathe, much less journal.
I should breathe more. I need more space in my life that is not required or mandated by a screaming child. I need time for me again. How cliche is that? And yet, it's also true.
So here I am. Breathing for a moment. Writing for a few moments. And hoping that this will stick somehow.
In other brief news, W said his first real word today: bye bye. His grandparents were walking out the door, saying "bye bye" over and over again (while I gritted my teeth and wanted them to walk faster so I could get on with our day). And after one of the many "bye byes," W clearly said "bye bye" in the sweetest little voice, his hand opening and closing like a slow starfish. We all heard it and it prompted many attempts to get him to say it again. Of course, he babbled about other things and we couldn't get another "bye bye." Oh, it was so lovely. It was like a little window into what we're going to be hearing soon. We'll hear actual words, we'll know what this little guy is thinking about, and a new chapter in our lives will begin. I can't wait, but I also want to savor this little moment. One small word among the babbles. One bit of meaning. So beautiful.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

it never ends

One of the legacies of miscarriage is that even now, all these months after W has arrived, I still find myself checking the TP every single time I go to the bathroom. I still expect to see blood. And when I see it because it's that time of the month, I still catch my breath. Just for a moment. I used to hate this phrase, but I feel it: I keep expecting the other shoe to drop, even when there is no shoe in the air.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I made my first cubes of frozen baby food today. Very exciting. I'm not very homemaker-y. In fact, I probably have fewer skills than most. But I've been trying to feed him real food now that he's eating more than purees. I use a sweet little hand grinder that minces soft foods nicely.

Sadly, those cubes of zucchini were the bright spot in an otherwise challenging day of parenting. I think W's upper two teeth are coming in (he has two little sharp shark-like teeth on the bottom and he likes to bite). If he's not really teething, though, then he's just cranky for no reason, which sucks. I feel like I spent my whole day today wrangling him. He would not sit still, would not be put down, would not play on his own. And yet when I held him, which was (I repeat) all day, he was squirmy and whiny and kind of mean. He kept hitting me, which I knew wasn't really aggression against me (he's 9 months old), but which hurt nonetheless. Patience was the word of the day.

So I'm taking comfort in those zucchini cubes. At least today included fresh foods and a bit of planning ahead. Here's hoping that tomorrow is better.

Friday, September 3, 2010

how I got here

I thought it might make sense to write a little about how I got here, and by here, I mean how I got to be 41 and the mother of a very small child. I'll give you the short version: met my husband late in life, had some trouble getting (or mostly, staying) pregnant, and then got lucky with W. Today, he's almost nine months, which is shockingly old. He's a real little person.

But what was I doing all that time? I sometimes wish I had gotten my shit together to have a baby earlier, especially now that I know how much I love having a kid. Ah, wishful thinking. I suppose I wasn't ready for all of this until now, and for what it's worth, I'm not sure I'm really ready for it now. Today, for example, I would love to curl up with a good book. It's a cloudy quiet day and it's perfect for that big sprawling novel I got from the library on Tuesday. Instead, I'm sitting here watching the video baby monitor for signs that W is waking up early from his hard-fought-for (by me) nap. He's cranky today. Barometric pressure? The lingering cold that he can't seem to shake? Maybe he'd rather be alone and read. Whatever the reason, today is a rough one for us. And it's one of the few days that I'm home with him all day--I work four days a week (equalling full time, so I actually work a bit from home at nights and on weekends). I'll save the work-or-stay-at-home issue for another post, but for now, I'll say that this one day home is bittersweet. Sweet because I'm with my boy. Bitter because I don't really get a day "off" and it doesn't always go as well or as smoothly IRL as it does in my daydreams when I'm at my office desk.

So today, I'm grateful that I have W and that it's not completely perfect. If it was, I might *really* regret those years in my late 20s and 30s reading and going to movies. In reality, life is complicated and motherhood is especially complicated.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

slow start

I really miss going to the gym. I don't much care about how I look (though it would be nice to know that I could fit into clothes off the rack in any mainstream women's clothing store--not the case now). But I like the feeling of being easy in the world, and going to the gym gets me there. I often used to feel that running was like my meditation time. I would tune out from the world and pay close attention to my body. What was that twinge? Can I go another 10 seconds? Are my feet pronating?

As you can tell, I have trouble getting to the gym these days. Reason one: my knees are killing me. I've had osteoarthritis forever, but that's not the source of pain. It's the OTHER knee, the previously "good" knee. I think breastfeeding may have loosened up the joint and I've injured by trying to run on a loose wonky knee. And now, I can barely bend it. No running for Rachael.

Reason two: the breastfeeder, aka my son W. I work full time and then want to spend time with the babe, which means that the gym has fallen low on my list of things to do. I swore I wouldn't let this happen. Before I had a baby, which was just last year, I used to say that mothers should put themselves first. If a mother doesn't take care of her needs, she can't take care of her child. What a load of crap! It's not that I'm sacrificing myself for my son or anything noble. It's just that there are not enough hours in the day. And when he's asleep by 7:30 or so, could I go to the gym? Yes, if I wasn't drop dead exhausted!

I'm working on the first reason by seeing a doctor in a few weeks. I'm hoping he can do something to revive my formerly "good" knee. I just want to be able to kneel without pain. I can't even get down on the floor to play with W! And maybe when I stop breastfeeding (a topic for another post...), the joints will tighten up and all will be better.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I love reading blogs. They make me feel far less alone than I usually feel. But do I need to join the blogging world? Do I have anything unique and interesting to say?

Hm. I'm not sure. But here it is. Here is a place for me to write. Think. Explore. Understand (myself? other people?). Process. Make jokes. Figure out who I am and what this life thing is all about. Big expectations? Yup.

Maybe I'll try it for a while and see what happens.