I wanted a new blog theme because – though there’s been so much sadness, and there ain’t nothing new about that – this is also a time of newness and possibility.
- This is my second week at home with Bram when I’m not also writing, and the difference is profound. Even with this tiny bit of space, I can see that writing my dissertation and being home with B was overwhelmingly intense. Trying to fit all the research and drafting I could into the two or three or four hours Bram was with sitters. Revising from the bedroom over the sound of dancing or kitchen play in the living room. Sending B off for bedtime rituals with J only to settle down for more work, night after night (which feels achingly impossible after being on with a baby ALL. DAY.). Wearing him through ALL of his naps so he’d sleep longer, and precariously balancing the computer on my knees, which got harder and harder to do as he grew. [Though full disclosure: I'm still wearing him through naps. Only right now, I'm doing it for the snuggles. So it's selfish.] The hardest thing of all was the feeling I could never shake that I should be doing something else. I never worked when B was awake and I was on alone with him, but I always sensed that I needed to be working, so I always felt a low grade sort of panic. Now the days stretch out before us, and they are exhausting, but they don’t scare me the same way because for the moment, my only job is mom. [This is not strictly true. I need to read my dissertation and plan my defense opening statements and do some formatting, but I'm ignoring all of that, and with an impressive degree of success.] And though I worried about what it would be like to only have this one hat on for awhile (the summer), I am finding that I love it. I feel a new freedom to just be with him. We’ll see how it feels after my defense, when the summer really just stretches out before us, but right now: I am aware of and grateful for the privilege of this tiny moment. Because it will likely never come again, not with B or with our other children. I’ll hopefully be on the tenure track. It won’t be the same. I now know that I could be a stay-at-home-parent for the duration if things were different, but I’m also okay working. I ADORE teaching, and I ADORE being at home with my kid. And I am so deeply lucky to feel fulfilled by both of these things. I hope to find a balance once I’m working full-time, and I do think that, R-1 universities aside, the professoriate lends itself to some balance. What I most hope is that J will get to do some of this with our next child (or children): that I’ll be able to carry us for awhile to give her a little space at home. It is hard, hard, hard work (as so many of you know), and I am dog tired by the day’s end. But compared to the weight of writing WHILE giving my son everything I have, this singular focus feels blissful.
- Oh, and this: I cannot thank you all enough for your communal, resounding GET A NEW CAT message. Y’all are just absurdly kind, and you get us, and we are so lucky. So I think we’re going to get a cat! I mean, that many of you can’t be wrong! :) Our vet feels strongly that N will do better with a kitten than an older cat. And he feels even more strongly that a kitten will do better with Bram because s/he will have just always grown up with an annoying being chasing her/him around, unlike an older cat who might resent the hell out of young children. So we’re leaning in that direction, though there’s a nine-month-old boy cat we’re also drawn to… Anyway, more on this soon. We might have happy news to post in the near future.
- And HUGELY: our dear friends A & C brought their second daughter into the world this week. Little Zora joins big sister Thea, and she is sweet sweet sweet. Thea asked to be with me during/after the labor (heart-melting, by the way), but she was sleeping through the whole thing, so they called me when C was pushing, and I walked in to the darling cries of born.seconds.earlier Z. I kept thinking of that Ani song when she says, “I was there to hear your bell the first time it rang, and the beauty was the beauty of everything.” It was painful because, you know, I want to do that (give birth to a baby who cries after), but it was beautiful. I brought Thea (who is three) home with me for the day so her mamas and new sister could sleep, and when we got here at 7:30, B was still resting. (Miraculously. Likely because he couldn’t sleep for awhile after I left at 4.) Since Thea was a little sleepy, I put her in bed with him. When he woke a few minutes later and rolled over to smooch me (like he does), he found her in my place! J said it was the sweet-sweetest thing. Anyway, welcome baby Zora. You are no end loved.
But there’s also other stuff.
- I went to the dentist yesterday because I have stress fractures in a filling (so, pain), and the hygienist asked (when looking at my medical records) if my son inherited my clotting disorder. I told her that he didn’t because my wife carried him. When I mentioned later that I’m at home with him full time, she said, “Oh, so he’s practically yours then.” So, yeah. That happened. He’s practically mine.
- In terms of wanting to give birth to a healthy baby, I’ve been letting myself fantasize about a number of things this week, and it needs to stop. When I lay down at night, or when B is napping, or when I’m washing dishes, I find myself imagining calling my dad, and hearing him answer, hearing him call me sweetheart or tell me to have a good good day. I imagine him at my graduation. I imagine seeing him proud of me, with tears in his eyes. I fantasize about being huge and pregnant and feeling the baby move inside of me. And about pushing, which is what I most wanted to do, most of all, like desperately. Desperately. I fantasize that Hades will run into the room, meowing his disgruntled old-man meow. That he’ll push his head into my mouth for kisses. I’m not sure how to stop letting these fictions in. It feels impossible to me that these things can’t happen. And I feel so peaceful and happy when I’m playing them out in my head like a movie. Maybe writing this down will help.
- Also, probably because of all the loss, I’ve been (and J has been too) obsessed lately with B’s health. Like, checking his breathing every ten minutes at night like you do with a newborn. And asking our NP to run a CBC on him. (Which she gladly obliged, and everything looks great. And by the way: Bram LOVED having his blood drawn, the weird child. He sat on my lap, and they prepped me for how to keep him steady, but he watched the whole time and never even flinched. And then he wanted to go to one of the techs after!) We’ve always been worriers on this front, but the last couple of weeks have been newly bad. So, trust. Something else to work on. And thank the gods because I was bored. ;)
- One good thing, though, is that other than the wanting to be pregnant, and to give birth to a big, breathing baby, I’m not all that sad about the fact that I probably won’t try to carry again. When I got pregnant this time,the emotions were just different than before. And I was deeply sad to be losing my NGP identity. I LOVE this role. I feel like an ambassador for NGP-hood. I think about the misunderstanding out there, about how many people believe that the only way to truly be a parent is to have a child who carries your DNA, and I think: I can help undermine that. I think that at this point, adoption would be even more profound for me than carrying to term, because then J and I would SHARE the NGP role. That sounds just mindblowingly great, doesn’t it? But of course, that requires being chosen by another birth mother. So we shall see. It could happen, right? Anyway, the peace I feel in this regard is surely nice.
- Okay, that’s all. Thanks for letting me ramble. I’m glad it’s finally spring. I’m sure I join most of you in welcoming the sunshine.