Monday, October 31, 2011

The 1%

I read an article over the weekend about how parenting is 49% hard / scary / terrifying / rough and 51% the most wonderful / amazing / loving / personal experience ever.  I totally agree.  Like, really a lot. 

I remember being pregnant and thinking THAT was hard - thinking it was a weird paradox of utter joy and happy anticipation mixed with complete anxiety (I'm going to be responsible for another human being?  You mean forever???) and frustration (at my body and all complexities that go with dressing a pregnant figure - especially for someone like me who cares too, too much about clothes - not to mention how being pregnant not only mean jeans and tops don't fit anymore, but neither do shoes, bras and coats).

But that was nothing compared to the real joy and sweetness (and the holy-crap-this-this-is-hard feeling) that comes from being a mom.  It's kind of like the baby monitor.  What a wonderful invention!  It allows me to put my little man in his own crib in his adorable nursery downstairs without worry.  But when the monitor cries at me at 3 in the morning, I want to turn it off, like my morning alarm.  Or throw it. 
On the other hand, when I stumble downstairs (why is it I walk like a drunk person at 3 a.m.?) and pick up my precious little guy and he's all warm and snuggles into my neck, it's the sweetest feeling in the world. 

See, it's that 1% that makes it all worthwhile. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh Best Beloved

Last night I read to Miles from a book that belonged to my dad called Rocket in My Pocket.  It got me thinking about all of my favorite books as a kid - The Lorax, Sneeches, Cross Country Cat, Where the Wild Things Are, and so many others.
Each book is kind of like an old friend -
I remember lying in my parents' bed one Saturday morning while they read Cross Country Cat to me.  It's such a sweet memory -- filled with all the comfort of flannel nightgowns and soft quilts.  I also remember my grandmother's voice and hands as she read Kipling's The Elephant's Child to me - how she held her nose while reading to imitate the elephant's voice as his trunk was being pulled by the crocodile in the "great grey-green greasy Limpopo River". 
I treasure these memories and am so grateful to be a parent who can pass down my love of books and reading to my baby, and one who can now create new memories of my own as I read my favorite books to him. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just a Wednesday

Yesterday I stopped by Starbucks on the way home from daycare.  I ordered a hot chocolate, which I don't even like.  I sat in line while Miles fussed in the backseat and tried to figure out why I was there.  Why had I risked it?  I know he's begun to have less and less patience with his carseat lately, one day even crying so hard I pulled over to get him out and soothe him. So what was I doing sitting in a drive through line behind four other SUVs waiting for their tall defac cappuccinos? 
And I realized I had just wanted to feel normal.  I wanted to do something just because, without having to obsess over whether or not the baby was going to cry or fuss. 
I know this sounds kind of selfish now, but geez, being a mom is hard!  And sometimes you just have to take a time out for a margarita, a girls' night, or a freaking hot chocolate from Starbucks! : )

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let It Be

The Beatles sang "Let It Be."  They said these are words of wisdom. 
I happen to agree.  Sometimes there are just things you can't fix. This realization comes to me only after obsessing about the number of hours my child is in daycare.  It's a sticky, yucky, messy fact of my life that our son has to be there, that someone else is responsible for his well-being for about eight hours a day, five days a week. 
It sucks. 
It hurts. 
But it has to be that way.  At least for now. 
Robert says I love him too much, and that I can't do everything. 
Impossible! And why not? - my irrational side argues.  Our society demands women do everything, and somehow we do.  If we choose to be working moms, we feel guilty and that we ought to be home with our kids.  If we stay home, we feel deprived of a life of our own.  What a weird irony we have created for ourselves. 
The funny thing is, I don't think I would be as good of a mom if I were with him 24 hours a day.  Somehow, for now, it works this way.  I get to have my life as a teacher, and I miss him all day long.  And then I get to be mommy.  I guess the guilt is natural.  But my wise friend Heather said the other night that guilt is overrated. 
I like to think so too. 
Because what it comes down to is doing the best I can.  And being a mom, I think maybe I'll always feel my best may not be good enough. 

But for now, I think I have to just let it be. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's 3:30

It's 3:30.  I'm a kid on Christmas morning. 
Soccer-mom mall-walk as quick as I possibly can, avoiding chatty students and other teachers like land mines. 
them: "Hey, Mrs. Pitts!  How's it going?"
me: "Can't talk.  Leaving!"
Step outside for the first time all day since about 8:15 a.m.  Don't really notice the weather, just how far away my damn car is. Hurry up!  Now walking even more briskly.  Finally at the car.  Throw my purse and pumping bag in the passenger seat.  Start the car, pull out of spot.  Ignore other person trying to exit parking lot and get in front of them.  Out of the lot and on the road before buckling my seatbelt. 
35 mph speed limit?  I can probably go 40 and be fine.  Or 45.  Stupid stop sign!! Turn right on Forum.  Stop light.
Past Walgreen's.  Stupid old people turning in to get their Geritol and prescriptions!  Go!!! At four-way stop now.  Almost there!  Turn left.  Left again into parking lot.  Park.  Leave keys in ignition.  Power walk into daycare. 

Open door.

Deep breath. 

There he is.  Totally unaware of the journey I've just taken to get to him even 30 seconds sooner. Adorable.
I pick him up. 

Sigh. 

He smells like Miles - millk and boy and outside. 

I love this.  I live for this moment. 

Smile. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Musings

Every morning on my way to work I drive by these two 8 or 9-year old little boys waiting for the school bus.  They are always doing something adorable.  Sometimes they're playing tag, sometimes swinging their backpacks.  Yesterday one of them had his knees tucked up inside his sweatshirt and he was rolling around on the ground like a weeble.  I always wave and smile as I drive past -- and I wonder what my little man will be like at that age.

Will he be calm or crazy?  Serious or funny?  Will he still giggle when I pull his arm out of his shirt?  Will he still have chubby cheeks?  What will be his favorite food?  toy?  TV show?  Who will his best friend be? 

When I try to envision what his life will be like then, I realize how lucky I am to be here in this life.  Sometimes when I can't get back to sleep after a middle of the night trek downstairs to feed little man, I lay in bed and count all the ways my life is good.  Not just because I have a beautiful family, or because I'm a mama to a perfect little boy.  Oh, yes, all of that too!  But also because I get to watch Miles grow and know him, see his personality develop. 

These are the things I need to remember.  When I'm so exhausted I don't know what day it is, when I haven't showered, exercised, eaten a vegetable in who-knows-when.  To be lucky is one thing - but to realize you are is important too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Birth Story

The day I was scheduled to be induced was June 10, with the hope that I would deliver on the 11th.  That was nine days past my due date, and my doctor didn’t want me going any further because my amniotic fluid was on the low side.  Plus they could tell the baby was already 8 pounds.  My parents came to town that morning, and the four of us (Mom, Dad, my husband Robert and I) went to lunch at Sophia’s, where I had my last meal.  I still remember what I ate – a hummus and turkey sandwich with broccoli.  It was delicious!  I was really excited for the next day, knowing that I would finally be meeting our new little guy.  I had no idea the extent of what lay ahead of me…

My sister arrived in the afternoon, and we all hung out at the house, nervous and anticipating the labor and birth to come. We made a quick trip to HyVee on our way to the hospital that evening to buy magazines, some sugar free Jolly Ranchers and some travel sized toiletry items.  I checked into Boone Hospital about 7 p.m. where they got me started on Cervidil, a medicine that is inserted vaginally.  It is meant to thin and soften the cervix and help begin contractions.  Then I attempted to go to sleep; it was really hard to relax.  I knew I needed my strength, but I was so anxious.  I remember hoping and praying I would be dilated in the morning so they wouldn’t have to use Pitocin, which I had heard horror stories about.

The next morning I wasn’t dilated any more that I had been the night before -- only once centimeter.  I was disappointed.  My friend had used Cervidil very successfully, so I had hoped I would too.  Because I was afraid of Pitocin, my doctor decided to administer an oral drug called Cytotek.  Once I began having contractions, I alternated between walking the halls of the labor and delivery wing and sitting on a birthing ball.  Hours later I was only dilated to 3 centimeters.  I was still planning on trying to deliver naturally, so I was given another dosage of Cytotek. 

A couple hours later I still hadn’t progressed the way she hoped, so she decided to double the next dosage of Cytotek.  This was in the afternoon sometime, I believe, though much of it is sort of a blur!  I was allowed to have water, ice chips, and clear foods, like popsicles or jell-o once every hour.  I was starving, and my strength was waning.  To allow me some time to rest, I was given a drug (I don’t remember the name) that let me sleep; however, my contractions from this point on were quite strong, so I woke up every 5 minutes or so every time one would hit.  After this wore off, I preferred alternating lying in bed and being on the birthing ball. My husband, mom and sister were amazingly supportive and would take turns rubbing my back and offering words of encouragement.  I was getting discouraged because I hadn’t dilated easily, and I was getting pretty tired.  After the double dose of Cytotek, my doctor announced that I still wasn’t dilated enough, but I was getting closer.  I believe by 6 p.m. I was at about 7 or 8 centimeters.  The contractions were getting stronger, but not strong enough.  When I heard that, I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue without some pain relief.  Though getting an epidural was not a part of my birth plan, neither was being in labor for 12 hours!  I asked for the epidural, and my husband double checked me, making sure that was really what I wanted to do.  I knew I wanted the baby out safely, and I felt that some pain relief for myself was the best way to do that. 

The hour I had to wait before they could administer the epidural was the longest and worst part of the day.   My contractions were gaining strength, and I was getting more and more exhausted with each one.  While I was pregnant and creating my birth plan, I thought I would never be able to let someone stick a giant needle in my spine.  It is easy and natural to be na├»ve about what labor will be like when you’ve never experienced it!  But at this point in my labor, I knew it was the only answer.  After the doctor administered the epidural, it wasn’t the “fog” that many birth books said it would be.  It was simply relief from the worst of the pain.  I’m pretty sure I called the anesthesiologist a “miracle worker” as soon as I began feeling the effects. 

Somewhere in all that jumble of discomfort, they had to insert an instrument so they could more accurately assess my contractions because the over-the-belly kind wasn’t doing a good enough job.  After the epidural, my doctor announced they needed to go ahead and administer a tiny bit of Pitocin to get me to dilate to 10 centimeters.  Though I was originally adamantly against using Pitocin, I could see that all the other methods had not gotten me there, and at that point the most important thing to me was getting my baby out safely.  I agreed to the Pitocin, and by 9 p.m. I was FINALLY dilated to 10.  I could begin pushing.  I was elated!

They hiked my bed up in the air, and all these crazy instruments unfolded from the wall behind me.  My lovely room was now a delivery room.  I had three nurses plus my husband, mom and sister.  My husband Robert was my main source of support at this time.  Once the pushing began, he did the counting and helped by supporting my back.  It was hard for me to transition to not breathing during pushing because all I’d been doing all day was breathing through the contractions!  Robert helped keep me focused by constantly telling me how great I was doing.  One of the most effective ways I was able to push was by pulling on two ends of a towel, the middle of which a nurse was pulling the other direction.  I pushed for an hour and 45 minutes, which sounds like a long time, but after the labor I had been through, the pushing part was not that bad.  The epidural helped tremendously with giving me the strength I needed. 

At 10:48 p.m., Miles David Pitts finally arrived!  He weighed 8 lbs, 8 ½ oz and was 20 ¾ inches long.  Robert and I had not formally decided on a name, but once we saw him, we knew “Miles” was perfect.  The first thing my doctor said was, “Look at those cheeks!”  They were and still are fantastically chubby.  It was one of the most amazing moments of my life, knowing he was finally here and healthy, and knowing that I was finally done with the most arduous journey of my life.  Little did I know, that journey had just begun! 

   


Friday, October 7, 2011

celebrate

My sweet boy is transitioning to his crib in his nursery, which is, like an eternity's walk away from our bedroom.  He has slept downstairs in his crib successfully for the past three nights! The nursery is so adorable, and I'm glad we're finally using it, but it does seem a little too far away from me. 
It really only bothers me when I'm getting ready to go to sleep, but thankfully I'm so exhausted I have no energy to worry too much about it.  It's only problematic when I'm stumbling downstairs at 2:30 a.m. to feed him. 
I'm excited about this transition; it will be good to have a bedroom that doesn't contain more than one of the following: diapers, a diaper genie, a vaporizer, a collection of pacifiers, board books, baby lotion, etc.  I can have an adult bedroom again! 
On the other hand, I'm going to miss his little noises at night.  Yes, they woke me up, but they were also sweet.  It's just really cool how every day is a new little change, a new transition, another step towards his growth :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?

So yesterday I uttered the words I never ever thought I would say. 
I was picking up Miles from the bed after changing him, just picking him up and holding him close, something I do thirty or more times a day. I nuzzled his neck and squeezed him and said, "I sure love you, buddy.  You know that?  You have no idea how much.  But you will someday - when you have kids of your own." 

All my life my mom has said these words to me - "You'll understand one day when you have kids of your own."  Sometimes they were said matter of factly, sometimes accompanied with a twinge of irritation - epsecially when I was 14 or so.  But every time I received them with a "Yeah, yeah, whatever, Mom" attitude. 
Well, Mom, you were right. (How long have you been waiting to hear that?!) : )

I DO understand! I finally get it!  There is no love that the one a mama has for her baby. 

And someday Miles will roll his eyes at me,
and someday he will get it -

when he has kids of his own. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

sisterfriend

Today's post is for my sister.
She is adorable and funny - you should meet her. 
I miss her so. 
She lives three hours away, and I miss the things we used to do together, like work out, drink beer outside on some patio, or see cheesy movies (BioDome?).  And I long for things we would do on a whim if we lived in the same city, like get wings at Coyote Adobe and go for stroller runs together. 

She is my hero is ways - she quit her safe desk job with benefits - to go back to school and get a second degree, doing what she loves: cooking.  She traded safety for uncertainty, salary for tips.
She knows how to make amazing things - like boeuf bourguignon, seafood nachos, and edamame dip with fancy lettuce things.  She makes a mean pina colada. 

I know she would love to be here and see her nephew on a daily basis.  I know she would always have gum, as every good aunt should. 

So here's to someday hopefully living in the same city.  Here's to being able to call up my Sissy and say, "Hey! Come over and watch Project Runway with me!"  Here's to Aunt Sarah : )

Monday, October 3, 2011

Daddy Love

So I've been thinking lately about Dads.  Specifically, what is it about Daddies that makes them so different from Mamas? And why do I feel that because I am a mama, I must be Super Mom and do it all?  As I told my friend Kelsey recently, I know I CAN do it all, but I shouldn't have to.  But what's funny about that is, no matter how strongly I feel that way, or how resentful I am of how much time I spend doing Mom-type things, whenever Robert tries to help, I would rather just do it myself. 

You can't have it both ways.

I think the real deal is that I want him to connect with Miles the way I do
Which can't really happen, because he's not the Mama.  He's the Daddy.  And that's a pretty special thing too. 

In the spirit of thinking of Dads, I must say here that it is heartbreaking to me that both my mom's father and Robert's father are missing out on knowing Miles.  I look at him and marvel at how special, smart, sweet, snuggly and amazing he is, and I feel pity that neither of them is likely to know him.  And that it's by choice.

I don't even know if Robert's dad knows we have a son, that there is a little of part of himself out there in the world.  Just as he missed out on knowing how fantastic and great his own son is, he’s about to miss out on his grandson's life as well.  Truly it is his loss, but it’s difficult for me not to feel resentment toward this man I’ve never even met.  What’s it like for him, I wonder?  Does he live with that guilt daily or is he able to tuck it away and try not to think of how he abandoned his child?

In the same vein, it has always been difficult for me not to severely dislike my mom’s father.  She has somehow forgiven him for not being in her life for at least 20 years of it, and I have made meager attempts to forgive him as well, but I’m not sure I’ve succeeded. 

I have anger towards both of these men who have unquestionably dropped the ball when it came to being a Daddy, I think especially because they have both hurt people I dearly love.  Both Robert and my mom are strong – they’ve moved on, forgiven and coped.  They’ve survived and succeeded without the help of a Dad in their lives, and they’ve both become amazingly sweet and beautiful parents.   

I reflect on my own childhood with my amazing dad, and I watch Robert with Miles and wonder -- how could any man could walk away from the chance to have that?  Any man can be a father, but it is by choice that he commits and becomes a Daddy.