Friday, March 4, 2016

Feeding the Flicker

I was all set to go. I'm sure I've lost my original train of thought, but here's hoping for a new one.

Because despite the deep and eerie quiet of the house and the desperate loneliness that prompted me to explore an old and nearly forgotten desire once again, the promise of interruption still hangs over me, working against that same constant but virtually silenced need.

There's always some valid reason: uncomfortable gas pressure, a lost pacifier, a failed first (or second, or third) transition into overnight sleep cycles (which in and of themselves are still unpredictable enough). And the cries, they always come, to signal one or more of them. It makes an early bedtime useless and an evening spent doing anything substantial seemingly not worth attempting.

Until tonight, when the silence presses and my wild and random thoughts press back.

It's not the first night I've spent without my husband. Though I've hated the times I've done it, I survived. Nor is it the first night spent without at least some of my children. While I think I have left Amelia only once, Abby and Michael have done their fair share of leaving me, too. But something felt different this time, as I watched the three biggest entities of the household march out the front door, eagerly anticipating the weekend to come. I missed them all from the moment they drove away.

It seems that if Tom leaves me, I can only miss him so much with the abounding distraction of my loudest and proudest. And when my older two leave me, Tom- in combination with my younger one or two- has been plenty of distraction from overly missing them. But now I am bereft of even preschool-level conversation, and though I can't say I haven't enjoyed a long span of hours in which there's been no need to shout in exasperation at anyone in the house, I feel that trade-off is not quite what it seemed cracked up to be.

To be sure, it's been amazing having the time and peace to gaze lovingly upon my youngest two in their youthful beauty and astounding innocence, but now that they are tucked away and dreaming (or at least working their way to that state), I feel the absence of all the rest ever more profoundly.

And how changed will they seem to me upon their return, even after only two days? Will the gap in in Abby's lower gumline seem strange to me again; must I start anew in my attempts to get used to her choppy new self-styled bangs? And Michael: how much taller will he look? How much more confident and more clearly-articulated will he sound after some time away? Even as they happen before my eyes I feel as though I can't get used to the changes. Shrinking waists and budding hips, expanding hands and lengthening fingers, little girl legs on my itty bitty baby.

All of it makes me simultaneously want to make it stop and to take the time to write about it- the wonder of it- and to record what used to be. I feel ever more poignantly the pain of what I have lost in the time I have spent away, and yet I can't seem to find a way back through the fatigue of mind and body and the constant, constant interruption.

But the flicker of desire is still there, it still lingers. I only hope that I can nourish it just long enough until the day comes again that I might rekindle a flame.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Tale of Januarys 23

Seven years ago, on January 23rd, I met a sweet young man for dinner in an Irish pub in DC. We'd been chatting online for a few weeks previous, but this was our first "in person," and the rest- as they say- is history.

We hardly had the chance to mark it as an anniversary; by the following January we were newly engaged and planning a date for the wedding that- in my mind- would be the more significant occasion to note going forward. Also, silly as I get about preferred dates and numbers and stuck as I was on whether it was the first date that should be a couple's official anniversary, as opposed to the day they decided to commit to one another exclusively (which for us, smitten as we were, was the following day and a more favorable number: the 24th), I thought it best to move on to a date that unquestionably marked the beginning of something different and important to us: our upcoming wedding day.

By January of 2011, we were still pretty caught up in learning how to be new parents. Though I remember trying to remember the 23rd, for old time's sake, I am not sure how much I was able to given the high levels of sleep deprivation I was still experiencing at the time. Certainly, I was in better shape then than I would be the following year, just five days after Michael was born. Though he was overall my easiest recovery, those first few weeks are unavoidably difficult, and I hardly remember much specific detail about them anymore for any one of my children.

It's possible that Tom and I may actually have noted the date in 2013. I don't have a good excuse for why we wouldn't have. Though I was heavily pregnant with Amelia by then, I don't think I'd reached the high-stress period encompassing her last several weeks of gestation. However, as perpetually disorganized as we are, there wasn't much we really would have had planned for it, regardless.

2014? Well, I could do with skipping that year entirely. As it happened, the pregnancy that began late the year before, put me through weeks of agonizing worry throughout Christmas and New Year's, and finally revealed itself to have terminated sometime in mid-January finally began to miscarry just one day before the procedure I had scheduled for the 24th. It was a brutal experience that I am not certain I can ever leave behind me, even as the pain of the loss- in terms of how much it affects me day to day- continues to subside.

The anniversary of the loss was pretty brutal- especially as it came around just a few months after a second loss in the same year- and I felt sure the date had been ruined for me forever, no matter what meaning it may once otherwise have held. Sadly, it wasn't only the specific day that proved to haunt me, but the whole period of time between Christmas and Michael's birthday, which seemed forever tainted by the experience of the year before.

However, 2015 proved to be the year to make up for the one before it, and it wasn't long after that I discovered we had finally conceived our rainbow baby, Madeleine. Though anxiety largely defined that entire year, as I experienced my first pregnancy after loss, it was filled with good things, like finding out our beautiful girl was healthy, winning the contract on the house we loved, and successfully making it into our new home. And in September she joined us here, two-and-a-half weeks early, so tiny and perfect, and chose not only a Wednesday but that dreaded date in a different month: the 23rd.

Now we come to this January 23rd, when my miracle child has reached her four-month milestone. Though the pain threatens beneath the surface as it so often does on certain days, the joy most certainly defeats it. The realization that we made it through, we made it here, we met our beautiful girl. Though the snow and wind swirl around outside and our tiny angel continues her perpetual struggle to attain a functional nap cycle, there is no denying her uniqueness, her beauty, her importance to all of us, the gift she gave me in my continual quest for healing, her place in our new family of six.

So it was that at some point in this day I realized that what I thought to be an inevitability had not (yet) occurred: I had not caved into the accruing despair, I had not broken down and let my day be darkened by the past. I had lived it. I had focused on the living children around me. And though as the day wanes and the house quiets I know the moment is likely to come upon me soon, where I must break down and feel it all again, I do not have to let it define me, nor even the day that marks its happening.

Today, this day can be about achieving four months of discovery earthside. Going forward, this day can still be about finally finding love, and a soulmate. And though this day will never again pass for me without a bit of sadness, I think I finally know how to appreciate the immense happiness that it offers me, too.

Happy Four Months, Maddie!

I hope you've found your wings in Heaven, little Chickpea. You will always be more than just hopes and dreams to me.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Meeting Maddie

On the eve of a fortnight since my newest and smallest child was born, I find myself finally sitting before this once-(more) familiar screen again. In small part, trying to fill the profound space and quiet left behind in the absence of my two oldest- who are on their way to reunite with me after a second successful trip to New Jersey- and my husband, who has returned to work and left me to figure this whole parenting solo during work hours thing out all over again.* Much more so, however, I am driven to continue trying to fulfill what seems a futile promise to myself, to get my brain working and my fingers dancing again; to put my head in a space where I can find appreciation for the beauty in the chaos around me and translate it to written form.

As always, it has been harder than anticipated. The lack of sleep, the desire to hold on to cherished moments with my husband, even if they consist of nothing more than sitting beside one another, devoid of conversation, the long commitments to holding a tiny, brand-new human being on my chest and soaking up the wonder of her- all of these things have pulled me in every direction but behind a lonely, glowing screen. And beneath it all, I wonder if I am ready for the finality of it- of putting into words a birth story that most likely will be the last I ever write. And doing so in a mental place I hoped I wouldn't be, still in the midst of a seemingly eternal longing that will perhaps never be quenched. Bringing a new life in the world has only made me remember more clearly why I started on the journey to help create another in the first place.

As for that journey, it was a difficult one; the most difficult of the four I carried all the way to birth. I hardly know where to start speaking of its ending, as the drawn-out nature of it was the most agonizing aspect of all. I suppose I could start at 24 weeks, when the overly-active contractions began, or perhaps 28 weeks, when I first dilated to one cm unexpectedly. But there would only be pain and frustration to speak of from those points, long weeks of feeling anxious, helpless, and out-of-control of my life.

Ultimately, there were no real changes in that time, either. No further dilation, no effacement, no issues with baby, and just the usual issues with me. No, the real changes made their appearance about a week or two later than the point at which some amount of excitement occurred with my second and third: 37 weeks. Perhaps there was something to that date, which urged my body into action. Perhaps it was the wedding that I took a chance on traveling a bit for, because it was a precious chance to reconnect to an old but somewhat estranged friend who still holds a piece of my heart, and always will.

In any case, when I noted along with my usual list of complaints some terrible back pain and a bit of spotting that looked suspiciously like bloody show at 37 weeks and one day, I finally decided to take a (likely) brief but worrisome run of five-minute spaced contractions seriously enough to make a visit to labor and delivery triage. It's always a tough call to make. I had already spent a long six hours there in the deep of night a couple of weeks before, and it was every bit as miserable as I had expected it to be, and ultimately it seemed that with or without the turbutaline I eventually received, it was likely unnecessary.

Upon arrival at the hospital, I expected another unpleasant stay with the inevitable outcome of being sent home. This time, at least, (being now beyond 37 weeks) I knew that no one would try to stop my labor, but I was fairly certain that it had not actually begun. Imagine my surprise, then, to find that I was suddenly at 2.5-3cm. It was a notable change, but not a big enough one to indicate active labor. I was encouraged to "ambulate," or walk around, for two hours. Despite it being a little early in the pregnancy, I jumped at the chance to get things possibly moving. I had to believe that despite whatever disadvantages may come with my daughter being born so early, it had to be better for her than being continually being barraged with all of the stress hormones I was likely producing in the extreme.

I tried to hold my hope in check, however. It's not as though I hadn't been this far dilated at this point in time before, and still carried my older two to term. However, the suddenness of the change and the frequency of contractions made it impossible not to hope just a little, and that I did for the two exhausting hours of walking that I forced myself to endure.

The walking perhaps pushed me a half centimeter into definite three centimeter territory. Perhaps not. Especially with a different doctor on shift by this time I often wonder how much the differing numbers I've gotten regarding the state of my cervix simply come down to personal perspective on the checker's part. However, three centimeters does not active labor indicate, and so I was sent home despite continuing contractions. Those contractions went on without stopping or changing in degree for another two hours before I called again to find out what I should do.

The answer was to come in again, which Tom and I did, only to find that the contractions had caused no physical changes. This news sent me into near-instant hysteria, delivered as it was in the presence of contractions so frequent that they were reason enough to be at the hospital in the first place. What was I to do, then, if they went on like this? Come and go all night? The doctor saw my plight clearly and, given my obvious level of stress, felt it was a reasonable call to admit me for observation overnight despite the unlikelihood of any immediate developments.

Thus began a miserable night of non-sleep in a terribly uncomfortable delivery "bed," accentuated by ringing alarms, blaring announcements, and the frustrated movements of a baby irritated by the monitor straps encircling the womb in which she still resided. The stadol that I was offered to "help me sleep" turned out to be a pain medication that only made me not care for awhile that I was not sleeping, and then left me feeling terribly hung over the next day, which dawned nearly free of contractions and otherwise without incident.

I was sent home to worry unendingly about what would happen if I went into labor the next day, Tuesday, the very last one for which Tom was scheduled to go into work. I feared that if things happened quickly, he would miss the birth trying to commute back to me. As it happened, labor was not in the cards for me on Tuesday, but all of the stress I was feeling about Tom's absence got a few contractions going and earned me my husband's early arrival home. Though they died down for a bit, they continued to pick up in strength and frequency through the late afternoon, and despite my fear of being disappointed again, I decided it was worth another visit to one of my least favorite places to find out if we were finally on our way to some significant development.

Despite another two hours of hopeless ambulating after checking in, once again, at three centimeters, it was not to be on that Tuesday evening either. Thankfully, I had a previously scheduled follow-up appointment with my OB-GYN for Wednesday morning to look forward to. I consoled myself on the tearful third drive home from the hospital with the knowledge that at least I didn't have to worry too much about not catching any developments that might occur over the next several hours, as they would be revealed by late the next morning.

Wednesday morning's NST didn't seem to be revealing much at all beyond some irregularly spaced and unpredictable-in-strength contractions. However, somehow, someway, my cervix had continued to dilate overnight, as was revealed by my doctor's check at the end of the appointment. I was now four-to-five centimeters, and in some new and different territory which allowed for some level of augmentation. Despite the fact that I was still in latent/prodromal labor which could potentially have gone on for hours or days more, we were cleared to go, and would not even have to stop in triage on the way.

Pushing down some measure of guilt over the knowledge that I was making a decision to budge my baby from her resting place a little earlier than she might have wanted, I focused on the elation that the long and troubling ordeal would finally be over soon, and that I would finally get to hold and name my eagerly-awaited newest daughter, my rainbow baby after a dark year of loss. It also occurred to me that I was hungry, but between my eagerness to get things started and my worry that I might be stuck on a pitocin drip right away that could cause me to lose my lunch, I elected to skip it.

That decision came back to bite me rather quickly as I found I would need to wait over three hours to even talk to the doctor on call and formulate a plan. In the meantime, as in the doctor's office, not much of consequence was happening in my uterus, since the contractions were all over the place. Though I was hoping for a quick ending, I still wanted to try the least-invasive route first. A membrane sweep had worked wonders for starting Michael's labor, so I asked to do that first.

Waiting on the doctor before incessant hunger set in. Not much happening, except not-sure-what going on with my hair...
Unpleasant as it was, it bought me nothing. The doctor was supposed to check in after an hour but was keeping fairly busy and could not swing by for over two more, at which point there was a shift change that caused even more delays. By perhaps three hours later I had decided to try one more thing before moving on to pitocin (the prospect of which terrified me): the breaking of my water. However, even as I moved forward with this plan I was doubting myself. I was hungry beyond belief and my energy was waning. Though we agreed as the crochet hook tool began its work to check back in two hours later, I wasn't sure I wanted to give the process that long, especially given that each return of a doctor seemed to be fraught with delays.

I made sure Tom got lunch at the hospital as soon as possible, but once admitted I was sadly not allowed much of anything.
Though I generally became more uncomfortable after my water was broken in that the sensation of every movement within was magnified, the contractions themselves were not becoming reliably stronger or more frequent. Even thirty minutes after the procedure this seemed to be the case, and it wasn't too much longer after that that I threw my hands in the air and decided to not only go for the pitocin, but to throw in an epidural as well. I was a long way away from the mindset I'd had as a first-time new mom that valued a natural, non-invasive birth over all else, though to be fair even going in to my firstborns birth with that attitude did not stop me from giving in to the offer of an epidural once the pain and exhaustion had swiftly managed to overwhelm me. This time it was not pain that swayed me, but the fear of it- of having to handle it when I already felt so spent- and the fear of any further source of anxiety when I was maxed out on stress to begin with.

Same view- same room, even- as that first night in the hospital, but this time with real hope that my daughter would come and be placed there very soon in the joyful moments following her birth.
 Thankfully, from the moment of that decision, everything went more quickly. The anesthesiologist showed up within 20 minutes or so, the pitocin drip was started almost immediately after the epidural was administered. All seemed to be going fairly smoothly except the way I felt, which was rather sick to my stomach and loopy in an unpleasant way. I began to find new things to worry about, like how I would know when it was "time," and whether I would find myself sick to my stomach even after the precautions I thought I had taken earlier.

However, once the pitocin got going, it was only two hours before my time came, and amazingly I did know when that was. I couldn't feel much, but I could feel that familiar pressure, and my nurse confirmed it and got the ball rolling shortly after 10 pm. It had been an impossibly long day, but now it was almost over, and it was still Wednesday, the same weekday chosen by the three siblings that came before.

I watched in fascination as my doctor returned for the last time with a back up team and more gear in hand than I'd ever remembered seeing before, including various layers of draped plastic and full coverage headgear. I tried not to panic too much about how much, for the first time in my childbearing experience (and despite the epidural) I was feeling an urge to push which I wanted badly to be able to give in to and focused instead on the organized speed with which my birth team was working. In no time, they were ready, and perhaps four pushes in I was led forward to help my baby the last bit of the way into the world and onto my chest, where she promptly peed all over me before gazing into my eyes for the first time.

Cranky Miss Maddie, who has mostly been anything but since coming home.
Though neither of us could commit to it until we saw her in person, Tom and I really only had one name in mind: Madeleine. However, the middle name was a surprise even to me, as I gave Tom the honor of choosing it himself, a revelation that he kept to himself until her birth. And there she was, a little early and a lot reluctant, but finally in our arms- healthy, beautiful, and perfect.

Welcome to the Wednesday Club, Miss Madeleine! You're in good company here.

Seven pounds, seven ounces, and 20 exquisite inches long; our tiniest one (and earliest) by quite a bit!

*As you may have discerned, despite my best intentions it took multiple days to finish writing this post, so while I may have started on the eve of a fortnight, I am ending two days beyond. The kids are all home, I am thus far surviving Tom's return to work, and we are settling in as a family of six as though we always were one.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mobility, Motivation, and Mia

It's Sunday, and a day in which I would have been frantically trying to put together a Mobile Moments post, were I actually mobile enough to keep up with my kids lately, armed with a camera phone or no. Sadly, I still spend much more time than I would like at a slight recline in bed or on the upstairs sofa, and try to avoid venturing down the stairs to the playroom whenever possible, as a descent requires an ascent at some point in time.

However, though I have been short on the picture-taking and slow on the buildup of motivation that might once have gotten me organized enough to manage a week's summary, low on shareable pictures and quotes as I might be, I have tried to be involved in one thing for as long as I am physically able: Mia's Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, which has finally begun in full force in the last week or so.

I have yet to speak of Mia's autism diagnosis, which I suspected long before it was finally printed out in harsh black and white letters on a medical summary back in June. Indeed, I have yet to speak of many developments, of which this has been the most life-changing. It's been tough to get back to writing at all; tougher still deciding how to broach such a complex topic that still fills me with so much emotion and anxiety.

Having grown up with a brother on the spectrum has made accepting the diagnosis both easier and harder, it seems. I appreciate knowing what to expect, and can cling to- if nothing else- extreme feelings of thankfulness that Mia has access to so many resources that my brother never had growing up. However, I also am intimately familiar with many of the challenges that autism spectrum disorders can bring, and it breaks my heart to imagine a child of mine having to face any of them. Life is tough enough as it is.

The most immediately overwhelming adjustment, however, has been the realization of just how time-consuming all of the resources I have on hand for her are turning out to be. I've had representatives from the county coming to work with her once a week for a couple of months now, but add the ABA program through private insurance, and now we have an additional three days a week. Thankfully, everyone meets us at our home, but the ABA therapy has proven to be quite intensive and exhausting, and more than a little intimidating.

We've set a lot of goals for Mia over the next few months, including responding to her name, requesting items verbally, walking up and down the stairs upright, using a spoon to eat with consistency, drinking from a cup, imitating motion on command, and answering simple questions. The definition of success is an 80% or better accuracy rate over three sessions, and the long road to that success involves finding motivators and denying her access to them until she learns what we are trying to show her. It sounds worse than it is, given that I have watched her technician work with her at this point and can see that we are starting off slow and only temporarily denying for now, to give her a chance to respond, and that care is being taken to push her only so far as she can handle. But it is sometimes still heartbreaking to witness the struggle, and at the end of the session both she and I are exhausted. The extended length of her naps following each one has proved as much over time.

It's hard to say how I am feeling about it now that we have begun. When it was naught but a description on paper it reduced me to tears, thinking about how difficult it might be for her, imagining the tears of frustration that I have now been witness to, and the inevitable changes that would take place. The change is bound to be a good thing, and it probably seems strange that I need to keep reminding myself of that, but the truth is that the selfish part of me has enjoyed Mia's extended babyhood and innocence, and her revered position as my easiest and most generously loving child (at the moment, anyway).

Far from being what many might imagine a "typical" (not that this exists) child on the spectrum, Mia is not fraught with overt sensory issues, resistant to touch, or difficult to connect with. While it's true that real communication is difficult at best at this point, she is exceedingly affectionate, generally happy and content, and incredibly attached to me. Unfortunately, much of what keeps her content throughout the day are her isolationist, insular tendencies, which I believe are coping mechanisms for an inability to properly filter the overabundance of stimuli around here, and we are now essentially trying to pull her from. I often wonder just what we will see as we peel that shell further and further from her, and how much of that will be bad before it is good.

With as hard as we've been working lately, I suppose we are likely to see soon enough. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

34 Weeks

On Saturday, I officially clocked in 34 weeks with this pregnancy. It was a moment of victory for my obstetrician, I am sure, who has been fretting about all of the pre-term contractions and early dilation for some time now.

For me, it is a bag of very mixed emotions. Chief among them, certainly, is relief. If everyone's concerns had been better founded, making it to 34 weeks would be a true miracle in that every week longer and closer to term- especially when pre-term labor is looking like a possibility from 28 weeks on- is a huge bonus for Baby in many, many, ways.

However, though things seemed to start off just differently enough this time with Little Squish than with her brother and sister before her, it's all seeming like old news to me now.

This pregnancy has been the toughest from the start. All horrible pregnancy symptoms aside, I knew it would be difficult based on the anxiety alone, which after two losses in a year's time has proved incredibly difficult to control. But on top of that, the nausea was the most pervasive and most resistant to any attempt at relief, the exhaustion was fierce and only slightly abated once I crossed into the third trimester (at which point I am dealing with other issues that slow me down even more), and those pesky pre-term contractions showed up earlier than ever, at around 24 weeks, and started causing changes to my cervix by week 28. Though the nausea ended sooner than every other pregnancy (by 11 weeks or so) it was immediately replaced by near-constant and fairly awful heartburn, which I have just finally conceded to getting under control with medication. I can only take so much, after all.

However, scary as it was to find myself half a centimeter dilated at 28 weeks, it's much less concerning now to be one centimeter at 34. The slight change that has occurred has been very gradual over the last six weeks, and has not appeared in combination with any effacement or evidence of fetal fibronectin (every test taken for that has been negative), which seems to me an indication that the scenario proving most likely to play out at this point is that I will be in this thing for the long haul. If my doctor has her way, that "haul" will be no longer than 39 weeks, at which point I will be summarily induced to ensure that it is a doctor's hands who catch my newest baby, rather than my panicked husband's.

Should she ultimately decide to come a bit sooner than that (because it seems that no matter what my body may be trying to do, she is still in control here)? Only time will tell, I guess.

But now that I am here, at this point in which I can finally breathe and relax (as much as that is really possible) and stop concerning myself with some of the what ifs, I've started to let a lot of doubt and regret sneak in past the overwhelming anxiety.

For as well-documented as Amelia's pregnancy was, in the form of little notes and pictures on a near-weekly basis, and topped off with a published account of her birth story in the anthology, It's Really 10 Months Special Delivery: A Collection of Stories from Girth to Birth, this pregnancy has been quite the opposite.

I've been quiet this time, not just on the blog but in general, for reasons that are difficult to explain. I've been reluctant to take pictures, let alone post them, and have kept any public commentary on the experience to a minimum. In the beginning, this was all rather reactionary and driven by fear. It was hard to know if I could count on the pregnancy continuing. Even after more extensive testing than I have ever pursued before only promised good things, it was hard to have faith.

But over time I did pass some critical point, where I ceased to wonder if the next day might reveal impending miscarriage. And at that point I was silenced by other emotions, like guilt. Prior to actually experiencing loss, I had only ever imagined how horrible it might be. Prior to going through a procedure- twice- that was emotionally grueling and terrifying in the potential (though unlikely) impact it might have on my future fertility, I never really thought twice about struggling to be pregnant. Prior to waiting six short but long months to finally conceive again after the last loss, I never had thought particularly hard about how I might feel if I never got a chance to experience pregnancy again.

After all of that, after the months I spent having to avert my eyes from pregnancy announcements and pictures, after suffering pain where there should only have been joy, I began to feel a bit insecure about my own seeming good fortune. I still wonder whose heart I am breaking, somewhere out there, as I go about trying to heal my own.

As I near the end of this experience, however, it occurs to me to think about myself and my own child, too. How will I explain to her the dearth of pictures? The seeming lack of motivation to capture the experience in the careful and dedicated way I did her older sister's, and even her brother's before her? It won't be enough to try to explain my sadness or my inner conflict. It won't make up for all that I did not do.

And so now, however wrong or right it may be, I am trying to find the courage to embrace the joy and leave behind the all the various negatives that have been blocking it out. I want to feel pride again in the accomplishment of a successful and healthy pregnancy. And most of all, I want this little one to be able to look back and find plentiful evidence that she, too, was loved, wanted, and anticipated, despite the circumstances surrounding her over-troubled mother at the time.

Little Squish, though I may not have nearly 40 little letters to show you some years down the line, please know that you were and are loved, and we can't wait to meet you to tell you so someday very soon.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Little Faces

My oldest two have been back for a few days now, after spending eight away in New Jersey with my husband's parents. Though we worried about how they would react to being away so long (we initially had commitment to the length of the stay and planned to play it by ear), they ended up having a blast and missing us very little, if at all. Much of that had to do with the grand adventures that Nana so graciously planned, including trips to the beach, local zoo, and Chuck-E-Cheese. I'm sure they hardly had the time to think of us at all, with all of the fun that they were having.

I surely thought of them quite a bit. Though we still had one baby left among us, the house was exponentially quieter and less chaotic with them gone. My feelings were rather conflicted, however. I missed them, but not as much as I would have expected to, and I greatly cherished the special time I got to spend with my youngest while she still maintains her status as such.

I also cherished the lack of battles. I most definitely did not miss the usual struggles surrounding mealtimes, naptimes, bedtimes, and any other transition times in the day. I did not miss the screaming and fighting. I did not miss the extra mess, or responsibility.

I did, however, miss the amusing chatter and joyful laughter. I missed the happy interplay between siblings. Most of all, I missed their little faces, which seemed to age years in the week that they were gone.

Sad, happy, sticky, smooth, messy, clean, or otherwise- it's good to have them back around here again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Hardest Part

I thought that first new blog post of a couple of days ago would be the hardest one. It seemed, at the time, that I need only put myself back in that old spot and somehow the urge would reawaken naturally; a new rhythm would begin. Odd that I would have such strange ideas given the stops and starts that occurred before I finally almost gave up for good, but there it is. Much as I am a natural cynic, an optimist lies in wait somewhere inside me, hoping to be born.

Truthfully, coming around to writing this one has been much harder. Despite the skip I surely would have had in my step following the elation of that last successful publish- were I able to skip at all at this point in time- I couldn't use the pride I felt to push me forward once again. In the interim I have been far too overcome with the usual feelings of despair that helped to thwart me in the first place.

Thirty-two weeks pregnant is a tough place to be when it banishes you to your bed for long lengths of time in a fruitless attempt at honest-to-goodness rest, and leaves you on the sidelines feeling helpless and useless the rest of the time as life continues to go on around you. Indeed, life even goes on far away from me, where my two oldest continue their first ever mom-and-dad free journey and extended visit to the abode of Nana and Papa.

I try to stay involved with what I can in the super-simplified single child version of our new and temporary "ordinary," but my part is ever one of spectator. I hear the hum of other people's voices as they soothe my youngest down to sleep, the giggles, conversation, and occasional fussing as they change her diapers. And on many a night and afternoon I find myself truly alone in the house, only imagining the look of wonder on Amelia's face as she takes in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood from her vantage point in the little orange stroller she so loves to ride.

The silence, the time, and the space should seem a perfect opportunity to slip away and write with the rare advantage of environment conducive to concentration. Instead, they seem foreign and empty. They bring me sadness rather than inspiration.

My head knows that on a day not so very, very long from now, this will all be behind me, and the reward will be a brand-new, healthy daughter that I did my best to keep that way. However, my heart struggles along as it always does, full and empty all at once. The trick will be, I think, to keep my fingers moving along the keyboard, regardless of which direction my head or my heart have managed to wander.

Perhaps, so long as I am writing, inspiration will come.