On being miraculously average…

 

IMG_1478.JPG

Photo Credit: Katie Supko

I’m old. Let’s get that straight right out of the gate. I’m old…on paper, at least. I turned 37 this year and shortly before my birthday, I gave birth to my second (and last) baby.

When I think about the fact that I’m never going to be pregnant again, I get a bit wistful. It makes me hold my infant daughter more tightly and for longer. I don’t (always) dread her seemingly endless nursing sessions. She recently turned six months old, which means she’s old enough for “people food.” I won’t lie…I’m not all that upset that she hasn’t taken to my homemade baby food as quickly as her big sister did. It means she still needs me.

I loved being pregnant. And I was damn good at being pregnant. Both my pregnancies were fairly easy and I was able to stay incredibly active and healthy during both of them. I felt alive and wholly myself when I was pregnant…like it was what I was meant to do. So yeah, I get a little sad when I think about never being pregnant again.

Because of my PPD medications, I don’t get all that emotional about much (I like to say that I’m dead inside, but it makes me a better mother). But sometimes I hear or see or read something that strikes me.

And that happened the other evening.

“Birth is the most commonplace of all the miracles.” 

I can’t remember the last time a statement resonated so deeply with me. So much truth in so few words.

Childbirth is something I always knew I’d experience. I’ve wanted to be a mother for as far back as I can think. But until I actually got pregnant, I didn’t think of pregnancy and childbirth as anything more than a thing I was physically capable of doing.

Then I got pregnant. And something changed inside me. My whole person shifted. I started to really love myself and not just love my body, but appreciate it. I was thankful for it. I valued it.

Pregnancy and childbirth is so common, so regular, so…meh.

And that’s precisely wherein the miracle lies.

Babies are born every minute of every day. Women were made with the ability to create life. Think about that for a minute. We.Create.Life. Entirely new persons (not to mention entirely new organs – the placenta) are created within the tiniest of confines.

There’s nothing remarkable about my babies (or my pregnancies) to you or yours to me. Not necessarily. But to each of us, the time we have with our bellies and our babies is breathtaking. I can look at another baby and think, “That’s a cute kid!” but when I see my babies? Oh, my god…I see perfection and possibility and beauty and strength and everything that can be good and right about life. And I know you see the same in your babies.

That’s the miracle. It’s that we can all see the same thing in our own babies. The miracle is knowing that it’s true. It’s feeling your heart on the outside of your chest every day for the rest of your life. It’s the strength in your soul and the ache in your body when your baby decides to make its entrance into your world.

The miracle is the strangeness of feeling completely alone in your experience, but knowing you are deeply connected to a sisterhood that runs deep…like, dawn-of-time deep. It’s knowing that your experience is somehow simultaneously brand new and nothing new at all. Someone, somewhere, at some point has felt everything you’re feeling.

The miracle is that the female body can be wrecked and torn and split in half and comes back together, not as it once was, but as a shrine, a testament to what now is. It’s in the weakness of body and strength of soul the moment your baby is placed in your arms. It’s feeling your heart grow and grow until it nearly explodes, but never actually does. It’s walking around with that deep, deep ache for the rest of your life.

The miracle is that mothers the world over feel the same way you do, but are completely incapable of describing to you how it feels.

The miracle is that you are magically common.

On proving myself…

20543587_10159222430450436_329372554731081091_o.jpg

Photo Credit: Laura Kasper Photography

As a mother, I do a LOT in one day. Sadly, there’s often little to show for it. Every time I get one mess under control, another has appeared. As soon as the dishwasher is unloaded, it needs to get loaded again. One load of laundry goes in the dryer and two more suddenly need washing. And the diapers. Oh my god, the diapers. It’s endless. By the time my husband gets home or the girls are down for the night, I look around our house and wonder, “What in the world did I do all day?!” It’s a good thing my husband thinks I look good in sweats, without makeup. Because as I sit here typing this, I can’t remember the last time I showered. He took me out for dinner for our anniversary last week and I didn’t even get a chance to shower for that. Being a mom is gross.

But what you can’t see, what my husband can’t see, what even I can’t see are the moments that kept me from the housework. The memories I made with my daughters that created the chaos.

The half hour long dance parties with my toddler.
The tickle fights with my baby.
The snuggles during a movie when I’m just too tired to think up another activity.
The long walks to the gym, listening to Disney songs.
The trips to the park.
The splash wars in the pool.
The USO concerts in the park.
The lunches at Taco Bell because I forgot to pick up more Kraft dinner.

I do SO MUCH in one day and there’s very little hard evidence of that. All that’s left at the end is laundry, dishes, and an exhausted mommy.

We moms talk a lot about how there are billions of photos of our partners with our children, but very few of us with our children. It’s true. And we lament that we often have to ask our partners to take the photos where we’re so quick to pull out our cameras or phones to snap photos of them with the kids.

But what about us? Not as mothers, but as friends. Friends who know and experience the longing for photos. See, my husband deploys a LOT so he’s hardly ever home. And when he is home, he’s still working 8-12 hours a day. So when he finally gets time away from work, the girls are either asleep or we’re trying to create family memories. Yes, I wish he’d take more photos of us without being prompted, but he misses so much of our lives as it is, that he’s more concerned with taking it all in while he can.

What I’m really getting at here is this: maybe it’s not entirely up to our partners to catch those moments. Maybe we should depend more on each other – our tribes, our friends – to capture those moments. As a stay-at-home-mom, I tend to have almost entirely stay-at-home-mom friends (especially while I’m living overseas with the military). I’m with them a LOT.

A few weeks ago, there was a luau party on our base. I took both the girls and while Godzilla was splashing in the toddlers pool, Mothra had fallen asleep on my chest. I just sat at the edge of the pool, blissfully watching one baby while cuddling the other. A friend quietly walked up to me and asked to take a photo of Mothra and me. It was the sweetest thing. I wanted a photo, but I also didn’t want to disturb Mothra to get my phone out and hope for a decent angle without waking her. Ah, the trials of a sleeping baby selfie.

And now I have this photo. All because another mother saw something that maybe I’d want a memory of. I didn’t have to ask her. I didn’t have to pay her (although I’m not above paying for a photoshoot. I also did that recently because  I do what I want!).

So what I’m suggesting is that maybe we stop putting all the onus on our partners to help us capture the in-between moments. After all, they’re very rarely with us during those moments. But our friends and their babies are with us. And we are with them. Stop to snap a photo or two of your friends with their babies. No one is asking for professional portraiture every time they turn around. They’re asking for photographic evidence that they did more than laundry.

20597440_10159253310945436_7997326409821517637_n.jpg

Photo Credit: Allie Houston

On knowing who I am.

 

3d76be1b696fddcb445638ab99def868--deployment-memes-military-humor

It’s funny because it’s true…sort of. 

 

It’s been a hell of a few months for me. Since March of this year, I have experienced the most stress of my entire life. I gave birth to our second baby, moved to Colorado, rehomed my dogs, then moved to Japan, lived in a hotel for a few weeks, moved into a new apartment, said goodbye to my husband/baby daddy, and began to prepare for another move in a few months.

I have laughed a LOT,  yelled more than I intend, cried uncontrollably once, and have had one major panic attack. But mostly, I laugh.

I have a good life. It’s usually pretty easy. I have very little to complain about.

And that’s why, when my husband is deployed for who-knows-how-many-months, I don’t call myself a “single mom”.

Before I had to  do things without my partner, I used the term “single mom” to describe this scenario. Then I had a baby. And another baby. And then I had to actually do this circus by myself.

But not really.

I still have my husband, despite the fact that he’s a million miles away. His income remains steady. We have a beautiful home (that we don’t currently have to pay for). I don’t worry about paying our bills or finding childcare for the girls or if I’m going to have the time (or money) to buy groceries this week. I can email or call or Facetime my partner frequently and tell him what’s driving me crazy or what antics our toddler has come up with this week. I have undeniable support, even if he can’t be physically present.

What I do is a far cry from single parenting.

I don’t have to make “less bad” decisions. I get to be with my girls whenever I want (and I can pass them off pretty much whenever I want a break). I don’t have to choose between working overtime or going to an event with my children.

I honestly don’t think I appreciated how difficult single parenting must truly be until I had kids and then had to care for them without the physical presence of my partner. No, what I do is not single parenting. I won’t diminish what that is by saying that’s what I do.

I’m a solo parent. For a season.

To all those other solo parents out there: you are stronger than you feel, smarter than you think, and happier than you seem.

To all you single parents: we see you. We see your struggles and your frustrations and your triumphs. You inspire the solo parents of the world. We watch you and we see heroes.

On processing the pain…


Photo Credit: Amanda Glenn Photography

“Mothers cannot give from a depleted source. Every mother needs emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual validation, nourishment, and support. When a mother is respected and well cared for, she and her whole family will benefit.” ~ a motherwoman principle. 

I am nearly eight weeks into raising my second daughter. Which means I am nearly eight weeks into my second battle with post partum depression. When we first found out I was pregnant again, my husband and I had several long conversations about how I and we would manage my PPD, should I have it again. The likelihood greatly existed that it would present again since I’d already had it one time. This just gave us the opportunity to plan for it in ways we just couldn’t last time.

First pregnancies, first labor-and-deliveries, first children…it’s all kind of a shit show. I just had no idea what to expect so I either expected the best or the worst.  And I wound up with both…just in the opposite way. I expected to have a movie-like pregnancy and delivery, complete with horrible morning sickness and a labor that would last days and days. Nope. I had a  super dreamy easy pregnancy and my L&D experience was nothing short of miraculous (to me). It was short and it was relatively painless (in the grand scheme of the horrible pain that is labor and delivery). I also expected that I’d have an easy baby who would nurse easily and love to snuggle and generally just sleep and be chill. NOPE. She was (and remains) kind of bonkers. As soon as she was out of my womb, it was a disaster that lasted over a year.

And the whole time, all I thought was, “Okay, everything I’ve ever read or been told was a lie and that’s fine. I hate you all, but it’s fine. This is obviously what’s actually normal.” So I went with it. I accepted that my body was just taking a really long time to heal and that it was normal to feel that much pain weeks after delivery. I accepted that my baby was just a shitty nurser and I’d probably be using a nipple shield the entire time. I accepted that I would be tired for the rest of my life. I accepted that I had a short temper now. I accepted that my marriage was suffering because a baby will do that to a couple.

It wasn’t until my husband forcibly made me talk to my midwife that I realized absolutely none of this was normal. My body wasn’t healing properly, my baby didn’t know how to nurse, I flew off the handle way too easily, and while a baby will strain a relationship, it doesn’t mean a baby should up-end and damage my marriage. But tired? Oh yeah. That’s definitely normal. I’m planning on being tired for the next eighteen years, minimum.

So I got the help (and medication) I needed and I started talking much more openly about my struggles as a new mother. I started talking crassly about my issues. I made caustic jokes. And frankly, I started feeling normal again. I demanded time for myself every so often. I asked for (and got) more help with my chores around the house. I was filling my cup.

But here’s the thing with my second go-’round with PPD: I am experiencing it much more acutely.  I am painfully aware of the state of my mental health. I know what my triggers are and I feel them so much more deeply. When I start to feel the weight of my responsibilities, it’s like I’m having an out-of-body experience. I feel like I’m watching myself shut down.

My second daughter is so much more chill than my first and for that I am eternally grateful. But she has her moments of epic meltdown. She won’t nurse, she won’t sleep, she wants everything and nothing all at once (I have no idea who she gets that from). She’ll just scream and shriek until she konks herself out. All I can do is hold her and wait. I have to wait while she screams in my ear and I just sit there and stare at nothing.

I feel so overwhelmed and sticky and unshowered and flabby and sad. I felt all of those things the first time and thought it was normal. I thought it was just part of the territory. I assure you, it is not. So when I feel it this time around, I have the wherewithal to hand the baby to my husband (or my parents, since we’re living with them for a few weeks) and go take a damn shower. Just because I have a newborn doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to care for my own basic needs. I will happily hand over the baby so that I can drink a full cup of warm coffee, so that I can shave and put on lipstick, so that I can take a quick nap.

Post partum depression needs to be taken seriously.

I’m what I call a “Mount Vesuvius of Rage.” I will stay dormant for a very long time. But that means I’m building up an explosion and there’s really no telling when it will go off. And there are two things that can set me off very quickly: chaos and excessive noise. Guess what a baby comes preloaded with? Yup. I get ragey a LOT, even if it’s just internally. I feel like I’m going crazy. I have the fortune of retrospection when it comes to this + PPD. I’m able to see that while this is a normal part of my person, it’s a) not healthy and b) much more exacerbated because of the PPD.

I’m able to recognize what I’m feeling as “not normal,” but that also means I’m feeling much more deeply. I’m finding that I’m much more emotionally in tune with my person and my mental health this time than I ever could have been last time. It’s this weird self-empathic thing I have going on. Because I feel out-of-body so much of the time, I’m able to react a little more empathically to myself. I’m able to have a measure of grace with my emotions that I wasn’t able to have before.

It also means I find myself much more sad and lonely and overwhelmed sometimes. While it’s true that I’m able to more quickly recognize my PPD symptoms and behaviors, it’s also true that they affect me more than before. And unfortunately, my current set of circumstances aren’t really allowing me the time and space I need to fully process my emotions. I have experienced some fairly profound loss and disappointment in the last several weeks. There just hasn’t been time to process anything. I think that’s what is making it the most difficult this time around. I thought I’d be able to process leaving my last home. once I got to my parents. But then I had to rehome my dogs. Then we move to another country. Then my husband deploys. Then he’ll come home (and have to reintegrate in our family) and then we have to move again. Seriously, there just isn’t any time to process everything that I’ve experienced in the last two months.

That’s probably what’s hardest and I think that’s part of why I’m feeling everything so heavily. I’m sort of taking my own advice from years ago: Feel every emotion fully. Get it out and be done with it. 

I guess if I can’t process it, I should at least fully feel it.

And so I do.

I feel completely. I rely on my friends, near and far (and most of them are far at this point). I depend on my husband.

But (and this is the important part) I don’t feel guilty for having post partum depression. I don’t apologize for it. I won’t make excuses for it. PPD is part of my story. I’m not less of a person or a mother because I have it. I just have it. It’s as much a part of my whole person as singing and writing are. It’s part of who I am and who I will be.

PPD looks like me.

On lessons in retrograde…

 

52489_10153044620305436_74271706_o.jpg

Little sisters: Annoying the crap out of big sisters since…forever (but they’re still kind of the best). 

The birth of our second daughter is looming large (as am I…holy crap, I feel GIGANTIC). Our first was born at 38 weeks and 3 days…that would be tomorrow if this one decides to make the same appearance. I spent a lot of time during my first pregnancy thinking and writing about all the things I wanted to teach Godzilla, both as a woman and as a human. Those 42 items still ring very true and I fully intend to teach them all to Mothra as well.

But this time, I’ve spent a lot less time thinking about the terrifying task of raising a girl in this universe and more about the task of both raising and keeping alive two friggin’ humans at once!  That, and about sisterhood.

I have an incredible relationship with my sister. Now. Growing up? Oh good lord, were we at each other’s throats a lot. We are very different people. Making us coexist in the same bedroom bordered on cruelty…to the two of us and to pretty much anyone else who lived in our house. I was such a jerk to her…especially when it came to doing my hair, which I was start at, like, 5:30am…in our room…with the lights on…giving zero f**ks that she was trying to sleep on the other side of the room. I once threw a hot curling iron at her (and missed…thank God, in that instance, for my lack of athletic prowess). I’ve thrown more than one high heel her way. And she just took it.

Until the day she didn’t.

I remember coming home from school one day, probably when I was in grade 11, and she had moved all of my belongings, bed and dresser included, into the old play room (which we called “the brown room” because it had brown walls and brown shag carpet). I was horrified. How DARE she move ME out of OUR room! It rightfully belonged to me, being that I was the oldest.

But she’d had enough of my shit. And if you know my sister, you know how far you have to push her to reach that limit. I’d earned her rage. I’m lucky she didn’t break everything I owned in the process.

But now? I can’t imagine having to do life without her. She is often my rock. She has gotten me through so much garbage in my adult life (it sometimes pays to have a professional counselor as a sister). She sees the good in just about everyone and everything. She’s funny. She’s endearing. She’s generous. She’s kind. She’s smart. Often, she is everything I wish I could be.

So I think about having a little sister and being a big sister, something that is about to happen to Godzilla. And I think there are things she needs to know that I wish I’d have known.

  1. Mothra is going to want to do everything you do, at the exact same time as you. Be kind to her. All this copy-catting means she loves and respects you.
  2. Mothra is going to drive you bat.shit.crazy. It’s her job as little sister. Again, just be kind to her. You are allowed to want to be alone. Just don’t make her feel inferior in the process.
  3. Mothra is going to blame you for things you didn’t do. It SUCKS when that happens. It will make you angry and make you want to kick her. I promise I will do my best to hear you out and make sure I have the full story. But all I can promise is that I’ll try. I’ll probably fail a lot.
  4. When she asks questions, take her seriously. She really does want to know what you think and where you stand.
  5. Encourage her to branch out and try new things. It’s how I got your Aunt JoJo to try sports and audition for show choir. Who knew she could play basketball and sing?!
  6. Say hello to her in the hallways at school. Acknowledge her. Hug her. Be that big sister. I didn’t always play nice with JoJo and I regret it. Especially because she was always nice to me at school.
  7. Go to as many of her events as you possibly can. Again, be that big sister. The one that’s borderline obnoxious with how much you support your little sister.
  8. Tell her you love her. A lot.
  9. Thank her when she helps you.
  10. Be her best friend.

Being a big sister is hard. There are a lot of responsibilities leveled against the eldest sibling. They take the hits more than they should. I think parents recognize they do this, but it’s hard to stop ourselves sometimes. The oldest kid should know better, right? Probably. But we eldest siblings take a lot. So, Mothra, here’s what I ask of you, as the little sister:

  1. Be kind to your big sister. Don’t purposefully be a jerk and don’t try to get her in trouble. Not cool.
  2. If Godzilla wants to be left alone, please just leave her alone. It will be hard, especially if she turns out to be in introvert (like me) and you’re an extrovert (like JoJo). You will want to be with her ALL. THE. TIME. But she might need time to recharge. Just let her.
  3. Don’t push her buttons. You’ll figure out what they are and they will become an indispenseable tool in your Little Sister Arsenal. Be cautious of when you use them.
  4. Be Godzilla’s biggest cheerleader. Be the one she knows she can count on no matter what. Be that sister.
  5. If she asks you to try something – food, music, sports, whatever – just try it. Trust her. She won’t make you do anything that will hurt you.
  6. Brag about her quietly. Somedays, she’s going to want to feel too cool for school and she might ignore the hell out of you. She’s not doing it to be mean to you; she’s doing it because she might feel like she needs to. We can talk about it together after school.
  7. Ask for her opinion. She really does want to think that you think she’s the coolest person alive. Even at nearly 40 years old, I still get excited when JoJo asks my fashion advice and political stances!
  8. Tell her you love her. A lot.
  9. Thank her when she helps you.
  10. Be her best friend.

Being a sister, big or little, is hard. There  are things both are asked to do that neither signed up for. But given a fair shake, sisters end up being the best friends a girl could ever ask for.

On breathing the good stuff…

momming.jpg

I feel like there’s this modern mom thing where we bitch incessantly about our children and our lives…especially those of us that are stay-at-home moms. It’s weird. It feels really freeing sometimes. I love that I have a huge network of friends that I can commiserate with on this motherhood journey. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in the oft-aggravating daily things that come with being a mom…the whining, the complaining, the missed showers, the leggings and pajamas, the fights over meals, the screen time guilt, all the things! 

I often wonder if my own mother bitched about motherhood in this same way? Were the 80s as accepting of it as the 2010s have been? Or were the 80s just not as fraught with “mommy wars” so there wasn’t as much to bitch about? Or did all our mothers just keep quiet and suffer through? To be honest, I wonder a LOT: how many of our own mothers were suffering from PPD/PPA and it just wasn’t something that was as widely discussed or treated as it is today? I mean, I could talk a person’s ear off about my PPD struggles and I just don’t give a shit what he or she thinks. Mental illness is a very real thing and something that deserves a lot more attention than it gets, even now.

Anyway, it really just makes me wonder. I’ve had several weeks in a row of incredibly awful days with the toddler. Being one thousand weeks pregnant doesn’t at all help the situation. But Godzilla has been absolutely on fire recently and last week, we didn’t have a single good day. It was a garbage week and there is no getting around that. I did so much bitching to and with my mom friends last week. None of us had great weeks. It was one hit after the next. Small things that normally wouldn’t seem so horrible just set us off in all the wrong ways (like when Godzilla tried to bring me my 32oz water bottle only to dump it all over herself, the couch, and the floor).

So when I woke up (way too early) this past Monday, I decided to employ “the secret” (you know, that book from a few years ago that tells us that what we say and think is what we bring upon ourselves blah blah blah). I kept repeating over and over, “Today is a good day. I have a happy toddler. I am a great mom.” And you know what? Every day this week (and yeah, it’s only Wednesday), we’ve had surprisingly good days. Godzilla hasn’t been a complete jerk upon waking up,  she has fought me about getting in her stupid car seat, she’s been pleasant to everyone she sees, meals haven’t been quite as challenging (she still eats like a crazy person, but she’s at least trying a few new things, like the awesome red wine braised shor rib stew I made last night).

The point is, I think we tend to spend a lot more time focusing on and bitching about the awfulness that is motherhood. To be clear, it does have it’s horrifying moments. There are days, weeks, months that make it seem like everything is awful and nothing is ever going to get better. But I wonder if that’s partly our own fault. Are we creating self-fulfilling prophecies by constantly bitching?

For several years, I’ve been a proponent of “positive self talk.” Before I married a sailor and had children, I worked in a pretty high stress job (which is just a strange thing to say because I sold cheese and worked with some of the greatest people on the planet). At the same time, I was going through some incredibly stressful and overwhelming things in my personal life. But every day, I tried to wake up and just decide I was going to have a good day. And on the days I actually remembered to do this? Those were the best days. Sometimes, they were also the most stressful, but I managed my desk and my head with such ease that I ended up falling in love with my job even more, sometimes hoping for a new, insane, cheesy challenge to come across my desk just so I could kick its ass one more time.

But somewhere along the line, probably when I stopped working and naively thought I wouldn’t be stressed anymore, I stopped remembering my positive self talk morning ritual. My life is currently far more stressful than I could have imagined it would be. So I think it’s time I re-introduce my old routine into my new life. It’s time for me to focus more on the good, great, and wonderful things that motherhood has to offer.

 

On the songs of my baby…

Quotefancy-11282-3840x2160.jpg

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy.com 

I’m roughly six weeks out from the impending delivery of my second baby. Technically speaking, I’m eight weeks out, but my midwife is fairly confident this one will come early since the last one did. I’m also hopeful she’ll come early…it will give me substantially more time to recover before moving across the country and the world. So there will be much red raspberry leaf consumed by moi in the coming weeks.

At any rate, I’ve been working on my labor and delivery playlist for several months. This is something that, even with my first, I just knew I wanted – music that calmed me or energized me or made me think of how much I already knew I loved this tiny human. With Godzilla, I pulled together my playlist kind of last minute, but it was also rather easy. She was born during the Christmas season and since I love love love Christmas music, I just grabbed 200+ songs from my very extensive collection, added in some Britney and Taylor and called it good. It was perfect.

And I never used it. Not even once during my nine hours of labor did I want to hear music. I thought about it once, in the middle of a particularly awful contraction (aren’t they all kind of awful?) and just the thought of music made me angry. So that was a hard pass on music.

With Mothra’s playlist, I’ve found myself carefully curating songs over the last seven months. There are currently only 36 songs on the playlist, running about two and a half hours. It’s a pretty schizophrenic list, but then, so is my general taste in music. It contains pop, hymns, bluegrass, the 80s, rock, miscellaneous covers…it’s one of my favorite playlists I’ve ever created.

But there are two songs in particular that hit me hard every time I listen to them…for vastly different reasons.

“Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding.
For a lot of people, this song is associated with one of the most poorly written and ill-conceived books ever released. I’ve never read the book (just selected passages. It’s terrible) or seen the movie. I just love this song. The first time this hit me as a birthing song was over the summer, while I was walking with Godzilla in her stroller. Almost every line of the song can very easily be translated into labor and delivery:

“You’re the light, you’re the night, you’re the color of my blood…” – Yep. She’s going to come at whatever time of day or night she chooses and no matter how she makes her way in the the world, she and I will be the same color, covered in the same blood, even if for just a few minutes.

“You’re the cure, you’re the pain, you’re the only thing I want to touch..” – Delivering a baby, especially in the, um, very traditional sense, is everything at once. It hurts like hell, but the moment she arrives, all the pain is gone. It’s like I’ve been waiting my whole life to touch this tiny creature.

“Fading in, fading out, on the edge of paradise. Every inch of your skin is the holy grail I’ve got to find.” – Every contraction can feel like you’re about to pass out. It’s 30-120 seconds of agony followed by maybe two minutes of sweet relief….until it all happens again. Over and over for hours on end. But every moment brings me closer to the absolute ecstasy of holding my baby for the first time, pressing her sweet, sticky skin against my chest and hearing her cry for the first time.

“Yeah, I’ll let you set the pace cuz I’m not thinking straight. My head’s spinning around. I can’t think clear no more. What are you waiting for?” – This is the first line that made me think of labor and delivery. It reduced me to tears on that walk. There is no way to tell a baby when it should or shouldn’t come into the world. It’s all up to her. She decides everything. And she will decide everything from the moment I go into labor until years later. I have to let her set the pace. I have to let go of the control I want to have and just wait…sometimes calmly (as in the first several months of pregnancy), sometimes impatiently and agrily (like during active, awful, bone-crushing labor).

“human” by Christina Perri
This one hit me harder and in a much more painful way. It made me immediately think of breastfeeding, which, frankly, was not a great experience with my first baby. I’m cautiously hopeful that it will go better this time around, but I have pretty intense memories of the first time. So when I hear lines like:

“I can hold my breath. I can bite my tongue.” – I remember how painful it was. The searing pain that shot through every fiber of my body as she latched for the first time…and for 13 months worth of times after that.

“I can stay awake for days if that’s what you want. Be your number one…Give you all I am” – I am not looking forward to another year or more of restless, sleepless nights. But I am what keeps her alive. My body nourishes her so I wake up with her and I suffer through it. Because it’s not all suffering. She will smile, she will laugh, and – mercifully – she will sleep.

“But I’m only  human. And I bleed when I fall down. I’m only human. And I crash and I break down. [The] words in my head, knives in my heart, [they] build me up and then I fall apart, cuz I’m only human.” – I was diagnosed with post-partum depression when Godzilla was around five or six months old. It was a simultaneously freeing and brutal thing to grapple with. Finally, I had answer to some of what I was feeling. Finally, I had a way to cope with all of it. Finally…I felt a little bit of fear and failure. Nothing was going right. I couldn’t feed my child enough. I couldn’t love my husband the way he deserved. I didn’t want to be a mother. Everything I had ever thought I wanted, I finally had and I couldn’t deal with it. The words in my head crushed me.

“I can do it. I can do it. I’ll get through it.” – And I did. I did it. I fed Godzilla on a near constant basis. I accepted the magic of formula. My friends and my husband encouraged me and brought me coffee and reminded me that I wasn’t just doing enough for my daughter. I was literally doing everything for her. I may not be the perfect mother (far from it), but I am the perfect mother for her. I was reminded to take time for myself and that asking for help isn’t admitting defeat or weakness, but rather significant strength. To know when I’m about to break and to ask for help is one of the strongest things I can do as a mother. We’re fed line after line that we can have it all, do it all, and be it all, but when we aren’t, it feels like we’ve failed in every  possible way. Whatever happened to “it takes a village”? My tribe has taught me, over the last two years, that asking for help means I’m willing to be vulnerable and that I trust those closest to me. It also means that when one of my tribe starts to falter, I will be there to prop her up with coffee, wine, wisdom, time, a listening ear, whatever she needs. I have learned that “mother’s intuition” extends so far beyond my own child…it weaves its way into the lives of my mama-friends. We start to know exactly when and how to best help each other (like when one of my newest tribe members brought me a chai latte and a surprise cherry danish the other day). We just sense each other. We respect each other. Sometimes, it feels like we are each other.
__________________________________________________________

So these are the songs that have made the biggest impact on me during my second (and probably final) pregnancy. There is so much left to accomplish in the few remaining weeks before Mothra arrives. At least, it seems that way. But what I know with absolute certainty is that I am ready. I am excited. I am prepared – emotionally and mentally – in ways I just couldn’t have been the first time.

I am patiently and uncomfortably awaiting her arrival.

I am ignoring the thoughts of doubt that seep into my subconcious.

I am ready.