Monday, October 31, 2011

How fleet the foxes

*I'm proud of myself for creating these costumes 20 minutes before we left for a party. Jonny and I were gypsies and Chai was (who else?) Slim Shady. My 17 year old self would be so proud.
*The purple vest Jonathan is wearing is from an ACTUAL GYPSY I met at the hospital in Romania. Dangerously legit.
*My skirt is from an ACTUAL CHRISTMAS DANCE I went to in high school. Huh. That didn't sound as cool.
*I desperately wanted to take Chai trick or treating for the sole and shameful purpose of collecting free candy for myself. In the end I couldn't bring myself to do it. Luckily I got a lot of free candy anyway.
*Chai was a horrifically cute rapper and delighted all who saw him. He wears a beanie well, as does his handsome father.
*We had fun with the Lowes. I told Laura she should use Halloween as an opportunity to show how "scary" the medical paradigm of birth is, and she could dress up as Pitocin or this famous OB at UVRMC who gives famously terrible episiotomies.
*I'm so glad Halloween is over. Now I can freely begin celebrating Christmas, and the sooner we get to Christmas, the sooner summer can come again. I don't have much use for fall.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oh, what I'd give for a hundred years, but the physical interferes...

This may be a little bleak, but I feel the need to write about this. Most of the time this feels like an echo anyway.

My father's father died last month. I am sadder than I can say that I only met him a handful of times in my life. I think I mildly charmed him as a little girl; when I was older I grew more aware of the disconnect and more appalled at the way he and my grandmother gnawed at one another's lonely bones. It hurt me to hear about how his cancer caused him to suffer terrible pain and indignities. I was humiliated on his behalf, I longed for him to go out whole and confident, be spared the idea of his "frail deeds danc[ing] in a green bay". He worked so hard, slaved for his humble noble business well into his eighties and then sold it to a crook. The idea that he might have left my grandmother with nothing crushed him. My dad started flying back east, back in time, now there was so little time left. When he passed away, my heart ached for the memories I never had with him; for the relationship that never existed between us. It was too late now to get to know him, and I mourned for that. I grieved the dreadful truth that I didn't know him well enough to miss him. It seemed so wrong. That my "loss" at his death was just the final loss of my never knowing him at all.

I feel like death has been slamming its fist all around me lately. I've felt the tremors, but people I know have been knocked off their feet. I am so sorry, so helpless when I see their bleeding pain. There are so many souls I have known that have gone. So many of them younger than I am. By their own hand, seized by a treacherous illness, strangled in the clutch of addiction, struck by a cruel accident, withered and weakened by years. I don't understand! I don't understand how a personality could be extinguished from the earth so completely that so that they only go on existing in our memories, when we are gone what shadow will remain of them? How dare we ever say that anyone is better off? Out of their suffering? Wouldn't it have been better to be spared the suffering and to go on living? I know I am going to lose someone close to me, and if I live long enough I may lose nearly everyone close to me. What is this life that we can be so vulnerable to falling out of it? Like we're living upside down and lucky if we can stay in our shoes long enough for the 80 years we hope for.

This is a journal entry that explores the feeling I have right now better than I can do tonight :(*names have been changed*)

July 15 2011
I have to write down what I’m feeling tonight…I feel so glowing peaceful and happy but I also feel stifled with fear? Respect? Trepidation? For the fragility of existence and the fleetingness of time (yes surprise surprise!). The other night Jonny and I went to an MSW reunion bbq at Lindy’s house. Nate was there and I told him I was so sorry to hear about his son’s problems. He mentioned to me that it was nice to hear my baby cry since his baby can’t make any noise with the trach (in case I’m reading this years later, their son was due after mine but was born 6-7 weeks early. He has some seriously compromising health problems).Natalie’s and my old roommate had her twin boys at 20 weeks and they both died within a few days, but not before having tubes and wires wound through their little bodies, tearing their fragile skin. That kind of suffering—both for the babies and for the parents—makes me feel a cold sick secret dread. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to lose a child. Why was my baby born perfect and healthy and theirs were not? I talked with Jonny about that this morning. How cruel the world is to children! How ugly and beastly it is that there are people who torture and deliberately destroy little children’s bodies. I read blogs today of people whose lives are awash with loss—the woman whose husband is blind and her 2 year old brain damaged, another family whose little girl fell in a swimming pool and drowned. And Lindy the other night, when I remarked that her daughter had been so sweet with my baby, she said that Daisy loves babies, especially since she can’t have any of her own. That hurts so badly! Why? There is so much suffering, and even those losses one could argue are little more pale in light of children in Africa who starve, who are gang raped or watch their families murdered. The world is swarming with grief. I went on a little walk tonight and thought, what grief has really touched me? Pain for my family, my father’s loneliness. I worried all day that Dit was involved in some scam and was going to be either human trafficked or horrifically disappointed. And of course as you well know all my pain pain pain in the over all the lovestruck Romeos, but please. None of that is even in the same universe as holding your baby while its heart stops beating, or worse finding your child brutalized and murdered. Getting a call saying your husband passed away. I was walking and I saw the sunset and the mountains gently cradling this city, and I loved our rural street and was filled with joy at the beauty of what I was seeing, my happiness at my husband and son tucked away in my house with turquoise walls. I made dinner tonight and registered for the CSW exam, made plans to teach in young women’s and thought of ideas for Abby’s bridal shower. What lack I yet? Rather, I want for nothing! My life is SO good! And so part of me wonders, this searing finger of suffering, when is it going to touch us? I know I can do hard things, I’ve overcome anxiety and worked hard when I needed to, but I know I’ve never really felt it burn me as others have. But no one escapes life unscathed, right? So will it be my marriage? Will depression one day begin eating my brain and heart and turn me into a bitter marionette who makes my marriage sour? Who will I lose? Who will I NOT lose? Oh Lord, I know suffering hollows us out to be filled with good things, and I want those good things, but please protect my family! Please spare my children and my sweet husband. He is so dear to me. Let us not be part of the casualties scraped off the earth every day. I know there’s no guarantee of safety and protection—our bodies can turn on us at any time, or a car can turn into us, or we can be standing right at the wrong place. This last winter Jonathan and I would cuddle up together and admit that we were so happy, we were wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. But I’m not going to live in fear of fate. I’m not in charge of cutting the thread. So all I can do is appreciate what I have as much as I can, and try not to take it for granted. I want to stare at my beautiful son and love every day of his little life, for 6 weeks, 6 years, 16 years, as long as I am privileged to have him. Love my darling Jonny, the only only only one who required of me what I needed.

I love Chai, I want him to exist forever. Sometimes I worry that people made up the idea of heaven just to make themselves feel better. Despite people saying they “know” I hope it’s true, I’ve never hoped more that it’s true. I think of Robin telling Jason that people don’t come back to life and I think, how can she have a little boy and tell him that? How can she not WANT WITH ALL HER BEING for it to be real, at least for him? If it’s not true, he’s just dead in the ground and his body will rot away and he won’t Be anymore. I want my little boy to go on being forever. I was just looking at his perfect little fingers, miniatures of my own and I started to cry. Oh my darling! My darling! I cradle him over my shoulder and he snuggles his head by my neck and I rock him and his shifts his little arm around my neck and what could be sweeter than this? And I need to love it now and know it so deeply now because it will not always be this way. His little hand will get bigger like his father’s and it is so beautiful but so painful, too. He was made of love. Jonny says the Universe was made out of love, so we have nothing to be afraid of. I need to remember that every day I get a little bit closer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Out of my deeper heart a bird rose and flew skyward.

Out of my deeper heart a bird rose and flew skyward.
Higher and higher did it rise, yet larger and larger did it grow.
At first it was but like a swallow, then a lark, then an eagle, then as vast as a spring cloud, and then it filled the starry heavens.
Out of my heart a bird flew skyward. And it waxed larger as it flew. Yet it left not my heart.
~ Kahlil Gibran

One year ago this weekend was the first I heard of Chai...although I had no idea he would be Chai back then. I wanted a little boy so much, we were both sure it was a little girl (Houston really gave me a complex about things like that). It seems like a thousand years ago, was that really us? I remember looking in the mirror and wondering how anyone ever look at me and see their mother and just reeling with glee that science was actually real, I guess. ("Bingo! Dino DNA!") I never actually believed I would have children, even though for awhile I thought the yellow bird might be a baby. I made Jonathan a cute little presentation involving cereal and a scripture and an inside joke and put it all together like I was asking him to prom, and I got it all wrong. He wanted us to be alone, for me to just tell him clearly without all the fanfare. I regret that now, but I didn't understand. I always want everything to be a party. I felt impatient...I wanted to feel the baby kicking, I wanted a tight watermelon of a pregnant stomach right then. I remember also feeling a little alarmed..."boarded the train there's no getting off," that's it exactly, thank you Sylvia.

And now we're on the edge of another October and that little almost imaginary good-news salamander will be four months old this week! It’s incredible how much I love my Chai. When I hold him I have the softest feelings imaginable. This other afternoon I had him on my lap while we were watching Intervention and every time they showed the protagonist as a child and told their backstory my heart squeezed with pain and I thought—please no, not my baby. I’m so glad he will remain little for the next few years because I can’t think too far beyond that, of his suffering. No one makes it through this life without suffering, but I hope he will always know that his mama loves him, and that I can teach him things that will help him be resilient. That sword hasn't pierced my own soul yet; I fully understand that we’re existing in Neverland with our perfect, merry baby. He is SO beautiful and amazing! These are some thing I want to remember about my Chai:

*He is marvelously happy and content. When he was very tiny he used to wail in the evenings, but now he almost never cries. People always comment on that, "I forgot there was a baby here!" or "I didn't hear him make a sound the whole time!"

*When he does "cry" it's almost like a bird squawking--not a prolonged noise, but little short cries to let me know he is awake or needs something.

*Chai has become very verbal and talkative...he is always so excited to tell us things in the morning! Sometimes it really sounds like he is making words. I know he thinks he is. We'll have whole conversations with him where he'll make his sounds ("Gah! Ahhhahhyaaa!") and we'll make them back or say affirming things like "I know...I know! Tell me more, baby!" It's my

*I love how Chai croons along with us when we sing to him, he makes a melodic noise like he is trying to sing, too.

*Chai is tall and slender. He weighs 13.14 lbs (50th percentile) and is 25 1/2 inches tall (80th percentile). He has a "big alien head" like his Dad. :)

*As you may have noticed in the pictures, Chai has become a baldie. I was excited that he had so much hair when he was born, but it's mostly gone now. It's okay though, he's still the handsomest ever.

*Chai is much more portable than I imagined a baby being. It's pretty easy to take him anywhere--I ditched keeping him in a car seat pretty early on--they are so heavy and unwieldy, and besides, I love holding him--I always think about him getting bigger and not being able to carry him everywhere. We can go out to dinner with friends and he just sits on my lap. I need to get a Moby wrap because he's getting heavier.

*Chai is not your regularly scheduled baby. He takes naps at random times, or not at all. I've never known a baby who seemed to need less sleep. Jonathan's mother told me that Jonny was like that, too. He usually falls asleep around 10 or 11; a couple of times he has stayed up until one--not upset or anything, just looking around very wide-eyed and interested in everything.

*When people ask if he's sleeping through the night and I tell them he sleeps with us, so waking up a couple of times or not at all doesn't really matter or make a difference, they look at me baffled/disgusted (disgaffled!) but that's okay. They have to decide what's right for their own lives. But for me, I LOOOVE co-sleeping. I think it's excellent for attachment. It's also super easy to move him briefly if we need the bed for anything--once he commits to going to sleep at night, he is out. I love how Chai gradually moves closer to me during the night and how his breathing matches mine; most of the time he likes to rest one arm on my chest. I also love knowing he's there and that he's safe.

*It's getting a little tougher since he's been rolling from side to side and sleeps kind of like an eggbeater. Lately since we're sleeping on an air mattress he winds up perpendicular to me and likes to kick me in the side (like back in the day when he was in utero!).

*We're still nursing on demand and going strong! (I pump for when I have to work and he does fine with a bottle too). I'm not planning on introducing other food until he gets a little older and shows interest. I LOVE nursing him and I wish I could explain the thoughts I have when I look at him laying so sweetly there with his eyes closed and making the dearest motions with his hands. I just tell him over and over again how beautiful he is and how much I love him. He often rests his arm on my chest and it melts my heart.

*Chai is not a winner at nursing in public ("Who told you you could cover up?") and is agitated if I try to nurse him under a blanket, etc. I think he resents the absurdity of the social stigma against BF in public. Good Chai!

*He is pure. It's humbling and healing to spend so much time with someone who is not capable of lying or deception. I want to be like him. He can't hide what he's experiencing and it's beautiful. Joy--fear--curiosity all flash on his face in the most innocent sincerity.

*Chai expresses himself a lot with his legs...kicking when he gets excited or anxious, or during Dancey-Dance time :). It always makes us laugh. He also tries to "run away" when he gets frustrated by kicking and pushing off against the wall or furniture.

*He loves to "stand" and has very strong legs. He also loves being "danced" or "jumped" around by us or my brothers (see picture second from the top). He also wants to be held facing outwards almost all the time, I say it's because he likes to think he's "driving."

*Chai is still a local fan favorite in Ogden. There are practically wars and bloodshed over who gets to hold him. Sometimes I start to miss him because no one wants to give him back! He interacts with everyone and is very charming and responsive. I think--I hope--he knows how very much he is loved. A typical scene is for someone to be holding him on their lap, while someone else plays with his feet, a third person holds his hand, and a fourth person strokes his head or face. All of them talking to him at once. It must be overstimulating, but Chai is very patient.

*I'm obsessed with how cute he is when he is sleeping. He either sleeps on his side with his hands tenderly clasped under his chin (adorable!) or on his back with his arms spread out wide and his legs drawn up like a little frog. I can't stand it.

*My little boy loves me, I think maybe! It means so much to me when I make eye contact with him and talk to him and he just bursts into sunbeams and smiles. I took Chai to a work retreat with me and we were talking/beaming at each other, and two of the therapists I work with commented, "That's relationship enhancement right there" (what they teach clients to do with their children to strengthen attachment.) I thought about that all day, it made me feel so good!

*His neck is the most ticklish and he loves it when Jonathan blows raspberries in his neck or stomach. And he laughs--this little grunty "heh" noise--and it's amazing and so exciting and beautiful, and sure that's cheesy but really what else could be more beautiful than the sound of your baby's laugh?

*During the last few days he discovered he could stick his tongue out and he seems to like the way it feels...he keeps poking it out and blowing spit bubbles. "Like a boss" as Jonny would say.

*I should mention that Jonathan is constantly saying Chai does things like a boss. "He holds his head up like a BOSS!" "He rolled over like a BOSS!"

*Chai likes most everyone and is generous with his smile. But he definitely loves his Dad the most. When he sees Jonathan his smile lights up the sky. They are very loving and attuned to each other. Jonathan has incredible instincts about what Chai is feeling and experiencing, it amazes me and I've learned a lot from him. I'm so, so happy they get to spend time together a few times a week when I go to work, even though it makes me jealous. I always feel a little left out when I drive away, but I'm happy for both of them that they get time together that they might not otherwise have. They love each other so much.

*I am so proud of my little buddy for being so adaptable and easy-going with all the troubles we've been having in our house. A more high-strung baby could contribute a lot of stress to this situation, but Chai continues to be patient, good and kind. Every baby deserves to feel adored, and I hope he can feel even a little bit of how very much we love him. He is my Happiness Boy.