A lot of little things, disjointed, long, but I hope interesting

A few things on my mind…

  • We went to Florida to visit DH’s parents…and we actually had a great time. For the first time, his parents were relaxed (for them), and they treated me with kindness and respect that I have not felt before. This has to be because I have a baby, their grandson, now. I have a few feelings about this. First off, I am always thinking of my sisters who are still struggling to have babies, and remembering the unfairness of where I was. I knew, then, that if I had been able to have a baby, relations with my Korean in-laws would have been so much smoother. (I won’t go into the details, but those who have been following for a while will recall the insanity. Who could forget the: “She’s going to give you a Down’s Syndrome baby” comment?) Women struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss have to deal with the hugely unfair, depressing, oppressive situation that their infertility creates within their relationships with their loved ones, and oftentimes especially their relationships with their in-laws—on top of everything else they are dealing with. It is not fair that my relationship with my in-laws is better simply because I was finally able to reproduce. But there it is. The other feeling I have about this positive change is this: I’m relieved. I will accept the change. I will forgive their past insults and injuries, because I want my son to enjoy our time with his grandparents, and I want to enjoy visits, too. It wasn’t a perfect visit this time, but it was a million times better. DH, S, and I hung out at their pool all day, swimming, playing, and sleeping, while Grandma cooked delicious Korean food. Grandpa was able to have conversations with DH in which he was not expressing disappointment, and even took him aside at one point and said, “You are a good boy, and a good father.” DH was shocked. Little S was such a source of joy for everyone, with his smiles and ridiculous-amazing laugh, and the way he boings with excitement. “He doesn’t just look at things, does he,” his grandma said. “He really spends time trying to understand what he’s seeing.” I loved that she noticed this right away. (It’s a comment I get in gym class and yoga and at mom’s groups—he’s so alert! I love this about my boy—it makes him really interesting company.) They served us wine at dinner and, for the first time, didn’t mind if we asked for seconds. For the first time, they let us have the gorgeous master bedroom and adjoining bathroom that is as big as our apartment, with a tub big enough for DH, S, and me. Epic bubble baths, voices echoing, S and I yodeling back and forth. And the puppet shows we were able to perform on that huge king-sized bed! Needless to say, S was in heaven.
  • I am really getting into hanging out with other moms and babies and am having some feelings reminiscent of high school. I have this sort of heady feeling of being popular, liked. I am part of a sort of more mainstream-ish mom group, and part of an extremely international group of friends who are more alternative-thinking, and am being called to hang out by moms in our baby gym class. My social calendar has exploded! And these ladies are great! I have a sense of belonging that I have not felt in years. Again, I am remembering where I’ve been, and where so many I know still are, that horrible feeling of living in an alternate universe. Everyone your age has kids and they are doing family things with one another. You try to stay in touch, but it is difficult to find common ground. It’s such an isolating situation and oftentimes no one is really at fault, it is just the nature of the situation. You yearn desperately to move on to the next life stage, but you are thwarted again and again. You miss your friends. You are tired of going to coffee shops alone, bars to drink too much, to dinners for two. It is not fair that I no longer feel isolated simply because I was able to reproduce. But I have felt isolated for so long that being surrounded by people who like me and who want to be my friend, whom I can call at a moment’s notice to hang out, is like drinking an elixir. Healing is happening at a root-level. We are social creatures. Almost all of us yearn to belong—to our generation, to the animal kingdom (any nature documentary will nix that avenue, when you can’t reproduce). Almost all of us yearn to have friends, commonalities. And women who yearn to have children feel excluded from a sisterhood of mamas who lean together to help one another care for their young. It is a logical exclusion, but it is the most painful exclusion of all. It would be impossible for me to hang out with any of my new friends without S—there would be no context for me to meet these women in the first place. And so I have two simultaneous feelings: I understand the unfairness of my inclusion in the sisterhood even while I feel gratitude for it.

It’s a bit impossible to capture what is happening with S. I read back on my Mom’s Journal and see that I barely skim the surface of it. When I write, “He kissed himself in the mirror today for the first time,” it sounds cute, it doesn’t convey what it is like to watch a tiny human begin to understand that he has a body, and a face, and lips. Begin to understand what a kiss is. It is impossible to describe accurately what it is like to see him take the crayon I’ve handed him and put it in his mouth, and then switch to beating it into paper like a drumstick on a drum, to watch his brain-wheels spin. How my insides leap when he wakes up from his nap doing whatever his brand-new thing is—the half-crawl, for example—a little bit better, because he has synthesized what he has learned in his sleep. To hear him saying, “Dada” in the other room, and to hear the softness of DH’s voice in reply, “Yeeesss, son, that’s right! I’m Dada!”

To put my arms around both of them at once and squeeze and say, “Ohhh, my boys. My little family.”

Six and a half months, and he feeds himself with a (preloaded) spoon, eats finger-foods (I’m doing some Baby-Led Weaning, which I highly recommend, more on this later), sits up, rolls allll the way across the floor, holds hands with other babies, sings along to our songs, swims in the Sound (paddling with arms and legs while I hold him), dances and laughs in his jumper while we dance beside him. He fell asleep against my chest in the warm bath the other night, after a hard day of play and swim at the beach. He just collapsed and melted against me. I did not do anything but gaze at him for over an hour. When DH came in, I said, “This is one of the most perfect moments of my life.”

I like writing about the good stuff, and so I do. The harder stuff…I just don’t gravitate toward writing about it as much lately. But I’ll try… I have had some pretty serious hip problems, because rookie-mama wore him facing out in that baby carrier too often (it was all he would tolerate when he had acid reflux). I now have a ring-sling, and he faces in and clings to me like a little marsupial. But the hip pain remains. I am constantly doing pigeon-pose. The rest of my body honestly often feels abused, from carpal tunnel-ish wrist to neck and spine pain, and the chronic pain can really get me down. I try to maintain body self-care, but it is truly impossible to exercise and stretch enough, even as much as I include S. I now have a proper stroller, what we call his “sweet ride,” but neither of us is crazy about being separated. Still, I use it when the hip pain is too much. Other hard things are the usual: not having enough time to myself, not having enough time when zero is being asked of me. A yearning for processing, decluttering my mind. A desire to live in a home that is not tiny and hot with loud, smoking neighbors. A home of our own, for our growing boy. But I know that will come in due time.

I write about the sweet stuff, but I feel I should mention, too, that there comes with S’s dynamic personality and early-milestone-reaching some things that can be exhausting…even while they’re amusing. He wriggles. I’ve never met such a wriggly thing. Of course, in keeping with his personality, the crazy wriggling and rolling alternates with long moments of utter calm and complete stillness. So when people see him during a calm, they’re like, “Oh, what a good baby! He’s so quiet! He’s so chill!” And I want to invite them over during a wriggly session, or when he throws back his head and wails to the heavens as if the saddest tragedy has befallen him. This kid can scream-cry in a way that dislodges my brain and splinters it into a million pieces. Just last week, I came home and handed S to DH and said, “Malbec. Quick.” He poured me a generous goblet and I proceeded to turn on Netflix on this computer and stare at the screen with a traumatized expression, twitching. “Babe?” I heard my husband’s voice saying, far away. “You okay?”

“Shh, shh,” I whispered, not looking at him but at Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on the screen. “Mama no speakie. Mama drinkie.” Glug glug.

In other words, I would not say that S is an easy baby! He’s not easy. “He’s too interesting to be easy,” I explain, knowing I sound like a braggart and also knowing that I actually really believe that. I see the easy babies. They are so freaking adorable and they sit there with their little sweet smiles, picture-perfect. I spend time with them and I feel their energy, feel how different it is from S’s wriggly, bouncey, curious, excited energy, and I have to admit I breathe a sigh of relief when I’m watching over an easy baby for a few moments. I am amazed by how littler energy it requires of me. I see them at the table during our mom-group lunches, so peacefully taking the spoons their moms put in their mouths, smacking their lips, not crying, not demanding to investigate the spoon, no peas in their eyelashes. I watch them, agog, as they sit in their strollers during the entire lunch date, not requiring to be taken out, perfectly content to chew on a toy and look around. This is not S, oh no. He will not sit in a stroller while people are doing things at the table. He must know what we are all doing. He will eat what we eat. He must reach out and touch the other babies. He must boing up and down on my lap and smile and cackle and try to make eye contact with everyone. Who are you? What are you doing? He seems to be saying. He must wriggle and throw back his head and cry when he becomes tired or uncomfortable, because when he is tired and uncomfortable, everyone must know. But he must not sleep. He will not sleep. If the social gathering is still going on, there is no way he’s sleeping. Are you kidding? he seems to be saying. You want me to nap now? But there’s stuff going on. 

Speaking of which, DH has some fish on the table for us. But I want to quickly mention one thing before I go: I’ve figured something out. Something important. And I want to pass it on…

When DH and I get into arguments, which happens, of course, with a fair amount of frequency when you’ve got a baby, I’ve started doing something new. I didn’t read about this. I didn’t follow a self-help guide. It just happened naturally one day, and I’ve been doing it ever since. What I do is I wait for the tension to dissipate a little, usually by going around the house and doing some mad-house-cleaning. And then I go over to him and think about how much I love him. I put my arms around him and hug him hard. I rub his back. I say, “I love you.” And that’s that. He hugs me back and tells me he loves me, too. I’ve done this perhaps four times now, and I can’t believe how easy it is to do, and how well it works. Just a tip from TUT. Try it! Okay, dinner calls…

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Hi friend. It doesn’t matter how you think this post is disjointed. It’s delightful to see an update from you. I appreciate seeing the good and the not so good, a glimpse of the life now that you live. Of all the people, I vividly remember the craziness that your in-laws were. It’s so refreshing to read how well received you, DH, and little S were at your in-laws’ place. But it’s also so very sad that everything changed just because you now have a baby. I can totally see my in-laws doing the same, although they are a bit nicer to us. I am just thinking about my parents and how kind they treat us. When we go visit my father, we always get his master bedroom. We don’t have to wait for me to have a child in order to have that privilege. Same with my in-laws. Although they have not been happy with Bob and his choice of marrying me, they never treat us badly when we visit them in India. My MIL always serves me my meal with respect. If we decide to stay with them at their apartment, we’d get the nice room with the bathroom. You know, it is just the way people should treat other people regardless of their status as a parent or not. Your in-laws questioned you asking for seconds before? That’s crazy. Anyways, I am still happy that being a mother helps bridge the gap in your relationship with your in-laws. But I just wish that they innately were kinder people to begin with. Sometimes that’s too much to ask for. I guess I should just be relieved for you and not to ask for too much.

    And how great to see that little S is developing to be such an alert and interesting baby. Although I can see how that can take so much energy from you. My friend has a 6 month old baby who is such a good baby. He just sits and smiles and laughs. He rarely moves around when you hold him. He is just content to sit there and be happy. His sister was the opposite when she was six months old. She was like S. Anyways, so nice to see little S be his own little person. Too bad we can’t see his adorable face on this blog anymore. I hope that your pains will go away now that you start to change your way or carrying him around.

    Yes the sense of isolation you talk about. Nowadays, my work has 3 pregnant ladies, and I am feeling the strongest sense of isolation since I sometimes avoid sitting there at lunch because people talk about their pregnancy or being a mother and I can’t really join in the conversation. I am sure that when they all become a mother, I will feel even more isolated. Yeah, life is unfair, isn’t it?

    Finally, reading about how you handle your fights these days, I am thinking that I should learn a thing or two from you. My weakness is that it’s hard for me not to engage when I am mad. I also do crazy cleaning when I am angry. Now I need to learn to walk away and come back after I am calm. So hard to do but it can be done.

    HA, sorry I wrote a novel. Keep the updates coming, friend. <3

    Reply
  2. Good perspective on the fights. Fighting after our loss has this habit of going from zero to nuclear war in about 5 seconds. It’s only happened twice in 2 1/2 months, but they were the kind where you sit with yourself after the dust settles and feel unimaginable shame for your beast-like behavior.

    Reply
  3. wow wow wow!!!! Cant believe what a great visit you had with the IL’s!!! Seriously. After everything… S must be such a balm to everyone. What a charming busy little guy.

    Reply
  4. Hi adored reading this update so much. I can relate to so much of it. The hip pain was really bad for me too around when D was that age… i had to stop baby wearing for a few months, and now with pelvic floor strengthening workouts like barre it’s really improved. As for S, I have a friend with a baby just like him! She cracks me up. She’s a joy but I see how you get exhausted. I get exhausted by my little busy body too and i would say she’s on the easy scale. Anyway so good to hear from you!

    Reply
  5. Julia

     /  June 29, 2015

    As always, I love reading about your life. I am hoping your chronic pain is relieved soon. It is great to read about your happiness.

    Reply
  6. I love this update. All the parts of it kind of mesh together, I didn’t feel it was disjointed, just real. I’m glad the visits are better (but holy hell those previous comments will be hard to fuzz into memory), I’m glad you have a community of moms. Your Malbec moment made me laugh so hard. Your advice on smothering arguments with love is beautiful! And as always, you are so sensitive to those who have not reproduced or brought a baby into their lives. Thanks for the update — S certainly sounds like an interesting, lively, intelligent baby, and although more exhausting, I think that has value over “easy.” :) Cheers to you, and I hope the hip feels better soon!

    Reply
  7. Always love reading your updates! That’s so funny/odd about how your in-laws have changed; on the one hand I’d be pretty offended that it took a baby to bring them around, but on the other I guess you just have to shake your head and go “whatever” and move on. I’m starting to wonder if Q isn’t going to be a lot like S as he gets older! He’s also super wiggly and has to be inspecting things, which makes it tough to slow him down for naps when he needs them. I’ve compared it to trying to soothe a bag of writhing snakes. But S also sounds super fun, I can’t wait to get to this stage! PS – “Mama no speakie. Mama drinkie.” LOLZ for days!

    Reply

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