“Gooooooooood mor— aw dang is that poop?”
“Please don’t pull your sister around by the neck of her shirt.”
“Purple? Or blue? Purple? Purple? Purple? Blue? Blue? Can you …please just pick some pants?”
“Nonoonono standing on the table. No walking on the table. No dancing on the table!!”
“Pancakes are not brushes. They go in your mouth. No. No. No. No it’s not a brush. No.”
“Don’t touch the remote controls. Don’t – NONO! No remotes! NONO!”
“Why is there yogurt in your hair?”
“Did you pee?”
“Don’t eat crayons. Crayons are not food. Don’t e–NO!”
“Do you want a juice? Red or green? We don’t have blue. Red or green. No blue. We don’t have blue. There is no blue. There’s no blue.”
“What is that on your pants? Chapstick? Where did you find Chapstick?”
“Ohmigosh DON’T STAND ON THAT!!”
“Ewwwwyuckyyuckyyuckyewwww nononono we don’t touch the plunger!”
“Why is there a book in the toilet?”
“Who gave the dog fruit snacks?”
“I’m not sure you need THAT much toilet paper, sweetie.”
“You can’t brush your hair if it’s in a ponytail.”
“Please don’t dance on the stairs, you’re scaring Mommy.”
“Don’t put that in your mou– NO NOT ‘mmmmm’ THAT’S A HAIR CLIPPY. No ‘mmmmm’. Yucky.”
“Why are you naked?”
“Did you get that out of the garbage? Ew.”
“How many cookies did you eat? 3? 4? 10? Did you count? Why didn’t you ask me first?”
“Can I please have that? That’s Mommy’s. We don’t play with those (Sharpie) markers, they’re Mommy Markers.”
“Play-doh is for playing. Don’t put it in your mou– yuck! YUCK! Spit it out! Spit!”
“HOT! THAT’S HOT! DON’T TOUCH THAT! HOT COFFEE!”
“Nononononononononono NONONONONONO JAMIE!!! Don’t touch the DVD player!”
“Yes you can jump on the couch.”
“Keep your mouth shut if you’re going to jump off the couch, you might bite your tongue.”
“Did you bite your tongue?”
“Did you hurt your foot? Does it hurt really bad? ShouldÂ we cut it off?”
“Honey I was just kidding. I would never cut you. I promise. No, I will never cut off your foot. I PROMISE.”
“I promise I’ll never cut off Jamie’s foot either. I won’t cut anyone’s foot off, ever.”
“SINGALONG!!!! LET IT GOOOOO– oh, I’m not allowed to sing? Why? I’m too OLD?”
“Yes you can have some of my water. Just don’t squee– *sigh*… here’s a towel.”
“Please stop handing me your boogers. You know where the tissue is.”
“What is that? A booger? Why are you just standing there holding it?”
“Do I hear running water? Why is the tub running? WHY IS THE TUB RUNNING?”
“Are your panties on backward?”
“WHY IS THIS WET?”
“Is it naptime yet?”
This is the time of year when I allow myself to go back to that night. I allow myself to remember everything about the moment my ears were assaulted with the news, and the moments immediately following. Adam and I, collapsing into a tangled heap on our hardwood floor; Tali jumping all over us while my mom tried to control her. My fingers trembling as I struggled to dial my mother-in-law’s phone number. Choking out the words and trying not to vomit.
“Dirk’s been shot.”
I have days every now and then where I’m driving in my car and tears just start falling, or I’m watching my kids tickle each other and tears just start falling, or I glance at a picture of him on my living room wall and tears just start falling. I can usually swipe them away quickly before anyone notices, but that becomes increasingly difficult come this time of year. The beautiful, crisp, yellow leaves that cover the ground right now? They remind me ofÂ that night, that time of year. Halloween, unfortunately, reminds me of that night, and that time of year. I still have the package of paint I purchasedÂ because Adam had begged meÂ to let him draw an eyeball on my giant pregnant belly for Halloween that year. We obviously never got to that, and now the paint sitsÂ untouched, unopened,Â in the back of a cabinet where I keep random supplies. I came across it when I pulled out the pumpkin-carving tools last week, and… tears just started falling.
I’ve spent a lot of timeÂ being “okay” with everything, and thankful that DirkÂ is in a better place, and comforted knowing that we had a wonderful guardian angel, and blah, blah blah. Right now… this time of year… I just want him here. I MISS HIM. I want to tell him all of the ridiculous things Ellie says EVERY DAY, and I want him to melt just like Adam does whenever he sees Jameson, and I want him to tell me all about how I’m being too lenient with my little bratty toddler, and I want to show him the picture of Ellie’s first fish, and I wanted him to be there for Ellie’s first fish, dammit.
I want him here for me, and I want him here for my girls, but most of all I want my husband to have his dad. Here. Now. Alive.
I want him to hug me again, just like he did the last time I saw him -Â a great big giant bear-hug, where he picked me up off the ground even though I was 9 months pregnant.
I just… really, really miss him.
It’ll get easier, come January, I know. It always does. We’ll be going into our fourth year without him now… but come this time of year, it always seems like yesterday.
Go hug your families. Great big giant bear-hugs.
That Motherhood… she is one cheeky bitch. The moment youÂ even consider thinking about making aÂ plan for something… her wheels start turning.
Like, if you think “Hmmm… after I put the kids to bed I’ll have a nice glass of wine and relax in a bubble bath”…. BAM. NO. Motherhood has decided that your baby will scream 2 minutes after you engulf yourself in bubbles.
Or, if you think “Hmmm… tomorrow morning I’ll put away the laundry and then start on cleaning the house so I can have everything presentable by noon”… BAM. NO. Motherhood has decided that your toddler will pee through her diaper, her nightgown, her blanket, her sheets and her bed and will wake you at 6:30am to deal with it. During the cleaning of this, this EXTRA chore you hadn’t planned on… your baby will wake and scream that it’s time to play RIGHT THIS SECOND OR ELSE.
And, if you think “Hmmm… maybe I will take a shower and enjoy coffee today”… BAM. NO. Motherhood thinks you should wear sweatpants until 2pm, clean up baby barf 17 times before 10am, mop up juice spills while your toddler cries and stomps her feet, and wonder what-in-the-living-hell-did-this-thing-eat while cloroxing the spot where theÂ dog hacked up an unknown glob of digustingness.
And THAT… thatÂ is all in less than 24 hours of Motherhood’s glory.
She is SUCH a bitch.
(Buuuuuuuut, then there’s this…)
Well, this is LONG overdue.Â Thank you all so muchÂ for not pressuring me to tell this story before I was ready… so, without further ado, here is Jamie’s beautiful birth story. And the aftermath.
I went into labor on a Thursday afternoon. I didn’t know it until about 6 hours later when my contractions had strengthened and become pretty rhythmic, so I spent the afternoon admiring myÂ perfectly spotless house, eating macaroni and cheese for lunch, and waiting for my mom’s flight to get in. BTW, don’t eat mac & cheese the day you go into labor. Trust me, just don’t.
Anyhoo, my back was pretty sore around 7-8pm, so Ellie and I sat on the yoga ball and stretched/bounced for a little bit. Adam left to go get my mom at 9pm, and by the time they returned at 10pm my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and getting stronger. We left for the hospital at 11pm – my mom hadn’t even had time to take her suitcase upstairs!
Once we got to the hospital, I wasn’t admitted into Labor and Delivery for another HOUR, even though I was at 5cm. About half an hour after we got there, however, I made everyone leave the room because I was feeling SUPER nauseated. Adam of course was like, “yeahÂ you guysÂ should leave…” andÂ I yelledÂ through clenched teeth.. “EVERYONE. GET OUT.” Yep, I banished him to the waiting room along with my mom, my sister and her boyfriend, and my friend/birth photographer Kaile.
I got wheeled into L&D around 1am, where I proceeded to dry-heave until 3:15am when I got my epidural. The little bucket they gave me to hold in case my lunch came up was mangled byÂ that time, because I was apparently using my super-hulk-strength to squeeze it with my left hand during contractions. Â I allowed Adam back into the room when I was sure I wouldn’t barf on anyone, and then my water broke (read: exploded) all over the nurse’s shoes (luckily for HER it was only her shoes, because — no joke — 1 second before that she had her face in my vagina checking my cervix).
The doctor (not MY doctor, who apparently is never on call when I want to have babies) came in to check my cervix at 3:30 and immediately proclaimed that we’d better get everyone in the room because baby was coming. Four pushes later and out came a tiny, screaming little beebee.
6lbs, 5ozÂ ,Â beautiful baby girlÂ Jameson Lea greeted us at 4:01am on Friday, November 16th, 2012. I was ecstatic, smiling, and laughingÂ immediately. TWO GIRLS!!!! OMG!
Adam and I didn’t get to our mother-baby room until 7am or so, and we started getting visitors at 9am. Jamie wasÂ perfect, quiet, sleepy, and hey!– I remembered how toÂ breastfeed! Everything went great.Â We even left the hospital as soon as they would let us — Saturday morningÂ we were outta there!
Aaaaand then my life turned upside down and went all to hell.
Some of you may remember my semi-public meltdown on Facebook… I posted daily little quips about how I didn’t think I would EVER be able to leave my house again, wondering how ANYONE ever had more than one child and had a normal life, etc. Starting on Day 4, Jamie cried NONSTOP. Unless she was eating or sleeping, the girl was SCREAMING.
I didn’t sleep. I ate like crap. I cried. A LOT. My house went to shambles. None of my clothes fit. I cried a lot more. I picked fights with Adam. I cried even more. I scared all of my friends who were thinking about trying to have a second child. I scared my sister and her husband, who were about to have their second child any day.
I beat myself up daily with guilt — I felt like I was neglecting Ellie, who had been myÂ little #1 best friend for the last 2 years. All I wanted to do was put down this screaming, red-faced baby and hold my EllieBelle. I didn’t want my Mom to EVER leave me, and I didn’t want to see anyone else in my life. I was embarrased because I felt like a crap mom, like I didn’t have it together at all. I felt guilty for feeling guilty, whichÂ lead to aÂ never-ending cycle of tears. I cried all the way through Jamie’s 2-week appointment, using a burp cloth to wipe my eyes while Adam did most of the talking to the pediatrician.
My best friend had had her second baby just eight days before I had Jamie, and she was making it look so easy! I felt like a complete failure. I felt… like I was drowning. And I absolutely could not get and keep my head above water.
My sister-in-law tattled on me to my doctor, who called to check on me the same day. I of course said I was fine… then I spent the entire day crying and wondering how I was going to get through a babyshower that night with lots of people who wanted to meet Jamie when all I wanted to do was crawl into Ellie’s bed and snuggle.
At my 6-week postpartum checkup, the nurse who took my bloodpressure asked how I was feeling. I jokingly said, “a little crazy, but that comes with the territory of having two kids I guess.” Then when my doctor came in, all she had to do was LOOK at me and she said, “Feeling a little sad?” … to which I replied by bursting into tears.
So, Zoloft it was. It hadn’t quite kicked in by the time I took both girls, by myself, on a plane to Idaho to visit my family… luckily I was able to keep myself calm enough not to flip completely out while traveling, though I did haveÂ one scary panic attack where I was thisclose to throwing up. I didn’t though, and the guy sitting next to me never had a clue how close he was to disaster.
My sister had her baby a few days after I arrived, and when she came home we had FOUR children in the house. FOUR. And she was so calm about it! My anxiety was through the roof, of course, and I had to actually focus internally on breathing so I wouldn’t pass out or throw up. And my Mom had the NERVE to LEAVE US! Sheesh.
I struggled with more feelings of guilt and inadequacy as I watched my little sister seamlessly integrate her new baby into the family. She was *glowing* with happiness, and I was jealous. The only thing I glowed with was sweat from panic attacks about being a terrible mother.
Of course, I didn’t notice the Zoloft starting to kick in until about a month later. I began to feel lighter, less guilty, and more confident. Coincidentally, Jamie began to smile more, cry less, and calm more easily right around 7-8 weeks old. In the following weeks, I cheered up. I cried SO much less (actually, as of today I can’t really remember the last time I cried). I quit worrying about the house (so much). I spent the majority of my non-working time on the floor with my kids, laughing and playing.
So… here’s an update as of today: Jamie is now SIX MONTHS OLD. She is absolutely THE smiliest baby I’ve ever met. This girl has a perma-smile! The only time she really cries is when she’s hungry, or really really tired. I don’t feel like I’m neglecting Ellie anymore, because blessherheart she adores her little sister and spends as much time as she can with her. My house is kind of a wreck still, but I care much less about it. I focus on doing fun things with the girls, and making sure that I get in as many snuggles and giggles and kisses as I can. And I am SO happy.
I quit taking my Zoloft this week. I really feel like I’m over the post-partum depression and anxiety hump, and the plan was never to be on the drug for longer than I needed it. While I think it was time, and I’m not extremely worried about side effects other than headaches and slight dizziness… if you notice me having another public meltdown on Facebook, maybe let my husband know. ;)
And on that note,Â May isÂ Mental Health Awareness Month. Today is actually Mental Health Blog Day, which is what prompted me to get this on the page. If you know someone who seems to be suffering, please reach out to them.
A giant hug and a superthanks to all of you who read and follow Superwife. I write for you – parents, daughters, families, women, dudes… fellow superwives – thank you so much for reading and sympathizing and laughing with (and at) me. My life is crazy, funny,Â awesome, and blessed… and I’m always glad to shareÂ it with you. :)
Pick up your copy of the Anchorage Press today for a complete list of local favorites – available at multiple locations around town. (I usually get mine at Sagaya on Old Seward!)
After visiting my sister-in-law Amanda in the hospital just moments after she gave birth to my gorgeous new nephew, Carson, I mentioned to Adam that I was jealous of her. He of course thought I was referring to the fact that she no longer has to deal with the aches and pains of pregnancy that I complain about 24/7 â€“ in a way, yes sure, Iâ€™m wishing I could move this whole process along, but I was really thinking of this particular time in Amandaâ€™s life that has me wading through the waters of jealous remembrance.
She is now on Day 3 of motherhood, and I canâ€™t help but tear up when I think of how overwhelmed with emotion I was when I was a 3-day-old mommy. Sure, my â€œnew-mommynessâ€ was a bit tainted with the pain of losing my father-in-law less than a week beforeâ€¦ but nothing can get in the way of the pure magic only a newborn can provide. (I would even say that Ellie SAVED me from my grief â€“ a powerful feat from such a little human.)
Amanda is in this time-suspended period where all she has to do is stare at her new baby, breathe in the delicious scent of her new baby, and dream up all the things she hopes to accomplish for her new baby. When I had Ellie, it didnâ€™t even matter who or how many people were in the room (we had a LOT of visitors) – I was completely submerged in her essence. Her smell, her tiny noises, her little squirmy movementsâ€¦ the way she blinked, breathed, yawned and especially the way she would just stare into my eyes.
Iâ€™m jealous because while I will definitely get to experience the new-baby fun in just a few weeksâ€¦ I wonâ€™t ever get to be a â€œnew momâ€ again. New moms have no expectations, no pre-conceived notions â€“ theyâ€™re a clean slate, no matter what advice theyâ€™ve been given. Every single little tiny experience is created from a fresh, innocent place.
Soâ€¦ because I canâ€™t help it (what mother can?), I offer this advice to my beautiful sister â€“ and any other beautiful new mommies:
- Smell your new baby, as much as possible. I always wondered when that â€œnewâ€ smell would dissipateâ€¦ it takes a while, but enjoy every second of it.
- Get lost in your babyâ€™s eyes. They may change color over time, but youâ€™ll be enamored with that part of your child forever. A childâ€™s eyes carry so much emotion and wonder, youâ€™ll feel like they make time stand still.
- Relax when your baby cries (but donâ€™t feel guilty if you cry a little too). Itâ€™s true that they feel your tensionâ€¦ and they also feel your calmness.
- Learn to never stand still. I still do a little side-to-side sway sometimes, even when Iâ€™m not holding my daughterâ€¦ it becomes an ingrained action.
- Laugh. At everything. Laugh at the funny faces your baby makes, and laugh at how ridiculous you look (and feel) while using a breast pump. Laugh when you spill coffee all over yourself, and laugh when your baby has four â€œblowoutsâ€ in one day. Do NOT forget to laugh.
- Listen to (and ask for) advice â€“ from your mom, your dad, your friends, your sister (hint hint), and everyone else who may have something to offer. Do not feel obligated to use any of it. Motherhood is individual to each of usâ€¦ my experience is different from your momâ€™s, and yours will be too. YOU get to make the calls now, and no one can decide anything for your baby but you.
- Try not to get jealous when other people hold your baby â€“ but donâ€™t feel guilty asking for him back. Itâ€™s normal to feel naked without your baby attached to you, and during those first few weeks at home itâ€™s really, really hard to willingly place him/her in someone elseâ€™s arms (until you really, really need a shower â€“ then itâ€™s a little easier).
- Accept meals (whether homemade or fast-food) from anyone and everyone who offers. You just concentrate on getting to know your new baby â€“ your family and friends will make sure you get fed. :)
- Donâ€™t forget about Dad. Heâ€™s experiencing all of this for the very first time tooâ€¦ and heâ€™s loving it just as much as you are. Share in that togetherâ€¦ and be thankful – every single stressful amazing second – for your new family. Â
Iâ€™ll reign in the rest of my motherly knowledge until Iâ€™m asked. Or hell, maybe Iâ€™ll spill it all out every time I visit, who knows? Just know that no matter what anyone tells you, your only job right now is to revel in theÂ beautyÂ of your baby and your new family.
I love you, Amanda. Now share your baby with me. I’ll be over in a few hours.