A Day Not Entirely My Own

Today is my birthday, and this birthday feels different.

I have realized how giving birth has changed my entire perspective on birthdays in general, but especially mine.

Up until now, I’ve always thought of my birthday as belonging to me; it’s my day.  The anniversary of the day I was brought into the world.

But really, the passive voice of that last sentence is misplaced.  In actuality, my birthday is the anniversary of the day my mom brought me into the world.  My mom worried and labored and felt pain and sweated and cried and felt crazy beautiful joy and relief.

I guess I couldn’t really get it until I had done the same thing for someone else.

My mom was in labor with me for 24 hours.  My dad drove her to the hospital, which was about 30 minutes away from home.  My mom remembers being pissed that my dad’s breath smelled like potato chips as he led her in the Lamaze breathing in which they had taken classes.  My parents talked about a very insensitive nurse who couldn’t get some medical reading because my mom was writhing in pain during a contraction.  I would like to be able to track down that nurse and punch her in the ear, exactly 32 years late.

At some point during the labor, my mom announced she wanted an epidural.  Apparently, someone informed my dad that it was too late in the process for an epidural to do any good, and so my dad ended up lovingly lying to my mom, telling her the pain meds would be coming any minute now.  I can only imagine how much of a champ my mom was for getting through the remainder of the laboring process completely unmedicated.

And so I came into the world at about 2:15am on February 10th, a Thursday, head first but facing up.  At that time, few parents knew the sex of their baby before birth, and my parents were no exception.  My mom wrote in my baby book that I was alert and had strawberry blonde hair, which are the exact same phrases I ended up writing in my son’s baby book.

So today, I celebrate my first birthday as a mom even though it’s not entirely my day.  And in six months, my son will get to smash his face into sweet, damp cake for the first time, but it won’t really be his day.  Not all the way, at least.  That will be a day when I’ll be telling anyone who will listen how I brought this perfect creature into the world.

…maybe that will be a day when I should make myself my own smash cake.

And by smash cake I mean celebratory booze.

My Happy Thought

Robin Williams died on my son’s due date.

I loved this guy.  I loved his work.  I went through the stages of grief when I found out – starting with disbelief, of course.  I was (and still am) so sad that depression took this very talented human being from us.

After Robin’s death, in watching all the memorials on the news and daytime TV, and in seeing all the clips strung together on Facebook, I started counting all of his movies that touched me, that I grew up with.  It’s a lot.  His movies were so emotional; I’ve long known that his were the ones I went to when I needed to tweak my mood – which usually meant inducing tears and reconfirming my faith in the human spirit.

In going through my movie collection, I realized I didn’t own one of my absolute favorite Robin Williams movies – Hook – so I bought it and ended up watching it soon after my son was born.

I absolutely adore the story of Peter Pan.  There isn’t a more fabulous story that captures the sheer joy and adventure it is to be young and to remind us that we can always go back to Neverland in our hearts (second star to the right and straight on til morning) whenever we want.

In re-watching Hook, I was prepared to feel that joy and excitement that comes with the story, and I was also prepared to feel sad that the person I was watching who was once so full of life and youthful glee was now gone.

What I wasn’t prepared for was my new reaction to the story now that I am a parent.

Remember the scene where Captain Hook starts teaching Pan’s kids about how parents hate their children?  He very eloquently describes how kids’ whining and demands (“He took my toy! She hit my bear! I want a potty! I want a cookie! I want to stay up! I want, I want, I want, me, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, mine, now, now, now, now…”) drive their parents crazy.  Maggie (fun fact – it was her character I played on the playground with my friends when this movie first came out) points out that her parents read to her, “because they love me very much!”  And Hook retorts back that parents read to their children to shut them up.

In to end the lesson, Hook gave Maggie an F (to which she freaks out…probably why I was suited to play her character) and then declared that her parents were happier before she was born.

This scene struck a new chord, one that hadn’t been struck before.

Holy shit – Captain Hook was right.

There I was, hopelessly sleep deprived with a wee infant attached to my boob and tears running down my face because I got it – but not the it I was expecting to get.  This movie was supposed to remind me how joyful life was!  Instinctively I knew I wasn’t supposed to be listening to the words of this dark and sinister man, but for the first time in watching this film, my eyes were opened.  The guy had a point.  In my very short career as the parent of a newborn, I already knew I’d do things I previously said I’d never do if it meant my kid would sleep.  I wished for my old life back on a daily basis.  I fought with my husband about nothing and everything.  Some days, I was kind of miserable.

I considered growing a beard and joining the crew of the Jolly Roger.

Thankfully, the movie continued and we came to the scene in the Lost Boys’ tree house where Peter was desperately trying to find his happy thought.  He picked up his old teddy bear and had a flashback to a hospital room where his wife was handing him his brand new baby son, saying, “Peter, you’re a daddy!”

That was it.  This is why I wanted to watch the movie in the first place.  He was flying again, and so was I.

I was bedridden for the first 12 hours of Dylan’s life due to some minor complications, so when we were in the recovery room at the hospital, Brian started changing his first diapers and rocking and soothing and being a daddy.  It was amazing for me to watch, and it had reminded me of that same hospital scene in Hook.  Through tears in my eyes, I shared my thoughts with Brian and my heart was bursting.

Hook really got it right in more ways than I first realized.  It fascinates me how quickly and profoundly popping a baby out of me has changed my perspective on the whole world, let alone this movie.  Before, I had thought that the story was more about “always being a little boy and having fun,” and now I see this whole new layer about the love (“It’s the L-word, Captain!”) and struggle between parents and their children.  Yes, it’s about learning how to stay young, but it’s also about learning how to grow up.  And most importantly, it’s about finding (and keeping) that happy thought that keeps us all going.

Well, Dylan is our happy thought.  Our poopy, screamy, cuddly little happy thought.

There are so many great lines to quote and parallels to make about this movie and life in general, but the best is at the very end, where I don’t feel like Robin Williams was really having to act much at all.

He said,  “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

Thanks for sharing your talent with all of us, Robin.  I am so very glad that you’re not in pain anymore.




She was the runt of the litter, and she was the only one who actually let me hold them.  That’s when I knew – she was mine.  We were going to bring her home and love her.

She was kinda like me, actually.  Nervous, cautious, quiet, but also an observant wallflower, kind, playful, and very sweet.  And weird, because she really loved to lick human hair if we let her express her need for social grooming rituals.

We rescued her from the local animal shelter and she was in a cage with her two brothers Calvin and Hobbes.  She was a tuxedo cat: black, with a white chest, tummy, and feet.  Every other toe was alternately black and pink.  Her shelter name was Susy, but I renamed her Lucy on the car ride home.  That was 1998 and I was 15.

This past weekend, my family had to help her die because she had come to the end of her life and my mom could tell she didn’t feel well.  I’m so sad to have lost one of my very best friends.

We grew up together, Lucy and I.  She listened to my secrets and napped with me and kitty-massaged my calves and licked my hair.  We chased her in this game that always went the same way where she’d  lead us to her rug where she’d stop and fall over so we could rub her belly and brush her.  I clipped her nails, gave her treats, cleaned up her vomit.




We (everyone but my dad) fought for a while to get a pet.  I joked that we slowly worked our way up the food chain.  First we had three goldfish who, one by one, committed suicide by jumping out of the bowl.  I can only guess that the first one was depressed, and then the other two were overcome with grief.  Years later, we got a female rat.  She was really sweet, but didn’t live long.  Next, we tried two sister rats.  They lived a bit longer and were fairly fun, but cleaning the cage was a huge chore.  Finally getting Lucy was wonderful because she gave us a moderate amount of love (she was a cat, after all) with only a moderate level of cleanup and care.  My dad eventually warmed up to her, too, which was an added bonus.  I think she made it pretty easy to love her.

Lucy was the oddest, most well-behaved kitty I have ever met.  She didn’t like people food.  Seriously, we tried.  The only food she’d eat was ice cream, and even then we had to dab it onto her nose so she’d lick it off.  She had her claws and never destroyed anything.  She never bit or clawed – quite the opposite, actually – she’d allow herself to be manhandled by my brother and never fought back.  She was the most docile creature.

She came to us with a bunch of health issues.  Yes, she was the runt and was underweight, but apparently this stray from Oakland also had fleas and mites and had had a tough time.  My mom’s friend commented on how little Lucy was so lucky,  “She won the lottery, because now she has all of you to love her.”  She was right, but the feeling is mutual.

I won the lottery that day, too.

I want you to know, Lucy, that I really wish I could have been there for you during those last few days.  I desperately wanted to be there to comfort you, to hold you, to whisper my secrets to you again.  I am very thankful that the rest of my family was able to be there for you, and that my mom held you in her lap when the vet helped you die.  I just want you to know, that I wanted it to be me.  If I could’ve, I would’ve been the one to hold you.  I held you on that first day when you picked me and I wanted to hold you on the last day, too.

I love you and miss you, baby girl.  I’m so glad you’re not hurting anymore and I hope you’re licking ice cream off your nose right now.

Ripped Open

Someone once told me that becoming a mother had ripped her open, both emotionally and physically.

At the time, I had an idea of what she meant, but now I have a much clearer sense.

Never have I felt so wide-open, so vulnerable.  It’s exhilarating and exhausting.

I cry much more easily.  I cry at diaper commercials.  Sometimes I cry when my son cries.  There is also such joy.  Pure, radiant bursts of joy.  My son’s smiles.  Watching my husband lovingly change a diaper for the first time.  Crying at diaper commercials.

The lows are lower and the highs are so much higher.

For me, becoming a parent has slammed me into the present like nothing else.  I am so overwhelmed, and my son’s needs are so immediate, that I am forced to focus on right now and little else.  Right now, he needs to eat.  Right now, I am going to sleep.  Right now, I am changing a diaper.  While I wipe his butt, we’re the only two people in the entire world.  He stares up at me and watches my face as I concentrate and hurry to finish the job.  I catch him looking at me and we share a smile.  Then we’re on to the next right now.

At the same time, becoming a parent stirred up my past.  I am remembering how I was raised.  Brian and I have discussions over how we were parented and how we want to parent.  I hear my mom’s voice, and even my grandma’s voice, come out of my mouth.  The past has been unearthed and laid over the present for me to walk through again.

Also at the same time, the beginning of life has catapulted me towards the future.  Since Dylan is our first child, and the first grandchild for both sides of the family, his existence has shifted everyone into a new life stage – a couple to parents, parents to grandparents.  It makes us all think of end-of-life issues.  With luck, Dylan will live to see us die.  He’ll see a world that I will never see.  It’s a concept that is very hard for me to wrap my brain around, and it’s both comforting and terrifying.

It seems odd to me, but the times my son just rips my heart out aren’t when he’s screaming bloody murder.  It’s when he seems bored or has this dejected look on his face.  Up here in my brain, I know that this is me projecting my stuff onto him and that he’s probably just content, or at the very worst, he’s just trying to process the world around him.  But here in my chest, my heart breaks for him, and I am not quite sure why.

Many, many parents say that they can’t imagine their lives without their kids.  I know this will happen for me at some point, but it hasn’t yet.  There are times, sometimes multiple times a day, when I wish for my old life back.  I wish to feel productive in a way that I am accustomed to.  I wish to have more free time.  I wish to have more sleep.  I wish for more predictability in my day.

When I find myself making these wishes, I reframe my frustration and ask myself what I can learn from this.  Again and again, the answer is patience and acceptance.  When I was working as a therapist, a supervisor of mine once said that we are given the clients we need.  So far, I think the same goes for kids.  My son is going to teach me, even force me, how to be more patient and how to accept that I am not in control (and I never was to begin with).

So, thanks, my baby Dylan, for ripping me open.

You’re going to teach me how to be a better person.

And I’m going to let you.

Mommy “Blogger”

So, all you Mommy Bloggers out there – tell me how you do it.

Cuz I have no idea how to fit all the things to do into my day, plus blogging.

It’s quite ridiculous, really.  All the things we’re told we should be doing as mothers.

I’m supposed to feed the squid every 2-3 hours.  But first I have to change his diaper to help wake him up and/or calm him down before feeding.  On a good day, this takes 5 minutes.  On a bad one, he pees all over himself and then projectile poos all over the clean diaper I had waiting for him.  So, sometimes “changing a diaper” can take 20 minutes.  Then we breastfeed (The fact that we’re actually breastfeeding now is a whole other story.  It used to be 20 minutes of let’s-scream-at-mommy’s-boobs-and-kick-and-squirm-fun-time.  Not fun.) maybe 10-20 minutes each boob.  And then, since I don’t make much milk (sad face), we supplement with formula, which takes another 10-20 minutes.  And then he’s probably got himself a wet diaper (or worse) that needs attention.  And THEN I try to pump, if he doesn’t scream when I set him down to do so.

By the time I am done pumping, he’s maybe asleep.  Maybe.  If he’s not, I start over to figure out what his boggle is.  If he is, then I have a decision to make – do I try and sleep?  (note the word “try.”) Or do I fold laundry?  Or wash the bottles?  Or cry in the bathroom?  So many choices…

And then, it’s time to do it all over again.

There’s no time for it all.  Do midwives and nurses and doctors hear themselves when they’re telling you to do all these things?  Because I haven’t even mentioned the walks I’m supposed to be taking or the sitz baths or pooping or eating lunch or training for American Ninja Warrior.

And then there’s blogging.

So hang in there with me, Psychos, because I don’t plan on going anywhere.  I just may have to start blogging during my scheduled crying-in-the-bathroom time instead.

No News Means No Baby

I basically wrote this post in my head last night while laying wide awake in bed because I took a nap way too late in the day because we got home lateish from our first trip to Home Depot as HOMEOWNERS.

It was very exciting, but so physically taxing for this 40 week + 5 pregnant lady that I sweetly had to ask some employees if there was a place where I could sit a spell.  The dude jumped into action and was like, “You stay right there” and he went and got me a chair and had me sit right where I was in the middle of the flooring aisle.  He then asked if I was ok (I think he was asking if I was going to pass out or give birth or both), and I assured him that all I needed was to sit until my husband was done shopping.

He left and then came back with a bottle of water for me.  How freaking kind is that!  And not only that, but he came back several times to check on me, and other employees asked if I was ok as well.  Never have I encountered such nice, helpful folks.  Really renewed my faith in the goodness of this world into which I am about to bring a screaming, pooping lovebucket.

And that brings me to the entire point of this post:

Don’t ever ask a pregnant lady if she’s had the baby yet.


Like, not even if you word it differently.  Or if she’s your best friend.  Or your best friend’s Home Depot coworker.

You wanna know why?

Because, I’d think it’s safe to say, most 40-ish-week pregnant ladies would love nothing more than to just have the thing already, get to meet their screaming pile of joy, and get to reclaiming their bodies a bit.  We’re exhausted.  We’re cranky.  We’re feeling heavy as hippos.  We’re fucking done-zo.

And it’s because of that, that pregnant ladies are usually ready to squeal that they’ve given birth by SHOUTING IT FROM THE FRICKIN ROOFTOPS.  You’d have to be absolutely deaf not to hear.  Trust me.  They’ll be inundating your Facebook feed with pictures, videos, and stool samples demanding that you agree that this baby and its poop is the cutest poopy baby who ever lived, ever.

You won’t have to ask.

And if there’s no news – THERE’S NO BABY.  Say it with me.

Either that, or for some reason momma hasn’t told you because she’s simply not ready to.  Maybe you’re not very close to her, and not all of her friends and family have gotten to see the baby yet.  Maybe there were medical complications that momma is still dealing with and doesn’t feel like sharing.

At any rate – if the momma wanted you (yes, you) to know that baby was born, YOU’D KNOW.

You won’t have to ask.

And honestly, do you really want to ask knowing that the answer is most likely a thinly veiled, “Fuck off, the baby ain’t here yet and I hate my body and my life and omg, will this mucous ever stop leaking out of me?!

No.  Of course not.  Because everyone would like to avoid talking about excess mucous.

And don’t say that you’re on pins and needles waiting for this baby as a means of justifying your need to ask.  You know who’s even more anxious about it than you are?  You know who wins this one?  You know who doesn’t give a fuck how you feel about the baby not being here yet?

You guessed it – the momma.

So please, don’t ask.  Be patient.  The momma can’t plan for this, and so neither can you.

Now get this baby out of me so I can start drunkenly Facebook feed-bombing about how my baby is cuter than your baby.

Today is my due date

I’m due today.

Holy crap

Well, actually, you’re due.

To come out.

Little Duck

We really can’t wait to meet you

Even though I feel like I know you already

You dance and hiccup and kick

And squirm your way up under my ribcage on the right side


You test the boundaries of your squishy little world

I can’t wait to show you my world

Little Duck


We’ve had our bags packed for weeks

We pretend to be ready, but we’re really not

Don’t worry, though, cuz we can’t wait to love you

and squish you

and pinch your little fat rolls

and sing you to sleep.


I don’t know what’s going to happen

And that’s pretty scary for me

So if you know, please tell me

Otherwise, we’ll just figure things out


as we go.


So get here soon

If you only knew the joy that is waiting for you

But then again, maybe you do

because how could you not?

So what are you waiting for

Little Duck


Come on out

So I can love you more

Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap

A Look Inside My Pregnant Head – A stream of consciousness

Hey everyone amazing news we actually closed on a house last week can you believe it we’re HOMEOWNERS

and not a moment too soon.

cuz immediately following getting our keys we went to the Oregon coast for the weekend to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and I can’t believe this year has gone by so freaking fast omg but the decision to go to the beach/coast was an amazing one because I am DYING IN THIS HEAT and we have to wait before we can get help to move into the new AIR CONDITIONED house which means this baby had better STAY PUT so I can labor in the house not only does it have AC, but it also has a soaking tub and a shower WITH SEATS it’s like it was made for pregnant ladies

fast forward to now where we’re moving small things everyday and waiting for the big move on Saturday and omg it’s HOT and I feel crappy that I can’t physically help pack and I have zero energy and maybe I’ll just put a few books in this box but oh I can’t do too much because what if I trigger the labor to start NOT BEFORE SATURDAY

maybe I should sit down I AM NOT MOODY SHUT THE FUCK UP

my hips hurt and I am hungry again

I am so BLESSED and I can’t believe everything is falling into place right in the nick of time and I am SO EXCITED and I still can’t believe that I am going to have a little human soon and a house this kinda makes me a real grown up now and oh crap now I’m crying


that seems to happen more often these days

my feet are swelling up again maybe I should sit down and eat something WHERE IS MY FAVORITE MUG is it packed already WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY LIFE

no labor til after Saturday Little Duck you stay in there til after Saturday

time for a nap.

Riding the Moody Train

I think it’s time to admit it – this pregnancy has turned a corner.

I’ve been getting a little moody.

Usually, I love the heat.  I am a California girl, and I had been living in the central valley for the past 5 years.  I’m now realizing that what made living there in the heat even remotely bearable was that AC was pretty standard in both public and private dwellings – overused, even –  and because I wasn’t pregnant with an exothermic squid.

Recently, it got warmer here in Oregon than it was in my homeland, which doesn’t happen very often.  And we don’t have AC in our box-filled second story oven.  Result: I get a little moody, drenched in sweat, and exhausted from doing exactly nothing.

I’m starting to not see the point of clothing.  Or having to get up to use the bathroom.

The heat has also been causing my normally dainty hands and feet to swell like Johnsonville brats in a beer bath on the 4th of July.  In Hell.

I’ve taken to soaking my feet in ice water while doing nothing.  It helps on days that end in killmenow.

Speaking of beer baths, there’s this random cooking show that comes on TV in the middle of my day spent waiting for death, and today they were concocting delicious-looking cocktails paired with mouthwatering, listeria-laden deli meats with a side of E Coli-infused hollandiase sauce.  I wanted to punch someone and then put the entire contents of the show in my mouth.

In an attempt to stay alive, I’ve been trying to waddle down to our complex’s pool when it’s empty or nearly empty, which is never.  The water isn’t heated, but it’s still not cold enough.  Maybe next time I’ll bring down a tray of ice cubes to add to the mix.

I must say, being submerged in water feels pretty damn nice.  It actually reminds me of what it must feel like to be in the womb – all safe and suspended and weightless.  You’d better count your blessings while you can, Little Duck.  Cuz if being expelled from my uterus is anything like me having to heave my now heavier-than-ever body out of the pool, you’re in for some hard times, my friend.

I vote for staying in that pool until my due date.  It would definitely solve a number of my current issues.

Trying to sleep has been fun.  If by fun, you mean setting my feet on fire, mashing my calves in an electric mixer, and pounding a mallet on my bladder.  Either that, or by shoving bamboo under my rapidly-growing fingernails.  Either one.  You know.

The most interesting part is trying to turn my Moby Dick body over in the middle of the night without a) waking my husband, and b) falling out of bed.  The process is quite simple, actually.  Step one: wake up for the 1000th time to a full bladder, which isn’t really full, it’s just being squeezed down to the size of a raisin.  Shove my arms against the mattress in an attempt to right myself.  Try again if needed.  And a third time.  Waddle to bathroom, trip over the cat in the dark.  Pee – in the toilet this time.  Waddle back.  Gently lower myself into bed onto the side of my body whose hip burns the least.  Decide this side still hurts like a motherfucker (this word has gained new meaning since getting pregnant, btw), and begin the classic 8-point turn while holding up my belly with one hand, lest its dense weight slosh over before the rest of my abdomen, causing severe pain and discomfort.  Lastly, gently punch unborn baby back into a reasonable position that chokes my liver, rather than my bladder.  It’s not like I am using it, anyway (the liver, I mean).

So yeah, I’ve been having to waddle for quite some time.  I get it now, you guys.  My muscles are being stretched in ways they should only be stretched by Gomez Addams during foreplay.

And I know pregnant ladies complain about not being able to see their feet, and I suppose I get that.  My abdomen has never stuck out quite this far before, even after eating a few burritos.  But you know what concerns me more?  I haven’t been able to establish a visual with my ladygarden for far too long.  I mean, I can sense her, I know she’s there – but how is she?  I can’t tend to her anymore (because god knows I am not even going to attempt to approach with anything sharp with the aid of a mirror – everything being backwards and objects larger than they appear…), and that makes me sad.  She’s about to go through her biggest performance to date and she won’t even look her best (leading up to it, anyway).

I’m sorry, my dear friend.  You’re on your own now.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Psychos, I’ll leave you with a memento of happier times before The Fall.  This was taken several weeks ago when my list of ailments was considerably shorter.