Mommy’s Getaway

I have voluntarily checked myself in to the Taconic Hotel in Manchester, VT for a brief two night stay, solo. It feels frivolous, self-centered and dramatic but also like the last station before I landed in crazy town.

I guess I’ve known for a while that I boarded a train going in that direction but recently we took a slight detour where the scenery was nice and I was distracted enough to forget where I was heading.

Lennon turned one year old in November. Matt and I have been broken up since August. I’ve been in weekly therapy sessions since September. I originally sought therapy shortly after Lennon’s six month pediatricians visit. His doctor was the first person in the medical field who seemed concerned with how well I was dealing. I had seen my OB a couple of times since birth and nobody had seriously asked, “so how are you?” I chalked my feelings up to a normal symptom postpartum and only started questioning it when the incredibly negative images and thoughts were disrupting my life and at times, scaring me.

The first therapist I saw was incredibly well-educated and she must have thought the same because she talked a lot of psychological theory at me but helped me very little. She gave me the name of a $60 textbook that she said would help me understand that these negative, obsessive thoughts were “normal” and how to move on past them.

“Have you tried meditation?” she asked.

The closest I’ve gotten to meditation in my entire life is praying to God over and over again that Lennon fall asleep, or stay asleep, or at least stop crying. I’ve clasped my hands together, looked toward the sky and chanted please, please, please, please, please more times than I can remember in the last year.

I left her office feeling defeated and also guilty. Had I presented as too put together? Should I have let it all come out in that first meeting? Listen lady, I can’t sleep at night because I imagine what would happen if I accidentally dropped Lennon down a set of stairs… I picture his skull coming apart and brains splashing everywhere… blood on the walls… and then my disgusting mind makes me imagine cleaning it up… sweeping bloody brain bits into a dust pan…

Is that normal? Cause that wasn’t even the worst of it.

That was when Matt and I were still together and the fighting was constant. The stress levels were insanely high all around and we had been told by more than enough people what to do with a “colicky baby.” Lennon would not sleep unless my boob was in his mouth which meant I never got more than 20 minutes away from him unless I was working. And even in that circumstance I served tables like a zombie but in a perpetual state of fear regarding what was going on at home. I know it did not include Lennon sleeping and that meant Matt was frustrated. I felt guilty because I was the only one that could make it better and how selfish I was for going to work so I could pay my bills instead of sinking into an even deeper debt. I’d arrive home from work, physically and emotionally exhausted, to a scene of a screaming baby and his daddy holding him close and dancing him in front of a stereo. I’d barely have time to take my coat and shoes off. I’d grab the baby and run upstairs to our bed, lay him down and start nursing. He would slowly drift off as I felt like I had spiders crawling on every inch of my body. I would’ve screamed if I knew it wouldn’t wake the baby.

Sometimes when I arrived home there was silence, an angry silence. Matt lay on the couch with the monitor propped in front of him. He would shush me as I tried to quietly close the door. He would nag me for making too much noise with my bag which contained my breast pump: my personal 10lb ball and chain I had to drag with me whenever I left the house. I’d sit there in the living room on alert. Lennon would be waking up screaming at some point, whether it was a whole hour or 5 minutes was the question. It was impossible to try to sleep or even relax when I knew at any moment he would call for me.

Between the horrible, intrusive images, fighting with the man who I love, caring for an incredibly difficult baby, not sleeping and feeling more isolated than I could have ever imagined… there was finally a day when something bad was bound to happen.

I had been up late fighting with Matt, even though Lennon was actually sleeping pretty well and would have been a good opportunity for me to do the same. After Matt left for work, Lennon was awake and we would usually lay in bed for an hour or so just nursing and snuggling. At this point he had really been learning to wiggle and roll so I would usually keep him in between me and the wall. But I was so tired that day I switched him to the other side. And then I fell asleep.

I woke up to the thud and then quickly the screams. It took less than a second for me to realize what had happened and I jumped out of bed to find my little baby laying on the floor screaming. I immediately picked him up and tried to put him to my breast as that had solved all over crises before, but he would not latch and then I saw the blood coming from his nose. By the time we got to the emergency room, Lennon was totally fine but I was not. I did not tell anyone that I had fallen asleep. I just said it happened right in front of my eyes. I mean, it did but they were closed.

I guess this was the first time I learned the lesson that by not taking care of myself,  I was not going to able to properly take care of my babe. Unfortunately, I wasn’t left with many other options to make a change to better myself. I’d been sort of shot down by the only local therapist who specializes in PPD, my “partner” didn’t understand a fucking thing that was going on in my head so he stopped trying, my mom was a great help but even a few hours of extra sleep wasnt going to touch these really intense psychological issues I was dealing with.

I changed the one thing I could at the time, which was no more co-sleeping. So we had to sleep train Lennon, which was hell for 3 days and then it was a magical cure. All of the sudden he would go down without the boob and then sleep for 6 hours stretches. It finally gave me time to myself so I could make dinner, have a glass of wine and try to get to sleep early. But I never could. I just lay awake thinking what happens if, what do I do if, if this happens I’ll….

The baby was getting more sleep but I was not.

Fast forward to current time: I checked into the hotel yesterday and woke up today with bags under my eyes that were less navy blue and more of a light purple. I’ve spent the last 24 hours feeling like I’m supposed to be having some major breakthrough and then feeling guilty that I don’t feel it. And now I’ve just noticed that I mention guilt several times in this post. I guess that’s a concept worth exploring…

 

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The Accident

Waking up that morning felt like Christmas.

I had only been discharged the day before, had only been home for less than 24 hours. But I was so looking forward to making the drive up to Lebanon to see my baby boy in the Intensive Care Nursery (aka ICN, aka NICU.)

I took a long, hot shower. The first shower I had in my own home since I had been admitted to the hospital for PPROM a week before. I washed my hair thoroughly, I may have even shampooed twice. I gently cleaned my delicate areas from where I had just delivered a baby. Albeit a very small baby at only 4 lbs even, but after the pain I felt, I can’t imagine an 8 lb baby to be much different. I used a hairdryer to make my hair straight and shiny. I sat down at my vanity to put my make up on, meticulously so I knew I’d look nice in the pictures we would take. I picked out clothes that were comfortable and accessible. In the ICN, we do a thing called kangaroo care. It’s skin to skin contact for Lennon and I. He hears my heart, smells my skin and breast milk, feels my inhales and exhales, knows my love. Although he is not just strong enough to breast feed, this kind of contact will help him on his journey there.

I hadn’t even been home from the hospital for 24 hours and I was anxious to smell him and hold his tiny, translucent fingers in mine.

I went to Dunkin Donuts to get Matt and I some lattes for the drive up to Lebanon, which is about an hour and a half. It was sort of raining but not too much and it was going to be a bit of a dreary drive. We would take my brand new Subaru since it was more reliable than his car. I got vanilla lattes at DD. It would not have been my first choice, but in Brattleboro the options are limited. And shitty coffee is better than no coffee when you are running on the amount of sleep we were.

I picked Matt up at work and moved to the passenger seat since he had offered to drive. We started our journey, anxiously looking forward to seeing our baby again. It had been two days for him and we nervously chatted about what he would look like, how he would act and would he open his eyes? He did for me when I was there yesterday, but Matt hadn’t seen it yet.

The temperature gauge on the dash lingered around 33 degrees. There was a very light mist in the air. About 25 minutes into the drive, as we started to approach more hilly areas in Vermont, I asked Matt how the roads felt. Fine, he said, not slippery at all. I took a sip of the really crappy latte I had been holding in my hand to keep me warm.

We started to turn a slight corner on a gradual descent. Looking ahead, I could see the bridge which was about half a mile away and it appeared cars were stopped. We got a bit closer. No, not stopped, spun out.

Slow down.

I can’t.

Its glare ice.

Were not going to be able to stop.

I don’t know what to do.

Its okay.

I can’t stop.

It’s okay.

 

We started sliding down the hill, straight onto the icy bridge where a small truck and a jeep wrangler were plopped in the middle of the road. There was no chance we would not hit something, but we could slow our impact. Matt had both hands firmly on the wheel. I held my latte and double checked my seat belt, then pulled the emergency brake. The front end slowly started to move to the right, so that just the driver side was moving forward.

Its okay, its okay, its okay.

I repeated that as we slammed into the truck. My cell phone, with directions to the hospital on the screen, flew past my face. The driver side airbag deployed. Lattes went fucking apeshit. (I now know they call those things “projectiles” and cannot stand the smell of vanilla lattes from Dunkin Donuts.)

We were stopped and an eerie quiet came instantly. You’re ok, I’m ok. Ok, so what do we do. My side, the passenger side, was facing the inevitable oncoming traffic.

Do we get out? Do we wait? What are we supposed to do?

I weighed our options in about .5 seconds in my head. Normally I would say staying in your vehicle would be the safest bet. But the front end of our car was pressed against a very shallow guard rail, and not much was protecting us from careening off a 251 foot drop over the Rockingham Bridge.

Hmm.

I looked up at the hill where headlights were beginning to crest… specifically, a tractor-trailer truck.

Yeah, get out, get off this bridge, let’s go. NOW. GO!

Ripped off my seatbelt and tumbled out the door. I went to maneuver around the front of the car but it was so pressed against the guard rail which was so icy, I had to turn and run around the back of my car instead. Time wasted.

The bridge was an ice rink. Slipping and sliding in my snow boots, holding onto my car to get to the guard rail again. Holding onto the guard rail. I see Matt ahead of me. We’ve got about 50 more feet till we’re off this bridge.

Fuck, even the guard rail is glare ice. I’m gripping onto it so hard, it’s hurting my armpit. I can feel the bruise forming on my arm already. My feet are slipping and sliding beneath me. I see Matt struggling just as much as me. The owner of the jeep, who is already off the bridge is shouting at us “RUN! Hurry! Get off the bridge! Run! GET OFF THE ROAD NOW!!”

I look back and its like a fucking action movie. I see the truck coming at us. We are not getting off this bridge before he goes by and all I can hope is that he doesn’t push the cars onto us or even worse, lose control himself and crash into us.

Instead he hammers straight through. He throws all of the cars out of his way like a bowling ball. And he keeps going, he never stops.

Following him are 6 more cars that will wreck badly. I thought of Lennon and I ran like hell. The sounds of cars wrecking are not like you would imagine, they are not at all like the movies. They are instantaneous. Quick and aggressive.

THUD.

SMACK.

CRACK.

CRUNCH.

Really; it takes longer to say those words than it does for the sounds to happen. Pieces of windshield and metal flew by me and I ran for my life, for Lennon’s life. Somehow, Matt ended up behind me. I looked back once or twice and every time I saw more cars coming down that hill. So I ran.

I ran off the icy bridge. When I was off of it, I removed my death grip of the guard rail and I fell. Then I got up and I ran some more. I kept running, far away from that bridge. Because in my mind, it was never going to stop. Everytime I looked back, I saw more headlights turning the corner on the top of the hill. We had to get as far away as possible. We had to get to Lennon. I would run the rest of the way to the hospital to get to him. I would never look back. Keep running.

But eventually I fell into a heap on the shoulder of the highway. Matt caught up to me and picked me up. He promised me it was over, no more cars would be crashing, they had finally stopped. It takes me a while but I gather myself and we start to walk back. The first vehicle we come by is one that made it past the bridge but crashed afterward. The driver has her head on the steering wheel, bleeding and the passenger is on the phone with 911. The music is still on and it is very loud. We ask if he’s called the police and he says yes, but to see if we can find help at the scene.

But there’s no help at the scene. Theres wreckage everywhere on top of an icy bridge that is overlooking a river more than 200 feet below us. We skate across the bridge, checking in with the other drivers who are either on the phone or walking around with a stunned look on their faces.

I wonder what my face looked like? Was it the frantic face of a new mother, whose preemie baby was sleeping in a plastic box, looking forward to the milk she had been pumping for him from the one night that she had dared to stay away?

Who knows how long it took for the police to arrive. For the questions to be asked. The reports to be filed. The tow trucks to show up. I didn’t care about anything in my car except for the cooler of milk that I had pumped for my baby. Even as the tow truck driver was hauling my car to the nearest shop, I was wondering if we could find a way to the hospital.

But the icy rain continued, and it was in our best interest to not leave Lennon as an orphan, so we called for a ride home.

We lay in bed that night, holding each other and trying not to allow the visions of what had just occurred enter our thoughts.

But there they are. And 8 months later they haven’t left.

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Digging In

I went to turn on my old computer for the first time in over a year. Apparently it died in its sleep. So it was a good way to go for that hand-me-down laptop that could never stand to play more than 20 minutes of video at a time. The thought crossed my mind to ask for a new one for my birthday/Christmas but I’ve already got my eye on a JuJuBe diaper bag.

So that’s my life now.

I was going to jump right into this whole post-baby writing thing but now I am using Matt’s computer which has a screen size for a photographer editing photos, definitely not a writer. I prefer not to see my musings on a screen the size of a movie theaters.

That could just be an excuse, one of many I’ve made over the past 8 months.

But a friend gently reminded me that I used to be somewhat decent at this and its true I have more to say about life than I ever did before. My baby was born November 28, roughly 8 weeks premature. He spent 25 days in the NICU. I won’t say “struggling to survive,” like many babies I did see there. He quite simply had a little jaundice and needed time to get bigger so he could suck, breathe and swallow at the same time (the necessary functions for taking a feeding by bottle or breast, not through a tube that goes in his nostril down to his stomach.)

I spent almost every single day there, save for 3. Each day I thought about writing. I had a brain-journal filled with thoughts, worries, jokes and observations. By the time I thought to order a tablet and keyboard so I’d have an easily portable writing tool, we were released from the NICU just a few days after I received it. One of my only regrets for that time, from November 28th to December 23rd, is not writing anything down besides questions for the doctors or explanations for common lingo in the hospital.

There was so much sadness and negativity inside me those days. I did let a few people see me break but no one could understand the heaviness of my heart as I looked at my baby sleeping in his plastic box. Besides, I had to be strong for him and in doing so I pushed those emotions so far down that they would never see the light of day. I’ve never classified myself as a “cold” person. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m not ashamed of being a sensitive, emotional person. Yet in that situation, when you have to be the Fortress for your tiny person, you sort of lose yourself and just become what you need to be. Numb.

I did.

Its not the greatest thing for a new mother to lose herself, before she will quickly lose herself again. Because just as I started to get the lay of the land in the NICU, we were discharged and then there was no 24/7 nurse to help me, ease my worries, answer my questions or show me the right way. Suddenly it was all me (and Matt [but let’s be honest, it was all me.])

Down the rabbit hole I went. Along the way I discovered all that negativity I had suppressed and I picked it up like an old friend, carrying it deeper into the hole. Here I am now, very obviously to me at least, suffering from PTSD and postpartum depression/anxiety. Eight months later, finally admitting that I don’t think I can stop it myself. The absolutely painful part of it is recognizing it and owning it, actively looking for help but not finding it. I did see a therapist at the hospital who talked a lot of psychology theory at me, gave me the name of a book and sent me on my way. It reminded me of an Ani DiFranco lyric, “As bad as I am, I’m proud of the fact that I’m worse than I seem.”

Did she not understand that when I closed my eyes I saw blood, car crashes, falls, fires, and my favorite obsession: invisible dangers? (Think: carbon monoxide poisoning.) Yes, I had washed my hair that week, put lipstick on and nodded as I sipped my coffee. Maybe I presented like I wasn’t two more sleepless nights from getting into my car and never looking back, but damn isn’t she trained to see through that facade?

My glass of wine is almost done and now seems as good a time as any to end this post, because there is no happy ending yet. I’m surviving on the fuel of Lennon smiles and kisses and the hope that this feeling will not be in me forever. Perhaps digging it all out and piling it here will help. Next time will be much heavier, so for now, goodnight.

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The Beginning

Never in my life had I imagined I’d be in the situation that I am in now. So it feels odd to say… I’ve actually felt this way before.

It was the first night of my study abroad experience in Australia. I had been traveling for over 24 hours, yet stepped off of an airplane in Sydney technically two days after I had left the East Coast of the US. It was February. The humid air crawled into my lungs the second the automatic doors opened to the outside of the airport. There I would find my shuttle and about 10 other American kids being dropped off at Aussie Universities.

We nervously gathered around the man with the designated sign, the less practical ones of us (myself included in that group) awkwardly shifting around two giant suitcases and a carry-on. 6 months abroad and my top packing priority included about 20 pairs of shoes… because that was who I was then. It turned out to be a wonderful conversation starter and something I was to be known by and in fact I wore every single pair of shoes at least twice. Just to prove a point: that I wasn’t totally superficial for no good reason. I wonder what I would have packed in that second suitcase if it hadn’t been an unnecessary amount of shoes.

Ah, yes. Cartons of Parliament Lights.

By the time we got to University of Wollongong, to the last stop on the destination, my specific dorm, it was close to 2 am on fuckknows what day. I was on the earlier side of hundreds of students who would be arriving that week, so the sign in process was quick and impersonal. “Heres the key to your room, a list of the rules (just kidding, there were none,) and thats the bathroom you will share with girls AND boys, cheers!”

I looked around and suddenly the awareness of the thousands and thousands of miles away from home that I was came down upon my shoulders. A cell composed of pale yellow brick walls, a built-in desk and shelving unit much larger than necessary for the limited amount of studies I planned on pursuing, a closet that would not possibly hold all my shoes (thats where the book shelves came in handy!) and a window that looked dead on into a tree that was likely filled with those famous Australian snakes, spiders and jellyfish just waiting to kill me.

After I did a thorough inspection of the room to make sure no such creatures were lurking in hidden corners, I sat on the hard, scratchy single bed and let the reality flush over me. … Here I am…. I can be nowhere else right now… I am alone and scared… but I will be ok.

Unfortunately the reality that I am checking into right now will not go exactly the way my time in Oz went. The next morning I woke up, had breakfast where I met all sorts of friends, went to the beach, skipped most of my classes and had the most difficult, fun, adventurous and rewarding experience of my life.

Instead the reality today is: there is an IV sticking out of my forearm, it smells like death scrubbed over with bleach and talcum powder, I am 32 weeks pregnant but my body is trying to go into labor two months early and there is definitely no beach, or beer anywhere in sight. My view is a metal fence and a rooftop garden with dead flowers.

Here we are.

 

We can be nowhere else right now.

We are scared.

But we will be ok?

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The Problem With Nesting

Woah. They weren’t kidding about that pregnancy insomnia. I’m certain that if someone had to listen to my thoughts at night when I was trying to go to sleep, they would go insane.

The fact that my brain was fixated on a dresser for 45 minutes? Totally unnecessary. I had thought all the things possible about the dresser in 5, yet for some reason my brain wanted to go over it 238 times just to make sure I really thought it through. Guess what? It’s a dresser I saw at a consignment shop that I fell in love with. Its marked at $135 but I want it for $50. I’ll go back next week and try to make a deal. END OF STORY.

Tell that to my brain.

As for my daytime fixations, its an inescapable obsession. We are staying at Matt’s mothers home. She doesn’t currently live here but as its her home, everything in it is hers: from dishes, to towels, to couches, to knickknacks to wires plugged into every godforsaken outlet. Wires that just hang around and drag across the floor, just waiting for an infant to come along and choke itself.

There’s a tall shelf with glass and metal trinkets. There are things everywhere that taunt me with their danger. How old does a baby have to be to reach a shelf that’s a foot off the ground and holds several breakable objects? I know its gonna be relatively immobile at first but I feel like it doesn’t take that long until they start trying to break things on their fragile little heads.

I can’t even complain because we have such a generous and kind situation set up for us here. We pay the utilities but other than that we are living essentially rent-free. For two first time parents who have spent most of their adult lives drifting around the country (and other countries,) who don’t exactly have “careers,” having a nice house complete with forks and bath mats and a bed, essentially just given to us for a period of time, is all we could ask for.

I’m a very organized person and I enjoy being that way. If I had to pick just one motto for my life it would probably be “a place for everything and everything in its place.” I have a calendar hanging in the kitchen, I also keep appointments in the calendar on my phone and if they offer me a card with the appointment information, I always take that too. I’m so organized that my deodorant goes back into the same spot in the same drawer every time. You know how there are hoarders? Well, I am the anti-hoarder. I don’t have many trinkets and I’ve been known to throw things out that I later regretted. One thing I’ve learned in life is that not everyone feels this compulsive desire to have everything beautiful and neat like I do. And if you organize someone else’s stuff, it’s considered rude and invasive.

So imagine my internal struggle… wanting to nest in my current living space where I’ll be at least the next 9 months… but not wanting to overstep my bounds since it is not my home. Then feeling like an ungrateful little brat when I look around because this is a beautiful home that has been lived in and loved and contains so many happy memories for my boyfriend and his family.

I cannot imagine the feeling of having a childhood home. I never lived in one particular house for an extended period of time as to consider it as such. We never really hung around enough to settle in – to have a picture hanging so long in one spot that it just became part of the wall – to look around and instead of seeing ‘clutter,’ seeing your life.

I want that for my baby. I want her/him to grow up with that comfort and stability that I never had. I want the baby to seek adventure and new experiences as well but when that baby is 18 and takes off to road trip across North America, I want him/her to have the nurturing place to come home to. And so, I guess I’m not such an evil person for feeling stressed out about our living arrangement. I’m not ungrateful in any way, I feel amazingly blessed. And more than anything, inspired to provide such a wholesome environment to my own child.

Now if I could just get my endless internal narrative to see it the same way.

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Choose Your Own Adventure

When I woke up at 8:30am today, nothing was bothering me besides the fact that I had a stupid song stuck in my head. Now, after a few thirty minutes on Facebook I feel a bit morose.

I made what is nowadays called an “official Facebook announcement” regarding my pregnancy. It’s not something I planned on doing and actually was adamantly against in the beginning. But wouldn’t you know it, 15 weeks of growing this little human has made me proud, sentimental and more inclined to share my feelings with people.

The way I see it, you only get so many times in life to celebrate major milestones like these. And not celebrating it with exuberance might be something I regret later in life. So I went ahead, did it and got an even greater reaction than expected. I don’t keep a lengthy friends list so the percentage of likes and comments was shocking. But instead of letting myself feel happy and grateful I read a little too much into what was missing.

The fact that certain friends didn’t acknowledge it at all. And best friends who only liked it without adding a personal sentiment, when I’ve seen them comment on others’ very similar posts. Its trite, I know. Tell that to my hormones. Suddenly I’m feeling like the reason I’ve been so left out of everything is because maybe these people aren’t my “best” friends. Maybe they don’t comment with hearts and exclamation points because they couldn’t care less. And me having a child is just one step closer to me being out of their lives, which they would gladly accept. Maybe all the times I feel like I’ve been a great friend has just been my own inflated ego blinding me from reality.

Maybe…. hopefully… I’m way over thinking things. People are busy. People might not know how to act around me. I’m not out several times a week either pouring drinks or imbibing, so my involvement with daily small town drama is nonexistent. I’m out of sight, out of mind. That’s never a good way to feel.

So since I’m already aboard this sad train, I started making it worse by checking out the pages of some old friends who I would’ve expected a big reaction from but instead got nothing. And it led me to thinking about the paths that I’ve gone down, the choices I’ve made and the adventures that I took on. How different would my life be if I didn’t move to Australia for 6 months? Would that relationship have survived and how would that effect my life today? What if I hadn’t moved to Florida? What if I hadn’t fallen into a relationship the second I moved there, would I have tried harder to make a better life for myself? Maybe I’d still be there. Maybe the path from there would’ve led to the West coast. Or a different country altogether.

In the nearly two years since I’ve been back in New Hampshire, I’ve said it so many times: this is where I’m meant to be, this is where I’m happiest. I truly believe it. But being somewhere for too long makes me feel trapped and like this is less of a choice and more of an obligation. I have to leave for a while and scramble everything up so that I can find my way home again.

Here I am, almost four months pregnant, about to face the biggest adventure of my life. Having the family around that we do will be crucial for our survival as new parents. And as far as raising a child into an adult goes, I don’t think there is a better place in the country than New England. But I can’t help but wonder what would be different, what could be different?

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The Big News

I have been keeping a secret for over two months now. A huge secret. There is a life-changing anecdote regarding my entire existence that I have been withholding from (most) people. Every day it has made me sick to my stomach. Literally. Although not in the morning like the majority of movies and television shows would have you believe. The extreme bout of nausea happens at night around 9pm. That’s not to say my days are care free and full of energy. I have a good hour or two after waking to deplete my limited resources of energy and once that’s gone I have one of three options: fatigue, nausea or a migraine. I don’t get to choose what it will be – the hormones have all the say in that.

I am 11 weeks pregnant, which is just a few weeks away from when “they” say I will start feeling much better. I am also about a week shy of when it is deemed appropriate to start telling the whole world but I figure only a few people read this blog and those that do should get some sort of prize for doing so.

I understand the logic of keeping the pregnancy hush-hush until the second trimester, when miscarriage chances become very small. But it seems like the worst possible time to be going through the shittiest part of pregnancy all alone. My idea about the first trimester of pregnancy was a few weeks of morning sickness and getting used to not doing anything fun. I wish it were so easy!

For 8 weeks, I have felt a level of tired that cannot be explained, despite sleeping anywhere from 10-12 hours a night. I am in bed by 10pm on most nights… but my ideal time would be 5pm. The sweet irony of this is my love affair with coffee is deemed an inappropriate relationship! I’m allowed one cup a day that is an equal amount to ‘what’s the fucking point?’ So I skip a few days a week that way a couple times I can have two cups. That’s about the most rebellious thing I’m up to these days.

One thing the media is pretty good at portraying is the way the invasion of hormones makes a pregnant woman a bit, shall we say, emotionally unstable. Most of my breakdowns are based on mostly solid logic: two hours on the phone with my stupid insurance company, worries about where we should live, sick of being sick, jealousy that Matt gets to have fun and I am boring, perpetual fear that the baby is ok in there… perpetual fear that it is more than one baby in there. The other day I did cry just because I thought of crying, though, and I suppose the tears flow much easier for any reason now. No sappy commercial is safe from the water works.

Quite a few of my sad times have stemmed from missing my friends. Feeling sick and/or tired all the time does not bode well for a social life, especially combined with the fact that I moved 20 minutes away from everyone. I know I haven’t tried very hard to make plans but I also notice the lack of invitations as well. It kind of hurts knowing that two of your best friends went to the beach on a day you have off as well, and would have gone too if you had been invited. They probably thought, “Oh, Heather won’t want to go, she doesn’t feel good, etc etc” but there’s certainly no harm in asking. There is harm in not asking though.

I find myself reaching out more to my mommy friends, ones who I realize maybe I have neglected since they became pregnant or had babies. The awareness that as a former single, child-free woman, I put them into a separate and isolated category once they procreated, has helped me to not be angry or frustrated with my currently single, child-free friends.

So I’m reaching out to my mommy friends now. Their advice and open ears are comforting and something I very much need. Plus they are more interested in my daily struggles as a pregnant chick. My SCFF (single, child-free friends) don’t find my food-aversions and birthing plans prime topics for dinner conversation. Maybe they’d find my jokes about sore boobs funnier after the third glass of wine, but who are we kidding, I can’t stay up that late anymore.

I don’t want to lose my SCFF though and I know that’s a reflection of not wanting to lose my independent self even though I will forever be living life for another person. Once I’m done performing this miracle of growing a human inside of my body, I’m still going to be me. An even more badass version of me.

So to my SCCF, I say: Yes, there will be a baby that takes priority, and I might forget about our lunch date, and you may see my boobs more often than you’d want; but there’s going to be lots of times when Grandma’s got the kid and I want to go to the beach and drink some margaritas. So please don’t forget about me. Don’t put me in the gone-forever box. Cause I’m still here and I always will be. And someday, when you are transitioning into mommyhood, I will be here to listen to your concerns, to advise you on the best cloth diapers and to hold your hair back when you puke.

See? It all comes full circle.

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Transparent Flags

It hurts worse when I try. Really going for it and giving it all I got.
It hurts the most when I think its enough but its not.

Does one always lose oneself when in love?
If you give a piece of your heart away, are you only 75% you? If you are lucky enough to have that person give you a piece of his heart too, does it make you complete? Or just a mutated version of what once was you? Is it possible to be sickeningly in love with another person yet still remain an individual?

I’ve watched a lot of amazing women in my life vary between the two: fiercely strong and independent with no man, or a passive and personality-less pushover with one. I’m scared these examples have scarred me and in an attempt to escape these ultimatums I have screwed up a lot of relationships. I become the sad, lonely single girl…. or the domineering one in a relationship.

Four shitty options. Its like picking between four customer types: the verbal tipper, the obnoxious regular, the couponer or the water drinkers.

Fuck it, I quit!

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One Summer in Jacksonville

Looking back now, I still don’t see how it was completely my fault. Your mother overreacted, as usual, and took up a good opportunity to make me look like the bad guy. There was absolutely no reason for five cop cars to come screaming into the TCBY parking lot like that. I don’t know how a guy gets arrested for taking their kid out for ice cream. I’m not saying its your fault, honey. I don’t know how much you remember, but we were having such a good summer…

It was just as hot that summer in Jacksonville as it was the year before when you came to stay with me in Georgia. Now, I told your mother I wouldn’t be able to take a lot of time off from work to look after you while you were here but she insisted we spend time together and yeah, of course I wanted to see ya. I was staying in a nice house with a pool, that was before I bought the house up in Ocala there, but it was a good place in a good neighborhood, down the street from where my girlfriend Valerie stayed.

You remember that summer before in Georgia how your sister came to stay with us for those couple of weeks you were visiting? Oh man, you two fought like crazy that time. Always over what was on the television. It was tough being a dad to you two then… you were at such different ages and it was hard to figure out how to make you both happy. You spent most of your days at your aunt’s house, with all your cousins. I thought it was probably best for you guys there, with the other kids and all and your aunt liked taking care of you.

Who was I kidding though, I didn’t know how to look after a 7-year-old girl. I didn’t know I had to brush your hair everyday. By the end of those two weeks you had a rat’s nest in your hair that your sister had to spend hours trying to brush out. There was a lot of things I didn’t know, still don’t. I taught you how to shoot tin cans with a bb gun. And you loved to sit on the porch with me during the worst thunderstorms and watch the lightning. You acted so brave that I forgot you were just a little girl. I didn’t know your cousins made you watch scary movies all day long, so at night you couldn’t sleep. And late at night when you came to check out the noise in the living room, you watched as my friend and I separated and bagged the pot he picked up earlier that day. I didn’t know you saw and kinda thought even if you did you wouldn’t know what was going on. Guess I didn’t really think that only a few years down the road you would be able to put all the pieces together.

Oh yeah, but that next summer in Jacksonville was way different. Your sister was a teenager and didn’t wanna spend much time with her old dad and little sister, she only stayed long enough to teach you all the words to that damn Lisa Loeb song that you sang constantly. Turns out you weren’t great at swimming so you didn’t really wanna go in the pool anyway. I had Val watch you during the days that I worked and took you to a couple jobs with me. You loved riding in the back of the truck, you remember that? I’d set some pillows down in the bed and you’d lay there and watch the clouds go by, you said you liked feeling the wind in your hair. I’d show you around those big, beautiful houses that I was painting and you’d go through and count the number of rooms.

After work I’d come home and we’d BBQ and Val would come over after her shift. We didn’t have much to entertain a kid so you’d go into your room early and watch tv, I suppose. It wasn’t that out of the ordinary that Val and I got into a fight one night after kicking back with a few beers. You know, women will be women and she got upset about something and left. I didn’t know you were still awake and heard the fight. I didn’t know you had heard me leave the house and chase after her. See, the thing was, I had a key to her place. And she said she didn’t wanna be with me anymore so I figured I should return it. Then I got there, we talked out our problems and by then it was pretty late. I didn’t forget that you were at home alone but I figured since I had been drinking and it was so late, best I stay at Val’s. I was gonna sleep a bit then come home the next morning before you even woke up.

Two days later I had a job to go to that afternoon but you got really upset when I had my neighbor come over to watch you for a couple hours. I told you I wouldn’t be gone long and promised to take you out for ice cream that night. Val was working, we’d go visit her and get a cone.

I got home from work and we headed down the street.

I had no idea what had gone on the night I left you home alone. You didn’t tell me.

You didn’t tell me that you were awake for the fight and for me leaving. You didn’t tell me that one of my friends stopped by and rang the door bell and scared you. You didn’t tell me you called your mother at 2 a.m. to tell her I’d been gone all night and you were afraid. You guys teamed up against me and made the big plan for her to drive down to Florida to come rescue you or some shit. You were fine. She was just being dramatic and so were you. Clearly, you know where that comes from.

We didn’t even get out of the truck in the parking lot of TCBY before the cop cars rolled in and surrounded us. Your mother and her boyfriend were in their car following behind the troop of flashing lights. It was like a scene out of some bullshit Lifetime movie. The cops asked me to step out of my truck as your mother pulled you out of your seat and hugged you. The sun had just gone down and the cotton candy skies were lit up with the blue and red flashing lights of the patrol cars. Your mother glared at me as she held you in her arms and you never once turned around to look at me. At the time, I had no idea what was going on. Later I found out since the night I left you alone, you had been in contact with your mother, who drove 24 hours straight from New Hampshire. She could have told me she was coming to get you; I don’t know what she thought was gonna happen. There was no need to get the cops involved.

Well anyways, I knew what was gonna happen the second that cop asked for my license and registration. I didn’t have a license at the time and the cuffs got slapped on me pretty quick once they figured that out. Once I was stuffed into the back seat, a place I’ve been more than once or twice, I was able to take the whole picture in. And I tell you, honey, it wasn’t right. My girlfriend was standing outside, smoking a cigarette and had no idea what was going on. The cops were talking to you and your mom; come to think of it, that’s a position I’ve put you two in before once or twice. I wanted to talk to you so badly, tell you this was a mistake and that I loved you. And that your mom was wrong and should not have come down here.

And finally, I saw the officer walking up to the car, holding your hand. He leaned down and talked to you for a second and then you looked directly at me. But you didn’t look sad. You looked at me like you hated me. The officer asked if you wanted him to roll the window down so I could give you a kiss and you said no. You kept eye contact with me while shaking your head and then you turned around and ran back to your mom. From there they took you to Disney World and that was the last summer you came to visit me until you were much older.

Am I a bad father because of this? No, I don’t think so. There’s a lot of things I don’t know about raising kids and it’s not like there was ever anyone there to tell me how to do it. I definitely didn’t know that leaving an 8-year-old home alone for a few hours is neglect. I didn’t know that you’d come to resent me so greatly for the times I said I’d be there and wasn’t. I could try to explain it but it’s not my fault. This is who I am and I’m not gonna apologize for it.

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Relocation

I’ve always known that the best hipsters use word press. I decided to wait until it wasn’t cool anymore before I finally created my own account. That makes me even cooler, right?

So now I’ll begin the tedious process of transferring my posts from Blogger. This gives me a chance to weed out the whiny, boring pieces of crap, so this will actually be a pretty quick process.

My other blog was created with the intention to get my fingers moving again. It did help create slight twinges of life in them but it is yet to produce anything truly worthwhile. And while doing free-writes occasionally is emotionally beneficial for me, it’s not exactly something I deem worthy of publishing to the world. Not that the world is reading this. Not that even one person is reading this…. which is oddly exhilarating.

I could type anything. Something truly disturbing, rude, mean.

I DO NOT LIKE OLIVES!

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