Monday, June 25, 2012


My darling boy,

One year ago, after a surprising ultrasound, a phone conference with the OB, and anesthesia and a little surgery for your mommy, you came into our lives. The memory of your birth, hazy yet somehow crystal clear, will remain with me always. How they held you up so I could see you, how I murmured how beautiful you were, how your grandparents came in right after and we all cried and marveled at your face and your funny little toes, crowded on top of each other. You were healthy and you were ours. The day before, we were expecting. That day, we earned new names, new roles, new lives.


Right after that, quite unexpectedly, I lost my job. Here we were, brand-new parents, not knowing which end was up, and we got thrown a curveball of massive proportions. Your daddy acted as a tower of strength, taking care of absolutely everything as I recovered and we figured out how to live with this tiny person. Sure, we had all the diapers, the clothes, the bottles...but we had no real idea, as all novice parents feel. It reminds me of the movie Juno when, as adoptive mama Jennifer Garner held the newborn baby in her arms, she asked Allison Janney awkwardly, "How do I look?" and she replied, "Like a new mom: Scared shitless." Sounds right.

Thank goodness we had such wonderful family and friends to help...Mimi came over every day to vacuum, do laundry, help bathe and change you, let me take naps, and show me how to be a mom as we bonded in a new way as mother and daughter. CiCi brought food and hand-knit sweaters for her first little "ownty-own" grandson, and she stayed over for the first two nights so we could get some sleep, singing and walking the floor with you in the middle of the night.

Our friend M came over and even spent the night as well the third night you were home, also letting us get some much-needed sleep...and taught me to pedal your wee legs to relieve your tummy bubbles. I felt so terrible that I didn't know and she simply replied, "Well, why would you?", reminding me that I would simply learn as I went, asking many, many questions. Aunt M, five months ahead of the game with your cousin C, was invaluably helpful with those myriad questions. I felt so relieved that she'd gone through it first so she could blaze the trail! At six weeks my Colgate girls descended and pampered us all weekend, holding you so I could sleep, making me laugh, feeding us, and wrapping me in their love and friendship like a cozy, warm quilt. 

I'm sure I've forgotten to mention lucky I feel to have so many supporters that I can't remember them all.

As you grew, your eyes turned from indigo to their beautiful bright blue, we made it through cradle cap and acid reflux, and you slept through the night earlier than Daddy and I will ever tell anyone. You went from rolling over to crawling to cruising the furniture--we know you'll walk any day now, and it's both thrilling and terrifying. From the first time you got an arm out of your swaddle, earning the nickname "Teeny Houdini", we knew you'd be a busy boy! You sing to yourself and us, and nothing delights you more than Penny, your protector and playmate. A simple sneeze from her puts you in hysterical laughter, breaking us up as well. You know Papa now on Skype, trying your hardest to crawl into the laptop to get to him. Even though you don't talk yet, we know you understand a lot. You're still a little shy and have just begun to receive cousin C's rather exuberant hugs without crying, but you just need to go at your own pace.

You immediately charmed all of your relatives, from stoic Uncle R and Grandpa R to Great-Grandma M, from the East to West Coast. You bring out the gentle side in everyone, sweetie.

I think one of my favorite parts of this past year has been watching you with Daddy. His combination of gentleness and strength make me love him even more than I did before you were born, sweet baby J. You squeal with happiness when he flips you upside-down (to the horror of all grand and great-grandparents), and you love to take weekend naps with your little body flung across his chest. I understand the feeling--he's great at making us feel safe and warm and protected.

So, dearest man, happy first birthday. I never realized how boundless love was until I had you...because just when I think I can't love you any more, you do something to make that feeling grow. Watching you grow has been one of the greatest gifts I will ever receive.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

344 and Counting

In three short weeks, J will turn one. ONE. When I look back on these last 344 days, I can't believe how much we've gone through and how much kindness has come our way. I admit when I lost my job a scant five days after giving birth, I felt absolutely terrified. The raging hormones didn't help, nor did my feeling like a complete novice as a new mother (no, nobody ever told me about pedaling/pumping poor baby J's legs to help with gas. WHY NOT?!?). T and my parents took care of absolutely everything, including T getting our health insurance taken care of in two days so we didn't lose coverage. Our parents came by daily, offering food, support, and another pair of arms. I couldn't do anything strenuous, post- surgery, so my mom did laundry, vacuumed, and cleaned when T was at work (he did quite a lot of the housework as well). My sister M and various other friends called with mommy advice and just kept me sane. I cannot begin to express my gratitude during those first few weeks, challenging with a new baby anyway, on top of the extra wrinkle added to our lives.

Since then we've made a lot of mistakes but a lot of progress as well. We've learned what we can do with and without; again, our parents have been generous with their time and support. We got creative in terms of gifts and stayed on a budget, one I suspect we'll keep to a great extent once I finally have a job. Looking for work has made me examine my other interests, as I've written before, and consider a career outside of teaching. I have definitely had (too many) "Why me?" and "It's not fair!" moments where I wondered how in God's name I could distinguish myself from the 100 applicants for the same position. If only they'd let me get to the interview portion, I could just show them. No, I don't have the exact requisite skills you want, but see how my skills I do have can transfer over? Total strangers I've met or e-mailed  through mutual connections have helped me with resumes and job suggestions; again, I feel so grateful for their help. They didn't need to help an unknown, yet they did.

I've looked at jobs I wouldn't have even considered before because personal pride simply has no place in my life right now: I need a job for financial and, frankly, social reasons. I want to start building our nest egg back up, and I've loved spending time with J. It's a gift that I'm so lucky to have had. I just need to interact with adults in a job setting again, too. I know full well that I'll look back on this time wistfully one day, but both J and I need a little socialization!

So we'll see what comes next. Immediately, my sister's wedding next weekend. I'll focus on J when his birthday comes around. This post is about me. It's been a hard year, but I honestly wouldn't trade it because it's been a wonderful year in myriad ways as well. I have my sweet boys, a wonderful family, good friends, and a lot that others don't. It's all about perspective.