Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Lesson in Workplace Etiquette: No Crying in the Bathroom

In my second week at TBJ, I found myself weeping in the bathroom. I read while I pump, allowing me to finish countless novels and books I'd otherwise not have time to read, and on this particular day I had just opened Listening is an Act of Love, which consists of portions of the transcripts taken from StoryCorps interviews.

StoryCorps is a project started by an award-winning NPR producer in 2003 to allow family and friends to interview one another and professionally record their conversations. One copy of the recording is given to the interviewers and another is placed in the Library of Congress in an attempt to record history from the perspective of the Everyman, rather than that of political figures or celebrities.

The stories in the book are remarkably stirring, emotional and uplifting. I think I was halfway into the second interview when I started boohoo-ing. All I could think was how silly I would look to someone who happened to stumble upon me. I dried my eyes, finished performing the miracle of milk production and emerged from the restroom with a desire to conduct my own StoryCorps interview. The Airstream trailer in which the interviews take place is sitting on the Williams Green at 3rd and Boston right now and will be through November. I counted in my mind the family members whom I could interview and wondered which I should choose. My mother? My father? Grandmother? Aunt? They all have stories to tell. Which one do I want to hear most?

It hit me, as I finished the book last week, whom I wanted to interview. I want to talk to John about the day Isaac was born. I thought it would be a wonderful gift to Isaac when he is older: a recording of his mother and father sharing their experiences of his birth. From me, he'll have journals of his time in the womb, his birth story and a written recording of nearly every major (and minor) event of his life. His father is much less likely to record his thoughts and feelings. I don't even really know what was going through John's head the day our son was born. I thought, I'd love to spend some time with him aligning our stories, comparing notes. I'd love to hear his perspective of that day. (In fact, I'd love to hear Tasha's as well. The only perspective I have of that day is my own, and so much of it is blurred by the incredible amount of pain I was in.) I knew it wasn't something he'd just talk about outright. But part of the magic of StoryCorps, so say the participants, is that something about that tiny Airstream trailer and the presence of the facilitator make you want to share information you've never before spoken about. I asked John if he'd be willing to participate--for our son's sake--and although he first questioned the project's purpose ("Why do we need to do that?" he asked), he eventually, albeit reluctantly, agreed. Unfortunately, when I called to reserve our spot, they were all full. I asked to be put on the waiting list, assuming I'd never see the inside of that trailer and John was off the hook for good. But today someone called and said that quite a few spots had opened up and would I like one?

So, providing John is still willing, we have an appointment Nov. 23 to interview one another about Isaac's birthday. I hope one day Isaac (and John) will appreciate the interview, knowing the story of his birth is tucked away in the Library of Congress, a recorded piece of American history.

Five Adjectives

Pioneer Woman's post yesterday (http://thepioneerwoman.com/2008/10/five_adjectives.html) offered a challenge to readers: what five adjectives describe you? Who are you? Based on a game borrowed from the movie Heartburn, the Pioneer Woman asks which five words--adjectives or nouns--best describe you?

Here are my five:

What are yours?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Isaac's Half Birthday

Isaac is six months old today. Gosh, it’s so hard to believe.

I was thinking this morning about how far we’ve come. The first few nights at home with him were terrifying in ways that I never expected. Motherhood seemed so easy in the hospital! I loved having these amazing nurses taking care of us night and day. Once we got home, I realized I had to be the one taking care of us, and it was so much harder than I expected it to be. Not only was I terrified of the responsibilities motherhood was suddenly thrusting upon me, but all of a sudden, also racing through my mind were thoughts of every horrible thing that could possibly happen to us. I imagined someone breaking into our house at night or snatching Isaac from his stroller while we went for an afternoon walk through the neighborhood.

I remember this overwhelming feeling of aloneness washing over me at night. John went back to work just days after we brought Isaac home, so he refused to help soothe our crying newborn in the late night and early morning hours. So in addition to all of these newly emerging fears were feelings of exhaustion, incompetence and uncertainty. So many nights I think I spent as many hours crying as Isaac did.

I think of how difficult breastfeeding was in the beginning and how many times I almost gave up. I think it was partly guilt and partly sheer bull-headedness that kept me from abandoning the idea altogether. Actually, it was probably neither of those things. It was the lactation staff at St. John. They were so amazing and the only reason we’re still nursing today.

These memories come flooding back to me so easily. I can’t decide if I feel like they happened just yesterday or years ago. I was so grateful when finally I started to feel like I really knew and understood Isaac. I think it took about a month before I felt like he wasn’t some stranger; he was my son. And while, even during the worst nights, I knew I couldn’t imagine my life without him, it wasn’t until we got through the first three or four weeks that I finally felt like I knew how to mother him. His wails weren’t just undecipherable sirens of expression; they were a language, one I could actually understand! I felt such a sense of accomplishment the first time I was able to read his emotion and soothe his crying on the first attempt. I learned how to listen to and communicate with my son. What a novelty!

Now, everything seems to come so naturally. Breastfeeding, dealing with the fussiness (and now, new development, temper tantrums!), getting to bed and up throughout the night is all second nature. It’s not any less is exhausting, but I can take it all in stride now. Yes, I break down now and then, but I have such support from my family and friends that I don’t feel nearly as alone now as I did in the first couple of months of Isaac’s life.

I think probably the most important lesson I’ve learned is to just enjoy every moment I have with Little Man. To just soak it all in. I love Isaac as an infant, but I know that, soon, he’ll be Isaac the Toddler. And I’m not ready for that. Not yet. I’m sure, when the time comes, I will be, but, for now, I want him to stay this tiny little baby who fits perfectly in my arms, who rests his head on my shoulder and clings to my neck.

He is such an amazing little person, so expressive and with so much personality. He laughs so easily; just a couple of light taps on his nose accompanied with “beep, beep!” is enough to send him into a fit of giggles. He’s not at the stage where everything he sees is his and he attempts to grab anything within arm’s reach. And put it straight in his mouth, of course.

I know the hard parts are far from over, but I feel so much more equipped to handle them. I-Man has taught me so much, and I’m very grateful to be his momma.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wish me luck...

Tonight is the first night Isaac and I will be alone in our new apartment. Though I moved everything in last week, we'd still been staying with my parents while I waited for the paint and polyurethane fumes to fade. While I'm still not totally unpacked, I've unpacked enough to make the place livable. I still haven't turned my gas on, bought silverware or gone grocery shopping, so, until I do all those things, I'll still be mooching my meals off my parents. That's okay, though; it gives me a reason to come back.

For the past few days I've felt like I can't wait to get us into our new apartment. I love my parents and I'm so grateful for all the support and assistance they've given me the past few weeks (not to mention the past 25 years), but last week I'd started feeling like it was definitely time for me to be back on my own again. But now that it really is time, I'm almost terrified. I guess it's starting to sink in that I really am on my own. I'm about to find out what it's like to be a single mom. And I'm scared. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but right now, I'm scared.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Can't believe I missed it (wait, yes I can)

My mom told me that Isaac crawled today. She said she put him on the floor on his back on a blanket, and he rolled over, got up on his hands and knees and, very slowly and with extraordinary effort, pulled himself forward. She said he'd use his arms to pull himself forward while on his hands and knees, then he'd collapse and drag his legs forward. He only made it a few inches before he pooped out, but she was very proud of him nonetheless. We tried to get him to do it again when I got home from work, but, of course, he wouldn't.

Other things he is doing now:
Sticking his tongue out ALL the time. See photo.
Rolling over both ways.
Putting his feet in his mouth.
Pulling his socks off.
Sitting up by supporting his weight with his arms. He can't do this for a very long period of time, but he can do it.
Making himself laugh.
Improving hand eye coordination. He's getting really good at getting toys to his mouth without first smacking himself in the head a few times. If you hold something out to him, he'll reach out and grab it. He especially loves this little wooden beaded teether I just got from Lundeby's.
Pulling at my shirt when he wants to nurse; grabbing the bottle when someone else is feeding him.
Still not sleeping.

Impromptu photo shoot with Amy Frost

Isaac's first visit to the Tulsa State Fair

Here, Isaac is contemplating his excitement about visiting the Tulsa State Fair. We went Thursday night, and, while he was a little fussy before we left the house and on the way, as soon as we got to the Fairgrounds and got him in the stroller, he conked out for almost two hours. We met up with friends Lauren and Megan and they were shocked that, with all the lights and noise and kids screaming and carnies heckling, Isaac could sleep through it all. It figures.

Documented proof of his presence at the fair.

He found it enthralling, obviously.

Our last photo with a fair backdrop. We came in and left through the livestock barn, but the camera's batteries died before I could take a picture of him next to the bovine exhibit.

We (I) had a really good time at the fair. We went with my parents and brother and met my friends Megan and Lauren for a bit. And even though I wasn't pregnant this time, I still ate everything I could get my hands on. And it was worth every calorie.

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