November 19, 2010

The post I would've written if I could have....

Sometimes I read something written by another blogger that feels like a page out of my own journal (although better written). This is one of those:

There's more I would like to add...but I am living in a bit of a tornado right now, in the meantime, I would love to hear how it strikes you?

October 05, 2010

Abundant Joy

I was walking through the zoo (yes, we spend A LOT of time at the zoo) and thinking about how happy I feel, and really on a deep soulful level have felt for a while now. It feels like this year has been about fully living in and embracing my life and role as mother, and in turn has helped me fully come alive in ways I struggled to before. I feel like these days my default is joy. I spent so many years trying to get here, trying to understand my fear of joy, my reluctance to embrace it....and here I am.

I was trying to deconstruct it in my head, (because of course I was!) looking for all the contributing factors. And there are a lot.

Being a mother has turned out to be the single most rewarding and fulfilling and challenging role and adventure I have ever taken on. It has called me to greater heights and greater depths than I knew I was capable of feeling and enduring. I love being Zane's mom, LOVE it.

There is also the surprising fact that I love being a "stay-at-home-mom", which I really wasn't sure I would. Sure, there are days I am counting each minute till my partner gets home and I can get some down time, but overall? Love it. I love filling our days, our weeks, finding the balance that makes each day enjoyable and nourishing for us both. I love how much I am called to be in the moment and responsive: to my son, my own needs, the seasons, etc...

I also love being a "homemaker", making home a place of peace, nourishment, love, enjoyment, for our family. I find so much purpose in making space for us as a family, in providing for us through shared experiences, healthy delicious meals, time together, a peaceful safe clean house. The more peace I find within, the more peace I want to create without.

And of course, there is the undeniable contribution of therapy. I have seen the same gifted therapist for over a year now and have experienced greater change and greater freedom within than I have in any other therapeutic relationship or experience. I entered therapy with a few goals, one of them being the freedom to truly enjoy and embrace this incredible life I am so lucky to be living. I can say without a doubt, we have been greatly successful in this.

My therapist and I are in the process of assessing where we go from here....we are kind of in a place right now where it makes sense for me to stop seeing her so often, at least for a while. And this has me nervous. Without that place, that relationship, held out for me, consistently to come and find myself within, will I get lost? Will I forget this joy? It's scary. I know I can always go back. I know there WILL be more stuff, more cobwebs that need clearing, more wounds that need healing, more patterns that need undoing. I know that in all likelihood this is just a "break", not a "break-up". But still, it scares me.

So, today, when I walked through the zoo, pondering all these things, thinking about how happy I am and have been, how almost every day there is at least one moment when I want to pinch myself to make sure this is really MY life, I am really here (because, happiness has not always come so easily to me), it was a sweet little gift to look down at the base of the statue of mama and baby hippo that Z loves climbing on at the zoo and see the words "Abundant Joy".

I was reminded of all the reasons I have to be joyful in my life and how many of them are within me, deeper than circumstances, deeper than fear.

I hold abundant joy within me.

There will be struggles, there will be darkness, life will be hard at times. But I know now that this capacity for abundant joy is within me. I may need help from time to time to access it, but it is a part of me now that cannot be taken away. And I never ever thought I would say that.

And here is one of the greatest reminders of joy I know of:

September 09, 2010

One of THOSE days

Today was one of those days. You know the ones: you are staring at the clock willing each hour to pass a little more quickly, you are just lying down to rest when your child wakes up an hour early from his nap, you look for something to fill the two hours before dinner that will require as little energy from you as possible, but will hopefully wear out your overtired little one and make bed time a little smoother tonight.

We've been sick around these parts with a deep hacking cough that is persistent for weeks. I have made immune-ass-kicking-homemade chicken soup to fortify us all, and yesterday picked up a few herbal remedies and vitamins we were out of and a couple essential oils for chest rubs and steams and baths. Z and Mr. Spicy are responding well, but I am still in the trenches.

It doesn't help that Z getting sick means he has only slept solidly through the night maybe once in the last week, and is now taking 1-2 hr naps instead of the 3 hour naps I was getting so comfy with. It also doesn't help that his molars are planning to present themselves soon and he has recently been experiencing a bit of separation anxiety.

It also doesn't help that we recently lost our beloved dog, had house guests for the weekend, and had my sister-in-law, who has been living with us and greatly brightening our lives and our home for the last 4 months, move out into her own place.

I am beat.

So, this morning, when the power suddenly went out, I jumped on my husband's suggestion that Z & I go out to breakfast at one of our favorite spots, choosing not to inform him that I could make a perfectly healthy breakfast for us both without any power. And breakfast was delightful. We people-watched, we colored, we fed each other delicious gluten-free pancakes. But by the end I was exhausted and just wanted to go home and curl up in bed.

Mercifully, Z fell asleep on the way home, stayed asleep through diaper changing, and went down for a nap. Ah! Rest for me! But wait....what is that feeling? Oh yes, it is the loads of caffeine from the coffee I just downed at breakfast, coursing through my veins. Sigh.

So, I did some busy-work, caught up on emails, chatted with a friend, and finally was ready to lie down when - yep! The little guy was wide awake and calling for me. I took a deep breath, downed a little more caffeine, took a minute and then headed up to get him.

I needed an afternoon activity that would carry us through, with as little required of me as possible (I just couldn't manage much at that point), and as much stimulus for Z as possible, without directly exposing him to other kids. (sometimes sharing isn't nice) The zoo it was!

We wandered through the zoo, and I picked up a little plastic set of African animals to further engage Zane. The cashier informed us that the new baby orangutan was out with her mother in the enclosure for the first time. Apparently the mother had been pretty protective of sharing her baby with the world before now, understandably.

We arrived at the orangutan area to see the mama orangutan, with tiny baby clutching tightly to the hair on her shoulder, climbing up into a tree for a snack. Dad was there too, and he was clearly annoyed by all the attention they were suddenly getting, shielding his face as he moved from hammock to rock, like a celebrity avoiding the paparazzi. There were only 3 of us there at that time, but I am sure they'd had a pretty steady stream coming all day. Mama swung from trunk to branch, baby sticking to her like velcro. At one point, she stopped to eat, and her little one moved to put her face next to Mom's. Mama showed baby what she was eating and tilted her head ever so slightly to rub her face against her baby, like I have done with Zane and a million mothers before me have done, a million times before.

I was entranced by the two of them, moving as one, clearly so bonded, mother clearly so protective, so human. I was reminded of Zane's early months where I literally wore him, held him, slept next to him, constantly.

Later, as we purchased tickets for the train and carousel, the cashier (a young woman, maybe in her early twenties, who we are by now pretty familiar with) asked if we had seen the baby orangutan. I told her we had and marveled aloud at what a sweet mama the orangutan was.

"Well", she said, "she had a hard time at first. She's a first time mom. In the beginning, when her baby would cry and cry she would like take a deep breath and put her in this big bucket and walk away for awhile. She was pretty overwhelmed at first."

"Wow," I replied, "good for her for taking a break! It's hard being a first time mom!"

"Well, yeah...," she continued, "I mean, I am sure she likes her baby and was just hard at first I guess. She's doing great now though, super protective. The tiger mom (who had quadruplet tiger cubs recently), now SHE'S exhausted. She is so tired, poor thing."

I walked away with this whole new insight into this mama and baby I had just been admiring minutes before. Wow. Motherhood is hard. It just is. Even now, in one of the happiest seasons of my life and my time as a mother, I find myself in one of those days. And this mama tiger, and this mama orangutan, they struggle too.

And I am pretty sure they didn't have to make dinner tonight, aren't worried about clean underwear, and don't have bills or schedules to worry about.

I have been chewing on this all evening, trying to find the right words to describe the light bulb moment I had there, talking with this woman (who I am pretty darn sure is not a mom).

I think it has something to do with the struggle being a natural part of it. Some struggle more, some less...but it's there. I think the times I have been weary, depressed, or just having a regular old hard day, one of the hardest parts for me is thinking that somehow I should be able to weather these days easier, I should be able to do more, be more, feel more, and all with a smile, always. And while in the last many months, more often than not I am easily smiling and laughing and just soaking up the joy of motherhood through many a day, some days I am not. On an intellectual level I know that that's ok. I would tell anyone else that it was ok, normal, natural. But some times I still get caught in that trap of should and it is hard to find my way out. There is always someone who seems to do it with more ease, more grace, more joy. Hell, I've probably been that person for someone out there too (if so, I am so sorry! I have those days too...obviously).

I think also, it reminds me of the period when most days were those days. When lack of sleep, and various other factors combined and I found myself deeply depressed. For months. It reminds me of those nights when I had to hand over my crying, sleepless baby to my husband for fear of hurting myself, or even sometimes god-forbid, my beautiful son. It reminds me of the guilt I felt for having to do that, like I was broken, like I was a bad mother. It reminds me that even though I came through that time, even though I got help, I got better, my son started sleeping, and the sun rose again, and my joy returned - that part of my story as a mom is still very compartmentalized and hidden away from my story as a whole.

Sure, I will readily relate to someone the quick version "Oh my son stopped sleeping at 6 months, and I developed postpartum depression and then he started sleeping at 12 months and I got better..." but it is hard for me to integrate it fully into my story, as a woman, and a mother. I want to hold it out, separate, a parenthesis, a foot note.

In this short interaction I was confronted with this animal mother's story, the whole of it up to this point: putting her baby in a bucket and stepping away when she felt overwhelmed (which I find very admirable on her part, btw), feeling deeply protective and guarding her baby and her time with her, to stepping out cautiously into the world with her little one, still protective, but much more comfortable in her role as "Mama".

I don't know it just hit me. I felt validated. I felt so much. I felt a kindred spirit with these animal mamas and I felt a lot better about my own rough day, my own exhaustion, my own "bucket" moments. I felt a tenderness for the orangutan and the tiger that allowed me to feel a tenderness for myself. I also felt so much tenderness for all of you, all my friends, all the bloggers, all the women I have never even met who have struggled through their own bucket moments, their own "those days", and worse. I wanted to shout to the world, "Look, it's totally natural! Motherhood is hard work! We fall down sometimes, we get overwhelmed, we need a break, we need help. It is normal, and it is ok!"

I know, this is not news to many of you, and it really shouldn't be news to me...but today it was.

And I am grateful for it.

September 07, 2010

good-bye, Zebu

Last Friday we said good-bye to our beloved, seven year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Zebu.

He was the first being we co-parented together all the way, from his sweet puppy-start to his much-to-soon end.

He was diagnosed with an aggressive and malignant cancer in January, and given 6 months to live. In many ways that diagnosis was a gift. We knew what was coming, we knew what to expect, we were able to be more intentional and present with him in his last months with us. We didn't always do it perfectly, but I am grateful for that time. We spoiled him, we made him as comfortable as we could, and when he reached a point that the pain and the illness became too much, we knew, and we were able to plan his passing.

We called our doctor of the last 10+ years. The same doctor who gave Zebu his puppyhood vaccinations, the same doctor who neutered him and helped him through various illnesses. He came to our home. We held Zebu in our arms, on his favorite bed, his head laying on my husband's lap. We told him it was ok to go, we told him we loved him, we thanked him, and we peacefully let him go. He went quickly, like a deep sigh of relief.

I thought there would be sobbing, but there were only quiet tears from us both. I know that this is something that will hit us in waves, creeping up on us in unexpected ways. Like today when I prepared to go for a bike ride with Zane and realized there was no petulant pup, crowding us at the door begging to come along.

The house is quiet. But I still feel him here, as I did with Sativa after she passed last year.

He was so strong and so brave at the end. There was always so much more going on for him than he let on. I know I will be a better mother in many ways for having loved him and being loved by him. He was our lion hunter, who trembled at the sound of a motorcycle. He was our 90lb lap dog and our ferocious protector. He was our sweet boy.

We love you Zebu, we miss you. We hope you are somewhere warm, running along the water's edge with Sativa and that there will always be plenty of soft fluffy beds for you at the end of the day.

And, I am sorry for that time we made you wear the princess crown. We couldn't resist. I hope you are laughing about it now.

August 26, 2010


I lift the corner of the sheet I have thrown over the dining room table, a wall for a fort, for a private tent, a secret hideaway. I pass him a small bowl holding two graham crackers and a cup filled with juice. He very carefully takes both from me and smiles.

I lower the wall again, turning to get back to my chores, my thousand obligations.


His head pops around the corner, he is walking towards me, carefully balancing his bowl of graham crackers in both hands.


"What honey?"

"Mama", he holds the bowl out to me.

"No, honey, those are for you. Those are Zane's."


"Here, let me carry them so they don't spill"


He grabs my fingers and leads me back to his tent. We take our seats inside.

He picks up a single cracker and places it in my hand. He looks right in my eyes.

I am undone.

I break the cracker in two, handing him the other half and we silently take turns feeding each other bites.

He then picks up his juice and offers it to me.


I take my sip and offer it back to him.

"Thank you, Zane. Thank you."

August 02, 2010

18 months - The Z files

My heart and mind are full and overflowing. How do I write about this boy, this child, without seeming trite and cliche?

He rocks our world daily. He is full of light, full of laughter, full of life. He is my greatest joy and greatest love. He is a mystery to me, and someone I know like my own skin.

The last six months have been monumental in terms of Zane's development, in terms of my development as his mother. This is by far the most fun I have ever had, and the hardest work I have ever done. Wow.

Six months ago he was crawling, and walking along furniture, standing, but not ready yet to venture out on his own two feet. Three months ago he began walking across the room. Today, he runs full speed through the house, and runs out from his hiding places when we wonder aloud, "Where is Zane?".

Six months ago he first began to cradle baby dolls and offer bottles to his newborn cousin. Today he concocts gourmet meals at his sandbox, asking for spoons to stir his various creations and then offers tastes to me and his "babies", announcing "Yum, Yum, Yum!".

At Christmas time we greeted our tree each morning and thanked her. Today he hugs any tree he can get his arms around and stops to smell the flowers as often as he can.

He has this incredibly mischievous side to him, deliberately "hiding" quietly just out of our view and then popping out in breath-stealing laughter as we go looking for him, looking at us and laughing a moment before he initiates some forbidden behavior.

He is intensely physical, hugging with his whole body, asking to be thrown onto the bed again and again, throwing his entire body on the floor, biting, or slamming his head into the hardest surface within reach when he is angry or frustrated.

He is sweetly sensitive, becoming upset when someone else is injured, whether in real life or on television, or in the painted image on one of his toys or in his books; kissing his "babies" when they fall, lifting my shirt to kiss my gall bladder scars every day, tenderly pointing and saying "Owwww" as he does so.

He becomes quickly fascinated by anything he imagines might need fixing or might be able to be dismantled. He reaches for nuts, bolts, screws, and tries with all his might to manipulate them, even when they happen to be holding in place the safety glass between him and the very large and ferocious lions at the zoo. You can almost see his mind working as he approaches something, such as his "bubble train", and turns it over in his hands, removing what he can, trying to understand how it works, how it all fits together. His focus and his concentration are amazing to behold.

He has recently become increasingly aware of his appearance, stopping to admire himself and frankly, sometimes make out with himself, in mirrors. He has favorite shirts (we have dubbed them "super cool dude shirts") that he literally struts around the house in. He picks out his outfits, refuses certain clothing items and refuses to allow us to remove others. Of course we have begun manipulating this to convince him that hats that protect him from the sun are indeed "super cool dude" items as well.

He is both incredibly independent and incredibly affectionate, making for this constant cycle of his stepping away to explore and do things for himself followed by his running wildly back to me for a full body hug and kiss and cuddle. It seems at times neither of us can get quite enough of the other. But it is certainly I who is the more love-sick one, having trouble walking away and leaving him, even when it is for my own good. He, on the other hand, fully secure, delights in his one-on-one time with Daddy, his auntie, or his favorite babysitter. He knows I will return, he knows he is loved. I am so grateful for that.

Speaking of Daddy, his adoration for my husband is legendary. He somehow knows exactly when to start expecting his father's return and stands on the couch, spreads the curtains and looks eagerly down the street while singing "Daddy, Daddeeeeeeeeeee, Daddddddddy!" over and over and over. He points out things throughout the day that remind him of his dad and sometimes just sits singing "Daddy" over and over to himself. I won't lie, I have been a little jealous at times over this devotion. But mostly I am just so grateful that I chose such a phenomenal man to have a child with. I love that Zane has this connection with his dad, something they have created together, it is a gift that unfolds before me daily.

There is a lullaby I have been singing to Zane since before he was born. It is the song of a mother singing to her son and at one point she sings, "And sometimes I will ask the moon where it smiled upon you last and shake my head and laugh and say, 'It all went by so fast'..." Never did those words penetrate my heart like they do now. It is already going by so fast, so very fast. I want to hold each day and pin it down in a book, but the days are quick and fleeting, and for every moment I have the presence of mind to remember, there are a thousand I have forgotten.

What a gift and what a torture. To love this person unfolding before me with such fullness and such completeness, knowing his growing means changing, means a thousand new discoveries and a thousand more good-byes.

There is one thought I have every single day and that is how incredibly fortunate I am to be here. I feel as though the whole of my life has led me here, and I cannot stop saying "Thank You".

Thank you.

June 17, 2010

Fortunate at 4 a.m.

Last Friday, I had my gall bladder removed. Which, took me off of Mama-duty for a good 24-48 hrs. Which, of course, coincided with Zane's developmentally appropriate peak in separation anxiety. While he loved his time with "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!", he obviously was a bit shaken by my sudden inability to care for him in the ways he is used to. Also? I am pretty sure he's teething again.

As a result, we've been experiencing some sleepless nights again around these parts. Mr. Spicy has been a trooper in handling most of the middle-of-the-night-omg-why-won't-you-go-back-to-sleep wakings, but last night, as I heard Zane scream each time he tried to lay him back down, I sensed it was time for me to step in. I rocked my little boy as he laid on my chest, singing lullabies and lulling him back to sleep....or so I thought. Each time I stood up and began to move him to his crib, he wrapped his arms around my neck and shook his head "". Finally, I caved and asked if he'd like to come to bed with us. He burrowed his face into my shoulder and nodded emphatically.

Bringing him into bed with us is always a gamble. If he's really sick or in pain he'll settle in quickly and nod off, but otherwise he usually decides it is family party time and demonstrates his unique gift for death-defying acrobatic maneuvers that are sure to get our adrenaline pumping.

Last night, he began by trying to negotiate for "num nums" which I denied. He whimpered a bit, complained to his daddy, and then eventually threw himself cross-ways against my chest, burying his nose in my arm pit as I stroked his back, and he drifted off to sleep.

As I lay there, pinned beneath my sweaty, heavy, sweet, boy, I contemplated the situation. It was 4:30 a.m., and I had been up since 3. I was expecting to feel exasperation, frustration, failure. Instead, I realized what I felt in that moment was overwhelming gratitude, and it surprised me. I was tired, in pain, and lying with a toddler's nose wedged into my armpit at a crazy hour, and what I felt most was gratitude.

I felt thankful that the reason I was awake, the weight upon my chest, was this incredible boy, MY little boy. A boy I longed for for so very long. I was filled with the beauty of this boy, MY boy, who simply wanted ME, his mother - and wanted to be so close to me that he fell asleep with his nose greedily inhaling the scent of me, his mama. Grateful that it was my scent that comforted him, my heartbeat accompanying his dreams.

"I am so incredibly unbelievably fortunate", I thought.

Later, I was able to slowly roll him over to the space between my husband and I. Our family, all in bed together, my husband and son sleeping. Breathtaking.

It is the moments like this, the ones that too often pass in a blink and are forgotten, moments in which I feel so fully a mother, and so fully in love with this boy, and the family he has made of us, these moments I want to hold onto, be able to conjure up on those days when I feel like I am failing everyone, or those days when it all seems to be going so very very fast....

I am so very fortunate. So very very fortunate.

June 07, 2010

Wanted: Road map from Fear to Freedom

I read this blog post today, on being fearless in youth and somehow losing that fearlessness as you mature and learn about being wounded and judged and it just resonated with me so loudly, it was as if somehow she knew just what I was feeling today.

I was the girl who went off on adventures, often dangerous adventures, all alone, all summer long. I was the girl who convinced three other girls in 5th grade to get on stage with me to sing/ lip-sync to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" even though I had not a lick of singing talent at the time. I was the girl who stood in front of my highschool classmates and gave speeches about social prejudices and who got into heated debates during Spanish class about gay rights. I moved across the country at 19, all alone, with maybe $400 in my pocket, to a big city I had never visited and didn't know anyone in. I proceeded to join a band, perform my poetry on stage, spilling my heart and anger out for anyone who would listen. In my twenties, I took week long camping trips alone, with my dog. I fell in love or lust with wild abandon, and fell into friendships with the same passion and devotion.

In the last ten years or so, something changed.....

As The Butterfly states so eloquently:

"Somewhere along the line, and I can’t pinpoint when, I lost my fearlessness. ... I started being afraid of everything, and not just fear for myself, but also for everyone around me. And the more I think about it, the more I think that my fear of physical danger grew out of my built-up fear of emotional danger.

... I spent a lot of my life putting myself out there emotionally. My physical adventurousness was nothing compared to my emotional adventurousness, but unlike the physical risks I took, my emotional risks usually didn’t work out very well. I was too open, and I got my heart stomped on. A lot. As a result, I stopped taking risks. I wrapped myself up around my heart and protected myself, and some part of me took a look at that and said, “Hey! If you can get your spirit knocked around so many times, it’s only a matter of time before you do something dumb and end up killing yourself.” I stopped taking risks, with my heart and with my person."

I can't pinpoint which exact heartbreak or loss or disappointment led me down this path, I think it was a very gradual process. I have always struggled with deep insecurities, and a deep sense of being different and not good enough. That was part of what made my emotional risks so "risky". I was putting myself out there, even though I often felt terrified inside. Well, and what better way to fill that need for affirmation?

Somehow, the risks became less attractive, the affirmation became more hollow, and I found myself feeling more fearful in places of emotional intimacy and depth. I slowly began to make my world smaller and safer. The less risks, the less relationships, the better. Today I often dream about just running away (with my husband and son of course) and starting from scratch and I can become anxious over simply returning a phone call or going to a party. Heck, half the reason I blog so infrequently these days is because I worry over what someone might judge me for or whether what I have to say is worth writing about.

And just as The Butterfly writes in her blog, I didn't just withdraw and become overly cautious emotionally, I became fearful and overly cautious about anything risky for myself, and for anyone I love. I came to hate the idea that my husband had a motorcycle, even though that was one of the things that attracted me to him to begin with. I have shown major resistance to the idea of my husband learning to kite surf, as I am sure he will get swept out to sea, or into the side of a cliff and die a horrible painful death. I have never cashed in the gift certificate that my husband gave me for tandem sky-diving, even though it used to be on my "life list". I have become hesitant lately even thinking about changing my hairstyle!

Today, I am longing for that fearless girl and woman I used to be. I find myself digging for remnants of her beneath the walls I have built to protect myself and what I hold dear. There is much more to lose now, and I feel more fragile underneath it all. It is not so easy to be fearless, not so easy to risk. I am less certain than ever that I have something worthwhile to offer and I have come through some pretty hard seasons in the last few years that have left their marks. Just as physical scars make the skin less pliable, the emotional scars I carry have left me more rigid, less flexible, less free.

And yet, I have so many reasons to be free, to be happy, to be full. Despite my insecurities, my anxiety, my difficulty connecting at times, I have an amazing husband and son and dear friends who are so worth taking risks for and worth putting my heart out there and when I do, they have shown me that they love me spots and all. do I find my way back to fearlessness? Or at least "less fearful" and more free? Does being a mother just naturally mean living with more fear?

(p.s. and for those of you thinking "Damn girl, get yourself some therapy"....I have, and I am.)

May 17, 2010

Safe Sling Love

Holy crap it's been a long time since I have posted! Geez.

Well, to ease myself in slowly I am posting a link to another, much more famous, celebublogger, if you will....

I have been really sad reading all the slack that slings and babywearing mamas are getting since the recent recalls. I simply could not imagine Zane's first year without the Maya Wrap, HotSling, and our Ergo. I loved wearing him and would do it again in a heart beat.

Amy Corbett Storch, who authors the blog, Amalah, discusses here the differences between the recalled slings and other slings and the importance of using slings SAFELY, which means wearing the baby up high, in an almost upright position, and always always being able to feel their breathing and see their face at all times.

I love her last paragraph, and feel very similar about our experience using slings:
I publicly praise slings a lot simply because of the convenience and hands-free aspect of them. I could carry Ezra around and nurse him…while fixing myself a sandwich or writing a blog post! Brilliant! But another thing that a really well-designed sling will give you is an INCREDIBLE sense of connection to your baby. And that’s something I really don’t think those over-padded and over-structured baby duffels provided, thus leading to a nightmarish scenario where a baby suffocated while his mother had no idea there was a problem. When Ezra was in our favorite sling (the Rockin’ Baby), the thin fabric allowed me to feel his little warm body and every movement. His head sat up on near my chest and heart, and even though I used the sling for hands-free activities, my hand still cradled his shape or stroked his face and body inside the sling every chance it got. It was not a utilitarian piece of baby transporting equipment, it was a really wonderful bonding tool, and a place where I could truly keep him close and safe and loved.

I especially appreciate some of the comments left as well, such as:

actually, the danger is less the fabric closing over their face than the lack of support – the child gets curled up with his chin pressed against his chest, and his windpipe can collapse, like a kink in a hose. A pouch or sling that holds the baby high and tight is safer, and a carrier that holds the baby upright against your chest, like a ring sling or a mei tai, is even better. All slings can be used unsafely; the problem is that the Slingrider cannot be used safely.
The members of The Babywearer are actually very angry over the whole thing, because Infantino has been warned of the risk of suffocation multiple times since 2006, and have done nothing.

And as so many of the commenters pointed out, it's always a good idea to not only read the instructions and watch the videos that often come with slings to ensure a safe fit, but a baby wearing class or fitting should also be considered. I did attend a baby wearing class offered at a local Mom and baby place and found it really helpful not only in understanding safe baby wearing but also in finding the right product for me.

So that's it. Just wanted to share a little article in defense of slings and using them safely.

March 31, 2010

Well I guess I brought this upon myself....

Very funny, internets!

Not 24 hours after posting my last post I came down with a really nasty cold. I feel like I have been run over and dragged through a swamp. Ugh.

So much for delighting in my alone time. It was nice while it lasted.

Mr. Spicy cannot get home soon enough.

March 30, 2010

Not lonely

I am all alone. For the rest of the night.

I can't remember the last time I could say that.

Mr. Spicy is out of town for work and Zane is sleeping upstairs and I am here, alone.

Of course, I do have a sleeping child upstairs so it's not like I am really all alone. But it is close enough.

As soon as I heard my son mumble off into the silence of sleep, it hit me. I was enveloped in the richness of the moment, completely alone. Like being wrapped in the softest silk. I almost cried at the comfort of the silence and stillness, knowing that there would be no one coming home tonight, there was no end to this imposed by anyone else, there was no one else to consider.

No one but me.

I sat on my bed, the fan blowing, the windows open, letting the last light of the day stream through, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood ending its busy day, and a part of me showed up in that moment, a part of myself I can only connect with when I am all alone.

Oh how I have missed her.

I have missed this.

Before I was married, before I was a mother, I was an expert at being alone. I thrived on it. For years I took week-long camping trips every summer, just me and my dog. I moved across the country twice all by myself. I have taken so many solo road trips that it is actually hard for me to connect with someone else on a road trip, I just so easily slip into my own routine and my own space there. I enjoy my own company and my time alone.

It has been good for me to be forced out of this, it has been a good practice for me to have to be present in almost every single moment with another human being. I can feel myself growing, my patience, compassion, honesty, courage, selflessness, expanding. Being responsible to another person the way I am as a wife, but even more so as a mother has been an incredible experience of sacrifice and heart expanding love that I would not trade for anything.

But oh how I have missed this.

Of course by the time I go to bed tonight, or surely when I wake up in the morning, I know I will long for the familiar feel of my husband lying in bed beside me, his smell, his laugh. I know I will miss sharing the day with him, sharing each other's burdens. I will miss my partner. And lets be honest, I will also miss the help.

But for now, I am spending the night with an old friend who I have neglected for far too long.

Oh how I have missed you.

Won't you stay a while?

March 22, 2010

The Curse

Yep, it is true. Announcing to the internet that your son sleeps great and loves to sleep pretty much guarantees you are going to have a rough night.

Zane was up three times before finally deciding at 3 a.m. that he was NOT going to go back to his crib. So I laid on the couch holding him until 7 a.m.

Yawn! I hope this is a one night curse and not a "your child will never sleep again" curse.

When will I learn?

Seriously though....I have no idea what was wrong with him last night. He seems totally fine now.


March 21, 2010

The Z Files: Month Fourteen

Zane is 14 months today. Although, if you ask my husband he'll say "he's a year and a couple months". Is it a mom thing to keep track of their age by months?

He is so much fun these days. He has been nodding his head "yes" for several months now and just recently started shaking his head "no". He knows what it means to do both and answers our various questions appropriately.

This is opening up so much between us. I can ask him if he is tired, hungry, hurting. I can ask whether he needs his diaper changed. I can inform him about our plans for the day and find out how he feels about it. I can ask him if he's enjoying something or if he needs help. I feel like we are having conversations all day long and he has yet to say an actual word (except for "mama", "dada", "yeah" and his favorite, "Oh!Wow!"

He loves to do whatever we are doing, whether it is talking on the phone, wiping the counters, stirring the pancakes, pushing the vacuum, or using a screwdriver. He is always watching and always eager to try to mirror us.

He loves his books and will often pull all the books off of his shelf and sit in the pile, "reading" one at a time to himself. He turns the pages, points to things, and tells himself the story in his high-pitched baby babble.

He climbs anything that is standing still, or at least he tries to. He is crazy strong and agile and has no fear. A dangerous combination to be sure.

He loves food with lots of flavor, he eats curry, chili, mexican food, italian food. He prefers to feed himself whenever possible and is beginning to actually use a spoon appropriately, although he still has a long way to go. I am looking forward to eating outside in the summer and being able to just hose him down when he's done!

He stands on his own and cruises all over the house holding onto surfaces, but still no official walking unless you count the two or three unsteady steps he takes between the two of us when we help him "practice".

He has learned how to use crayons and frequently makes his way over to his table several times a day to "color" in his sketchbook.

He is curious about everything around him, always trying to understand how everything works and wanting to get his hands on it, turn it over and ponder it if he can.

He loves dogs but has learned that Zebu is not so excited about him and he generally is really great about respecting Zebu's boundaries. Of course, the one time they are fast friends is meal time!

He is incredibly affectionate, kissing and hugging us all day long. Right before he lays down to go to sleep he will hold my face in his hands and kiss me before pointing to his bed.

He sleeps! And every. single. time. is a frickin miracle to me. He has become a really great sleeper actually and really loves his bed. Sometimes he even asks to be put back in bed for a few minutes when he first wakes up in the morning.

He is still nursing, although we finally compromised down to three times daily recently (from the four times a day he was doing previously). "Num Num" time is by far his favorite time of the day and I joke that if I do not wean him at some point he would probably nurse until he was 16. Right now I think we are both happy with where we are at and I constantly have to pinch myself because I can't believe we have made it this far and done so well. I know how fortunate I am in this area although we did have a few hiccups along the way (such as my milk going "sour" within hours no matter how I tried to store it - meaning I was not able to pump and give him a bottle for roughly a year)

We have noticed lately how much more active we are on the weekends because of Zane. We finally made it to that yummy breakfast place we have been meaning to visit, we went to a parade last week, we went to the zoo today - we get out to see the world more because of him. Part of it is because he is an active toddler who is very happy when there are adventures to be had, part of it is because with his nap schedule we know we have limited time we can be away from the house and we want to make the most of it, but in a big way, our increasingly adventurous and motivated weekends are because we just love sharing the world with Zane and we can't get enough of hearing him say "OH! WOW!"

And inside, we are saying it right back at him:

Oh! Wow! Indeed, Son.

Oh! Wow! Indeed.

March 18, 2010

I have enough for this life

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom - Greek Proverb

We are fortunate enough to live within walking distance of our city zoo. Our zoo membership card is one of my most valued possessions. Yesterday was a hot sunny day, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees. The perfect day for a walk.

I pushed Zane in the stroller, our entire adventure punctuated with his gasps and shouts of "Oh Wow!" forcing me to often stop and ask him what had captured his excitement. Sometimes it was a tree, other times a big red truck or a city bus. At the zoo it was the monkeys, a lorikeet, or best of all the big beautiful carousel! Later it was flowers, a dog, a pineapple.

One of the great lessons Zane continues to teach me daily is to cultivate an attitude of awe and wonder. The entire world seems to excite and intrigue him and in his presence I am reminded how amazing it all really is. The world is so much bigger and brighter when I am with him.

I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think
of heaven and the angels. I have enough for this life. ~ Pearl S. Buck

March 16, 2010

Living in a lovely limbo

I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs, Mother Rising, and was reminded of how many moments are flying by in our lives that are going undocumented.

I struggle with the purpose of this blog, wondering if it should be a place for me to write about myself, motherhood, or my boy - or somehow all three.

I do know that I rarely take the time to capture the days that go by and before I know it they are lost in my memory. I want to be more diligent about writing it down. I don't want to lose these days.

So I am hereby committing to try to write something here at least five days of our week. We'll see how it goes!

It is Tuesday and Zane is napping right now. Tuesdays are a bit of a free day for us. Today the weather is gorgeous so we'll take a walk, maybe have lunch at the park and try to make it to the zoo after his afternoon nap.

This is the part of being a stay-at-home mom that I love, having the time to plan small adventures and daily outings with Zane. I love exploring the world with him, watching awe and delight wash over his face, connecting with him through shared moments and discoveries and play.

Mondays we go to story time at our local library. Wednesdays we visit with friends and sometimes make the trek up to Boulder. Thursdays our friend G. comes to spend 4 hours with Zane while I run errands, or go to appointments, or just generally have "me" time. Fridays right now mean music class.

It's a meager little schedule for our week, interspersed with trips to the grocery store, chores, walks with the dog, stories, tickling, coloring, and dancing.

This is the part I love, the part that gets me out of bed every morning.

The constant cleaning, the awareness of the ever-growing "to do" list that I never get to, the self-imposed standards that I never seem to measure up to, the "witching hour" before my husband walks through the door....those are the parts that wear on me some days.

I can barely stand to be away from Zane for the few hours a week I am, and yet sometimes I just crave the solitude I am missing.

It is a strange math in my heart that means I never get enough of my son and at the same time never get quite enough for myself. It is a limbo I am learning to live in daily.

I feel like so much of this year, this season, is about me finding myself as a mother, but also remembering the self I am outside of my family. Sometimes that latter self feels very small.

I am wondering for you moms and dads out there....what parts of parenting do you love and live for? what parts do you struggle with?

March 02, 2010

All Boy

He can put the shapes into the correct holes of his shape-sorter.

He can point to different animals in his books when asked, "Where's the....?".

He can bring us all to tears with laughter as he makes loud farting noises with his mouth against my belly.

He can identify his body parts: nose, ears, eyes, mouth, teeth, hair, toes, fingers, and yes, his penis.

He can climb up and down from the couch, our bed, the stairs.

He can clearly communicate when he wants something, what he wants and when he has had enough.

He can melt my heart and bring me to moments of awe daily.

He is all boy.

I am all his.

February 20, 2010

The Tooth Hurts

aka: "F*cking Tooth!"

Well, it seems that Zane's first tooth has cut through his gum and is finally making its long awaited appearance.

I say "seems" because I don't trust this tooth, it is a sneaky little shit. Zane has had no less than 6 episodes of full on teething symptoms since the age of four months. I am not talking a little drool, a little fussiness. I am talking red swollen gums, a bump where we are sure a tooth is just about to cut through, sleepless nights, the fountain of drool, the whole enchilada. But alas, a few days would pass, the bump receded, the redness faded, and the tooth had gone back into hiding. Like a sadistic little groundhog.

Thursday morning we noticed the smallest sliver of tooth, actual tooth, cutting through his gum and I thought to myself, "That wasn't so bad. Maybe we went through all those terrible teething episodes before to make this part easier." When will I learn?

Thursday and Friday night were punctuated by much screaming, crying, bloody gums, and a poor little Zane who was so frustrated and confused and in pain that he began smacking himself in the head and face in an apparent attempt to rid himself of the demon who had taken over in there. I could not blame him. I have a few fantasies of what I would like to do to this tooth if it weren't attached to his head.

I have begun to view the tooth as a domestic terrorist, come to torture us all into submission. For what I am unsure, because if I knew? I would totally negotiate.

But it seems this time the tooth is here to stay and I am anticipating a few others in short succession, so we are all just buckling down and holding on for the ride because - hey! The boy has teeth! Well, a tooth, just one for now. That's all we can really handle.

His toothless baby smile is about to disappear, forever. Sigh. He's becoming such a boy.

A boy with teeth even! Watch out world!!!

February 18, 2010

Lent revisited

Lent has begun. Two years ago I walked into Lent with a desperate prayer and overwhelming desire to be a mother. I attended church weekly, lighting candles for the soul I soon hoped would join our family and be our child. I was in the midst of blood draws, ultrasounds, and daily injections that felt like a sort of offering and a kind of penance and absolution at the same time.

It was a time of longing and lament.

This morning is so different. I wake at 6am, nurse my one year old as we snuggle in bed together, and head downstairs. We turn on rich peaceful music and I make Zane a little bowl of waffle pieces, strawberries, yogurt, and bananas. He steals a few big gulps of my orange juice and I pour boiling water into the french press and smell the smoky coffee aroma fill the kitchen. I pour coffee for Mr. Spicy and myself, adding our requisite sugar and cream. I make his high protein, high fat breakfast and my own more healthy fare.

After breakfast Zane and I play his instruments to music playing over the stereo and we surprise Daddy in the office with Zane's newfound ability to open doors on his own! I look into Zane's mouth as he laughs and realize that his first tooth is finally finally finally breaking through his gum!!!! We play some more and I tidy up his room while he points at things out the window. Then I sweep him up into my arms, read him a couple of stories, sing him a lullaby, and he drifts off to sleep while gnawing on my knuckle.

It hits me. I am content. I am happy. I am here, fully present in this moment, which can be such a struggle for me. I realize that I am full, that I fit here in this space, that I love my life, and that I am so very very very lucky and blessed and whatever you call it when your life suddenly makes sense and you are fortunate enough to have everything you could ever want or need right in that moment.

And every little piece matters. From the electricity that flows through our stereo to the fresh strawberries in the refrigerator....from the toaster waffles to the coffee beans.....from the toy instruments to the blanket that I wrap around Zane as I rock him. Every piece matters. The mundane becomes holy.

There are no candles lit, no incense wafting, no kneeling, no wooden pew. There is a new ritual, new prayers, there are bananas and juice instead of bread and wine, there are soulful songs on the stereo instead of hymns, and there is joy. There is so much joy here. And it is holy.

Everything is holy.

*not a hyper-christiany song...promise. I just love this song.

January 21, 2010

One Year

Zane turned a year old today.

I had planned a beautiful day of discovery and connection for us. I imagined cuddling and telling him stories from his birth and relating to him how long we waited and prayed for him to be with us and how utterly grateful we are that he has come into our lives. I imagined a peaceful, celebratory day.

Instead, much like his birth - it was all of that, but not at all how I planned it.

He woke up at 5am. An hour early. I sat in his room till 6am quietly "shhh"ing and trying to coax him back to sleep. At 6 we "woke" him with a big birthday song and hugs and kisses. Mr. Spicy brought him into our room and I nursed him and promptly passed out in exhaustion. Mr. Spicy was kind enough to let me sleep for an hour, but that meant I missed the "cake for breakfast" festivities I had so been looking forward to. I came downstairs to find a very happy little boy with cake crumbs all over his pj's. Very sweet.

Then, somehow Mr. Spicy and I managed to work ourselves into a stupid, nasty fight before he left for work and I was more than 30 minutes late getting Zane down for his first nap. Nice.

I had decided to take Zane to the National Western Stock Show in town after his nap, to pet all the exciting farm animals. Zane woke up a little extra clingy so we snuggled in bed for awhile which was delightful, but put us way behind schedule. I rushed us to the show, only to struggle to find parking that wasn't $20, and rushed us inside to see all the bunnies and chickens and horses and sheep and goats and pigs and llamas and donkeys.... oh my! Zane enjoyed the "petting farm" and desperately wanted to hold the bunnies, but we were both toast within 30 minutes. He was overdue for lunch and a nap, and I was way overstimulated.

So we rushed home with his favorite CD turned up loudly for distraction and upon arriving at our house, I locked our keys in the car. After calling Mr. Spicy for rescue, and being rescued by a kind neighbor, I finally got us inside, fed Zane quickly and rushed him upstairs to nap.

He woke up only 30 minutes later, hands in his mouth, complaining of teething pain. So, we snuggled in bed again and soon it was time to head out the door to take our dog to the vet for an urgent appointment.

Two hours later, we were finally leaving the vet with not so good news about our beloved pup. Zane was hungry again and I had a splitting headache. As we drove home I called Mr. Spicy.

"I feel like a total failure as a mom! I can't even manage to have a nice sweet day with my son for his birthday. I really needed this day to be special for both of us and instead it just feels rushed and stressful and it's all my fault!"

After some reassurance from my loving (and forgiving) husband, I made it home. And though I had planned to make a special meal and enjoy a family dinner around the table sharing stories and celebrating together, it was not to be. Instead, we sat on either side of his highchair, feeding him yet more cake, and two of his favorite veggies, watching in amazement as he picked up his spoon, dipped it into his cake, and brought it to his mouth as if he had been doing this all his life! We laughed with him. We told him how much we love him, how much joy he brings us. We talked about his birth.

Over peas and sweet potatoes, we celebrated. We toasted him with goat's milk. And we laughed. We laughed and laughed.

We laughed as we played "peek-a-boo", marching up the stairs to bath.

We laughed as he splashed and brushed his own wet hair in the bath.

We laughed as we prepared for bed and read our stories.

And just before he laid down to sleep we said our prayers and thanked God for this little miraculous boy and we told him once more just how very very happy we are that he is here.

Thank you, Zane for coming to make us a family. Thank you for being so thoroughly, entirely, uniquely "you". We love you so.

Happy Happy Birthday little man.

January 19, 2010

Mothering and Depression

Lately I have been full with thoughts, with words, with emotions. So full I can not seem to find a way to spill them out here, or anywhere else. But afraid if I don't somehow capture this time it will slip away, out of my mind, my heart, my memories. Afraid to forget.

Motherhood is a hard thing for me to write about. It is ripe with contradictions and cliches. Everything I have felt, or feel, is unique and at the same time completely mundane. The experience is mine, and not mine. It is my story, and the story of millions of other mothers who have gone before me, walk beside me, or will come after me. There is nothing new under the sun.

I have never before loved like I have loved my child. I have never willingly suffered as I have this past year. I have never been so full, so whole, and so empty and broken at the same time.

As we approach Zane's first birthday I find myself constantly looking back and looking within. It has been my first year as "Mama". I still feel new at this. I still feel like I am in training. Sometimes I still can't believe it.

I look at Zane and I can still see that newborn, still smell him. I can still see the first time he rolled over, can still hear his first laugh. I still feel that first kiss, the weight of him in the sling when he was so much smaller, his soft fuzzy baby chick hair. It is all still there.

I can also still feel the weight of sleep deprivation, the frustration and anger of waking for the fifth time in a night, the pit of darkness that swallowed me in the worst nights of depression. I remember the thoughts that I was failing as a mother, that my husband and child would be better off without me, that I couldn't take it anymore. It is all still there.

Today, Zane is a toddler (or technically a "crawdler", if you will). He is rich with expression and opinion and independence. He is a delight, he is a challenge. He is my greatest joy.

Today, I am a Mama seasoned by my experiences, my small victories and failures, rich with both insight and questions, and filled with humility.

I have struggled with post-partum depression more often and to a greater depth this year than I have had the strength or courage to admit here, or to many people in my life. There were 3-5 months that felt like I was walking through darkness, feeling my way. There would be patches of light, of hope, and beautiful wonderful moments, whole stretches of days when I would breathe fresh air and feel the sunlight and love my life. But then a few rough nights without sleep, travel, illnesses, or various other disruptions would send me back into the cave.

Looking back, I have a lot of regrets. I miss those months, weeks, days, hours, that ppd took from me. I am sad that although I fought hard to be present and whole with my son, I know I didn't fully experience him in the ways I longed to. I know I missed a lot of moments. I regret that I couldn't or wouldn't be more open with people who love me, or even just here for starters. I am sad that sometimes those who did know weren't always able to be there for me in the ways I needed, or just didn't understand. I regret that I wasn't always able to receive the help from those who did know and understand and wanted to be there for me. I wish that such a large portion of my first year as a mother and Zane's first year of life wasn't tainted by my illness. I wish I didn't still feel like I failed somehow.

All that being said, I have a lot I am grateful for and proud of as well. I am thankful that my partner and I (and a dear friend who watched Zane every week) made it possible and a priority that I had time with a kind and experienced therapist every week, which was truly life-saving for me. I am grateful for the night shifts my partner took so that I could get the sleep that was so crucial to my recovery. I am humbled by the prayers and support of an estranged friend who fought her own long battle with ppd. I am proud that even in the depths of the darkest hours, I fought hard and for the most part was able to stay present with my son, to celebrate him, to comfort him, to play with him, to teach him, to be consistent - and that when I felt unable to do so, I stepped away to recompose myself to come back to him more whole. I cherish that my son is so obviously well-adjusted, secure, and filled with joy and adventure, in spite of my depression.

I know there is no guarantee that my ppd won't resurface. I know for a fact that I still have much work to do to fully heal. But, for now, I am grateful to feel this recent freedom from it. I am looking forward to the year to come. And whatever regrets I have about the year that has passed, I look at my son, and I know I have mothered him well, as well as I am able. I know without a doubt there is nothing I would not do to be a good and healthy mother for him. That is by far the biggest accomplishment of my life thus far. I am reminded that there is far more good in me and a greater capacity to love than I have ever given myself credit for.

Motherhood is a long journey. This was just my first chapter. What a way to start.

January 01, 2010

Small Miracles

Happy New Year!

So much to reflect on, so much to celebrate and acknowledge. In many ways the best and hardest year of my life. I hope to explore this more in the days and weeks to come.

But tonight I just want to share a few moments and mini-miracles from our holidays.

Today I caught my 11 month old son carefully unloading the dishwasher, piece by piece, placing each utensil carefully and directly into the garbage can. A year ago he wasn't even here (at least not on the outside). Now I see this toddler standing before me, wide-eyed and full of adventure. This feels miraculous and wonderful. I truly cannot wait for the moments to come.

Today, during bath time, I noticed my son standing in the tub beginning to poop (again). Without a single thought I quickly reached out and caught it in my hand. My husband and I laughed and he chuckled, "Wow, you really are a mom!"

On Christmas Eve, in bleary-eyed sleep exhausted hopefulness, I mentioned to my husband that perhaps we would receive a Christmas miracle and our son would sleep through the night, finally. He slept a record nine and a half hours straight that night to our complete bewilderment and gratitude.

We have embarked on actively shaping Zane's sleep habits with the intent of helping him to sleep through the night and fall asleep on his own (we are using methods mostly from this book). Not only has he given us nights of ten and a half hours of sleep (new record) and seven hours of sleep (literally unheard of in months!) but tonight, after our bedtime ritual and kissing him good night, I sat in our rocking chair and watched my baby quietly and peacefully fall asleep on his own without a single tear. This feels like a miracle and a place I nearly stopped believing we would ever see. I am so proud of him, and of us.

We are all embarking on a new chapter together. A new year. A new decade. I feel hopeful and blessed.

2010....bring it on!