31 January, 2011

three years

dear cooper,

it's been three years. three years ago today my water broke while i was finishing teaching my 6th period class. i stood up to walk the kids out and i felt a gush. i ran to the restroom. my pants were soaked.

i had used a suppository to heal my yeast infection. it wasn't really a yeast infection at all. it's what dr. white at McGyno called it because she couldn't take the time to figure out what it really was. i didn't trust my body. so detached. i am so sorry, little baby. i followed doctors orders blindly. i will never do that again. this was your your first lesson for me.

i actually went home to change. and do laundry. and i came back to teach 8th period.

i had called the drs office but they put me on hold. typical. i hung up. they took so long. i figured i would call after school. this wasn't a big deal.

that's what i told your dad after school when i went to tell him about what had happened. he was about to get on a bus to go to a far away wrestling meet. he looked worried. i cried a little. but i said it was all ok.

i went home. called the doctor. they said to come right in.

that scared the shit out of me. they never made time.

grandmom drove me. i was nervous and terrified and tried to stay calm.
she was nervous and terrifed and tried to stay calm, too.

there was a lot of traffic.

they took me right in. i didn't have to wait.

i always waited. this scared me more.

the dr checked me. said she'd be right back. came back with an ultrasound machine.

your water broke. you have to go to the hospital right away. can someone drive you?

yes. my mom. how bad is this?

well. sometimes we can keep you pregnant a long time.


i ran out with my shoes half on. yelled at grandmom to hurry up we have to go to the hospital. i cursed at the receptionist as she asked for my payment. left my jacket there. called your dad from the car. he said he would get to the hospital. how i didn't know. but i knew he would.

my water had broken at about 1:30. by this time three years ago (about 8 pm) i had been checked internally at least three times. i regret that. they gave me morphine to keep the contractions away. i regret that.

i called the vice-principal to tell her i was in the hospital and hopefully i would be there a long time.

i figured you would stay inside until your lungs worked. then we'd be in the NICU. and someday you would come home healthy.

you had other plans.

i went to sleep that night with daddy squeezed in the bed next to me.
the next night we would do the same.
except you wouldn't be with us.
you would be downstairs in the basement in a plastic box dressed in a doll's outfit. cold and purple.
and daddy and i would lay there together with me crying so hard that it hurt. so hard that my eyes looked literally like i had been beaten in a dark alley somewhere. i would wake up wailing that you were gone. all night long.

the next morning. the morning of february 1, 2008 i began to have contractions. the day went by slowly. they moved me to l&d. they gave me an epidural. why not? you weren't likely to live. why should i feel that pain?

i am sorry. i regret that, too. i wish i had felt every second of it. every second of my experience with you. i was scared. and lacked knowledge.

i miss you.

the pediatrician came in to tell us about 22-weekers. you weren't likely to survive. did they want us to be aggressive? if you did survive you would likely have multiple handicaps. we had to give an answer.

no. don't be agressive. just let him go. i had to decide this about my baby. i had to say this out loud. this i do not regret.

i knew you, cooper. it wasn't your spirit. you didn't want that fight. you were here for a reason. and it wasn't to live that kind of life.

you were born at 5:04 that day. one pound six ounces. 12 inches long. tiny hands and feet. tiny ears. a tiny head. tiny knees. a strong heartbeat. strong little lungs.

not strong enough.

you were here breathing in my arms for about ten minutes. i held you and cried for you while daddy and aunt cole stroked your hair. we all cried.

i wish so much that i had known better. that i had done better for you. or at least that you had ben born here at home. in our bed. with meredith guiding you out. and no drugs. i wish i could have bathed you. and that you didn't have to wear that tiny hospital wristband. and that you could have slept with me all night long instead of in the cold darkness all alone. you were gone. you are gone. and there is not a day that i don't think about you.

you were such a tiny person. you had so many lessons for me. i have regrets and wishes. but i know that you had these plans for me. i know that it should not and could not have happened any other way. and if given the chance, i don't think i would choose for it to have happened any other way. i know that i am a better mother because of you. a better person. and that mason, your baby brother, is going to have a better life because of you.

i thank you. we all thank you, cooper.

but there isn't much i wouldn't do just to hold you one more time. to kiss you without tears.

28 January, 2011

being your mom

as you fell asleep tonight holding your rubber duck and plastic boat, i thought about what an awesome responsibility it is to be your mom. and i wasn't thinking about all of the typical stuff like having to make sure you are fed and dressed, and catching your puke as you throw up. i was thinking about the really important stuff. about nurturing your soul.

i believe that you, as i believe about your brother, chose me and your dad to be your parents. you knew you had things to teach us. in a short 16 months with us plus ten in the belly, you have already taught me countless lessons. you and cooper are our buuddhas.

you are not what i imagined when i imagined having a baby. for some reason i imagined an easy-going baby who would snuggle up with me and just be happy to be held. you are not that baby. you are curious and full of energy. it seems you are never still. not even in your sleep. you only now are beginning to let me hold and snuggle you. you demand that i respond to your needs often before i have had the chance to hear what it is you are trying to say. you want everything that you want five seconds before you communicate it. you are an excellent communicator. you learn faster than i can even keep up with. it's almost as if i hold you back sometimes. even with your tiny legs i often find myself literally running to keep up with you. you have been this way since birth.

obviously then, i am not the mother i imagined. i am more patient than i thought. i care less about a clean house than i thought i would. i allow you do do things i never thought i would. i have plans for us that i never imagined i would have. i follow your lead. when you don't want to put pants on, for whatever reason, i don't make you put pants on. when you want to dump the cheerios all over the floor, i let you. and then i laugh as you stomp them into the rug. i wear wrestling head gear around the house because you ask me to.

i imagine that as you get older i will be even more "lenient" with my "discipline" techniques. i hope that i will be able to sit back and watch you bloom into the miraculous human being that you already are. you are already everything that you will be. i just have to let it happen.

i was reading in a book that raising children is much like planting flowers. the flower is already there. it just has to grow and bloom. you have to care for it, but you have no power to change it. i am so thankful that i am the one who gets to care for you and to watch you bloom.

i only hope that i am able to keep my own story, my own tape recordings about what is right and normal, out of your way. your dad helps me with this. well, he tries to. but i know as you grow, you will stand for nothing less. i know that you will help me stay out of your way as you teach me your lessons, and as i tend to your very big - soul.

21 January, 2011

crying it out

i just finished getting you to sleep. it took a little longer than usual. but you are sleeping soundly for now and i am watching your sweetness on the monitor. there has been a heated debate on one of our friends facebook pages about the "cry-it-out" method of getting babies to learn to sleep on their own. sleep through the night, that is.

i have been hesitant to blog about crying it out. i started a post months ago but never went through with it. it's a touchy subject. we have many friends who have used the techniques of ferber or gary ezzo and other like-minded (mostly) men who want to make millions helping moms get some rest.

and while i love these friends, i do not agree with some (or, for some of them, any) of their parenting techniques. i didn't want to enter the debate with them, because let's face it, i am sure these same friends have lots of feelings of their own about the way i parent you. and just because we disagree, that does not make them bad parents. everyone does the best they can with the knowledge they have.

but inspired today by our good friend, who was brave enough, and antagonistic enough, and humorous enough, to post as her status on facebook that she is sickened by the cry it out technique, i figured why not say what i think. i am sure many of you reading this will become infuriated. many of you will agree wholeheartedly. my intent is not to create strife, but to simply share my feelings and to maybe sway someone who has not yet been swayed by ferber, or worse, ezzo to a more compassionate way of getting babies to sleep.

i have been raising you in a way that some people say is weak or wishy-washy. too lenient. that i let you rule the roost. that i have created a monster who wants to be held all of the time. these are all things i have actually been told, with smiles, of course, as if these people were joking.

my parenting style is based on trying to see the world from a child's eye. from your eyes. you, who want nothing more than to be near me. to feel my breath. my heartbeat. it's all you had known for months in the womb. i was all that you had to trust in this new and probably, at times, frightening, world. and yes, i hold you a lot. i love to hold you. i can't imagine ever regretting that. and i can't imagine ever regretting all of those minutes and hours i have spent lying next to you as you peacefully fall off to sleep.

in the beginning i stressed a lot because you cried all the time. all. the. time. if you weren't crying it was because you were nursing. or sleeping. but you didn't sleep much during the day so you cried a lot. and nursed a lot. i read a lot. this was early on before i trusted myself as a mother. i read books by mostly men about how to get you to sleep like a normal baby. i worried that you wouldn't thrive because you weren't sleeping enough. i couldn't make plans to do anything because you cried all the time. i couldn't go anywhere.

all of my other friends seemed to have it so much easier. their babies slept. they were on schedules. they had cried-it-out.

i tried it once. well actually three times. three naps started with you screaming. you never cried for more than six minutes. i couldn't take it any longer than that. i did all i could not to pick you up after six seconds. i was always right there patting your bum or your belly and shhh-ing you. and telling you i loved you. i will never NEVER forget the look on your face as you looked up at me with tears and red cheeks. your eyes bulging out of your head. reaching your arms out for me to pick you up. it makes me sick and sad to remember it. you were about seven months old. you had only napped on my lap, in the carrier or on my breast. people said i was ruining you. that it was good for him. that it was good for me is really all they meant.

i didn't trust myself. so i did this to you. and i will never forget it. and i will never forgive myself. i look forward to the day when i can tell you how sorry i am. and you can understand.

that last time i did it i scooped you up and apologized. i told you that i would never do that to you again. i held you tight and you fell right to sleep. and i have never done it again. and i never will. if that means that i nurse you to sleep and back to sleep throughout the night until you are three and a half years old, that's what i will do. if it means that when you are nine or twelve i still have to pat your back so you will fall asleep, then i will.

i don't worry that you will never learn to sleep on your own. i don't worry anymore that you are in danger of anything because you don't sleep through the night. after all, i haven't slept through the night in years and years. who has? i do fear that the stress that i caused you as you reached for me screaming did cause you harm. i will never know for sure.

what i am sure of is that once i started trusting myself and doing what felt good and right, you were happier.

12 January, 2011

the video monitor and other things

so my video monitor just died. the video monitor i never thought i would need. or want. or use. the video monitor that we got from our awesome friend, and my mommy guru, lisa. i love the damn thing. though the sound sucks. it makes static noise a lot. and it's a tv monitor so i can't bring it with me anywhere. and i am pretty obsessive, so if i need to go into another room for anything, i run.

our house is small. i mean really small. i can hear you from wherever i am. but i like to get to you before i hear you. before you have to cry. so i see you stir on the monitor and i run.

right now i am in your room while you sleep in our bed. i am right next door so i can get there quick when i hear you cry for me.

i just got done looking online for a new monitor. i checked with aunt kaye-dee to see if they have it in her store. they do. so we will be getting a new one tomorrow. a digital hand-held color monitor. (luckily we still have enough left from grandmom and grandpop's generous monetary christmas gift.) funny how i am desperate for something i never thought i would need...

..which is the opposite of many of the other things i purchased or asked for but later realized i would never use. many of these things i had my reservations about, many were purchased out of desperation when all you did was cry, many were on a whim because you seemed to like something for a moment in the store.

so some advice for my future mom friends who think you may be a bit like me when you are a mom, take my advice and buy the video monitor. make it a color, digital, handheld monitor. splurge for the best. and forego the crib, the co-sleeper, the nursery bedding, the swing, the exersaucer (go for the jumeroo instead, not both!), and the stroller. you don't need a shopping cart cover because baby needs germs. i also never got the infant car seat, and therefore no need for a travel system, and if you aren't going back to work early on don't get the breast pump or any bottles at all, no food processor or anything because baby-led weaning makes sense, no baby bath tub because babies like bathing with their mommy or daddy best of all.

do get an ergo baby carrier. a moby wrap and/or a baby k'tan. a maya wrap and have some good baby-wearing friends show you how to use them. get a king sized firm mattress and put it on your floor. and make sure you read the womanly art of breastfeeding from cover to cover in your first days while baby naps. and yes, it is possible to nap when baby naps. the house will survive the dog hair. the sink will survive the dishes. spend your time bonding with a naked baby. be attached. so baby can attach.

and then sometime when you are ready to sneak away from baby while he or she sleeps in your bed, you will have that baby monitor to carry with you when you have to pee.