Gendered Pain: A Free Write on Birth, Partnership and the Woman’s Body

There’s nothing sexy about pain.? There’s nothing even remotely redeeming, glorified, cute, or remarkable about pain.

I came into this realization quite quickly Sunday morning when I was dressing Isaiah for mass. I began lowering him to the floor, felt a horribly familiar pop! in my lower back and I immediately recognized that telling radiating heat that spread throughout my lumbar region as I fell on one knee. Isaiah screamed in my ear as he harmlessly wobbled back from me so he peer into my face to see what was wrong.? All he could see was my face going paler by the second and my breath quicken in short spurts and outbursts, trying to control the pain.

No.? No.? No.? No.? No.? No.? No.

Not again.? Not again.? Not again.? NOT AGAIN.

I just got back to the gym this week.? I just started getting back on the treadmill, back in the zumba studio, back for my first swim in the pool.? I just …

I just got over my back injury from last month.

Remembering my phone was in the inner pocket of my purse, I slowly walked to my purse on the ground and gently leaned forward.? I reached and immediately fell and screamed in pain.

I somehow got my phone, I don’t remember how.? (A friend told me that when her back went out, she blacked out from the pain.)? I remember feeling calmed by the smooth surface of my phone, thanking God it was charged and relieved that Nick was only 5 minutes into his day, ahead of me, and on his way to work.? I whispered frantically to Isaiah that everything was fine and threw him a toy as I winced in pain.? He hobbled away, whimpering at the site of his mother in such disarray and distraction.

I burst into tears and could barely get the words out to Nick, “My back…w-w-went ou-ou-out a-a-a-gain…”

It was at that moment that I retreated from the world, the pain was overwhelming, almost blinding.

A co-worker told me later she saw Nick walking on the street when he was talking to me, all dressed up for work, briefcase in hand, but in an unusual walking speed, “a near run” she told me.? So she stopped and offered him a ride to wherever he was rushing to.? “Home,” he said, “Leese threw her back out again.”

It’s hormones, my chiropractor told me yesterday.? All the hormones and chemicals that loosen the pelvis and back, readying the body to deliver a baby, are still in your body and, likely, the lumbar region isn’t as tight as it was before and isn’t as strong.? Doing household chores and lifting things can sprain, strain, and injure the lower back, says the doc.

All of this from hormones?? Still?? It’s been 14 months.

Hormones and chemicals can linger in your body, doc says.

A number of friends – all who have given birth in the past two years – have confided of their recent and surprising chronic lower back pain, some so severe that it prevents mobility.? Few have found comfort.? All have tried natural healing, gym trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists. This strange community of back pain mothers comforts me.

I toss two pills of Alleve in my mouth and tried to smile at Isaiah in the kitchen.? He put his chubby arms up for me to carry him and starts grabbing my clothes for leverage, like trying to climb a tree.? Nick immediately scooped him up and tries to cheer him up with a jolly, overly boisterous voice.? The shriek out of Isaiah’s mouth was one I could interpret instantly, “What’s the matter with you?? Why won’t you pick me up?”? He’s taken away from me and, out of nowhere, I have an image of him being taken away from me the moment he was born when all I wanted to do was hold him.? I shake my head, and gently stir the boiling orzo.

Is this what birthing mothers deal with, I asked my head as I stare at the back of Nick’s body.? His is so strong, so solid.? Simply clad in jeans and a white tshirt, Nick’s body looked beautiful to me; his wide and capable back seemed fearless.? His stride was fluid, like a complicated piece of piano music keyed effortlessly.? I look down at my body.? A staccato mess of surgeries, stretch marks, and my skin’s opinion of the pregnancy weight gain and loss. ? I see my scarred belly from three surgeries with another scheduled in the summer to fix an umbilical hernia.? My inner eye sees an exhausted and red lumbar region, a weakened lower back throbbing with stubborn stiffness.? It strikes me, with almost a pin needle acuteness, that Nick’s body hadn’t changed at all since we had Isaiah.? Nick’s body remained intact, with no incisions, no stretches, no torn anything.

I pause in that realization.

His tongue had never mistaken water for metallic liquid.? His nose never became so sensitive as to be able to detect the cleaning fluid on the floor of a grocer.? His heart ventricles never widened to allow more blood flow.? His calves and feet never swelled with unbearable water retention.? His chest never billowed with heart burn.? His mind never clouded with postpartum depression.? His nipples never cracked with pain so deep that his shoulders shuddered.? His skin never broke out in rashes.? He never vomited from anesthesia or used his foreman to protect a 6 inch abdominal incision against a winter chill.? He never had a catheter put in at the same time as a suppository while compressors pumped blood away from his legs.? He never had an abrasion in the back of his eye because the surgeons forgot to completely close and protect his eyes before surgery.? He never had to take pills to stop, prompt, or control a menstrual cycle.? He never felt a flutter of life in his belly or feel the hiccup of a new being inside his womb.

Because he doesn’t have a womb.

Nick did and does everything a parent could possibly do.? He transformed his emotions, his life, his commitments, and reformed his schedule to accommodate me and every little thing I needed throughout my pregnancy and birthing experience.? He respects anything I tell him or request.? Nick continuously and gladly lays in a metaphorical railroad track for me and our son.? If that’s what needs to happen, that’s what I will do, he says.

But in the confines of my bed, nursing this near paralysis, when I hear Isaiah’s laughter and Nick’s efforts to keep him occupied, I realize, with ringing clarity something that I could not have known or respected prior to going through it myself: our bodies are entirely different and our needs are entirely different.? My body endured all of this and my body cried differently than his. I knew this beforehand, but I never really Knew It beforehand.? Maybe my body never really cried until I became a mother.

So this difference between Nick and I exists.? It exists as sharp as a paring knife, as real as our love.? That difference – that my body changed while his did not – initially sprouted a rocketing resentment against anything him, society, and anyone else that didn’t Get It.? It = women’s bodies are a terrain that only we ourselves can travel.? It is not for anyone to lay laws upon.? It is not to be conquered, violated, disposed, or mishandled.? Along with the resentment, I also noticed a widening reverence for my body.? From which new life travels, the woman’s body is the canal to existence.? It is from our very bones, the calcium of our teeth, the marrow of our own breath that the woman’s body offers and sustains a new being.? The woman’s body is the epitome of automated self-sacrifice.? It is the ground zero of renewal — if the environment agrees that her life is valuable and the time to recover is respected.? We women, we give birth.? And we are also born into a new identity and a new body.

Give.? Birth.

Give.

Birth.

Are there two more powerful and daunting words in the English language?

But we women are also prone to set back and injury because of what our spines uphold.? Our bellies swell with life and our spines pull back to hold us up and in shape. Sometimes, though, the spine gives way and loses its strength.

Pain, whether it’s the lower back or elbow, or migraine, or menstrual, is a debilitating state of existence.? Not because of the physical pain itself.? It’s debilitating because chronic or severe pain draws our minds inward, incapable of fully giving of ourselves to anything or anyone else.? In pain, I become unlike myself.? I don’t unravel.? I do the opposite, I am mummified.? Most people, but especially me, are social beings.? I feel endorphins from conversation, laughter, and intellectual exchange.? However, in the confines of a bed and four walls, my spirit goes down.? My intellect goes dim and my emotions begin to go dark.? Swathed and cast in my own stillness and short breaths, pain dictates my freedom.? I no longer care about anything.? All that matters is finding a pain-free, mobile existence.? Which is why when I check all my social media outlets – email, Facebook, Twitter, newsfeeds, and listserves – I shake my head that the world is celebrating Mardi Gras and International Women’s Day.? I wish I had the energy to care.? I find all kinds of interesting stuff to read, but before my mind digests in the information, my back spasms again and I nearly drop my laptop in shock.

Pain draws us inward.

So for me, today, the one day (unfortunately) that calls women from all over the world to stand together, I lie in bed, with my eyes closed, waiting for relief.? Luckily, for me, I am certain of two things:

patience and writing can be worked on in bed

and

I do and can stand up for women’s rights and gender justice on a daily basis.? But right now, regaining my spiritual and psychological composure after a back injury and remembering the awesome capacity of a woman’s body seems like my fight for today.

Tomorrow it may be something else.

Birthing a New Feminism

On December 20, 2009, I gave birth to two things: a 9lb. 7oz son and a new feminism. It was the third time my reproductive organs had encountered surgical metal; twice to remove ovarian tumors and cysts and once to remove a breathing boy.

By nightfall, I was vomiting from the drugs administered to my body for my c-section. After an excruciating vomiting episode, my head hit my pillow in utter exhaustion and my newborn began to cry out of hunger.

I looked at my body. Like a meticulous and tedious film director wanting to capture every detail of a flowerbed with a camera, I surveyed every inch of my body. I started at my feet.

My legs were buzzing numb, still, from surgery. To keep from forming blood clots, my legs had been strapped to a pumping machine. Two pieces of plastic swathed my legs. They hissed when they squeezed my calves and lazily loosened after three seconds of tight holds. The noise prevented me from deep sleep and made my legs sweat.

A catheter was inserted. I saw the bag full of my urine with taints of blood. It was a horrendous sight.

The dressing over my surgical incision covered the most tender and vulnerable part of my birthing body, the exit wound of my baby.

An ugly red rash had exploded onto the top of my chest. Its bumps were just as unsightly as they were itchy. A reaction, maybe from the hospital gown? Or hormones?

My left hand was a splotchy mess from a messy IV insertion. Mounds of clear tape awkwardly held in a needle and dried blood itched under the surface. It was hooked to a machine, beeping and regulating my body. Bags of I don’t know what dripped into my arm.

My right arm held Isaiah as I tried to breastfeed him. His desperate attempts to latch on were beyond painful, but with the help of countless nurses and my husband, he drank.

Gulped, really.

My normally brown face was gray with remnants of drugs and fatigue. No food. No water. Only ice chips. My water was taken away when I drank too much too soon and vomited into the pan again.

Later, to help stir bowel movements, an enema was inserted.

And I surveyed my body, every orifice of my body was either plugged, bandaged, bleeding, dry, or fatigued. And as Isaiah drank, my breasts ached with new agony, unfamiliar with this new demand of nourishment and, suddenly, as if my leg pumps, catheter, IV, and surgery scars weren’t enough, I began having more contractions. My uterus throbbed with an intensity that made my eyes close.

The hormones stimulated by breastfeeding will cause contractions. This will help your uterus descend and go back to its normal size.

And Isaiah’s latch intensified.

Never, in all the days of my life, had I ever undergone anything so life-giving. Never had I myself been so life-giving. Every part of my body was simultaneously healing and giving.

But I was in much pain. The lactation consultants were so beautiful and caring, I wanted to weep into their laps.

They gently touched, massaged, and handled my breasts. The nipples, swollen and red, screamed with pain at the slightest touch of a hospital gown. Maya, a middle aged woman from Russia, was sharp, informative, and decisive. Her teaching was fast, her hands careful, but her eyes were business. She recognized the pain, she knew how hard this was. Myra understood that I was thisclose to losing my sanity.

She understood that while the vagina or, in my case, the abdomen, was the door to life in the womb, it was the nipples that were the entry point of survival for my son.

The body, my body became a poem, a poem of survival.
______

I stayed in the hospital room, save two hours to walk down the hall for a parenting class, for four days straight. My dreams were in neon and my breasts were engorged. What I remember about that period in my life was how unbelievably gentle and kind people can be when you are in pain.

Briefly, like a loose leaf lightly touching a windshield before moving on, I thought about Feminism. Now a mother. Never again like before. Never just I.
My life just took the most radical turn. That morning I had made myself chocolate chip pancakes. Six hours later, I was a mother. Everything had changed in the blink of an eye. And in that change, I came to a realization that there were two kinds of feminism. The Feminism of issues and the feminism of our lives.

I realized the Feminism that is perpetuated in mainstream and mainstream-like media is not the feminism of our lives. It is the feminism of commerce. It is the feminism that picks and chooses the winners and losers, the visible and invisible, and accessible and ignored. It chooses what will sell and what sells focuses on status climbing, material wealth, and westernized independence. Things that bring pleasure, not transformation.

The Feminism that has stepped on the backs of women of color and ignored the backs of trans and disabled women is the Feminism that camouflages itself with diverse panels and collectives but neglects to modernize its definition of social liberation in the era of digital media. It is the feminist theories stuck in the academy with no implored action. It is the round table discussions reserved for annual conferences that result in no true connection or building blocks.

This is the Feminism that has the time and luxury to ask leisure questions such as, “Why don’t you identify as feminist?” and “Where are all the women of color bloggers?” The same Feminism that circulates the energy over the same privileged circle of the educated, the employed, or as I call it, “the Sames;” the ones who stand an inch into the outskirts, banging on the “equality” door but who also ignore the women whose heads are in toilets cleaning their bathrooms or nannying their children.

This is the Feminism of fruitless banter and recycled conversations. The space to bring these issues up could be a hopeful sign of progress, however, the repetition of those conversations and the predictable accusations and defenses serve no other purpose than keeping the pendulum swinging in balance. Aka, the status quo.

This is the same Feminism that haunts the academy and academic support offices such as Women’s Centers and elite conference gatherings. The conversation of the privileged becomes priority over decision-making. Consciousness-raising is imperative for transformation, but it cannot begin and end with questions. There must be forward motion, however slight.

Simply putting 50% of women into anything male dominated may alter the demographic, but that’s not necessarily transformative. Putting a woman’s face where a man’s once was, without any sort of critical change, is not equality but appeasement. And before Linda Hirshman takes that quote of mine again out of context, let me explain further.

The purpose of feminism is to end itself. Andrea Dworkin called it one day without rape. Others have other land posts measuring feminism’s victory. The purpose of feminism is to one day find ourselves where we don’t need to fight for human rights through the lens of women’s oppression. Note: I didn’t write that the purpose is to bring down the man. The purpose is not to have a female president. The purpose is to transform the infrastructure that holds kyriarchy in its place. Replacing men with women – of any race, ethnicity, creed, or ability – who refuse to acknowledge the insidious and mutating face of gender oppression is not forward stepping. It’s a perpetuation of history.

And so the question comes: how invested are you in the liberation of women?

Because if you agree that the liberation of all women carries more weight than the identification as a liberal feminist, the feuds over whether feminism is dead becomes irrelevant. The uproar should be about dying women, not a dying Feminism.
_____

There was something so entirely miraculous about those four days in the hospital. I witnessed myself birth life. Bones from my bones. Blood from my blood. Life from my womb, I brought a person into the world. From two, I grew my family to three.

This awesome mystery/reality settled itself in bits and fragments.

My father told me that the birthing woman is different afterward. Her power is different. She herself is different.

My power is different.

For months, nearly everyone I encountered – friends and strangers alike – offered their opinion on what parenting should and would be for me. It was in that hospital room, where Nick slept uncomfortably on the couch without shaving and I, hooked to monitors and machines, understood a profound difference.

Parenting is the responsibility that we both shared. Together. It would be the late nights of feeding, rocking, and soothing that we’d walk together, he and I. But mothering, becoming a mother, was an entirely different bond. To me, motherhood is a yearning helplessness. Yearning to love more, yearning to teach better, yearning to make the world right – however impossible that might be. And recognizing that impossibility often made me cry.

I suddenly had this crazy urge to clean up the world for my son. I needed to organize.
___________

The feminism of my life unfolded in a love story that resulted in the birth of my son. Gathered at my bed was my mother, the woman I’ve thought of and written so much about. The woman who I have processed more than any other human I’ve met. My father kept stroking my hair and muttering concerns over my state.

The feminism I had begun to build was a house of love that no longer shunned my parents out of frustration, but embraced our difficulties and disagreements. Filipino culture was not something I needed to understand to live, it was something I needed to live out.

Nick held the can for me while I vomited. He wore scrubs and, in the delivery room, wore a surgical mask. The shade of the scrubs made his hazel eyes deep green. I saw him between hurls. I saw my son. Our son.
____________

Anything that I would dedicate my life to had to include, even demand, men. It may prioritize the lens of women’s experience for the liberation of all, but men had to be there. Where was I going without my son? What was I creating if not for him? I didn’t want to go where my family would not belong. It no longer made sense to separate myself and be alone. There was no division between the world I wanted to build and my son’s participation in it. I wanted freedom. Mine and his.

The Feminism of issues serves its purpose well. It informs us of the problems. But we’re more than issues, are we not? Isn’t our life worth more than the issues?

The feminism of our lives is the story of love, survival, testament, death, and epitaph. It is what we dedicate ourselves to and what we will pass on as truth to our children. Whether or not we identify as “feminist” is a sandbar to the oceanic movements of feminisms.

In my community, there is so much work to do, so much silence to break, that for the brief minute of a life where I get to use my voice, I am not going to expend my breath on explaining whether or not I identify as feminist. And the back-breaking work of so many women and men who never use the word feminism is not qualified or standardized on the arbitrary use of the word either.

The awareness matters. The intentional work toward eradicating inequality matters. The feminisms of my life matters. The use of the label does not.

Listen. Listen closely. Can you hear it?

The revolution will not be a movement. It will be Birthed.

Control

My wonderful mama has flown in from Virginia to stay for a weeks with us so she can help out with Isaiah. I never appreciated another set of hands around the house so much in my life. You’d think that between Nick and I, we’d have everything under control.

Shatter those expectations right now. There’s no such thing as control when you’re learning how to be a parent for the first time. Quite the opposite, you’ll find that nearly everything is actually OUT OF CONTROL.

For example – let’s take the bathroom.

Once the pride and joy of our house when we got a few things redone, but since Isaiah has come along, it has evolved into a banished and neglected corner on the second floor. It is in such dire need of a cleaning that even NICK said something about how we need to get control of that thing. By “thing,” we’re talking about the overdue scrubbing of the tub. Our BRAND NEW tub that we’ve neglected for months now.

Control is a funny illusion of life. We THINK we know what’s around the corner because we anticipate problems, we logically hypothesize the risks and factors of every decision and, understandably, wait for the expected outcome.

Remember, though, that an illusion is something that appears to be real. It presents itself as something actual, something tangible, but it is, in fact, not.

It’s like how I believe I have Isaiah’s schedule in control and then, out of nowhere, he decides he’s bored out of his mind and wiggles like crazy for an hour. He’s fed, dry, and not tired. He’s just wiggling. Wiggle, wiggle.

He wiggles out of his bouncer, he wiggles off the blanket on the floor, he wiggles out of my arms, he wiggles to the corner of the couch. And I think, “I can’t control this boy.”

Ah HA! Parenting lesson #827462 – NO CHILD IS UNDER OUR CONTROL, PARTICULARLY CHUBBY NEWBORNS.

And thus Nick and I feel out of control at times. We do our best to stay in routine, not make any plans and be nerdy 30-somethings with no lives outside our jobs and domestic responsibilities that include trips to Home Depot. We have learned that control is, quite frankly, laughable.

I thought I had control of nursing Isaiah and yet, still, every stinking week, something comes up. This week, for example, I developed a low grade fever on Sunday. My leg muscles were achy and my whole body was sore. I couldn’t believe I was sick. Considering how neurotic I’ve been about washing and/or sanitizing my hands every time I touch an unsterilized door knob, I didn’t think I’d catch any bug.

And as it turns out, I was dehydrated. I kept drinking waterbottles full of H20 and didn’t have to pee at all. Miraculously (insert sarcasm there), the next morning my fever broke. I kept drinking and drinking and by the early afternoon, I felt as fine as a shiny new button.

How could I forget to increase my water intake? Nursing, working out, the weather is *just* beginning to warm up…hello? Water? More of it?

Before I admonished myself too harshly, Nick shared a story with me that made me feel oodles better…

The other night Nick woke up in the middle of the night because he heard Isaiah on the monitor. Nick thought Isaiah was just fussing around but he still got up to listen to the monitor more closely. He was alarmed, though, when he realized that Isaiah’s breathing was making an irregular high pitched squeak, like he was having trouble breathing. As he started to move quickly toward the door, concerned that maybe Isaiah was sick or in a bad sleeping position, he noticed that the high pitched noise was moving with him, despite he was growing further and further away from the monitor.

“It was my own breathing,” Nick told me. “It was my own freaking nose that was making those noises. I couldn’t even distinguish my own self from a baby monitor.”

Mhm. That’s bad, babe, I thought.

So, you have a dehydrated and dizzy mom and a dad who can’t hear his own nostrils.

Perfect.

The Irony

Writing, for me, serves many purposes. Not only is it my passion, my center, my lifelong dream and goal, writing is also cathartic. When I write, it always relieves something. It helps me share the good. It also helps me release the aggravation.

Today, I am writing for the latter.

It is my first taste in understanding how parents can simultaneously love their child and also want to run away to Bora Bora alone and get lost in the beauty of the ocean, away from screaming cries and milk stains and the smell of diapers and the sight of bad eczema.

Today Isaiah was a complete paradox. After sleeping through the night consistently for over a month (I know, I know – we’re incredibly blessed and I shouldn’t be complaining), he didn’t last night. He WAH!ed and AIGH!ed for an hour while I tried everything to calm him down, but…to no avail.

He woke at 8am and was just as fussy. So I stripped him down to his diaper to look for any signs of…anything – rashes, bumps, bruises – signs of discomfort or hurt. Nada.

While he laid on our big bed squirming like a fish out of water with nothing but his diaper on, I couldn’t help but laugh at how adorable he looked. His pure smooth skin (except his face where he has eczema, poor guy) and fat rolls…he looked like an enormous human cinnabon, just ready to be eaten. So I leaned over and teased him, calling him my favorite pumpkin and gave him a friendly zerbert on his stomach.

And thus came Isaiah’s first laugh.

3 hearty, adorable chuckles erupted from his tiny little mouth and I squealed in delight.

That was the highlight of the day.

The rest of the day he was either fussing, crying, yelping, or sadfacing. I was at my wit’s end and contemplated what Bora Bora looked like this time of year. I could hear it calling my name. Liiiiiisssssaaaaaa…LLLLLLLiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssaaaaaa

I was brought back to reality when Isaiah spit up on me for the fifth time.

It was a toss-up between me and his burp cloth for WORST SMELL IN THE LIVING ROOM. We both were covered in Isaiah’s regurgitation.

Of course it had to be a night when Nick worked late until 9pm. He walked in to find me on the floor, lightly bouncing Isaiah in his bouncer while his eyelids drooped closer and closer to a close. My other hand was stuffing dinner in my face because I hadn’t eaten in hours. Taking care of Isaiah required both hands all day. Food was secondary. By 9pm, I was so ravenous, I felt like I was going to eat a piece of old firewood laying in the fireplace. It looked like a hotdog at the time.

Luckily, I was able to scarf down dinner while Isaiah bounced around for a few minutes. Nick had barely entered the house when I announced that I needed to go upstairs and get my sanity back. “I’m going to take a shower. If you need me, I’m NOT available.”

It’s ironic that Isaiah’s first laugh came today when I spent most of the day near tears with Bora Bora dreams. Nothing, not even the promise of spring in three weeks could alleviate the stress of a restless baby.

And so, I write.

무료 바카라 게임Isaiah and Love

I am listening to Isaiah gulp down his milk.

He is in the other room with Nick. The strains of the television are loud, but they still cannot drown out the long sighs and squirms and squeaks of our little one. As I write this, though I cannot see him, I know he is draining his bottle, staring at the intricate patterns of the ceiling, and kicking his legs into the air.

Isaiah is 9 weeks old. Nick and I can scarcely believe it. I cannot imagine the level of disbelief I will be in when he is 9 months, 9 years or 19 years old. Those days will come, but for now, I just watch and observe my big little guy, chasing the winter blues away – which are so common for Clevelanders – with his rainbow wide smile and fat rolls on his wrists and ankles.

My father recently commented that from the photos I have taken of him, it’s obvious that Isaiah is the love of my life. And I couldn’t agree more. He’s the love of OUR lives – Nick and mine. Every little thing he does evokes a reaction from us that reminds me how I was when I was falling in love with Nick. All the tiny details of your beloved’s existence seem to burn into your memory. Nothing seems as interesting or intriguing as what is happening in their world. Life seems more exciting when you know you are going to see this person and when you see their smile…ahhhh, it’s like the world was just reborn, everything’s new and beautiful again.

Isaiah has moved the furniture in our hearts and has promptly and decidedly plopped his round little bottom into the middle of it. He takes up every inch we have of energy and attention, laughter and frustration, sleep and concern. This is the transition of parenthood, I assume. You begin to learn to live outside yourself. Love of self still continues, obviously (and necessarily), but the center of well-being shifts. It’s no longer contained in my life, it exists in this chubby 22 inch body who cannot do anything but need, cry, and wiggle. And somehow, incredibly, this person also delivers immeasurable joy.

Sweet Isaiah, these 9 weeks have been life-changing. Your father and I will never be able to adequately explain how nuts we are about you. I hope you know that you have introduced us to a new and deeper kind of love that we never knew before. Not only have you brought this love out of us for you, but it has also further deepened our love for one another.

Who Doesn’t Love a 4am Wake-up Call?

All the little things I never understood before about parenting, I am quickly beginning to understand now.

I used to look at parents of babies and wonder how in the world they can keep their head on their shoulders when a baby is crying like it’s the end of the world Answer: you get used to it.

At parties or gatherings of any sort, how do mothers simultaneously socialize, balance a plate of food in one hand, baby on the other arm, and smile? Answer: women are capable of anything.

Reuseable diapers seem like a good idea. Answer: They’re not.

Why do parents keep a million framed pictures of their babies? Isn’t one enough? Answer: You can never have too many pictures of Baby.

How do people wake up in the middle of the night to take care of the endless needs of a child? Answer: Hormones and Love.

I do believe there must be some sort of hormonal explanation for my newfound ability to meet 3 or 4am head-on. Seriously, I was the type of person who could sleep through hurricanes and thunderbolts, loud music and alarm clocks. Give me a chair, bed, reclining anything and I will sleep. On land or on a plane, I even fell asleep while floating in a friend’s backyard pool in highschool.

I used to boast my sleep agility stories like war vet stories. I’ve fallen asleep propped up against a wall in a dentist’s office. In the back of a truck on a bumpy dirt road. On someone’s shoulder in front of a campfire. IN FRONT OF AN AIRLINE CHECK-IN DESK THAT WAS REPEATEDLY CALLING MY NAME.

These instances are all true.

And now…

[le sigh…]

Now, one little meep or beep or squeak or tweek or gurgle or belch or cough or sniff or anything from my little one and my eyes are OPEN, head is rising off the pillow with one eye on the door the other enviously watching my dear spouse snore his life away into his pillow.

Isaiah has changed our lives. He’s brought us unimaginable joy and the wonderful gift of big and small laughs. E.g. Thinking about how he’ll probably be taller than me by the first grade or giggling over his tiny little toe peaking out from one of the sewn holes in a knit blanket.

There’s no further proof of the power of a first baby than the altered sleeping patterns of a night owl like myself.

Nick has a belief that the older one gets, the more prominent the true self becomes. For the most part, I firmly agree with him. However, my “true” self might be put on hold until Isaiah is 18 and away at college. Or my “true” self is permanently changed to reveal a mother who used to need a sledgehammer to the gut to wake up and now wakes at the slightest wind passing through the nursery. My “true” self loved sleep, so much so that I’d sleep through historical moments (the 2000 presidential election result/debacle) or natural disasters (tornado like conditions). Alas, my “true” self has changed. And that’s all due to my son.

Answer: I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Growing


I forgot to mention that on Isaiah’s last appointment, he got his Hepatitis B shot. Our awesome pediatrician, Dr. Cochran, grabbed one of his meaty thighs and stuck him with the syringe and pumped that stuff right into his little body. I watched his reaction.

Nothing at first and then the torture face appeared. Dr. Cochran promptly picked him and handed him to me. I wanted to wail out of pity for my sweet little pumpkin head but decided his tears were enough. I gathered him in my arms and he spit up all over me, old milk that was resting in his belly from breakfast and shot out of his mouth from being startled so suddenly.

After I secured him inside the folds of my arms, he quieted and I felt my first triumphant surge of motherhood. He stopped crying! I’m not only a milk machine to him, he is comforted by me. Well, I thought to myself, we do spend 19 out of 24 hours of the day together. The five hours are when I in the basement doing laundry, getting a shower, or sneak in a walk. All when Nick is available to watch him. With all that time together, he should be comforted by his Momma.

In other words, we’re bonding.

Isaiah’s smiles are increasing in frequency. Nick received his first dose of Isaiah’s ray of sunshine yesterday. It’s just adorable, simply adorable.

And if being covered in milk stains and learning quick diaper changing tricks isn’t enough excitement already, I must re-announce that my new website is still underway. I’ve been working with my webdesigner for months. The project has taken so long because of my pregnancy. It’s been a stop and go process, but we’re nearing the end. Two weeks or so from now, it shall be ready and shortly after that it will be unveiled.

So, remember that Notes from Home Plate will still be up and available, but, likely, I will cease writing on this blog in the next month or so and will shift my writing to the new website which will feature many different forms of writing and other issues in which I have vested interest. But don’t worry, you’ll still have a healthy dose of Isaiah updates and my poking fun at Nick.

As January trickles to an end and the world turns pink and red for February, I am in awe of how quickly time passes. My sweet boy is almost 6 weeks old! And as he grows out of his newborn clothes as quickly as the transforming Hulk ripped through his human clothes, our hearts are growing with him as he gains every ounce and stretches another inch.

Isaiah, nothing compares to you. Nothing.

Show Me That Smile

The weeks are flying by and I can scarcely believe Isaiah is already a month old. A month? A whole month? I can’t remember when time went so quickly. I have a feeling that it’s going to be like that a lot and soon I will be saying things like, “I can’t believe he’s crawling,” “I can’t believe he’s talking,” “I can’t believe he’s on a tricycle…”

I better reverse this whole, “I can’t believe…” because it’s all going to unfold eventually and I want to be able to soak up and enjoy every minute of it.

Isaiah is sporadically sleeping through the night. Last night he slept from midnight to 7am, which is highly unusual for someone so young, but I’ve given up worrying so I’m not frazzled by it at all. He’s getting chunkier every day (and cuter by the minute) and I have no worries about his weight gain either.

The most heart-melting moment this week happened yesterday. Isaiah and I had a long day together. We were cooped up in the house all day and he was just fussing for a few hours straight, not sleeping, constantly hungry, and bopping his head around like one of those bophead toys where the neck is a spring and the huge head swings in all directions. Finally, I fed him after having a long talk with him. Afterward, I looked down at his face. He was listening intently to my voice and, out of nowhere, gave me his first baby smile.

It wiped every irritated feeling out of my world and all I did was melt into his little face.

He smiled.

A real smile, not a muscle reflex or little side lip curl – it was his entire mouth widening into a big adorable upside down rainbow.

Suddenly, I wasn’t worried about anything and all was sunny in the world. There were no earthquakes in Haiti, John Edwards wasn’t a moron, it was the day before spring arrived, and a new batch of Rice Krispie Treats were waiting on the kitchen counter.

It was the quickest antidote to the world’s problems that I have ever encountered.

The first smile, so gentle, so NEW from my firstborn son was beyond uplifting.

Nothing, not even a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, could hold my attention after that And with delivering his first smile, he promptly fell into a deep 7 hour sleep, as if trying to give me rest when he knows he deprived me of it throughout the day. And this morning, he woke like an angel, barely crying, just cooing and grunting and then feeding with no problems.

Ahh, my little cherub…If only everyone had a newborn to love who gave their first smiles everyday, I firmly believe we would end all wars, disease, and corruption. Yes, new life is that powerful.