How cute is this little pumpkin?! This picture captures his personality perfectly. He has Matt's temperament - he wakes up happy and bright-eyed, wondering what's for breakfast. Also he gets super cranky when he has to wait to eat.
I know it's crazy. Completely insane, even. Plus, a it's a little last minute. But still. I want to invite you to join me in the madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
If you've ever thought about writing a book but always have good reasons why now is not a good time - you know, things like a job and a life ... If there's a story that follows you around, a character that lurks in the shadows of your mind, ducking away at the site of bills, making dinner and running errands but comes back and haunts you from time to time - this is your chance to throw caution (and reason) to the wind and explore the story inside you. It is an exhilarating, crazy-fun rush to participate in this writing contest/challenge.
Last year, I decided to do it at the last minute and was successful in completing the challenge of writing a 175 page, 50,000 word manuscript. And then, I'm sad to report, it mostly sat in various piles around the house.
Sam was home for a week when I got an email from the NaNoWriMo organizers in the area with a countdown to this year's contest and I got to thinking I'd like to do it again. It's sort of addictive. And the best way to be a writer is to write, right? So I mentioned to Matt that I was thinking about doing it. He gave me that look and then explained that he's super supportive of my writing, but am I sure taking this on with a newborn is my best bet?
Good point. But I couldn't completely let it go. I was so motivated by the challenge last year and don't want to miss out on another opportunity to participate in living my dream. So I decided to revise things a bit. Sure, it's breaking the rules a little, but I'm responsible for opening the doors to my dream and actually stepping through them.
This year, my goal is to use the contest as an impetus to FINISH the novel I started last year. I mean totally and completely finish it. Because my plan is to start mailing it to agents by November 30th. That is my NaNoWriMo goal this year. (Never mind the fact that it's taken me all day to write this one post!)
So, who's with me?
Okay fine. I'll tell you. I am going out of my mind. I knew I was starting to unravel at the vet's office when I was told that after spending $300, my Lucy Baby might need surgery which would be another $1,500. I started crying when I asked the vet if I can make payments and then I felt like puking because I realized we hadn't even started making payments for Baby Sam yet and that's to the tune of $8,000. We've yet to see what insurance will pick up but I'm praying hard, holding my breath and crossing my fingers just in case. I suppose God would prefer I just pray and let it go, but hey I'm working on that.
As I walk in the door, I hear Sam screaming. He'd just started, but I didn't know that and started running up the stairs with Lucy Baby in tow. She's not supposed to be running and as she hit the fifth step she starts crying out in pain. So within seconds, we're all having a friggin' meltdown and my mom is shaking her head.
"I'm not sure who I should help first," she smiles at me and reminds me to take a deep breath.
I do not understand how this tiny little person can be so demanding and all-consuming. It's not like I'm even asking him to tie his own shoes or anything, just let me finish one, maybe two things from start to finish on my to do list for the love of God!
He is however, still adorable with an awesome little personality. We're going to try something new tonight to improve the whole sleeping thing. He seems to love to sleep in his nursery. And really, who wouldn't? It's all serene and calm in there as opposed to our bedroom which is currently a feng shui nightmare. I'm going to let him sleep in his crib and use the monitors we got and hope I hear him when he needs me.
Highlights this week: (oh, it's only Monday?) Lucy Baby is hurt, we're taking her to the vet tomorrow in hopes that for $40 we find out she's just fine.
Baby Chi Chi is official with an insurance card and social security card arriving in the mail today.
And he gained a pound in a week allowing me to cross "is he getting enough food" off my list of things to worry about.
Also, Baby Chi Chi finally lost his sick little umbilical cord. I hated that thing. Is it wrong that I thought it was ugly? And too fragile? Especially at the end there when it was hanging on by one microscopic vein. I asked Dr. K on Friday if he couldn't just twist it off and be done with it.
"Uh, no. That's a vein."
We're pretty sure they've started the DHS file on us already.
Especially after the collarbone incident at the hospital. Just before he came into the world, there was an extremely loud cracking sound. So everyone tells me. I somehow missed it. All I knew was that all of a sudden the nurse who was so calm and gentle all 22 hours of labor suddenly sprung into action and was literally pushing on my stomach as if trying to press the baby out. Turns out, that's exactly what she was doing. Baby Chi Chi's head was out and his shoulders got stuck which of course lends itself to some quick action on the part of the medical team. I was just glad that everyone seemed to finally be pitching in to get this little guy OUT.
Anyway, the doctors determined the extremely loud cracking sound was either his collarbone or my pelvis. So here my little boy is born, I'm all smiles and tears and trying to process the doctor telling me they are going to need to do an x-ray.
"Well, does he really need an x-ray? I mean, how important is his collarbone right now? What does he need it for exactly?"
I didn't mean it the cavalier way it came out. I just figured they couldn't do anything about it anyway and he seemed to be moving his arms just fine. As the nurses eyed me, Matt quickly intervened and said of course we're concerned too and would like to make sure that everything is okay with our new baby.
The good news? His collarbone is just fine. Which leaves me in a little bit of extra pain, but hell, what's a little crack in the pelvis? Just add it to Baby Chi Chi's tab.
This was never clearer for me than last weekend when I was in labor with my first baby. And if there is a baby # 2 in my future, I will do things very differently next time. I will do them based on what is best and right for me, not what I think I should do based on the belief system of others. Or even worse, my perception of what others think I should do.
I’ll explain. So my contractions were hard and five to three minutes apart for 15 hours before I finally called UNCLE and gave in on the epidural. And I have nothing but love in my heart for the anesthesiologist who delivered that sweet relief without mentioning that it would’ve been better for everyone involved had I decided to do it much earlier in the evening.
When I was first asked how I felt about pain medication during labor, my answer was: bring it on! In fact, I figured I’d better score some street drugs to bring with me in case they tried to feed me the ol’ “sorry it’s too late for the epidural” line. But, a few of my friends recently had their babies “all natural” and the lady who taught our stupid baby class was all about breathing through the pain and actually convinced me that I could do it without the meds. A completely novel idea for me. So I developed a wait and see attitude about the whole thing. Until the morning of. Then, for some reason it was like I had something to prove. But to who? Like I said, after 15 hours into it with no clear end in sight, I finally looked at my husband and told him there was no way in hell I could keep doing this without help.
“So get the epidural already. Why are you so against it all of a sudden?”
“I don’t know. Owwww. I just thought that if other people can do it without one so can I.
And I can tell the nurse and the doctor think I should keep going without one.”
“First of all, who cares what anyone else thinks! And second of all, you went a long time without it. You need a break.”
After I asked the nurse to call the anesthesiologist, the blood pressure cuff on my arm tightened more than it had all day.
“She’s mad at me.”
“The nurse. She was so nice this whole time and now she’s trying to squeeze my arm to death.”
I was surprised later when the nurse told me that when she has a baby, she’s planning to have an epidural early on to avoid the hours of agony she watched me go through. Oh. And the doctor said she was glad I gave myself a break because the rest helped me get through the next 9 hours of labor.
If I truly wanted to have an all natural labor and delivery, that’s one thing. But I didn’t. I was doing it to fit into some idea of who I thought I should be. I was trying to push myself beyond my personal limits to match a stereotype of who I thought I should be. And it cost me a lot of agony and anguish for my partner who didn’t understand why I was torturing myself, and frankly him for making him watch me suffer. And sure, hundreds of women go through what I did without the meds and they do just fine. And that’s great. For them. For me, if there’s a baby #2, well, we’ll see how it goes.
I really thought there would be more multitasking opportunities. Not so much. And that's with my mom here to help! The other day we decided to go to Safeway. Who knew what a big outing that would turn out to be? So at 9 a.m. we decided to head into town. First I had to feed and change the baby, get myself dressed, check the diaper bag for wipes and then I'd be ready. No problem. It was noon when we pulled into Safeway, 7 miles from home. I will never be on time again. Okay, fine. I will have a good excuse for continuing my habit of always running a bit behind schedule. Also, there is no more schedule. At first I liked charting when he ate, pooped and peed because it is a chart and who doesn't love charts? Now I like the idea because it's an accounting for what the hell I did all day. Of course, I've stopped charting because who has time for that?
Good thing he's so damn cute because I spend a lot of time staring at his cute little mug! And marveling at the changes already. Matt said it best last night as he held him, "How can you already be the most interesting person I know?"
I'm sure it's not that Sam hates me, but he's really good at testing my patience already. What's really fun is when he gets to crying like he's the most neglected kid on Earth, always in the middle of the night and I'm doing all I can to console him but none of my tricks work. So tears are streaming down my face, I'm still bleeding and is that really milk dripping down my body? Oh my God it is. Shh.Shh. Shh, I sooth. When that doesn't work I whisper, "Come on, buddy! This is how babies get shaken. Don't make mommy loose her mind." And even though I'm joking, I feel guilty for understanding how some people loose it. I'm obviously not advocating baby killing but just saying that it is not all coos and cuddles. But I am still convinced it's worth it. Despite the gross stuff, the labor and delivery business and the aforementioned scenarios, I am loving being a mom. Sam's mom in particular. His personality rocks. Right now as I type this, he is nestled between my forearms - his back on the desk, head on my left arm, feet on my right, making strange sounds and farting away happily. Also his eyes appear to be following the words on the screen. Could that be damaging his eyes? I'll have to consult my Baby Book. One of the parents at my last job gave it to me, "What to Expect the First Year." I love it because you can look things up the way you're thinking about them: "eye, crust in" to determine if the gook in baby's eye is a sign of future blindness or just an undeveloped tear duct. So far the answer to everything I've looked up seems to be, "It's fine. It's normal. Go back to sleep."
P.S. Yes, that is a pacifier in the picture. And no, I don't want to hear why that's a bad choice. Because if you aren't in my bedroom at 2 a.m. helping me calm this kiddo down, you don't have a say. Now why can't I just say that to the stranger at Safeway, or the lady at the coffee shop?
I want to be the kind of person who is ready for anything. I was that kid in class who always had a pencil or extra paper to loan you. My mom wondered why I always needed new markers. It's cause I shared. With kids who pressed too hard and didn't always return them. So you'd think as an adult, I'd have a storm kit ready, right?
It was an especially stormy winter last year. Every month in my planner at the start of the month my list includes "make storm kit." Let's just say I'll be adding it to my list for things to do next month because this is what we used when the power blew out last year for hours:
Sam is a little rockstar! I love his personality. It is a huge challenge figuring out how to take care of him and the details of our lives at the same time. Lists and post-it notes will get us through, I'm sure. But, so far, so good. With some flexibility and ignoring a lot of other things, I met my first writing deadline a couple days after bringing Sam home. It reminded me of when I had my appendix surgery, obviously not planned, and I was on deadline for a big writing project. Matt stepped out of the room to get some food and when he came back he caught me finishing an interview so I could file my story from the hospital. I know it sounds extreme, but it's cool to be able to tell editors that I meet my deadlines and mean it.
It was also crazy and cool but I edited another story while I was feeding him. What an awesome job that I can work and take care of him at the same time!
A personal writing highlight for me was seeing that my blog column at ecometro.com is live now! I'm so excited about it and would love for you to check it out: EcoMetro and then it's under "Portland Blogs." The pitch I made for "Confessions of a Green Wannabe" was accepted. I should have a new post up every week. Shooting for Thursdays. There's some really great stuff on the site. I am stoked to be a part of it. Let me know what you think!