Thursday, August 23, 2012

What we remember.

Every so often, while in the company of Emilia, I find myself thinking, “Someday, she’s going to look back on this moment and laugh, or smile, or stare wistfully out the window of her space mansion and remember Saturday mornings spent listening to Car Talk and picking dried cheese off the kitchen floor.”

But the truth is, she probably won’t. 

Not because she doesn’t want to, but because her brain is still developing and only just beginning to grasp the short-term. 

The window of time before age one is, as far as a baby’s long-term memory goes, a wash (a very awesome wash filled with milestones and my own wonderful memories, but still…). As I come to terms with the fact that these shared recollections are actually pretty one-sided, I’ve been reflecting on what my brain has held onto from the early days of my own childhood.  

This, in what may or may not be chronological order, is what I remember: 

1. Eating deodorant. It tasted like a cross between a dying houseplant and fondant. 

2. Finding myself facedown in the Ozarks’ cold, murky waters. I don’t know what the story is here. I’ve never asked, but I’m sure the reality was way less dramatic than the memory.

3. Shoving a dime into an electrical outlet. I was pretending it was a gumball machine. There were sparks. So many sparks. 

4. Bits and pieces of a few Pinwheel episodes.
These blurred memories have two things in common: 1) they all stem from negative and/or traumatic events (Pinwheel aside – that has more to do with a lifelong love of television), and 2) they all conclude with a harrowing rescue and the comforting reassurance of my mother. 

The memory of eating deodorant is immediately followed by the memory of my mom running in, gently removing the toxic snack from my hand, hugging me, and probably making a frantic call to poison control. She scooped me out of the water. She pulled me away from the sparking outlet. She spoke soothingly. She sat and watched Nickelodeon with me every morning. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe, hopefully, if my own recollection is any indication of a very young child’s psyche, when Emilia thinks back on those first hazy memories, I’ll make an appearance or two. It’s a reminder to make every moment as pleasant as possible. To be an unwavering source of comfort. And to teach her that, despite looking so tempting, deodorant is actually not delicious. At all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I have been hiatusing...

and working, vacationing, blogging (for our local music festival), eating, thinking about cleaning, raising (a baby), etc. But I couldn't resist posting this picture. Enjoying the company of someone who laughs at the mostly dumb (but occasionally genius) crap you have to say is one of the best things in the entire world.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hello, babies.

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.
-Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Monahans are, by nature, pale, impractical, too nice, and cripplingly tardy. It's kind of our thing. And I was sure this baby would inherit my wide, dragging feet, eschewing a December 15th birth to finish drying her hair, to reread an old coupon booklet, to rewatch the season premier of Kourtney and Kim Take New York. Plus my doctor more or less implied that I'd end up spending Christmas Eve on a steady drip of yuletide pitocin.

But I guess I should've realized that it was just as likely she'd take after Matt- the prompt foil to my stunted sense of timeliness. This baby wasn't just on time. She was a day early. Dad genes 1, Mom jeans genes 0.

On labor...
After six hospital-given childbirth classes, one thorough reading of Jenny McCarthy's overly honest ode to childbirth, and one viewing of "The Business of Being Born," I was left with a confused understanding of what labor would entail. Maybe it meant soft-focus 80s videos of women in overalls moaning on the arms of bewildered and mustacheod husbands. Maybe there would be screaming or laughter or complete peace or Ricki Lake. For someone who'd consumed copious amounts of information over the past nine months, I was pretty clueless... and maybe that was the best way to be.

I picked my mom up from the airport that Tuesday night, confident we'd spend the next week staring at bowls of broccoli cheddar soup, waiting for something to happen. But, as it happens, the actual wait only lasted another six hour or so. I woke up at 1:30 a.m. with dull cramps that picked up in intensity and regularity as a I sat alone in the dark downstairs, watching bits and pieces of bad movies (had I known I was in the midst of something relatively momentous, I would've splurged on a new release). That morning, I scrambled to hand off my remaining work projects via email while my mom wrapped Christmas presents. We left for my regular doctor's appointment at 1:00 but never made it that far. By the time we reached 72nd and Dodge, my contractions were four minutes apart, so I pulled into a Burger King parking lot (no, I shouldn't have been driving, but hindsight is not in labor) and called my OB while my mom ordered chicken tenders. Within five minutes, we were checked into Bergan. Matt stopped at home to shave his pregnancy beard and met us there, camera in hand.

On birth...
I had resolved to make the whole epidural issue a game-time decision. I wasn't about to decide whether or not I could handle the pain until I knew what the pain was like. I ultimately went for the good stuff, and I'm glad I did. Maybe next time I won't. Who knows. But it sure was nice to be able to watch Modern Family and joke around before, as Matt later put it, shit got real.

Around 9 p.m., I was ready to push. The downside of the epidural is that I had to be told I was ready to do everything. In the movies, the woman tells you she's ready by throwing a bed pan at the TV or breathing fire or whatever. From there, everything moved quickly. And when the baby's heart rate became cause for concern, things moved really quickly- forceps quickly. Emilia Clare Kraemer was born at 9:17, wide eyed, angry and beautiful.

Matt took some amazing pictures of those first few minutes, one of which I submitted to Babble, along with my own inadequate description of what it's like to hold your brand new person for the very first time.

After Emilia had been cleaned up, evaluated and issued the standard hospital hat, and my placenta whisked away to the place where placentas go, our families were able to join us. Matt's mom and step dad had hopped in the car as I was choking down my last chicken tender, and made it to Omaha from Minneapolis mere minutes before Emilia was born. Looking back on that night, everything was so incredibly strange in the best way possible. Upstairs in our recovery room, Matt and I split my "You Just Gave Birth, Now Eat Something" box of food and stared at our progeny, careful not to get sandwich crumbs on her perfect baby eyebrows.

On Emilia...
Perhaps I'm biased, but I'm pretty sure she's completely wonderful. Her hair is wonderful. Her pout is wonderful. Her long monkey arms. Her crooked smile. The way her eyes light up when she sees Matt. The hilarious things she's so desperate to say. The ever-deepening appreciation I have for the guy I married who is now almost as into babies as he's into books. All of it. And I never, ever want to forget how lucky we are.
I've created puppets ever since I was 10 years old, but there's nothing like creating a human being. That's amazing.
-Kevin Clash, Being Elmo
Nearly 12 weeks after the Burger King contractions, as I prepare to leave our warm nest where showers are optional and the Today Show is compulsory, I'm glad to be past the first few nearly sleepless weeks, I'm mourning the loss of so much unadulterated quality time together, and I'm looking forward to things to come. We'll have a routine. We'll have warm walks through Memorial Park and our first family road trip. And then after that, we'll have a lot of other stuff I guess. I can't wait.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

This is what I've been doing.

Hi. I've obviously been a bad blogger, but more on that after a story of good intentions and mouse murder.

One morning a month or so ago, as I prepared to start my day, I heard a faint squeaking coming from the corner of the garage. Because I was curious and late for work, I waded through empty flower pots and my landlord's plastic-sheathed 80s pop artwork to find a lone baby mouse. We stared at each other for a minute before parting ways. And by parting ways, I mean before I jumped in the car and left. The mouse wasn't going anywhere in an "I've eaten poison" or "I like it here behind this mildewed poster of a splatter-painted heart" sort of way.

When I returned that night, I was about to drive full-speed into the garage in the way I do where I fantasize about breaking through the brick wall and surprising the barking weimaraners that live behind us, when my headlights honed in on something small and sickly wading around in an a puddle of motor oil. Sure enough, it was the mouse. I scooted it out of my path with an old New Yorker. The next morning, it was waiting for me just behind one of my tires. And this time, it pointed a frail whisker in the direction of its brother, who was standing a few feet away, covered in cobwebs. I found myself consumed by the desire-the need-to rescue these orphan mice from a bleak future of Valvoline baths, magazine spiders and the landlord's poison traps that lurk behind every rusty shovel. So I went back inside, got a shoebox, stocked a corner of it with iceberg lettuce and cheerios, and gave them the home they'd been looking for all along- someplace warm, safe and filled with indigestible foods. Then I put the box under a tree in the backyard (it was still relatively warm outside at this point), folded down a side in case they wanted to get some exercise, and left for work with a warm heart and hands covered in bubonic plague.

The mice were probably eaten by birds, their lettuce feast eaten by squirrels, the cardboard box eaten by the neighbor's dogs. But the point is, I'd helped them in some way... maybe. Whatever. I say whatever because a few days ago, with one quick surge of brick-breaking power, I erased all of the goodwill and good karma I'd established with mousekind. I ran one over. I'm sure it was quick and painless, but it was also messy. And until Matt finally got the hint and peeled said mouse off of the concrete with a snow shovel, it served as a gruesome twice-daily reminder of how quickly the bridges we build can be burned, or flattened, as the case may be.

In other, less vermony news, I'm almost 39 weeks pregnant and feeling crazy. But I'd like to reflect on my pregnancy before it transitions to parenthood and I forget all of the little details, big discoveries, cloying discomforts and irrational anxieties that have become my friends over the past months. I'd segue into that now, but I'm tired, and you have things to do.

P.S. Doing a Google image search for "baby mice" was the worst decision I've made all day. And that's saying a lot because I also wore pajamas to Target and tried making an eggnog milkshake.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Defeathering the nest

Last night, I watched a good chunk of the Emmys whilst sipping Crystal Light and then slogged up to bed at 9 p.m., convinced that I would be dreaming weird dreams that blend common work scenarios and rare zoo animals by 9:05. But the second my head hit the pillow, it's like my brain finally turned on after being off for hours. And I could not. stop. thinking. And I was pissed. Because these weren't big, broad, creative thoughts, or "suddenly everything clicked" thoughts. They were evil, irrational thoughts - the kind that only come home to roost when all you want to do is sleep. I am afraid that my family will forget about me. I'm afraid that, along with blood, vitamins and oxygen, this baby is siphoning off the interesting parts of me too. I will give birth to a wunderkind, and in turn become a pile of fingers and brittle hair with a growing collection of old US Weeklies. I am afraid of uncertainty and the squirrel dropping acorns from the oak tree outside our bedroom window.

But morning came and brought clarity with it, and I'm hoping for a smoother transition to slumber tonight. Until then! Some thoughts I've had on sweaters and pregnancy.

On Old Sweaters
Don't be fooled by the old sweaters in your drawers and/or closet. Don't try and convince yourself that the 16-year-old working at the fancy vintage store who wouldn't buy them from you just doesn't know how to identify a good sweater. Don't lie to yourself when you spare them, for the fifth or ninth time, from the basket of clothes you're taking to Goodwill. Don't imagine the 35-year-old version of yourself pulling them out and throwing them on, excited to show off her like-new-again merino turtleneck from the window of her flying car. Just don't. Your old sweaters are old. And gross. They're pilled and have dried icing on the sleeves. They're stretched into unnatural shapes and smell like the anxious sweat of 2005. Don't be fooled by old sweaters. Just put them in the basket (if they're decent) or the trash, and move on. (This is a note written to myself as I stare at a pile of Muppety skins that used to be sweaters and need to be disposed of.)

On Pregnancy (Five things I've learned/realized thus far)
1. Naming a person is hard work and sort of psychologically revealing. All of the grade school bullies. All of the unrequited crushes. All of it's off limits.

2. Nesting is a real thing (see sweater rant above). I suddenly feel the need to purge all of the junk mail and broken nail clippers I've been saving for years.

3. Tums are delicious.

4. Some people have cute bellies. And some people look like they ate an oblong serving platter (read: me). But comparisons are fruitless - a waste of time that could be spent standing in front of the refrigerator, eating shredded cheese.

5. I am fully aware that getting here isn't always easy. It wasn't for us. And despite the heartburn and deluge of worries, I am indescribably grateful.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 05, 2011

Onward and outward: Thoughts at 25 weeks

They (blogs, fake internet doctors, the Starbucks employees who feel sorry for you when you try to pay for your coffee* with a Blockbuster card) say that pregnancy messes with your mind, and I wholeheartedly agree. I'd actually liken it to walking around with a stomach full of person and a head full of melted ice cream.

Plus, work has been really, really busy. And... all of this is to say, I've been a bad blogger, but not for lack of trying. My account is full of half-started posts, abandoned midway through a word or sentence, left to toil until I delete them in a year.

So I may have a mushy brain, but it's accompanied by a happy heart. And the urgent feeling that I should be doing more to prepare before this baby arrives. The room where our stationary bike and dozens of precious dust bunnies sleep needs to magically transform into a nursery. I need to end my quest for a functional yet moderately attractive glider, bite the bullet, and buy something ugly. I need to vacuum my car. We need to sign up for classes. We need to find a daycare provider/robot nanny. I'm holding tight to the belief that everything will pan out... I think it will. It kind of has to.

From now until December, I'm going to make a concerted effort to blog about the thoughts I'm having trouble forming, the goals we may or may not be reaching, and the wonderfully confusing life overhaul we're about to undergo. Right now, it's time to stare into space for a few minutes. Happy Labor Day!

*I will always tell you it's decaf, even when it's not.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...