Any Other Wednesday

[Caution, rambling post ahead dealing with topics such as trying to conceive, baby loss and what not.]

We took a break from trying for a baby this month. Not on purpose; because the husband was across the country for work during the go-zone. It honestly feels like this is the longest two week wait in the history of ever, ever, because there’s literally 0% chance this month. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good knowing but also feels like such a waste of time. Our son is four, just about to be four and a half. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be starting over from scratch when my kid was essentially in Kindergarten. If we ever beat infertility and get to that point, that is.

Also did not dream up the divorce, or the time it took to get remarried or the losses or anything else that happened in between. If I wasn’t so sure about homeschooling the kid, I would probably get him enrolled in public school and pursue a new career. Be a “one and done” family, because after loss it pretty clearly feels like a closed door. Regardless, I would love love to study psychology in more depth than my animal health science degree allowed. But… there’s really no point if I can’t put it to use, is there? How would it look to get a degree now and not be able to use it for a decade, or more or who knows when because life as a whole is excellent at orchestrating plot twists?

Plus there’s the whole really can’t afford it thing. Is financial assistance for second degrees even a thing? Sounds a bit selfish but I would totally be all over that. Too scared to Google it. I suppose I am much more comfortable in the unknown. I do still think it royally unfair that we are supposed to know at eighteen what we want to do with our whole lives. Especially since despite having a passion for veterinary medicine and being very naturally skilled at blood draws, catheters and the like, it doesn’t fit who I am or what I want out of life anymore. I have a bachelors degree and licensure with my state and still cannot afford to put my kid in daycare to work. It’s madness. Props to all the technicians out there working their butts off for beans. It is definitely a calling and I have been called to something else.

So why do I feel so dissatisfied?

There’s certainly a bitterness that comes with pregnancy loss because none of this should even be an issue right now. I should have a five month old baby and be in the trenches of new-again motherhood but that’s not how it worked out for us. And I find myself drumming the keyboard at that thought because it just is. I wouldn’t wish losing a baby on my worst enemy, especially not three and especially not when the culture of our society is such that their lives were barely valid because they were never born. And I don’t know my point in writing this. Sometimes things just need to be written down and I suppose I am back to writing again, if only for now, because I have accumulated too many things to say.

I do know I am not exactly where I want to be in life and it’s hard. Because there’s nothing I can actually do about it. I feel like God has me in a holding pattern and I want to break free but I know that’s not the right answer either so I’m just waiting and waiting and that has never been a strength of mine. I have prayed for direction more times than I can count and last I heard over six months ago now was “REST.”

And I really did the best I could at doing just that.. maybe it wasn’t enough.

What if I’m just waiting forever?

What am I even waiting for?

Love,

Michelle

The Mommy Trenches

Babies. The boyfriend and I have discussed babies a lot lately. Let me just clarify, I am not pregnant. And thank God for that. Still, as good a time as any to hash out if/when we are married, how many kid(s) we would like to have. It is one of those things you ought to have figured out before you say “I do,” otherwise there might be trouble later. So I guess you could say we have been talking about marriage too, but that is beside the point today.

The boyfriend has been very clear that he would like at least one more chitlen, maybe two. At the minimum.

And I am leaning much more towards one to two kids. I always said two, two years apart…but that was before I met the hurricane, before I found myself divorced, starting my adult life all over again. So really now, really just one kid, like one and done, as in, I am already so done having babies, I think.. And that answer leaves a lot to be desired in the boyfriend’s opinion.

I do not know what to say to him. The further I get from those early days in the trenches, the more clear they become. So, honey, hindsight is twenty/twenty and I am not sure I could willingly go back there. I cannot even read my posts from around that time, not that I probably wrote a whole lot. I know I wrote those monthly baby updates… but did I mention that one week I got four – literally four, one hour “blocks” of sleep – in an entire week? And he was up at least three times a night 99% of the first year, despite every imaginable trick to get him to sleep better. We tried everything, read.every.book. He always had to be held, and he was always so discontent, and he always cried. Then I cried with the worry and guilt that if SIDS took him one night, he would die having never been happy. So deep in the trenches.

Looking back I am almost certain I was depressed. This all screams depression with a bit of post-traumatic stress. Depressed because my then-husband deployed when I was pregnant and did not return until our child was five months old. Depressed because I did not have my village. Depressed because my dreams of motherhood were crushed by a baby who spent a majority of the first year of life crying. And I am not talking the “nyah-nyah” nasally, baby cry (and I know you know what that sounds like), but a full out scream from day one. I have videos to prove it. It was not colic. At least that would have been predictable, at least that would have ended.

I probably sound horrible. I am not looking forward to proofing this post because I know this is definitely not what moms are supposed to say about motherhood, about their children. But my experience with new motherhood was hard. What to Expect When You’re Expecting (and the first year edition) let me down. I know, and am grateful, that my experience is not typical. That alone gives me hope that if I did decide to dive into the trenches for a second baby that I would earn my escape much faster than sometime around the second birthday. I feel I am just now finding a new normal, just now navigating my life with some sort of grace. Diving back in, any time soon, would be the very definition of insanity.

But then… then I think about who I want around my dinner table in ten years. And even after writing my heart out on this screen, after thinking and talking about this for weeks, I see more than just the hurricane and the hopefully then-husband sitting with me. I see at least one more tiny human… at least one more. So who knows. I am really not sold on the idea, but do not count me out just yet. There could be another year of adorable monthly baby photoshoots to look forward to, some day.

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Leftovers & Missing Him

I miss my son lately.

I previously mentioned that the vet clinic I work for moved across town. A larger facility means more surgeries, means more cleaning, and with the same amount of staff (for now), it also means a lot of overtime. The extra money around the holidays is nice, but I miss my son. Daycare pickup has been pushed back to just after five, which gives us two, maybe two and a half hours together before it’s bedtime. And ever since the time change – over a month ago I might add – he has been especially grumpy once we get home. I can only think that he assumes it being dark outside must mean dinner is late and that we are starving him and he must fuss and whine and cry until food is actually on the table. But then eat nothing and of course, cry because he’s not free to run around anymore. It’s been less than ideal.

Before… I loved this time of year. The Christmas lights, walks in the fog, and the spirit of the season…and it is just so much different now with “mad at the dark” syndrome, the terrible twos in general and the pending visitation of my ex-husband. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas any other month. I suppose it might help to have put up a tree already but who has the time/money? I cannot afford to fix the dead home button on my iPhone, let alone put up decorations I have no place to store the other eleven months of the year.

Blah. My attitude sucks and I swear this is part of me working on it. What I really need though, is to get over this awful bout of bronchitis, and get back to the gym where everything is simple and nothing has to make sense for at least an hour or so… I need a real weekend to spend with Elliott. One where we can go to the park and continue the tradition of taking too many pictures for his birthday, as if the photos somehow capture and save the essence of his smile. Oh, and find time somewhere in all that running around to study for the upcoming RVT exam, because I am really beginning to feel like that is my next checkpoint; everything begins and ends there.

Until we meet again,

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Freckles and Being a Mom

I have not posted much about my little man since I stopped the monthly updates for the first year of his life. Over half of another year has passed and he continues to challenge my mom skills on a daily basis. Elliott has always been more. He has always done more crying, more fussing, more screaming. He is more energetic, more playful and always, always on the go. He is wicked smart. He can get his own cup, ask for ice, fill it with water and successfully take a drink before spilling it all over himself and the floor. He can buckle himself into carts and wants to “do” everything for himself. He is so busy and so much like the parts of me that I am still working on improving. But he is just a baby, so the tantrums and frustration are understandable and expected.

The first year was so much about all the big milestones, all those “firsts”… first time rolling over, sitting up, walking. First smile, first words. I watched his eyes change color from newborn blue to hazel, starting with a spot of brown in each. I watched him grow a little more into his personality and have realized that although he is not the sweet baby I had hoped for, he is in every sense of the word, more. Making myself see the world through his eyes has taught me so much about him and about me. I may not always feel like the best mom (hello, tantrum in the middle of a grocery store because I told him no, he could not knock everything off the shelf after getting the cart too close) but I am learning. I care and I try and I am here for him as much as I can be, given that I work full time.

It is not easy, thinking big picture, wondering how to better handle tantrums and best teach him how to communicate feelings he does not yet have words for. But then I notice something so small that my thinking is forced back into that moment. A freckle. One tiny, single freckle that yes, I tried wiping off in the bathtub. It was a bad day for both of us. Both overtired from him waking too many times the night before due to bad dreams, teething pains and whatever else wakes a toddler. Too much thinking put towards hoping the coming night was just a little bit better, all wiped away by a freckle that would not budge. And I smiled, so he smiled and splashed the water and showed me the foam bath toy starfish, proudly saying “Star!” And it was better. It all makes sense. The sleepless nights (still), the change of plans. The massive overhaul to everything I thought being a mom would be.

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The freckle and a fake cry. Ten seconds later he was laughing. I would share a picture to prove it except he promptly kicked my phone out of my hand.

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One Year Old

Elliott,

To say it has been a crazy year would be a vast understatement. You are my sunshine, but you are also every bit my hurricane Elliott. Your personality is the number one thing that caught me off guard about being your mom. You are in no way the typical “easy baby,” and with how quiet you were in my belly, I am still surprised at how much you can be at times. You are a very determined, persistent, intense, and intelligent little guy. The colloquial definition for personalities like yours is “spirited” and it fits you to a t. For these reasons, among many others, I know you will be able to accomplish anything you set your mind to in life. I know, I know… that is exactly what most parents say about their children, but I have had complete strangers tell me as much after meeting you.

You smile and you wave and sometimes play shy. Grocery stores are where you work your magic, charming the cashiers and little old ladies by flirting with them and waving goodbye. You are so curious about the world around you, and I just know one day you are going to let go of the couch and take off running. Has not happened yet, thankfully, but Grandma says she practices walking with you while I am at work.. And we are all thankful that you have taken that transition well. Grandma and Grandpa are like second and third parents, and they like to joke that it really does take a village to raise a child. For the record, I hope you never feel that you came from a broken home. There is nothing broken about us, our story just had an unexpected plot twist and if you ask me, most days I would say we are doing just fine.

Your first word was momma.. Or mom or mum. When we first started hearing it, it was not in context, but now you can identify those words as me. It is then sweetest thing, except when you are screaming your head off at me because you want everything and nothing at all, at the same time (and you want it right now please). And those fits are a bit more common lately as you finally got five teeth in a span of about two weeks this past month! Way to go on that one.. from gummy smiles to our own little fang face like it was nothing at all. You have actually handled teething really well, aside from not wanting to eat because your mouth hurts. No change in weight this month, still hovering around twenty pounds and measured in at 31.5″ tonight. Mostly I’m shocked that your feet are already so big. You would be in a size 5, easily, if you were actually wearing hard soled shoes now. Cannot wait to see how the christmas footprint ornaments turn out this year. I think this will probably be the second and last year for those! We will just stick with handprints for a while..

And now here we are.. I am not ready for you to be one year old, but it is your birthday anyway. Just got you down for the night at 11:30pm, which is sadly not all that uncommon. No matter what I have tried, you have been my night owl from the moment you were born, nine minutes to midnight. I still cannot think of that day and not have tears well up in my eyes. Best.day.of.my.life. It is so hard being a single mom sometimes, especially when it feels like you want to be anything but happy, but I was half the person I am now before I had you. You are my motivation to be a better person, to be a better parent. You are and always will be my little boy.

I love you to the moon and to the sun, to forever and back,

Mom

Eleven Months

elevenmonthsoldElliott,

This month has flown by in the blink of an eye. Seems just yesterday you were sitting in a pumpkin for your ten month photo shoot… I’m still surprised you didn’t hate it. Your goofy baby faces are turning into toddler expressions.. Mostly curious or disapproving looks. Your smile is adorable but at times a rare sight. You get so absorbed in everything going on around you that it’s hard to get you to focus, let alone think games like peek-a-boo are funny past the second or third “boo”.

You are too smart for your own good. Climbing on everything, crawling over everything, mualing kitties and never sitting still for a moment, not even when you’re asleep. This is the only reason your pediatrician is okay with your lack of considerable gains in the height and weight department, again. Finally broke the 30 inch mark this month and also stabilized at 20 pounds. If you were one of those babies who sat and watched the world go by, you would be monster sized! But you’re too busy running us all over the house for that. You’re definitely going to be the kind of kid that takes your family for walks, just because you need to burn off the energy.

This month you began showing definite signs of teething, complete with white caps of your teeth pushing on your gums. As sensitive as you are overall, I’m really amazed how well you are handling get at least three teeth at once. And they are top teeth!! Of course Elliott can’t get teeth in the typical fashion, what would be the fun of that. I can tell they really bother you sometimes and you’ll chew on something hard while whimpering (which really is as pathetic as it sounds) but for the most part you are business as usual, with a lot of extra drooling.

You got a new uncle this month! And you did exceptionally well at your Aunt Kat’s wedding. Only spoke up during the ceremony when the pastor mentioned communication, which I thought was very fitting. You had an absolute blast at the reception when you woke up from your nap. You bounced and danced your way into the hearts of many strangers that night, and they all loved the cute little bow tie you wore.

This month we went to the zoo with two of the neighbor girls and you soaked it all in… Smiled at the orangutan and seemed bored of the giraffes. We had a few more play dates and you are such a little love bug. You try holding their hands and giving them hugs. This sometimes translates to you pulling them down and then tackling them, but we can see you mean well. It is soo sweet. You may not yet know how to high five (still working on it) but you can definitely give some awesome little hugs. The best part of my day is coming home to your fussy little face and getting a hug from you. You’re doing so well with me going back to work and Grandma watching you during the day. I figure you know her just about as well as you know me, and I know she knows you.. so it’s a great little setup.

One month to go until your first birthday! And while it doesn’t feel appropriate to throw a massive luau (in the middle of December) like I always heard the Hawaiians would have to celebrate making it through your first year, we will have the cake smash and birthday dinner and mini party for family and close friends. I feel like it should be a big enough deal, if not just for you, than for all of us to celebrate a year of less sleep, more tears, more smiles and definitely more love than before. You changed the lives of everyone who knows you well and loves you, little man. And when it feels like everything about my life is still so far from where I thought it should be, all I have to do is look at your face or watch you learning while you play to realize I am doing the most important thing in the world, just being here for you.

I love you to the moon, to the stars and to forever and back,

Mom

 

 

Ten Months

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Elliott,

You’ve pinched me more times than I can count this month. It is your newest “thing,” and honestly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking what to write about this past month. *pinch.pinch.smile* You are definitely mommy’s little monster.

So let’s see… your father visited at the beginning of this month. You had two lunch dates and play time at the park together, all of which you seemed to enjoy. You were having an exceptionally good weekend and weren’t too fussy for him. I’m not sure he would have known how to handle you if you had pulled a full blown meltdown on him. It’s been a long time since he was around you when you were certain the world was ending and it often takes quite a lot of convincing to disarm you. It was funny watching him try to stop you from eating grass at the park. Every time he took a blade from your hand, you figured out how to get past him and pluck another from the ground, over and over again until something else caught your attention.

Your crawl is now 80% normal and 20% broken frog. You really didn’t do much growing in the past month and are holding steady at about 20 pounds and maybe 29.5 inches if you’ve grown at all. It is very difficult getting an accurate measurement now that you are so mobile… but your doctor assures me that it’s normal and that breastfed babies don’t grow as much in the second six months of the first year. You do look taller when you’re playing because you have mastered standing on the very tip of your toes, adding at least two inches to how big you appear. However you look at it, you’re definitely not a little baby anymore.

You’ve tried some new foods! Had your first taste of chocolate cupcake and frosting, and devoured at least half a peach worth of peach slices from a cobbler. Tried your first bit of a non-traditional shepherd’s pie made with chicken. You liked honeydew and cantaloup, were wary of pineapple and gave bananas another try. Grandma and I are unsure why you aren’t putting on any weight with all the new foods you try, but it’s one of those little mysteries.

It’s been another good month, aside from your new fascination with pinching everything and everyone. Really unsure where you picked that up, but you do it most when you’re falling asleep so maybe it’s a comfort thing to you. You did get a little taste of your own medicine tonight though, when the almost three-year-old Zoie at the Mini Cooper club meeting pinched your leg while the two of you were watching a movie on her tablet. You didn’t cry but you sure did give her a puzzled look and I said, “tell me about it!” Doesn’t feel so awesome, does it, my little pincher bug?

This month you survived your first stuffy nose thanks to allergies and your first fall off the bed which I still say was totally your fault for launching yourself over the edge (when you normally hesitate). Still no goose egg worthy bumps though, thankfully, even though you are beginning to let go of whatever you are holding while standing. Gonna need to break out the bubble wrap soon.

Love you to the moon and to the sun and to forever and back, fuss bucket.

 

Love,

Mom

What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” – Juliet

I was once a Dunlap girl. My two younger sisters will know what I’m talking about when I say that. We are independent, determined, don’t mess with me, Dunlap. And then I got married and took my then-husband’s name. I found it quite fruity, and I am still a little confused when people ask me to spell it out for them. “It’s Cherry, like the fruit…Yes, like the pie works too…No it’s just spelled with y at the end.”

I’ve had several friends and a few near-strangers ask why I haven’t changed back since going public with the divorce. Aside from every one of my experiences with the Social Security office being a nightmare… I can’t leave my son behind. I may have been culled from the Cherry family tree but he will always have a place there, and I will always be his mom. I know eventually that means I might end up one of those hyphenated messes of a name, but that’s okay.

Any brave souls dare to comment on their name change? I’m curious to know if other moms stick with the hyphenated route as well.

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