Ode to my warrior prince

Three months ago I had no reason not to believe my son would be born at home well before Christmas. I remember being upset because I was overweight, and my fingers were numb and impeding my ability to finish my gifts. I remember being intensely proud of the fact that I had a workable plan to get out of debt. I remember making apple pie for the hell of it. I remember thinking about “quitting the internet” because I worried it would impede my ability to care for my son.

Then everything changed. My son was late. Then he was later…then even later. I had to go get ultrasounds every other day for a week to make sure he was okay.  Then I woke up one day with a fever of 101, and had to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with H1n1 virus. Because of the illness and how far post-term I was, they induced labor to save my baby. Labor was unproductive- my body simply would not cooperate. Two days after we began, I asked for a C-Section; I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was too afraid for me and for my baby, too alone in my head, and in more physical distress than I had ever been in my life.

When they gave me the anesthesia before the surgery it was the first time I had been truly pain-free in almost a year. I found myself crying uncontrollably. I cried out all of the suffering I had been through, all the confusion and sadness, the loneliness, the guilt, the terrible fear of the unknown…and then I cried some more.  I remember being vaguely embarrassed, but the tears were cleansing and healing, and eventually stopped on their own.

A little while later, they cut me open and pulled my baby out. He was big, and so beautiful…I was drifting in and out of consciousness but I heard his first cry, and I cried, too, until they brought him to me so I could see him and touch him…so tiny and helpless and red in such an enormous and sterile room.  They took him away to do all the things that doctors do when babies are born, and I let myself drift.

When I came back, I was back in bed, holding my baby and trying to nurse, struggling to understand the enormously powerful feeling that had taken hold of me the second I saw him. A glorious little boy had grown inside of me and been birthed healthy and whole despite all of the complications we had suffered together. He was a fighter, a champion, a prince…he had more than earned the right to be named after warrior kings. At that moment I realized that I would lie down and die, without question or doubt, for this tiny human I had birthed from my body.

Since then he is rarely out of my arms, and even more rarely out of my sight. When I’m holding him and he looks up at me with his solemn blue eyes, everything else fades away. Every day I fall more in love with every hair on his body, every wrinkle and dimple, every tiny nuance of his face as he cries, nurses, sneezes, sleeps, nurses, or –now-  laughs. His cries break my heart, his gurgles of joy make it sing, and a soft sneeze lights up the darkest of moments. The realization that he knows who I am and is unhappy when I am not around is awe-inspiring.

After he nurses, he usually falls asleep with a tiny sigh, his little body warm and soft and absolutely trusting as it presses against mine. At those times I find myself entranced by the magic of his very existence. How did I create something so perfect and beautiful?

Sometimes I touch his face, whispering my blessings and wishes for his future, hoping he will understand somewhere in his tiny soul how very much I love him. Then I fall asleep, too, body curved around him to hold him close and protect him from the world outside for a little while longer.


Nesting like crazy

A few months ago my husband and I found a handmade shelf on the sidewalk outside our apartment that we both immediately fell in love with. We didn’t really know what we could do with it, but we took it inside anyway. Once there, it shifted around our front door like an unexpected and awkward visitor. Sometimes it was covered in junk, sometimes the cat slept on it, other times it stood empty. I was honestly beginning to think we should have just left it on the sidewalk.

It turned out to be a good choice, however. Last week I got super inspired and I actually managed to create a space in our bedroom for our son’s nursery. In that moment, a use for the shelf became immediately apparent…as did the true extent of my nesting insanity. I couldn’t handle the idea of a black shelf in my nursery, so I decided to paint it. I went out to the store that very night and bought all the supplies I needed, and then I have spent some time each day since then making it beautiful.

In case you are concerned about the fact that a pregnant woman is painting furniture, I figured I should clarify that I have taken every precaution when it comes to avoiding fumes. I have 9 foot ceilings, gigantic windows that catch the north/south wind perfectly, a ceiling fan, and four box fans. I’m all good!

This is the fabulous shelf so far:


Extra blue. I love it. I’m contemplating writing nursery rhymes around the edges of the curved openings, but my penmanship is pretty terrible so that may never actually become a reality.

While he’s a baby we’re going to use it to store his toys and diaper bag, and whatever other random supplies I need. Once he gets older it’ll be a great place for frequently-used books and toys, and for displaying art projects. My mother pointed out that it’s exactly the type of structure a kid would want to topple over and play inside of…..I’m thinking I might need to find a way to (mostly) prevent that.

The rocking chair in the background, by the way, we found for twenty bucks at a thrift store. Not a bad deal!

While we’re at it- welcome to my studio. In all technicality it’s actually the living room in a two bedroom townhouse, but it gets great light, the wood floors make it SO easy to clean up my messes, and the ceilings, as mentioned before, are extra high. We installed shelves along one wall for all my random stuff, plus there’s a metal rack, an extra large walk in closet, an exceptionally ugly dresser, and two more tables in the room that you can’t see because they were all behind me. Although I have issues with the rest of this apartment that make me very happy our lease is up at the end of the year (for instance, we live across the street from a football stadium….), my studio is to die for and I will be very sad to lose it!


Little boxes made of ticky-tacky

I have spent the last ten years asking myself (and others) “What’s wrong with me?” and never getting any closer to the truth. The closest I have ever come to enlightenment has been during my occasional trips to see the immortal girl with kaleidoscope eyes. During those quiet hours watching the known world warp into a fantastic network of lines and color, I have also been able to see what I loved and loathed about myself in terrible detail, and accept the reality of who and what I truly am.

For some reason, I have never acted on those truths when I come back from those journeys. I come back feeling as if I had just been given a glimpse of my heart’s desire, only to have it whisked away where I could never achieve it. I go about the business of ‘real life’ with a sense of nihilistic doom, and although I have asked myself why, I have never seriously pursued the answer.

Something changed recently, and I started really thinking about the difference between the me I see in the mirror, and the me that others see. I have come to the conclusion that at some point in the past I came up with a mental image of how my life should be that has absolutely no relation to what I actually truly want(ed). The vast majority of that concocted mental image is based on how I think the world wants me to be, while the rest is based on an overwhelming need for security.  The end result of this false dream has been the creation of a stolid workhorse for my employers…and utter misery for me. Because of the portion of that vision that is self-serving (my need for security) I have never been able to turn away and pursue a different path. Thus it has gained more control over me…and more, and more….with each passing day. It has gotten to the point now where I can barely see any connection at all between who I am as a person, and what I do in the outside world.

It saddens me that I have become so limited in my thought that I don’t immediately turn to creative self-expression unless my emotions have gotten so strong that I can no longer ignore them. What happened to the other tattoos I wanted to get, and the spontaneity with which I got my first three? What happened to my piercings? What happened to the hours I used to spend decorating my clothing? Why haven’t I covered my car in random bumper stickers? Why haven’t I decorated my apartment? Why haven’t I done more to prepare for the birth of my son? Why don’t I write for fun anymore? Why do I limit my music choices to the pop genre? Why, when I know it’s what I want to do, can’t I produce artwork to sell? Why can’t I focus on planning for this glorious future that I want so badly?

The answer to all of those questions is that I am only human, I can only endure so much, and my self control is wavering. If I do not focus every ounce of my stamina on surviving the incredibly demoralizing situation I’m dealing with at work, I will break down. Rationally, I know the results of such an event would be disastrous. Emotionally, however….I want to break. I want to be done. I want to be able to rest without stressing about having to go back to an environment I dislike, where I am disliked and taken advantage of. Maybe I have actually already broken and I am desperately clinging to the ragged edges in hopes of salvation…I really don’t know.

Regardless of what happens in the future, it feels like I have spent my entire pregnancy crying. I cannot believe that that is good for my son’s development.