Saturday, May 7, 2016

Snapped Control

I’ve always oscillated between control freak and laid-back hippie, like I need my life in order so then I can just chill out. I thought of course that this would carry over into parenting: proof positive that a high GPA doesn’t mean you truly know anything.

My first indication that parenting was going to severely test my control freak tendencies came when my husband and I decided to get pregnant. Decided, as if it would be just that easy: I wanted it, so it would happen. Only, it didn’t happen. For months and months, it didn’t happen. In my need to control this situation I read everything out there on how to get pregnant, since apparently the old fashioned way wasn’t quite cutting it, I remember spitting on glass to see if my saliva dried into a fern pattern and peeing on more sticks than I could ever imagine, but still there was never a positive pregnancy test.

Finally, we discovered the problem and were able to move past it and in May of the next year I found out I was pregnant and was due in January. Only, I wasn’t supposed to be due in January. I’m a teacher, we have two months off in the summer, I was supposed to have a baby in late May, early June then I could spend the rest of the summer doting on my tiny bundle. But I couldn’t complain, not when I was so happy to be pregnant and certainly not when there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

At our first ultrasound we were thrown for another loop. As I lie on the table and the technician did her magic with the wand, she pointed out the strong heartbeat of our little one, then she said “and there’s the second heartbeat.” My husband and I nodded, neither of us all that interested in my heartbeat. “No,” she told us, “the second baby’s heart beat. You’re having twins.”

Don’t get me wrong I was ecstatic, I had always thought that having twins would be really cool, but still I had not planned on it, so all my dreams and visions had only involved one tiny bundle.

My pregnancy was relatively normal, we went to a ton of ultrasounds since twins are considered high risk. The babies were healthy and strong, everything was going as planned. And then on December 5, a Friday afternoon, I left work early and went to the doctor for my weekly appointment. “Are you having any discomfort?” the doctor asked. I looked at him like he was crazy. I was 33 weeks pregnant and measuring 52. You know what kinds of animals make it to 52 weeks? Horses, whales, elephants. I couldn’t sit in booths in restaurants and I couldn’t comfortably reach necessary parts after going to the bathroom, I hadn’t seen my feet in months, and I couldn’t get up if I lied down - I just kind of rolled side to side like a turtle on its back: some discomfort was a bit of an understatement.
If I had actually sat back in this chair, we would probably have had to hire a crane to get me up :)

“What I mean,” he clarified, “is, do you feel any tightening in your abdomen? You’re in labor.” Uh uh, nope I was not in labor. No, I was only 33 weeks, I had not packed a hospital bag, I had not finished getting ready for my little people’s arrival. I was once again not in control, but I was definitely in labor. Off to the hospital I went and I stayed for two days while I was pumped full of fluids and steroid shots and something to help keep those babies cooking. That first night the nurse offered me a sleeping pill, sure that I was never going to sleep with all the beeping from monitors and tubes going into me, I accepted. The thing about sleeping pills I didn't understand though is if you don’t actually go to sleep you turn into a drunken college student version of yourself. I was crying and apologizing for crying, blaming myself for not doing something to keep the babies from coming too soon before finally, blessedly falling asleep. I was officially neither in control nor laid back, and these kids hadn't even arrived yet.

I managed to make it through the weekend without delivering and I was sent home on bed rest, where I was forced to sit and do nothing, something I wish I would have taken more advantage of at the time.

Wednesday morning, less than 72 hours after being discharged from the hospital, my water broke and we were back. This time there was no stopping my now 34 week babies and at 8:03 that morning I delivered my son, followed seven minutes later by my daughter. I remember being exhausted but also feeling like there was nothing I couldn’t do. I had created people, I had grown humans and by some miracle they were here in the flesh. But my delivery was also not what I had imagined. There was no quiet birthing room with music playing with just my husband and I and the doctor, I delivered naturally but in an operating room filled with a complete audience.

Because my twins were preemies there were NICU doctors and nurses, because it was a shift change there were two doctors there for the delivery, there was an anesthesiologist that I never even used, I’m pretty sure at some point a marching band came through. I never imagined so many people would see my hoo ha!

I remember vividly the doctor saying “oh shit” as she delivered my daughter. I later learned that my daughter, who was born breech, had had her arm around her neck and when the doctor moved it to deliver her it snapped her humerus. But she healed, rather quickly and I learned my most valuable lesson as a mother.
Irie and her very tiny arm splint. 

I am not in control.

Oh I may pretend to be, 

I may hope to be, but I am not.

Things are going to happen in my home, in my world, to me and to my children that I cannot predict or stop. I have to let that go, I have to impact what I can and ride the rest out. When people hear that my daughter’s arm was broken they are shocked, appalled, saddened: any number of things, but in a way, I am thankful. I was terrified of these little people and how I was going to change the world to work for me and them, and I can’t do that. There will be times when I figuratively have to move an arm out of the way and it will no doubt get broken, but it will heal.

My children may not like everything that I do, there may be times I disappoint them or upset them, but they will heal. There may be times they disappoint or upset me, but I will heal There are a lot of things that we can do wrong when raising children, but there is very little that they can’t bounce back from. They’re resilient little creatures, and I’m thankful to learn that so am I.    

These two sweet angels were worth every bit of control I lost!

Monday, May 2, 2016

If I Should Die Before You Grow, These are the Things That You Should Know: Replicating Crimes

If I Should Die Before You Grow, These are the Things That You Should Know: Replicating Crimes: Replicating Crimes As far back as I can remember I was never Mommy’s little doll. Although pictures tell a somewhat different story, in m...

Replicating Crimes

Replicating Crimes
As far back as I can remember I was never Mommy’s little doll. Although pictures tell a somewhat different story, in my memory, we were never the mother/daughter duo I see all over my Facebook feed from today’s moms or even what I remember from my own friends growing up. I blamed this most solidly on my younger brother’s existence and then simply on my mom probably not liking me very much, which of course was her own fault, because I am totally likable! Seven years ago I gave birth to my first two children: twins, one boy and one girl. I gave birth essentially to a tiny replica of myself, from her blue eyes, to her dimpled cheek to the way she swings her hips and the sassy way she talks. It was then that I thought maybe, possibly, there was a chance that some of the blame for my mine and my mom’s relationship belonged to me.
Sometimes no matter how hard I’m working toward that mother/daughter duo, my daughter just doesn’t see it. Back in the Fall her school had a mother daughter night. I signed us up and was really looking forward to going despite the fact that people, especially mothers from her school, are really not my thing. Anyway, Monday I started getting sick, by Tuesday I had lost my voice and Thursday night I had body aches and chills. Friday at work, I sat balled up at my desk rocking back and forth, unable to eat lunch and praying my meds would kick in so I could get through the next few hours and get home for a nap before mother daughter night.
When we walked in the door of the school that night, I was already sweating. My fever was breaking as they ushered us into the cafeteria to do Zumba. Wait! Pump the brakes! What the hell? On Daddy/Daughter night they got to dress up and dance, it was like a little date night. Now I had to do Zumba in skinny jeans and Toms, without a sports bra, someone apparently wanted me dead. And did I mention I had ten stitches in my scalp at the time. But I pushed forward, I zumbaed despite my clothes sticking to me and feeling like I was dying. I jumped around and swung my arms and shook my shakable body parts, until finally my sweet baby looked up at me and said, “let’s get some water and sit down.” So we got water and we sat down and we watched the super mother daughter duos zumba. Irie sat looking longingly at the little aerobicizers so I offered to go back out. She told me I could sit, but she hopped up and went back on the floor. I sat for maybe a song and watched my beautiful, vibrant little girl zumba alone and I thought this is one of those times when I could be with her, when I could enjoy what she enjoys and show her that I like her, so I got up and I went back out to finish up with her.

The rest of the night was a bit of a blur; we played a game, did a craft, ate some ice cream and headed home. We walked in the back door of my childhood home and found my husband and two boys eating pizza and watching Batman. He asked how it went. “It was fun,” Irie told him, “but Mommy sat down instead of exercising with me.” I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. Her voice was so full of disappointment and sass. I reminded her of the three songs I had powered through before sitting, my husband reminded her I had been sick for a week, but she only argued that I had sat down when she wanted to dance.
I walked away, through the same small hallway my own mother had passed through, by the same laundry room where she had washed countless loads of my laundry, even when I was in college, and into the kitchen where she had cooked numerous mundane meals and I cried. And I wondered how many times my own mother had tried to reach out to me, how many times had she chosen what I wanted over what she needed and how many times had I thrown that back in her face with my lack of gratitude, with my own short sightedness that comes with ignorance of a mother’s sacrifice? My mother always made those sacrifices look so easy and I don’t know, maybe for her they were. Maybe she got some selfless gene that I lack, but I can’t imagine that I didn’t hurt her from time to time with my egocentricity. Because looking back I see her life as a constant giving in to what everyone around her wanted, whether it was what to watch on TV or where to go for dinner or vacation. Even after I had children, my mother quit her job, her little bit of independence, to take care of my twins while I worked and she never accepted a penny. She made mothering so easy for me because she picked up my worries and took care of them for me. I often told her how thankful I was for all she did, but I never told her I was sorry for the times in my youth I pushed her away because she was taken from me before I ever realized my crime. I just hope if it is true that my daughter is so very much like her mother, that one day I can be like mine.