Monthly Archives: November 2006

our birth story

It only took me six months, but I’ve finally finished writing my birth story. Starts here, and I dated the posts so they’re physically in order on the page if you’re on the main blog page.

she’s my sweet potato

The sweet potatoes were a huge hit. She did really well with opening her mouth and swallowing; I was impressed. My contributions turned out pretty well, I suppose. The made-from-scratch and jello-free cranberry sauce was very tart and offended my 9 year old nephew’s palate, but the grown-ups liked it. My glazed carrots could have had more glaziness, but were okay. The broccoli casserole was great. I could have eaten a ton of it, but Molly would have been pissed because broccoli-mom-milk gives her terrible gas.

After dinner with Shane’s family we went to my Grandma’s. She’s doing really well now that she’s back home. Her dementia is much better in a familiar environment. I think it’s very mild, but Shane says she’s more wacky than I think. Mostly she just repeats herself over and over. She had the best time playing with the baby- Molly was in the giggliest mood I’ve ever seen. She was just adorable.

I missed my mom so much, but it gets better and better. Molly is the best healing wonder. Being a mom makes me feel closer to my mom. I am still so close to her, it’s weird maybe. I don’t get into the guardian angel thing or any of that specific, religious stuff- it seems so literal and cheesy to me- I just feel closeness I guess. Like I still have a familiarity with her and a comfort about her memory that feels like the very mundane normal closeness we had when she was alive. Of course, there are times when all I feel is her absense, and it’s like a fresh, wounded screaming pain that will never, ever heal. An orphaned, angry, lost feeling filled with confused denial. It just may never seem acceptable to my heart that she is gone. I think those moments are coming less often. They used to be so awful. I wince remembering the way Shane would hold me and I’d sob and shake. Now usually I have a little warm melancholy feeling, like a lingering ache but the baby will smile and I’ll know her motherness is in me now as I sing and rock Molly.

(edited for a new better collage and longer entry-hre)

happy moon day

Molly’s new trick, in celebration of her sixth lunar month, is sitting:) She sits, supporting herself with her hands, when we position her. It’s awesome. She looks like a tiny little girl. She had her first sanctioned taste of food yesterday- two little fingerfulls of mashed potato off her Mawmaw’s plate. She seemed to dig it, so sweet potatoes may be our first real feeding. I want to wait until her little gut recovers from the onslaught of the antibiotics and then try yummies!

pregnancy inspired artwork, a note about Grandma

“Motherline:” Untitled Variations on sketch for Motherline:

A dear friend, talented artist, and former professor just let me know she’s expecting a baby girl this spring. Congratulations, Sabina! (Check out her page- she does really strong work about identity and culture) To celebrate, I’m posting some of the art I made while I was pregnant. I remember a conversation with Sabina a couple of years ago, when she told me that she thought maybe becoming a mom would be great for me and it would “pull me out of myself.” She was, as usual, so right.
I took Molly to the hospital to see my Grandma, who fell and hurt her knee and aggrivated her two mended hips. I had the baby cloistered in a stroller under several layers to keep the germs at bay. I almost didn’t take her but I had strong intuition that we needed to go. Grandma was overjoyed to see her “Holly.” (She gets the name right a good 50% of the time, so we don’t complain:) She’s in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s as best the doctors can guess. She’s just dotty and it’s still sort of cute to me, although I dread the real confusion that will come later. Right now she just repeats herself alot, and mixes up names. Today she was telling her roommate about Molly and me, and about how mom had died. She turned to me and asked “Did they ever figure out why your mother died?” and I had to remind her about the cancer. It was surreal, sitting down the hall from where Mom died and reminding Grandma about it. This visit didn’t upset me like it usually has to be in the building. I guess I’m finally desensitizing a little bit. I hate most the smell of the disinfectant soap there- scent is so connected to memory.
I love talking to her so much. Every second I’m with her I’m so present and in the moment. Losing Mom made me so focused on savoring the time I have with Grandma, and so thankful she is with us and well enough to remember the baby.


I don’t write alot about my marriage outside of our role as co-parents, and in that respect I’m usually worrying about clashing ideologies. It’s easy to avoid examining a marriage because it’s an existence that’s so easily taken for granted. It’s like breathing, eating, sleeping. We have lived as if married for five years although our wedding was two years ago. I’m really instrospective the past few days about our marriage. I’ve just finished reading The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd and it brought up the issue of taking a marriage for granted. It also deals with an artist wife who feels tamed by her marriage. She falls passionately in love with another man and reconnects with her home and her mother and herself. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. At the time I’ve been reading this, our situation is a tense, all-but-sexless marriage of struggling new parents with barely enough money to survive. Shane is so stressed about finances he snaps at me, at telemarketers, at the dogs. Little bursts of severe asshole behavior have shot through like bullets that shatter my relative contentment. Meanwhile, we aren’t making love because I have no desire for it, and we’ve barely spent any time together alone between all the part-time jobs it takes to make our household run.

We were out yesterday and Shane spouted some rage about something trivial and it just lodged in my head that he can be such a shit. His temper unsettles me so much. Then I was reading the book, and this cold fear settled into me and I saw myself in several years leaving him. I saw his temper flares just building and frustrating me and then I thought of how different we are and thought how devastating it would be to meet someone I connected with like the heroine of my book. Seeing this possible future made me feel 1,000 miles away from my husband. It ripped me open to be feeling our marriage as a thing that could be broken someday, a vulnerable entity that either one of us could tear apart. I have always felt if something did happen to us, it would be my breaking the vows. I sometimes worry that the wildness in me isn’t meant to be married. I fret about not making art anymore. I wonder if I’ve lost anything to this union.

I examine those thoughts and I think that it’s normal for me to wonder about those things. The truth is, I am a much better version of all possible me’s because of Shane. The thing I’ve lost, the drive to create, it is a sleeping thing like a fire I’ve let dwindle, and neither my wifeness nor my husband has anything to do with that. I’ve struggled with that all my life. Shane has been my best advocate for channeling my energies into art. But I was reading my book, all these doubts worrying around in my head. I realized they were going to fester and grow into some resentment or anger if they weren’t voiced. I went to him and it took me a long time to frame the vague ideas into a conversation, but he listened patiently and we talked about the stresses and the shape of our life and our lives. We were actually feeling similar anxieties but expressing them differently I think. I felt waves of relief giving vent to my doubts about us, and the relief washed them away as I realized how amazing it is I can talk with him about this, how strong we are. I needed to mend the disconnected feeling I’d had, and he held me close. Then the comfort turned to a fierce need to physically connect and we made love very beautifully. It was a wonderful, necessary ritual binding us tighter and the mood of the house is much lighter and cleaner now.

In unrelated news, there was another trip to the pediatrician’s office today. I’d been waiting it out- just a cold, but her cough was getting worse and I didn’t want to wait the weekend out with her feeling increasingly bad. The nurse said she had an ear infection too, but I hadn’t seen any signs of it. I was loathe to put her back on antibiotics again since she’s still on poopalot mode from the last one.

I brought her home and talked it over with Shane, and we decided ear infections are serious enough that we didn’t feel like it was overreacting to use the antibiotics so we went to the pharmacy for them and to get some decongestant the nurse recommmended. It had pseudoephidrine in it, and they no longer carry anything with that at our pharmacy. The pharmacist was great, though. She went through all the possibilities with us and told us how the substitute for pseudoephidrine hasn’t been tested in kids under 2. She was very knowledgeable. We bought some cough medicine & decided to stick with breastmilk dribbled into her nose and the nasal suction bulb for her nasal congestion.

After we got home, she spewed everywhere, so I gave her a bath and clean comfy pajamas. Then she pooped all over herself, so she got another bath and the last clean pj’s, forcing me to wash a load of baby clothes as well as the bedsheets she’d thrown up on. Her cough has been gone since the medicine. Since the visit to the doctor’s office I noticed her pulling on her ear, and then she wouldn’t nurse with that side of her head lying down, so I had to wrestle her into a football hold. It is not fun to try to get a five month old baby into a new strange nursing position. She was very “whatthefuck?” Tonight may suck as our side-lying, semi-comatose-mommy position won’t work if her ear still hurts.

showers & wings

This is a piece of art I created for my friend’s baby’s nursery. (Yes, that’s a sleeping Molly.) We went to her shower Saturday. I obsessed about giving her this, worrying that she’d see it as a photo of Molly and a self-centered gift rather than as a collage using a photo of Molly. Shane told me it was fine but I’m still not sure. Anyway, it’s cute. She is decorating with fairies and winged creatures.

The shower was great. I met a sweet woman who has two-year-old twins and conceived by artificial insemination. She and her girlfriend live next door to the mom-to-be. She offered me several nursing tops for cheap when she heard I’m planning on extended nursing. I don’t have any nursing shirts, so that’s a very cool thing. Extended nursing… so weird a term. Like there’s an invisible line at age 1 when it suddenly becomes an extra, strange thing to do. ‘Round here most folks think it’s gross to nurse after a year. Well, alot of them think nursing’s gross, period. Weirdest thing how that came to be the mindset amongst a poor bunch of people. They’d rather spend money on formula- it blows my mind.

The baby’s back to normal… her itchy red bottom is almost healed, and she slept 7 or 8 hours last night without any nummins (nursing.) Of course, as Murphy’s Law would dictate, I had insomnia. Probably because she’s nursed non-stop during the week of evil diarrhea.

this post is NOT titled "got milk?" because i am NOT a dork

I had the neatest observation today. When my milk lets down (oh sorry Dr. Sears, I mean when I experience my ‘milk ejection reflex’….heh) I have this tiny ache in the opposite breast. I could never describe it, but this morning Shane and I had a little tiff and tears welled up in my eyes. The burning ache right before the tears spill? That’s my let-down ache, only right behind my nipple. It made so much sense and seemed so poetic. It’s like the other boobie is crying because it’s jealous. That breast wants an adorable baby cuddled up to it, too. Only thanks, Goddess that it doesn’t for that would mean twins and a total spazzer mommy.

Jennifer at The Lactivist requests that we help publicize the efforts of HMBANA, a non-profit milk bank which distributes breast milk from donor moms. This link to her entry tells how a large drug company is trying to elbow HMBANA out of the way as it scrambles for profit. I am appropriately infuriated, and thought I’d repost in case any of you can donate cash or milk or know someone who could. I’m disappointed I can’t donate milk, because I was pumping at least a few ounces more per day than Molly can drink. Turns out my milk gets wonky after a few days in the freezer unless I scald it which would make me ineligible to donate.