I just checked in on a mom’s group I’m in on Facebook. One of the moms was scheduled for induction yesterday and there was no word from her as of late last night. This morning there is the picture of a perfect baby girl swaddled in a hospital blanket with a hat on her head. Sheer perfection.
As I looked I felt this rush of tears. They flooded my head and my eyes, and I had to sit and think what this emotion was.
You see, we are done having children.
I’m 42, my husband is 55. He is still trying to re-establish himself in his career field after being out of work for so long and moving to another state and then back again. I’m trying to start a new career. Our daughter is amazing. We are so blessed.
I don’t want another baby. Besides age and money and the feeling of not missing anything, I hated dealing with a newborn. I love my daughter but it was so hard! Breastfeeding and establishing routines and generally feeling like the whole world was upside down. I’m just not built for that.
I think what I was missing as I looked at that picture was the magic of it all. I loved being pregnant so much. The doctors appointments were awful, the special diet, pricking my finger four times a day, all of that sucked. But the times in between: those little kicks first thing in the morning, feeling her move as I sat reading a book, the special smiles you get from people when they notice you are pregnant. All of that was amazing.
And when she was here, this tiny little person. She was perfect. Her smell, the way her body fit into mine, the sighs in her sleep.
I remember early one morning I was feeding her a bottle. Everyone else was still asleep and it was my hope to put her back in the bassinet in that sweet spot just after her father’s alarm clock went off. She’s sleep for another couple of hours.
She was drowsing, and I pulled her up to my shoulder to burp her. She melted into me, and I remember thinking “remember this remember this remember this remember this” because she was so tiny, and I knew she wouldn’t be that tiny forever. I knew those moments wouldn’t last forever.
I can’t really remember what she felt like then. Sometimes if I concentrate really hard I can feel the ghost of that tiny baby nestled against me, but it’s just that: a ghost, a fleeting memory that may just be my imagination.
Today she is a big, strong two year old with a mind of her own. She is long and skinny, all legs and arms and opinions. It’s all uphill from here.
I guess I just wish I could go back in time and savor those little moments that I swore I would never forget. Not with another baby, with this one.
Tonight before bed I went into Miss P’s room like I always do. We have a monitor but the grainy image before bed isn’t enough.
I like to see what position she is in, make sure limbs aren’t tangled in the bed slats, that her feet are warm. I like to touch her foot, press a kiss from my fingertips to her forehead. I like to run my fingers through her hair as she sighs in her sleep.
“You secretly want to wake her up so you can snuggle her,” my husband accused.
I love it when she puts her skinny arms around my neck and presses her face into my shoulder. I love to feel her body snuggling into mine. She is so confident that she is safe and loved.
She is such a miracle, that I can’t get enough of her. Some days she drives me to tears in frustration, but if I ever ran away from home I’d have to take her with me. I would miss her too much to leave her behind.
She is my precious, lovely miracle.
And part of me wonders about the woman who have birth to me. Did she ever feel this way about me?
Then when I heard that he had committed suicide, it was like someone kicked me directly in the stomach. OH.
I have struggled with a bipolar disorder my whole life. Back when I was diagnosed it was still “manic depression” and the treatment was therapy and some little pink pills that made the highs lower and the lows more manageable.
I was diagnosed because of a suicide attempt.
When you are depressed, when you have been suicidal, any whisper of suicide can be a trigger. Now here was this huge mega star and he had done it: succeeded, crossed over, broken free. When you are suicidal, you see that and you think “Wow, he’s so lucky. He doesn’t have to suffer anymore.” Because when you are depressed, when you are suicidal, sometimes it seems like that is the only way out.
And you start to think things like: Look at him, how adored he is in death. Maybe I could be just as adored, finally. (and that shadow in your brain laughs at you and says “Come on now, no one would even notice if you were gone.”) It’s like someone flips on the switch that makes you wonder if you should try again.
It has been 20 years since my suicide attempt. During my recovery I promised myself that I would NEVER EVER let that happen again. I would never again get that close. I would never again let the darkness consume me. I promised myself I would reach out instead of folding into myself.
In the ensuing 20 years life has been by turns horrible and amazing. Right now, things are going really, really well for me. I look back at that deep, intensely depressed time in my life and I am so thankful I came out the other side. I would have missed out on so many things, but most especially this incredible two year old daughter of mine.
I have heard people say that Robin Williams was a coward, that taking his own life was a cowardly act of selfishness. Suicide is NOT an act of cowardice or selfishness, it is an act of desperation from someone who has fought every day of his life to hang on and just simply cannot do it anymore. Robin Williams was a fighter.
I am, too. I am a fighter. Though I made that promise to myself two decades ago, it doesn’t mean I’ve ever quit fighting. That little voice sometimes tries to convince me that the world would be better off without me. I can’t say things like “I wish I was dead” or “I want to just kill myself” in that offhand way some people do. I don’t wish I was dead. I would not just kill myself. Some days those are easy things to remember, and some days they are really hard.
I won’t do it. I’ll die one day, but if I am lucky I will be incredibly old, surrounded by grandchildren, and I will just slip away in the most unremarkable way.
Until that day, I’m going to keep on fighting.
As the summer continues to rage on here and everywhere, my focus of late has been on the deaths of children in hot cars. It seems that this happens at least every other day, and most of them occur in Florida, where I live.
To wit: this morning I see that a baby died in a hot car in Utah yesterday. Ugh.
I get that people are forgetful. Changes in routine can throw us all of balance. It happens.
But come on! This isn’t like forgetting to brush your teeth (I’m guilty of this), putting your shirt on inside out (also guilty) or leaving the grocery list on the kitchen counter at home (guilty!).
This is a HUMAN BEING. This is is your small, helpless child.
I have left my grocery list on the kitchen counter at home. Took my daughter to an unfamiliar store in an unfamiliar town, walked through the store with her and grabbed things I thought were on that list and when I got home, I carried her into the house (or, at this point, let her walk), went in and realized I forgot the milk. Nobody died, though.
We are all pulled in a million different directions every day, but if you’re leaving your child in the car accidentally then your focus is on the WRONG THINGS.
I know it seems like an easy thing to say, but really, isn’t taking the time to focus on your child, remembering your child more important than just about anything else?
I have tried to be compassionate towards these people. They’ve just lost children, and I cannot imagine anything worse. In my mind there is nothing worse – no judge, no jury could do anything to me that would compare with the punishment of losing the person I love most in the world. My condemnation of these people would mean little or nothing.
But really, all of the tips and tricks on how to not forget your child are just sad and pathetic. FOCUS on your child. Make your child your number one priority, and hot car deaths will become extinct. I guarantee it.
My paternal grandmother was born in 1931, and married my grandfather when she was just 16 years old. She helped him raise 5 kids on the salary that the US Army provided, until she was able to establish her own career many years later. They traveled the world courtesy of the Army, and during that time she attended several colleges, learned many foreign languages, and soaked up as much culture as she could. Not bad for a little girl from a tiny town in Arkansas.
As I got older and was unable to find a husband, the only thing she ever said was “It does get harder as you get older, but you will find someone.” When I finally did, she welcomed him into the family with open arms. I would sometimes walk into the sitting room and find a black and white movie on TV, my husband sacked out on the couch and my grandmother asleep in a recliner.
When we found out our first child would not be coming home with us, she grieved along with us. When our daughter came home she was the first (and to this day – only) person I left her with. At 5 weeks! There was no one I trusted more with my daughter.
This past Saturday, my grandmother died.
I don’t think it has completely hit me yet. It wasn’t unexpected: she has been in ill health for years, and the last 8 months have seen her in and out of the hospital and the nursing home. She was convinced that last Thanksgiving was her last. She was right.
She was generous, loving and strong. She worked hard to leave a legacy for each child, grandchild and great grandchild, not just in possessions but in love. Her home was open not just to family, but to neighbors and strangers. She always made sure there were extra children’s gifts under the Christmas tree just in case someone showed up. She never wanted anyone to feel left out.
About a month after Thanksgiving my father sent me a picture of my grandmother. Eighty two years old, she was climbing on the counter in the kitchen from a chair because she couldn’t reach the high shelf. She was in her nightgown, probably preparing breakfast. She looked appropriately guilty for being caught there, but I’m not sure if it was because she was in her nightgown or because she’d been admonished for climbing cabinets many times in the past.
I am so grateful that she was in my life for as long as she was. I am grateful that she got to meet and bond with my husband, and that she got to meet and spend time with my much-longed-for child. Last summer when we were visiting them she gave me a wonderful compliment. She told me that she thought I was doing a wonderful job raising my child and she was proud of me. I cannot describe how much those words meant to me.
She raised 5 children of her own, adopted two more, and took in one of her grandchildren when his mother went astray. Somewhere along the way she found time to teach me what it was to be a strong woman, a good wife, a loving mother and a great person.
I will miss her more than words can express, as soon as my heart figures out she is really gone.
We’ve always had a difficult time with naps and Miss P. She has always taken really short naps, which, once consolidated, were still short naps. Now we’re down to one, and for a time the naps have been between 45 minutes and 1 hour total for the day.a
Since returning to Florida (return for us – new place for her) her naps have gotten considerably longer. Most days her nap will last about 2 hours. On Friday, her nap was almost THREE hours.
She doesn’t sleep as much at night, which is negligible. Generally she is asleep by 9 pm and up by 7:30. Sometime around 3 or 3:30 am she will come get in bed with us, something I am trying to curb. On Thursday night she came in about 3:15 and instead of nursing her back to sleep and leaving her there I got up and took her back into her room. She fell asleep on the floor next to her crib snuggled up to me. No nursing. When I transferred her back to the toddler bed she didn’t complain.
Is it all of the Florida sunshine? Is it my change in attitude? Is it just finally coming to understand the beauty of a nap? Who knows? Whatever it is, I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
So we moved. To Florida from Louisiana.
It all started when we were trying to decide what to do for Christmas. I wanted his parents to visit us in Baton Rouge. His parents wanted us to visit them in Florida. Since everything was so last minute, neither trip happened. We decided to go visit them in Florida sometime in late January.
“If I were to get a job in Florida, would you want to move back?” My husband asked.
“Sure!” I said. I really did want to, I just didn’t think it would happen for a while.
We went to Florida, we had a fantastic time with family and friends. P really came out of her shell, and she LOVED the beach.
On Wednesday night my husband saw a job opening on LinkedIn and decided to send his resume. On Thursday night the company emailed asking him if he could come in for an interview on Friday, since we were going back to Louisiana on Sunday.
A couple of weeks later we we packing up our things to move to Florida. Wow, that was fast.
Since we only had a few weeks we stayed with his parents for a week, then spent two weeks borrowing a condo from some friends, then another week with his parents. During this time we were frantically looking for a house to rent and having the worst luck.
When we finally were able to rent a house, we couldn’t move in right away because our stuff was in storage in another town and we couldn’t get to it before they closed during the week. THEN the movers we hired to move everything one weekend didn’t show. THEN my husband went out of town so Miss P and I spent almost a whole week in the new house with no furniture and no internet.
Then we hired different movers for the following weekend, paid them a small fortune and got our stuff into the house. Now the unpacking begins.
In the midst of all of this Miss P decided she no longer wanted to sleep in her crib and climbed out of it. Um, kiddo, you’re supposed to wait until you are two for the toddler bed, don’t you know?
She’s still not sleeping through the night in her own bed in her own room, but we’re getting there.
PS – all you people who are pregnant again are making me jealous! We are DONE having kids, but it’s so exciting watching the rest of you!