Monday, 31 October 2011

No I Don't Want To Have To Be The One Who Has To Lose You

My grandma turned 95 last January and shortly after her birthday, she had a stroke. I wanted her to hold on to meet my baby and she did. She fought. She held my baby many times and near the end, when she was confined to her bed and she barely had the strength to stay awake, he gripped her finger and gave her a wide, gummy grin. I couldn't ask for anything more. I couldn't wish for her to get better.

She gave me her pumpkin pie recipe and her snappy tongue. I have her love of dogs and her wonky thyroid. I use Ivory soap because of her. Shortbread cookies covered in red and green sugar will always take me back to her kitchen.

My grandma was not an affectionate lady. She didn't call us "sweetie" or bestow us with kisses or cuddles. I never once heard her say "I love you" to anyone - ever - but I never doubted that she loved us all, fiercely. She was strong. The strongest lady I've ever known. I hope she gave me even just an ounce of her strength.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Easy For You To Say Your Heart Has Never Been Broken

Shawn and I saw the Foo Fighters last night. We skipped the opening acts, I didn't drink any $9 beers, and we left before the encore (I don't even know who I am anymore!) but I'm still calling the night a success. Grady stayed with Auntie Turtle and her fella and everything was swell. I emailed them approximately 87 times and I did my fair share of fretting, but I did not cry or panic once. I'm taking minuscule baby steps but I'm slowly making my way back to normal.

Monday, 24 October 2011

And Sadness Is A Silent Right A Moth Is Not A Butterfly

I have good days and I have some not-so-good days and I have the occasional I-can't-breathe day but overall, things are improving. I'm happy. Even when I start to slide back into my anxiety, I'm happy. I couldn't say that a month ago.

There are so many things I want to talk about but I struggle to find the words. Someone recently said to me that the best parents are those without children. It makes me giggle but also cringe. Pre-Grady I was such a good parent. Full of "my child will never do this" and "my child will always do that." If there's one thing becoming a mother has taught me, it's that I may be playing a guessing game and fumbling my way through parenting, but so is everyone else. I'm learning to be more gentle on myself but at the same time, I'm learning to be more gentle on others. 

It's humbling, this parenting gig. Admitting that I know nothing. Trying to accept help from well-meaning people without feeling too defensive or judged. It's been rough but I still feel so lucky because reaching through my sleep-deprived haze are the chubbiest baby arms, ready to wrap themselves around my neck and make me feel like the most important person in the world. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

I'm In The Pocket Just Like Grady Tate

If Grady turned out to be a lady baby, we would have named her Mabel. Shawn was pushing for Penelope but I would have won the lady baby name battle (we almost named Stella Penny and that would be weird in my head.)

Shawn and I had a lot of difficulty picking Grady's name. We started off at completely different ends of the baby boy names spectrum. When forced to define our naming styles, Shawn's choices fell into the "future rockstar" category while mine were more "fancy little gentleman, preferably with a British accent." Veto power was not used sparingly is what I'm saying.

We could not find a middle ground. Shawn continued to come up with rocker names (Axel, Maverick, etc) and I continued to love my little gentleman names (Finnian, Milo, etc.) It wasn't just our naming styles holding us back, though. We also had a few naming clauses that tripped us up.  

Clause #1: name must not be 1-syllable because of longstanding family tradition-mandated middle name of Shawn (tradition is that firstborn son is given his father's first name as his middle name. So ... sorry future hypothetical partner of Grady who has to work with Grady as a middle name for their hypothetical firstborn son.)  

Clause #2: name must not end in "an" or "en" sound because the last syllable of Shawn and Grady's 2-syllable last name is "an" and is way too rhymey with names like Brendan or Aiden. 

Clause #3: name must be Irish or at least feel Irish. (Shawn's clause.) 

Clause #4: name must not be too Irish because of Shawn and Grady's extremely Irish last name. (My clause.)

Clause #5: name must not be Willie or anything else that sounds like, or can be rhymed with, any slang word for penis (Shawn's BULLSHIT clause.) (Willie is a rad name and I would have loved to name Grady Willie but whatever, I've never been a boy on a school playground so FINE, SHAWN, I respected this clause.) 

I halfheartedly suggested Grady about halfway through the pregnancy. I honestly wasn't that into it but Shawn loved it. I didn't hate it, it just didn't feel like it was the name. I was waiting for an aha! moment I think (which is silly because I've never really been an aha! person.) We continued to fall in love with completely different names (him: Maximus and Ewan, me: Leo and Bennett.) Shawn kept coming back to Grady, though.

Roughly eight weeks before Grady was born, I saw Grady suggested to a reader on Swistle's baby name blog. Seeing it in a different context, with the other names Swistle suggested alongside it, made me see the name Grady in a new light.  I decided to get serious about Grady. I needed to either love it or veto it but I couldn't keep maybeing it. I already knew about Big Sugar's Grady (Shawn's a fan, I'm eh) but in my Grady research, I discovered Grady Martin. As a session musician, he played guitar on many of Willie Nelson's albums and later toured with Willie's band. Not only that, he helped shape Willie's song On the Road Again.

On the Road Again is a song that will forever remind me of my dad. When I was a kid, we used to go camping every summer. We'd pack up the station wagon until it was busting at the seams, all six of us would pile in, and we'd set off for 5 hours of cramped, sweaty driving until we reached the campsite. Dad would always put the Willie Nelson cassette into the tape player and blast On the Road Again and sing along and car dance while pulling out of the driveway.

Finding out about Grady Martin was sort of my aha! moment. Grady isn't named after Grady Martin or Big Sugar's Grady (or Grady Tate, for that matter) but it's our way of finding meaning in his name. I'm nostalgic about Grady Martin's connection to Willie Nelson and Shawn is pleased with the connection to talented musicians.

After our maternity photos were done, I didn't let myself think about names again.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Twenty-nine Pearls In Your Kiss A Singing Smile

Today I am twenty-nine. A year ago, children were in the "some day. maybe" category. This morning I woke up to baby giggles in my ear. It was a nice change from the baby shrieks that woke me multiple times last night.

I don't know what the next year is going to bring but I'm excited to find out. 

Especially if what it brings is more sleep.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

And We Won’t Spit With Our Mouths Or Draw Lines In The Dirt With Our Heels And Every Single Day We’ll Just Wait And Hope To See The Next One

I went a little crazy after Grady was born.

At first I felt like a goddamn warrior for birthing my 8lb 6.5oz baby without an epidural. I was on a new baby high for days. I felt like I could do anything. 

The nurses told me to expect to feel a little "blue" and after a few days I did start to feel weepy and low. It didn't get better, though, the way they told me it would. The sadness didn't go away. The anxiety didn't abate. 

Looking back, I can see how certain situations contributed to my crazy (Shawn got a grand total of 4 days off work after Grady was born; Wolfgang got very sick when Grady was 12 days old and for a week we didn't know if he was going to pull through; my maternity leave application was held up with no explanation and Wolfgang's unexpected $1,000 vet bill put a serious dent in our bank account; after a mild summer, we had two weeks of hot temperatures which, combined with the hormones, made me a literal hot mess) but at the time I couldn't identify and deal with them individually, it just felt like one thing after another piling on top of an already unmanageable situation (because newborns? Refuse to be managed. Grady has earned his nickname of Little Tyrant.)

I tried to convince myself that what I was feeling was normal. That the anxiety that prevented me from leaving my bedroom for days, the crying that left me red-faced and gulping for air on the bathroom floor, and the guilt that I was somehow harming my baby by being such a failure, were all just part of the "baby blues" that the nurses had warned me about. And for a while I succeeded. Shawn would come home from work day after day to find me huddled in the dark, rocking Grady and crying, and he would ask me if we needed to call the doctor. I would get very shrill and tell him that this was normal and nothing was wrong with me and why wasn't he on my team (my crazy makes me manipulative. I'm not proud.)

The thing is, even though part of me knew that what I was feeling wasn't normal, the other (crazy) part of me was convinced that I didn't need help. The nurses in the hospital and the pamphlet sent home with me made me think that unless I was about to hurt myself or someone else, I didn't need help. Which isn't logical. I know that now. But in the throes of my crazy, I was able to convince myself that as long as I wasn't suicidal, I was okay and what I was experiencing was normal and fine. I didn't want to be the lady who couldn't handle having a baby. I was ashamed that my anxiety was dictating my life (and Grady's life.) I was locked in this horrible spiral of "what if" thinking (what if I drop the baby? what if I go to the grocery store and someone steals the baby? what if I'm driving and someone hits me and the baby?) and I didn't know how to stop it but I was too scared to ask for help (what if I tell my doctor and they take away my baby?)

Three weeks ago I went for my followup appointment with the doctor who delivered Grady. Before starting the exam, she sat down and asked how I was doing. And then she sat with me for the next hour while I cried and admitted to every single destructive thought I'd had over the past seven weeks. Instead of doing my physical exam, my rockstar doctor came up with a plan and gently but firmly told me what I was going to do. It was exactly what I needed. I needed someone to say "this isn't normal and this is what you are going to do to fix it."

I've been working to fix myself for three weeks. I have a plan and I have support. For the first time since Grady was born, I feel like I'm seeing things clearly. I'm not there yet - I don't feel like me - but I'm on my way.

I'm so glad because I get to enjoy this guy even more.