Saturday, November 05, 2011

And away I go...

This week was my first flight/trip without the lil bubba and I have to say, it was a little surreal. It feels like a lifetime away since I've taken a trip on my own - without my husband, without my baby. Without a car seat stroller, baby carrier, diapers and wipes, baby toys, baby food, baby bottle. Without having to plan my day around nap times and feedings. Just me and my 1 bag. Amazing.

There were also a lot of the small things I noticed, appreciated, missed in addition to the big things. I'll start with what I appreciated. Travel, is of course, a million times simpler. I have more room in my luggage for my own stuff. I'm not lugging around a ton of things. I don't have to get in the long check-in line to get lil bubba's boarding pass (which you have to do for a "lap child"). The security line doesn't involve breaking down the stroller and car seat, unstrapping him, carrying him through the scanner, reassembling the stroller, car seat and re-strapping him in, in addition to the usual business of taking out my laptop, taking off my shoes, etc.

I also got to sleep when I wanted to on the flight, read a book, listen to my ipod, write this blog entry, watch a movie uninterrupted. Eat a meal continuously. How crazy that it feels like such a long time ago when this felt normal but is now a luxury.

And during the trip, I got to sleep longer than 6 hours at night, go out to dinner past baby bedtime with colleagues to baby un-friendly restaurants with loud blues performances, cramped tables, a hip atmosphere. They were late dinners with even later karaoking, dueling piano bars and dance floors with great DJs (way less awkward this time around not having a baby strapped to my body).

The sole reminder of my duties as a mom was when I had to pump right before going out to dinner each night and how I had to head home by midnight to pump again because my boobs were about to explode (but they were just about to do the Cupid Shuffle!).

And then there's the intellectual stimulation. I feel really fortunate to have gotten this time to reflect on my own practice, learn from smart colleagues, meet people who I deeply respect, think about how I need to develop and grow as a leader, grapple with what it means to truly be part of a movement that is about race, class and privilege. I intentionally made an effort to talk to and meet with people very different than myself to broaden my own limited perspective.

We visited the civil rights museum - the location where Martin Luther King was assassinated, we talked about the movement that abolished slavery in England in the 1800s and how so much still needs to change today. We talked about what it truly means to be part of a community. It was profound for me.

At this point, you may be thinking, does she even like being a mom? Does she remember the little one she has at home?

Rest assured, I had my moments. Believe it or not, I actually missed having him in my lap on the flight. To pinch his cheeks, kiss his forehead, play with him and get him to smile and laugh.

My husband has been sending me pictures all week - "lil bubba wakes up!," "lil bubba during bath time," etc. I was really happy to hear he's doing well and happy. I was also sad that I was missing his happiness and smiles. I so wanted to be there for those pictures after a while, and heck, why is he so happy with his mom gone? Shouldn't he be a little sad?

Towards the end of the week, I started to flip through all my pics of him on my phone during the conference breaks because I needed something to make me feel like he was close by even if he wasn't. I had the most ridiculously dumb smile on my face as I looked through these. I bonded with other colleagues who were new parents because it was another way to feel connected to my little one, and to my identity as a mom.

To be clear, this part of me and the other side are not mutually exclusive. This part of my identity never dissipated when I was experiencing the other things - in fact, it just added a richer layer to everything else.

For example, going out to dinner each night and having fun afterwards, turned out to be setting an example to my other younger coworkers that being a parent and maintaining your spirit for life was possible in our organization and as a women (I didn't know I was doing this until they told me on the last day). And when we have convos about what kind of education all children deserve, I think about the little bubba and what I want for him as a parent now, how privileged I really am and what it means for my work for every other family that doesn't have what I have.

The circuits in my brain are going full force these days about this stuff. Layers and layers and layers. It's an onion, and I'm loving having the chance to peel them back one trip, experience and moment at a time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

And I'm back...

It was with a lot of anticipation, anxiety and excitement that I had been awaiting my first day back at work. Last night, I spent 2 hours packing my work bag just right, picking out the right outfit that said "I'm still a professional" and "I don't look pregnant anymore," picking out the perfect photos of the little bubba to put up at my desk so I could look at them when I missed him greatly. All the little things that I could control that would make me feel less stressed about it all.

But despite those things I was still having an identity crisis. Over the last few days, I think the tension between my desired identity as a good mom, successful professional, thoughtful wife and just an interesting person were all colliding and I couldn't make order of who I needed/wanted to be at which moment. I'm sure my husband would agree since he had to deal with my craziness. On the one hand, I wanted to be home as much as possible after work. On the other hand, I wanted to still have a life outside of work and my son. On one hand, I wanted my husband to be able to go see friends and organize social activities. On the other hand, I felt like he'd never understand prioritizing our son the way a mom does (which is silly, I know). I didn't know quite how I would really feel when today came, who of these personas would come out more and predictably, last night the indications of anxiety began to surface.

Last night, as I was holding the little bubba in my arms right before we put him to bed, we decided to take a photo of me and him - to commemorate this moment. After the photo, and as he was staring innocently at me, I started to tear up because his life was flashing before my eyes, growing up in daycare and school while I was at work, me missing all the big moments, how my heart had already started to ache in missing him even though he was right in front of me still. How I jump ahead.

Last night, I also had this dream in which I was starting my first day in college, but I had forgotten which classes I had signed up for and had a sinking feeling I was going to miss the first day of class for one or more of them, setting myself up to fail them from day one. I was also sharing my house with a bunch of other students and the way the showers were set up, I ended up having to shower out in the open in the big living room, where everyone could see me in all my nakedness. And then, right in the middle of the shower, just when I lathered all the shampoo in my hair, the water got shut off and I had to wait for it to turn back on, mid-shower. After it became evident that the water was not coming back on, I had to get dressed, lathered hair and all, and get to class 30 minutes late. In the end, the professor was late too, so I didn't miss anything. It's not that hard to interpret though. First day of school = first day back to work. Having to shower in front of everyone = the vulnerability I felt coming back to work (how I look to others post pregnancy, the fact that I have to pump milk in a conference room with my shirt open twice a day, how I would be perceived as a mom - instead of a professional, etc). Being late/missing class = worried about getting to work late today, about being behind the ball, missing something, not being as good as I was before I left. But like my dream, I think I knew, that in the end, it would all turn out fine.

So how did it go, you ask? That's the funny thing. In many ways, it felt really anti-climactic after all that build up. I gave Spencer a kiss in the morning and handed him off. I got to work a little early. I got through most of my emails. I didn't have any emotional breakdowns and I picked up little bubba right on time from daycare, with not too much traffic. Brought him home, played with him and then put him to bed. End of story.

To be honest, it was so great to see all my coworkers again, sit at my desk, turn on my Outlook, put together my day's to-do list and worry about problems to solve that were different than what toy he wants to play with or what type of bottle he drinks out of best.

But I also felt the urgent need to put up my little bubba's photos immediately, so that I could be reminded of him and see him and know that that's also part of me that I so strongly identify with now, that I can't leave behind. I was also so excited to leave work and to see him the minute I arrived at day care - it was like there weren't enough minutes in the day for me to just stare at his face and hold him. The strangest part of today was that when I brought little bubba home, as I was staring at him and playing with him, it was almost as if the day at daycare had already begun to change/shape him into a different baby while I was gone. I heard a different laugh that I never heard before. He seemed exceptionally happy, perhaps a result of a different kind of interaction with his new friends at daycare. His neck seemed so much stronger already. Even his hair looked like it fell a different way than this morning. All this, I may be imagining, but it's also the reality of the months ahead - staying strong to each of my identities, yet inevitably losing a little bit of each one in the process.

Ah, well, that was day one. Let's see what my dreams tonight will tell me.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

For giving and for getting

Tonight, I cancelled dinner plans to stay back at home with the little bubba so that my hubs can go out to dinner with some friends, sans baby. It's been a long day with the bubba, but my hubs has had a long week too and I often forget what it feels like from his perspective.

Since the baby, I've often been caught up with my situation, how much of my time I give to the baby, how much I need my husband to help, etc. But I also am lucky enough to get to spend all day with the little kiddo and see him grow in every small way. From my husband's perspective, he gets to see the little guy a couple of hours each night (and always with me, so he doesn't have a lot of alone time with him), always feels guilty for not doing enough (and feeling like I think he doesn't do enough), that whatever free time he has on the weekdays, he should be spending it with me or his son. Which leaves him with very little time for himself, or to see his friends on his own.

He's encouraged me to make dinner plans sans baby at least once a week and said that he would watch the kiddo for me since he knows I need a break. Yesterday, I went to dinner with a friend and the hubs watched him. In the 3 hours that I was gone, he washed the dishes I left in the sink, emptied the dishwasher, gave the little one a bath, fed him, put him to sleep, scraped together some dinner and proceeded to take all our blinds down from 13 windows in the house (in preparation for the blinds guy coming today) until he almost injured his shoulder. While I know he still doesn't quite understand how hard it is to take care of a kiddo all day long, I do know that he tries. To the best that he can, given the minor reality that he will never be able to breastfeed or bear children (nor does he want to).

One of my friends said that once she had her child, there was no one else in the world she loved more - not her parents, not her husband. It was an unconditional, overwhelming love that she had never experienced before and it was incomparable to anything she had felt previous. While I also feel an overwhelming love for my son - something that I never knew could feel this amazing - it's weeks like this that remind me how much I love my husband too and the import of appreciating him and of remembering to give because I know he's trying too and, afterall, this is teamwork.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Bubba vs. the Momma

The Bubba: farted in the bath and little poo particles floated out, peed all over momma's shirt while breastfeading, woke up from nap exactly in the second momma sat down for dinner, no nap time longer than 30 min all day

Momma: went for a run, showered, had both lunch and dinner while hot, exhausted and has to do it all over again tomorrow!

Then the Bubba was all smiles for a whole 20+ minutes and then it was no contest...

Monday, May 23, 2011


Who knew that success for me these days would mean not getting any spit up on the bubba's clothes? Sigh. How times have changed.

On a different note, picking up his birth certificate today - exciting!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

what goes around, comes back around again...

My parents just left today, after living with us for the last month, helping with the little bubba and with my recovery. It's strange because I know that both my parents and I are left with competing emotions of both sadness and the desire to resume our normal lives again.

I have to admit, I had some reservations about having my parents live with us for a whole month. I haven't done that in over a decade and wasn't sure how it was going to go. but as far as potential family tensions go, they have been amazing. so loving and thoughtful and respectful of roger and my life here in this house. i don't know what i would have done without them the last few weeks.

i'm trying to imagine being in their shoes and what it must have felt like living here and helping and now leaving. at the door when we were saying goodbye, my mom started tearing up and then crying and gave me a big hug. i was totally taken aback. in my mind, i would see them again soon and was not prepared for an emotional goodbye. and you have to understand, my mom does not cry very often. when she does, it breaks my heart. so when she came in for the hug, with tears in her eyes, of course, it triggered immediate tears from me. i hugged her tight and couldn't let go for what felt like a long time.

what was she most sad about leaving behind? being able to spend real quality time with her grandson? with her daughter who she hasn't done that with in a really long time? feeling needed and appreciated again the way she used to when her kids truly depended on her for their happiness? it made me think about how rewarding and hard it must be to be a mom (or parent, really) and what my mom has gone through with us and seeing us grow up. in the beginning, they are like my little bubba. entirely dependent on me for their existence. then, as they become toddlers or even young children, they still are dependent on you but also give you complete and total unconditional love. as they get older, say, middle school, you as a parent may feel that first tension or resistence they have about you. they think you don't know everything and that you don't understand them. they are embarrassed of you. how heartbreaking that must be. then, they actually don't need you as much anymore. in fact, they soon become teenagers and then adults and grow into their independent lives, maybe move away, call every so often and during holidays. but you may feel that they are absorbed in their own lives, that you play a smaller and smaller role in their everyday.

It must be hard then, to be my mom, who has adjusted to that phase and then come here, where she is all of a sudden, totally needed again. if i were her, i'd love that feeling again. her daughter is asking her for advice. appreciating her cooking and helping. asking her to help with taking care of her grandson. it feels lively, like a full house again with a sense of purpose for why she is there. just like it was when we were younger. and now, that fades away again. she'll go back home, of course, to the comfort of her own home, own bed. to her garden and her clothes and tools. her neighborhood and routine. but something must feel missing in that. it would for me. her grandson is now growing up hundreds of miles away from her after she has tended to him every day for the first month of his life. her daughter is going to learn to be independent of her again, after needing her so much for several weeks. and there must be a sense of emptiness in that.

even for me, i am looking forward to resuming my life here. figuring out my own rhythm and routine with this little guy in my life now. on maternity leave and then when i start working again. but at the same time, it was SO nice being cared for again. having my mom here who just knows what i need to feel better and feel taken care of. to be able to have my parents in my son's life and for them to get to see him change and grow with each day. and that is suddenly gone. and it does feel a little empty.

it also makes me think about how my parents are also getting older. that one day, i may be the one to help take care of them this way. that i might be the one to cook and clean for them - when they need me the most. this I will, of course, do for them, no questions asked. it is the least i can do with everything they have given me. it is what i hope my little bubba will do for me and dodger one day.

talk about getting ahead of myself though. what's up with these hormones?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Three years later...

Wow. It's been more than 3 years since my last post. I can't believe how life and time just passes you by. That's in part why I wanted to resurrect my posts again. How else will I remember my random thoughts. Probably, now more than ever, I need an outlet like this to be able to give me the personal space to think again.

What's changed in the last 3 years? I guess all of life's great and bigger transitions have all been compressed in this time frame. I got married. We bought a house. Both my hubs and I have new jobs. I learned what this whole pregnancy and labor was all about and two weeks ago, we welcomed a small precious little son into our lives. It's been both amazing and a lot to take on at the same time and trying to keep some semblance of all the different pieces of yourself, from your past, present to who you want to be in the future, in tact takes a lot of constant work.

Even though these are all the "grown up" things that one is supposed to do at this time in life, there's something to be said about remembering that life is for the light of heart - especially in times when you feel like life has to be so serious. dodger and I have seen too many of our friends hold the weight of mortgages, stress of work and responsibility of kids on their shoulders and you slowly see the youth and joy slip from their everyday experiences. This is something we've promised each other that we won't lose.

Enter: the little bubba. While motherhood and parenthood have been truly amazing overall, I think one can't help but feel like some of that youth slips away. You aren't on just your schedule anymore. Someone else's life is now, literally, in your hands. He poops and pees when he feels like it, sleeps when he feels like it, and eats when he feels like it (at the deteriment and pain of yours truly - bleeding nipples anyone?). If you don't feed him, he won't survive. If you don't care for him, he won't survive. It's kind of mindblowing. All things they tell you and obviously you know, when you enter into this adventure, but man, when it hits you, it REALLY hits you.

Don't get me wrong. He's one amazing experience to behold and with each growing day, I am falling more and more in love in a way I thought I never could feel. And the relationship is so complex when I throw in the love I have for my husband and then the collective love we both have for our son. But I'm still in a place right now where I do feel the weight of his world on my shoulders and I'm struggling to find the tightrope line where I can balance who I was before this with who I need and want to be moving forward. I want to be fun! I want to see friends! I want to be a great mom and a supportive wife! What that looks like, for me, for our family, remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for some potentially late night posts as I enter the world of sleep deprivation in the coming weeks and months...