Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Grom, Mom


I paddled out on a surfboard for the first time in 10 weeks on Friday, July 31st. Nothing was in my stomach except scrambled eggs, an avocado and sourdough toast from breakfast. No tiny, tumbling baby. My mom keeps telling me she wasn't ever really in my stomach anyways, but that's where it felt like she was so I stubbornly remain anatomically incorrect. 

When I started surfing during my pregnancy it was because the doctor said it was ok and I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Of course I watched the heaviest winter swells through our camera lens. I counted all the seagulls passing by when it didn't seem safe. I rode a soft foam board from a local company. I took up bodysurfing in the last month and a baby I didn't know was a little girl came along for all of this. I can tell these experiences shaped her based on the way she is calmed by swinging in her carseat and bouncing in my arms around the backyard. 

I never expected that all of this would change me though. I think I did my best surfing when Sprout was on board and that's because I was out there purely to enjoy the experience with nothing to prove.

I knew I would miss her when she had to stay on the sand once she was born, but my mom also told me that it's good for her body to be hers and mine to be mine sometimes. So I paddled out by myself for the first time in 50 weeks. 

A perfect wave came to me right away. It was like the ocean had been keeping track of how long I'd waited to be back out there too. This wave was blue like a marlin when he jumps out of the water, which made the white part look all that much whiter, like teeth in a Colgate commercial. I had to squint to see it. The left was long and slow, kind of ambling along like this lady I see walking her basset hound and clipping daisies in our neighborhood. Even at this pace, with plenty of time to prepare, I totally missed the wave that seemed destined for me. Turns out holding an ever-growing new baby doesn't tone your arms the way you'd hoped when you were bouncing her on your knee at 4 a.m. for the last five weeks. My ribs ached for weeks after those first sessions back and I missed a lot of other waves I normally would have caught, but I was smiling after every session like I'd just been shot out of a pit at Teahupoo or ridden for five minutes on an outer-reef left at Raglan. 

The most true thing I can say about right now is that everything is different and everything is better. 

Now when I'm out surfing I scan the beach for Avalon as much as I scan the horizon for waves. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Avalon to Avalon


Dear Avalon,

We went to Avalon, Catalina, your namesake, last weekend for your first trip since you've been on this side of the world. We took you last November, the day after Thanksgiving, when you were in my tummy and Daddy and I stood on a standup paddle board together and tipped over into a kelp bed. We never got that Christmas card photo.

This trip was planned by your Nonnie and Poppy. The first time they took your Aunt Danielle, Aunt Maddie and I, the year started with the number 19 and we had an orange dinghy thats motor indicated with pictures that it could go as slow as a turtle or as fast as a rabbit. Even when "going bunny" we never had to worry about making a wake in the 'no wake' zones. 

On this trip we slept on the boat three nights with you. The first night some kids on a midnight fishing trip lost power to their motor right outside our window and began cussing and cranking it up only to have it die again repeatedly while we were trying earnestly to get three consecutive hours sleep. On the third night you slept for five hours in a row! A new record! Daddy and I celebrated quietly at 3:30 in the morning until I came down with a low-grade fever and shivered for the next two hours. Turns out my body wasn't happy I went that long without feeding you. I told your dad I can't win for loosing with this nursing thing, but I try to remind myself that the more I wake up in the middle of the night, the more of your life I get to see.

One night we took you to your first concert. You and I danced to a cover of Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at 40". I often sing this song to the ocean when I'm surfing by myself and I sang it to you as a lullaby in the first weeks after you came home from the hospital. I leave out the verses about smuggling drugs and spending time with lots of women most of the time. 

You are learning so many new expressions lately it's easy to see that you are growing up right before our eyes. You stick your tongue out at me when I stick mine out at you. You frown and grunt and I call you grouchy. You yawn and smack your little lips. Every time you smile I want to take a picture. I cry sometimes looking at you and then I tell you that you are beautiful and that I hope you always feel that way. I think you might have changed my body forever, but in order to show you that it makes me honored I still wear my bathing suit with a smile.

The first of many trips to our favorite mystic isle. 

Love,
Mommy

--
p.s. thank you all for the advice, thoughts, comments, stories and help regarding nursing (I've decided this word is easier to use on the blog). They made me feel encouraged and so much less alone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rat Crap in the Corner



Our wedding day was four years, two weeks and six days ago. It was one of two best days in my life, which is why I cried like a two year old getting a toy taken away when the cops came at 11:30 and told us to shut it down. Lame neighbors. 

Our friend Dave tried to talk some sense into me. It had been the perfect day, he said. It was sunny, we were at my parent's house, one of our favorite places in the world, I got to rap Empire State of Mind on stage with the band and my family, the food was good, the sunset had a green flash, the water was see-through and I was married to Scott after waiting my whole life to be with him. "All of this and it's like there's a pile of rat crap in the corner over there and that's all you can see," he told me. And when he put it that way it was ridiculous that I was upset over the police making us turn our music off. 

Last week I was besides myself over the unpredictable success of feeding Sprout. Why was breastfeeding sometimes so amazing and other times so torturous. It was becoming a mystery I was obsessing over, laying awake at night thinking about what I ate that day and reviewing the number of feedings, average times and notes I had typed into my iPhone app, missing a chance to sleep that wouldn't come again. I told Scott I didn't feel like myself. I cried when she took a bottle of my milk one morning even though I should have been relieved. Friday afternoon after finally getting clearance to get back in the water after almost six weeks of recovery, I walked down the stairs at my parent's house and jumped in while Scott and Avalon watched. The second I swam under a wave I started crying. It felt so good to feel like I knew what I was doing again. I thought, I have never felt so much like a mermaid. 

When I got out I held Avalon in the shorebreak. I could see she was ok. I could see she was happy. I could see she was blessed to be raised near the ocean. I could see I had been too busy focusing on the rat crap in the corner.


--
p.s. after meeting with a lactation consultant I think I might have finally started to figure out my breastfeeding mystery! I'm not going to talk about it here in detail because boys read this site and my former self would have wanted to kick my current self for even mentioning breastfeeding here, but if you want to chat or anything feel free to email me! Also, Sprout has since refused to take a bottle. Any tips? 

Monday, August 3, 2015

'I Think I Can't' and Other Thoughts from Motherhood


The first time I remember trying to give up on anything was the day I had my daughter. I grew up believing I was the little blue train in The Little Engine That Could, but all of that flew out the window as I approached hour five of pushing her into the world. The good thing was, no one at my bedside would let me quit and a sweet and swollen baby girl was finally placed on my chest to my own disbelief.

The thing is, throughout this beginning phase of motherhood, I have had to battle this feeling of "I can't" many times. I have cried in the middle of the night over breastfeeding. I have been convinced I am failing at motherhood because Sprout woke Scott up when I know he has an important day of work ahead (for the record, he completely disagrees). 

Many mothers have sincerely told me to ask them if I have any questions, which always translates to 'I'm here for you' in my mind, but what I'm realizing now is that I don't usually need help finding answers to my questions. I can Google 'diaper rash remedies' and 'when will my baby sleep through the night?'.  What I need help with is all the feelings. Sometimes I've wondered if my baby likes me. Sometimes I feel like I'm a failure if she scream-cries when I feed her. Sometimes I'm completely overwhelmed by how quickly time passes. In the light of day, after some fresh air or a good nap or looking at a gummy little baby smile or watching her sleep in a ball in my chest, these feelings vanish and I know we're right where we're supposed to be and that even the hardest moments are precious and fleeting, but I wanted to write them here anyways so that other people can know that I've had them in case they have too.

In some ways the struggle brings me comfort. I get nervous when things are too easy. I just have to remind myself that sometimes success in parenting looks like a bunch of dirty diapers, a sleeping child in clean pajamas and a mom with spit-up in her hair and Desitin under her finger nails.

It's all ok. It's like the lady with a mop of grey hair said to me in the locker room at the gym two weeks before Sprout was born..."We can do this!" 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Another July


My hair is turning brown. I've been eating chicken. The last time I swam in the ocean was the day Sprout was born, a month ago. We had been sent home from the hospital after my contractions all but stopped once we were admitted. To revive our spirits, we jumped in the ocean in our clothes on our way home at 9 a.m. with the Junior Lifeguards. The other day I found a dirty diaper in my hot car and it made me happy. This July is different than any other. 

I think back over some of the advice I've been given about being a mother. Bunches of it that was accepted with a nod and a smile exited out the backdoor of my mind before it ever settled anywhere, but things my mom and Scott said stayed. 

My mom said that people don't remember crying their eyes out as babies and babies know that you are trying and that they are loved. Scott says he knows Sprout is going to have a good life and not to worry about small stuff. While we were still in the hospital he and I agreed that we are glad she is our adventure this summer.

I am not worrying about surfing with great white sharks in Oregon this year, I'm putting breastmilk on a diaper rash at 3 a.m. and walking 10,000 steps around my dining table. Paradise, for the moment, has been holding a sleeping newborn on my chest and drinking watered-down lemonade with ice on an under-stuffed sofa. I'm proud of myself for learning how to feed and swaddle and calm her and for making it one block away to the taco shop for lunch. 

I can't wait to dive into the ocean again. I feel like everything about it will be better than I remember. I might even drink a little. I feel the ocean influences me in different ways now; in the way I rock Sprout to sleep; in the way I stay calm when she screams in the middle of the night; in the way I say I love you to her three hundred times a day even though she can't say it back.

There's a lot of me that's different now in this new 'butterfly state', as the doctor called it, and most of it has to do with the fact that I stay home all day and am on call all night. I honestly can't believe the world is overpopulated. Parenting is hard. It's kinda like you have to learn how to do everything all over again. I'm currently typing this with one hand so I can rock Sprout's bassinet and have a few extra minutes to finish writing it. But she is magic. She can scrunch up in a ball on my chest. She can make this funny little 'o' with her mouth. She sneezes twice in a row and has bendy knees and a nose that snores and tiny hand dimples and a gummy little mouth. Every day we know each other more. If this summer has anything to say to me it's that these little things are what matter this year.
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