July 27, 2010

Nothing Easy is Ever Easy

When I was pregnant, it was my intention to nurse my babies.  I wanted all sorts of crunchy mama things for my babies- cloth diapers, breast feeding, co-sleeping, a natural delivery...  But breastfeeding seemed (for obvious reasons) the most important.  And the most daunting.  I knew my mother had a very difficult time nursing, her let down was excruciating, and while most women seem to experience some pain with nursing that gets better over time, hers never did.  I knew that most women in the U.S. give up nursing early, that it's too difficult, that it's too inconvenient, and that it's a ball and chain that keeps you tied to your home, completely disrupting your social life.  And here in the U.S., we're all about our social lives.

I set myself a goal.  I was going to try to nurse for six months.

Six months came and went, and the time came to reassess my goals.  The pediatric recommendation is at least one year, and the first six months had been HARD.  So, I wasn't just going to give up.  If getting nursing "well established" had taken me four months, a two month return just seemed a little weak.  So my new goal was set- I wanted to nurse until my children self weaned.  Or until I decided they were "too old" to keep going.

According to my reading, most babies self wean between eight and twenty four months.  That's a big window, and I always assumed that I would be holding out until the farther end of it.

Last week, my girls weaned.  In one day.  Before their morning nap, they nursed like champs.  When it came time for their afternoon nap. DD wouldn't have anything to do with it.  She fussed and cried until I stopped trying to nurse her, and then she went right to sleep.  SI decided that if it wasn't good enough to DD, it wasn't good enough for her either.  I kept at it another two days, trying and trying to get the girls to latch on and have themselves a meal.

Nothing.  They were done.

I know I should have felt proud of myself.   I had accomplished a fairly heady goal- I had nursed twins until they self weaned.  That's not exactly easy.  I had nursed two babies for just shy of ten months.  Damned close to a year.

That's a lot of breastfeedings.

Still, I didn't feel proud.  I didn't feel accomplished.  I felt rejected.  When DD refused to latch on and get happy and cozy with me, I felt so sad I nearly burst into tears.  It wasn't those nursing hormones (which are all touchy-feely and remarkably addictive), it wasn't that I knew she was giving up a perfect food source- a FREE food source to boot.  She was giving up ME.  She was done with Mommy.

That SI was so willing to go along with DD and be done with Mommy as well... that was just icing on the abandonment cake.  I was miserable.  I was old news.

It took a few days to get my head straight.  First of all, they eat SO MUCH solid food that I doubt it's really hurting them at all to stop nursing.  Secondly, nursing had become much more a sedative than a nutritive activity.  Last of all, weaning meant all sorts of good things for me.  I could return to taking medications I had given up, and therefore improve my quality of life somewhat.  I could start planning days not around their eating/napping schedule, but around my own needs.

I remembered my resolution- I could find other ways to have special me/baby time.  It's much harder now to have special time with both girls at once, but that doesn't mean we can't feel snuggly and happy and close one at a time.  Now I sing the girls to sleep, rocking them and giving them kisses.  I take advantage more of times when one girl is asleep to spend a little more time with whoever is awake.

I'm back on a birth control that doesn't make me crazy.  I'm back to taking painkillers for my migraines that can do me any good.  I can use dandruff shampoo and acne cream.  I'm taking whole afternoons at the gym.  These are things that I couldn't do while I was nursing.

So weaning was easy.  Weaning involved me doing absolutely nothing, and letting the girls do exactly what they wanted.  They won't even take a bottle anymore- if it's not coming from a cup, it's not good enough.  I didn't even have any engorgement issues.

So by just about any reasonable standard, weaning these children was a breeze.  There were no tantrums, there was no pain, there were no repercussions.  For the girls.  I, on the other hand, found myself completely wrong footed and confused.

It was a pain in the ass to get good at nursing.  It took four long months of pain and tears and sleeplessness and angst.  And now it's over.  If I ever have another baby it won't just be picking up where I left off, it will be starting all over again.  It was hard, and it was worth it, but the idea that it's just... over?  That it's going to be instantly forgotten by two of the three most important people in my life?

I am profoundly saddened, even as each day gives me more perspective and pride.  I've done something that one year ago I was terrified would be impossible.  Something that during the first month of their lives occasionally seemed like torture.

It's a chapter in my life, in the story of my motherhood, that is over.  Every ending is a little death, a little sadness.  But every step forward for my girls' development, for their becoming children and adults and human beings... each change is a rebirth, them becoming who they are.

I am proud of myself, and I am proud of them.  But I already long for their early days, when they were so small and helpless, and they needed me.  They need me still, but less.  And one day I'll wake up, and they won't seem to need me at all.

July 24, 2010

The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Jewish Guilt

When my husband and I decided to have a baby, we knew we couldn't just take a bottle of wine and some Barry White and make a night of it.  With M's cancer treatment, it was unsure if he would ever be able to go about things in the standard way, but we had a back-up plan banked at the hospital.  IVF it was, the least fun method of conception known to man.

During the build up to the IVF, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with the process.  Not just because I was being stabbed repeatedly with needles on a daily basis, not because I was losing pints of blood a week to the endless tests at the clinic, and not because there was the mounting pressure associated with TRYING to get pregnant- an alien experience for certain.  It was all based on esoteric philosophy.

As a teenager, I was more than passively obsessed with the metaphysical.  I read extensively, wrote a great deal, and generally devoted my mental energy towards such pursuits as reconciling quantum physics and the Tao.  Of course, I read the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

If you'll excuse the extreme brevity of this explanation, according to Tibetan Buddhists, when you die your spirit/soul goes on a journey through the other world.  At the end of the journey you come to an area filled with coupling couples.  At this point, you choose your parents.  At the point of your conception.

Now, I don't know if I believe this.  I don't generally know what I believe on any given subject at any given time, but this idea resonates with me.  You chose your parents as an objective, other-wordly observer; at the moment when their love for each other should be most obvious and intense.

So why would a bodiless soul choose to be the child of somebody absent?  Who sees the petri dish and says, "I want THAT to be my parent!"  Nowhere in the Book of the Dead is the issue of in-vitro tackled, and I had to wonder... what kind of child could come of such a sterile conception?

Would the bodiless soul know that, in order to go through the arduous process of being conceived in a petri dish, the parents must be so full with love to give, so willing to welcome a new life into their home, that the petri dish becomes the ideal parent situation?  I didn't think so.  I somehow doubt that the bodiless soul has that much reason.  After all, there's really only a moment to choose.

Would I choose the petri dish?  I think not.  I think I would choose the couple in a loving embrace, holding each other close and obviously enamored of each other.  I would choose the couple whispering, "I love you," amid a tangle of limbs and bathed in each others sweat.  I would worry that a couple engaging in such clinical child production would be too rigid, too demanding for me.

Obviously, my concerns about who my child would be didn't stop me from going through the in-vitro.  but I still worried...  What child will want me if they can't see me to choose?

So I found myself the other night, rocking each of my daughters to sleep, one at a time, with their beautiful heads resting on my arm and their perfect little arms laying gently on my chest, and all of this came rushing back.  If these children, these perfect children, chose me to mother them there MUST have been a reason.  I can't imagine what it could be.  Right now, they are perfect.  I know, every mother thinks their child is perfect, but a baby is different from a child or an adult.  A baby IS perfect potential, a baby is untainted and unlimited.  I, as a mother and as a human being, am NOT perfect.  I looked at my daughters' faces, and I had to hold back tears.  At that moment the truth was painfully clear, I am going to fail them.

I am incapable of maintaining their perfection.  I am going to hurt their feelings, to force them to do things they don't want to do, to give them excuses to lie and to fight.  I am going to try harder than I have ever tried at anything in my life to teach these children to be better than me, but it's impossible.  Someday I will argue with them, and punish them, and every time I do their ability to be these perfect little people will lessen and lessen... because people cannot BE perfect.  We can only feel the nagging, endless guilt that we aren't.

And thus my life as a Jewish mother begins in earnest.  I know in my deepest soul that I will never be good enough for these children.  That for a person to decide that they want to be the child of faceless, potentially loveless strangers is an act of goodness beyond any act I have ever known.  For a child, no less two, to choose me and M as their parents was selfless and generous- the act of angels.

So, as all Jewish mothers before me, I believe that my children are no less than ethereal beings, sent to this earth for me to protect.  I'm going to screw it up.  I screw it up every day.  And thus my guilt.  Everything that they ever do wrong will be my fault, my failure.  Every tear they ever cry will be my responsibility.  Every injustice of life that ever occurs to them is my doing, because I am a mere mortal, and I am not as good as them.

Perhaps they can teach me, and in another life I will be so kind and so good as to believe in the potential of faceless strangers, and to put every bit of my trust and my faith in them.  Perhaps it is not so much my job to keep them good as to learn from them how to be good myself.

I will try, but the damage is done.  Every few weeks, or months, or years, I will weep my bitter tears for having failed to make myself the perfect mother that they deserve, in this world that will never be good enough.

July 21, 2010

Mother Nature's Sadistic Sense of Humor

As you probably remember from our last episode, SuperMommy had been DEFEATED by the Horrible Confederation of Evil Illnesses, and had finally called in the reserves.  There was no air conditioning, her children were waffling on the edge of heat exhaustion and illness, and her husband was fast falling into her well of misery.

SuperMommy started taking antibiotics, steroids, using an inhaler to help her breathe.  All of which did NOT interrupt breast feeding.  Miraculous, but true.

And then, Mother Nature thought up a very funny joke.  Mother Nature said, "SuperMommy!  What's the ONE THING that I can do to you that will make you more miserable and uncomfortable?"

Yes, after pushing two years, the red menace has returned.  The antibiotics interrupted SuperMommy's birth control, and here she lies- retaining more water and cramping in this ungodly heat, with her head a solid block of lead and her lungs an immobile knot.

Oh, Mother Nature, some days I could just throttle you.  Or cry.

Damn you, Confederation of Evil Illnesses!  Damn you, Mother Nature!  Thanks to you, we're down to one breast feeding a day, with all signs pointing to "Wean Soon."

Oh, Mother Nature.  Some day I will learn to bow to your whims without complaint, but not today, you heinous bitch.  Not today.

July 14, 2010

In Which SuperMommy Crashes and Burns

We all have the plague.  No buboes to speak of, not yet, but we've got a household cornucopia of bronchitis, head colds, laryngitis, fevers, lacerations (yes, lacerations), and chills.

It all started at the pediatrician's office.  DD got a fever after getting her Hepatitis B shot, and it seemed to open the door to the COLD of DOOM.  She's been spewing mucus like mad, and HATES having her nose wiped.  Just hates it.

Then I caught the damn thing.  Ever since I was a teenager, I've had crap for an immune system and nursing certainly hasn't helped matters.  So I rush headlong from a simple cold into a full blown, can't breathe laying down, mega-bronchitis of disaster.  And that just opens the door to the flu.

M was a trooper.  He was taking care of me, watching the girls, and somehow NOT succumbing.  All this, despite being essentially down by a hand thanks to an Independence Day related pocket knife injury.  But nothing that good lasts.  As he began to decline my flu started kicking in, and we started canceling our commitments and hunkering down for the long haul.

I always knew there were reasons that one would want to live nearby their parents as an adult.  I always knew that having your own children would intensify those reasons.  Both my and M's parents live at least a six hour drive away.

Last night, when M ran out to get me some soup and pudding, I knew we couldn't go on like this.  I had a screaming baby in one arm, and a handful of combined mucus, kleenex, and something much fouler in the other.  I cracked.  This morning?  SI has a fever, M is finally as sick as I am, and I've called in the reserves.

If she weren't in London right now, I'd be begging my mom to come and take care of us.  So in lieu of my mother, I called the only other mom I know who would fly in like an angel of mercy and make soup, cups of tea, and change dirty diapers in my filthy house.  My mother in law.

Before you cue the ominous music, you should know that I love and get along well with my MIL.  I may not agree with her on a great many political and religious issues, but those are things we keep to ourselves.  To this day I believe that the biggest disagreement we've ever had was at a wedding, when she wanted to stop DD from eating a program, and I told her to just let go ahead and let the baby chew on it.  It's a charmed life I lead.

...right up to that point where I'm laying in bed with my laptop burning through the batteries, hacking and sneezing and listening to my children scream, with my husband in an over-the-counter drug induced haze.  What our poor, saintly babysitter must think of us, as she wrestles with our two infants in this beastly heat (have I mentioned we have no a/c this summer?) listening to us wheeze and moan.  I imagine she pities us, which is probably why she's practically moved in.

Saintly, saintly babysitter.

So SUPERMOMMY- the heroine of legend who can defeat any common illness, prepare any meal, and bandage any booboo is completely defeated.  I've thrown in the towel, raised my white flag, and called for reinforcements.  My MIL is flying- FLYING- into town tomorrow morning, and I will just lay in my bed, guzzing endless glasses of water and trying to remember to take my myriad medications.

SuperMommy should be capable!  SuperMommy should be competent!  SuperMommy should throw back her glorious head and laugh until tears of justice stream down her face at the mere idea of a house full of sick people.

SuperMommy was wrong.  So, so wrong.

July 13, 2010


I'm becoming a contributor to a friends blog- Blue Jean Dream.

From her bio:
After years of suffering the burden of pain, shame, and fear all by myself, I finally tore myself open and went public. I couldn't live that way anymore.

Since then, my goal has become to help other people who have suffered as I have realize that rape is something that a lot of us have in common. That they don't have to suffer alone.

This is my ongoing story. The background of my rapes, going public, the repercussions, and what I'm doing to try to help myself heal.

I have been amazed by the outpouring of support and kinship by friends and strangers alike after she inspired me to "come out," and I encourage all of you who might benefit from her amazing healing energy and strength to share with her, heal with her, and feel a little less alone in the world.

July 12, 2010

Daughters and the Female Experience

At thirteen, I found myself one evening marching in a "Take Back the Night" rally, megaphone in hand and leading a horde of chanting women through the University of Michigan campus.

I've been thinking about that experience a lot the past few days.

This is an unsafe world.  There are so many dangers we can protect ourselves from, and so many we can protect our children from, but not all.  Not nearly all.

That rally was misguided.  The idea was to protest rape and sexual abuse, but most rapes and sexual abuse don't occur in the dark on the streets.  They happen in homes, in dorms, in cars... they aren't perpetrated by faceless strangers.  Sometimes, yes they are.  But mostly it's someone you know.  Someone you trust.  Or at least someone that someone you trust knows and trusts.

I have a dear friend who joined the military.  When she told me she was enlisting, I fought myself against screaming at her to run away- that it's a boy's club and women in uniform are not safe.  That was more than two years ago, and last week I learned that my deepest fears for her had come true.

She's a fucking rock star.  She's come out of all of this horror even stronger and braver and somehow perhaps better than she went into it, but that doesn't mean I would have wished it upon her in a million years.  That doesn't mean it ever should have happened.  And as I've thought over and over of all the things I wished I had said, or wished I had done, I've been dwelling fairly constantly on this one subject: Rape is ubiquitous, and I have two daughters.

The number of women in the United States who report being raped is astronomical.  The current estimate is one out of six women, but again those are the REPORTS.  Most women don't report being assaulted.  Because most women know their assailants.  Despite the raising rate of reporting rapes, despite the laws changing more and more to protect the victim, only about six percent of all rapists ever spend a day in jail.  Leaving them free to assault more women.

My friend is amazing.  Despite all the fear, all the pain, and all the baggage that comes with being assaulted, she came out.  I call it coming out because most victims don't.  For most victims, it's a horrid secret they carry with them, never letting any of their friends or family share their pain.  And one out of six women is a lot of women that you KNOW... and do you know if any of them are the one?

I've been dwelling fairly constantly on this one subject: Rape is ubiquitous, and I have two daughters.

Her decision to come out, to OWN her pain and to make something of it, has inspired me.  So I am coming out.  Yes, I am a coward.  I've timed my "coming out" to avoid a few really awkward possible confrontations with people I love, who I do not want to see hurt by what happened to me.  But more than that, I want to come out so that someday my daughters will know that it's safe to speak up.

It's safe to stand outside in the streets with a megaphone, screaming to the world what happened to you and for somebody to make it stop.

When I was fourteen I went to a New Year's party, and an older boy from one of my classes force fed me alcohol until I couldn't see or think.  He took me to a closet, raped me, and told one of his friends to bring me home.  I tried to convince myself that I had been acting on my own steam, that I was a reckless and fast girl, and that I had done only what I'd wanted to do.  Five days later I tried to kill myself, and very nearly succeeded.  While I eventually told my parents what I'd done to myself, I don't believe I ever told them what had been done to me.

When I was twenty I was trying to break up with a guy I had decided was dangerous and insane.  It was again the middle of winter, and he'd been kicked out of his apartment and into his car that day.  Against my better judgment, I let him come home with me instead of staying out in the cold.  He terrorized me all night, for seven hours alternating between shouting at me, threatening to kill himself, and trying to have sex with me.  After seven hours, I completely gave up.  After he left I spent three days without leaving my bed, even to eat.  The worst part was that I thought I really should have known better that time.  That I really should have been able to save myself.

Reporting it to the police was even worse.  Despite our modern ideas of fault and blame, the detectives essentially told me that I'd been asking for it, that there was nothing they could legally do, but that they'd tell him to leave me alone.  Not that it helped in the slightest.

And now I have daughters.  Now I've brought into the world another two girls, who will grow up and be vulnerable to the evils of humanity.  And I have no idea how to protect them.  I don't want them to fear the world, I don't want them to avoid love and sex and relationships, but I want them to be safe.  I never want them to feel used and afraid and violated.  And that is completely beyond my power.

Of course I'll talk to them.  Of course I'll let them know that they never have to say "yes," that they never have to do ANYTHING sexual that they don't want to do, but that just isn't enough.  I want them to know if something is done to them, that it is a crime and that whoever did it will be punished.  But that just isn't always true.  I want them to live in a world where they are fundamentally safe.

That is not this world.

So in short, there is no solution.  But I am coming out- I was raped and it was not my fault.  I am terrified at the thought of talking about it with my family, but I hope to God I can get over it someday and have this conversation with my daughters.  I hope I can tell them what happened to me, and they will know that even though I can't protect them from everything that I trust them, and I love them.

And I want so badly, with such heart rending violence, for them to be safe.

July 11, 2010

Getting Knocked Up: Your Guide to IVF

So, you or your loved one has cancer. By following a few simple steps, you can ensure your future fertility and procreative prowess. Just take a deep breath, relax, and do exactly as you are told.

Step one: Remove your pants.
You'll be surprised how much easier this whole thing will be if you're pantsless. You'll be asked about seven thousand times in the next months and years to remove them, so you might as well just keep them off to save yourself the time and frustration that those pesky buttons might cause. If you choose to keep your pants on, be prepared to remove them in any number of unexpected situations. In waiting rooms, for example.

Step two: Preserve your grubling goo.
This is more complicated for women then for men, so I'll start with those of you with extra chromosomes. If you are a man, preserving your fertility is as easy as ejaculating. Well, into a cup. And you can't ejaculate for a few days prior. And you've only got a week before your doctors start pumping your full of drugs and radiation that will mutate your sperm. So hurry it up already.
Women, unfortunately you are not so easy to preserve for posterity. You will have to undergo several treatments. The first is to stop you from ovulating, the second is to make you produce insane numbers of eggs all at once, and the last is to surgically remove those eggs and freeze them. This is as simple as it sounds, simply inject drug A into your fatty parts twice daily for one to two weeks, and then inject drug B into your less fatty parts once daily for four weeks. Be careful not to get sick because you can't take antibiotics! And don't forget to take antibiotics before your egg retrieval!

Step three: Get ready for some grublings.
Now comes the fun part! Have lots of sex!
Just kidding. No sex. The female partner is on crazy fertility drugs, and the LAST thing you want to do is screw up all this hard work of getting pregnant by accidentally getting pregnant. So stop having fun.
Now, the leg work. You will have to fill out your weight in paperwork, regarding all plausible and even implausible situations your frozen progeny might find themselves in. What happens if you get divorced? Die? If one of you dies and the other is permanently brain damaged? What happens to the embryos if you're abducted by aliens? Who gets the embryos if your kids want to bear their own siblings? Oh, and you must acknowledge that the clinic will dispose of your embryos in five years.

Next, doctors! You will be poked and prodded. You will have three and a half pints of blood removed weekly. This is to test if you are strong enough to be a parent. You will have your genes evaluated thoroughly. Oh, if you want to find out if any of that awful stuff they found out about you through taking all your blood will effect your kids, you'll need to pay at least $4K extra for that, and insurance companies won't cover it. If you are fortunate enough to be the grubling incubator, you will have strangers sticking strange, cold instruments into your vagina every two to four days until they can be sure that you are pregnant.

You will be warned about 5,000 times that you are likely to have multiples. You will be advised not to do so. You will be advised to risk having quadruplets to assure a single baby. You will be advised against large numeral multiples. You will be warned that even with one embryo implanted you are likely to have twins. You will be advised against implanting only one embryo. You must pretend to understand every step of this.

If you are male, you will need to have your blood drawn and pee in a cup.

Step four: Put your goos together.
Fertility centers and hospitals do not like each other. They're like jungle cats, very territorial. Therefore, figuring out how to transfer your semen to your clinic is your job. Step one, ask your clinic. They will tell you that you need to talk to you hospital and then call them again. You will then call the hospital, arrange a time during which you can pick up the semen, and are told to call your clinic back to arrange for transporting said semen. You schedule your lease of the liquid nitrogen tank for the removal of specimen from location A and deposit of said specimen at location B. You call the clinic again, and arrange to pick up the tank.

Now, ladies, the time has come for your shots. Over and over and over again. Two weeks to make sure you don't ovulate, then four weeks to make sure you can bear your husband a small army (or at least a baseball team). While you are on these medications your internal girly bits will swell, so no exercise. And if I didn't mention it before, no sex!

After all your shots, the egg retrieval. This is a relatively minor procedure.  A doctor will lull you into a false sense of security, and then use a ten inch long needle to perforate your vagina.  Chances are good that if you are not unconscious, you will wish to be.

Step five: Get knocked up.
Well, you've got eggs, you've got semen, and you have them in the same room. But as we all know from high school health class, the same room isn't close enough. A very highly trained doctor will pour them into the same dish. And God makes a baby.

Three to five days later, the embryo will be reimplanted into your belly. You will need to be on antibiotics, because as you know kids are covered in germs. Ten months later your life can go back to normal.


Congratulations! It is now safe to put your pants back on.

July 8, 2010

Not Pregnant

Guess what? Doctors are freakin' idiots.

As a very very very few of you know, I had a pregnancy scare. And by scare, I mean M and I are both unemployed and we have two nine month old babies. You think it's scary to maybe be pregnant when you're 18 and live at home? Think again!

I was having a few vague symptoms, and mentioned to M that I might need to see the doctor. I was having dizzy spells, my appetite was weird, and I STILL hadn't had a period. That's right, I haven't had a period since January of '09. I didn't think I was still nursing enough that it would forestall ovulating, and I was starting to worry that I'd had something go somehow wrong during the c-section. So, maybe I should see my doctor?

M panicked. Why? Let's run down those symptoms again... starting with "no period."

Panic, as you might know, is contagious. So as soon as M was freaking out that I might be pregnant, I started to flip out as well. Off to my internist!

Now I LOVE my PCP (that's Primary Care Practitioner, not violent hallucinogen). But she's not a lady-part doctor. When it comes to my sex organs, she doesn't know all the ins and outs (hehehehe). She did all the tests she could think to do, and this is what she came up with.

1. I wasn't producing enough prolactin to explain a lack of a period.
2. I didn't have a post-partum thyroid problem.
3. I probably wasn't pregnant, but my uterus was enlarged so I should go for it and see an OB/GYN.

...thanks, Doc.

Was I going to see the a doctor at the practice that delivered the girls? Hell no. They might have been excellent doctors for a fetus, but I always thought they were terrible doctors for adults. They were just too busy to have a real conversation with, or to see the same doctor EVER. A fetus doesn't care about that, and they all had specialties in delivering multiples, so that's why I went there during the pregnancy. But I sure wasn't going to deal with that sort of care for myself.

So I found a new OB/GYN. And, fancy this, he told me without even examining me what the hell was going on.

The birth control that the previous practice had given me was causing all of my symptoms. All of them. Had they warned me about any of it? No. All they'd said was, "Do you want the pill or the IUD?"

So, not pregnant.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you GOD not pregnant.

And screw you very much, lousy doctors at the multiple baby factory.

Which brings me to a point I'd very much like to make- women's health care options suck. Our health care structure is built around these specialties, so our internists don't know all about our particular insides, and our gynecologists specialize in removing other people or tumors from our bodies. But getting a doctor who can care for a whole lady? Who can give you a pap smear AND an echocardiogram? Where do I find me one of THOSE?

Becoming People

More and more, I find myself shocked and amazed at the idea that my babies are becoming children.  It's a confusing thing- when I started thinking about getting pregnant, I could picture myself the mother of children.  I could picture all the things I would do with them, how I would interact with them, how much fun I would have... from about the age of 18 months onward.  I had been a nanny and babysitter off and on for a long time, but never for babies.  My experience with tiny humans under the age of six months was absolutely minimal.  Small children though, those are small people I understand.

Then I got pregnant.  I started picturing, for the first time really, what it would be like to have a BABY.  Not a child, but an infant.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  These days I can't imagine my life any differently, I am so comfortable with my role as the mother of my little baby girls.  But I'm starting to catch glimpses of the developments to come, I'm starting to wonder about the reality of being a mother to little children.

I always knew it was something I wanted, and it was always something I could envision.  Now, though?  Now the idea that my babies- those itsy bitsy people I made- will turn into real people is almost alarming.  What on earth could that be like?  How could it happen?  I only had babies... nearly a year ago?  How long do babies last?

Not long enough.  Too long.  Exactly as much time as it takes for it to stop.

Today I had a moment that I'm sure will replicate itself over and over again.  As I washed the dishes, I noticed that I couldn't hear my daughters making any noise.  I looked back into the dining room, where I had left them playing in their exersaucers (before you panic, our home is entirely on one floor and fairly baby-proof), and they were gone.  Nowhere to be seen.  A brief investigation turned them up, DD had gone off in search of adventure on the other end of the house, and SI had gone off after DD.  But they were off on their own, completely oblivious of me, completely on their own steam.

You cannot imagine the whirlwind of emotions that followed.

First, a moment of panic: Can they get those pictures off the wall?  Can they get into the bathroom and fall in the toilet?  Will they pull down the laundry on the drying rack and stab themselves with a hanger?

Then, a moment of reassurance: Of course they can't get the pictures, and if they could the pictures would fall onto the floor which they can't reach in their saucers.  They can't fall in the toilet, they have no way to get out of their saucers.  If they do pull down the laundry, they aren't going to kill themselves playing with a plastic hanger.

And finally, a moment of a confused sadness:  How did this happen?  How did they get so COMPETENT?

I realized immediately that I was experiencing something that I had only brushed the surface of before- motherhood.  For the first few months, I didn't feel like a *real* mommy.  I didn't have to discipline, I didn't have to say 'no' to anything, I didn't have to run around after my kids, nobody called me "Mommy" without any understanding that I had another name.  I wasn't exactly a real mom.  Yet.  Not to me and my absurd standards of accomplishment.

And there I was, watching my children sort of walk away from me, happy and laughing and exploring and... well... being kids.  There I was, doing the dishes, prepping the ingredients for dinner, planning the next day's meals, and being the very vision of motherhood I had aimed for before getting pregnant.

I realized something, it isn't just my children who are becoming real people.  It's me, as well.  I never really thought I was done growing, done becoming who I am.  But just the same you never expect to suddenly see yourself in the mirror and say, "Who the hell is THAT?"  That person is me, not me the perpetual student, not me the artist, not me the wife, not me activist, not me poet... it was yet another me.  Me the mom.

I'm a mom now.  I'm not just a mom in that I've procreated, I'm a mom in that everywhere I go I have a bunch of little snacks in my bag.  I say things like, "Why don't you put the banana in your mouth instead of your eyebrow?"  I consider sitting around reading the same two 20 word long books over and over to SI or rolling DD all over the bed ALL AFTERNOON a wonderful day.

And I'm still all of the other things.  I'm still making art, I'm still writing (and thank you all for reading!), I'm still cooking, I'm still learning.  And I am becoming the person I always wanted to be.


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