Just begin

September 7th, 2012

Oh, poor neglected blog readers, if any of you are still out there hello! How are you? (And I actually mean that. How are you?)

I am – all over the map. A leaf in the wind. I’m just going to write. Today, tomorrow, one random story at a time. See where I land when the wind stops.

A fellow hockey mom has a new baby. He’s about three months old and the most contented little thing. He sleeps against his mom’s chest in the baby-wearer through all the practices; he’s been awake at practice all of twice, and I got to hold him. There is also a new hockey daughter who’s about six months old, and I’ve held her, too, while her mom was getting not just one but two boys ready for practice. The old habits come right back – after two of my own they’re so deep in the bone, that up and down foot to foot rocking motion I made a thousand times over and then over again with each of the boys. A soft singing. My cheek to the top of their heads. It’s been surprisingly nice, holding these babies, and the other moms joke I look like a natural, am I getting ideas for another?

No. Not in a million years. Even if I weren’t too old, and too tired, and too logistically stretched to the limit, no. My postpartum depression after Boychen was so crushing that I’m still some days paying for it. Holding these babies feels surprisingly nice, and that makes me sad, because I was never happy when I held Boychen like that. It was never so simple. I look at NewMomFriend and her contented little boy and how she takes it all in stride – and of course I’m sure it’s hard, because new babies with two older boys are hard, but it seems like the normal hard for her, not the your doctor mentions the possibility of  hospitals hard – and it makes me sad, too, all of the contented little moments of Boychen’s babyhood that I missed. I don’t want another baby, but I wouldn’t mind being able to remember just standing there rocking the Boychen and feeling so even-keeled about it all.

I wouldn’t mind being able to go back for one day, just one day, to refresh my memory of the baby Boychen, because I don’t have much of one. He must have been a delight.

So I’ve been thinking about that lately. When I’m that leaf in the wind, there is always rain.

Tell me something you’re doing or thinking or reading now that summer is slipping toward autumn.

Happy birthday, Boychen

November 19th, 2010

I’ve been sitting here for nearly an hour trying to figure out how to write about Boychen’s third birthday. I start and stop and delete and copy and paste and start again. I want it to be beautiful, the way he is, and I want it to be perfect, the way I think he is, and I want to capture that intangible shiny thing about him, the thing that makes me think of shiny new pennies or dew-drops sparkling in the morning sun or hoar-frost on the trees. My shiny boy.

It astounds me nearly every day how simply happy he is, the way a puppy jumping into a pond after a stick is happy. From my perspective, there was so much sadness in the first nine months – twelve? – of his life, my post-partum depression months, all those days of his that I feel like I missed. So many clouds for so long. And yet this shiny boy.

Who can make a game out of anything.

Who is always doing something.

Always smiling.

This beautiful boy who started his life near sadness just pushed all of that aside and turned out so bright and shiny. It astounds me, sometimes, even today, his happiness. Maybe he is not so special, maybe other people don’t see the shimmer that I see, maybe I only see it because I know, I know, how much of my sadness surrounded him and it seems so exceptional to me that none of it stuck.

How grateful I am for that, how deeply, deeply grateful. How relieved I am, nearly every day, that I did not break him. I missed a lot of his babyhood, but I didn’t break him and he is a happy child and he is three today and he is growing up so fast it makes me weep.

Not the Boychen though, no weeping for him. He can’t wait. For everything, for all of it, he can’t wait. It’s all such a joyous adventure, a great and wonderful thing. What’s not to smile about?

Post post-partum depression

January 31st, 2009

This afternoon was Small Boy’s fourth birthday party and for much of the afternoon my husband was in charge of the camera which means that in addition to pictures of the party there are, for a change, pictures of me. One of them struck me so strongly that I went back to look at pictures from Small Boy’s third birthday; and one of them struck me so strongly that I am writing this post that has nothing to do with Small Boy’s fourth birthday party (which was, for the record, the best birthday party ever) and everything to do with post-partum depression.

I suffered from post-partum depression after my second son was born. Suffered. The entire world went parched and dry and barren and empty. It was an endless drought. Endless, until it ended.

It ends. It will end. You might not believe it, if you are in the middle of it, but it will end. You may be parched by the drought of post-partum depression and the seeds of your love may be burried so deeply in such barren earth that you think they will never sprout but they are there. They are there, they are there, they are there. Your landscape may be parched but the wind will shift and the soft rains of spring will come. They will come. They will come, they will come, they will come. So hold on. Reach out. To a friend a husband a lover a mother a doctor a stranger but hold on and reach out and wait. Your weather will change.

I’ve got a picture to show you. I hate to post it, I hate everything about it, I hate that I ever felt like that and I hate that I looked like that and I hate to think about what my sons missed out on and I hate to think about what my sons saw and I hate that that was me. I hate everything about this picture but I’m going to post it here for all the world to see because maybe you’re reading this. Maybe you are experiencing post-partum depression. Maybe your wife is, or your sister or your best friend or your office-mate. Maybe this will help you. Maybe you need to see this picture, and then the next one, to believe what I’m saying. Maybe you’re parched and dry and wondering if the rains will ever come and maybe this will help you, maybe this will be the first raindrop on your tongue. So here is the picture I hate. This is me, one year ago, at my son’s third birthday party.

And this is me this afternoon, at his fourth.

That’s me. Look at that. Look at my face. That’s me, that’s my face, and that’s why I can say this, say this and mean it: your weather will change. Your drought will end. Your spring rains will come and your grass will grow green again. It will. It will, it will, it will.

Your weather will change.


December 2nd, 2008

I meant to blog last night. I liked the way NaBloPoMo made me sit at the end of the day and think of something to recapture, something to convey. I liked the way it made me take the time, if only for five minutes, to think about what might have been inside my head that day. I meant to blog last night, but it was one of those days. And, since it was December first, I took the opportunity to fall onto the couch at the end of the day and watch the first episode of The Starter Wife, which just started on Swiss television.

I was thinking about my writing goals for the month, the goals I set out on my little sabbatical last week, and I’m starting to think about my goals for next year. I had a lot of goals for this year, poetically speaking, and I didn’t come close to the half of them. I lost a lot of the year to post-partum depression. Sitting here now, realizing it is December, realizing that my baby has turned one, I’m beginning to understand how much of the year I lost. I’m glad to be on the other side of it, and I’m ready to turn the page and be done with it. I think I need to sit for a day or two over the holidays, when R is around and I have the time, and process how much PPD really stole from me last year, but after that I am ready to turn the page.

I’m forgiving myself for all the goals I missed this year. I got by. My sons got by. My baby is thriving and looking at him nobody would ever guess that he started his life under a cloud of sadness. He is one of the happiest children I’ve ever known. His default setting seems to be “Wow! This life stuff is going to be so exciting!” I’m eternally grateful for that. My older boy – well, it was different for my older boy. He was old enough to know something was wrong, to see me cry, to understand all the different emotions that passed over my face. The PPD rolled off my baby like water off a duck’s back, but I think some of it stuck to my older. To my sweet Small Boy. I need some time to think about that.

I’m letting go of last year. I wrote some stuff. Some of it was good. Some of it was bad. Some of it got rejected. (Most of it got rejected.) Some of it got accepted. Under the circumstances, that’s maybe more than I could have expected. I’m looking ahead now. I’ve got a plan, a sense of how to move forward. Carolee – who’s mostly password-protected these days but I’m all about the link-love – has been posting her weekly or bi-weekly writing goals for a while now; it’s been motivating and enormously instructive in how to go about the practical side of submissions and market research and thinking about how to get there from here.

I’m not in a position to make weekly goals – I’m still trying to find the 12.5 hours a week I figure I need in order to achieve the bare minimum of what I hope to achieve. But monthly, monthly I can do. I’ve got quite a list for December. For somebody in my position it’s ambitious but I’m learning that falling short and forgiving afterwards brings me further than setting “realistic” goals that I acheive every time. So I’m aiming high. I’m sure some of you could tick tick tick off the following in a day-and-a-half but the thing about goals and ambition and what’s hard and what’s easy is that it’s all relative, conditioned on the life of the goal-setter. For me, for my life, this is a big list for a month.

  1. I’ve got a poetry submission still pending – as of December 8 I’m allowed to inquire as to the status. I need to find a secondary market for this package so that if it’s rejected by the people holding it now I can turn it right around and get it out the door the next day.
  2. I have two poems that sit nicely together. They need a market, and a companion. (Two poems is generally too few for a submission.)
  3. I have a submission package ready to go out the door. I need a good cover letter and I need to just send it already. I’m holding back because I think this is a journal I have a good chance with – I mean, we feel like a really good fit – and I’d love to know about that pending submission I mentioned so that, if it’s an acceptance, I can put that in my cover letter. The fact that this journal’s reading period is open until May is not helping my inner procrastinator.
  4. I’m revising a prose piece to submit to Brevity. This, my friends, is hugely ambitious but it’s a good piece. A really good piece.
  5. I’m working on a prose piece to send here. Their deadline is 15 December.
  6. I want another poetry submission out the door by the end of the month. New or newly revised I don’t care. That would make a total of three packages out this month, which is low for somebody who actually wants to publish, but it’s three more than zero as my father would say.
  7. I have got to organize my market research. I’ve got lists and excel spreadsheets and journals and piles of sample pages from on-line archives scattered between desk and filing cabinet and computer.
  8. I want to order sample copies from five or six journals, now that I have straightened out the disaster that was my US bank merging, or being acquired, and setting my account to “dormant” without, as far as I’ve been able to determine, actually telling me, resulting in my bouncing checks to no fewer than five literary magazines. Can you begin to imagine the horror of bouncing checks written to the very journals with which I hope to place my work? Can you?
  9. Can you?

Looking at it now it doesn’t seem all that ambitious a list even to me, the one who right now has a feverish child coughing in his bed and the bowl he vomited in sitting in the dishwasher. And yet I know it is. Ambitious. For me. Baby steps.

The Boychen walks now. He loves to walk just for the sheer pleasure of it. He’ll make it ten feet until he plonks down, then he’ll get back up and keep on going with a huge grin on his face. I’ve never seen anybody take so much pleasure simply from being ambulatory. So when I say baby steps, I mean it in the best possible sense. Teetering and tottering and landing on my butt but smiling every bit of the way.

Eyelashes in the night

October 16th, 2008

The Boychen* spent a troubled and restless night last night, waking and crying, somehow in pain. I kept waiting for him to throw up, it seemed so much like he needed to throw up but he didn’t, he just spent the night sleeping and waking and crying. Until late this morning, when he did, at last, throw up. And as sorry as I felt for the poor little monkey, I was also relieved. Not relieved that he threw up. Not relieved that he is sick. But relieved that I was right. Relieved that I do know this boy from whom post-partum depression stole so much time, so many moments. So many nights spent sleeping with his father instead of me so that I could get more sleep. So many times comforted by him instead of me. So many naps he spent in the FisherPrice Aquarium Cradle Swing** instead of in my arms. So many of the times he was in my arms I was unable to make them magic moments of stroking hair and counting eyelashes. So many walks in the stroller, walking walking walking through the winter streets of the Old Town, walking until I could breathe again, walking until I loved him again. So much time lost, time we’ll never get back. So much about my second son I never got to know. So many gray clouds shrouding the mother of his infancy.

So many gray clouds in his first months, and yet he loves me. I know this, I see it from the light in his eyes. I see it in the way he comes crawling across the floor to me when I enter the room. He loves me, and I am every day relieved to know this.

So many tears in the house of his infancy, and yet he is a happy child, an unbelievably happy child. Sometimes I think his head will explode from the sheer joy of simply existing. The ecstasy of seeing ducks. Of touching a dwarf goat at the petting zoo. The wild joy of wearing a fireman’s helmet JUST! LIKE! HIS! BROTHER! It is all a great wild adventure to him, to this little boy as happy as sunshine. His every laugh, his every smile, is a relief to me.

And I am relieved to know that even through the fog of post-partum depression I did get to know my second son; I understand him. I was right. I am sorry, for his sake, that I was right but so relieved to know I was right.

And I am so indescribably relieved to discover that although I do not remember quiet hours in the middle of the night spent counting his eyelashes, when the moment came I knew exactly how many he has.

* Formerly known as Little Boy C, a pseudonym that never sat right with me: he has always been my Boychen and Boychen he shall stay.

** Oh, FisherPrice Aquarium Cradle Swing how I do love you!