Friday, October 31, 2008

To Paisley: Nine Months Old (Happy Halloween!)

Yesterday we went to a Halloween party with a bunch of Moms that I didn't know and you were wearing your little Halloween costume. You were the youngest kid there but that didn't stop you. You pulled yourself around the floor, tried to talk to the kids and kept smiling and babbling at everyone. I couldn't stop watching you Paisley. I was so in love with you and your sweet personality and this lobster on the floor who suddenly wasn't a little baby anymore.

This month has probably seen the most changes of any month so far. Your personality is shining through and you have no trouble communicating what, or who, you want. You are dragging yourself around like mad and despite the obvious lack of leg use, you are quick and determined. You have teeth - TWO teeth and you use them on everything. You mostly like to bit my nose. You have so much more hair and it has taken on this beautiful strawberry blond sheen. You say "Mama" (and "Ba ba" so your Dad has been trying to teach you to say "Obama". No such luck.) and every time you do my heart skips a beat. You stand up in your crib. You can pull yourself up on things. You tipped over a plant and ate our camera charger and started eating finger food and love to be pulled around in the laundry basket "train". You put your arms up when you want me and you arch your back and demand to be put down when you are tired. You laugh when I make the bed or wear my glasses and you squeal with delight when you realize you're standing up. You know what you want and while that has made things a wee bit harder, it has also made life vastly more interesting.

On Thanksgiving weekend we went down to Whitefish, Montana for a wedding. You were so good and so cute in your little velvet dress that one of the little boys asked of he could dance with you. He must have been four and came up to our table while dinner was still being served and asked if he could dance with the baby. I told him he could but that he would have to wait for the music to start. He returned to ensure his place on your dance card at least 3 times again before the dancing had even begun. When it did he came to escort you (and me by extension since you can't walk) and you had your very first dance with a boy named Sam Trussle in Montana.

(Wow. What a horrible picture of me. My legs look like tree trunks. Smooth tree trunks with big knees.)

I have been training for a 10k race for the past few months and last weekend I ran the Halloween Howl for the Alberta Diabetes Foundation. It was a beautiful, sunny fall morning and as I ran along the river I thought of you and of the many times I had taken you out in the jogging stroller. I always think of you when I am running. I want you to be proud of me and to see me doing things that inspire you and motivate you. I want physical activity and nature to be a part of your life. I often imagine myself going for runs with you alongside on your bike, pigtails blowing in the breeze. I imagine running a marathon with you and your Dad waiting for me at the finish line. This might explain why I also tend to cry when I run.

Far too many people have kids by default without ever really stopping to think about what it will be like or what sacrifices they will have to make. I have always thought it is good to not have kids if you don't want them and never felt like those people would be missing out on anything. Now, while I still support the idea of choosing to be childless I secretly feel sorry for them. Having you has changed the way I look at myself and at my own childhood. Until I had you I never, ever realized how much I was loved. I think back now about different times in my life and they suddenly make sense. I now understand the panic when we would stray too far far from home or the time my brother was nearly hit by a car, how my mother screamed and was still upset long after the car was gone. I now know why my Mom was so upset when I got a tattoo and "ruined my perfect back". Because for many years, my back was hers. She rubbed it to lull me to sleep and made sure it was clean, and dry. Some part of her felt a sense of ownership I'm sure. I remember as a child how deeply I loved my parents and I remember thinking that there was no way they could love me as much as I loved them. I was so, so wrong. Having you has not only made my present richer and given me focus for our future, it has also made my history that much sweeter.


Monday, October 27, 2008


Lights flashing like a police car chasing
or a landing strip in the thick black night.
Luminescent cues.
Each dot a quantum of discontent.
Three dots mean she’s awake but willing to be alone.
Five dots, the need is rising. It is past the point of no return.
8 dots or more? Get her out of there. Now.
She screams. Yells. Demands.

They flash me from slumber, alerting me.
I count the dots. Look at the clock.
Will it last? How long do I leave it?
My eyes are bleary, my brain even more so.
My body is heavy as I drag it out of my warm bed
and into the hallway. Into her white and pink room.
My husband is quiet and sleeping. He does not know I've gone.
She is always propped up on elbows waiting for me.

She stops crying the moment I pick her up. She is happy now.
She wanted me. Like no one has ever wanted me.
I feed her and hold her close.
Her hands are cold as she runs them over my breast.
Frantic at first and then slowly, as though petting a dog.
I am forced into consciousness when my milk lets down.
Little bolts of electricity that surge through each nipple.
Tingling at four o’clock in the morning.

I become fully awake as I sit, trying not to wake.
She gulps and sighs rhythmically. A soothing sound
of pleasure and sustenance. I hear the house settle.
Sounds of neighbours fighting, making love, playing video games.
Her sucking slows as she starts to drift. A pause and then
she starts again. Making sure I am still there.
After she is full, she collapses like a rag doll. Asleep before her
lips have left my skin.

I lay her down and kiss her face.
Fleece blankets pulled to chin and over toes.
I slip from the room and back into my own bed.
It has grown cold in my absence. I lie awake.
My husband is asleep and facing the wall.
The monitor is silent and dark. No flashing lights or need
for assistance. Just me, awake, and wishing for some strange reason
That she would call me back.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Post Natal, Asthmatic, Diabetic Ass Kicker

I ran a 10k race today. I feel so proud and so happy that I can't wait to do another race. I remember when I first started running after Paisley was born I would run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. The goal was to eventually make it to 10 minutes. The first time I did 20 minutes I was ecstatic. And half dead. And today I ran for an hour. I can't believe how far I've come and how much I've enjoyed the process. I wasn't always a runner. I ran sprints through high school and scorned anything longer than 400m. I remember trying to run in University. I hated it. I would sweat and feel sick and usually get injured after a week of running. Then I discovered the 10 and 1 approach at the Running Room.

John Stanton, the Running Room cult leader/founder advocates a 10 minute run followed by a minute of walking. It doesn't matter of you're a marathon runner or a weekend runner, you stop for a minute and walk. It isn't long enough to really lose momentum or pace but it does prevent injury and has made running enjoyable for me.

Anyway, today I started the race on a beautiful sunny fall day. At about the 4km mark I rounded the corner to see Brian wearing Paisley in the Bjorn - he was cheering me on. I can't really describe how I felt when I first saw them both there. Proud, touched, special, unstoppable, thankful and in love - all at once. So I made some lame ass joke about Weird Al Yankovic playing on my iPod because when I feel like my heart might explode with feeling, that is what I do.

I crossed the finish line at 1:03 which since the course was actually 10.3 km I figure is about an hour for the 10k. I met both my goals: to do the race in an hour and to finish it smiling. I never thought the smiling part would be so easy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Two Nerds in a Yellow Wood

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost 1920
Interpreted by Brian West 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

To Paisley: Eight Months Old

Autumn has always been my favourite season, even though it makes me feel a little sad and nostalgic. The falling leaves remind me of my childhood for some reason and of course, of the summer that has past. This fall has been gorgeous and although the leaves have all turned yellow, the days are as sunny and warm as they were this summer. You and I have tried to make the most of the nice weather and have been getting outside as much as we can. My Grandma firmly believed that a baby must be outside every single day and I think of her often. We go outside every day - even if it's just to sit on the front step and watch the squirrels. You love being outside and I think it's good for both of us to get fresh air.

I started working again this month. A contract writing job sort of just fell into my lap and I grabbed onto it with more voracity than I would have expected. I was happier to be working than I thought I would. It's funny how sometimes life gives you exactly what you need before you even know you need it. The job is just a few hours a week but I have loved having something else to think about besides you, and how clean the house is. I have always loved cleaning but if I have too much time on my hands, and too much time in the house, it starts to mean more to me than it should. It's not normal to see shoes left at the front door as a personal insult.

You and your Dad started swimming lessons this month and it's going, well, swimmingly. The first Saturday of lessons your Dad said to me (while heading out the door) "So this is for Dads and babies right? I won't be the only guy in the pool will I?"
"Um, nope. It's for parents and babies. So, yah, you might be the only guy in the pool. Have fun!"
Then I pushed you both out the door, locked it, got naked, threw on some Holly McNarland, made myself 6 pina coladas and enjoyed the first half hour I had had to myself in eight months (well, 17 if you want to get technical). As it turns out, I wasn't the only Mom securing herself some free time and the swimming class consisted mostly of Dads. I think it's great that you two have this thing together and Paisley, I have to say, not every girl can rock a two piece like you do.

You are sitting up now! You could sit up when you were 7 months technically but it wasn't reliable. You would usually topple over or fall forward so that you were stuck in a very uncomfortable looking position. Now you sit and you stay sitting. You can play and move and very rarely fall over. You are also getting very mobile. One day a couple of weeks ago I looked over and you had somehow managed to make your way from the living room into the dining room. I was so shocked when I looked over and you were three feet closer to me than you were a few minutes before. You are FAST! I still don't know how you did it but I was impressed. You grab more, climb more, roll more and just generally interact with the world (which apparently still consists mostly of my face and hair) more than you did when you were little. You have discovered the baby in the mirror and you love visiting with her. You smile, talk and grab at her face. It's pretty cute.

The last few weeks have been hard on me and your Dad. For some reason you started waking up in the night again - sometimes three of four times a night. That coupled with you needing more of my energy during the day has left me feeling tired and drained at times. I had read all kinds of websites and books saying I should let you cry it out or not pick you up from your crib during the night. Maybe they are right but at the end of the day it just doesn't feel right. When you cry I go in and I cuddle you and feed you and within minutes you are back asleep. If it continues there may come a point where I will change my approach but right now this feels right. Exhausting but right. I can't help but think that it won't be very long until I won't be able to make things all better and soothe you the way I can now so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

You are still gummy and toothless and teething. I had no idea that teething could last so long! You chew on everything and then, after it is dripping in drool, you inspect it like a scientist. Looking at it intently, close up, then far away, every corner, then tasting it again. You seem to have developed a real love for the handsets from our phone and will stare at them from across the room. This morning I gave you my cell phone about a minute before the alarm was set to go off. At 7:30 it started to ring and light up and vibrate whilst in your chubby little fist/mouth/fist. You looked at it, like "Wait a goddamn minute. What is going on here?" and then you smiled. It was a funny smile, a smile of recognition. "Oh, right. That vibrating, ringing thing. It's YOU."

Because you were born a month early, this birthday marks the point at which you have been in the world longer than you were in my belly. I remember the first three months of being pregnant felt like a year, and then the other five felt like another year. These past eight months with you have been the fastest eight months of my entire life. That might just be because they have also been the best.