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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear Kate, Part Four: Your Infancy

In those moments
just after midnight
in early May,
your Daddy and I were forever changed.

I hope that you have children one day,
whether adopted or your own,
so that you can feel the depth of love,
the richness and fullness of it.
I honestly think that unless you become a parent,
you will never know a love like that.

But don't mistake what I'm saying here,
because in all its wonderful gloriousness,
having a child is also really, REALLY hard.

My mom told me "You will never love as deeply
and you will also never feel as ANGRY"
and for better or worse, this is totally true.
No matter what the emotion, it is always deep and strong.

Okay, so here we are:
After my several day long stay in the hospital,
we packed you up in your infant car seat
and brought you home.

At that time, we lived in a cute little townhouse
in North Carolina and drove a
Nissan Sentra beater.

We entered the house to find balloons afixed to the walls
and a Welcome Home banner across the bay window.
My mom was there to greet you.
She would stay the first week and then Nana would come for the second week.

We muddled through those first few months.
You nursed like a total champ and I was willing to nurse you whenever you wanted.
Let me just tell you, that was a recipe for exhaustion!
I loved the intimacy of nursing though.
It was very powerful and, after the first few weeks,
remarkably convenient.

You were a temperamental baby.
If you were happy, all was well but if not,
then there would be hell to pay for everyone.
You would go from pleasant to screaming your fool head off
with no inbetween and little to no warning.

I found that unbelievably nerve wracking.
You were easily overstimulated
and I remember trying to go shopping at the grocery store
or Target and just racing the "Katie clock."

You would be looking around,
then your eyes would start to get shifty.
My pace would quicken.
Soon the whites of your eyes would be showing,
like a spooked horse.
At this point I would have given up any further purchases
and would be racing to the checkout.

BAM!! The floodgates would open
and the sonic boom of your wide open, shrieking mouth
would sound throughout the store.

You see, some infants will put themselves to sleep when they are overstimulated.
Not you. You would just freak out.

After a few months,
Daddy and I moved from our rented townhouse
to a rental house.
We wanted you to have a yard to play in and to have more space.
It was a cute little rancher house in a working class neighborhood
in North Carolina.
I have many happy memories of reading to you in the rocking chair
and emailing friends on the computer while you played with toys
on the screened in porch.

You see, after you were a few months old
I began to realize how horribly, out of control lonely I had become.
All my friends had no children and were still working,
so there was no one for me to hang out with and talk to during the day.
I needed some other adults..other moms! talk to.

Necessity is the mother of invention and I did two things in your first year.
Two things of which I am very proud, even today.

First, I started an "Email Loop" of moms of babies.
Now, nearly thirteen years later,
I am still close friends with these six moms.
We have met each other several times,
we exchange cards and pictures,
we discuss our lives and triumphs and challenges.
They mean so much to me.

Second, I started a local chapter of the Moms Club,
which is a National Organization for mothers who stay home.

I did this to make friends,
to save my sanity
and to help you have other little children to play with.

What a gift it was, for both of us!!

Just like my first year of college,
these are friends I bonded with instantly and deeply
because we were going through a life-changing and very scary period in our lives.

I am still friends with two of these moms today.

There are several other friends we made,
like Wallace and Rachel
and your Auntie Robin,
that will be lifelong friends as well.

Soon you would become a toddler
and we would be moving to a new state
and on to new adventures.

But when the time comes for you
to have children in your life:

DO realize it will be fun, exciting, life-changing and extremely hard and overwhelming.
DO find yourself a support system. If there isn't one, make one.
DON'T expect that you will feel happy all the time or that you will like your child all the time. You will always love them but sometimes you will want to punt them into another state.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story you are writing for Kate for her birthday. Too bad she also has to read about how you THROW THINGS at her dad, though! LOL! This whole journal will probably be precious to her one day, so having these letters about her is a great idea.

I am one of the moms who was saved by the fact that you started the MOMS club here in NC. I remember my very first conversation with you on the phone! You said, "you know how there are those days where your kid is being a butthead and you just wanna meet a friend at McDonalds and grab some fries and hang out while the kids play"? I was like OMG, I love this chick!! I am grateful to you for having started the MOMS club here. BTW, the club that YOU started now has over 500 members!

You're still missed here, my friend. But, it's so nice to see how great things have turned out for you and your family. You all deserve it!