Friday, July 24, 2015

six years: an open letter to my husband

Dear R, 

Today we've been married six years. I think back on the eve of our wedding six years ago. My girlfriends slept over at my apartment after the rehearsal dinner and made me a cake that said "Happy Night Before Your Wedding!" and we laughed and talked late into the night. We were the first of our group to get married and it felt like we had crossed the threshold into adulthood. I know now that getting married doesn't make you any more adult than learning to drive or being able to vote. It's the being married that's grown us. 

Now, six years later, you're in the office and your music is playing softly and my growing belly is full of fingers and toes that we created together and I feel content in our marriage in a way I couldn't have anticipated when I excitedly ate cake and talked about the future with my best girls that night six years ago. I thought marriage would fill me up and complete me, but what it's done is soften and humble me. It's taught me more about Jesus and grace than a thousand sermons ever could and I am thankful to learn those lessons with you. 

Being married to you is my favorite thing I've ever done. I am proud to be your wife. I am proud that you're my husband. I knew you were a good man when I held my finger out for you to slip on a ring, but I couldn't have ever known just how good you would be for me. You are even keeled and you are solid ground for me. You are well balanced and I crave your brand of strength. Most importantly, you are home to me. Where you are is where I feel safe and where I make sense of my world. I've become the woman I am because you give me space to grow upwards and outwards and you love me just the same no matter what. Thank you for that. And the icing on top is that you and I share a secret language and a secret humor that is uniquely ours. You can make me laugh like no one else can and I get to see a side of you that you share only with me. After six years and four moves and thousands of miles from where we first said I do, what we've created between us is more special to me than ever before. 

So here's to the last six years. Here's to however many more years we're lucky to have ahead of us. Here's to the next big chapter and the unknowns that lie foggy ahead and here's to the things that we have figured out so far. Happy Anniversary!

Your Wife

Friday, July 17, 2015

good grief.

Lately, we are crossing off items on the to-do list that is 'Preparing for Baby'. We are assembling nursery furniture and examining our finances and trying to imagine our home with a little person in it. And last week it overwhelmed me. 

The dilemma of space and furniture and sleeping arrangements in baby's first most needy weeks overwhelmed me to tears. The issue is that we are preparing our guest room to double as a nursery, however, for the first few weeks of her life, her Grandma P will be a guest in that room. So the solution is to move her crib and her changing area into our bedroom. Which seems like a straightforward task, right? Only, as I sat on my bed, tape measure in hand, examining our room and imagining a crib and diapers and a little baby, I grew hot with anxiety. 

This was MY space. This was my bedroom, my corner of the world where I retreated when I needed refuge. This was my haven with my husband, our little island where intimacy was created and nurtured, where we have long talks that can sometimes only be had after the lights have gone out and we're safe under the covers. My bedroom is where I dance to salsa music when I'm alone or where I examine my undressed body in the mirror away from anyone else's eyes, or where I make messes out of clothing when I'm headed out with the girls, then conveniently shut the door to the whole thing when company comes over rather than clean it up. My bedroom is quite literally the place in the world where I feel the safest.

And someone new was going to live in here.

Someone needy and someone desperate for my attention and someone who, frankly, as much as some moms may cast a side eye at me for saying this, I anticipate needing  retreat from once in a while. And my anxiety grew hot as I realized that I would need to share my safe place. 

And do you know what? It made me sad. I wish I could say that imagining my tiny newborn girl nestled in her crib just an arms reach from my bed filled me with an idyllic sense of calm and joy and I smiled longingly at my now child-free room and then a soundtrack of beautiful music swelled in the background. But I'd be lying. Instead I had a mini-panic attack and my face grew hot and I threw the tape measure and buried my head in the pillows and I cried hot tears that came from a place losing a little bit of my self to this new person. 

And I did something I've been doing more often when these feeling well up and overwhelm me. Instead of feeling guilty for being selfish with my space, instead of chastising myself for not feeling all-encompassing joy at the prospect of a new addition to my life, instead of comparing myself to mothers who seem to float seamlessly into the world of motherhood, I gave myself permission to grieve. 

I gave myself permission to grieve for a moment the loss of a corner of my world that would forever change when this little person arrived. I cried and felt scared and gave myself time to name the feeling. I let the tears fall and sank deeper into the pillows and just let the feeling of change, big scary change, wash over me because sometimes that's the only thing I can do. 

Then I looked at my room, blessedly free of anything child related and sighed the deep sigh and ran my hands over my belly, with its skin taut and tiny fingers and toes nestled inside. And my heart grew taut too as I realized that this is becoming a mother. This is making room for my daughter. To grieve and grow and let new and scary changes wash over me and to give myself grace in it is becoming someone new. It's becoming a mother. And I laid on my bed, my island of refuge, and cradled my belly, my daughter, and knew that I would not regret any of it. I will make room for this person in my home and in my life and it is good. I will move her crib in and she will share in the space of refuge that we've created here and it will be a new season for me. No music will swell in the background as I do it and there is some pain in the growing, but it is good. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

six months down.

Today I'm six months pregnant! Our little lady is as long as an ear of corn and has some pretty exciting milestones this week, including increased brain function and auditory senses. Six months feels like such an exciting milestone because that third trimester, and eventually baby's birthday, finally seem like they're in sight! So I thought I'd do a little pregnancy milestone marker and record some of what this pregnancy has been like so far. I'll start with those questions that I seem to get every time someone catches a glimpse of my growing belly...

Due date? November 1st

Do we have a name? Not yet. We didn't get too attached to any names before we knew what gender we were having and now that we know she's a girl, we're taking the naming process pretty seriously. We've got a few top contenders, but we're keeping quiet about them for now.

Any cravings or aversions? So far, I'd say ice cream has been my biggest craving. I am not much of an ice cream eater, I much prefer something baked if I'm craving something sweet, but coffee ice cream and Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough have been a pretty serious issue for me. Lately, I'm also craving all things hot dogs. I bought cocktail wienies for pigs in a blanket, corn dogs, and actual hot dogs all in one shopping trip last week and didn't realize it until I got home. I think that's probably not a good craving, seeing as hot dogs are frowned upon for pregnant ladies (or really in general if we're being honest) but they just taste so good! As far as aversions, I've noticed that burgers, which I devoured in my first month, have sounded terrible to me ever since. 

Any weight gain? I recently discovered that our home scale is off by about 4 lbs, so I can't be sure, but I think I'm somewhere around 10lbs heavier than than my pre-pregnancy weight. Yesterday was the first day that I noticed that those pounds might not just be in my belly because I pulled on a pair of shorts only to find they were reeeeeal tight in the booty. Sad face.

Stretch marks? None yet, but I do have a prominent linea negra (the line that runs halfway down your belly) under my belly button. Been slathering on argan oil and while I don't think it makes a difference for stretch marks, it does make me feel like some ancient goddess to be all fragrant and oiled up and that's good for morale. 

Feeling moody? Thankfully some of the factors that come together to make a very moody mama have been in my favor. R is supportive and encouraging, we are slowly and surely ticking items off the to-do list and saving money as best we can, and work isn't too taxing on my body or my emotions, so for the most part, I have been a pretty happy camper. I'm also very thankful to have a pregnancy that, so far, has gone by as smoothly as I could have possibly hoped. That's not to say I haven't had my moments. The tears are definitely a lot closer to the surface these days for things that didn't use to phase me. I watched a trailer for the movie Max, about a military service dog who loses his handler, and got pretty choked up about that. I cried at work after talking to a man who was making a counseling appointment for his young niece, who has been through hell, because I was so touched that there were good men out there taking care of the little girls in their lives. I also got choked up because I had a bowl of Lucky Charms and then headed to bed early and I was just so overcome by how happy an early bedtime and sugary cereal makes me. True story. I've also had a few moments of sheer irrational panic that seem to rush in and freak me out then rush out as quickly as they came. I walked past a Victoria's Secret at the mall the other day and suddenly I realized that our little girl, our perfect child that we made and that we adore even before we've met her, is going to look at the body of a lingerie model and then look at her own body, and may feel somehow inadequate. And all the injustice and unfairness of trying to raise a woman in a sea of sexualized and oppressive messages overwhelmed me and I regretted ever thinking for one minute that I could possibly be equipped to parent a child. And I spun out for a minute or so, then took a deep breath and came back to reality where I reminded myself that I will do the very best I can to cross those bridges when I get to them. I only have that conversation with myself about three times a week or so. That's normal, right? 

How is Dad doing? Aside from avoiding assembling our Ikea dresser for the nursery like the plague, (who can blame him?) R has been an eager and excited father-to-be! I think the initial shock of knowing he would be joined by another girl has begun to wear off. He is a guys guy through and through and rather than embracing the gold sparkles and tulle that are certainly in his near future, he's looking into ways little hands can help brew and how soon is too soon to teach her how to use a power drill. I think she will be a wonderfully balanced kid with a Dad like him.  

Looking forward to anything? I am looking forward to flying home to Milwaukee for my shower in early August! I can't wait to see friends and family I haven't seen in a while and ooh and ahh over teeny little onesies and dresses. I also just so happened to have planned my trip for the same week as the Wisconsin State Fair! What a coincidence! I plan on introducing this little lady to all the delicacies of her motherland in all their fried glory!

I'm going to celebrate this six month milestone with an at home pedicure (one of my last I think, as this growing belly is not going to lend itself to toenail painting much longer) and a virgin Moscow Mule! I'll leave you with this picture of a certain big brother to be in our nursery in progress.