Friday, March 31, 2006

Home again. I flew into Paradise this morning, and I have been a bit at loose ends ever since. The rental car is sorted out, and next week I'll be getting to deal with the rest of this mess. Luckily I've got a good friend coming over tomorrow, and I'm cooking up a big pot of Beef Burgundy for her. Yum. I've missed cooking in my own kitchen. For dinner I'm chowing down on tuna noodle cassarole, which I've also missed. Tuna noodle cassarole is something that we've found is easy to make, little need to chew, and it just hits the spot when this family goes through hard emotional spots.

KittyCat is busy playing with her Gran right now, three hours ahead of us in the East. I'm trying to be good. I will be patient. I will NOT call to check up on them. I will call tomorrow night, when they return from Gran's godson's play, at which point I expect to be fully relaxed and at ease.

My hands smell like marinade. The stew beef is soaking in the fridge in preparation for tomorrow. I'm trying my best to relax tonight, but so far it's not going too well. My mom told me about a lady who had her midlife crisis by cooking her way through Julia Child's French Cookbooks. One recipe at a time. Over a year or so she cooked every single one of the recipes, and got over her crisis. I feel for her, although I wish I could have sat in on some of those meals! I smell my hands right now, and it's a combination of rich red wine with all those aromatic herbs: basil, marjoram, rosemary... you get the idea. My hands are making my mouth water. This is a sign that I should get off the 'Net and eat my dinner.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"I'll go back to california and wake up in the middle of the night and miss her so much that I'll call and ask you to hold the phone up to her crib so that I can hear her sleeping. Don't worry, I'm almost kidding."

"It's the 'almost' that worries me." My mother said, laughing.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It seems that one of the things to change when I go back to the 'ancestral' home is that I don't mind washing dishes. I hate washing them at my house. I hate scrubbing pans and silverware and all that... but I don't mind it so much here. I don't mind taking the trash out, either, even though I can only do it during daylight hours and I have to remember to always wear my jacket.

I'm ready to go back home where it's warm, and the sun is always shining. I miss my little slice of paradise, even though my Boy isn't there to share it with me.

Monday, March 20, 2006

What makes a good mother? Is there a definition somewhere or do each of us have to learn how to define it for ourselves and our own set of unique circumstances? I'm sitting here at my mother's home in Southeastern PA, and contemplating a major adjustment to my thinking. I'm still a good mother, and part of that is not being stubbornly pigheaded when something is in my child's best interest.

My arms will be empty again soon, less than a year after she came into my life. It won't be forever, and I know that this is really for the best. KittyCat is going to extend her visit with her grandma. My mother-in-love will meet my mom for a baby-trade off about a week after I get back on the plane to Paradise by myself. When I next come East in a month's time, I'll get to take my baby home again with me.

Even though I know it's for the best, my heart is confused. I feel guilty about looking forward to the time by myself.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I first wrote this in the days right after KittyCat was born. I knew that soon the shock would wear down, and my own brain was going to shut off a lot of things to help me cope with it in the longterm. I did not want to lose the emotional weight of those times. Someday when KittyCat is old enough to know this- perhaps when she has her first child- I'll share this with her. There's a part of me that wants to share it with all new mothers facing childbirth; people have told me that this is one of my better works.

While I was trying to fall asleep tonight my mind kept returning to the words near the end of this. Where is my child? Where is my faith that life continues, and as much fear as consumed me in those weeks it was repaid with joy on the flipside. Children are more then blessings. They have a special hold on our hearts that no one else can have. They don't demand, they can't really offer much at first, just dependant on us for all their needs being met. In the process of meeting those needs we build certain bonds. They wrap our hearts around their fingers, and they become a part of the truth that tells us that only the ones we truly love are able to destroy us. A parent cannot shield themselves from that kind of anguish. To shield against it is to deny the love between them, to deny that bond of trust and love that takes an entire lifetime to build.

I was wondering about faith in transitory objects earlier while I was dealing with the car situation. This seems to be an answer. KittyCat is a transitory object. Her entry into the world was surrounded by terrible risks and complicated timing. I learned to have faith in her life, so that I could reach out and open my heart and not be afraid to love her. I was told that if she had lost her fight for life I would never regret loving her, and always regret fearing to love her. It doesn't seem that far a stretch to compare the two situations.

An offering, a post to the cyberspace gods. May these words somehow bring a comfort to one soul. Even if I reach only one heart and give comfort from this piece, I count myself blessed to be able to have it. I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow for two weeks, and I don't know how much posting I'll be able to do in the meantime.

I went down into the darkness
the doctors told me it was time
I was afraid for you
I was afraid every moment of that day, the night
dragged on and on
terror rose in my throat
choked my words
I could not hold my head up high
where are all my brave words
where is my courage
where is my child
I do not want to go down this path now
face to face with it
it’s dark and full of pain
there is no one to go with me
and only the promise that when I reach the other side
you will be waiting for me
where is my mother
I want to see her with my eyes now
to know that I can come through this
where is my child
the doctors are telling me things I can’t comprehend
machines are talking for you and every beep makes me fear
I do not dare to wonder what will happen if they stop
my husband is waiting with me
I can tell him that I’m scared
I know that he’s scared too
he’ll never admit it
your daddy loves you
in the long hours of the night through my fear
I prayed that no one would ask him to choose
they would tell me that I’m silly, if I told them
do not say so, ever, to a woman when she faces the darkness
do not tell us our fears are silly until you, too, walk this path
and still through all those long hours
where is my child
the doctors come at dawn with coffee and breakfast trays
with a rush of alarms and beeping and calm focus they tell us that it’s time
shouldn’t I be the one telling them?
I want to protest this
I take my fear down into the dark with me
no one there to take my hand
no one can walk with me I have to go myself
woke in a room with calm blue walls and my loved ones
and you weren’t there
I was alone in this body again
where is my child
did this happen at all or was it just a dream
I want it to end
I want to skip this part
forget the fear
my words return slowly
pushing my way from the hospital bed
stand on shaking feet
reach for the wall to steady myself
hold a picture of you in my hand
when I can walk to the door and back
they will let me see you
in a wheelchair, they will take me down the hall
my child is in a little plastic box
four portholes to reach in
hands must be scrubbed three minutes with strong soap
before I can gingerly open one window
reach in
put one fingertip to your arm
machines beep again
seeing you here I want to cry
I don’t know you yet
I fought to bring you here
to carry you and give you breath
and you’re a stranger to me
so I’ll return
day after day
week after week
to sit by your box and hold your tiny hand
How do we keep faith in life when it seems like everything is transitory? Physical things are so inconstant. They go away so quickly it seems- last spring I posted that my car had been stolen. I got it back a few days later, minus the CD player and all my music. Well, it's gone again. This afternoon I came out to take KittyCat to the doctor, and the car was missing again.

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of my things going away, of my security being violated like this. It's only made a little easier by the fact that this keeps happening. At least I know the people I need to call and the things I need to do; anymore it's a dance that I wish would go out of style. Dead like disco. I'm tired of moving every year, too. I'm just tired. This was the last straw for my Boy. He says that we've got to go into housing now. So this year I get a new car and a new address one more time.

It won't be the last. I know that. I know that moving every 12 months seems to be the price I pay for loving him and being his wife. I can't complain that I wasn't warned about that going into this life; Pat and Blane told me. They made sure that I knew it before they wished us well and celebrated our marriage with us. They gave the Boy everything he needed to give him a good start in the navy. Helped me transition to being a navy wife.

Maybe next time I'll make it through more than a year without a new address.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ah, stress. Nothing quite like it, is there? Right now my stress quotient has risen through the roof and I'm ready to take a Little Helper along with a large mug full of herbal tea to bed with me. I see another Awfully Long Night ahead... The insomnia, you know. It sucks. Worse than it sucked when I was pregnant, cause as soon as I can get myself back to sleep the KittyCat wakes up and she's ready for the party.

If I ever find out where this party she's looking for is, I'm calling the police to have it put away. Or at least cited for aggravating the peace.

My mother says I was the same way as a baby, so I really can't complain all that much. At least I have learned how to get this child to go to sleep and I've learned the warning signs for over-stimulation. That's a sure way to get no sleep at all for hours and hours and hours; after a while she's screaming and crying so hard that I'm crying along with her. I feel her pain, that's what I tell myself. My heart's just too tender. I can't stand to hear her that upset, especially not on the nights when I miss my Boy so much that I'm crying that way for my own loneliness.

Monday, March 13, 2006

There's a thing that I like to call the Black. It's a certain set of moods that settle over me through the day, can come out of nowhere and go away just as quickly. The Black sucks away my energy, motivation to get off my ass and do something, Anything just to have some feedback from other people. The Black is the form of my depression when it gangs up with my anxieties and they plan a seige of my reality. Perhaps I will not be behind this cloud for too many days this week. When those depression commercials starting coming out the other year, I turned to my Boy and said there- that's how I feel. I'm a sad little cream puff. The Black takes the little joys of life and squeezes them dry so that I can only remember the shadow of what I used to find pleasant.
I wear the emeralds that my Boy has given me. One ring he married me with. One band that he gave to celebrate our first homecoming. One band that he gave me to tell me that he loves me. I want to sit in the sunlight and shine light through these rings to trap the sparkle deep down inside. So that when the Black comes next time I'll have a light to guide me through the darkness.
Love can cure all ills, as can faith. As can hope. Hasn't failed us yet.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I'm getting ready to think about planning for our next honeymoon. This is a more common thing among military marriages; the multiple honeymoon and newlywed experience. It comes from all those long separations. We learn the value of our spouses when they're not available, when they're thousands of miles away for months on end with little to no contact. I find that I get irritated with the Boy fairly quickly when he's always 'underfoot', especially when he's on leave for a week and doesn't move off the computer chair more than once a day. Once he's gone, though, I quickly remember all the positive points about him. I may not be putting him up on a pedestal, but I sure do see all the small ways in which he contributes to the household when he's not around to do them.

When he is here I tend to forget that he takes out the trash without a reminder. I forget that he wipes down the counters every morning before going to work and that he makes me cups of tea when I feel blue. Now the trash piles up, I have to clean my own kitchen, and make my own tea in the morning. Certainly I can do all these things myself, and I really don't bitch about them on an ongoing basis. It's the principle of the thing. Life is just that much nicer when he's home. Next month we're going to start getting combat pay and the family separation allowance. Once he enters the 'hazardous duty zone' his pay will no longer be taxed. This is supposed to make it easier on us, and make us feel better about putting him in harm's way, however unlikely it is that his desk is going to explode under the weight of all those duty chits. It doesn't make me tea or give me a hug when it rains. It doesn't curl up next to me and let me burrow into it's shoulder when CSI is on, and it doesn't give me a surprise hug when I'm washing dishes.

Late this summer he'll be home again. We won't see that extra money every month, and life will go into a far more hectic pace. The ship has to be gone over and fixed from stem to stern of everything that broke. My boy will be putting in 12-14 hour days, possibly even working 6 days a week for a while. He'll come home at night stiff and sore and fall into bed without eating dinner, and that's going to be our lives for another half a year. In the brief couple of weeks surrounding that return, though, he gets to take two whole weeks of leave. He's going to be All Mine for about half of that, and we're planning a honeymoon-type vacation because that's what it is. Reunion. Re-bonding. Decompressing from all the pain of the separation and learning about each other once again.

Normally I hate planning travel. This time I don't mind.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Does insomnia cause stress or does stress cause insomnia? Do I take one of those Little Helpers tonight to help me get some needed sleep, or will I be okay without it? This morning I woke up buried in a nest of pillows and blankets and didn't want to move because I was so tired. My stomach rebells at the thought of food once again, because of the anxiety. There's not even what I would consider a good reason for all of this.
My Boy is now half a world away from me. He's got the sniffles. I wish I could reach through the ethernet and pull him to me, so that I could curl up against his warm back. That was a surefire cure for the middle-of-the-night can't sleep. I would curl up against him and count his breathing. Slow, regular. Calm. He'll be a rock against anything the world throws at me if I can't handle it. One of the few people in this world that I can't shake.
It's still raining outside and I'm thinking strongly of hiding in the apartment all day. Who wants to go out, in this? I've definately been corrupted by living in such a perfect climate.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's a quiet morning. Too quiet. Everybody's still asleep and it's nearly 7am. I know that it won't last but I'm learning to take advantage of these times. I've eaten breakfast in peace and quiet. I've checked my email. I even read the online comic strips that I like following but rarely have the time and thought to do anymore.
I keep breathing in and out. Serenity Now. It's going to be a quiet day; no appointments to keep and no places to be at any given time. Just me and my baby girl. When she wakes up to look at me with those big blue eyes I'm going to smile at her and mean it. I expect at any moment to hear a rustling from the nursery and look up to see little eyes peeking out underneath the crib bumper. How did I get so lucky? How did I come by this precious bundle of giggles, wiggles, and joy?
Who am I to argue with it?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Serenity Now.
Some days I find myself repeating that endlessly under my breath, as a reminder to try and relax. I find that when I hold onto my anxieties my shoulders get tight and my neck tightens further and further until it gives me a headache. By the time I lay down to go to sleep at night I am surprised that the bed doesn't shake from the tension humming on my nerves.
KittyCat continues to improve. Her congestion is finally gone. The breathing troubles she has are barely noticeable right now. She shrieks with joy when she sees my toes wiggling, crawling over to me immediately to grab them and giggle again. It's such a good feeling to see her so happy and doing normal things.
I miss my husband. I knew that I would, and I knew that I'd be feeling the empty space in bed next to me. I knew that I would dream of his arms around me and wake to hear his voice in my ear. I'll be strong and a wife that he can be proud of- it just takes some time. The trick is to go on going on. To keep getting up in the morning and to keep smiling even when I don't want to.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Thinking of so many things tonight.... I miss my Boy. This afternoon I made the arrangements for KittyCat and myself to fly East at the end of the month. It just makes me want to cry, not because of the trip but because it's another one without my Boy. Another one where we're returning without him. A friend told me recently to think of it in terms of pay periods. There will be ten of them between the start and end of deployment. Now there are eight (or is it nine?) either way, it's seeming a long time.

Right now KittyCat's asleep, and Mama's on the phone with her Posse, and I am getting ready to think about crawling into my pj's and curl up with my knitting. Or maybe I'll settle for a good book instead.

A while ago I posted about the women who have gone before us- sending their men off to sea and to war. Tonight I feel more like one of the whaling-ship wives, from New England. I almost wish that we'd have a real winter storm out here, because the sun shines too brightly, and how can it shine like this when my heart is so far away from me?

Friday, March 03, 2006

trachea malasia

that's the official term for it; a soft spot of the trachea. I looked it up.
It's a rare chance that I have a mostly free and uninterrupted afternoon before me. What to do? What to do? I decided to spend part of it uploading the KittyCat's pictures and finally getting around to sending prints of them to the Families back East. (Didn't that sound ominous? What is she, some sort of mafia princess?) Well, her godfather does do a pretty good impression.

As I type this she's wiggling around making some sort of strange grunting sound due to the remnants of her cold. It seems that her big plastic keys are just too tasty to chew on one at a time. These days she more or less is able to amuse herself for stretches of time when I can get online and check up on my groups- and Dooce. I spend *way* too much time reading Dooce. She's like, a role model for me or something from time to time as my depression and insomnia go to war with my anxiety. Why does this always seem to happen at 2am? Don't they realize that I have better things to do with my time? Like, say, sleep?

oops, KittyCat is determined to chew on my foot again. Or the mousepad. Let this be a lesson to potential parents everywhere: small mammels all go through a phase of chewing on things. Doesn't matter what species they are, they'll figure out a way to acquire and attack it. And if they can't put it in their mouth they'll either attach to it in a sucker-fish method or bash their small heads on it. Computer equipment is particularly yummy to them. Optical wireless mice are practically irresistable. It's a good thing we gave that away before she started crawling and reaching...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Finally back on the internet. Yay me! Was going nutty for a bit; our service had network problems since Sunday night- I woke up Monday without the 'Net, and had no access until this morning. 4 whole days. It's a miracle I didn't cut my hair or something.

KittyCat is still working on her breathing. The trachea-thing caused her congestion to land us in the doctor's office again Monday afternoon, at which point the respiratory therapist (Mr. Bob) was able to *finally* give us something other than "clear fluids and tylenol". So now she has her very own aero-chamber mask, which makes it possible for us to give an inhaler medication to a 10month old. She's actually 10 months old this week. Pretty girl. We're still doing really well medically speaking. I count us lucky that she's escaped so many preemie concerns. If all we have at this point is a coloboma, GER, and trachea-whatsis- I say that's not so bad. We could have been coming home with an O2 tank, or an apnea monitor, or something. She could have been given a diagnosis of ROP.

In the meantime the crafting proceeds. I've been forcing myself to spend an hour a night with my knitting, because the current project is both a beautifully cuddly fiber to work with as well as a soothing color. It's periwinkle, cotton, and has a soft sheen to the surface that makes the light fall into it. When it's done I'm putting it up on my website, so make sure to keep checking over there in case something strikes your fancy. While I'm knitting I'm not neglecting the preemie blanket project though. This morning I delivered about 20 blankies to Ms. Maria, who was thrilled to see them because they're having a new bumper crop of babies come through. And that means that somewhere in this city there's a whole bunch of new mothers and fathers on that roller-coaster... my heart goes out to them. May they all have their empty arms filled soon and with as few complications as possible.