November 24, 2004
Okay. I admit it. I'm cheating. I'm not writing this on November 24, 2004, but who cares. When I started keeping this journal, I said that the only rules were that there were no rules. So "yesterday" began as regular day. I was soooo tired of being pregnant, but I dragged my butt into work anyway. While my bosses could not be more supportive of allowing me to take as much time off as I need, my ultimate boss, Uncle Sam, is a good ole boy sexist slob masquerading as someone who "cares" about family values. If the federal government really cared about family values, they would value their female employees who give life and support to American families by giving us some damn maternity leave. But I digress. And since it won't happen in my lifetime or my daughter's, let's just say, I had to drag my tired pregnant butt into work yesterday morning to conserve my sick and annual leave for use after baby arrives.
The day went okay; didn't quite finish everything, but that was cool b/c my goal was to finish everything by today (Wednesday). I went home after work as planned. But then one problem arose. God had other plans. You'd think since I was a 2nd time around mom, I'd have enough experience with "Braxton Hicks". Those are those fake me out contractions, that all the books tell you aren't real. Well, I learned the hard way that that is a BAD description. The REAL STORY is that the ONLY difference between Braxton Hicks and the real thing is that real contractions result in a baby. Come on!! I didn't have to slave through 4 years of med school and drop over a hundred k to learn that. I just had to birth 2 babies? So anyway, BEFORE I figured out the real deal, I'd been having these so-called Braxton Hicks, but didn't take them seriously b/c there was no real pattern to them; plus, I'd already been thru one false alarm and had to face the nurses telling me to go home - I was just having Braxton Hicks. This time, I did what any self-respecting martyr - I mean mother - would do I IGNORED them. I watched What's Love Got To Do With It (Lord knows that my little Braxton Hicks pain was NOTHING compared to the pain of those whippings Ike was putting on Tina). And by the time the movie was over, viola, my mom and 2 sisters had arrived early for Thanksgiving.
When my mother saw me on all fours, she said she knew I was in labor. Why the hell she didn't drag my butt to the hospital, I'll never know. Anyway, by 1am this morning I finally woke up and smelled the coffee. These so-called Braxton Hecks may have no pattern, but they were hurting like HELL. All of a sudden, I felt like I had to poop; Hass tried to help but the whole epidsode was spiraling out of control. We tried timing the contractions while I was in the bathroom, but thought we must have been mistaken because the second one he timed came only about 3 minutes after the previous one. Nooooooo. That couldn't be right, could it? I FINALLY decided I'd better get checked out, when my DH turned into a pumpkin, suggesting that maybe I just need to lay down. Of course, his eyes were beet red, and his face had that I'm a good man but I'm tired can't we do this in the morning expression on it. While he'll never admit it, the look I shot him across that bathroom made him leap into action.
Unfortunately, by this time it was already almost too late. Hass helped me get into some clothes, grab my bag and walk out of the door. Luckily because my family had driven up a few hours earlier, I did not have any babysitting worries regarding my DD. As I gingerly walked outside of my kitchen toward our car, I felt the force of Niagra Falls between my legs. Since my water hadn't broken with my DD, I had no idea what it was at first, but as soon as I realized, I yelled in a panicked state, "I want my mother. Mommy!" In that moment, I truly wanted DD to disappear. Prayerfully, he did not. I was frozen in the middle of my backyard, and Hass picked up all 240 pounds of me, threw me in the car, and pulled off. Though on a good day the hospital is 25 minutes away, on this night, I glanced at the clock when we pulled off, and it was 2:00 am. When we pulled up to the emergency room, it was 2:07am! Whoever said you don't remember the pain is a liar. I remember every scream of pain on that 7-minute car ride. We called my OB's answering service and gave them my name and all of the info, but in the confusion, we were disconnected, and later found out that they opted not to relay the message to the doctor!
When we pulled up to the hospital, I screamed for the nurse with the wheelchair to call AHEAD because I wanted my epidural to be waiting for me. She, of course, ignored me, and so did my Dear Son's head, which I could feel trying to make its way through my birth canal. Still, I was determined not to let THEM lie to me. I knew that despite popular myth about alleged "epidural windows," I could have an epidural even up to the time I was ready to push (ahhh the benefits of being an "experienced" mom). The problem was, however, that no one told Dear Son about that plan and he was already ready to push by them time I got into the elevator. Ever persistent, as soon as I reached the Labor & Delivery floor, I insisted that the nurses send a 911 page to the anesthesiologist! Ever wise, the nurses simply went along with my delusions of potential pain relief, telling me that they would call the pain doctor (who I later found out was doing a C-Section), but that they just needed to check me first.
The saga continued as the nurses wheeled me into a room for my check. When she looked "down there," her jaw dropped nearly as far. "DON'T PUSH, DON'T PUSH, DOOOOONNNN'T PUSHHHHHHHH!!!!!" I tried not to ignore her, but Baby Nunes apparently did because he was pushing his way into this world faster than Marion Jones could run a 100-meter sprint. In a panicked state, she called the other nurses into the room, and told them that baby was coming, and that there may be no time to wait for a doctor. Someone had seen Dr. Reiter, the head of my OB/GYN practice, a few hours earlier on the floor with another patient. At that point, my Dear Husband took off out of the room and down the corridor in search of my Dear Doctor. By happenstance, Dr. Reiter was leaving a patient's room when my hubby accosted him, dragging him into my room. In the end, we learned we'd learned that Dr. Reiter's service never informed him that we were on our way to the hospital, and that he was only there because he was hanging around for another patient who he wasn't sure would go into labor.
We had made it with little time to spare. I'd left my home at 2am; pulled up to the hospital at 2:07am, and baby was born at 2:42am. How's that for timing? The doctors told me that if I have #3, they will have to schedule a near-term inducement because of how fast my body spit out my first two kids. I, on the other hand, blocked out that cogent advice, disregarding everything I heard after "if I have #3." Such clamor was replaced by my resounding pronouncement, "DON'T WORRY ABOUT #3!!"
Anyway, all's well that ends well, and I ended up with an absolutely perfect 8 lb. 8.4 oz baby boy! Despite my UNPLANNED natural childbirth, despite my Dear Son's total disregard of MY birthing plan (which consisted of epidural and early), I'd made it down a childbirth path that billions of women before me have traveled. As a bonus, we were blessed to learn that though we had been afraid of sickle thalassemia disease, our Dear Son tested free and clear of that complication. He has truly been a bundle of blessings from the Lord.
If you want to see a big blissful picture of Baby Nunes, Big Sis and me, click here.
October 22, 2004
The last few weeks have been so incredibly hard. I've been nesting, as they say. Nesting like crazy - trying to get ready for baby whatever that means. Ready for baby? I don't think I'll ever really be ready for baby, but I suppose I should have thought about that eight and a half months ago. Since I've been feeling so overwhelmed, I think it would be helpful to list my accomplishments since July/August. Maybe seeing them in black and white will help me get the hell off of the treadmill of ridiculous expectations that I've been riding.
1. Redecorated and organized
my dining room. Thank you LucretiaBullock@dezignerstouch.com
You know, looking at the length, depth and breadth of this list, no wonder I feel overwhelmed. I suppose a few anxiety episodes or crying bouts should be expected in light of all of these things that have passed through my life in only a couple of months. Now that should help you get off of your treadmill, Ri. Next, let's figure out the list of things to finish to finally get you all the way off.
September 2, 2004
So I'm reading Sheryl Cashin's book about the Failures of Integration. It's putting into words (words of strict legal, socio-cultural and political analysis in fact) the "mushy" feelings and emotions I'm struggling with everyday. The decisions I need to make but can't - due not really to procrastination, but more explicitly due to my lack of satisfaction with my choices.
I know we don't live extravagantly. We hold a modest mortgage in a "transitional neighborhood" in the District. But I am so stressed and tired of feeling suffocated. So what my house has tripled in value? I'm "equity rich." I still can't send my child to my neighborhood elementary school let alone middle or high school. Some of my neighbors are working to lower class families - many on subsidized housing - struggling to provide the best for their families in spite of DC's ailing schools and their own personal situations. Other neighbors are childless yuppies - many of them gay and without children - who moved in to reap the benefits of the re-gentrification process and a transitional neighborhood. The f***ed up schools are simply not a primary concern for these neighbors, and the proximity of the big and beautiful houses in my neighborhood to established "yuppie hoods" - like Adams Morgan and Dupont and Logan Circles - makes putting up with rats in the alley, garbage on the street and the brothas on the block well worth it.
But what about me? That is not my reality. Seven months pregnant as I look into my 4 ½ year old's eyes, I am dreadfully torn about what to do. Who knew that with a physics degree from the most historical of the HBCUs, 2 higher education degrees from Harvard, a six figure (albeit a low six figure) income as a government lawyer, and a wonderful husband who loves me, I could end up as suffocated as I feel?
Less than 90 days before another baby Nunes arrives, I have no idea what I'm going to do about childcare, nor do I know how I'm going to pay for it. I also don't know how much maternity leave I'll have - if any at all! Why does that make sense for a U.S. federal government employee in 2004?
My husband's entrepreneurial spirit, while exciting and inspiring at times, also engenders impatience as I wait for the proverbial pay off that may or may not come. My own entrepreneurial spirit can be equally frustrating, as I already do not have enough time in my day, and publishing, marketing, promoting and performing add more "things to do" on my list. Most of all, my anal tendencies frustrate me because I know all too well what I'm capable of if I had the time but I don't so I do the best I can with what I have which is assuredly well above the average working pregnant primary breadwinner running her own company while helping her husband with his and raising a 4 ½ year old, but not enough to live up to my own expectations, which if I am to remain sane must remain MY yard stick.
So what do I say to my precious daughter's searching eyes? Don't worry, mommy will continue unhappily half addressing her own personal dreams so that you, your mom and dad and your new baby sibling can live in our beautiful house in our "transitional neighborhood?" Don't worry, one day the schools might get better, and if not mommy will work hard but essentially go broke to send you and the new baby to private school or move our family to a suburb that MIGHT have better schools and MIGHT not have homeboys, garbage and rodents to step over? Don't worry, I think the schools will be better there?? Don't worry, one day our family business might take off and we might make enough money to move to a suburb where we're REALLY sure that we can send you to the free public schools - you'll be okay being the only Black student in your classes, and mommy won't mind a 60-90 minute daily commute. You won't have to worry about ability-tracking, political and racial isolation, or possibly living in a state that celebrates Robert E. Lee Day along with MLK Day; mom will have enough energy, time and money to protect you from such trivial worries!!!
What, please tell me,
what do I say to my baby's truth-seeking precious eyes?
Friday, July 23, 2004
Laying In Wait
Usually, we equate waiting with boredom. Space. Silence. Nothing to do. Like so many others, in the past when God's given me a respite, I think that that extra space in my life has to be filled up with something, some project, some activity to do. But recently, I've started thinking, what if God gave me this space, this wait, this respite, to do nothing with it, but to enjoy it? What a radical thought!
The OB claims I am only 21 weeks pregnant. The problem is that nobody shared that tidbit of information with my body. My so-called due date - December 4 - is based primarily on the date of my last period, but for the life of me I can't understand why a FEMALE OB would base any important date on such a whimsical quirky thing as my menstrual cycle. I don't care what the medical textbooks say, any woman should know that when you have a period with a mind of its own, it comes whenever it comes, and true to any uninvited guest, it stays as long as it pleases. So, according to the textbook, which was undoubtedly written by a man, I am 5 months pregnant. But the truth of the matter is that my body thinks I'm about 6 or 7 months. This kid has been kicking me and doing backflips on my bladder for at least 5 weeks now. My normally inward belly button sticks out so far that you could trace its protruding shape through even the thickest of summer clothing. And worst of all I have been so swollen. Last week my ankles and feet were so swollen that I had to buy new shoes that were a size and a half bigger than my size. My rings didn't fit; I was fatigued; and I felt, just generally, FAT. I knew this feeling from my last pregnancy showdown, but I'm sure I didn't experience it until 7 or 8 months in. When I called the OB to ask what to do, I received a warning that I'd better get it together or end up on bed rest.
Bed rest? Me? Fat-chance. So, I figured I'd better get my pregnant self together. Now is finally the time. It's do or die. Even though I am trying to appreciate my wait, my respite, my moment I am damn sure NOT trying to do so on bed rest.
So I'm going back to basics. Started moving my fat butt and exercising, drinking a ton of water, drinking my "Fat Flush" mix of water pure cranberry juice, and flaxseeds. And, believe it or not, I added cod liver oil. 50-100 trips to the bathroom later and Walla!!! My swelling is gone.
Since my body doesn't lie, I'm quite certain that the latest my baby will arrive is the end of November. That gives me August, September, October, and part of November to lay in wait AND to enjoy it. I'm avoiding my urge to make a list of things to do during my respite, so I'll try to think about it as a narrative, instead of as a list:
I want to have at least
175 really detailed conversations with my daughter while looking in her
eyes. I want to ignore the fact that several people who I deal with on
a daily basis irk the hell out of me; I want to smile at them and mean
it because they really don't much matter in my life anyway. I want to
get several pregnancy massages, and fabulous pedicures. I want to stop
thinking about changing the world and concentrate on making my world a
better place to dwell for my husband and daughter, and a place that my
unsuspecting newborn won't be sorry s/he had to enter. I want to read
several books with my feet up. And I want to start somewhat of a pregnancy
scrap book. It won't be nearly as extensive as when I was pregnant with
my DD, but I don't want my poor #2 to think that I'll love him/her any
Monday, July 4, 2004
Act II, Scene 4
Sometimes in life you just feel okay. Not good, not bad. Just okay. I guess the most important thing to learn about feeling okay, is that it's okay to feel okay. I mean feeling good is good and all, and we should definitely savor those days when we're feeling good. Feeling bad is, of course, a drag, especially because as superhuman mothers when we're feeling bad we tend spend our time feeling bad about feeling bad. Now, why would we waste time feeling guilty and feeling bad about feeling bad? Wouldn't it just be easier to let ourselves feel bad for a while about whatever it is we feel bad about, and then simply just move on? But when we spend time feeling bad about feeling bad, chances are that we end up forgetting what we felt bad about in the first place and sinking lower and lower for no good reason at all. So really, it's not only okay to feel okay, but it's also okay to feel bad sometimes. In fact, let's EMBRACE THE DOLDRUMS! It's the only way to move beyond them.
So, here's a list of the reasons why I felt bad a couple of weeks ago, followed by a list of the reasons why I feel okay today. While I'm at it, I might as well think of some really good reasons why tomorrow will bring a brighter day - a day when I will feel GOOD!!!
1. Clutter, clutter everywhere.
Why I feel just "okay" today:
1. Clutter, clutter, everywhere -
except for my living room and dining room where I worked with a fellow
Sistermom with her own interior
design business to help me out of my rut. She was really reasonably
priced, though I was at the point where I would have opted for her services
over groceries. Who knew how much of an impact on my psyche it was having!!!
Why tomorrow will bring a brighter day - a day when I will feel GOOD!!
1. Because I always did like that
song - the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.
Monday, June 7, 2004
The pattern of my life is that about once every 18-24 months, I have these blackouts. Meltdowns. Life altering rock bottom experiences. The kind of experiences where it seems like someone took your brain to Kilamanjaro, dropped it to a canyon below under a piercing bright sun, and then laughingly asks if you're okay. No, you idiot, I'm not okay, okay? My head hurts, my heart hurts, my soul aches, my spirit's sunk about as low as it can descend and still be above the depths of hell's inferno. But it sure is hot there.
So, like I said, I have the (mis)fortune of having this happen once every 18-24 months if I'm lucky, but I'd be lying if I said it hadn't happened more than that. Sometimes. In fact, I dare say it took years, no decades, to notice the cycles at all.
So, last week it descended on me again. And while it was characteristically bad, I will say it was somehow so very comforting to eat ice cream and hot apple pie at 3:30am in the morning in McDonald's parking lot, rubbing my impregnated belly, telling myself, "Girl, God didn't give you nothin' you couldn't handle." (Though my nappy 'fro had been seeming like a cake walk compared to my life as of late). Still we'd have never perfected flight without a crash or two!!
Anyway, prayerfully, this time I grabbed my Purpose Driven Life book and CDs that had been collecting dust in my cluttered dining room, which set the stage for "Sojourner Peace" to actually draw a life lesson or two from the Crash of June 2004:
1. I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. The old Bible verse had become no more than a cliché to me. But after meditating on it over and over and over, after speaking it over and over and over, the cliché fell aside and reality stepped in to guide me toward the light.
2. Sojourning for peace will be a never-ending journey if you don't begin with God. Peace is unattainable without Him.
3. The Mom who cried wolf. I've learned that a prolonged over-the-top attitude will compel you to be seen as over-the-top. Duh! And then, even when you feel that you have actually found some success at attaining peace deep in your soul, when difficult situations or conversations arise, your closest family and friends will NOT believe that you are really at peace. They'll just assume you're going to have another over-the-top reaction. Makes sense to me. I guess I brought it on myself over the years. But the $64,000 question is how can you remain calm and let them know that you really are calm without their preconceived notions of your probable reactions pissing you off right back into your over-the-top behavior? (I'm still working on this one).
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Between the end of March and Mother's Day, I moved at a frenetic pace. But, since Mother's Day, I've been, shall we say, stuck in the mud. It started, actually, on the day before Mother's Day, when I was blessed to spend a relaxing childless, husbandless day at Soul Day Spa. Of course, the child within still prevented me from enjoying the service that I most needed - A MASSAGE!!!!!! Still, I had a fabulous time there and afterwards, I went home and went to sleep. What? Sleep in the middle of the day?
Between Mother's Day and just a couple of days ago, I don't think I sold one book! How's that for a pregnant book peddler? I went from averaging almost 10 books a day, to nothing! Zip. Nada. The big fat zero. See, stuck in the mud.
And speaking of big and fat, during my hiatus, all I could do was sleep and eat carbs to keep my nausea at bay. Yes. The queen of low carbs, high fiber, low sugar, showed up at the OB/GYN a mere 4 weeks later with every extra net carb gram that I ate, translated to yet another extra pound on the scale. In fact, the doctor who was least concerned about weight gain during my last pregnancy and told me to tell all of the other doctors who complained then to go jump in a lake, this time told me to put the brakes on it if I could. So I did. For about 2 days. But then the carbs came back. Oh well. At least I get to see I different doctor next time. Stuck in the mud.
But, I'm not really complaining about being stuck in the mud. Mud, if applied properly, can be good for your skin, its nutrients replenishing your body and soul. Really, I embrace my time in the mud. Even though I needed to start moving again (this weekend I was back to peddling books and wah-lah 22 books sold), my time in the mud gave me a gift. No reading. No writing. Definitely NO BOOK PEDDLING. No traveling. No nothing but working (well, I didn't want to, but the mortgage DOES have to get paid), and enjoying eye to eye, heart to heart, deep conversations with a four year old.
Four things I learned while in the mud:
Sunday, May 23, 2004
While I've realized that I cannot be all things to all people, I'm tired of spending too much time being things that I don't want to be, and not enough time being who I am.
Sunday, May 9, 2004
Mother's Day seems an appropriate day to begin my online journaling journey. Like so many others, I've been journaling or keeping a diary on and off for my entire life. As soon as it gets good, needless to say life takes over and I drop the ball. I figure if I attempt to do this online in front of all of you, then maybe, just maybe the pressure will keep me keeping on.
Course, I should've started
this on my birthday back in March. No, not because it was the beginning
of my 37th year of life. But it coincided with the birth of my second
baby - Songs of a Sistermom. Well, woulda, coulda shoulda but didn't -
that's the story of my life and the lives of so many others. But one thing
I've learned is NOT to dwell on that, but to keep moving forward.
1. No wouldas, couldas, or
2. No pressure to write everyday,
or even every week.
3. No using my beautiful daughter's
name. We'll just call her DD - Internet slang for Dear Daughter. Those
of you who know me know it anyway, and Lord knows she didn't ask to be
the public subject matter of all of my fodder for thought and writing.
But hey, we can't pick our parents, right?
April 2004 - a whirlwind. A blur. A blur of readings, signings, meetings, parties, trains, cars, boxes of books, storage facilities, post offices, labels, boxes, shipping, Internet hell, computer hell, invoices, 2 a.m. nights. But mostly, a blur of blessings. Who knew, when I started this venture, I'd be peddling books pregnant. Not only pregnant, but pregnant in my first trimester when your body and the new life emerging within it conspire to hijack your energy and hold it hostage for months to come. There's nothing to do, but surrender, and make it work the best you can. That's what I have done. That's what I'll keep on doing. About 3 months ago, DD's pediatrician told me, "Girl, where do you find the time to do all that you do? You need to slow down. What you need is a tranquilizer or another baby. That'll slow you down." No sooner did she speak those words, did I get my tranquilizer.
So, as my poem goes "Don't Question a Blessing." But I must say, I respectfully asked God, if I had to receive this blessing right now! After all, I'd been working on the "birth" or the release of my book baby for an entire year. I had bravely - no audaciously - ordered 2000 books!! I had no idea where I'd even store them. I just knew that 1000 books would cost me too much money, and I just knew that despite the admonitions of all traditional notions in book publishing tugging on my progress telling me that no one will buy poetry, that MY poetry book would be different. MY poetry book was marketable and would sell. All I had to do would be to get it "out there." Now, that Songs was finally born - on my birthday no less - just as I am firming up my marketing and PR, which is truly a bigger challenge than the book writing and production process (hey, who cares if you have 2000 quality books collecting dust in your basement) okay, just as I'm moving to this phase, here God comes with my BLESSING!! You have to understand that it was only reasonable to ask Him if I had to receive this, right now?
But, what's a mother to do? Keep moving forward. That's what "We Women" do. So, I surrendered to my God, my family, my body, and my baby inside. I surrendered to my BLESSING. Course, as I reflected in my poem, "I Used to Be a Poet," I knew that I could surrender to and accept new definitions in my life without completely losing myself in that new definition. I have to hold on to my soul, ensuring that I retain a reflection of my former self inside that new definition. Prayerfully, I'd been through that one before, and had written a "note to self" about it.
So, I forged on to become a PREGNANT BOOK PEDDLER!!! And now, this is my story.
5 Things I've learned (or re-learned) between the end of March and Mother's Day:
1. Rely on your friends and
family. We women tend to give too much and ask for nothing in return.
If you're clear that you're trying to handle a situation that even Superwoman
can't handle alone, ASK FOR HELP.