A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It Comes Back Fast

It's been nine years since I've had a newborn.
By this time tomorrow, I will have another.

me and my newborn Little Bird -  January 2005


I'm nervous. About a lot. The after birth recovery, the nursing, the lack of sleep. 
I have been reminding myself that I've done this before and I can do it again. 
I can do it again, right? RIGHT?

Really hoping that instinct comes flooding back to me. 
And that it comes back fast. 

The Blog Dare on Bloggy Moms
today's prompt: it comes back fast

Monday, January 27, 2014

And Then They Were Gone

As I've gotten closer to my due date, I've gone through all the january dates that are important to me and thought about the possibilities of the baby being born on those dates. Wouldn't it be great if he'd been born the the 15th, MLK's bday? Or the 20th, Inauguration Day? Or the 23rd when Roe v Wade was enacted? I definitely wanted to avoid the 24th when Little Bird was born! But, if he were born today, the 27th, he would've shared a birthday with my very good friend, Jed. That would've been pretty awesome and Jed would've LOVED it!

It's been about a year and a half since he left us. I think of him and miss him all the time. We weren't very close when we first met in high school and it wasn't until years later that we reconnected and came to understand and support each other across the miles. I still feel connected to him, though, and I know he'd be very satisfied with himself and probably give me a bit of an "I told you so" attitude if he only knew that in his death, the connection he kept trying to make in his life had been solidified.

He always wanted me to connect with his sister. She was living in Great Britain and I was here in Michigan. We had similar circumstances and he was always talking to each of us about the other, encouraging us to reach out to one another, etc. We had our own stuff going on and it never happened. Until he was gone. And then it happened. We connected and have been connected ever since. He would love to have known that now we are always in touch, sharing stories and feelings, sending pictures of our girls to each other, supporting each other. Actually, I'm sure he does know.

So, each day/date comes and then they are gone, and the baby is still cozy inside my belly. And then I think about the next day/significant date. But maybe he doesn't need to share his birthday with a significant date. Maybe his birth is what'll be significant about the date.

Today's prompt: And then they were gone

Friday, January 24, 2014

On That Day...

Today is Little Bird's birthday. She is nine. NINE! Since it's been nine years since my last pregnancy, there are so many things that I just don't remember. As this baby boy does constant flips and spins and somersaults inside of me, I think back, "did the bird do that?" I definitely don't remember being as uncomfortable in that pregnancy as in this one. I was able to work up until the week she (finally) came out- nothing like that is happening this time. I've had a few days where I've not gotten off the couch during Bird's school hours.

But, that day… nine years ago today, I remember that. On that day, my life changed forever. My world changed forever. My purpose changed forever.

Of course, there are a ton of photos that bring so much back, but I also wrote down everything about the birth experience right after it happened so I'd never forget. When we look at our children, it's so hard to believe they were once that little, with that blank of a slate. I love the personality she's developed over the years and the little things she does and says that make me smile. This morning, as I mixed up her morning cocktail of meds/supplements with yogurt, she asked me, "are you making 'birthday yogurt medicine'?" Then moments later as she tried to sneak off with her iPad, she couldn't just escape with it, she just had to make a bunch of noise almost to tell on herself and try to distract us at the same time. She's already asked me if she'll get to eat "birthday breakfast" today, too. So, it's pretty clear that she understands just how special today is.

Since it's too cold for school here (last night the wind chills were -25 or so and school has been cancelled for the day), she'll be hanging out celebrating her birthday. Me? I'll be doing everything I can to hold this baby boy in so no one here has to share their special day!
9 months
9 years

The Blog Dare on Bloggy Moms
today's prompt:  On That Day…

*This Moment*

Story time

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Birthday Grief Strikes Again!

I thought I might escape it this year since I have a reason to be distracted. But, nope. Here they come… the feelings. Ugh, the feelings. Nine. She's nine. This isn't where she was supposed to be at nine. But, here we are. Together. As time continues to pile up behind us, I do find myself moving forward in the acceptance department. I do accept who she is, how she is, and I absolutely love and appreciate all the fabulous things about her. Not just the obvious things like she won't be a "mean girl" because she just doesn't even get that, but also things like how she's so sweet and snuggly and loves to make us laugh and have fun; that she's still so connected to me- no desire to push me away and keep secrets in the name of maturity.

Still, the birthday is the one milestone that always gets me. At 2, they said we'd do all the early intervention and by five she could be indistinguishable from the other kids. Five! I did it all. Every kind of therapy. Now at nine, she's grown leaps and bounds. I do have so much gratitude. She's a great kid. But indistinguishable? Not even close. Rather, as she's gotten older, the differences between her and the other kids are just more obvious. The chasm continues to grow. It's a pattern I've noticed for a couple years now. So, this is just how it'll be. And that will have to be okay. She's her own kid and there's certainly no one just like her. I can't truly say that about some of the other kids I find myself comparing her to. Maybe this year will be the year of self-help skills: learning to dress herself, brush her own teeth, mayyyybe even some, ummm, bathroom hygiene?

This is gonna be a big year for her. So much change. A whole new experience, new growth opportunities, a new title: big sister. I'm certain that while the transition may be tough at first, she will undoubtedly rise to the occasion just like she always does and she'll develop new skills and new coping mechanisms. Yes, probably new stims and new scripts, too- part of the package that is my little bird!

So, the feelings? They're all part of the chronic grief that I have talked about before. I have it. I'm not ashamed. Not constant, but chronic. It comes in waves. And here comes a wave. And that's okay. It's a process, I'm a work in progress, and this isn't easy. Too often parents like me are judged for our feelings and our experience. Thankfully, I can see through those who judge- and there's no room in my heart or head for them. Today I keep on keeping on. I'll allow myself to feel my feelings and then move on. I've got a GFCF cake to bake, balloons to blow up, and a little bird to squeeze tight!

Here are some old Little Bird birthday posts if you're avoiding whatever you're supposed to be doing right now.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My 5 favorite things at 38 weeks pregnant

These are the facts:
-Today I am 38 weeks pregnant.
-I will get my baby boy out of my body and into my arms in no more than 14 days.
-38 weeks ago I was 5'1" and 103 pounds.
-Today I'm still 5'1" (though it'd be convenient if women grew taller during pregnancy- there's, like, no room in here) and 135 pounds. (side note: still gained 15 pounds less than I did with Little Bird)

Here are FIVE of my current favorite things:
1) Maternity leggings. Obviously the number one reason to get pregnant. Seriously.
2) Cold weather. It's 19 degrees here today and I will wear no hat, scarf, or mittens. I probably won't even zip up my coat (I mean, even if I could, I wouldn't!)
3) My Sudoku app on my phone. Must. Beat. High. Score.
4) twizzlers, peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam sandwiches on white bread, salami, candy canes, chocolate chips, fruit punch gatorade, whipped cream in my daily 4oz of coffee, pizza (it's possible that I'll make up those aforementioned 15 pounds in the next two weeks)
5) These two:

today's prompt: List 5 of your current favorite things

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's hard for me to teach my children that police officers are the good guys and can be trusted

I can't help but recognize, resist, and bring attention to injustice in the world. I can't stay quiet about it.

I'm incredibly upset about news coming out of my home state this morning. Kelly Thomas was my age two and a half years ago when was brutally beaten and murdered by police officers. They were accused of second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. They were also placed on administrative leave with pay and benefits intact.  And yesterday, they were acquitted of all charges. Something unique about this case? It was ALL caught on tape. A security camera recorded the tasers, the batons, even one of the cops, Manuel Ramos, putting gloves on and threatening, "see these fists? they're getting ready to fuck you up." He was right. They did fuck him up. Bones in Thomas's face were broken and he choked on his own blood as the compression of his thorax robbed his brain of oxygen. Yes, that was all on tape. 

How does that happen? How does someone go from training for the police academy, wanting to bring criminals to justice to, "I just smashed his face to hell," which Ramos was also caught on tape saying (or maybe bragging). It's hard for me to teach my children that police officers are the good guys and can be trusted. These guys give a bad name to every single cop out there. 

A big part of the story is that Kelly Thomas was schizophrenic. So here we go again, America. Mental illness is back in our faces. Just as we keep waiting for more and more school shootings before we discuss real gun control policies, we continuously dance around the fact that there are millions of Americans living with mental illness who aren't receiving the help and treatment they desperately need. By the way, apparently less than an hour ago, a 12 year old walked into a middle school in New Mexico with a gun and shot two people. He was seeking revenge from the debate teacher for dropping him from the team. This is not shocking. This is the new normal

As he was being beaten TO DEATH by the very people whose job it is "to protect and serve", he cried out for his father. He'd been heard on the tapes shouting, "I'm sorry. I'm trying." And he was. But he never stood a chance.

It's incredibly frightening to think how they'd react to people like my own child whose inability to understand/communicate effectively may look like noncompliance. Would she be beaten, tased, and had her face "smashed to hell" because she can't follow directions? Would your child? These cops are off the hook. They get to go home or to the bar to celebrate with their fellow boys in blue. 

I implore you. Do not accept this as something that just happens. Do not become complacent. Do not become desensitized. Do not forget Kelly Thomas. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Sunday, January 5, 2014

People say the darndest things- to pregnant people

I'm winding down this pregnancy, so I am at my biggest and for some reason that seems to invite more and more comments from strangers and acquaintances alike. Throughout the whole pregnancy, I've really only had a few strangers approach me... with their hands. I really don't mind, I just think it's a bit weird. I mean, I don't really even want to touch the bellies of people I know- so it's just weird to me that anyone would want to touch a stranger's belly. But, I always saw the kind, excited, and good-natured looks in the people's eyes as they "went for it" and I do always welcome good vibes.

As I write this, I'm counting down and have about 3 1/2 weeks until my due date. So, I'm, you know... huge. People, I know I'm huge. You don't have to tell me. And yet, you still do! Here are two of the most popular comments I've gotten in the last few weeks (and what I've heard):
-"WOW! you look like you're ready to go any day now"; "Looks like it's time!" (what I hear is: you look at least one month more pregnant that you actually are)
-"Ugh, you look so done!" (what I hear is: you look tired and miserable)

I've often joked that I should have a tshirt made that says, "End of January. It's a boy. Yes, we're excited" since those are the things that people always ask. But, on that note, I think it's weird that people ask if we're excited. I mean, obviously we are excited and thrilled. Of course there are a select few people for whom I should also add the line, "yes, we were trying." I mean, really. People also ask Ben if he's ready to be a parent since this is his first biological child and the first child he's parenting from day one (even though he's been parenting Little Bird with me for some time now). At this point, he has fun with it and gets existential, "is anyone ever really ready?" Usually that ends the train of awkward questions. Although often times when people find out it's a boy they say, "Oh! Ben must be so excited!" as though he'd be less thrilled to have a girl?? 

At some point, we just kept rolling with it. We'd answer questions, smile at their awkwardness ("are you sure there's only one in there?"), and move on. People often ask if it's our first. Whenever I politely answer that it's my second and that my daughter is almost nine they ask the next inevitable question: "is she excited?" (unless they know her/me/us and then they ask, "does she understand any of this?" For the record, yes, she understands that we're having a baby boy and she will become a big sister. Does she get that he's going to completely control our lives for a while? probably not, but I'm not sure Ben and I are totally there either!) So, they ask if she's excited and looking forward to being a big sister. Because I have no interest in prolonging conversations and having an Autism 101 discussion with strangers these days, I never even say the big A word to them. My standard answer is usually something about how she has a doll that she feeds a bottle to and then practices putting a pacifier in its mouth- likely a skill she'll come to master. I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that's a tough question for me- is she excited? I also cringe each time someone innocently says, "oh! you'll have a built-in babysitter!" Little do they know that I not-so-secretly hope that someday the baby will be able to help with the bird (not the other way around). Again, I just flash the smile and hope I can safely exit the small talk and continue making my way down the grocery store aisle or out of wherever I happen to be at the time. 

I know it's all well-being and innocent and very kind and for some reason, people love talking to pregnant people. So, I smile and politely play along. And I know I'd better get used to it because there's no way people can resist talking to a new mom with a teeny little (obviously going-to-be-gorgeous) baby!

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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)