I'm sitting here agonizing over whether or not to start a diary. Isn't that silly? It's just that I'd like to, but every time I've ever attempted to keep a diary or journal I've failed. Make a few entries, and then totally forget about it. But hey, what's the worst that could happen? Might as well stop agonizing and just do it
I think I'll start small so I don't overwhelm myself. What usually happens with journal-keeping, I think, is that I start to feel obligated, and then I don't have time, and it's just one more thing I have to do. So here's my promise to myself: I will not let this become one more thing I have to do.
There. So. I'm the proudest momma in the world (I know, I know, bold claim to make on this site ). Baby girl R was born on July 14, 2009 and I can't believe she's already approaching 6 months! How the time flies. She is so big and beautiful and I am completely head over heels in love with her. I've always wanted to have kids and I knew it would be special, but nothing can ever prepare you for the experience. It is so wonderful and amazing and yet incredibly difficult. And I knew intellectually that my life would change forever, but that's 100% different from having it actually happen.
The very basics, just to get this started off: I'm 26, been married since 2005 (but with DH since 2000). I finished second year of med school and am now on a LOA doing a research year at a different institution (much closer to family, thankfully). I head back to med school this summer, with much trepidation. More on that later.
DH is a bit older (33), just finished undergrad after a long arduous process. This year he is being a SAHD on some days and substitute teaching on others. He is planning on doing a 1-year program during my third year to get a Master of Arts in Teaching, with the goal of being a high school science teacher.
I'm going to ignore my temptation to keep going now, because this could easily turn into a novel and then I'd be in trouble More to come, hopefully! Happy New Year everyone!
I'm concerned about my husband. These are worries that have been ongoing to some degree or another for the duration of our relationship (almost 10 years!), so I guess some background is warranted.
When DH and I met, we were both very irresponsible party animals. We had a lot of fun and didn't give much thought to safety or responsibility. While I won't claim to regret those years, I am past them, and have embraced my "adult" life. DH, on the other hand, has resisted "growing up" from the start. The notion of losing his youth and freedom is a very depressing one for him. I might add that we both have a history of depression, and are both medicated for it. My depression is very well controlled and I am generally a happy person who enjoys life. Depression is a little more central to hubby's personality, however. As a teenager he was the kind of kid who enjoyed wallowing in his own misery, if that's possible. It's probably relevant that he didn't really have positive role models. His father committed suicide when DH was 12, and his mother remarried and started a new family, and left DH behind when he was 18.
DH dropped out of high school and got his GED at some point. He's a brilliant guy, just not disciplined and hates school. When I met him, he was a well-paid software guy, but as I said, he has problems with self-discipline (he often slept late and didn't show up at work until mid-day), so when the dot com bubble burst and his company started laying people off, he was among the first to go. He mostly hasn't been able to keep a job since. He worked briefly at a bank and at a cafe, but was fired from both and has otherwise been mostly unemployed. I finally convinced him he needed to go to college. College was a real struggle for him - he withdrew from several classes and failed one, and so it took him quite a few years to finish. He finally did this past spring. He majored in chemistry and decided he wants to be a high school chemistry teacher. (The one job he did manage to keep, until we moved for my med school, was as a lab tech at his uncle's chemistry business).
So now we're in a new city while I'm doing my year-long research rotation. DH tried to find a job as a lab tech but didn't succeed (I think this has more to do with his motivation than with the current economy, but I'm not really sure). For a while DH stayed home with the baby, which was awesome for me, though he wasn't always thrilled with it (but he did enjoy his quality time with R), and now he is working occasionally as a substitute teacher. As I mentioned in my previous post, he wants to get an MAT next year, which means he needs to finish his applications by Jan. 15, and he's barely started.
This is one of my frustrations with him - to get him to do things, I have to put a lot of time into nagging him to make it happen. This drives both of us nuts, but if I don't do it, things don't get done, and then we're both unhappy. I mean, if he doesn't get into this program next year, he'll be miserable. I have tried varying degrees of backing off over the years, and I think I've found a place where the nagging isn't too bad but things actually happen. But it's aggravating that it has to be that way. And after 10 years, I've realized that it probably always will be, no matter how much I'd like it to change.
In addition to a general difficulty taking responsibility for himself, DH has also had a very hard time leaving the partying lifestyle behind. For many years he was a serious pothead. This may sound pretty tame, but he was seriously addicted. I don't think it's possible to be physiologically addicted to marijuana, but he was definitely psychologically addicted. I worked really hard at getting him to quit, and he finally did when we moved for med school. We had been living in the same apartment for 8 years and I think the change of environment helped. He has gotten better about getting his stuff done since then (i.e. he made it through the last two years of college with much less difficulty), but he still misses pot. He also did hard drugs when he partied, and he misses that too. It's all intertwined with social life, too. Before we moved for med school, we had a group of mutual friends that DH had known before he met me. I don't know exactly how those friendships formed, but I think they were mostly through work. But since moving, he really hasn't made any new friends. He's an introverted guy and really picky about his companions, but I think he'd be happier if he had other adults to interact with. And then there's Burning Man. For those who don't know, Burning Man is an annual weeklong event in the Nevada desert. It's the coming together of ~50,000 for a celebration of community and radical self-expression. It would take a novel to really explain it, but if you're interested, check out
. Anyway, DH and I went together three times, with the aforementioned group of mutual friends. It was somewhat of a religious experience. Then DH went in 2008 without me, because I was taking cardiology and couldn't afford to miss a week of class. The problem is that that year was one of the best he ever had there, and he really longs to go back. He couldn't go in 2009 because of the birth of our daughter, and during the entire week of the event (and a few weeks before and after), he was in a total funk. He seems to have it in his head that he might go this year, but there's just no way: he'll be a student, and I'll be on third-year rotations, and we'll have a one-year-old. Not to mention that it's very expensive, and we'll already be traveling next summer for my brother's wedding.
So anyway, DH has recently expressed to me that he's feeling trapped by life. When pressed to say what it is his life is missing, he said it was a sense of adventure. He defined adventure in the "classical" sense, as something "exciting, dangerous, and maybe even a little bit stupid". Beyond that, he's not really sure exactly what he wants. I think he's really struggling with this whole grown-up thing. He loves me and our daughter very very much, but as he said, something's missing from his life. I wish I knew what I could do for him. I want him to be happy, but even if he could identify what that would mean, there are things I would not be okay (such as starting heavy drug use again).
Frustrations and concerns like this have been ongoing for years, as I mentioned. They don't always take the same form, but I think the underlying phenomenon is the same. I'm trying to be at peace with the fact that some things will never change, but then I have this vision of the future, where I'm trying to hold down a tough career, the kids are in school, and I'm having to parent him as well as the kids. I mean, unless it's a morning when he has to teach, I have to wake him up or it doesn't happen. I hate that. I really wish he could be a self-sufficient adult so that I could feel like we are running our lives TOGETHER.
For all my complaining, I really don't want people forming negative judgments about my husband. He is a wonderful man and I love him very much, and I'm thrilled to have had a beautiful, precious baby with him. He is amazingly smart (definitely smarter than I am), a wonderful chef who cooks dinner every night (I'm a mess in the kitchen - talk about not being self-sufficient: if he didn't cook for me, dinner would always be out of a box. ALWAYS). He is totally devoted to me and is 100% behind me in the pursuit of my career. He has followed me across the country for that very reason, without any complaint, and he plans to keep doing that. He is wonderful with R, even if he has no experience with kids and was never as gung-ho about the whole thing as I was. And the crux of our relationship, the thing that has always kept us afloat even in the worst of times, is our open, honest communication. We have always maintained that love is necessary but not sufficient for a successful relationship; communication is essential as well.
My hope is that the frustrations won't build up so much over the years as to create unresolvable conflict in the future. I hope that together we are able to be positive role models for our baby. And I want us all to be happy. Sometimes I think I'm asking to much.
Update: DH and I had a great talk last night after R went to bed, so we're both feeling a lot better about things.
So, being only 6 months away from when I gave birth, and being on a site with lots of other mommies, I can't help but want to share my labor story. It may be more info than anyone really wants, but for some reason I like to tell the story, so here goes:
I woke up at 1:06 am on July 14 (exactly 36 weeks pregnant, to the day) to go to the bathroom and when I stood up my water broke. I called my midwives and they said to try to get some sleep and come into the office at 9 am. They said I MIGHT start having contractions by then. Of course, I couldn't fall back asleep, and my contractions started within about half an hour. DH hadn't come to bed yet, but went to sleep at around 3, when my contractions were regular but spaced and tolerable. I labored on my own until about 5:30 or so (I even managed to take a shower and wash my hair!), at which point I couldn't tolerate the pain alone anymore (I had really wanted DH to get as much sleep as possible, figuring it was going to be many more hours before she was born, so I held off on waking him up for as long as possible). At this point there were no breaks between contractions, but I was being silly and measuring from peak to peak and the peaks weren't two minutes apart yet, so I figured I should wait before calling the midwives. Sometime after 6 I started feeling the need to push and couldn't keep myself from doing it, at which point we finally called again and they told us to head straight to the hospital. I had spent much of the last hour on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor telling DH "I can't do it". He got a bag packed (pretty incredible, since he hasn't packed a bag in years), got a nightie on me and got me in the car. I couldn't sit so I rode on my hands and knees in the back seat. The midwife called while we were in transit and helped DH navigate to the main entrance (we were going to make a dry run before the baby was born, but since she arrived early...). The whole time the midwife was telling DH to tell me not to push, which he was telling me, and I was trying not to but I really couldn't help it. We got to the hospital around 6:50 or a little after. The midwife met us in the lobby, wheeled me straight past triage and into the delivery unit in a wheelchair (she kicked everyone off the elevator), got me on the bed, and three contractions later, R was born at 7:06. 6 hours of labor, exactly. I'm relieved it was so fast but it was truly the most intense, terrifying experience I have ever had, and I can't help but think that maybe if it had gone more slowly and gradually it would have been a little less frightening. I have a friend who tells me that since it was so fast, I don't get to complain, since most women have to suffer for far longer, but if you think about it, I still had to go from 0-10 cm. I just did it way faster, so I imagine it may have been more intense than some longer labors. Not that it really matters - it isn't a competition, now, is it? Regardless, we all got through it just fine, and here we are!
I'm trying really hard not to be a worrisome or competitive parent. Unfortunately, it's in my nature to be competitive, but I really don't want that to spill over into my parenting. I realized this might be an issue a while back, when I found myself comparing R's development to that of my colleague's son, who is the same age. As soon as I realized I was feeling competitive about it, I took a step back, saw how silly it was, and afterwards was much more comfortable. However, while I'm no longer feeling competitive, I realize I still have some concerns that are probably not justified.
R is a wonderful little girl who is quite healthy and growing and developing just fine. She'll be six months old on the 14th though, and I don't know why but I've started to feel concerned about motor development. I lay in bed last night thinking "what if she never learns to sit or crawl?" I guess the problem is that I have a rough idea in my head of when these things happen on average, but not of the acceptable range. My memory from when R was younger and I was in a baby yoga class with some older babies was that 6 month olds were able to sit supporting themselves. Sure, they would topple over frequently, but they could sit. R can't really do that. Then I start to worry that I'm doing something wrong. She loves to stand, so when I hold her or play with her on the floor, I'm often holding her in a standing position. So maybe she's not sitting yet because I haven't given her the opportunity.
I'll get a chance to air these concerns at our 6 month check up next week. I'm sure I'll get reassurance, and I'm sure R is doing just fine and will do just fine. I feel like I should clarify that I don't worry about this stuff a lot - mostly I just sit back and enjoy how amazing R is (it is so fun to watch her explore her environment!). But every once in a while, something like this nags at me. Another example is that I read in one of those parenting books that stacking toys are good for 6 month olds. We don't have any stacking toys, but I don't think R would be able to manipulate them, nor would she think to purposefully stack them. I know, I know, all of this stuff develops gradually over time. She'd probably get a kick out of watching me or her daddy stack the blocks and knock them over. I guess the issue is just that I'm a first-time parent, I want R to be healthy and to do the right things as a parent to encourage her development, and it's hard to be sure that what's happening now indicates a future of normal progression.
I guess the fact that I do autism research doesn't help. But it's not abnormal for me to have these concerns, right?
On a more positive note, my coworker/friend is coming over to babysit tonight so that DH and I can go out for dinner - it's been soooo long since we had any time alone! I'm a little worried because it will be the first time anyone other than me does bedtime with R, but I'm going to try really hard not to worry and just have fun. I can reassure myself that the worst that could happen is that she'll have a rough night. I'll be home for the 10:30 dream feeding and everything should be fine after that
Well, after all that worrying, yesterday when I got home I sat R down in her boppy pillow and gave her some toys, and she did just fine. She may not be able to sit fully unsupported yet, but I feel much less concerned about her getting there one of these days
Dinner out was wonderful. We really needed that time together, and we continued our constructive discussion of life (where we are in it, what's missing, etc.). It was so good to reconnect. The downside is that the evening ended on a kind of sad note, with us acknowledging that we've really grown apart. We just aren't as close as we once were, and we don't connect as often or as easily. It made me really sad, and of course caused me to also reflect on the loss of my mother (she died in October 2008 - we were extremely close) and how alone I feel.
But with the growing apart thing - we've been together about 10 years now. Never having had experience with a relationship this long, I don't know if growing apart is a natural development that happens in lots of relationships, or something to worry about. I mean, have we grown apart some and are now settled in a place where we will stay? Are we going to grow together again, or perhaps grow apart and together in waves over the years? Or are we going to continue to grow apart, until we eventually aren't meant to be together anymore?
I love my husband so much and I want our relationship to thrive. I guess I could be okay with us not getting closer again, as long as we don't get more distant. I would prefer, though, that we find some way to reconnect. I don't know if it's something we can control, or if it's really out of our hands. And if we can control it, how?
I'm sure having recently gone from 2 to 3 with the birth of our daughter plays a role, and my guess is that many relationships have a transition period when this happens. I'm sure for many it's a bumpy road. I just want the best possible outcome, and I'm not really sure what I should be doing to ensure that.
Today was R's 6 month check up! I always love bringing her to the pediatrician - I feel so proud when the doctor gets to see how amazing she's doing! R was trucking along at the 25% for weight and length since the beginning, and as of today she's still at the 25% for weight (14.5 lbs). However, she's now at the 50% for length (26 in)! Someone's getting tall!
It has been so rewarding to watch R grow over these past 6 months. She is such a content, inquisitive little girl. She loves to watch her father or me do things like eat, drink, talk on the phone, talk to each other... she's so cute when she reaches out for my iPhone and tries to put it in her mouth She's recently discovered her feet, though I don't think she quite realizes that they are attached to her and under her control yet. She LOVES to stand, and likes to make big shrieking and grunting noises when she's doing it (I like to imagine that she's feeling proud of herself). She's got these big, beautiful blue eyes (I'm pretty sure they'll end up brown or hazel, though) and a huge contagious smile. Lately she's been blowing lots of big, bubbly raspberries. The best thing in the entire world is when she laughs a nice deep belly laugh.
I know I'm being a big cheese-ball (my new favorite word for it is cheese-tastic), but I just love her sooooo much and I can't get over it!
On a side note, I hopped on the scale today at the pediatrician's office. I'm 10 pounds over pre-pregnancy weight (with all my clothes and shoes, mind you), and I basically haven't exercised since giving birth (I gained almost 50 pounds during pregnancy, too!). Not too shabby, I think. I started doing power yoga once a week two weeks ago, and I'm loving it. I'm still not right where I want to be, but I'm getting there, and I feel pretty good about it!