so, this is what it feels like to have your head explode.

I thought that the other day.  That my head was going to explode.  I thought, “well, this is it.  it’s been a good run.  unfortunately any second my head’s going to pop off and that will be the end of me.”  it didn’t.  I lived to see another day, change another diaper, and survived yet another public meltdown (those are just the MOST fun). 

people ask me constantly how I do it, and I have to say, not that well.  I don’t do it very well.  at least that’s how I feel on any normal day.  I usually end the days sitting on the kitchen chair in defeat and imagining what it will look like when my head finally explodes. 

no job is perfect and motherhood, a blessing that it is, is one of the hardest.  my bosses are about 3 feet tall and are constantly handing me poop.  they make noises that no ears should be subjected to, and they make these noises for HOURS straight.  they have the uncanny ability to destroy anything (mainly things that are mine) within seconds.  they have no grip on reality or their emotions (okay so we both share that trait).

I am not one to break easy.  I’ve never been a crier.  but these little midgets can break your sanity one meltdown at a time.  sometimes I try to explain to matt why that particular day was so hard and I have a hard time putting it into words.  saying, “stella wouldn’t nap and Lincoln rode his bike too fast”  sounds so silly in the aftermath.  but at the time, when non-napping stella is screaming and lincoln is tearing around the store like a drunk monkey on a little red trike crashing into my Oh-so-Carefully-Created jewelry displays I feel my neck start to tighten and all I can think of is imploding. 

I’ve been thinking lately that I need a zen button.  or a punching bag.  or a wine of the month club membership.  I need something.  I just haven’t figured out what it is yet.  Matt constantly reminds me that these next few years will be the hardest, the biggest challenge of our life.    and it will be.  and I know that it will be worth it, that these years of no sleep, no free time, eating cold food and drinking cold coffee because life got in the way-is worth it.  and that the true challenge isn’t not going crazy (though that’s part of it) but making sure I’m a good mom.  making sure they each get enough face time.  and quality time.  and feel happy and content at the end of the day.  that they have manners, and skills, and style.  well, maybe that last one isn’t so important. 😉

 it may seem hard to believe but I’m way less stressed this year than I was last year.   lincoln’s tantrums used to have me in tears.  make me think I was a horrible mother and that no one else’s child ever threw a fit.  i would drag him from playdates, both of us crying (well me once we got out of earshot of the other moms) now when stella throws herself into walls at a playdate I kind of shrug and sip my coffee.   she will forget that someone took her crayon and stop crying eventually.  and she does.   you would think that more kids would equal more stress, but that’s not it really.  jack’s a pretty mellow guy.  he was busy staring at a table leg for over an hour the other day.  he rarely cries. 

so, I just can’t put my finger on what it is that pushes me over the edge from slightly annoyed to spontanoues combustion.   it’s not the extra kid.  it’s not going to work with them.  maybe it’s the noise.  the lack of sleep.  the amount of poop.  the smell of poop.  the lack of free time (my special alone time is going to the grocery store, and that’s just sad.) the lack of showers or chance to get dressed in peace.  maybe it’s stepping on mushy banana.  wait…in fact, I know it’s stepping on mushy banana.  that’s what puts me over the edge.  finding mushy banana EVERYWHERE.  so if mushy banana makes me want to explode then what keeps me from doing so?

jack smiling.  jack smiling at lincoln.  lincoln saying, “hey mom? mom? i wuv you.  i wuv YOU!”  (at this last line he usually points at me similar to the posters of Uncle Sam pointing.  I Want You! style.)  stella laughing.  jack burrowing his head in my neck and sniffing.  lincoln running to work while shouting, “i’m a super fast guy!” lincoln telling me to ‘GO REALLY FAST’ crash the car because it’d be ‘REALLY FUN’.  stella’s serious face.  stella dancing.  basically anything they say as long as they don’t shout or scream it.  how stella always tells herself, “good job baby” when she’s done something hard.  lincoln introducing the family to anyone and everyone we meet.  (lincoln to a random lady at starbucks, “this is our new baby jack! and thats our other baby stella!”)

that being said, I’m only human.  and as much as I love them and as funny as they are I’m sure either tonight or the next night I will find myself sitting at the kitchen table.  head in my hands, will see stella standing at the door to her room. probably licking the glass panes and shoving the clean laundry out the cat door.  and will listen to lincoln shout for “mowr milk!” or “cover me up” or any of the other number of stalling tatics he has to avoid falling asleep, he acts like he lives at the holiday inn and shouts demands from the comfort of his bed.  it will probably be about 7:37pm.  and I will want to cry.  but then I will buck it up and put stella back in bed for the 100th time.  and when I am walking out she will probably say something like, “good job baby.”

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how four became five

“So, your uterus tends to fall out….”  My doctor was standing in our hospital room in her pea coat the day after Jack was born and acted like she was discussing the weather.  No big deal she said just happens sometimes. 

Once again, after Jacks birth my body started to hemorrhage and my uterus, so I’m told, attempted to leave my body.  I guess even it had had enough; it was giving its two week notice.  Jack’s labor was the worst of both worlds for me, back labor like Lincoln’s and hemorrhaging like Stella’s.    Two out of three labors resulted in back labor.  Two out of three resulted in hemorrhaging.  I don’t like my odds. 

All pregnancies are miserable towards the end, but this one seemed especially so.  Perhaps it was all the unneeded  testing (going to the Doctors four times a week while balancing two toddler’s schedules and working full time was a stress ball), or the endless itching (couldn’t sleep AT ALL due to being so itchy!) or just being big and crabby and uncomfortable.  Either way, I was ready for it to be over. 

We went to bed at about 11:30pm Friday night.  I woke up around midnight itching again.  The night before I hadn’t fallen asleep until 3:30am due to the itching, I was tired and couldn’t believe that I was going to be up all night again.  But as I laid there I kept feeling slight back pains and small contractions.  It had been happening the last couple days so I wasn’t too excited but figured I would get up since I couldn’t sleep anyway and time them.  They were 20 min apart for an hour.  Then 10 min, then 8 min.  Not getting worse though, but I started to get a little excited.  I decided to take a shower and see if they went away, false labor should go away in the shower.  They didn’t!!  I was getting even more excited.  By this time it was about 2am.  After the shower I decided to lay down for a bit and while laying there the contractions tapered off and got further and further apart.  Now I was annoyed.  Since I still couldn’t sleep because of the itchiness I thought I’d get up again.  I sat in the living room for awhile, the contractions coming and going, not getting more regular but not leaving either.  I was confused.  Went to the bathroom, stood up and water started trickling out.  Again, just like with Lincoln’s birth I wasn’t sure if it was my water breaking or if I had just peed my pants.  You would think after three babies I would know for sure if I was having contractions or if my water broke.  But there I was, 38 weeks pregnant, standing in the bathroom, and trying to decipher if I had lost my last little bit of dignity by peeing in my own pants.  I decided it wasn’t pee.  By now it was almost 3am; I went and got Matt up and started to get dressed and our stuff together.  I called my mom to come sit with Lincoln and Stella.  She didn’t answer.  Matt was moving kind of slow, and I could feel the contractions starting to get tighter.  Suddenly I started to feel nervous and restless.  I just wanted to get to the hospital.  Wanted it over with.  Called my mom a couple more times and she was finally on her way.  She showed up so fast I swear she must have been sleeping in her car out front.  Matt was finally ready and we left.  It was stormy, rainy and windy and cold. 

I checked into triage at 3:42am.  I know the precise time because I was having contractions while signing the sheet and the nurse kept repeating it over and over.  Triage always sucks.  The rooms are SMALL and claustrophobic.  I just kept asking to get to a shower because the contractions were getting really really bad and the shower is usually the best way for me to deal with them.  Matt kept saying, “This reminds me a lot of Lincolns, really seems a lot like Lincoln’s birth”…I knew what he was referring too but didn’t want to think about it.  I had back labor with Lincoln and it was horrid.  I had actually spent most of this pregnancy scared to death of going through back labor again.  I spent the last few weeks doing special yoga moves to help prevent it. 

Back labor is no joke.  I was lucky enough to have experienced it twice.  Stella’s labor felt like mild period cramps compared to Lincoln and Jack’s labors.  During back labor it feels like someone is ripping the bones from your lower back, one by one, with a pair of pliers.  Simply cannot describe the hellish-ness of it.  It happens because the baby is facing the wrong direction and the hard part of their head is hitting the softest, most sensitive nerves in your lower back and spinal cord.  Sometimes the baby turns during labor and relieves back labor, sometimes they stay backward the whole way and are even delivered that way. 

The nurse said that she was going to go call Dr Gerdes and then get us to a room.  I was getting nervous, agitated.  They hadn’t put in an IV (which I knew I needed because of my hemorrhaging issues) or checked me.  They weren’t moving quickly enough for me, I just had this feeling of dread that I couldn’t shake.  We overheard the nurse talking to Dr Gerdes and heard her say, “oh…so I should treat her as high risk?  Is she a level one or level two?”  Matt looked at me and said, “What’s she talking about? Because of last time?”  I nodded.  Basically Gerdes was telling her that I almost bled to death last time and that this time all precautions must be in place.  Not a bad thing, but you don’t want to hear your Dr tell a nurse that you are at high risk for anything, especially high risk for bleeding to death.  The feeling of dread grew.

We finally got into a room and I was given my official labor nurse.  She was a big African American woman named Lee and seemed like nothing could phase her.   Another nurse came in and put in the IV, she put it about four inches back from my wrist, so it wouldn’t bother me at all (again, they were already planning on me having the IV in for a couple days).  Then Lee, my nurse, checked me.  I was at a 5cm.  I wanted to cry.  The contractions were so horrible I thought for sure I’d be at an 8.  The pain was so bad I was shaking uncontrollably and my teeth were chattering, it was like my whole body was convulsing from the pain.  It felt like continuous transition phase.  She set up the shower for me to get in, it was 5 am.  Once in the shower things got a little better, but then the contractions started coming one on top of the other.  The intensity of the contractions paired with no sleep for two days and the hot water made me feel like I was going to pass out.  I told matt I needed to get out; I wanted to be checked again because I swore that from the strength of the contractions and how close they were that I had to be in transition.  I was at a 6 ½ cm.  I wanted to cry.  All I wanted to do was lie down in bed and cry.  But I couldn’t stand to be on my back (at this point both matt and I knew that it was back labor) and so I sat on the edge of the bed screaming.  Lee had left at this point and I just screamed and yelled though out every contraction. 

The next hour was weird.  Contractions never really got regular; they would hit one on top of the other for 10-15 min and then taper off for 15 min.  Matt said that I actually fell asleep a couple times during the long stretches.  He said it was like being stuck in a horror film, I would go from lying quietly to shooting straight up off the bed screaming and swearing in pain.  Because of the back labor I couldn’t stand to be on my back during a contraction so when they hit I’d do a type of back bridge move.  Lee saw that it was back labor and when the next contraction hit she had me lay on my side and started massaging my lower back, really really hard.  During the next contraction she flipped me over like a pancake and started massaging my back again.  I realized as I screamed what she was doing.  She was literally turning the baby from the outside.  After about 4 of those HORRID contractions I suddenly felt like something was being ripped from my body, I couldn’t control the urge to push. (Once she turned him he literally came flying out) Lee checked me really quick and said I was at a 9cm.  I thought to myself, ‘great let’s just do this then.’  I pushed Stella out at 8cm so I figured I was already ahead of the game.  They seemed to start moving in slow motion, I just felt like they didn’t understand the panic that I was in.  Dr Gerdes was getting set up and told Lee to give me a dose of Fetanyol.  Dr. Gerdes looked at me and said that there wasn’t an option for it, she was going to take some ‘precautions’ as she kept calling them in order to reduce my chances of hemorrhaging and she said that it would be so painful afterward it had to happen.  She told me she was going to inject the umbilical cord with a shot of picotin as soon as the baby came out in order for the uterus to start contracting immediately and hopefully to eliminate the bleeding that happened with Stella’s birth.  I actually felt a little hopeful about the dose of fentanyol and asked Lee if pushing would hurt less because she was putting it in.  She looked at me like she was telling me Santa wasn’t real and said, “oh, no.  I’m sorry Hun.  You didn’t get the epidural.  You will feel it all.  This is just going to help your cramping afterward.”  I kinda shrugged.  Whatever at this point.  Suddenly the feeling of someone being ripped from my body returned and everyone seemed to snap into action.  Lee grabbed my legs and started shouting at me.  Matt started shouting at me.  Dr Gerdes started shouting at me.  Suddenly I felt a whoosh and thought to myself, “holy shit! It’s over” I started laugh crying, I couldn’t believe it was over already.  I had started pushing at 6:38am and Jack was born at 6:42am.  I had gone from a 5cm to 10 cm in an hour and half.  The pushing burned again, just like with Lincolns but it was over so fast I didn’t even care.  I just kept saying, “I’m so glad it’s over.  I’m so glad it’s over.”  I’d look at matt and say, “It’s over! It’s over!!”  He’d just smile.  I felt euphoric. 

Then the fun started.  At first I thought I’d get away without hemorrhaging, everyone seemed to start cleaning up.  Then I felt that familiar gush and I saw the look on Dr Gerdes face.  She looked almost happy, like a kid who had been working on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle and finally found the last piece.  I think she liked the fact that she knew how to fix a problem, and was prepared for it.  She started to show Lee how to hold in my uterus, literally, which Lee did for the next 32 min until it would stay in on its own.  While Lee did that Dr Gerdes did something that felt equilvant to punching me repeatedly in the groin.   I’m still not sure what exactly they were doing but it must have worked because eventually the bleeding stopped and they seemed happy with their work.  Everyone was in a great mood, congratulating each other, thanking each other, hugging each other.  I’d never seen doctors and nurses so emotional before. 

The feeling of dread was gone.  It was replaced with a pinkish, wrinkly newborn who stared serenely up at me.  I knew he’d be mellow.  I remember laughing and thinking that everything I was worried about happened.  Back labor.  Bleeding.  I thought I could prevent back labor through yoga.  Dr Gerdes had her ‘precautions’ for the hemorrhaging.  We all try to control our fears one way or another and honestly when it comes down to it, we have no control.  Maybe that’s my biggest fear.  All we can do is get through it and congratulate each other when we pop out on the other side.   

Four became five at 6:42am Saturday March 19, 2011.  John Harrington weighed 8lbs 8ozs and was 21.25inches long.  He entered the world head on (literally-he tried to come out both shoulders at once), with a vengeance.  And is the most peaceful soul.  We will call him Jack.

stock exchange

a couple weeks  before lincoln was born matt and i had chinese food and his fortune cookie said this: “don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family.”  at the time we thought it was sweet and had a nice sentiment to it.  i remember i stuck it in my wallet (i tend to save fortunes, at least ones i like).

a couple weeks later lincoln was born.  september 17, 2008.  the day before he was born, the markets crashed.  our generation’s version of the great depression.  i remember sitting in the hospital with my brand new first born son watching on the news of the financial world falling apart.  it was slightly surreal, feeling such hope and joy in a new life while watching lives crumbling before us.

we started feeling the repercussions of the crash little by little.  when i went back to work after my maternity leave i could see the stress on my boss’s face.  suddenly high salaried people became a burden (i was one of them) not a bonus to the company.  a couple months later we found out we had to move from our new little home because the landlord was being foreclosed on.  promontions weren’t handed out so quickly.  my mom and i started the beginnings of opening a business (ever so hopeful we are! who else but a chemo patient and a pregnant person start a company during a recession?!  gotta love our faith…) and we discovered an upside to the recession, retail rents were CHEAP!

as the months and years went on, the effects of the recession lingered.  yet often i thought back to the fortune in my wallet.  “don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family”  the store was taking off, paying the bills.  money was tight, but lights were still on (barely it seemed some months).  people weren’t shopping like they used to, but it kind of made each purchase that more special.  i knew if someone was buying something, it was very very important to them.  i liked being a part of that.  i liked the support that the community gave, even when they probably couldn’t afford to.  people began to pay for what was important to them.  priorites were reshaped.  like a natural disaster the recession had swept aside all the debris and left only deep rooted structures.  what was left was what could never be broken, forgotten, sold, or lost.

“don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family”

we had two more children.  call us crazy.  call us hopeful.  my salary was cut in half.  our expenses tripled.  my savings was no longer my ‘fun account’ but was now my lifeline.  a lifeline that only stretched so far.  i learned that hope does not live in a bank account.  foundation isn’t built on paychecks.  we restructured our priorites.  looking around, past the debris, at the remaining structures i saw this:  a small bank account but a big happy family.  a struggling store, but a store that serves a loyal community and saves lives around the world.  i saw a couple that had chosen correctly in their investment.  three investments that may not pay for our retirement, but will make that retirement worth living.  (notice i said ‘may not’, we’ve all seen lincoln throw that football….)

today while i was fishing out nickels to pay the meter i found that old torn fortune in my wallet. not even three years old it looked ancient.  it seemed so foreboding.  thinking back to the night we first read it i can’t imagine if someone had told us what the next three years were going to hold.  three babies.  career changes.  sickness of a mother.  death of a father.  constant battles, and even more victories.

“don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family”

p.s.  my favorite part is how it says “don’t worry” about the stock market.  not “don’t invest in”.  but just to not worry about it.  there’s only so much it can do, only so much it controls.  invest in family.

ballon in a hurricane.

they say not to use walkers.  i have always deemed this slightly crazy, i mean i understand the stair danger.  and i understand lazy parents that use them as baby sitters.  but we don’t fall into either category so i always used one every now and then.  some circumstances call for it.

like today, today was a gorgeous late spring day.  we all piled outside, lincoln running around throwing balls and playing with his water table.  dad grilling.  stella was in the walker so that she could be a part of it all.  and there she was, wearing a yellow and white polka dotted romper and nibbling on animal crackers, when lincoln decided to jump up on the edge of the walker, tipping it over.  she goes down.  i heard screams and walked outside to matt and my mom trying to quickly pick her up and dust her off.  it’s not the first time she’s been dusted off.

at the ripe age of 7 months she has been hit in the head with numerous basketballs and footballs, been kicked, hit, pinched, hit in the nose with books, and who knows what else i don’t witness.  one time i heard her scream and suddenly lincoln ran out of the bedroom and came up and hugged me (a preliminary “i’m sorry”) i never did figure out what happened.

it’s not that we don’t watch out for her, or attempt to protect her.  we do.  i am actually more protective of her.  but lincoln is a force to be reckoned with.  he means no harm.  he couldn’t love stella more.  he spends the majority of his time taking care of her.  bringing her toys, bringing her food.  he actually supplied her with the animal crackers she was eating before he flipped the walker.  he spends a lot of time hugging her.  she’s his ‘ball’.

when lincoln walks into a room things start to fly.  noise levels are raised.  things start moving so fast life becomes a blur.  that is lincoln.  a fast, loud, blur.  and stella is usually sitting somewhere, tracking the blur with her big thoughtful eyes.  she often holds her hands in a mediative pose, thumb and finger touching in an ‘O’ shape.  her lips are pressed together and she is staring.  thinking, watching, waiting.  every now and then she will burst into laughter, usually at some antic of lincoln’s.  he tends to stop moving long enough to make her smile or laugh and then continues on.  and she stops laughing and sits again.  waiting for his next pause.

lincoln has been compared to a tidal wave, a force of nature.  he blows through life like a hurricane, picking up speed as he goes, sucking everyone in.  and stella sits.  and floats.  forever the balloon in his hurricane. bobbing along, occasionally getting hit by debris, and waiting for the eye of the hurricane.  waiting for the moment when he stops moving long enough to grab her, and laugh.

free baseball.

anyone with kids knows that the hours between 4-6pm are tough.  they are the so-called ‘witching hours’ or meltdown hours as i personally call them.  nothing against the kids, life is hard when you are little and the day is long and by the time evening rolls around they have had enough.  and being kids they express all emotions as honestly as they can.  with that knowledge in mind i decided to have the store close at 5, which i hoped would save us from any public meltdowns.  we usually make it.  most times the walk home isn’t as relaxing as an evening stroll should be and last night stella decided that she was done.  she was hungry and tired and did not want to be in the stroller.  unfortunately for her we still had blocks to go.  so i stepped up the pace and racked my brain for baby calming ideas. then i did what seems to come naturally to mothers.  i started to sing. 

i had recently gotten a toddler tunes cd for the kids and we had been listening to it fairly often, so one of the many songs always seemed stuck in my head .  so,  as stella started screaming louder and louder, and i started walking faster and faster, the song this old man started to come out of my mouth.  ‘this old man, he played one, he played knick knack on my thumb…’  lincoln of course started laughing and stella, thank the heavens, stopped crying.  so here i was, pushing a double stroller down the street at an unnaturally fast pace singing at the top of my lungs.  i don’t think we went unnoticed.  and sadly, i didn’t know the whole song so i mainly repeated the chorus over and over, ‘with a knick knack, patty whack, give a dog a bone.  this old man comes rolling home.’  fact is, i don’t even know for sure if those ARE the words.  they are just the words that came out of my mouth.  and as i sang it i realized how ironic what i was singing was.  this old man comes rolling home.  all day long i had been on the phone with family in iowa and on the computer researching last-minute tickets because matt’s dad is very sick. 

losing a parent is like wrestling a bear.  you might not survive it.  and if you do, it’s a fight, and you are forever changed by it.  my best friend lost her mother a couple years back.  and it was a hard fight, but she won, and i know by looking at her now that she  knows something we don’t.    i’ve stared into the eyes of the bear, but luckily haven’t begun the fight.  my husband on the other hand, he’s been wrestling it most of his life. 

without getting into all the dramatics, matt’s father had many near death experiences.  there were fires, heart attacks, car accidents, and then a couple more car accidents.  matt has been told twice already in his life that his dad is dead.  he met his bear very young.  because of all this, matt is probably more prepared for this weekend than most people would be.  and even if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t let anyone know any different. 

matt and i have this saying, ‘free baseball’.  we are avid sport fans and go to as many games as we can afford.  we poke fun at the fans that get up and leave early because the score is bad or it’s getting late.  you buy a ticket for nine innings you watch nine innings.  and if you’re lucky, if you are really lucky, then they tie and you get extra innings.  innings you didn’t pay for, innings you didn’t plan for.  free baseball.  and free baseball is the best baseball. 

this game was supposed to be over long ago.  but we lucked out and we all got free baseball.  now the only thing i can hope for and pray for, is that he can finally be done fighting that damn bear.

animal crackers on the couch

we have it down to an art.  it’s actually painless by now.  busy, but painless. 

our day starts early, that’s no surprise.  lincoln usually wakes up at 6ish.  some days 5, if he’s feeling especially cheeky 4am.  matt, bless his heart, gets up with him.  changes him and entertains him while he dresses for work (i can hear them, “daddy’s belt? thank you. daddy’s shoes? thank you”).  stella and i (yes she is in bed with us, usually coming in at 4ish) are summoned when he is ready to leave the house.  someone needs to hold lincoln back as it is lincoln’s one and only desire to go with his daddy (but can usually be swayed by blueberries or balls). 

i then pull myself from bed, usually feel like there is a bag over my head and oxygen is low.  i still get up 3-4 times a night and zombie-like doesn’t even begin to describe my motions.  i make a cup of coffee, i am limited to two because of breastfeeding and it is my favorite part of the morning.  i get lincoln’s breakfast started, we usually share a peanut butter english muffin  that we eat in front of the tv while we watch the today show.  am i setting bad examples? probably, but i also like to think that i am cultivating a love for news and current events, along with a passion for peanut butter.  after about 20 mintues of news and bread, and quite a few “no mommy’s coffee, hot! HOT!”  we continue on the day by  furiously dressing three people, two of them very wiggly people.  this whole scene is usually accopanied by lots of screaming.  i can’t remember the last time i have gotten ready without a baby screaming BLOODY MURDER at me.  remember this the next time you think i am having a bad hair day or need makeup tips. 

i make our lunches, attempt to check email quickly, and herd us all out the door.  i begin the trips to and from the car.  one trip with stella, one trip with lincoln, one trip with all our bags.  then another trip for all forgotten items.  maybe even another one if someone crapped their pants during the process. and it’s not even 8:15 in  morning.

we get to the warehouse anywhere from 8:20-8:40.  thank the Lord we don’t have to be punctual.  i begin working shipping for my parents company, kuuma products, while the kids play.  or scream, depending on the day and the moods.  when my brother in law andy moved to thailand to be the production manager i took over his position and work in the mornings at the office.  at about 10:30 we three head into alameda to open the store. 

once we get here i again play the trips from the car game until we are all safe in the store.  lincoln helps me pull the sign out front and turn on the lights.  we head upstairs to attempt naps and meals.  the rest of the day flies by.  customers, dr. suess books, balls being thrown, cheerios being smashed into the carpet, tantrums, laughs, hugs.  suddenly it’s 4:30 and we get ready to go home. 

again, the trips to and from the car (this is why i don’t like going anywhere) until we are all in the house.  at this point we all kind of breathe a sigh of relief.  we are home.  all is good.  if i am lucky i get a few minutes to email/facebook.  i usually attempt to clean even though lincoln is usually following behind me undoing whatever i have done.  i learn to step over toys.  then comes the mad scramble to make dinner and feed both before the meltdowns begin.  dinner, baths and giggles, one out of the tub and then the next, soft music and low lights, baby oil and powder, some cries, some screams, bottles and books, back and forth patting, more cries and more screams, soft pats and soft snores. escape quietly. 

the silence of the house is to be revered.  it may not last.  at any time it can come crashing down.  i attempt to do what they have undone.   clean up the spaghetti that was hurled on the wall.  find the Tupperware on the deck outside the cat door (along with toys, socks, my hairbrush, stella’s pacifier, and anything else he thought looked fun to throw out there).  dust the animal crackers off the couch.  wait for their daddy to come home so we can whisper about how great they are.

the best worst year

so, i decided to start writing down my day-to-day thoughts because i feel as if someday i will want to remember this time of my life and it will all be a blur, as most memories of great times are. 

in the past 16 months i have given birth twice, quit my job of four years, started a business with my mom, and survived my mother’s battle (and surviorship) of inflammatory breast cancer.  oh yeah, and moved twice in 6 months.  it’s been quite the exciting past two years.  someday i think i will look back and laugh in disbelief.  hence this journal, i don’t know if i will believe everything that has happened when i look back.

lincoln was born on september 17, 2008 after a wonderful, relaxing pregnancy and easy 4 hour birth.  he was a dream baby, cute as can be, a little high maintenance but we didn’t know any better because he was the only baby we knew.  he never quit moving.  not in the womb and not once he freed himself (he literally ‘broke’ his own water bag via kicks)  and he was hilarious to watch as he kicked the floors til his heels bruised and kipped in place and bounced and jumped and basically anything that was possible.  he was our missing piece. 

not long after his birth we found out my mom had breast cancer.  to be specific we found out that thanksgiving.  it was a bittersweet holiday season and by bittersweet i mean horrible.  there were lots of tears.  i learned the hard way that when you are told your parent might die you vomit.  i was set to go back to work in january and my mom was set to be lincoln’s nanny.  she didn’t want to give that up, or she still felt the need to take care of me-i’m still not sure which.  i was in a daze.  i don’t think i could really process life much at that point.  too many feelings.  too many thoughts.  life went on, just a different kind of life.  life as we knew it was over.  now there was a baby, and a battle.  and i had to learn how to live in a different way.  a way that included night time cuddling with lincoln.  and words like mastectomy, and chemo, and oncologists.  and we rallied.  my mom did what she did best, she held us all together.  she studied and though she doesn’t think she read books then, she read and read about cancer and how to beat it.  she lost her hair, but never her sense of humor.  she grew tired, but never stopped going.  she told me once, “cancer doesn’t have a heart.  it doesn’t have a soul, it can’t think.  it doesn’t want to kill me as much as i want to live.”   and live she did.   

and in january, in the midst of this all, i found out i was pregnant again.  a true shocker, but i felt very calm about it.  in fact, i went to bed one night and prayed for guidance for the future, i woke up the next day and felt the urge to take a pregnancy test (don’t know why) and discovered i was pregnant.  talk about a sign.  i suddenly knew what to do.  leave my job.  concentrate on family.    my mom and i set about starting a business, a fair trade store that would involve both of us working together with both babies.  a dream life. 

2009 went on to be the best worst year ever.  my mom had cancer.  but she lived.  i quit my job.  but started a business that i love.  i was tired, stressed, pregnant, worked too hard and too much.  but i ended the year with two beautiful babies.  i can’t say that 2009 was the worst year because it’s the year my mom lived.  it’s the year stella was born.  it’s the year that we held onto family and forgot things of this world.  in some ways it was the best year of my life.