Monday, January 31, 2011

No longer newlyweds

While Paul and I have vowed to stay newlyweds forever, the part of newlywedom that we most want to hold on to is the holding hands at the grocery store, Paul getting my door for me, playing in the snow, acting young, being in love.  And we have continued to do these things even with our new addition.  But there are some newlywed habits that we have dropped.  It's the sign we've been married for over a year.

We no longer count how long we've been married and announce to it who ever is close enough to hear.  Sure, in 2009 every month after May on the eighth day I had to re-proclaim my love for Paul by telling my boss and coworkers that it had be exactly one, two, three, four months since I'd been married.  I see this on facebook all the time.  New brides post on their status something to the effect of:
  • We've been married for exactly two weeks!  Love ya babe!
  • One month and twelve minutes ago I married the man of my dreams.
  • I'm making pizza for our six week anniversary!
  • Next Tuesday I'll be celebrating three months of marriage!  I hope he buys me a gift.
And when asked how long they've been married they are all to eager to answer:
  • 128 hours!
  • 10 days!
  • 57 days!
  • 4 months, 3 days, 6 hours, and 17 minutes!
But Paul and I are old now and when asked how long I've been married I say, "a while" or "coming up on two years."  It's all a game of rounding now and on the eighth of this month you can be sure I won't be updating my facebook to let everyone know we're having our 21 month anniversary or that there's 138949 minutes until our two year.  I grew out of that like all newlyweds do.

Last night I realized there was something else we've grown out of.  Full-time listening.  As a newlywed every word your partner speaks is the single most important thing they've ever said, at least since your twelve day anniversary.  I remember how closely I listened to Paul talk about food or his favorite color because they were all clues on how I could make his life most wonderful.  He'd mention in passing how he likes a good sharp cheese or the color green and two days later he'd have a plate full of forest green macaroni and cheese, made from scratch with the sharpest of cheddar.

Well. . . times have changed.  Paul no longer accidentally drops hints.  He drops them on purpose.  For weeks he's been mentioning sweet potato oven fries and I finally put them on the menu only because he was with me as I wrote the shopping list.  Otherwise, I'm sure I would have forgotten again.  I suppose I'm not as attentive as I use to be.  I was feeling a little guilty about that.

But last night as I ranted about my disdain for wasabi I ended my monologue with, "You know what I mean?"  I listened to the silence as Paul, who had been half-listening, missed the question completely and continued his evening routine with out a reply.

It reminded me of a trip to IKEA that Paul and I took when we were dating.  We sat in some rocking chairs placed side by side and dreamed of life as an old married couple.

"Ethel!"  Paul shouted in a crusty old man voice.  "Have you seen the dog?"

"What did you call me?"  I shouted back.

"What?  Speak up I can't hear ya!"  He hollared.

"There's no need to shout.  I'm not deaf!"

We both laughed at how cliche our little scenario seemed.  And then he took my hand and we sat and rocked in those two parallel IKEA chairs until a small group of shoppers crashed through our dream world.  We vacated the area so they, too, could have the opportunity to sit and dream of retirement.

See?  We are getting ever closer to that day and working our way right on the newlywed-oldywed spectrum, hitting our "still young and in love but we're getting lazier" milestone.  And while it's refreshing not to have to keep track of so many numbers, perhaps I should pay a little more attention to Paul's hints.  Who knows, I could shock him with some sweet potato fries!  It'll be another gift for him as I work on becoming virtuous.

P.S.  Paul's birthday is on Sunday and I have no idea how I want to decorate his cake.  Ideas?

P.P.S.  Happy 2nd Anniversary to Alissa and Chad! (Also on Sunday.  Makes it easy for me to remember, no?  Silence.  You were only half-reading this weren't you?  Silence.  I rest my case.) 

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today is a pretty good day-- one of a few I could count on my fingers this month.  I have a doctors appointment tomorrow and I suspect that I might have a little postpartum depression.  I prefer to call it baby blues.  My days are roller-coaster rides of ecstatic joy as my little girl smiles at me in the morning and deep frustration and guilt as she cries all afternoon and evening until midnight when she's too exhausted to protest a nap and finally falls asleep.  We're trying to establish a routine, but I can't seem to stay home long enough to give her the predictability she needs to learn how to fall asleep on her own.  Today things went well and when I put her down for her naps I only had to return to her room a couple times before she quit fussing and fell asleep.  But tomorrow there's that darn doctors appointment that is going to throw off her routine.  She's what The Baby Whisperer author, Tracy Hogg, calls a touchy baby.  She gets overstimulated and overtired very easily  When that takes place getting her to sleep is nearly impossible, and because she's so exhausted she just cries and cries.

I been afraid to admit my baby blues because I thought if I denied it long enough it wouldn't be so.  I've also resisted telling anyone about this touchy baby.  I suppose I have some fears that people won't love her if they knew how difficult she can be.  When people at church see me they smile really big and say, "Oh! She's beautiful!  Is she a good baby?  I bet she's a sweetheart."  And she is. . . sometimes.  And I love her like crazy.  Her forehead is pealing and I've been wondering why until yesterday when I kissed her and ended up with snowy skin flakes stuck to my chapsticked lips.  Perhaps I've kissed the skin off her forehead.  I just can't help it though.  I'm crazy about her, and she drives me crazy, and I worry if people knew her fiery little nature they wouldn't want us around.  Especially in the evenings when she cries the most.  It's all very irrational.  But finally admitting this has been very cathartic and liberating.

It's okay that I'm not perfect right now.  It's okay that I'm a little broken because I can heal.  It's okay that my daughter is who she is because even though I see a lot of this:

I see a lot of this too:
And this:
And this:
And this:
And this:
 And this:
And this:
And this:
And this:
And this:

And other people really don't care so much about her sleeping habits because they don't have to put her to bed.  I'm going to stop worrying now and make myself a sandwich before she wakes up.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

People say the darnedest things

I've been amazed at some of the things I've heard people say since becoming pregnant and having a baby.  Mind you, the most shocking phrases have not come from uninhibited children or old ladies, but from average middle-aged women.  I began noticing this early in my pregnancy when store clerks who asked about my peculiar purchase of a case of ramen noodles for morning sickness would also ask me about my puking habits. I brushed it off as polite concern, but soon it became a regurgitation of their puking stories.  A few weeks of morning sickness and I was very familiar with all the different foods that the strange women around me had been vomiting.  But aside from the "TMI" factor, what I couldn't understand was why these women were telling an obviously green, nauseous pregnant woman stories about their more disgusting bodily functions.

After fourteen weeks or so the morning sickness subsided and I was able to eat normal foods again.  Naturally, the puke stories subsided too.  By then, my baby was growing and, slowly but surely, a small baby bump began to form in my lower abdomen.  Now, complete strangers felt they had they had exclusive rights to information about my uterus.  Thankfully, after monthly doctors appointments, talking about my uterus seemed so natural.
Next came questions about my weight.  People I hardly knew thought they were privy to such information asking about how much I gained and what my pre-pregnancy weight was.  One would never ask the a woman about her current weight but when she's pregnant she's suddenly suppose to reveal that secret number.  Go figure.

The last couple weeks of my pregnancy as women found out I was almost due a new question cropped up.  Strangers at JoAnn's fabrics and cashiers at Wal-Mart were asking about my cervix, which is yet another organ one wouldn't dream of asking about under any other circumstance.  I had daily inquiries.  Had I not been so proud of my 3 centimeters dilated and soft cervix this, too, could have been awkward.  However, by this point I was practically volunteering this information to anyone who seemed interested.  Apparently, I say the darnedest things too.

After talking so much about my body for eightish months I've lost a lot of my censors.  Saturday night I sat in my parents living room visiting with my dad and I caught myself telling him my rough estimate of how much milk my breasts make. . . information I'm sure he could have lived his whole life without.  I now have a marginal understanding of grocery store women, so these days it's very rare I hear them say something that shocks me.  But last week at Target. . .

I pulled up to the register with my little tag-a-long all bundled in her car seat.

[Exhibit A.]

The woman behind me peaked at my baby and became concerned.  "Does she have a shrunken head?" She asked in a worried tone.  I turned around to get a good look at her serious face.  I was speechless.  (It takes a lot to render me speechless.)  I pulled the blanket off Andrea and said the rest of her was small too.  Looking mortified and embarrassed, the woman apologized.  While my loved ones and friends have given me many phrases I could have used in this awkward moment, I still am in shock that someone actually seriously asked me this question and think if faced with this scenario again I would react the same.  Like a deer in the headlights.  Who honestly says things like that and thinks it's okay?  I like the point my cousin, April, made.  What if her head really was shrunken.  Thank you for pointing out my child's deformity.

Still, I wasn't really offended, just incredibly shocked.  I just. . . I don't. . . wow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A gift for Paul

Today feels profoundly sunny.  Not outside.  It's in my soul.  It seems as though my confidence in my mothering capabilities revolves around how much sleep I've gotten, and last night was a good night.  The night before was not.

Andrea was tired.  So tired she couldn't sleep and she wanted to use me as a pacifier.  Unless she was nursing she was crying inconsolably and. . . so was I.  My mind was sinking into its dark places where little voices convince me I'm going to ruin the life of this child.  Paul heard me crying in the living room and came to relieve me of my pain.  He took Andrea and listened to her cry while I slipped into the bedroom to compose myself.  Sitting on my side of the bed I wiped my face and cleaned up my smudged mascara.  My scriptures sat on my nightstand and I opened up to Psalms to read this months mantra again.  As it spoke of doing good to husbands I felt guilty.  He was doing me good but I felt I was giving him little.

So yesterday I got a babysitter (thanks, Mom!) and we went out to eat with a gift card I gave Paul for Christmas.  We decided to avoid talking about Andrea and to just focus on each other.  He talked about the professors at UVU and how accounting could be genetic.  I talked about. . . Trading Spaces, which was a television program from years ago.  And I told a very detailed story about Comcast cable.  I laughed at myself on the way home.  I've become boring.

When Andrea and I got home from my mom's house she slept for a little before waking up to eat.  I changed her diaper, fed her, and she dozed for a little while.  Two hours later she woke up to eat again and at 12:45 I put her to bed.  Miraculously, she stayed asleep.  I climbed into my bed.  My bed that I love.  Under our warm electric blanket.  And I wrapped my arms around my husband.  It felt like it'd been forever since I'd slept in the same bed with him because I often spend my nights in the living room nursing and changing diapers.  So as I curled up behind Paul and he hummed happily.  I might not have much to give him, but he doesn't seem to notice.  He likes me anyway.

Andrea has started to make smiles when she's NOT pooping, and she's started making little noises too!
Smiling before her bath.  She didn't realize what was happening.

I finally caught a couple noises.  She usually gets quiet when I pull out the camera so I was thrilled at what I got!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A virtuous woman

Tuesday night was Enrichment night.  It's been weeks since I've had good adult gospel instruction.  Sacrament meeting is less than stimulating when one is trying to nurse and change a baby.  I often miss the Sharing Time lesson in Primary because I'm running around delivering and picking up rolls.  So, I was looking forward to a night without baby where I could speak in a voice low enough to be picked up by adults, not just infants and dogs.  The bishop was the guest speaker and he addressed the theme for the year which is Proverbs 31:10-31.  This scripture is all about the qualities of a virtuous woman.

Merriam Webster Online Dictionary has many definitions for virtue.  Some of them include: conformity to a standard of right; an order of angels; courage; valor; merit.  In the last few weeks I have felt nothing near virtuous.  I've felt scared, angry, sad, exhausted, weak, hopeless.  After listening to the words of the Bishop I wanted to be a virtuous and strong, but I realized virtue doesn't just happen like lightning or a sneeze.  If I'm going to be the woman my husband deserves, my daughter deserves, and I deserve I'm going to have to do a little work.

There are roughly 23 qualities of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, so each month I'm going to focus on developing two.  Hopefully as the qualities build upon each other I'll find my long lost inner strength.  January's theme is verses 11-12 which says:
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Paul, this month is for you.