Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties Restores (some) Sanity

This post is dedicated to Optimista C-- graveyard shift operator, laundry folder, resident photographer, and breakdown-watcher extraordinaire-- without whom L and I would not have gotten through the last week. Wo men ai ni!

Last Wednesday night, when contractions started in earnest, I got an email from the library saying the book I had on hold was in and waiting for me. I was a little distracted at the time, but kept the email in my inbox during the last week of newborn-baby craziness. Why? Did I honestly think I'd make time to read the next book club pick in between feeding every two hours, wiping spit up from the changing table, and leaking breast milk all over the place?

I think it was a subconscious thing, a reminder to myself that I do still have a life now that I...don't have a life anymore.

I cannot begin to list all the people that have come to help us over the last week. From L's parents cooking us pretty much every meal, to L's sister, to the neighbors, to friends blowing up my cell phone with messages of, 'Please, please let us come help', you would think that a woman in her thirties would become hopelessly spoiled as a result of all this generosity. But what happened to me was a tug-tug in my gut. The stubborn Taurus in me has accepted all this help over the last week while thinking, 'Okay, great. But what happens when I have to do this on my own?'

Which brings me to the restoration of sanity. Today I decided, despite being horrifyingly sleep deprived, despite not being able to put on a shirt or sit down without wincing, that Anna and I were going to go out on our first adventure together. I was going to do this. By myself. For no one's sake but my own.

And where else would we go? The library. (Come on, she might not look like me, but she's still mine...)

Here's Anna at the start of our trip:

The library is about three minutes down the road. I spent about two minutes inside the library finding my book and checking it out, and then headed back. It's the kind of trip I've done a million times. But this time, I did it with my daughter.

Here is Anna at the end of our trip:


I realize that for the average woman in her thirties, picking up a book at the library is not exactly an earth-shattering event. But to me, it was. I. Did. It. I can DO this. One book, one adventure at a time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties is a Mom

Wow... so many ways to begin this post.

I could start with the birth story, but I think I'll save that for another day. Maybe next Thursday, which I'm dubbing the Feast Day of Whoever Invented the Epidural.

I could start with boobs, but maybe I'll save that for a post in poetic form. It will start, 'Oh, Mother Nature. What in Sam Hill were you thinking?'

I could start with sleep, but maybe I should save that for a more creative post. Maybe an interpretive dance that starts on a Wednesday and goes on and on without a break for 18 years.

But instead I'll start with my baby girl. A woman in her thirties has so few moments in life where she knows-- right there-- what the purpose in her life is supposed to be. Anna, you are my moment forever. Thank you for choosing me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties is Powerless

We were told that it was going to snow this weekend. A lot. This woman in her thirties has come a long way in the last year, and I was actually kind of excited for it. Not for the driving, the sliding, or chapped lips, but for the prettiness of it. So when I woke up on Saturday morning and saw this, I got all warm and fuzzy inside. For reals:

I went to yoga, got all zen-hippie, and left there feeling like life was good, and I was ready for my second Pleasantville winter.

Then I walked out to my car, which in the course of an hour and a half had been surrounded by more than three inches of snow. Guess who hadn't thought to bring her brush-thingy to get all the snow off? The next thirty minutes are a convoluted mess, beginning with an eight month pregnant lady pushing another pregnant lady's car out of a ditch, me rolling down my window and dumping about a ton of snow on my lap and down my boots, and ending with lots and lots of expletives.

A woman in her thirties should know better than to think things can't get worse than they are, but I did. I was sitting at brunch with my friend K (laughing at myself for the snow-in-boots debacle) when L sent me a text. 'FYI- the power's out.' I kept my cool, thinking, 'It's okay. We'll run some errands this afternoon and have the heat back on by dinner.' Here's how it really went:

Saturday: Reading. Conserving cell phone batteries. Snuggling under blankets. Power should be back any minute now. All the neighbors crossing fingers.

Saturday night: Silent prayers of gratitude for our very heavy down comforter. Surely we would have power by morning.

Sunday morning: Butt cold. Thank goodness Chewy didn't make her appearance yet. Rush to L's parents' for shu mai and hot chocolate. Jealous of Dan's fur coat.

Sunday afternoon: Kill time at the Giant Mall of Midwestern Craziness. Stop back at home to give Dan some love and store frozen gwottles in a neighbor's freezer who still has power.

Sunday night: Shower at L's parents'. Wish I'd go into labor so we'd be assured a warm room to sleep in. L and I fight to share Dan's body heat.

Monday morning: YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS WE STILL DON'T HAVE POWER. Rush out of the house to get to OB appointment, okay with being early if it means we can sit in the warm waiting room.

The power came back on about 10:00 this morning, and I spent the whole day alternately basking in the glory of central heat and admiring our fridge, which has never looked so clean:


I was thinking about it as I did laundry and restocked the fridge today. My weekend was supposed to involve last-minute nesting and reflecting on my last day of school. My OB appointment this morning was supposed to involve an assurance that I'll be having a baby (painlessly) by the end of the week. Neither thing happened, and that's because no matter how much control a woman in her thirties thinks she has, she simply doesn't.

I think this card I got from a group of students this week summarizes this point perfectly. Forget the bunnies, the sentimentality, and the wishes of peace and harmony. What it boils down to is this:

Power or no, I'll do my best.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties Transitions

A woman in her thirties has likely transitioned. A lot. Sometimes I look at the transitions I've made in my life and think, 'Was that me? Did I really do that?' Oftentimes, I say that with pride. Sometimes, not so much.

Here I am-- 38 and a half weeks pregnant and at the cusp of some serious transition. Friday is my last day of teaching for the rest of the school year. A week from Sunday (or sooner? or later?) I will become a Mom. Soon I will become financially dependent for the first time since I was... 18? I will be giving up and getting a lot in the next few weeks, and I don't think there's an honest woman in her thirties out there who could say she's 'ready' for this type of change.

No matter how many times she's done it.

To prepare myself, I've been doing what I do best: avoidance. I secretly wished I would go into labor last weekend, so I could avoid any awkward hugs or well-wishers at work. And I definitely didn't want to face a goodbye with my students, who simultaneously give me purpose and drive me completely insane. In my experience, the best type of change is one done quickly and without sentimentality. As little thinking as possible.

And then I was called into a 'meeting' during 6th period on Monday, which turned out to be a surprise baby shower thrown for me by some former students. That's right. My high school students threw me a shower and gave me things like this:


And this:

And this:
As I sat with my students eating something they call 'Puppy Chow' (it's a Midwest thing, apparently) and talked about how they all knew I was pregnant before I announced it, I was struck by those yucky, icky tugs that start in your chest and lodge in your throat. My lip began to quiver and it hit me that this is really happening. No, it wasn't a boo-hoo sob-fest. But it was a rare show of emotion from a jaded woman in her thirties whose transitions have taught her how high to build the walls around her heart.

The last couple of days have been quiet ones, at least internally. No new progress in the labor department. Nursery is just about ready. Carseat is in place. And I, while busying myself with yoga, The Daily Show, and thank you card writing, am left contemplating this transition. One more in a long, thirty-two year series that will undoubtedly open the floodgates to more change than I could possibly prepare for.

Ready or not...