Thursday, June 19, 2014

The (New) Bo(u)rn(e) Identity

So the thing about being a new mum is that your days tend to get away from you. That's because they don't belong to you anymore...they now belong to the baby. And I can't speak for every new mum, but mostly, you don't mind. I will ignore every task I put on my to-do list if it means getting Baby C to smile and stop fussing. I have stopped mid dishes, mid cooking, mid texting, mid sentence to give him kisses, tickle his belly, and generally do his bidding. It's awesome. I don't care that my hair isn't washed (or brushed most of the time) that all of my clothes have to be "nursing convenient", or that I haven't been alone with Eric in 4 months. Last night, when the wee babe threw-up the entire contents of his stomach, milk that I spent a lot of energy producing and letting him drain from me for the past 30 minutes, all over me, I didn't miss my old, sexy, care free life at all. Honestly.

HOWEVER, finding time to write has been difficult, because it isn't even a task that I've been ignoring from my to-do list in order to illicit giggles from a 4 month old. I didn't even think about this blog post for the first 2 months of Cylas's life (that's his name, by the way.) I spent the first 2 months in recovery. That little nugget sure did a number on me getting here. I had an epic pregnancy. I felt better pregnant than I ever did before I was pregnant. I glowed like it was my job. Labor was another matter. I read, I prepared, I took classes, I visualized, I did yoga, I was ready to labor like a boss. A very calm, centered, serene, un-medicated boss. And I did remarkably well...for the first 48 hours of labor! But still, after 2 full days of powerful contractions only 4 to 5 minutes apart, Cylas was still not coming out, even though I called out to him, even though I did a headstand (with help) to aid him, even though I internally begged him, he remained bunkered down. Dare I say, stuck and restrained. We now know that his umbilical cord was very short and so he was tethered tightly to the placenta unable to descend down the birth canal, and he was caught behind my tailbone as well, which he fractured with his head as I finally pushed him out 68 hours into labor, then having transferred to the hospital, aided with a delicious epidural and a room full of supportive people. Cylas arrived, instantly peed on me, started nursing and fell asleep, just like I always wished...I just wished he hadn't broken my tail bone with his enormous head on his way out.

So four months later, with some physical therapy, and a lot of love and support from Eric and our family and friends, I am almost back to normal (at least I can walk again) and Cylas is a happy, healthy, adorable 16 lbs. This is my life now. Easy. E.A.S.Y. Baby Eats, Activity, Sleeps, and while he sleeps I have You time, (You time meaning Me time.) and that is when I write, right? Wrong. That is when I do the laundry, or clean the house, or just sit on the couch while the baby sleeps in my arms since that is his favorite way to nap, so that he can nurse on and off at his leisure for 2 hour stretches. I can't blame him. That sounds really nice. If someone would let me sleep in their arms while they fed me a milkshake through a straw and I didn't even have to open my eyes I would do it with a smile. Yes please and Thank you. Sounds good. So finding time to write is hard. But no one told me it wouldn't be. I always knew that would be a challenge I'd have to work out. I know with a looming deadline on my newest writing project, that I'll have to figure this problem out since my partners will not accept the excuse of "I just couldn't find the time" to write our next script.

So I now realize that I spent the last several years of my life figuring out how to become a mum (the short answer is "get knocked up", but we all know it's a lot more complicated than that.) Then the last 4 months have been about figuring out how to be a mum (a process that I will continue to negotiate for the rest of my life) and now I have to start thinking about how to be a writer, friend, wife, and full human again too?!?! A person who has wants and interests other than those of her 4 month old master.

I have a FWB who attended a Mommy and Me class shortly after the birth of her first baby. She recounted how the leader of the group asked the women to go around the circle and introduce themselves with their name, their baby's name and "what they used to do BEFORE they became a mommy." As though there was no identity now for them other than that of "Mother." Of course my friend rejected that and, in theory, I reject it too. But I also understand how it happens. In the exhausting marathon of mothering (a marathon that I am still in the first miles of, I know) it seems perfectly reasonable to abandon yourself in sake of the little one's needs. It actually seems like the easiest thing to do. That way, you don't feel like you're missing out and you don't have to beat yourself up about all the personal goals you are not accomplishing at every second, etc. You can surrender yourself to the little one. You are in baby-world and life is simple. E.A.S.Y even. What an awesome thing to get to do. Watch a baby figure stuff out. Change and grow. Cylas has changed so much just in 4 months, I can't imagine what the next 4 months are gonna be like. I'm so grateful that I've gotten to be a part of his changes with little distraction so far.  I think I could stay here for a lot longer if I didn't hear the call from my keyboard pulling me back, imploring me to tell the stories that will always be in my head. And there are deadlines that must be met and work that must be returned to and Cylas and I have to learn to live without each other 24 hours a day. It's sad, and wonderful. Heartbreaking, and a relief all at the same time. 

So basically, this is another long winded excuse for why I haven't blogged in so long. I've been doing other things. But I really do promise to keep writing if you enjoy reading them. And I also promise to move the blog up on my list of priorities because it's fun to write and makes people happy. And I think I've realized the most important significant thing I've ever learned and I'd love to share it with you now. I realized...Oh shit, I gotta go, the baby just woke up.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

38 Weeks Later

About 38 weeks ago,  I went to see two movies in the theatre in the same week. The first movie I saw was Before Midnight. The second movie I saw was Frances Ha. As I sat in the cool, dark theaters, watching the stories play out before me, I couldn't help but notice the humorous connection I was feeling to both of the films.

Frances Ha is about a struggling, somewhat lost, young woman in NYC trying desperately to find her footing in the cruel cruel competitive art scene/world. That was my entire 20's, in a nut shell. I was Frances. Impulsive, driven (but easily distracted) and utterly "un-dateable." My most significant relationship was with my best girlfriend from college, and I wanted to be an artist but was not very organized about actually going about it. I loved this movie, I was charmed by it, I felt nostalgic and filled with a bitter sweet melancholy as I watched the black and white version of New York. But I was relieved as well. Frances's life looked hard. She was homeless, poor and unemployed. I live in a nice condo in Sunny L.A. and have a job that pays all my bills and allows me to go see two movies in one week. I have artistic endeavors that are going well. My "Frances Ha" time is behind me.

On the other hand, Before Midnight is about a married couple with two young children who analyze every aspect of their marriage, sex life, child care and careers, as they drive, and stroll through some beautiful European countryside. I was feeling humorously connected to this film, not because it was in my past the way Frances Ha was, but because it was in my future…my immediate future. Because, earlier that week, that morning in fact, I had taken a pregnancy test. And it had been positive.

Now, you might be thinking, "Wait a minute! Weren't you single and looking for love and hanging out mostly with your dog and missing your ex boyfriend who you'd split with almost a year earlier because he had decided against having children???" Yes, you are correct. But what I didn't tell you was that the ex and I were still seeing each other (secretly, I guess) and we were coming to the decision that we wanted to make it work together.  I had talked it over at length with my therapist who told me it was OK that I wanted what I wanted. I just hadn't told any of my friends, because I was pretty sure they would tell me that I was making a mistake. Prolonging my heartache. And I was scared that they were right. But love is hard to ignore, and the heart wants what it wants and all that jazz.

So when the second pink line appeared on the test, I had mixed emotions. I was happy, and terrified, and slightly ashamed. I was happy because I wanted a baby, and I wanted it with Eric. I was terrified because I wasn't totally clear on what Eric wanted, and I was ashamed because I'd been keeping so many secrets, I was sure everyone would think I had been irresponsible and crazy and had concocted a plan to entrap Eric. But at the end of the day, happiness was the winner. Eric was totally on board, my family and friends were all delightfully supportive. It was an amazing twist of fate. And now, 38 weeks later, I am super pregnant with a baby boy (yet to be named) engaged to be married and very very happy about it all.

I've meant to write about all of this sooner, but my first trimester was spent on set filming my other "baby" Other People's Children (the feature film I wrote and produced and have been talking about for…YEARS!.) The second trimester was spent catching up on all of the things that I missed being too busy (and sick) during that first trimester and the third trimester has been spent mostly working and baby prepping. But luckily, I have had a delightfully easy pregnancy with no complications and relatively little discomfort. A friend referred to mine as an "epic pregnancy!" So, I'm hoping that will translate into an epic birth/epic baby/ epic parenting skills. So far, so good. Birthing Class is going well. The Breastfeeding 101 class we took last night was empowering, helpful and fun, and we got to watch a video with a lot of boobs and babies and who doesn't like looking at boobs? And babies? They're both so awesome. And I just watched a video of an elephant giving birth that was gross and amazing, and if she can do it, then, dammit, so can I! All is well.

However, on New Years day, when I woke up, exhausted from having worked late the night before (no partying for this Preggo) and Eric said to me that 2013 was one of the best years of his life, for a moment I felt totally confused. By his account of the year, he had done some soul searching, re-connected with some great guy friends, did several successful film projects, gotten back together with me, moved back in together, gotten engaged and was expecting a son. All good things.  So why was I still obsessing about the first third of the year when I was an alone and miserable mess? But upon reflection, I realized that he was right. I had also done a lot of soul searching, gone to therapy (always a good thing, I think) visited with friends, wrote, prepped and filmed my first feature, supported my sister through her pregnancy, reunited with the love of my life, gotten engaged, travelled, and grew a human. Not a bad year at all. And Jasper didn't seem surprised at all when Eric moved back in. I think he knew that was gonna happen all along. He's a pretty wise little dog.

 So now I try to look foreword instead of backward and to focus on all the fun and hard work we have ahead of us. And if I have any questions, I have a lot of friends with babies who I can call. In fact, I don't even need to call. The main thing I've noticed about being pregnant is that everyone (and I mean everyone) has something they want to tell you about it. Some "truth" they need to impart to you about your upcoming labor, delivery, and parenting future. Sometimes, these people are strangers in the Target that want to tell you what coco butter to buy. Sometimes they're your childless neighbor who wants to tell you what nipple cream you should get,  and how you should never, ever drink caffeine/sugar/honey/windex etc. And sometimes they're a gay guy you work with who's really concerned that you will regret your choice to labor without an epidural. And sometimes it's all your very close friends with helpful tips and hints and awesome hand-me-downs that save you from the overwhelming marketplace that is becoming a parent. And, as annoyed as I get by some suggestions ("don't drink that thing or your baby will definitely come out with a tail") I'm mostly grateful for all the help and support I received from friends and strangers alike.  And I know it's gonna be a piece of cake (insert winky face emoticon here)

I'm sure all of my friends with babies will have a few things to say about that.