Friday, May 30, 2014

Flashback Friday- Birthday Blues

This week being Emy's birthday week, naturally I've been thinking a lot about birthdays and her "birth day" in particular. And just so we are clear, when I mean thinking a lot, I mean obsessively. Day, night, and just about every minute in between.  I've talked about intentionally during conversations with friends and family, and unintentionally blurted out memories to poor, unsuspecting grocery clerks.  It's ridiculous how much I live in my head sometimes.
And it is not fair to my kid.

This year I tried really, really hard to be present. At least when she was in my presence. And as a result I probably went a little overboard with the birthday party fun. Emy chose a superhero theme for her party and even though the guest list only included family and our very close friends, we stuck to that theme. From the pinata, party favors, decor, and her birthday dress - ie. Spider Girl costume, we inundated our home with super hero paraphernalia. We spent too much money on items that would only last the day, but it was totally worth it to see her and 5 other children zooming around the yard pretending to save the world.
Spider Man (don't you dare call her Spider Girl) and her trusty sidekick Wonder Dog!

Present time - wearing her new mala beads from her "Aunt" Amanda, aka Little Bird Soul

For this week's flashback, I thought I'd revisit the posts I've written over the last 3 years regarding her birthday. As I reread what I had previously written regarding my feelings about her birthday I was a little surprised at how much the sentiment expressed still rang true. I thought I'd done a bit more healing, but it turns out that I still have a long way to go until her birthday becomes truly about the birth of this incredible little girl than the struggles and loses I underwent. 

Click here to read about Emy's 1st birthday party Peace, Love, & Cupcakes 2011
and here to read the first letter I wrote to Emy (and the only one published on the blog) Birthday Letter 2011
2012 was a light year for writing and posting but I did write this here post full of hope and wonder immediately following Emy's 2nd birthday. Healing? 2012
Click here to read about last year's birthday extravaganza and the struggles it brought up. Birthday Weekend 2013

To the few readers I have had since the beginning of the blog I apologize for the reposts. Between Emy's birthday last weekend and yet another garage sale this weekend, I've had precious few minutes to sit down and write. Or sit for that matter. Man, I am tired.
Luckily, many of you have probably never delved into the (skeletal) archives of the blog, so maybe these will be brand new reads for you.

Do you experience the birthday blues in regards to your child's birthday? Or your own? Send me an email or comment below, I'd love to hear your story. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Four is a Big Kid Number

Tomorrow my kid turns 4. Which means she is officially out of Terrible Two's and the Even More Terrible Three's toddler stage HALLELUJAH! Emy is as ready as I am. Potty-trained for months, she's eliminated the need for Pull-Ups at nighttime. Just yesterday, she traded in her reliable tricycle for a big girl two-wheeler with training wheels and  is already questioning when she can get rid of those. She's making friends in the neighborhood, and I know we are much closer to the days where she will choose to spend her time with them rather than me.
As Emy says, "4 is not a baby. 4 is a big kid number." But it also means that now she is a full-blown kid, she needs to be doing full-blown kid stuff. Stuff my husband and I may have let slide during the last 3 years. It's not that we are lazy or "bad" parents, we just often take the path of least resistance and choose our battles carefully. And if you have ever met our daughter, you understand that we are constantly choosing battles. Emy is fierce, ferociously independent, imaginative, headstrong, innovative, and opinionated. These character traits will serve her well as an adult, but man, do they suck at times. There are certainly things we are sticklers for - interacting with politeness and respect, saying please and thank-you, but some behaviors we don't prefer have certainly let slide.
For some reason, four has been our magical age. Maybe because it's the year before kindergarten, and once she begins elementary school she will be spending the majority of her days with peers and teachers who are not us. Maybe because shrugging an annoying behavior off with the words, "Well, she's only four." don't have the same effect on me as "Well, she's only three, (or two)."  Or maybe it's because a child of four is more able to handle rational thought than a child of two or three - I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is true.
Regardless, we are about to put the smack down.

Behaviors/Habits we wish to target:
Using silverware appropriately, at EVERY meal. 
Sleeping in own bed for the entire night. (More on this topic to come)
Dressing self in a timely manner. 
Hygienic habits
Being responsible for toys/games/personal belongings 

If I'm truly honest, they're behaviors I struggled with as child and even at different points as an adult. While not necessarily life threatening in their lack of consistency - it's not like the world will end if my kid goes to bed without brushing her teeth or stays in her pajamas all day, they are important life skills and habits to develop that will lead to Emy being a more responsible and healthier individual. Consistency will be the key to make improvements in these areas but we're ready. 
Let Four Year Old Boot Camp begin. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Flashback Friday - The Monster at the End of This

There was a time when I thought I'd never be able to read to my daughter. In the days, weeks, months after her birth my vision loss presented many challenges, but this idea was by far the most devastating.
It's no secret I love books. I come from a long familial line of educators, librarians, booksellers - all avid, almost compulsive readers. My love of children's books and passion for literacy drove me to a Masters degree in Reading, and I had dreams of pursuing a Ph.D. in children's literature.
And here I was, a new mom, unable to see well enough to read to her child.

The first time I uttered this pervasive fear was to a kindly surgical nurse named Karen. I was at St. Joe's in Pontiac, where I'd been since delivering my daughter. My most pressing health concern was the complications from pancreatitis. Along with a whole slew of health issues, my pancreas had leaked infectious fluid into my abdominal cavity, creating abscesses, or fluid filled pockets. In efforts to relieve my discomfort and minimize further damage to my digestive system, the doctors had determined that draining these abscesses was the best course of action.
Lying flat on my back outside the procedure room, I could hear the hustle and bustle of the hospital all around yet I was unable to see anything or anybody more than 12 inches from my face. I began to panic. I was in such tremendous physical pain and the idea that my vision might not fully return took root. Heart racing and short of breath, moments away from a full-fledged panic attack, I felt a gentle hand on my arm, quickly followed by a soothing voice, "I hear you have a baby girl. Tell me about her."
"Her name is Emeline. She is home with her father. I don't really know what she looks like, but I'm told she has my nose."
These initial words of our conversation will forever be imprinted in me. I had spent precious few minutes with my daughter and didn't really know her. Yes I was a new mom but my days were filled with hospital rooms, needles and medical procedures; very far away from my bay and the more traditional ups and downs of new motherhood. My grief and sorrow were evident. Karen, as she introduced herself, skillfully ignored them and kept talking. She was one of those glorious people that realized the best way to ease pain was through distraction. For the next 90 minutes, she engaged me in conversation. She spoke to me of her own children and asked me questions about myself, and explained every step of the procedure to ease my fear and discomfort. One of the many topics we discussed was our shared a love of children's books. Her three children had loved being read The Monster at the End of This Book. My younger brother also enjoyed this as a child and I had memories of reading it to him. It was at this point when I verbalized my fear of not being able to read to Emeline. Karen patted my head and said with conviction, "Don't worry. You will."
We talked about the days that would come, life outside hospital walls. Never for one minute did she talk about or allude to the fact that I wouldn't heal, my vision might not return, or that I wouldn't be able to be the mother that I desired to be. Aside from her comment about being able to read to Emy, she never said those things would happen either. The comfort and reassurance her presence provided was more subtle than the generic words of encouragement I'd become accustomed to receiving.
Hours later, recovering in my hospital room I immediately perked up when I heard her already familiar voice. Coming to check on the drainage tube inserted that morning, Karen also came bearing gifts. In one hand she held a cuddly brown bear - "to snuggle with until you are home and can snuggle your baby." and in the other, a copy of The Monster at the End of This Book - "to read aloud to Emeline. When you're ready."
A week or so later I had to have a similar procedure and was lucky enough to have Karen as my nurse again. Although I am not sure luck had anything to do with it, she had requested to be there once she saw my name on the schedule. This time during her post-surgical visit, she brought the sequel there’s Another Monster at the End of this Book and an adorable panda bear for me and Emy to share.


My favorite books at the ones that have stories other than the ones contained within the cover; books that evoke memories of certain moments, places, or people - the story of the book itself.
Last week, snuggled in bed with Emy, having just finished reading The Monster at the End of This Book, preparing to read the sequel, she asked me, "Where these books from Mom? The library? Is they mine?"

Why, yes my darling, they are yours, gifts from a wonderful woman named Karen.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TbT vs FbF - Teaser

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday I have decided to dedicate Friday as "Flashback Friday" on the blog. Why not just join in the Throwback Thursday phenom on? It's all about word choice.  To me a "throwback" is something fun, a blast from the past, a memory filled with strange fashion and regrettable hair styles. Throwbacks are great. I probably need to share more of them -laugh at past Christy a bit more often. Flashbacks on the other hand, seem uncontrollable to me. They're memories that wash over you like a giant wave, triggered by a smell, an action, recognizing the medical jargon on Grey's Anatomy. Flashbacks plague nightscapes. worming their way into dreams, leaving one dizzy and disoriented.
Alas, flashbacks are more my thing.
So under the pretense of healing, moving forward, and living in the here and now more often than naught, I have to allow the memories wrapped around the events of May 27, 2010 to surface. Rather than try to forget about them I've decided to share them. Breathe some life into them, relive them and really feel them. Hopefully by doing so I can add some details to my "birth story" that I'm often asked about and maybe in time they'll begin to blend into the landscape of my memory.

Tomorrow - May 23, 2014 we begin. Are you as ready as I am?