Frying Up Some Mock Turtle, and Other Shenanigans

I know. I KNOW. You haven’t had a real, honest-to-goodness, grit-in-your-teeth blog post from me in ages. I KNOW. And I’m sorry. Yea verily and forsooth, I mourn this even more than you do. Especially since I recently had an apostropheIthinkyoumeananepiphany and I’ve been dying to share it with you and I haven’t been able to.

So, even though I can’t expound much upon it, here goes:

It’s not that I lack the time to write.

What I lack is uninterrupted thought.

In order to write effectively — okay, let’s be honest, in order to write at all, whether it’s noveling or blogging or even emailing — I need a certain amount of uninterrupted thought. If I don’t get it, what I’m doing is what Aaron calls “context-switching.”

mockturtleIn my case, when I try to write at home during the day, I’m constantly switching between two contexts: WRITING (NOVEL OR BLOG) and MAKING SURE BABY SURVIVES AND IS HAPPY AND HEALTHY.

That second one is a doozy of a context.

Context-switching isn’t impossible, but it does come with a price (mental and spiritual exhaustion). And the more I try to do it, the steeper that price becomes. Honestly, I’ve given up trying to pay it for now. The context called BABY has won out (and rightfully so).

For now, I get to write once a week, when my mom comes to babysit and I can leave the house for a few hours. Sometimes, like right now, I’ll decide to sacrifice sleep in order to write while the Itty Bitty is sleeping. But this latter solution also comes with a heavy price, so you won’t see me paying this one willingly often.

In the meantime, do enjoy what I have written. And if you’d like to see how a recipe for Mock Turtle Soup relates to writing a novel, head on over here for a scrumptious taste!

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a New Momma

Greetings, my beloved inklings!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me here. I mean, yeah, I’ve been posting something every week or so, but those recent posts haven’t had a lot of meat to them. I know. What can I say? The reason for my silence is also the originator of this post’s subject matter. Here’s your bonus round before I even get to my five points:

Babies require many, many items.

Babies require much, much time.

So there ya have it.

Plus, I’ve been working on posts for writing advice site Unstressed Syllables, as well as mentoring Josh through his latest novel. (It’s a Weird Western: cowboys, Pinkertons, vengeful ghosts, and demons.) These are excellent endeavors for me to be involved in, but they have caused my own writing to suffer from neglect.

Balance: It’s difficult to achieve when you’re a new momma. And there’s another bonus point for you.

So! On to the “5 Things” I originally sat down to tell you about today. ; )

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a New Momma

1.  It can really, really hurt.

Once upon a time when I was 8 or 9 years old, it was summertime and my parents and I were at the grandparents’ house for our annual visit. My cousins, Amanda and Jonathan, and I were jumping on Grandma’s unfolded sofa-bed, launching ourselves up and dropping down on our butts.

As it turns out, this was quite the poor choice on my part. I jumped up, dropped down, and landed tailbone first on the metal rod running beneath the mattress. Said mattress did not provide an adequate cushion for my posterior. All I remember after that is running through the house, screaming for my mother.

Three weeks after that, while visiting the other set of grandparents, I re-injured the aforementioned tailbone by falling off a horse.

Fast-forward 26 or 27 years, and I’m in the hospital, about to push something the size of a small watermelon out of something the diameter of a shooter marble. When my doctor tells me to, I give my first big push. And from somewhere in my nether regions, there comes a loud pop!

“Well,” says I, “that was fun.”

My doctor gives me a look, and I can see her thinking, You have no idea what just happened.

How babies are born. At least according to our childbirth class.

How babies are born. At least according to our childbirth class.

She was right. I had no idea. I thought that pop was simply the sound of my back popping, which is something it does from time to time.

But no. That pop was the sound of my tailbone fracturing.

I am thankful beyond words that I’d asked for that epidural not quite three hours before.

Nobody told me this could happen.

Apparently, fracturing one’s tailbone during childbirth is not terribly uncommon. It can happen if the baby is unusually big. At 6 lbs 12 oz, my baby was not unusually big.

Fracturing one’s tailbone during childbirth can also happen if there has been a prior injury to the tailbone. Sometimes, one has quite a bit of cause for regretting the foolishness of one’s youth.

I spent the first two months of my daughter’s life sitting on a Boppy and taking 600mg of ibuprofen every six hours. For the first month, someone had to be with me constantly, because I couldn’t sit down or stand up without using both hands to lower or raise myself. Someone else had to hold the baby while I maneuvered.

Also — and here’s some TMI for you, so read this part at your own risk — I was on Percocet for four days after delivery. Nobody told me that Percocet can cause severe constipation.

Percocet + (fractured tailbone) = bad

Really, really bad.

When my baby was four days old, I spent 4 hours at the emergency room getting an enema. Lemme tell ya, folks, you haven’t lived until you’ve had an attractive young nurse pump a tubeful of soapsuds up your rear.

Side note: This took place a day after my first postpartum ER visit. That one was for unusually severe swelling in my feet and legs. They did ultrasounds on my legs. Fortunately, I didn’t have bloodclots. I just couldn’t elevate my feet properly because of the tailbone pain*.

Nobody told me that could happen, either.

2. You have never known this level of tired. Not even in college.

I’m a lifelong nightowl. I knew that caring for a newborn would involve sleep deprivation. But I’ve pulled my share of all-nighters; I thought I could handle it.

Nuh-uh. Y’all, there is no handling this. United States Government, please don’t ever trust me with state secrets. ‘Cause if the terrorists get hold of me, all they’ll have to do is deprive me of sleep for a few days, and I’ll be singin’ like a drunk canary in a honky-tonk.

Seriously. The first three months, the longest I ever slept in one stretch was 4.5 hours. Most of the time, I averaged 2.5 hours between feedings. Itty Bitty is now 4 months 3 weeks old, and since she was born, I have gotten 8 hours of sleep exactly once. There have been times that I was so tired, I just sat loose-limbed in a chair and sobbed.

During her first month, I had hallucinations. Hallucinations, people.

Nobody told me that could happen.

3. Projectile poop is the new black. (Everybody’s wearing it.)

I read about projectile vomiting. I read about poopy diaper explosions. I read about getting peed on while changing a diaper. (Yes, even little girls can sometimes produce a “fountain.”)

But nobody told me that when you lift up the baby’s legs to wipe her and she turns red in the face and pushes, green liquid can squirt out her butt and up over your shoulder and land on the white carpet three feet behind you. And, if you don’t learn your lesson, she’ll do it again several days later. But this time, it will splatter you from chin to knees.

wubbanubduck

4. Your baby might not, in fact, take a pacifier.

Our Itty Bitty will take a pacifier. In fact, as far as she’s concerned, the pacifier is one of her best friends. The problem is that most of the time, she can’t hold it in her mouth by herself.

I don’t know why this is. Something about developmental stage or sucking method or the alignment of the planets. Whatever it is, most of the time she ain’t got it. And if we want her to stay asleep after we’ve put her to bed, one of us usually has to hang out with her for about half an hour, holding the pacifier in her mouth until she falls deeply enough asleep not to notice when it plops out of her mouth.

“One does not simply hold the pacifier.”

— the Baby

We’ve even tried this cute thing called a “Wubbanub”: a little stuffed toy that is supposed to help baby grasp a pacifier and keep it in her mouth. It’s a great idea and looks really cute and doesn’t work with our baby at all. She just uses the ducky to pull the pacifier out of her mouth again. So we play the now-infamous Pacifier Game with her and hope that Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus line up properly so that we’re not still doing this when she’s 18.

Nobody told me this could happen.

5. The first three months are really, really hard.

Nobody told me this.

And if they had, I probably wouldn’t have listened.

But I still wish they had.

Instead, all I heard was how wonderful and rewarding motherhood is and how cute and cuddly the babies are.

Well, I’m gonna tell it to you straight. Yes, motherhood is wonderful and rewarding. Yes, the baby is cuddly and cute. In fact o’bidness, as Grandpa would say, I think she’s pretty much the most beautiful person on the face of this planet. I wouldn’t trade being her mother for anything.

But.

And please forgive my language, but this is how strong this truth is.

Motherhood during the first 3-4 months is damn hard.

All of those women who portray it as rainbows-glitter-sunshine-unicorns-blue-skies? I’m not saying they’re lying. I’m not even saying they’re misremembering.

But I am suspicious.

This is hard, y’all. And I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t. I still sometimes sob because I’m so desperate for sleep. Especially during the past week, when my baby has had her second ear infection and needed my constant attention, I’ve longed to fast-forward to when she can talk and tell me where it hurts, never mind that I’d be missing all the supermurgitroid developments in between. The husband and I are still trying to figure out how to be parents and how to be a married couple at the same time. I used to have a relatively organized house, but now it looks like I’m running a daycare that has never once seen a vacuum or the folding of laundry. I still can’t shower regularly. “Alone time” happens only if I give up sleep to get it. (I’m doing this right now.)

I haven’t even talked about the feeling of inadequacy. My daughter deserves a rested, put-together, patient, on-top-of-things, well-relating mother. I’m not so unrealistic as to feel guilty that I’m not Supermom. But feeling inadequate definitely happens a lot.

Month 4 is definitely easier than Months 1-3. But rough patches still happen. And though I know life will continue to get more manageable, if not easier, I also know that rough patches will continue to happen.

________________

If I were a Pez dispenser and you were a momma-to-be or wanting to be a momma-to-be, I’d give you some advice. But I’m not a dispenser. All I have to offer are these truths that nobody told me. They are my truths. Whether or not they apply to you, I don’t know. But there they are for you to do with what you will.

In the meantime, pray for my sanity. ; )

This. : ) (2 weeks old)

She is cramazing. : ) (2 weeks old)

*By the way, I’ve been in physical therapy for the fractured tailbone for two months. My recovery is progressing nicely. The pain level has dropped from 8-10 to a comfortable 0-2 range. The therapy itself is called “osteopathic therapy,” and as far as I’m concerned, it’s brilliant.

Pregnancy Still Isn’t for Sissies

Hey y’all. It’s been a rough weekend pregnancy-wise. You probably won’t hear anything coherent from me until tomorrow.

Or mayhap Tuesday. I didn’t get much accomplished this weekend, and I might be doing ketchup catch-up over the next few days.

Play nice!

Oh, and 36 weeks, 1 day, and counting if you were wondering. ; )

In Which I Misuse Bananas

So. As pregnancy progresses, one finds that sleeping becomes more and more of a difficultness.

Sleep Deprivation

For one thing, there’s the increased size of belly. It gets in the way of rolling over. It gets in the way of finding a comfortable position. And if I don’t keep a pillow under it to support it, there’s pulling and pressure and all sorts of achiness. And yes, I gotta be on my side because of circulation to uterus, blood flow to baby, and fun things of that nature.

Also, there is a small head now continually using my bladder as a pillow. Getting up three times a night to go to the bathroom is pretty standard nowadays.

The thing is, when I wake up to pee or to change positions, it takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to get back to sleep. The 3-hour thing is especially bad, as the illustration here illustrates in a most illustrative manner.

My Thing with Bananas

Last week, after a particularly restless night (i.e. one of the 3-hour I’m-awake-and-can’t-stand-it things), I felt groggy and blah beyond all reckoning. I fixed my breakfast, ate it, and then started cleaning up my dishes. I’d had a banana in my cereal. I picked up the banana peel and headed for the bathroom.

I picked up the banana peel and headed for the bathroom.

I still don’t know why.

What was I going to do with the banana peel in the bathroom? Let us not speculate. Let us not go there. Ever, ever, ever.

Yesterday, there was another banana incident.

Once again, I hadn’t slept. But still, I eventually rolled out of bed (this is neither exaggeration nor metaphor) and fixed my breakfast. The bacon was in the oven. The raw eggs were in the skillet, awaiting their scrambling. The cereal was in the bowl, awaiting its milk. I picked up the banana, peeled it, and commenced to slicing it.

I looked down.

I had sliced the banana not into the cereal bowl but into the skillet of raw eggs.

As one does.

For the record, I picked the banana slices out of the eggs and threw them out; sliced another banana into the cereal; cooked the eggs; and ate a yummy breakfast.

I’m afraid of what will happen the next time I can’t sleep.

What will the bananas have in store for me next time?

I wait.

All I Have to Do Is Dream

 

Last week, dear inklings, I shared with you my thoughts inspired by Jennifer Brown’s post about “backseat dreaming”.

Jennifer is my Muse once more today. Her post Dreaming Life and Living Dreams reminded me of my fascination with nighttime dreams.

Imprisoned by dreams?

In Living Color

Once upon a time, when I wasn’t writing much, I dreamed in vivid detail and color — every night. My dreams were intense enough that I rarely woke up feeling refreshed. My husband told me that while he had a nice, quite, empty warehouse in his head at night, I had an IMAX theater in mine.

There is no better description.

After I finally realized that I was, indeed, created to create — i.e. after I let myself start becoming the writer I was meant to be — I stopped remembering most of my dreams.

And I started sleeping again, can I get a hallelujah?!?

*ahem*

Anyway, during my years of crazy dreaming, I kept a journal in which I recorded over 150 dreams. And today, my darlings, I’d like to share with you one of the weirder ones. I hope you enjoy. : )

Mortals Akseptans

Dream #67, recorded May 13, 2004

Last night, I dreamed that vampires were chasing me. I wasn’t myself; instead, I was a little girl, about 6 or 7 years old. I was at a truck stop of some sort, next to a lonely, deserted highway. Only a few other customers were in the truck stop. I think I was eating a meal when the vampires came in. I knew they were after me, so I ran outside.

I thought that being in sunlight would save me, but these vampires were immune to the sun. Several of them stayed inside the truck stop, hunting the other customers. Four or five vampires pursued me, and I ran into some sort of tunnel.

The walls were curved, and the whole place was made of metal, so I was running through a long, metal tube. Occasionally, there were large round openings in the ceiling. A male and a female vampire chased me through the tunnel, and the others started dropping in through the openings in the ceiling.

Finally, the vampires surrounded me. As they closed in on me, I turned frantically from side to side, looking for an escape. I caught sight of something strange written on the wall: the words “mortals akseptans” printed in the middle of a sun symbol.

When the vampires saw what I was looking at, they turned away and fled down the tunnel, as though they were afraid of the words. Knowing that they would soon recover and come after me again, I started running in the opposite direction.

I found my way out of the tunnel and ended up in a marshy area. The sun was shining bright, but water was rising all around me, as though I were in the middle of a flood. Suddenly, I realized that the vampires had caught up with me. I was trapped on a tiny little spit of land surrounded by water, and the vampires had only to grab me at their leisure.

I knelt and drew the sun symbol in the sand, then scratched the words “mortals akseptans” in the middle of the sun.

The symbol protected me for awhile, keeping the vampires at bay. But eventually, water eroded the ground and my feeble defense with it. The vampires came closer and closer, and I could see their hunger and desire in their eyes. Several of them were licking their lips, which were wet and red with blood. Then the dream ended.

_______________________

I’ve since Googled the word “akseptans” out of curiosity. Apparently, it is Turkish for “acceptance.” There’s probably something Freudian in there somewhere, but I don’t think I want to puzzle it out. ; )

If you, however, want to analyze my dreams or tell of your own, please share in the comments! I’d love to hear!