Monday, June 20, 2016

If You Give a Mom a Maxi Dress

If you give a mom a maxi dress, she might realize she needs a new strapless bra for it. If she orders a 6 pack of one-size-fits-all bras from Amazon for 19.99, she might not understand that the sizing does not apply to her enormous jugs. If she wears one of the bras and the maxi dress all day, she might wear it out to a party at night. If she's having a good time at the party, she might let good company and conversation distract her from a throbbing in her chest. If she is distracted from a throbbing in her chest, she might not realize the bra is cutting into her low-hanging boobs right where the milk ducts are, creating a formidable wall that no milk can breach. If no milk can pass out of her body, she might stay up all night in pain, pumping, praying, and cursing her life and her bra. If she stays up all night tending to her hard, misshapen balls of misery, she might be tired at her baby's baptism the next day. If she's tired at her baby's baptism, she might blearily look around at all the pretty ladies in their maxi dresses and wonder if she should buy another one.

If you give a mom a maxi dress...

Despite boob-trauma, Andrew's baptism was lovely. He didn't cry, which was a huge relief because he has been pretty fussy lately. I'm going to try dig up pics for you of Margaret and Jack in the same gown.

Godwink of the day: Andrew's baptism was exactly 17 years to the day after Jack's.

Would you like to watch his baptism here?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Moment

Andrew loses his shizzle in the car.

Every. Single. Time

As a result, I haven't taken him anywhere except for church for the past several weeks. A two hour drive to West Virginia recently was just too much to bear, so I retreated to the living room couch, where I've made quite an indention in the cushion.  I realized yesterday that if I didn't try to venture out again soon, I could become a hermit, and my boo might never get used to the car. Oh, but what a terrible feeling it is to be driving while your wailing infant is in the back, out of reach of comfort.

Today, we ventured to Walmart, amid much screaming, in an attempt to pull the band-aid off.

Once inside the store, he calmed down and enjoyed looking around. I got a little cocky, quickly filling the cart, and even taking the two of us into the grungy family bathroom, so I wouldn't have an accident. Moments later, Andrew started screaming again, and we high-tailed it to the checkout. A friend happened to be in line behind me, so I felt a little more relaxed than if it had been a stranger.

As I pushed my cart to the car in the bright sun, holding Andrew under one arm, a stranger did approach. She quickly offered to help, loading the groceries into the back seat and taking the cart off my hands so I could get the baby cooled down. She could have criticized me for having him out in the heat-- his head was beet red from screaming by this point--  but she didn't. She just lent me a hand. I sat in the car for a while, nursing Andrew and thinking what a crazy journey this is. I mean it has been almost 15 years since I've done the front seat nursing thing! As he cooled down and calmed down, so did I. I changed his diaper and steeled myself for the stressful ride home.

He was a wreck within seconds, so I think I'll stick to the couch a while longer. Andrew seems happy here on my chest, Netflix is queued up to Call the Midwife, and this jumbo bag of Walmart trail mix won't eat itself.

Monday, June 13, 2016

1,000 Reasons

This is my 1,000th post on An Inch of Gray.

I suppose I could try to do a re-cap of the last 9 years, or make a "Best Of" list. But as I stand here at the kitchen counter, Andrew strapped to my chest, his gentle breathing in sync with my own, what I really want to do is say THANK YOU.

Life can be painfully lonely sometimes. I don't have a particularly difficult time making friends, but there are always blank spaces longing to be filled with love, understanding, and support. Rough edges call out to be smoothed with fresh perspective and empathy. And I don't care whether we are 5 years old on a mini soccer field, or 50 and making a scary life change, having someone cheering us on makes a real difference.

I have an embarrassment of riches in the cheering department because of you.

Some of you showed up long ago to read of my trash to treasure makeovers or funny little stories about parenting Jack and Margaret. Others came when the horrible news of Jack's death spread like wildfire throughout the blogging community. You could have refused to click over, wanting to shield yourself from the pain you knew you would find here. But you came to read, pray, and bear witness. You helped save my life. Some read Rare Bird and wanted to follow up and check on us, or perhaps to get a feel for where your own grief journey might lead, newcomers in a club no one ever wants to join. News of our miraculous God-gift of late in life pregnancy may have landed others here, not so long ago, because who doesn't like to hear of beauty from ashes and see a newborn's gassy smile?

This community amazes me, and I'm grateful for each of you.

I'm just a person who likes to make people laugh, although I know I sometimes make them cry. I enjoy picking up an idea, turning it around this way and that, exploring it with my words, wondering if my thoughts might connect with just one person out there. I like to be real, because being fake seems like it would be exhausting. I like to point my toes toward hope, and sometimes I find myself walking toward it and embracing it before I even know I'm moving.

Our world can be scary. There is a lot of hate out there. People tear each other down. Differences are magnified, hatreds fed and tended to until they flare up and consume.

I want to thank you for the love, for the real friendship and connection that absolutely can happen though a screen, and for being lights in my world, and THE world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Blow Out

I've been meaning to share these photos with you. Andrew doesn't look that great, but Margaret looks adorable. You've got to see what happens when Andrew has an audible blowout while she's holding him!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Spitting Image

One thing I haven't talked about much here is that Andrew looks exactly like Jack. Not necessarily in photos, but in person he is the spitting image. Folks who knew Jack as a tiny baby take a step back and say, "Oh, WOW" when they see Andrew for the first time.

I don't doubt that as he sheds his newborn-ness and asserts his own personality, he will start to look more like his unique self, but oh boy, I wasn't expecting a little clone baby. My siblings and I may have resembled each other, but never this much.

Also, like Jack, Andrew will only sleep during the day if he's resting on my stomach and I'm bouncing my pelvis up and down. Call it mama twerking if you will. But of course when I did it with Jack, none of us knew what twerking was and Miley Cyrus was still a Huggies-wearing preschooler named Destiny Hope. Good times.

So, what is it like having a baby who looks just like my son who died?

It's pretty awesome and not all that weird. I tried to figure out why I don't find it more painful or troubling, and I think, in a way, it's because it has helped throw me right back into what motherhood was like so long ago, even though I am rusty. It just feels right. Of course he looks like a Donaldson, because he IS one! He looks a lot like Margaret, too, and Tim, and me. And even though I'm 46 and this whole thing has been quite the surprise, I'm still MOM-- hear me roar. Or hear me scrape the bottom of yet another ice cream bowl, but whatever.

Andrew's sweet little looks don't make me miss Jack more. What I mean is, having baby Andrew makes me miss the sweet and innocent times of Jack and Margaret's babyhoods (something I never thought I would say) just as you might miss your own children's babyhoods-- marveling at how little they once were, remembering the sweet baby smells, footy pajamas, and the very first smiles. It isn't about grief as much as change and the passing of time.

With Jack, I miss the 17 year old boy who would be up to who knows what this summer, driving around town, dating, and hopefully holding down a part time job before Senior year. I try to picture him as the big, big brother to this little one, which isn't difficult because teenaged Margaret is such an awesome example, marveling along with Mom and Dad at every teeny tiny milestone.

I'm grateful that I'm able to remember and channel the sweet, tough, sleepless days of the past, as with love and wonder and muscle memory we embrace these new ones with Baby Andrew.

P.S. How I wish for your sake the computer screen had "smell-i-vision" because there is a sweet baby on my chest right now, and his head is right in sniffing range.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Low Down

So, I have my 6 week postpartum OB/Gyn visit next week and I'm a tad nervous.

You know how they say all babies steal a piece of their mamas' hearts? Well, I think mine may have stolen something else when he went hurtling out of the birth canal. Was he grabbing at my innards with those tiny dagger-like baby nails?  Was he trying to guarantee there would be no more miracle babies in our family, by ripping my uterus out? Or, although quite toothless, was he somehow fighting tooth and nail to stay inside the cozy chamber of my womb?

Who knows? But something doesn't feel quite right even after almost 6 weeks. You know, a little twinge-y. Sure, I'm no longer wearing an adult diaper and spraying myself with Dermoplast. My self care the past few weeks has been more about brownies and ice cream than sitz baths and ice packs. But I should have known there could be trouble when the doctor spent more time stitching me up than she spent delivering my sweet bundle of joy.

I remember my last postpartum doctor's visit, almost 15 years ago. The elderly male doctor said with a hardy-har and a big smile, "Now you can go home and do your wifely duty!" My first thought was, "Um, did he really just say 'wifely duty'?" My second thought was, "Poor Tim is going to miss out because I am now mad at the whole patriarchal society, AND my boobs are leaking."

I'm guessing if my new OB/Gyn gives me the green light at the appointment, hopefully in far less sexist words, I may have to proceed with caution. Wouldn't a yellow light be wiser than a green light, anyway?

Who knows? I'm hopeful there will be an easy fix to get things back to normal down there.

If not, I could always do what I did after that last visit all those years ago.

Tim:   (hopeful countenance, eyebrows raised) "Um, so, what did the doctor say?"
Anna:  (fake look of disappointment, shaking head slowly) 10 weeks. He said we need to wait 10 weeks.

p.s. I may be joking a bit here about my own discomfort, but I have access to great medical care. There are many women around the world who lack the resources to get help for OB/Gyn injuries, and it leads to ostracism and life-long disability. Every woman should know about The Fistula Foundation and the amazing work it does!