Saturday, February 4, 2006

The Birthday Party

In a couple of hours we'll be heading over to BounceNBob's for Brendan's third birthday party. For some reason, I am way too nervous about this.

As I mentioned in a previous post, birthdays are a really big deal to me. My family rarely celebrated my birthday because it was very close to Christmas. Birthday gifts, when I got them, were often necessities -- a bathrobe or tennis shoes or a scientific calculator. In other words, birthdays were not much fun. So, it has become my aim to ensure that the people I love have really great birthdays and get doted on during their special day.

Last year, Scott and I decided that we would do a party for Brendan every other year. Having had a huge first birthday party, last year was an off-year. I invited a few kids from the neighborhood over to play that day and baked cupcakes. That, in turn, means that 2006 was the year of the party.

After spending an inordinate amount of time debating with myself and Scott over whether we should have the party at home or somewhere else, we decided to do it somewhere else. Brendan, too, insisted that he did not want his party at his house. That's when the insanity really set in.

I must have researched every child-friendly birthday party venue in Atlanta. Seriously. My first choice was Hobbit Hall, an adorable children's bookstore in Roswell. Their parties included a storyteller reading the child's favorite book or books on his favorite subject. Then, the children dress in party hats and parade through the store and the outdoor garden area. Unfortunately, Hobbit Hall closed recently, breaking the hearts of children and mothers throughout Atlanta.

Freak that I am, I created a spreadsheet listing all the features (good and bad) of the five birthday party sites I wanted to compare and pored over it for a week. Ultimately, we settled on BounceNBob's. Brendan has a great affinity for anything that involves jumping, tackling, diving, and running around like a lunatic, so it seemed like the ideal place. Unlike the countless other indoor playgrounds that have sprung up throughout the ATL like mushrooms in a cow pasture, Bob's caters to toddlers and preschoolers with all of their inflatables on the smaller side.

Of course, on Thursday, Brendan tells us -- in tears, no less -- that he doesn't want his party at BounceNBob's. He wants his friends to come to his house. "Too late," we declared with quavering hearts, wondering what on earth we'll do if he freaks out at his party.

So, here we are, ready to go very soon, and it looks as if he's very excited about the whole thing! We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Happy Third Birthday, Little Guy!

Three years ago at this time, I paced the floors of DeKalb Medical Center's Labor and Delivery ward, trying to will my labor along with each step. We had been at the hospital for about three-and-a-half hours and despite the fact that my water had broken six hours before, I still was not dilated more than 1 cm. After months of one-on-one birthing classes with our doula/birth educator and countless hours of meditating, doing yoga, and practicing pain tolerance techniques, I suddenly felt very fearful about my body's ability to cooperate with my mind and my will to accomplish my goal of a drug-and-intervention-free birth.

Adding to my fears was the OB on call. My worst nightmare, Dr. Sourpuss, was the worst kind of doctor. The one who distrusts her patients and doesn't listen to them. Despite having a birthplan on hand and in the hands of the nursing staff, I feared that if she had the chance, I'd be under the knife faster than you could say lawsuit.

Thankfully, I had an incredible doula who advocated for me. Who guided both me and Scott when my contractions were coming every two minutes and lasting for two minutes but getting me no closer to holding a child in my arms. Devon, our doula, performed Reikii and massage, kept me company while I was in the tub trying to relax, and made the nurses listen when I said I needed to sleep, having only had three hours of sleep before going into labor.

Finally, one of the nurses offered me a sedative that she said was safe for my child. She promised no pain relief, but said it might let me rest for a while. I took it, though I felt it was in part a failure. I dozed off quickly. After what seemed hours, but was really only an hour-and-a-half, I woke. The first thing I was aware of was Gillian Welch singing "Time the Revelator" coming from Scott's computer. The next thing I sensed was the most incredible urge to push. Exactly as all the books described it.

Scott, Devon, and Scott's mom were all talking somewhere to my side. Before I opened my eyes, I said, "I'm ready to push." I think it took them a moment to realize what I said, so I repeated myself. Suddenly, all three of them descended upon me. Devon told me to relax and she'd get the nurse. When the nurse came in, I told her, "I'm ready to push." Her response was to give me a strange look and then to say, "Well, I can check you, but the last time I checked you were still only around 1.5 cm. I doubt you've progressed that far so quickly."

I felt elated when she checked me and came up with a look of total surprise on her face. She turned to the other nurse and said, "We need to find her doctor." Turning back to me, she said, "Hold on, Honey! You're at 8 cm. It's about time. We need to get your doctor in here."

After two hours of pushing, my perfect little angel came into the world. It didn't all work out quite as blissfully as I had envisioned it, but here he was. Finally!

Now, in the blink of an eye, three years have passed. Where did they go? He's so grown-up and funny and smart. I miss the sweet, tiny, infant who would smile sweetly up at his mama as I held him and nursed him or just stared at his pretty little face. But despite the most challenging moments with this headstrong, persistent, and oh-so-active boy, I feel so blessed.

Mothering this guy has been, and continues to be, the wildest ride I've ever been on. A roller-coaster of emotion that takes me to ever-greater heights and sinks my heart with despair. All on a daily basis.

So, to Brendan, on his third birthday, I say, "Thank you for choosing me and your dad to be the ones who guide your soul through this world." We are, I hope, better people for it. More so, I hope you will be better for it, as well.

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Sorry for the Whining

I know my last two posts saw me wallowing in the self-pity pool. Sorry!

So, what am I looking forward to today to take my mind off my selfish needs and desires? Let me tell ya...

First, Brendan and I are going to bake cupcakes to take to his school tomorrow. Tomorrow is his birthday. He will be three and I am very excited about his birthday. More so, it seems, than he.

After we get the cupcakes in the oven, we're going to make train cut-outs to use as nametags on the goodie bags I am making for his party. In accordance with the Thomas the Tank Engine theme for his party, I'm using bandanas to hold the items I bought to fill the goodie bags. We'll tie them up with some ribbon and then I'll add the train-shaped name tags. I hope they're as cute in reality as they are in my mind. We'll see I guess.

Okay. I feel better already!

Another Opportunity, Perhaps?

Here's one of those quandaries I hate: the non-paying gig that might, possibly, somewhere down the line turn into the chance of a paying job.

I met last night with the founder of a local organization called Foundation for Community Arts. The organization has a very ambitious aim, which I can totally get behind. They need some help with their marketing efforts, a name change, help obtaining grants. All things I would love to work on and have experience with.

The problem? They can't afford to pay me now. It would be done on a volunteer basis. Of course, if I pursue grants for them, I can charge a percentage of whatever money I obtain for them and I'm okay with that. The question is, do I have time to do the volume of work required to win a grant with only the hope of getting paid? It's hard to make yourself commit to something like that when you're spread thin anyway.

I'll have to pray about this. Something I'm struggling with right now anyway. I'm really wondering where God wants me right now. I need to work, but it seems as if I keep having the carrot of the perfect job dangled in front of me only to have it snatched away just when it's within my grasp.

Maybe this is where I'm meant to be. Using my mad skills to help my community. Wouldn't that be nice?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Que Sera, Sera

Just a wee bit bummed. Last November I answered an ad for a writer to write about parenting issues for a new web site. I was, apparently, one of over 1,000 applicants for the job (it was a nationwide search). It was the perfect job: part-time, telecommuting, writing about a topic close to my heart.

I made it through three rounds of the application process. They cut it down to 70 applicants for 15 positions. The next stage of the interview process, the final stage, was to be a phone interview.

I really thought I had this job. I used visualization techniques to see myself getting the job, doing the job, etc. I found out today that I wasn't even going to get a phone interview. They've made their decisions, hired their 15.

I'm totally bummed. I was perfect for this job.

I just hope that the people hired to fill those positions need it more than I do.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hazy Days

As we all know being sick sucks. (On a tangent, every time I use the word "sucks" I hear my mother's voice lecturing to me about how I shouldn't say it. It's the only "swear" word, she ever lectured me about.).

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Being sick does suck. And it's only made worse by not getting any sleep. Worse than getting no sleep is getting fractured, restless sleep filled with vivid, unsettling dreams that stay with you long after you wake.

That would be today's experience for me. Brendan woke up and came to our bed around 2:00 a.m. I could still hear Scott downstairs playing some of the latest songs he's written, but don't think that's what woke B. He usually wakes between 1:00 and 3:00 lately and comes into our bed anyway. Usually he goes right back to sleep. Last night, however, he was awake until after 5:00 a.m. Wild. Cuddly. Funny. And wide awake.

Because I had taken a dose of Thera-Flu right before going to bed, I kept dozing back to sleep every few minutes. I awoke once when Brendan was tapping on my forehead to wake me. When I opened my eyes, he was staring into them, smiling. I asked what he was doing and he said,"Waking you up." Thanks, guy!

Like a fool, I let him watch the episodes of Caillou and Thomas the Tank Engine we have recorded on the DVR in our room, thinking he'd relax and go back to sleep. I think they just wound him up. Ultimately, Scott came upstairs and at around 5:00 suggested we put on some music. Thank you, Dish Network, for having Sirius channels as part of your programming! I put on the Acoustic Café and two songs later (Gillian Welch and Dave Alvin), Brendan was sound asleep. I drifted away a few minutes later, but woke up from a dream in which I slept until two in the afternoon and forgot to pick up Brendan from preschool.

In the dream, I had to walk to the school and got lost because I was in a different city and didn't know my way around. I ran into a friend and was embarrassed to admit I was lost. She helped me find my way, but gave me strange looks as if I were crazy for sleeping so long and being lost.

In another, even more bizarre dream, Scott very enthusiastically told me he's ready for another baby. This is an on-going discussion for us, so no real shock it would emerge in a dream. Just strange that in the dream, he was really excited about it and I was okay with it and agreed it was time. The dream had a sweet, pleasant, reassuring quality to it. But, on waking, it seems a distant goal. I don't think either of us is truly ready. At least, I don't think we are. But then, I guess no one is ever truly ready for having a child.

And today, with so little sleep and a cold to boot, I cringe at the thought of having to care for a newborn and a three-year old. Fortunately, for today, I don't have to.

I get to go rest until it's time to pick up my little guy. Hopefully, I won't fall asleep and wake up in a strange city two hours after I'm supposed to pick him up.