Joyful, Odd Course of Events

The reason I’ve been MIA lately is because my son was born on January 5, which was two weeks before his due date. I’m actually glad he arrived early because he weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces at birth and was 21.5 inches long. Had he waited till his due date, he most likely would have been 9 pounds or more… and I don’t think my body could’ve handled it. I’m not sharing his name here for privacy reasons, but everyone says it’s a nice manly name. 🙂

They say labor pain is the worst pain ever. Now that I have actually given birth, I am allowed to have an opinion on that, but I don’t know if I agree. It was a pretty awful pain, but it is an “organized” pain, if that makes sense. The simple fact that the pain had a purpose made it easier to get through. The weirdest part about it was sleeping between contractions and actually having dreams.

They also say that a child is a source of joy. My child was born with a disease of the intestine that was not foreseen before birth, so we were in and out of the hospital for all of January until today. To make a very long story short, the baby needs to have a colostomy bag until he is 6 months old, at which point he’ll have surgery to fix his large intestine. After that, he will be like any other kid. All of this did not diminish my joy in the knowledge that my son is actually here, that he exists, and that he is a charming little soul. But hospital stays are depressing even without the postpartum hormones, so I can’t say that the entire experience was joyful.

So that was the past month in a nutshell. What an odd course of events. If I were to imagine in 2009 what my life would look like in 2019, I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it like this (in a good way).

First Comes Love…

The inevitable happened. You remember that rhyme you used to sing when you were in elementary school, the one that went “first comes love, then comes marriage”? The thing that, in tradition, happens after marriage has happened to me.

My first thought was that I majorly screwed up, and I internally heard laughter at the joke (which I now relate to completely) that goes “What do you call people who use the ‘rhythm method’? Parents.”* My immediate second thought was “I’m married… isn’t this what’s supposed to happen?” My third thought was about how much tinier our 600 square foot apartment was about to become. Then I tried to stop thinking altogether and called the ob/gyn. It took a couple weeks for the morning sickness to kick in, and I am fortunate that it never got as bad as some women supposedly have it. I never actually got sick, but I got darn near close to it, and I was so tired that all I wanted to do after work was flop down on the couch and sleep (which I did on most days).

The exhaustion lifted slightly after the 12th week or so, along with the nausea. But I still wasn’t able to get happy about the whole situation. I’m Catholic, so I’m supposed to be all joyful about this little soul that God deigned to put in my weak human body. Man, was it hard to be joyful. Every now and then, the joy would come, but the next second I’d be back to kicking myself for what I perceived as ultimately a birth control failure. We should’ve been like one of those couples with great self-control that somehow manages to use NFP successfully for the first five years of the marriage, then has a kid in “God’s perfect timing.” Nope, we’re just regular people after all. The ideals have fallen yet again. So I have been contenting myself with the clichĂ©: “Nobody is ever ready to be a parent. You just do it.”

I’m trying to tell myself that we didn’t fail and that this is in fact a great success (and, you selfish thing, you better think about all the people who desperately want children and can’t have them), but my perfectionist nature is reluctant to buy it. The reality is that now is the time to let go of my perfectionist nature once and for all. I’ve been telling myself that it’s OK if the dishes don’t get done the second after we eat or that the apartment isn’t going to burst into flames if I don’t vacuum exactly on schedule. Or if someone emails me at work, I don’t have to get back to them within the next five seconds. Not to mention that I’ll traumatize my son (and probably my husband, too) for life if I keep being such a perfectionist.

All this life-changing craziness started in April, which means a little more than I’m halfway there. Then in January, we’ll hopefully have a healthy, crying, screaming little creature to be responsible for, for the next 18 years and beyond. Scary? Hell yeah. Fun? Yes, from what I hear. But marriage is my vocation, and with it comes children, as the rhyme goes. So my life’s true mission has begun. 🙂

As a side note, I’m not sure what will become of this blog in the meantime and after January. I’ve been using it less and less, even though the actual desire to write has not left me. I won’t ever delete the blog, but I may not keep my own domain. I’ll try to post every now and then, but I doubt it will be regular at all. I want to try really hard not to be someone who only writes about their kid and/or posts pictures of their kid. If I was a kid these days, I’d be pissed at my parents for posting pictures of me on social media.

*NFP is not the rhythm method, but it still relies mainly on self-control, which fails far more often than we weak humans would like.

Good Children’s Books

The 30 day book challenge gave me an idea for this post. Following are five children’s (ages 9-12) books that I enjoyed when I was younger and would definitely recommend to anyone. After I read them, they stuck with me for years afterward.

Behind the Bedroom Wall – Laura Williams

For a book that’s set in Nazi Germany, this one is accessible to younger readers because of the nature of the conflict and the tough decision between right and wrong. Korinna is 13 years old and very active in the Hitler Youth, which has brainwashed her into hating Jews. Her parents hide a Jewish mother and her young daughter behind a wall in Korinna’s bedroom and when she finds out, she is tempted to turn her parents in to her youth leaders. Korinna eventually learns to think for herself and stand up for what’s right.

Protecting Marie – Kevin Henkes

This book is a quietly told coming-of-age story in which 12-year-old Fanny learns to trust her father and let go of some vestiges of her childhood. Fanny’s father Henry is a stern artist who will not let his daughter have a dog. Fanny learns to empathize with her father and both characters begin to open up to each other during the story. It’s a thought-provoking and very realistic novel, but it won’t appeal to you if you want constant action.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar

Sachar’s writing is intrinsically funny and will appeal to anyone (kid or adult) who likes to laugh. It’s the type of book you’ll want to read over and over again to pick up on all the little jokes within it. Basically, it tells the story of 30 kids who attend a completely wacky school, get in trouble, learn, and have fun. There’s no real lesson to be learned from the book except the notion that life doesn’t have to be taken so seriously all the time.

Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

Warning: this book is a tearjerker. Chances are, you read it in elementary or middle school and it made you cry. Sometimes the old-fashioned storytelling can be a little bit of a drag, but the emotional depth Rawls puts into the characters of Billy and his two coonhounds attaches the reader to the characters. Whether you like dogs or not, the book will definitely strike a chord within you.

Baby – Patricia MacLachlan

Told in a simple, compelling style, Baby is about 12-year-old Larkin who lives on an island with her family. At the end of the summer when the tourists leave, they find a baby who has been left behind by her mother. It’s up to Larkin and her family to raise the baby for a year – when the mother says she will return. During the course of the year, the baby (Sophie) helps Larkin’s family to cope with their own loss that had happened prior to the events of the story. Like Protecting Marie, this book is of a slower pace and isn’t recommended if you like action and adventure.

What are the children’s books that you really loved?