Friday, February 27, 2009

My Name is Sarah and I'm an Over-Sharer....

I suppose there's little revelation to that. Hello, I started this blog to tell the interwebs all about my girly parts not working right. Hard to claim I'm anything but a giant, walking"TMI" alert, barreling down at you with way more personal bits of information that you had any idea you wanted to know about me. But it is something that I'm just recently coming to terms with.

I wasn't always an over-sharer. As a child and teenager, I kept a lot to myself. I second guessed myself, struggled to maintain a shred of self-confidence and assumed that I pretty much blended into the off-white walls of class rooms and that few people really wanted to hear anything I had to say. At home, I spent most of my time in my room, after having grunted the obligatory answers: "Fine." and "Nothing." in response to the obligatory questions: "How was your day?" and "What did you do today?" Rarely, if ever, did I engage my parents in discussions about their lives or current events (as if most teenagers even have more than a passing knowledge of current events that don't involve who was making out at the last dance, or the cat-fight in the hallway between English and Algebra).

I think my days as an over-sharer started with a friendship I cultivated after college. I met my friend Pam, who is, in the most wonderful and loving sense of the word, an over-sharer, during the year I did an internship, teaching full-time, for no money, at a progressive high school in New Hampshire. She was living with one of the math teachers at the school, and after chatting with her at several parties, I was just in awe of her ability to share her thoughts, experiences and feelings with such an ironic mix of vulnerability and confidence that I fell completely in love with her.

We both found ourselves unceremoniously booted out of our respective serious relationships around the same time and became inseparable in our grief and our attempts to re-identify ourselves without the men we had assumed we'd be sharing our lives with. (And as a side-note, Thank GOD those relationships didn't work out. that is all.) After having stifled my emotions in said previous relationship, it felt fabulously cathartic to talk for HOURS about myself, recognizing my worth and having her "Hell, yeah, sister!!" me back into a place of sanity and groundedness. (Oh, and those two years of therapy were probably pretty helpful, too, right?)

Actually, therapy has to be more than a paranthetical comment in this, if I'm to be honest. Sitting across from someone who expected me to do nothing more than talk about myself?! In a world where talking about yourself is considered so gauch, narcissist and self-indulgent? Priceless. Initially I did little more than sit in the chair and weep (oh, the drama!!!), but eventually I left those therapy sessions with a throat dry and sore from talking, talking, talking. Slowly realizing that in my own voice I could hear not only grief, betrayal and disillusionment, but humor and passion and a will to pick up the pieces and go on as myself, not just as a broken piece of what was a sham of a relationship.

Back to Pam. Because there's difference between spilling in therapy and spilling in the world outside those safe walls. A real turning point for me was the night before I moved down to DC. My parents held a barbeque for me, invited all my friends and family. It was the last time we were all together before my grandparents passed away, and now I so wished I'd learned to over-share before it was too late to do so with them.

We sat on the back stone porch of our house, chatting and eating BBQ, when someone commented on the unseasonably chilly weather. My dad said, "The coldest night I ever spent, it was 72 degrees in Vietnam." Now, I knew my dad had been in Vietnam, but I also knew a lot of vets never wanted to talk about that time--wanted to protect their loved ones from the vulnerability of those memories and emotions. So I never once asked my dad about Vietnam.

Pam, with her open heart and an assumption that boundaries are for the weak, turned to my dad and asked, "What was it like being in Vietnam?" The entire world stopped spinning on its axis; I swear I felt it. I looked up, bite mid-chew and waiting for the world to implode. This was the unaskable question!!! The unshareable experience!!! What was she thinking??!!

I wish I hadn't been so freaking flabberghasted at that moment, because I really want to be able to remember what happened next aside from simply this: My dad started talking about Vietnam. He didn't go into a ton of detail, he didn't divulge any deep, dark secrets or talk about having post traumatic stress disorder or anything like that. He just talked about it. And I was too astounded at the sharing to even be able to remember what he said.

That moment marked a change for me. I realized that I didn't want to be such a closed book or allow my fear of being judged keep me from sharing my thoughts, feelings, experiences and beliefs. It is hard to change, though. At parties, I'd often need a drink or two before I could really let myself talk a lot to people or share anything personal about myself. When I would wake up the morning after a party, I'd spend hours kvetching over something stupid I might have said or something overly personal I may have shared. I often found myself apologizing with an, "Sorry. I'm drunk," if I spilled too much information. Most of the time, people reassured me that I hadn't said anything over the top. If anyone was put off by my willingness to talk, talk, talk, they never let on.

After setting into life in DC, it just became a part of my personality; I'd pretty much talk about anything with friends, new and old, and love the opportunity to get to know them better and let them see me for who I am. Starting this blog, spending hours on my back, writing about my stupid cervix and then my stupid post-partum depression (have I not covered that enough?!), I had to revisit what my boundaries are, and where my comfort level is in sharing this stuff not only with the anonymous eyes of the internet, but also with the friends and family who I know read my stuff. I found myself saying, "You know what, Sarah? This is who you are; if they love you for it, they love you for it. If they don't so much, that's okay, too. But this is who you are."

I've not thought about it for a long time. But moving to Los Angeles has made me aware again of this element of my personality. I find myself chatting with moms at Ethan's preschool while the kids are busy together and at the end of two hours, while I also know a lot about the other moms, I walk away, thinking, "gosh, they already know I've been trying to get pregnant for over a year, they know I had a hard time breastfeeding and that Ethan was colicky for 6 months. They know I went to an all-girl Catholic school (which, by the way, is an excellent topic of conversation while sitting in the parent-area of the synagogue) and that I have a horrible body image.....did I share too much????"

But the reality is, it doesn't matter. If I share too much for one person's taste, well, then I guess they won't want to be my friend or read my blog. That's okay. One thing I'm finding, though, is that over-sharing tends to attract more than it repels. Lucky for me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Calling Dr. Freud...and other, more important things

So a few days ago, as we were getting ready for our day, Ethan asked where Daddy was (he generally does this on a Monday, after 2 days of unadulterated "daddy time"). I explained that Daddy was at work. Ethan was thoughtful for several moments, just watching me wash my face and brush my teeth, and then brushing his own teeth. As we were picking out his clothes for the day (hello--primadonna! "Not that shirt! That shirt. I don't want to wear brown pants. Blue pants!), he informs me that "Daddy's not daddy. Ethan is Daddy. Daddy's not daddy. Daddy is Ethan." Apparently our long list of potential names for Ethan when he was a fetus was missing one option: Oepidus.

Since I told Husband out this little revelation of Ethan's, he's been making the cats test his food before he takes his first know, just in case. I'm certain, though, given the words of Ethan's declaration, that he has no desire to actually do away with Husband per se, he simply wants to dress him in diapers and make him to go bed at 7pm.


In other news, last Thursday was Ethan's first day of pseudo-preschool! I don't want to get all vklempt and wax too poetic about it, because it is 2 hours, one morning a week and I am on the premises the entire time. I'll save my hand-wringing and "where did my baby go???!!!"'s for mid-June when he starts going to school every freaking morning of the week. (I can't breathe. Where the eff is my brown paper bag??!! Every morning?! What are they trying to do to me??!!!)

Yeah, there'll be a lot more of that that come June, but for now, I'll simply tell you that Ethan was over the moon about going to school like a big boy. He made me pack his Thomas back pack with cars and trucks and books (and then forgot it in the car) and he smiled patronizingly at my camera every time I begged him to say "cheeeeeeeese!" Yes, I brought the camera into the class--I informed the teacher right away that I was, indeed, that mom. Fortunately, we were the first ones there (out of 4 kids, 2 of whom were sick and no-shows that day), so no one but the teacher and Ethan were privvy to my snapping photos.

Ethan's first order of business was to whip up some "meatballs and cupcakes" (at least they weren't meatball cupcakes) at the kitchen play station. Delish. Then he decorated a square of fabric with a picture of himself and a bunch of stickers (this is apparently going to be one square in the world's smallest quilt--the other 3 kids also decorated their own squares). After that, it was time to go outside to the play ground. Oh, how Ethan loves the play ground. Tricycles, trains, houses, art easels, sandboxes and shovels up the wazoo.

The class is called "Transition" (which calls to mind labor--isn't transition supposed to be the shortest and hardest part of labor? I wouldn't know, what with useless reproductive system and all and that whole c-section business, but that's what I've read). My understanding going into the class was that the parents would stay with their children in the class room until such a time when both parent and child (emphasis on child; I guess parents are expected to suck it up) are comfortable separating and then the parent stays on the premises, but is expected to go sit in the lounge area and read or chat with other parents. Fine. I figured that the actual "transition" would happen sometime mid-March. That until that time, I'd hang out with Ethan and help him do the activities, and slowly extricate myself from the situation, moving farther away each class until I could pop out of the door without him noticing.

Well, Miss C, his teacher, had other plans. As I watched Ethan run around the playground with his classmates, oblivious to my presence, she approached me and said, "Now would be a good time to separate." My heart caught in my throat. "Now???!!! Seriously?!! But it's the FIRST day!!! You crazy lady, you can't take my baby away from me that easily!!! He's mine!!! Mine!!!! I will cut you, bitch!!! Back off!!"

Is what I was thinking in my head. Like the crazy lady I am. But outwardly I squeaked, "really? okay," and proceeded to pick up my bag and shuffle to the lounge area across the parking lot from the class room building. The sound of toddlers' laughter receding into the background, Ethan's voice swirling with all the rest of them.

I sat down in the lounge, took some deep breaths and enjoyed the silence. I realized that this is the beginning of a huge part of Ethan's life--his academic life. This is the part of his life that will take him away from me for bigger and bigger chunks of time each year until I find myself packing him up for college. This year (and probably for the next few), he will be making me cute little art projects, playing in the sand and eating paste. And making friends. As time goes on, there will be homework (which, at least in terms of math, I'll only be able to help him with until about 3rd grade....maybe), after school activities, sports, music, friends, jobs, girlfriends. Slowly, he's going to start making his own way in this world and find his own identity.

I expected to find myself a puddly, weepy mess over this realization. Considering I was ready to go 10 rounds (in my head) with the teacher when she had the audacity to suggest I "separate," I figured this particular "me" time in the lounge was going to lead to a hyperventilating, sobbing mess of a Sarah. But it didn't. Instead, I felt so proud of him and so much happiness for him. Even more so than when he was growing in my belly, I felt the awe of having had a hand in creating this amazing being. And that fact that I get to watch him become who he's going to be? Well, that is just amazing to me.

So instead of reducing myself to a blithering pool of tears, I checked my email and Facebook and soon another mother joined me. We chatted about our kids, both colicky, both awful sleepers, both neeeeeeeeedy, and yet here we were, at 10am on a Thursday, sans kids, and basking in the glorious freedom of that time. We checked our watches frequently and asked each other over and over as 11:30 approached, "should we go back now, do you think?"

We found our kids, again outside (they manage to fit two outdoor play times in their 2-hour schedule--I love it), playing with jungle animals in the sandbox. While I was kvelling (and face-booking) in the lounge, Ethan had been, among other things, making a construction paper sun for the "weather wall" and listening to Miss C read stories and sing songs.

We go back for our second day tomorrow; Miss C said that sometime the separation anxiety doesn't kick in until the 2nd or 3rd day of class. So we shall see. But he's already talking about school again today, so hopefully tomorrow, I will find myself, coffee and book in hand, lounging in the lounge while Ethan gets to work on being Ethan.

I totally forgot to snap a picture of him before we got in the car to go to here he is IN this car, ready to go to school.

His sun.

Preparing the table for a little "meatball and cupcakes" snack.

His cubby. My baby has his own cubby.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sarah as Pincushion

Today was my first acupuncture appointment. To see if, you know, we can figure out why my uterus is an empty, useless husk of a thing, and to find out if perhaps we might be able to cajole her into carrying another baby for about 9 months, give or take a few weeks.

At the suggestion of my therapist (let's call her D1), I called the acupuncturist (she gets to be D2, mkay?). I made an appointment last week and was thrilled that unlike your garden variety western obstetrician, one doesn't have to wait 3-6 months to see an acupuncturist. Hurray for stepping outside the mainstream.

After dropping the one child my uterus has managed to gestate (and for whom I am eternally grateful, nice uterus, pretty uterus) at a friend's house, I languished in mid-day LA traffic for 45 minutes to go all of maybe 7-8 miles, to a small medical building in Brentwood. Turns out all that sitting in traffic would be useful in D2's explanation of the energy highways in my body and how if one of those pathways is jammed up, none of them can do their jobs correctly, "kind of like how the 101 gets backed up at the on-ramp to the 405". Hey! I was just sitting in that stalled out mess of frustrated energy!! Neat-o! Now I TOTALLY get why my body won't make a baby. Erm. Or not.

I entered the small office at the end of a hallway in a garden variety medical building (you know, the one with the marble-glazed lobby, complete with physician directory plastered on the wall and a "how are you still in business; haven't you heard of Target?" pharmacy across from the elevators). How to describe the reception area of this office? It was like stepping into a womb, shall we say (minus the mess of all that amniotic fluid). The space was small, almost cramped (two people couldnt' walk through the sitting area without an awkward exchange of bumping parts and "excuse me"'s), and very warm. Not uncomfortably hot, just toasty and cozy warm. The kind of warm you hope your baby is while it's sucking it's thumb in your belly at around 33 weeks. I could hear hushed voices in a couple of the treatment rooms and new age-y music was being pumped through the sound system at such a low volume I had to stop what I was doing to be sure there was actually music playing and I wasn't having some sort of weird "hearing music in my head" stroke (which, for the record, if I ever have a stroke, I hope it's that kind--at least it's entertaining).

Anticipating the very near future, during which I would be flat on a table with pins sticking out of various body parts, I asked the receptionist where the bathroom was and as I wandered my way there, I came to the wall o' babies. A collage of real pictures of babies I'm assuming these women have helped to create. Sweaty women in hospital gowns and their shell-shocked husbands holding tiny sleeping bundles of baby. It was a good thing I arrived a few minutes early for the appointment because after lingering a few too many moments at the giant wall o' baby, I needed to have a good old cry in the bathroom (which was, incidentally, perfectly set up for a good old cry--candles, tissues, framed articles on the walls about the value of friendship and positive mantras about self-worth).

Then I met D2. There are only two words one needs to use to describe her: Earth Mother. In a very un-cheesy way, she exudes love and positive energy and a "I will heal you" vibe that made my insides unclench for the first time in a long time when asked questions about babies and having babies and what was up with me that I wasn't having babies.

We talked for what seemed like a long time, about things I would never have in eleventy billion years imagined we'd discuss in relation to my fertility (what was happening in my life when I was 7 years old?! Apparently it matters. Go figure). We hit on a lot of things that are a smidge too private for me to share here (can you even imagine??!! You didnt' realize that was possible, did you anonymous interweb surfer?! I usually tell you everyfreakingthing). I began to see some emotional reasons why my mind might not be letting my body do it's "job". I began to see some things I need to work on to make myself more available to the process of creating and growing a new life.

And then it was time to become the pincushion. After a pregnancy during which I was poked and prodded with every type of needle imaginable, I wasn't too concerned about the pain of it. She asked me, as she was getting out the pins (which I never saw, by the way; she is that smooth), if I plucked my own eyebrows. Seriously??!!! I have heard from the Vietnamese ladies who have done my nails in the past that my eyebrows are a mess (not kidding--they are brutal), but I didn't expect to hear it from my acupuncturist while I was feeling quite so vulnerable. Turns out she was just trying to use the feeling of plucking your eyebrows as a frame of reference for what the pins might feel like to me. Silly me.

As I lay on my back, feeling like I was there more for a massage than any kind of real treatment, D2 began to tap in the pins. The first one, on the top of my left foot, felt like a fly landing on me; no pain, just an awareness. Then a tingle. A couple more pins, and the same reaction. Then she got to the soft space between the inside of my ankle and achilles tendon. That pin? Felt like a cattle prod.

I jumped and said somthing like, "okay, that one is bad. that hurts". D2 shot a glance to her apprentice (yes, my session was observed by a healer-in-training--the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned). D2 said to Apprentice, "Did you see that? That's the kidney to the uterus", but didnt' really tell me anything about it. She just nodded a lot after that, like I made perfect sense to her.

After the pins were tapped in, she put a small eye pillow over my eyes (careful not to disturb the pin. in. my. forehead.), turned a heat lamp on over my abdomen and bid me adieu for about fifteen minutes. Just me, the pins, and the plinky-plunky new age music. As she was getting ready to leave the room, I was overcome with an urge to giggle--not out of embarrassment or self-consciousness, but because somewhere in me I felt an overwhelming, momentary swell of happy. It lasted for about a minute, and then I was back to just experiencing my own breathing. And the intermittent tingles eminating from the pin points, radiating out like a stone throw's ripples on a pond. The pin in my "kidney to uterus" point ached and tingled, but not in a truly painful way--perhaps only in a "I am perseverating on you and way more aware of you than I need to be because she said the word 'uterus'" kind of way.

I didn't get the "floaty" feeling that a lot of people have described to me. She explained that she only used abou 12 pins on me this time because sometimes releasing the energy too quickly and creating too much of that floaty endorphin rush can freak people out and make them shy away from the experience. She assured me that next time, I'd "float".

Leaving the treatment room and heading back to the reception area, I found the place far less "womb like", but not in a bad way. It's just that my contact lenses were dried onto my eyeballs (note to self: next week, wear glasses), and I had to fork over money. As far as I know, the only currency traded in the womb is the contents of the amniotic fluid. So, that took away from it a bit. But still, money well spent, even if only to understand myself just that little bit better.

On an entirely different note: Ethan starts his first day of pre-school tomorrow (excuse me while my head explodes and I run around gathering it up). I'll get into all of that tomorrow, I'm sure (after a bottle or two of "where did mah baby go??!!!" wine), but if you read this before 9am PST on Thursday, send some "Have a good first day, Ethan!!!" vibes out there for the little man. He's excited. I have heart burn.

Monday, February 09, 2009

An FYI: Drumming Up Bloggy Biz

Well, not really business, because lord knows I don't know how to make a nickel off of this blog, but at least, drumming up readers. For my other blog. If you like to read, are looking for a good book, or are maybe minimally interested in what I've been reading, I've become more diligent in keeping up with my reading blog: Frustrated English Teacher (link over there ----> on the side of this blog).

I've been reading lots of other book blogs out there and can I say, "yowza". Some of these people are hard.core. about reading. And writing about reading. And challenging each other to read certain things, like books that have won certain awards or books that have the word "orange" in their title. Last year, I tried to complete a challenge of reading books that had won Booker Prizes over the years, but only got through two before my brain started to melt with the literary loftiness of it all. I LOVE reading a great piece of literature, but I was a bit overwhelmed by the "challenge" aspect of it---can you say, "homework"? Still though, I'm a bit envious of those readers and bloggers who can give themselves over to it all so enthusiastically and with such passionate abandon.

There are entire communities of readers who have daily and/or weekly discussions with each other via their blogs, through sets of questions or shared 'assignments'. I've decided to give in to my need to commune with fellow book nerds by participating in the Tuesday and Thursday assignments (you can see what they are on the left-hand side of FET), and I've added a whole bunch of new reading blogs so even if you couldn't give a rat's hairy butt what I'm reading or what I think of what I'm reading, you might find something someone else has to say of interest.

So feel free to pop over to Frustrated English Teacher, check it out and leave me a comment about what you're reading and if you're loving it or wishing you'd never picked it up. The English teacher in me needs a fix.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What the beast is up to these days...

Every once in awhile, I realize how quickly it's all going by and I wonder if I'll remember all the little thing. That's when I'm glad I've got the blog to chronicle all of these little moments and habits and lightening-fast phases that make up the content of Ethan's growing personality.

His new obsession with coins--pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters--they all fascinate him. He's desperate to have as many as he can get, either for his piggy bank or for his jeans pocket (like daddy). He will walk up to Husband upon his return from work and ask, "Do you have any coins, dada?" Of course he does, so Ethan lays claim to it, carefully examining each coin Husband gives him and then depositing it into his own pants' pockets.

Yesterday I made the mistake of jingling the change in pocket as I walked into the livingroom. His response was Pavlovian. His head turned to me. His eyes lit up. He asked, "Do you have coins, mama?" And when I responded that I might, he came towards me, saying, "I want them. All. I can have them all, mama." Have I mentioned that pushiness is one of his primary characteristics these days?

The problem with this new obsession is that it coincides with his stomach bug of two weeks ago. I realize that seems like a stretch, but let's keep in mind, my 32 month old child weighs a whopping 23 lbs. Or at least he did. After the stomach bug, I could tell he'd lost a bit of weight because pants that had finally been fitting him after months of my having to roll them at the top, once again needed to be rolled. So, take Mr. Skinnypants and then put about $3 in spare change in his pants pockets. Can you see it? My child running around the house, then falling over on his face because his jeans have fallen down to his ankles in mid-run under the weight of the coins in his pockets?

Poor little bean. It frustrates him to be so pants-heavy, but he won't give up the coins.

The other new thing he's doing is rambling. Suddenly, it is not enough to answer questions or ask them (I am unspeakably grateful that we've not yet fallen into the abyss of "Why? Why? Why?", although I realize that's got to be coming down the road soon); Ethan now needs to talk, at great, incoherent lengths, about everything we've done on any given day. I wish I could recall the exact specifics of any of these toddlerese narratives, but suffice it to say Husband and I are suppressing fits of laughter as he attempts to string together meaningful sentences that can be understood outside his own uber-busy brain. It's the sweetest thing.

Also? Random observations about his own physical self and the world around him are abounding. "I have a thunder cloud in my mouth, mama" was his explanation for the coughing he's been doing lately with this new cold. "I have an eyeball in my eye" was his gem of insight (no pun intended) this morning. And the penis? Let's not even get started on the penis. Every day Ethan has to go through the list of every single person we know and let me know if they in fact do, or do not, have a penis.

Then, as Husband and I enjoyed our coffee and Ethan sipped his chocolate milk and refused all other forms of sustenance at The Coffee Bean this morning, a man with 3-4 days old beard and a bandana around his head sat down next to us. In the first ever "crawl under the table and die of embarrassment" moment we've suffered at his hands, Ethan turns to Husband and me and asks, "Is he a pirate?" Thankfully scruffy bandana man had a good sense of humor and made a joke about leaving his eye-patch and parrot at home. Living in LA, I'm sure Ethan will have many opportunities to horrify me publically in this fashion. Everyone here seems to look like a pirate or a prostitute, so there are bound to be questions rattling around in his 2.5 year old brain that will make their way to his mouth and out into the air around us. Should be wicked fun.

So that's some of what the little beast is up to. Pictures? You'd like pictures? Sure, I can do that.

Not sure if he's singing or eating here, but it's cute...

Our first crack at rice crispie for Valetines day. He liked making them, but he won't eat them.

Showing T-Rex who's boss...

just being preshus

Trying to feed me. He's such a giver...

Oh yeah, that's another thing he's doing these days...the never-ending quest for nose-goblins

Our little tree-hugger


This is the day after the stomach bug--that sippy has pedialyte in it. Of course, he never drank it.

Blowing bubbles. Or, standing around with the bubble blower and giggling....

And just because...KITTEHS!!! They are not entirely pleased with me and my camera. Oh well, they can deal.

Echo says: Woman! Again with the camera?! Seriously. You're crazy."