Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ghost of Becky Past

There she was. Standing in the vestibule with us on the second floor outside the OB/GYN's office, waiting for the elevator. I always talk to strangers given the opportunity (because really? The only other option is to mutually stare at the fake potted tree.), and she was no exception. Especially when I noticed perhaps the cutest Coach bag I'd ever seen. I complimented her on it with some enthusiasm, and she responded in kind. "I know, right? It's one of my favorites. I have a collection of about 10 or 12, but this one always seems to work." Ah, my kind of girl. Not just chatty, but also willing to share her obsession with hand bags with a complete stranger. As in, not shy. As in, just like me. The elevator arrived and we stepped on, whereupon she got a really good look at Will in his stroller and started exclaiming over him, "What a doll-baby!" She engaged Marty in conversation for a few seconds while I subtly glanced her over. Dark hair in a perfect and trendy angled bob. Great makeup -- probably M.A.C. if I had to guess. Adorable A-line, knee-length sundress in black and bold colors; again, totally something I would wear because we brunettes tend to look pale and ridiculous in pastels. Finally, her shoes were casual and breezy flip-flop flats but sported whimsically large black flowers. Mentally, I gave her an A+ and only then did I think, I wonder what I'm wearing?

I almost groaned aloud. I remembered that I'd barely jumped out of the shower by the time we had to hit the road to make it to the appointment without being egregiously late. I'd given my face a token once-over with a makeup brush, and I knew I'd devoted at least 30 seconds to mascara and eyeliner, so not a total loss there. But then, those precious seconds seriously cut into my usual time with the blowdryer, so I'd had to pull my hair back into an elastic band and tried to tame my bangs with a headband. I knew without looking that I was sporting some major frizz up-top. Ugh. Then I looked down...oh heavens. Beat-up silver flip-flops purchased from Target about 3 years ago? Of course. My go-to shoes that stay by the front door, thus the reason for wearing them now. Black maternity shorts that have been worn and washed so many times, they're kind of a charcoal gray now. A raspberry t-shirt that the maternity clothiers probably intended as a pajama top, but which I was wearing now as street clothes. I thought, please don't let her look too hard. Especially at the hair needing a cut, color, and highlight, or the nails in desperate need of a mani/pedi. And oh my gosh, did I at least shave my legs?

I had all these thoughts in the space of an elevator ride. At the main floor, we all disembarked and cute Coach bag girl was teasing Marty about getting me pregnant twice in a row, and how he owed me a pile of Coach bags in gratitude. We all laughed, then she looked at me and said, "In all seriousness, are you a member of Coach online? Every once in awhile you get a 20% off coupon, plus you can use it at the outlet mall in Sevierville." I said, no I wasn't, but golly, thanks for the tip! She said "No problem, and good luck!" and walked away with a little spring in her step toward her white SUV. That's when I was really struck. Hey, I have a white SUV! I have a Coach bag and cute shoes -- somewhere! Hey, I USED TO BE THAT GIRL!

I got into the car and told Marty, "There goes the Ghost of Becky Past." I told him how, during the height of my successful career days when I worked in downtown Indy, I used to walk to Nordstrom on my lunch hour and shop clearance racks for actually affordable designer labels. How I used to have a whole collection of shoes: sexy boots for winter and oh-my-stars, the tiny little sandals and espadrilles I had for spring and summer. Three years, about 5 moves, and 2 straight years of pregnancy have forced me to shove said shoes in some storage corner or another. Along with my clothes -- half of my closet is devoted to dresses in dry cleaner's bags. My cute dresses, the dresses I may never fit into again -- that is, if they're even in style anymore by the time I'm brave enough to rip open the bags!

But while I thought about it, it wasn't just the wardrobe that I saw -- and recognized -- on cute Coach bag girl, it was the lifestyle. I knew without looking that girlfriend had her cell phone handy, ready to call a friend on her way home, or to Target, or to Starbucks, where she'd pick up a latte in the drive-thru and chat about her day. She might pick up her dayplanner and see what she had going on tomorrow, or the weekend, and try to fit in an eyebrow wax and a lunch date on Saturday. She might even try to get away for the weekend to visit her best friend, so they could go shopping and watch movies and lay around for hours perusing magazines and just talking. I know these things. I know, because I USED TO BE THAT GIRL.

As we drove home, I wondered why I was being so nostalgic. I continued to wonder over the next few days and slowly I've come to a couple of conclusions. First of all, and most obviously, the lifestyle that I was remembering was EASY. And it was FUN. But then, I remembered, it was also very LONELY. I could talk for hours here about the bad marriage, but suffice it to say that home was the loneliest place of all, so I did what I could to keep myself busy elsewhere. I secretly regretted not knowing true love. I not-so-secretly ached for a baby to hold and love and raise. There was so much missing from that life, and I have to be fair about the memories and remember ALL of it.

Second, the lifestyle that I'm living now is HARD. Okay, it is hard for ME. There's just no two ways about it. We didn't plan on having two babies so close in age, but it happened and here we are. (Lucy, when you read this in about 20 years, you must know that I'm ecstatic to have you and that "accidents" don't happen.) Gone are the dresses; I spend my days in maternity pajamas, the only garb I find not completely uncomfortable. Gone are the lattes; I barely swallow half a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The phone doesn't ring because I live far away from every single friend I have. I don't have free time to watch movies; I watch The Backyardigans with my little boy and wake up with its obnoxious tune in my head. I heave and heft my 25-pound child on my hip while carrying his 7-pound sister inside, and my limbs and muscles just ache at the end of the day. And this is all with Lucy still unborn! I know life is only going to get more difficult and challenging before it begins to ease up, and that alone is a hefty burden to bear mentally. I know I will need fortitude and strength -- and HOPE -- in the days ahead.

Which brings me to conclusion #3. I saw the Ghost of Becky Future. It occurred to me that it's possible, and conceivable, and achievable, for me to somehow merge the memory of the lifestyle that was and the reality of now. I know that once I'm no longer pregnant (what's that like?), Becky will get her groove back! And when that happens, well, this is how it's gonna go. I'll pile into my white SUV. After buckling in both my kids into their carseats, of course. We'll hit the Starbucks drive-thru for a latte. I may have Bible songs blasting from the stereo instead of P!NK, but we'll be there. We'll drive to the mall. I'll unload my kids and half a ton of stroller gear and paraphernalia, but we'll sail into Von Maur, dressed in nothing resembling pajamas. We'll visit clearance racks to search for affordable designer labels. And by golly, I'll be pushing my kids around and someone will stop me at the elevator to exclaim, "That's just the cutest Coach bag I've ever seen!"

And I'll smile and say thank-you and share about online coupons, and be grateful for the inspiration that cute Coach bag girl/Ghost of Becky Past gave me, once upon a time, in an elevator.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I know that blog readers are often inundated with requests for prayer about special situations concerning people they don't know and will probably never meet. I know because I'm one of those blog readers. I eventually had to start tuning most of it out, because it was just too much for me to handle -- taking on the burdens of strangers when I should be busy praying for those people I actually know. I believe God puts people in our spheres of living for this exact reason; we can't take on the problems of the world but we sure can pray for our friends and neighbors and loved ones -- name them by name, see their faces in our minds, and lift them up accordingly. Then maybe pass along the request to the other people we know and let God take it from there.

With this in mind, I would like to ask for prayer for a special friend of a friend. I met Kara through Kate quite a few years ago now, before she was a mama. Now she is a mama of 4, and her youngest, Calvin, who is 8 months, is facing dire prognoses and the whole situation is just heartbreaking and truly unfathomable to me as a parent. I won't share anymore here because I know that there are many who may not be able to handle the burden. But please, if you can, and if you feel led to open up your heart to their situation, visit Kara's blog here. Please pray with me that Kara and her husband will be guided appropriately in the days and weeks and months to come, that they will experience peace and comfort, and that mercies will fall upon them like gentle raindrops, easing their hurts and sorrows and pain.

Kara, you and your precious boy are in my thoughts. May you know the peace that passes all understanding. This is my prayer for you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Woman Nearing Birth: She's a Strange Creature

At least I am.
  • Miss Chatterbox (yours truly) goes silent. I did this very thing with Will, too...in the last couple weeks, I've really withdrawn and become extremely introspective. I can't seem to communicate very much or for very long. Of course, the physical act of talking is quite uncomfortable, as Lucy's head is lodged somewhere in my right rib cage (yes, she's going to be breech to the end, my little drama princess)! I run out of breath almost as soon as I begin a sentence and well, I just know it's a futile effort. I don't want to talk and I don't want to pant for breath, either. So...silence it is. Even email is a huge mental effort for me. Which means that once again, I'm backed up on email messages from at least a month ago, and if I don't get caught up in the next couple weeks, I don't even want to think how tardy I will be in responding. If you are waiting for a message from me, don't give up!
  • I'm having some pretty extraordinary dreams, good and bad. My favorite was the one from a few nights ago, when Marty and I traveled to England and we were about to board the Chunnel, bound for Paris. I was wearing a scarf. Marty was wearing a smile. We were hand-in-hand and alone and so focused on each other and having a good time. And I was so giddy to be doing something I've dreamed about forever and forever. I honestly think my brain is so taxed from being a mama and a mama-to-be that it just gave me a break for a night.
  • I'm a nesting FREAK. I'm not just running the Swiffer duster over things or vacuuming floors. No, I've completely organized our entire book collection, something that hasn't been done in our nearly 2 years of marriage. It took me a weekend (this book fiend married a fellow book fiend) and now, our bookcases are a wonder to behold. I look at them and am comforted like you wouldn't believe. Of course, Lucy won't know a book from her right pinky finger, but her mama will be able to look up from the couch and smile at her organized books! I keep promising that once the loft is completely organized and settled (this is now a 6-month process and counting) that I'll share pix. I might just get there before the birth and be able to!
  • I'm getting a little scared. I've even wondered if Michelle Duggar gets scared before giving birth each successive time? Marty comforts me with the fact that I won't have to labor this time, that I won't be going through 16 hours of hell just to wind up on a freezing-cold OR table anyway. Dr. Pickler assured us that scheduled C-sections are quite different. In her words, "We go in, I take out your baby, and I leave you an hour later in your room, holding your baby. You have coffee and I have coffee and life is good." Golly, I do love that woman. And it's true, she did an excellent job on my C-section last time, but I had this horrific hour or two postpartum in which my nurse and the anesthesiologist could not get my pain managed/under control. I'm allergic to morphine so I have to use alternatives, and they tried a couple before landing on one that worked. Putting it mildly, in that period of time I experienced pain at a level I could never have imagined. I felt the incision, my cut muscles, and every little stitch. I even passed out twice from the pain. Dr. Pickler went through the hospital records and found the painkiller that worked, and she's promised that those in charge of my pain management will be armed with it. But even if that's taken care of (which it seems to be), I'm still a little scared. Of the "X" factor. I had no idea how things would go last time, and even as scheduled and determined and organized as things are this time, I still fear the unknown. I'm sure this is normal...right?
  • I wonder if this is true for all second-time moms: do you feel guilty about what you're about to do to your first kid? I was rocking Will to sleep the other night and one of his habits is to hold a couple of my fingers while he drifts off. I looked down at him and just marveled at how much he's grown, but also saw how very much he is still my little baby, with a pacifier in his mouth and curled up in his favorite blankie. I don't want him to think that by bringing Lucy home, that he's not my baby anymore!!!
  • Weirdest of all, I'm still "craving" various smells (NEVER had this with Will). I would give real money to be able to smell "musty basement." The closest I get is the first few seconds of running the AC in Marty's car -- there's a bit of a musty odor that comes out and I inhale it furiously to feed my craving. I'm also very needy of the smell of freshly upturned dirt. And wouldn't you know it, I live in a second-story loft apartment. Perhaps we should run to Lowe's and open a bag of topsoil so I can stick my face in it. Talk about a strange creature!
On one final note, perhaps the funniest thing that's happened leading up to Lucy's birth is the fact that, on the way home from Indiana a couple weekends ago, we edited Lucy's name. We are Exhibit A of why couples should choose a name midway through the pregnancy and use it often so as to make sure it really fits your family and your tastes. After a brief discussion, we both admitted that we didn't really want the "-Anne" on Lucy's first name. We're not even sure why we initially wanted it that way -- perhaps just overzealous getting to name our first daughter? In any case, our baby girl's name is now and will officially be, the sweet and simple "Lucy Elizabeth." We love it. We hope she does, too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Operating instructions for Will

Make him happy?
  • Sips of water from Daddy's glass
  • Dora, Diego, Sid, or George
  • A warm bottle around 7 a.m.
  • Letting him "help" fold laundry
  • A bath with his new boat and Little People person that Daddy named "Captain Tenille"
  • A pacifier in the middle of the night
  • Stuffed monkey
  • His 4th of July pinwheel
  • Saved YouTube cartoons on Daddy's iPhone
  • Being greeted/picked up from his crib in the mornings
  • A drawer full of bibs and washcloths (for removing and throwing everywhere)
  • Music
  • Bananas
  • A room full of cousins
  • Any toy with wheels
  • Naming objects that he points at
  • Remotes
  • Daddy's baseball caps
  • Blankets with satin edging
Make him unhappy?
  • Diaper and clothing changes (no patience for them)
  • Gates (when he's bored of the toys inside)
  • Orajel (but I think he hates the throbbing gums more)
  • His highchair when playtime is interrupted by meal time
  • Daddy leaving
  • Road trips/being in his car seat after an hour or so
  • Having his hair brushed
  • Being told "no"
  • Loud noises
  • Being left alone in a room (when he's aware of it)
  • Being given table foods (though we are making progress with the help of muffins and crackers!)

Thursday, July 8, 2010