Monday, September 14, 2009


I like to think I am in charge of things. I like to plan ahead, take care of people, get shit done, etc. I am accustomed to being the person who has the sunblock or the chapstick or the extra garbage bags on days it rains and everyone's rugby crap threatens to get soaked. I am also the person with a mapped out life plan, who has spreadsheets and goals and really extensive to-do lists. And then I had a baby and major abdominal surgery and couldn't get out of bed. And then my baby cried all day. ALL DAY. Literally ALL THE TIME unless there was a breast in his mouth.

I went home to my parents' one weekend and he cried for 16 hours save for his nursing stints. For the first six weeks of this, people offered to do things for me and I said no thank you because I could do it all myself, right? I could totally handle the screaming AND do the laundry AND get ready to go back to work AND take care of Corey. Until one day I couldn't and I sort of collapsed into a really, really dark place. I called up my family and asked them for help.

And that, friends, is the hardest thing I have ever done (perhaps tied in first place with constantly nurturing Miles around the clock...but maybe even harder than that!). I mean, when I was in the hospital I allowed my sister to give me a sponge bath. And I peed blood on her feet in the bathroom and she just wiped it off and pretended it didn't happen (although she did photograph me later with a sheet boner, so perhaps she got her own after all). That was ok, because I was on drugs and everyone on drugs needs help.

But since then, people have been DOING things for ME. Things I usually do for other people. Like friends show up and cook me food. Or they sit with Miles and bounce him on a ball to radio static for FOUR HOURS so I can take a walk or just not be the person to do that. They come over and they bring pie and ice cream on the very day when there is nothing I need more than pie and ice cream.

And my teammates seem to miraculously appear around 5pm most days, when I want to be cooking or eating food, and they hold my son so I can eat with two hands. They just show up *POOF* like I pulled them from a hat.

But there really is nothing quite like family. I called them on the phone and they drove out here and stayed for ten days with plans to come back in a few more days. And man! Did that make a difference. It was like I could breathe oxygen again. I worked out a few times. I went to meetings. I stood in the back yard and picked gourds. And the best part? Corey's mom got Miles to sleep! During the day! Not on a human being!

And then a lactation consultant and I discussed Corey's lactardedness and how it might affect Miles and I stopped eating dairy. And then, suddenly, my son started smiling. Here is some evidence:

And this, in turn, allowed ME to smile. Which is huge, because most of the time I had been sobbing these deep, gutteral sobs like a wounded mammal and I was running out of tears. But yes, I can smile now. Here is some evidence:

So this, THIS is why people have children. This is what it feels like! How do people do this without family and friends and accepting help???? Why the eff was I declining offers before?

Perhaps because I have this strange German Protestant work ethic sort of pounded into my DNA, that combines with my type-A personality and leads me to believe I have to not only control everything, but be in constant motion, working every second that my body is awake because otherwise, I'm being lazy or useless. Anyone who has ever had a 5.5 week old baby knows that sitting on the couch producing breast milk IS work, but try telling that to my internal monologue. I have never felt as lazy and bone tired exhausted in my whole life.

But then, I have also never felt as grateful to have a community. Each day, when I think I am on the brink of despair, when there isn't anything that could possibly allow me to survive for another nanosecond, the doorbell rings* and there's a dude there with a fruit basket or Corey's mom scrubs my bathtub or someone takes my baby and tells me to just walk around the block.

You know what it's made me realize? People feel glad to do these things for me--they wouldn't offer otherwise. People love me (or at least my offspring). Human beings don't have to live in these tiny little self-controlled vacuums because sometimes, it's ok to be vulnerable (Not that I remember this all the time, but more hours of each day than before...).

So fear not. I am getting some help/love. And it's ok to allow my loved ones to express this love, because it makes me want to just pay it all forward to some other mom with furry, unbrushed teeth and milk stains on her good shirts. Mark my words. As soon as MW gets some neck control, he is going in the Ergo on my back and I am going to a new mom's house to paint her toenails and then wash her shirts. And I'll show up with pie!

*more on doorbells later


PeaceLoveMath said...

We love you AND your offspring! I am so happy to read this post. I know it will keep getting better. I can't wait to see you and Miles again! I hope we can fit in a trip to the 'burgh before Christmas.

Jane said...

Oh, happy day! Isn't this what family is for?

Em said...

One of the most important lessons I've learned is that I'm not really in charge of things, and that that's a good thing. It is so nice to see smiling (and Miles at the same time!!)

Sikora said...

Well said Katy! Beautiful post.

mom-mom ellen said...

I am totally awed by this post and so happy that I (we) made you happy and grateful! And you even used the pictures I took. Wow. Glad you are back to blogging-guess I better get back to checking it out more often.