Working Through

February 24, 2010

Right now I'm sitting in a hot bath while my husband tends the little one. Yes, you heard right: I'm in the bath. Don't ask how I'm typing this in the bath. Just know that I'm in no danger of electrocution...I think.

I've spent most of today trying to catch up on my obligations. For those of you who don't know me well or haven't guessed yet, I'm generally a terrible procrastinator. The occasional bout of depression doesn't help that, either. Or my irrational paranoia of making phone calls. Oh, I can dial family and friends for casual chats just fine--it's calling the doctor's office or the DMV that gives me pause. I'll almost always put off business calls for as long as possible. How bad is my procrastination in this area? Well, I haven't seen a dentist in at least five years....

(Go ahead and say, "Yikes!" I won't be offended.)

But this year I unintentionally made a New Years resolution to tie up all my loose ends. That meant saying "no" to new projects, like translating a Japanese technical manual into English for a friend. It was a paid project, too. I just knew I wouldn't finish it, no matter how much he paid me per page. And taking on that project would have kept me from completing my novel and sending out the last dozen "Thank You" cards to friends who had purchased baby gifts for William. In November. Thankfully, I've wrapped up those two things and have moved on to searching for literary agents to represent my novel. So far I've queried 10 agents and received 3 rejections. (Getting published is a long and bitter process.)

In the meantime, I'm trying to talk out my feelings with my husband, which appears to work for about two days before I'm back to square one. He came home briefly this evening in an edgy mood, which sent my ever-tenuous mood plunging straight into the gutter. He recovered his good humor about 10 minutes later and went back to being his affectionate self, while I spent the next few hours stewing in silence and being irked by his little attentions. In my mind it's just not fair! I'm in a war with my psyche and my biology (and losing), I'm not exactly thrilled by the sight of my post-pregnancy body in the mirror, I can't fully satisfy anyone under this roof no matter what I do, I'm overwhelmed by the guilt of it all and crazy with frustration, and it seems I can't get my husband to truly understand any of this no matter how I explain it.

Sometimes I feel so angry I could just smash things.

And every time a cat walks on me in the middle of the night, or William spits up on a fresh change of clothes, or I watch my husband compulsively scrub and reorganize the kitchen for the FIFTH time when he STILL hasn't cleaned our bathroom like he offered to do TWO WEEKS AND SEVERAL SHAVES AGO, I feel my anger growing. Yet I don't feel free to express my anger, so I keep it to myself.

I know it's not healthy.

Out of My Head

February 22, 2010

Sometimes I could just hate myself. See, I heard that becoming parents can be a challenge for a married couple, know...the stuff I heard was mostly generic: "Oh, you'll want to be with the baby all the time, and your husband will feel like he's getting less attention, but it's all good," etc., etc. What I didn't hear was that these postpartum hormones would drive me batsh*t insane.

Seriously, I could yank my hair out.

Now I've done some tough things in my short life: Army bootcamp, college, two out-of-state moves within two years, wrote a novel. But all that pales in comparison to what I'm currently experiencing.

Yes, my poor husband feels neglected. It's no wonder. The baby absorbs nearly all of my time and energy. During the day, he must be fed every three hours. I spend at least a half hour nursing him, then another 15 minutes giving him a bottle. Then comes a diaper change. Then comes whatever else needs to be done: laundry, dinner, a hot bath so I can have some time to myself without every living creature in the house vying for my attention. Even after a good day, I usually crawl into bed feeling raw and jittery.

But the worst of it is in my head. I don't want to get too close to my husband most of the time because I'm irrationally convinced that all he wants is he's just waiting to pounce the moment my body is completely healed. To be honest, I've never felt more sexless in my life. As much as I desire physical intimacy, the pain of childbirth is still fresh in my memory and I don't know how to shake it off. On top of that, I've become more critical--even downright suspicious--of my husband. I have thoughts like, How could he NOT notice that the absorbent pad was missing from the cloth diaper when he put it on the baby? and Why is he making a face when all I asked him to do is bring me a glass of water? At times I have felt cold and angry toward him for no clear reason at all. It's terrible and makes me feel guilty. At the same time, I also feel stingy and frustrated. Why should I give him pleasure when I cannot have any for myself? How is that fair?

And what's worse is how the baby makes me feel. He's all I can think about sometimes. I have to fight the urge to check his breathing in the middle of the night. I walk around fearing the hell that would descend upon my life if I lost him somehow. At the same time, imagining the future conjures up scenes of the constant messes that I will have to clean in the course of raising him.

But that's not all, folks. In her desperate bid for attention, my cat Ling has taken to randomly licking me and the living room walls! I can only pray the paint isn't toxic.

I may need therapy...again.


February 12, 2010

So now that my novel is officially complete, I've been seeking out literary agents to represent it. I emailed four yesterday and plan to email six more within the next few days. Ever tried writing a professional query with a baby screaming in the background? Not fun. It took all day. I should hear something back from the agents within a month...if I hear anything at all. If I don't hear anything, the process begins again with another 10 agents. Oh, goody.

In the meantime, I'm preparing for my mother to arrive tomorrow. I'm really excited about her visit: this is the first time she'll get to hold her grandson, and I will surprise her with a copy of my manuscript. The apartment, however, is a mess, and I want to clean house like I want a needle in my eye.

Just another day in paradise! :-)

Super Sunday

February 9, 2010

So, the Saints won the Super Bowl. Even if you cheered for the Colts, I'm not sure you could come away too disappointed with that result. Those guys on the Saints team were so excited to win. People in New Orleans were dancing in the streets. It was a night to remember.

Especially for me. First of all, I managed to blow half a jar of cheese sauce all over the inside of the microwave while making nachos for the game. It was probably the most epic mess I've ever made and took all of the third quarter to clean up. Second, I finished my novel.

Yeah, you heard me.

Fifty-nine thousand words and 259 pages. It is finished at last!

I suppose at the moment I typed the words "The End" I could have been more excited. I always imagined myself leaping from my chair and doing a sort of "endzone" dance while screaming incoherently. But at the moment of truth, I felt incredibly calm. I actually felt more excited about it yesterday when I took the manuscript to Office Depot to have it printed and bound. Seeing it in hard copy took my breath away. (I mean, it's over half a ream of paper!)

Now I just have to find a publisher. Maybe I'll save my endzone dance for that.

I thought long and hard about whom I would dedicate my novel to. There's my husband who is always encouraging me to reach my best friend, whom I consider my writing mother, who is my biggest mother-in-law, who deeply admires my writing...and my high school mentor, who is probably my most avid fan. There are so many people who have inspired me to reach this point, and whom I can't thank enough for all their support.

But in the end, only one possibility made sense to me: dedicate it to my newborn son. After all, my progeny will ultimately inherit my legacy and the result of all my accomplishments. And I believe it was the act of following through on my pregnancy and bringing him into the world that inspired me to follow through on completing my novel.

Yet I couldn't leave out all the others who helped me through the bulk of the project. So my dedication is thus:

To my son, and all those who have believed in me.

And now my son requires a feeding. Thanks for reading.


February 2, 2010

It's week three of my new life as a mother, and it feels like month three. Don't take that the wrong way. What I mean is that being a new mother is such an intense feels like 10 minutes crammed into one.

Of course, you could attribute some negativity to that first statement. Motherhood isn't exactly the dewey-eyed daydream that so many women claim it to be. I mean, darn it, I want to check my email, finish some writing projects, create a new piece of jewelry...not just sit and hold a fussy baby all day! When you have a 9 lb. son who can't support his own head in your arms, you can't do much of anything--including reach the TV remote. And then there's the forays into public that have become five times lengthier and more complicated than before: dress me, dress the baby, put baby in stroller, wheel stroller to car, take car seat out of stroller, put baby in car, put stroller in trunk, drive to destination, take stroller out of get the idea. (I'd lament this loss of freedom more if I weren't so ecstatic to just be able to bend at the waist again. I'll gladly take raising a child for the next 18 years as long as I can tie my own shoes.)

At the same time, I wouldn't exactly define motherhood as "life interrupted." It's more like "life expanded." I look into my baby's slate-gray eyes and I love him though he is incapable of comprehending love, let alone having done anything deserving of it. I have never loved my husband more intensely than I have while watching him hold and kiss our son. Also, while gazing at my baby, I realize I have brought a unique life into the world--not having just knit together a body but a mind and a soul as well, using pieces of myself. The magnitude of that feeling...of responsibility, of ultimate creative indescribable.

Of course, it's a weighty feeling. And it can get crowded out mopping up little rivers of regurgitated formula and washing load after load of soiled baby blankets. I get through the dirty and mundane parts of the job by taking one day at a time...and reminding myself that there's more to life than having a clean domicile. There's growing, succeeding, becoming stronger and more confident...which is what motherhood is helping me to do.

After two weeks of effort, I have finally gotten my son to nurse regularly. I've been off my Prozac for the past month, and things are looking up.