thanks, y’all

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So I’m making it official… finally. This will be my last post here. “Still Thinking” has been around for 5 years now, which is fairly long in the world of blogging. Did I ever write about how “still thinking” became the name? I decided to start a blog. And I couldn’t think of a smart, catchy, meaningful, all-encompassing, fabulous gem of a name. And so I typed in “still thinking” because I was, literally, still thinking of the perfect name. And, well, it stuck.

In 2007, I thought about breast cancer & breast cancer treatments & beating breast cancer & my job & breast cancer & my mother having breast cancer & my marriage & breast cancer. And then my mother died & I dropped into a hole so deep that I wasn’t sure I would ever breathe again.

In 2008, I thought about anger & therapy & two miscarriages & fertility & anger & quitting my job & just the outright suckage of life & therapy. Lots of therapy. They say there are 5 stages of grief — I got stuck in anger for, oh, a few years. So, so, angry.

In 2009, I thought about miscarriage #3 & living without my mother & infertility & anger & fertility testing & exorcising long-buried religion-related demons & infertility.

In 2010, I thought about mothering my 20-something-year-old sister & being motherless & not being a mother & infertility & religion & bitterness & infertility.

In 2011, I thought about pregnancy. Being pregnant, staying pregnant, obsessively looking for blood & any other sign that this one isn’t going to end well pregnant. And then I became a mother.

And I’m still thinking, obviously… but this no longer feels like the right place to think aloud.

So I want to say thank you. Thank you to whoever is reading & was reading & may read in the future. Thank you for your comments, your emails & your thoughts throughout the last 5 years. There were days, months, maybe even a year or so, that I felt closer to ladies I had never met in real life than I did to the ones I saw daily. My “bloggy friends” were a flotation device that held my nose precariously perched above the waters of anger, grief, loss, bitterness & hopelessness. And then in the next post, we would talk about paint colors & that was ok too.

I’m going to leave this blog up because mothers are dying every day & somewhere, there might be a daughter who needs to know that she’s not going crazy & that, with time, you actually will function again.

Or someone who just had their 3rd miscarriage & got online, only to read that the odds are most definitely not in their favor & who just needs evidence that it IS possible for pregnancy to actually result in a baby.

If you’re reading, will you please email me & say hi? Or friend me on Facebook? If you already don’t know, hi, my name is Sarah Weathers Rettew. Thank you so much for reading.

to the park we went

Today I felt like I was gonna crawl out of my skin… I’m on sugar detox after a month of holiday binging & it’s making me grumpy & droopy & generally mean. So “let’s go to the park,” I thought. “It’ll be fun,” I thought. I dressed Rose in a cute outfit that hasn’t been adequately photographed & put her in her car seat & slammed the door. Only to realize that my keys (& Rose) were both inside the car. And the car was now locked. I briefly contemplated the possibility of sitting on the curb & wailing. Instead I called Bobby & asked him to bring the (only) other key. Rose, completely oblivious to the crisis, kept happily waving through the window during this phone call. Bobby, who was in a meeting, told me that he was leaving & that it would take him at least 35-40 mins to get home. And I knew that the happy waving would end long before that.

So I stood & waved through the window & waited. And berated myself & waited. And Bobby called while driving & said “You tried the hatch, right? I mean, I’m sure you did” To which I reply, “Uh. No.” I mean, all the doors are locked. Why wouldn’t the hatch be locked? So I tried it. And it was unlocked. Of course.

The car alarm starts wailing & Rose starts wailing & I hang up on Bobby & go barreling over through the back & over the seat, getting wedged halfway, like a giant, fat alligator. Finally reach the front of the car & find my keys. Push the unlock button to stop the incessant horn-honking. Try to reassure Rose that regardless of the weird happenings of the last 20 or so minutes, everything is indeed ok. Decide to go to the park anyway.

So we drive away & I turn on Raffi & start singing loudly to “The More We Get Together”… do you know this song? It’s a happening little tune… “the more we get together, together, together, the more we get together, the happier we’ll be, cuz your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends, the more we get together the happier we’ll be.” And as I’m singing with much volume & jocularity, I notice that my giant 32-oz cup is turned over, & appears to be dripping through it’s straw. Drip. Drip. Drip. Lots of red Crystal Light drip-dripping out onto the light beige carpeted upholstery. There was literally a red raspberry-flavored pond in the floorboard.

I kinda wanted to punch this day in the face.

But go to the park we did, & we had a lovely time. I even got pictures before she sat in the mud & smashed blueberry donut into her eyebrows.

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baby gators & such

I’m back. Again.

I’ve been *this* close to just making the demise of this blog official… to just write the official goodbye post & put the poor thing out of it’s misery.

But I can’t quite bring myself to do it. I don’t know if it’s that I can’t admit that I’m done, or if I’m just actually NOT done.

I am now the mother of a one-year-old. An almost-13-month-old, to be exact. Hard to believe, it is. Rosebud is now pulling up & cruising around the furniture. She speed-crawls like a demon, & thinks that rolling in Oscar’s disgustingly hairy bed is the funniest thing ever. She pulls trash out of the kitchen trash can & throws it on the floor like a bad puppy. She calls all four-legged animals “doggies,” including goats, llamas, cows, horses, & of course, actual doggies. She blows the occasional kiss when she feels so inclined, & wiggles all over herself in excitement when I walk into the room…. pretty much the best feeling ever.

Oh, & the opposite of the best feeling… she bit me last week. I was putting her pajamas on (aka, performing my daily evil & torturous act of our bedtime routine) & she was writhing & flopping like a baby alligator & then she sunk her pearly whites into my arm & chomped down. Like, went all pitbull on me & chewed into me like I was a steak, & didn’t let go. And in one of my finer parenting moments, without thought or anger or any mental activity whatsoever, I reacted to the pain in my arm & popped her in the back of her little baby head to make her let go. And then the blood welled up in the teeth-holes in my arm & the tears welled up in my eyes & we had a little cry together.

I’ve already bought Rose a strawberry costume for Halloween but perhaps I need to reconsider.

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Beware of the baby gator.

*And if anyone’s reading, feel free to judge… I judge myself. Dude, when you have an alligator latched onto your arm, it’s hard to consult your inner parenting guide. But it’s still not ok to pop your baby (pitbull) in the back of her little baby (pitbull) head. I’m hoping this arm-biting/head-popping incident doesn’t come up on a therapist’s couch one day.

So yeah, Rose & I are still here. A year later, I’m still sorting out this whole stay-at-home-mom thing. I go entire weeks without holding a coherent or even semi-intelligent thought in my head. I sometimes find it difficult to shake off the grogginess — all I think about is napping. And then sometimes I feel all motivated & crap. I have no idea if this is normal. I think it’s just the fact that since I’m staying at home, I actually have the option of napping while Rose naps. Knowing that the option is there makes me think about how tired I am. So I’m psyching myself into feeling sluggish. Either that, or I’m just lazy. That’s a possibility too. I am amazed by moms who home-school. Amazed & completely intimidated.

But Social Sarah is continuing her reemergence. I’ve been in my monthly book club for like 7 months now, which is more staying power than I’ve shown for anything in quite some time. And I’m still doing the MOPS steering team… it was a decision that I made totally on a whim, but one that I’ve actually been really happy with. I’m not only meeting people, but I’m actually starting to feel like I’m making friends…. & that’s a feeling that I haven’t had in years. YEARS, people. I’ve been realizing in the last few months that while I’m very attached to the Heretics (that’s my pet name for my & Bobby’s Sunday School class, in which the median age is 65), we’re missing out on potential interactions with people our own age in other SS classes. I’m not leaving our SS class… which means I have to find social interaction with people my own age elsewhere. Enter book club & MOPS.

Of course, with the whole putting myself out there thing comes increased vulnerability, which became apparent this past week. I have a complicated relationship with one of the girls in my book club. I didn’t mean for it to become complicated… I said I didn’t like her book pick & hurt her feelings, which was completely unintentional, & then I felt terrible & apologized, which seems to have made it even worse & more awkward. And then this past week, we had our monthly meeting which happened to be at my house, & suddenly 3 out of 7 girls (including the Complicated Relationship) cancelled & it felt terribly personal to me, although I’m sure it wasn’t. And I suddenly felt all vulnerable & prickly & Alexander Kitten-like & started wondering about why people don’t like me & why I care & made rash sweeping statements about how “THIS is why I don’t try to have friends” (which is a silly thing to say & I knew that even as I was saying it)…

But that’s part of the package, I guess. If you connect or reconnect with people, there’s always the chance that your expectations of the connection aren’t going to be the same as the other person’s. And then (if you’re me), you get all sassy & testy. But after a day of fixating & wallowing (as my grandmother would say), I got over it. Sent out a bunch of invites to fun girls asking them to join, & resolved not to overanalyze future interactions.

I don’t even remember where I was going with this post. Thus you have a prime example of me not being to able to retain a coherent thought.

And on that note, I shall go to bed.

Oh, but not before I document that tomorrow is the Reinstatement of our Fall Family Picnic. The capitals indicate the importance… this is a big deal. Growing up, our family went on a fall family picnic every single year. We would pile into the minivan & up the mountain we’d go, laughing & fighting & singing & sulking, depending on who you are. And as we’d get to the higher elevations, Mama would howl “LOOK at the LEAVES!” repeatedly. And sometimes we would say “ohhhhhhh, aaahhhhhh”, which made her happy, & other times we would ignore her, which made her mad. But either way, we were together & ultimately, that’s all she wanted. This will be our first fall family picnic without her.

So yeah. Reinstatement tomorrow. I gotta go to bed now.

the hangover (no, not that kind)

You know that “oh crap” feeling of waking up the next morning & having only a vague recollection of drunk-dialing your ex? Yeah, that’s how I feel this morning — except without the drunk part. I remember writing in the middle of the night with tears & snot streaming & hitting the “publish” button… & I’m now fighting the urge to go back & unpublish. I’ve been away from the writing for too long, I think — dumping my guts onto a keyboard makes me feel all prickly.

I do have an emotional hangover this morning… puffy eyes, pounding head, good times. Rose had a crappy night as well — woke up several more times briefly, then up shrieking at 7:30. For a kid who usually wakes up giggling at 10, this isn’t normal.

Tomorrow afternoon we’re leaving for the beach, so Jennifer & I are going to get spray-tanned. I hope I don’t look like an oompa-loompa. Today entails doing massive mountains of laundry & folding directly into suitcases & being all done & social by 7:30pm tonight because…. wait for it…..

I’m joining the MOPS steering team. Have I mentioned that? My first meeting is tonight, & it’s called a “retreat” — I’m having flashbacks of my sorority days complete with mountain houses, sleeping 4 to a bed, & having t-shirts made with the weekend’s inside jokes. I’m fairly certain that this isn’t that kind of retreat… it’s local (no mountain houses) & tonight’s installment lasts for 2 hrs (instead of 2 days).

I know some of you may be wondering how this whole becoming a steer-er of MOPS came to pass… after all, I am the same girl who left her kid in the car after her first meeting. You see, I read a book & it changed my life. (I just felt like that Passages commercial… you know the one with soothing music & a man talking earnestly about fixing himself? Anyway.) Not really, but it did pack quite a punch… as in, punched me in my antisocial gut. I read it for my book club — oh, did I mention that I’m also in a book club now? I feel like I need to dedicate an entire post to this social makeover, actually… & since my sleep-deprived spawn is shrieking, it’s gonna have to be later. Plus, Jennifer will be here any minute so we can go get tanned. Or oranged.

fear

For the past two years, I’ve been faithfully reading a caring bridge blog written by a lady in Charlotte, NC whose daughter has neuroblastoma. Her daughter, Isabella, was diagnosed at age 2. A week ago, at age 7, she died.

The blog has been updated by friends with service information, how to help, etc. It wasn’t until today that her mother, Erin, wrote her first post since watching her little girl die (entitled “How did this happen?“). Her words are raw & brutal as she describes her daughter’s last moments, how she forced herself to watch the last breath, & how she & her husband bathed Isabella’s tiny body after it was over. It’s horrific & fiercely beautiful & I found myself wanting to shut it out because it’s too real, too honest.

A few minutes ago, at 1am, I was awakened by Rose’s screams. It was the cry of a baby not fully awake, but terrified, & I ran to her room to comfort her. As I rocked her, she stared up at me with complete trust… trust in my love for her, in my ability to protect her from bad dreams & bogeymen & hunger & danger & cancer. Her little hand gripped my finger until it finally relaxed into sleep. And I wept, trying to keep my sobs quiet so as to not wake her. I can’t keep her safe. I can’t protect her from this broken world. I can’t. There’s nothing I can do to keep cancer out of her body, or a horrible car accident from happening, or a million other tragedies. I suddenly felt my old religious upbringing rearing its head with an almost uncontrollable urge to beg — beg God to keep her safe, to grant her health, to protect her, to not take her from me. But I can’t pray that. God isn’t Santa Claus, giving according to who’s good or who makes the most well-timed or eloquent request.

I can’t believe that Rose deserves exemption because that means that Isabella didn’t.

Most of the time, I keep these thoughts at bay. I concentrate on our daily routine & being thankful for Rose & for every funny, quirky thing she does & for those little insignificant moments that add up to something huge & irreplaceable. But sometimes, like right now, I’m terrified by everything that could go wrong. I’m terrified by how much I have to lose & by my sheer helplessness.

happy 4th, y’all!

Our first 4th of July as a threesome was a quiet one… Bobby took the day off & we hid inside away from the stifling Carolina heat. Went to dinner this evening, where Rose turned all the way around in her high chair to stare unblinkingly at the table next to us for the entire meal. She was relentless… Bobby & I tried to bribe her with salad, ravioli & cake to no avail. The kid stares like it’s her job. People smile at her at first, & then as the moments pass, most of them get twitchy. I can’t imagine why.

back again

I’m ignoring the fact that it’s been 3+ months since my last post. I’m also ignoring the fact that I haven’t recorded any — as in, NOT EVEN ONE — of Rose’s baby events & that pretty much makes me awesome. And by awesome, I mean not awesome at all.

This week, Rosebud will be 10 months old. TEN MONTHS. She continues to be the best baby on the entire planet. She sleeps 12 hrs a night plus 2 naps. She’s ridiculously happy, especially considering my & Bobby’s angsty tendencies.

*Sidenote: the following is a recent conversation with my father

Daddy: Rose really is a miracle baby.
Me: Yeah, we waited a long time for her.
Daddy: No, I’m not talking about the miscarriages. I’m talking about her temperament. It’s a miracle she’s that happy, considering who her parents are.

That man has a way with words.

She has 6 teeth — 4 on top & 2 on bottom. She has yet to be struck with the dreaded stranger anxiety, greeting each person with equal amounts of enthusiasm. She goes from lying to sitting by herself easily, claps & waves. She rocks on her hands & knees, but hasn’t quite figuring out how to put it in “drive”… when she needs to go somewhere (namely, to harass the living crap out of Oscar), she rolls or pulls herself along by her little chubby baby arms. At her 9-month appt, she was 19lbs, 13oz & in the 60th-something percentile for height & weight. She says “dadadadada,” “nananana” & “bababababa” with the occasional “mamamama” thrown in… her doting Aunt Jennifer thinks that she’s using these intentionally, but I think she’s making noise indiscriminately. She’s recently discovered the power of a baby tantrum & has taken to arching her back, straightening her arms & legs, & screeching like an animal when she disapproves. This past week, I could be mistaken but I think she tried to bite me. I took something away from her & she opened her little baby mouth & rammed her baby chicklet teeth into my hand in a ferocious manner. She eats solids — the basic pureed baby stuff, puffs, veggie crunchies, rice wafers, & pea-sized bites of anything Bobby & I eat that’s “gummable” (ie. pizza, cheese, pasta, cooked vegetables, raisins, bread)… anything’s fair game except nuts & shellfish. She drinks out of straws — has her own sippy cup, but prefers to slurp out of the adult cups.

There’s a million more things, of course… the way she cocks her head while she’s examining something, or how she “sings” (aka, howls in a unmelodic monotone) with Jack Johnson, or how she loudly squawks like a baby dinosaur until everyone around us either laughs or is annoyed. There’s the little tufts of hair that are starting to curl over each ear, & how she picks up her bib after I fasten it around her neck & examines it so closely her eyes cross. Her personality is coming through more & more each day… it’s overwhelming to even list all the things that make her the one & only Rosebud.

So ok then, I guess that pretty much covers the last 10 months.

And then there’s me. I haven’t lost weight. Or joined the YMCA. Or quit spending vast amounts of money on Rose’s wardrobe. Or begun cleaning my house regularly (or at all). Or quit being the sketchy friend who probably won’t return your calls. Meh. Everybody needs at least one sketchy friend, right? I’m here to help with that.

The baby dinosaur is raising holy hell in her crib, so I gotta go.

Madam Sweet Cheeks

 

breakdown —> breakthrough?

Still alive over here. Not gonna lie, I’ve been struggling a little. Ok, more than a little. Last week, I had a bit of a breakdown. Or maybe a breakthrough. It’s been coming for awhile… like my Mama’s pressure-cooker with the little top shaking & jiving & hissing & seeming like any minute it’s going to blow across the room. I’ve been hissing & shaking & a little bit, um, unbalanced. Mentally disheveled, if you will. And last week, it all came gushing, spilling, pouring out like an agitated volcano.

Let’s backtrack. I have a big scribbly mess where my brain used to be. I began acknowledging this mess a few weeks ago, but it didn’t reach it’s full wretchedly chaotic potential until last week. Feelings of frustration… WHAT THE HELL is wrong with me?!? Isolation… I’m a mess & don’t want to admit it. Exhaustion… it’s so much work just holding onto thoughts for more than a couple of seconds, much less long enough to communicate them or write them down. Soooo I think I’ll take a nap. And terror… is this me now? Is this long-term? Oh god.

I snap easily. I have a short(er) fuse these days. Bobby says I’m scary. I went shopping with Jennifer last week & actually broke down crying — like ugly-face sobbing with snot, tears, the works — in the dressing room because I couldn’t zip a size 16 skirt. SIXTEEN. My wedding dress was a SIX. I understand that I got married almost 9 years ago & many things have happened that have taken a toll physically (motherloss, miscarriages, childbirth). I understand that I will never be a size six again & I’m honestly completely ok with that. But sixTEEN, I’m not ok with.

Every morning I get up & do what I do best these days… be Rose’s mother. I could hold her all day, every day. Every day, every single day, I gaze at her in wonder… that she’s real, that she’s healthy & happy, that she’s HERE. Every day for the last 6.5 months, I’ve studied her nose, her fingers, her eyelashes, & been amazed. I’m not exaggerating here… I really am completely infatuated with this tiny human. While I’m doing all that gazing & studying, however, all the stuff I’m NOT doing is piling up. I’m not doing laundry or cleaning or doing the finances or keeping the house in a reasonable order. And forget the projects that I have pending — the reorg of the laundry room or shoveling through my craft area? Ha. I’m not even showering so I’m sure as hell not worrying about the messy state of my gift wrap.

So then the breakdown (breakthrough?) last week happens. Not going to go into detail about that, but it involved a whole lot of spewing, followed by a whole lot of thinking. And in the last few days, I’ve actually taken a some tiny steps in a good direction.

  • I went grocery shopping for healthier foods & threw all of our crap food away. I know that crap food makes me feel like, well, crap…. & if it’s in the house, I’ll eat it.
  • I downloaded the WeightWatchers app on my iphone because tracking my food has been a helpful thing for me in the past… it’s something that I can control, & anything that gives me some semblance of control is a good thing right about now.
  • I started tracking Rose’s schedule so that I can figure out if there’s a pattern. Currently, we’re on what you might call “the Rose-led schedule”… meaning Rose decides what we do & when we do it & each day is different from the one before. Translation: there is no schedule.
  • I started making my bed every day. I know this sounds insignificant, but it makes me feel better to see all the pillows & blankets pulled smooth & neat. Again with the control thing.
  • I didn’t write a goodbye post on this blog. In a way, this blog represents my brain activity. I think it’s because it’s been around for so long… since 2006… & the fact that it’s been neglected has been like a nagging peddle in my shoe. I came *this* close during my breakdown (breakthrough?) last week to just shutting it down & having one less thing to feel guilty about. But I didn’t because I need to write. I may relocate at some point… but not yet.

So there has been a tiny movement toward self-improvement. Perhaps “movement” is an overstatement… it’s been more of a twitch. But I’ll take it.

monday night confessional

Confession #1: I think I judged MOPS too rashly. Almost all the girls who were sitting at my table have friended me on facebook & sent me personal messages… seriously, the level of effort makes it quite difficult to continue being cynical. I think I need to go to the March meeting… I’m never gonna have any friends if I don’t actually give myself the opportunity to make friends.

Confession #2: Rose has recently started doing this attachment thing where she stares at me beseechingly while other people are holding her, & cries when I leave the room. I know that I need to socialize her as much as possible, blahblahblah…. but I’m secretly loving it every time she prefers me over someone else. I’ve waited so damn long to be the mama instead of the friend/aunt/cousin/childcare provider. I love that she wants me the most.

Confession #3: I’ve been spending an assload of money during the last few months. Like as in the last SIX months. First, being pregnant was my excuse. Then Rose was born & OBVIOUSLY I needed to buy her things. Then Christmas happened & OBVIOUSLY I needed to buy gifts. And now I’m just on a spending spree the like of which has rarely been seen in these parts. I’m obsessed with all things ebay, etsy & pinterest. Our finances are taking a beating, & I’m just merrily clicking the purchase button without hesitation. I have bought an insane amount of things for Rose… rompers, swimsuits, dresses, Valentine’s Day outfits (three, to be exact), St. Patrick’s Day outfit (only one thus far), sleepers, shoes, the list goes on & on. Bobby comes in with the mail every day & tosses my package(s) at me & says “Here you go, Denise.” You see, my mom had a bit of an ebay habit as well. Can the uncontrollable impulse to click the “bid now” button be a hereditary condition?

And the worst part? I do the finances in our household. So I just balance the checkbook & pay off the monthly AMEX card & no one (including me) knows just how much is being spent on the wardrobe of the Rosebud. I know it’s a frightening amount…. an amount that I don’t want to know.

Rose tidbits

Since I have yet to open Rose’s baby book, I thought I’d record some of her milestones here. You know, for that day when she wants to know why the heck there’s not one word written in her baby book.

the beloved snail

On this past Monday, she was FIVE MONTHS OLD. Dude, how has this happened so quickly? She rolls from front to back, but not from back to front… that dang arm just keeps getting in the way. She grabs & bats & switches toys from hand to hand. She kicks her baby legs wildly like she’s riding an invisible baby bicycle. She loves her snail… looks at herself in the mirror, hits it & kicks it. It sings at the least provocation, which is why I think it’s a fav. Oscar, however, hates it… along with most other things these days. He glares at it balefully… or maybe that’s Rose he’s looking at.

The bumbo is the best thing ever… I move her around the house with me & she sits & watches me cook or do laundry or whatever while babbling & sputtering. And it keeps her off the back of her head, which worries me constantly — I’m so afraid that her head is going to be flat. Every morning, I toss her on our bed & she giggles & smiles while I pull the sheets into place.

Still loves the ceiling fans, but people have become more interesting to her lately. During conversations, she seems to be trying to follow along… when we laugh, she laughs. When someone talks, she assumes they’re talking to her… & often, they are. She has begun imitating — does the spluttering motor-boat sound back to me while gleefully spraying spit.

She sleeps like a champ, averaging between 10 & 12 hours a night. I’m still trying to figure out how to transition her to the crib for naps. She’s still napping in the swing, but her feet hang off the end. Eating rice cereal now, which she detests without an applesauce or banana mix-in.

And temperament? Holy crap, she’s a happy kid. Still puzzles me how two angsty people like Bobby & me could somehow produce such a sunshiny spawn. She smiles incredibly easily… a giant toothless upside-down banana smile that takes over her entire chubby baby face. You can’t not smile back. It’s a physical impossibility.

I mean, look at this — she’s a little cherub of cheer. It’s difficult to be grumpy when you’ve got this beaming at you…

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