Put Your Phone Down, Mama- a gentle reminder

Put your phone down, Mama, when you’re feeding your child
or you’ll miss these fleeting, precious moments.
See her toes, the way they push and grab at your arm as you cradle her.
The same toes that you plant tiny kisses on,
the toes that will balance her for her first steps, and every step after that.
See her hands as they reach for you
slightly.
The same hands that will reach for you during bedtime stories.
The hands that someone else will love one day- every crease and crinkle.
See the small corners of her lips as they pull up in happiness,
the dimple marked just below her bottom lip.
Don’t miss the arising giggles that escape her mouth,
half-moon eyes dancing with innocence and wonder.

Put your phone down, Mama, when you’re feeding your child
or you’ll miss her beaming eyes looking back up at you in love.
Once your shape was blurry to her,
but now she is bathing in the comfort of your beauty.
What you see as flaws to yourself,
she sees as perfection, Mama,
and she loves you.

Put your phone down, Mama, when you’re feeding your child because they grow so fast.
You will miss the weight of her body pressed against your chest at midnight, 2AM, and when the sun begins to rise.
You will miss these moments where all that matters in the world is the connection, giving life to your baby, giving yourself-
syncing your breaths together
in and out.

One day, it’s true, she won’t need you anymore- not like this.
She will be walking away into her own life on the toes that once wiggled against your arms.
And you will all at once think back longingly to these nights of rocking her back and forth, feeding her, loving her.

Put your phone down, Mama,
because you are going to want to remember
all
of
this.

Packing Boxes

My anxiety has been peaking these past few days. It starts right underneath my skin, prickling to the point where I feel like I might burst out of my skin any second. I feel like I might suffocate because my chest gets so tight.

We have a lot on our plate right now… we’re in the process of moving across the country. DH is interviewing for work and securing a loan for a house.

It’s moving very fast.

I knew this moment would come. But it doesn’t take the anxiety and stress away. I want what’s best for our family.

I’m overwhelmed.

Stretch Marks

I clumsily stumbled out of bed this morning with sleep-swollen eyes. My daughter was curled up tightly against the middle of my husband’s back, sleeping soundly (finally). I kissed him, felt around for pants, then went to wash my face.

On my way out of the bathroom, I stopped in front of the mirror and studied myself for a bit.

It seems that I have traded my (modestly) perfect, 25-year-old body for this unrecognizable stripey one. I went from a hip size 0-2 to a 6. 100lbs to 120lbs. I suppose popping a human out of your nether-regions will do that. But still. I wouldn’t say that I’m so broken over my physical body– it’s more of an interesting observation to make. My breasts, thighs and stomach are now adorned with narrow marks, reminding me of the sleeping human just 25 steps away from me. The creases around my eyes are slightly more prominent. I look tired, but different tired.

I think that I was quasi expecting to feel the change of motherhood overnight. I would hold my freshly born baby in my arms, there would be that spark between us, she would fall asleep in my arms and I’d wake up in my brand new identity: mom.

Every other part of my life is learning how to wrap around this role, too. My friendships, my marriage, my identity as a woman in her mid-20s… it’s all different and every day I’m finding out more about myself.

I’m beginning to understand that this whole motherhood thing is an ever-growing process.

Sixth Grade

March nostalgia feels like someone younger than me. Blue carpet, red ribbons. An old box TV. Algebra homework and graphite smudges on my hand. Laying on the kitchen floor at 1AM, falling half-asleep with the phone in hand. Kahlua. Purple sour slurpee-stained tongue. A bulb that needs to be replaced in the lava lamp. Birthday-candle-wishes, awkward off-tune singing. All eyes on me but past me at the same time. Leather journal. Black ink jeans. Spring flowers and grass floating in through the window screens. Sixth grade.

Post Relationship Stress Disorder

I really lucked out. My husband is the most loving, supportive, open, honest (did I mention loving?) human I’ve ever known. He’s my best friend and better half.

But still, my brain tries to sabotage me in every possible way, waiting for the other shoe to drop. He has never given me a reason to distrust him. Yet, the tiny couriers in my head go flying back and forth, cross-referencing and examining his motives. They tell me he must be lying about something.

I’ve been unfair. I’ve been that insane wife that gets (painfully and visibly) jealous and just fucking nutty.

Find out what he’s hiding.

I can actually feel myself go insane coming up with endless circumstances in which other women are talking to him.. he’s telling them how unhappy he is with me.. maybe they’re sending him pictures.. maybe he’s… he’s…

Then I step back and realize how fucking neurotic that sounds.

Dear readers, my husband is so supportive, in fact, that he remains ever patient with me during these mini whirlwinds. He reminds me that it’s not my fault– my past relationships have conditioned me to react defensively.

Welcome to Post Relationship Stress Disorder, or PRSD. I don’t know if there is such a thing, but if not, I’ve coined the term now. I am a veteran of perpetual lies, tequila-induced fist-swinging arguments, emotional blackmail, and gaslighting. Yes, I suffer from PRSD.

My past two relationships, albeit the last was far more toxic, have re-wired my thinking in such a permanent way that it has become a constant, daily project putting the wires back for my current relationship. Over the span of about 6 years, I’ve become an expert eggshell-walker and I swear, I could be part of the FBI with my detective skills. My ex-boyfriend had been sleeping around with someone else and my ex-girlfriend … well I still don’t know fully what she’s hidden from me. But let me tell you, I once found out she was sending nude pictures of me to her friend and was detailing our sexual experiences to them. And my other ex had developed a hobby for also posting my nude pictures on “rate my girlfriend” boards online. So, yeah, trust in other people has flown out the window.

You know, it’s not just my romantic relationships. My family as well has lied to me and manipulated my emotions. I’m sure I’ve endured steady brain-washing since I was 12. I’m nearly 26 now… so, my poor husband.

But he so lovingly insists on sitting next to me, untangling these knots of insecurities I’ve acquired throughout my life. I don’t know what I would do without him.

Sigh.

We’ll get there.

A Detailed Report of PPD

Postpartum depression is the angrier version of my long-time childhood BFF. PPD is lonelier, sadder, and much more confusing.

I almost feel like I can’t hold on to my own skin when a wave comes. I knew that I should probably have expected at least the baby blues… but I wasn’t prepared for the surge of nearly unbearable depression and mood swings.

First comes anger.. deep-rooted anger that climbs up my legs slowly. It seems to suddenly burst out from the ground with no given warning; one moment I’m having breakfast and the next I’m raging internally because my daughter is stirring from her nap.

Anger turns to guilt.

Guilt for not being good enough. Guilt for getting pregnant and having a baby. Guilt for keeping it. Guilt for even having these thoughts to begin with because look at my sweet baby girl….

Guilt because she’s looking up at me with those big, sweet eyes as I feed her and all I can do is cry because I’m just feeling so angry.

Guilt turns to thick, hurting sadness. I feel like hurting myself because I know it brings me back to a more level ground. I feel like hurting someone else… her? No. I would never in a million years hurt her. But fuck I get so angry.

Did I pick her up too roughly when I was mad? Did I curse at her simply because she woke up from her nap?

It’s not her fault. She’s so sweet and perfect. All she wants to do is eat and snuggle close to me. She wants me to hold her all the time. How can I be angry about that? What kind of a terrible, shitty mother am I to feel impatient with such a small, lovely and innocent human?

Sadness turns to apathy and dissociation. I’m yanked back into this weird space and time where I don’t feel anything anymore. Including connection. Does my daughter even love me?

Does my husband?

Does he resent me for having a baby? Will he leave me because I’m just not fixable? What is he thinking when I turn inward and shut down? He must be turning to some other way to satisfy his needs sexually. He must be… don’t all men need that?

What’s wrong with me….? I know he loves me. But I feel disconnected and I want so badly to feel close to him again and the fastest way I know how to do that is to have sex. But we can’t because I have this brand new human who is attached to me. We can’t because I’m still recovering. We can’t, we can’t.. because, well, there’s always an excuse, isn’t there?

Apathy turns to anger because now I’m not my own human. My body is not just for me anymore. I have to feed her, hold her.

I grab his flannel from the closet and clutch the sleeve and cry really, really hard, silently. I just want him.

Anger to sadness.

I’m beginning to hear voices. You’re nothing, you’re just like your mom, you’re still fat, you’re worthless.

Then, it disappears almost as abruptly as when it came. I can pick her up again and love her. I can look at him without feeling a tremendous amount of shame and loneliness.

But waiting for the next wave is sickening.

Theia

Quick update: yes, I’ve given birth! I am now a mom to my adorable 2-week-old daughter, Theia Rae. Cue picture here:

She was born on January 25th in the evening. 19 hours of labor– but oh, she’s so worth it.

I’m trying to navigate through postpartum anxiety. Some days are better than others…

Gameshow Bells

gameshow bells
flicker in the backs
of her eyes
i am yanked back
by force

laughter and applause
and the bathroom door opening
small breaths
palpitating
pushing down on a small body

i am suddenly aware of
the weight on my shoulders,
my collarbone
taking note of every detail:
the springtime air
the curls of her fists

gameshow bells
flickering in the backs
of her eyes

Contractions

my hips are as wide as
a vase
full to the brim
with holy water

and you are
tasseled by
a silver cord
floating, urinating

thrusting your limbs

I am an ox
buckling awkwardly
on my feet
carrying you between my legs

you are sucking your thumb
deaf
and small
preparing your tongue

learning to drink

I am sinking into the
mattress, my weight and all
heavy, worn
waiting for you

will you have my eyes,
large and imposing?
will you have his hands,
thread-working and lovely?

will you be healthy?

will I?