Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Confessions of the once pregnant lady


I have another embarassing confession to make.  While I was pregnant with Lauren, I struggled to feel a bond with the little baby inside of me.  I felt an overwhelming guilt at this since I had never heard of anyone who had felt this way, or at least who was willing to admit to it.  What was wrong with me, or the baby for that matter?   For some reason, I felt an odd dettachment and it terrified me to think that after she was born I might still feel that way.  Boy, was I wrong.  As soon as I laid eyes on her, I was smitten.  There's no other way to describe it other than I was in love with that slimy, tiny, screaming baby girl who seemed infuriated to have been taken from her warm little cocoon into a cold, bright world.


With Calista I felt a similar dettachment but I held onto the hope that there would be that change of heart once I saw her, as there had been with Lauren.   Yet I still felt that sense of guilt and bewilderment as to what in the world was wrong with this mother who wasn't bonding with the infant she was carrying inside of her?   But once again, as soon as I lay eyes on my little girl after she was born, I was smitten with an overwhelming sense of love.  I immediately felt every sense of motherly love and affection that I was hoping to feel.

Dennis took Luke into his first dentist appointment while I was gone on my girl's weekend in Ashton.  He took Lauren and Calista with him, and while he was there, the dentist offered to make a mold of Calista's hand.  When he gave it to us a few days ago, I decided that was probably one of the sweetest things I had ever seen.  The detail on the mold is amazing.  You an see every wrinkle, dimple, and even the tiny little pores on the skin of her chubby little hands and it has now become one of my most prized earthly possessions. Isn't it amazing the hold these tiny little hands have on our hearts? 

Speaking of the dentist and for the sake of record keeping, I have to put in this little anecdote.  Last year we tried to take Luke in for his first appointment, which became unsuccessful the minute the hygenist put the instrument in his mouth to remove the plaque.  As he saw her coming towards him with those magnified glasses and her mask, he wrinkled his little nose and spoke his 3-year old mind, "You know, you look like a chicken." 
(Our hygenist is one of the sweestest, cutest girls you'll ever meet, but unfortunately I don't have a picture of her with her chicken mask so this will have to do)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekend Getaway

This weekend I had an amazing getaway with some ladies from church.  A friend of mine had recently moved to Rexburg, and wanting an excuse to have a retreat with some friends, we decided to go up for a visit and stay at my family's cabin in Ashton.  We goofed off and laughed until we almost cried, and then wept together as a few opened up their hearts and shared their personal struggles.  It was one of the best weekends I've ever had on so many levels.

For some time I had felt like I needed to reconnect in some way to my roots, to my home.  My parents live in Utah, but for as much as I love it there, I've never really felt as though it's my home.  Home for me (aside from where I live now) feels like a vague, imaginary bubble that spreads between North and South America.  I feel as though "home" is just a figment of my imagination because even if I went back to the places where I grew up, nothing would be the same.  Most everyone would have left, buildings torn down, and the stories I tell my children would be just that...stories. 

I felt the closest place I could get to that feeling of home was by going to Eastern Idaho where I spent my summers as a child.  I felt like if I could just drive down the streets and pysically see the things I saw as a child, some kind of completeness would ensue. 

As I drove down the road through the rolling hills with the golden wheat fields, sprinkled with occassional groves of aspen trees, and wide open spaces, I realized I was feeling what I had come with hopes of feeling...completeness. 

The morning after we arrived, a few friends and I went for an early morning jog.  Needing to clear my head and wanting time to digest my thoughts, I jogged on ahead and headed off the main road, up a hill towards an old cemmetery.  With the headstones covered in weeds to the point of being almost indistinguishable, I felt a sense of sacredness at being on hallowed ground.  Although I couldn't find any gravesites of any names I recognized, I felt the spirit of my ancestors and my roots to the point of being almost tangible.  I was overcome with a sense of gratitude realizing that the amazing life I live rests on the shoulders of the sacrifices of my ancestors in following the call by Brigham Young to settle this area.  I can't imagine the sacrifice it must have been to leave the gathering of the saints after enduring the toils of crossing the plains to escape religous persecution, and watching loved ones pass away.

It was the first time that I felt the true spirit of Elijah in turning my heart towards my fathers.  I realized how close and innertwined our lives really are, regardless of the decades and centuries that may separate our mortal lives.  The term "eternal family" came to my mind.  I had always thought of it as meaning my family would be together forever, but this time I realized that it also encompasses the fact that my family stretches not only forwards, but backwards as well, into one eternal round. 

As I stood at the altar my grandfather had built on top of the rise behind the cabin that overlooks the Tetons, my heart caught in my throat as I thought of the hundreds of supplications that must have been sent heavenwards from this very place- many in grief after my grandmother's passing, and perhaps even some on behalf of my own family as we've gone through our own trials.  This was as sacred a place to him as any on earth.

I was awakened to the awesome place in which I stand now, as a mother, at the head of a legacy, just as Joshua Hawkes and Blaine Hawkes did so many years ago.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


These thoughts are deeply personal but they've been on my mind and I feel like I need to get it out on paper to be able to sort through it all. 

Reading through some of my previous posts, I think there are several underlying themes that someone that is good at reading between the lines may have probably been able to pick out by now.  But as for me, it's often hardest to look in the mirror and see what's staring me right in the face.

With the new baby and other life changes,  I realize I need to redefine my sense of identity once again, and try to figure out who I am and what my place in this world is.  I think it's healthy to do this periodically instead of trying to continually live out the life of who and where you were 5 years ago when so many things in life were different.  Change is inevitable and we must adapt and evolve as it comes our way.

There are many things that have made me have to redefine myself.  For one, my body seems to have undergone a change with this last baby.  For the first time I look in the mirror and see a woman approaching middle age with forming wrinkles, the baby weight that refuses to go away, and 4 children in tow.  That last one is perhaps the most surreal of them all.  I'm to the stage in life that I was never able to visualize as a kid.

I find myself wondering if this quiet suburban life is what life really had in store for me all along.  For some reason I always had envisioned a time when life would at which my talents, life experiences, and desires would work together into one big swelling motion that would propel me onto some sort of pedestal of accomplishment.  I had envisioned a continuum of stepping stones leading me to some higher ground, not realizing how many plateaus life is really made of.

Anonimity is one of the hardest things that I think housewives and stay-at-home moms struggle with.  I noticed this phenomenon when I was in New York City a few years ago.  Wandering around alone window shopping one afternoon in one of the largest cities in the United States left me feeling more alone than I could ever remember feeling.  I had never felt so invisible or of lesser consequence. 

I get a similar feeling of anonimity washing over me sometimes when I'm browsing the web or listening to the news as I feel as though the world is passing me by.  I feel the urge to do something, to leave my mark and not be just another face in the crowd.

I recently heard an interesting perspective on the matter that has helped me make sense of it all.  It was said that "in some ways, our lives are circles- circles in which we move and live and act.  Some of us live longer and so we make wider circles than others.  Some people are great noble and famous- George Washington, Columbus, the apostle Paul. Their circles spread wide and touch many people.  But for every one of those big circles, there are a thousand unknown and unamed people who's circles seem very small and insignificant by comparison.  And yet to God they are not insignificant.  To God, it is not how large our circle becomes or how well known we are to the world.  All that matters is how we- you, me, each of us- fill that circle.  Are we like our Savior and Redeemer?  Are we following the example of the Master?  Or do we care only about ourselves?  When we live for and think only of ourselves, our circles disappear and we become nothing." 

Like a bucket of cold water pouring over me, I realize that my circle, though very small, has more in it now than it would in any life plan I could have schemed for myself.  And that is very humbling.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mom and Baby Time

Someone please tell me that I'm not the only mother that has a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding.   The soreness in the chest that reminds me of being in 7th grade all over again, feeling like I'm a constant leaky faucet, and then the mad dash out the door as soon as I've finished feeding the baby so that I can be back from running errands in two hours before she gets hungry again- it leaves me feeling like a slave to the boob in all guilty honesty.  For me, it's one of the hardest parts of having a newborn and at first I find myself counting down the months until I can get a small sense of freedom back in my life. 

But as it was with the other children, as the time approached when I felt like I could wean the baby without feeling guilty, I found myself wanting to freeze time and prolong those tender magical moments between mother and baby.

When I was in nursing school, I remember learning that the distance a newborn can focus is approximately 8 inches.  And who would think it coincidental that the distance from the crook of a person's elbow to their face is just that distance, making it so that a mother's face is one of the first things a newborn can see clearly as she is nursing.

I love observing the evolving relationship that both mother and baby have with nursing as the days and weeks roll on.  At first, the infant feeds greedily and intensely, eyebrows furrowed, breathing rapidly, as this is the one thing they realize they must master for survival.  Mother curls her toes and grits her teeth as her body painfully adjusts to feeling like her infant is literally sucking the life out of her.

A few weeks go by and baby begins to smile socially and realizes that when she does, it elicits all sorts of wonderful smiles and coos from mother in return.  Baby loves the reaction so much that she has a hard time concentrating on nursing.  She tries to nurse out one side of her mouth while smiling with the other, as the milk goes dribbling down her cheek and making a nice little mess of the sweet stickiness.  This is my favorite stage as her fingers open and close, caressing my back with the arm she has wrapped around my side.  By now mother's body has adjusted and has learned to appreciate the mandatory "time-out" that comes every two hours.

Then comes the phase where baby has learned that life does in fact involve more than her mother, and tries to push the limits of observing the world around her as she nurses.  She twists and squirms all while still being attached to mom, earning yelps of pain from mom as razor-sharp chicklets inadvertently clamp down and pull. 

A few months later, when baby realizes that the life doesn't cease to exist during the 15 minutes she is eating, things begin to settle down once again.  Baby, now with longer arms, reaches up and stroke mom's face tenderly with her hands as she feeds.  She begins to realize that mom is more than just a walking, talking milk jug, but that she is in fact a source of love and she seems to appreciate and treasure their time together just as much as mom does.  There are still the occassional and surprising alligator clamp-downs, but they are less frequent.

The weaning process comes with mixed emotions, by both mother and baby.  It's the tail end of the literal union between mother and baby.  It started with the snipping of the umbilical cord at birth, and finished with weaning some months later.  For me, there was a sort of grieving process that comes along with it as I realize that this is their first step towards independence.  Although Calista still has a while before this happens, I find myself wanting to savor each quiet moment with her as I've realized how quickly time escapes.