Desuppression

Seven hours of sleep, and the alarm sounds.

Seven hours of sound sleep. I could keep sleeping.

I press snooze.

Anticipating the snooze alarm.

I do not keep sleeping.

Waiting.

I could sleep like this every night.

Coughing gets in my way. It feels like a month of coughing, my abs punching my lungs to expel air at random times, at inconsistent forces. Attempting to tame a lingering tickle in my throat.

Coughing annoys, distracts. Steals sleep. I feel the tickle right now.

Breathing has been shallow lately in this past month. This morning I exhale deeply, and my ribs tighten. Sometimes the spaces between the ribs cramp. Like I have been running and I get a stitch in my side, but I cannot run through the pain until it subsides.

I am not running. I just lie here. Not sleeping.

But the cramps. Am I out of oxygen? Has it been so long since inflating my lungs through deep, meditative breaths? Have my ribs forgotten how to expand, to compensate for my body’s deficit in breathable air?

What is breathable?

Winter sits on the air, spits in it. Sometimes she brings snow and wind and chilled rains and replaces the air.

Winter is heavy and often merciless and stingy, not only with the air but also the sunlight.

I realize more than one cause facilitates my suffocation.

This early in the morning headlights slide across closed blinds: One thousand one, one thousand two. I try breathing again, and it still hurts.

Darkness penetrates the room. Darkness is space, but it does not expand. It constricts. I cannot breathe the space, but it breathes into me, occupying too much of my lungs. The pressure also surrounds me from the outside, hugging my ribs tight.

Darkness leaves just enough air in my lungs to cough. Cold medicine suppresses the cough, helps me sleep.

Now, if only I could breathe more than a teaspoon at a time without pain.

Yet when my child and my husband cough, all I want to do is absorb their coughs. They need to be cough-free more than I.

Ten minutes later. The snooze alarm sounds. I turn it off and sit up. I could keep sleeping. I could keep overthinking this cough. I slip out of bed and begin getting ready for the day, grateful at least to be breathing, albeit heavy, dirty winter air.

Grateful for the full night’s sleep.

————-

Disclaimer: Obviously I’m rusty with writing, but bear with me. I should be doing this more often and finding my voice. Beneath the coughs. Fingers crossed.

Letter to Baby Girl: 37 Weeks

Dear Baby Girl,

I’ve been waiting to use the words “at term” with you, but when I browse the internet, some sites say 37 weeks is full term, some sites say you’re early term. I’ll just say you’re in the term range, which is nothing but awesomeness.

“Term”inology is so confusing.

That was supposed to be something called a joke. Meant to be funny, meant to provoke an association that’s supposed to make you laugh. You may recognize it as a pun and roll your eyes because puns are on the lower end of the humor spectrum. Or you may really love puns and laugh. Or you may stifle your laughter because you realize I was just telling the joke for attention. How I already yearn for your attention.

Well, 37 weeks is just three weeks away from your due date. How did nine months turn into three weeks? How have we spent nearly three-fourths of a year together already?

I have officially begun maternity leave. I’m very excited to focus on spending at least the next few months getting to know you: feeding, sleeping, physical features, facial expressions. I imagine myself watching you in all my waking moments.

At last week’s appointment, the doctor informed us of two situations where we would go to the hospital: if I have contractions that are five minutes apart that last for an hour, or if my water breaks. Now, I have these events called Braxton-Hicks contractions. You probably feel them. My tummy gets really hard for varying amounts of time. I usually walk around for a few seconds, or if I’m trying to sleep, I change positions to make my tummy relax. I also try to stay hydrated.

I have only seen water breaking on television or movies, and I get the impression of a busted floodgate. But I’ve heard that it doesn’t always happen that way. I guess you’ll let me know, regardless.

My body has not yet shown these signs that you are ready to enter this world. You move around and stretch, but you seem rather cozy still.

You get the hiccups a lot, at least once a day. Again, there’s information on the internet that worries me about your hiccups, and there are sites that say they’re normal and preparatory for some of the functions you’ll have once you’re born, like breathing air.

Oh, I feel the need to apologize. Easter this year isn’t until the end of April, but the Easter candy is on full display at all the stores, and I want to eat all of it. We picked up some of those Reeses peanut butter eggs and a bag of jelly beans. We put the peanut butter eggs in the pantry on a high shelf, so: out of sight, out of mind. But I put the jelly beans in a jar on the kitchen table, and I have been eating from that jar all weekend. Granted, it’s only one or two at a time, but that easily turns into at least a dozen a day. So, I’m sorry if you’re experiencing a little more sugar than usual. At least I get to wonder if you have a favorite flavor. I personally like the citrusy ones.

Everyone’s asking if we have picked a name for you yet. I tell everyone the same thing: we have a list that we’re narrowing down. But I guess I’ll say that the names we have narrowed down your father and I agree on. They’re all great and could fit you  perfectly. In our process, we have tried to pick names that would minimize teasing from other kids. More classic but not too common; strong and not overly trendy. More traditional spellings. We like how curious and excited people are to know your name, and we know how hard it is to be patient when they’re so excited, but people could chill out. Just a smidgeon.

We have another appointment today. These weekly visits only emphasize how quickly you’ll be here! Your father and I will ask questions and listen to your heartbeat. The doctor will measure and assess. We’re waiting for him to update us on some of your recent developments, and even if he orders an ultrasound, we hope everything continues to be okay.

Sweet child, we love that you’re in the term range; we think it’s great that you can come at any moment. We love the happiness you have already brought into our lives.

We’ll see you soon.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: Week 36

Dear Baby Girl,

It’s getting close.

We are well into 36 weeks, and everybody says that you can come at any time now. Everyone asks if I’m excited, and of course I say that I am, but I really wonder how excited you are. You’re still moving a lot, stretching, testing the limits of my ribs. You’ll soon test my pain threshold, but all I know is that whatever pain I experience will be worth having you in my arms to finally hold and coo at and dote over.

This world is such an interesting and beautiful place. Your father and I can’t wait to explore it with you and see it through your eyes. Oh, to see regular and mundane things as brand new, to take nothing for granted.

Speaking of taking nothing for granted, I’m grateful for your father’s shirts. I have been wearing his running shirts and t-shirts for the past few weeks now. They cover my tummy well, and if I also wear your father’s hoodies, I have an even better idea what it’s like to be in his skin. As I type this, I think about how hard that man works: he goes to work to teach young minds about writing and critical thinking. I can imagine his frustration as he faces certain limits and attitudes of adolescence. It can be draining. And then he’s pursuing a Master’s degree at BYU. First of all I have to recognize his sacrifice for going to BYU. He got his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah, the great rival of BYU. And now that he’s immersed in the student culture in Provo he has to tolerate certain policies and mentalities that are just plain weird and often questionable. I’m not just talking from a spiritual/secular standpoint. There are arcane ideas and draconian practices and sometimes immovable one-sidedness that people seem oblivious to. Maybe if you decide to go to BYU you’ll see what I mean. Or maybe things will have changed for the better by then. I mean, they’re starting to make strides, and I can’t discount whatever progress has occurred, but there’s so much more room for improvement. Always remember that you can improve yourself as you work on your spirituality and decency as a human being.

Wow, that was a long paragraph. I trust you’ll be able to follow it, because we intend to help you develop a good attention span. Baby Girl, be ready for all the stimuli. There is so much of it everywhere. I can be easily distracted, and sometimes talking with your father our conversations wander, where various subjects stretch like tendrils that dissipate into nothing. However, you should see us bear down to do homework. We can sit for hours at a time typing and taking moments to share ideas that are new and fun to us. We want to teach you to filter and focus. These behaviors will help you understand the importance of respect. It’s a very basic principle, one that I never fully understood until I was an adult. There’s a lot that goes into interacting with other human beings. Some of it seems plain common sense; some of it has to be learned over a long period of time. Your father and I will teach you the best we can, and then we hope you’ll decide what’s what and respect others as they respect you. And part of this respect is to remember not to judge people until you’ve considered their story. People have stuff going on in their lives that we don’t know about. Always be willing to wonder if they’ve had a bad day or haven’t eaten or feel sad, and see if there’s a way to help them, even if it’s to give them a hug and tell them it’s okay. Or to acknowledge their feelings and give them space.

I didn’t intend for so much of this letter to lecture you. We have another doctor’s appointment today, and I’ve been looking at birth plans and want to ask a bunch of questions to prepare for your real-time arrival. The weight of the reality of your being here strikes me more strongly each day, and as we preregistered at the hospital yesterday, your father asked some important questions that assured me of his desire to be prepared. We want to be good parents.

There’s undeniable proof in this world of good parents. The father of some good friends of mine passed away last week, and so many wonderful memories and expressions of love overflowed from everywhere for this man. He and I talked only a few times, and he helped one of his daughters move to New York City while I tagged along, but I’ll always know him as a very tender-hearted, generous man who loved his family and treated others with respect. He was a big man, but he had an even bigger heart. I want his example to teach us. And you.

Dear sweet child, your father will be home soon, and then we will go to the doctor who might tell us how big you are, how much you weigh, if your position has changed. We’ll listen to your heartbeat; that never gets old. These physical indicators of your readiness pale in comparison to our eagerness to have you here.

And are we ever eager.

We’ll see you soon.

Love, Mom

Letter to Baby Girl: 34 Weeks

Dear Baby Girl,

There are a lot of mommyblogs out there where mothers write to their children. I have always thought this was a great idea. I love the image of you coming upon this blog and reading my thoughts about you. Words, sentences, ideas, language. Communication. These are extremely important concepts.  I suspect you’ll find these letters in the next year or so, because I have a weird feeling you’ll learn how to navigate the internet and read very quickly. Your parents are geniuses, you know.

You are at 34 weeks gestation. That’s something like T minus six weeks before your arrival. Last night after Sunday dinner at your grandparents’ I was feeling really full. So full that I turned down dessert. And I don’t really turn down dessert, even if it’s just a sliver of what’s offered. And Baby Girl, dessert last night was strawberry shortcake. You’ve had it before, and I’m sure you like it. But for some reason if I overeat my back aches and I can’t get comfortable and I have to stretch and breathe, though some relief does come when I fart. Sorry if that’s crude, but you try make more space for yourself, and who am I to get in your way?

Which leads to repeating the point that I turned down dessert. There just wasn’t any room for more food. And because I turned down dessert, it means that you’re grounded. Of course it’s not your fault: you’re a growing baby and I’m short with a narrow ribcage and discomfort is inevitable. But look here at the difference of my insides with you in it: Can you begin to understand?How can you possibly be aware of what’s going on inside my body? And it’s not your problem, really. As long as you’re cozy and eating and growing, you know I don’t have any beef with you. You know that I love you anyway. As long as there’s yoga and warm baths and massages, I’ll be fine.

You know what though? You and I need to talk about you letting me sleep. When I get a good night’s rest, I feel refreshed for most of the day. But when I get very lousy sleep, my back stays cramped and my brain stays fuzzy. Again, not really your fault — just the way things are. And not for too much longer. But you know, on those nights when I wake up after sleeping for four hours, I can work on homework because the night is still and I can somewhat focus, so maybe I should thank you for helping me along in my masters program.

I may unground you today after seeing the doctor. Depends on how I feel.

Have I mentioned how much I’m in love with you? I love the way you move around and feel your way inside my womb. We are becoming very familiar with each other and getting a sense of each other’s personalities. I like to guess what certain protrusions are from my tummy are and imagine how you’re oriented. Your father and I watch my tummy as you shift around. He always assumes any hard surface is your head, while I go between thinking it might be a sitbone or a foot. Yesterday at church I wore a dress that accentuated my tummy and we spent Sunday school watching you. The lesson was about the Abrahamic covenant and we didn’t think it would be a huge distraction to contemplate our posterity by watching you. It’s one of our favorite things to do, besides reading stories and singing to you.

Your Utah grandma and aunt threw a baby shower for you on Saturday. I’m pretty sure you could hear the commotion, but there were a lot of people there to show their excitement and support for you! You got some really cute clothes and a lot of diapers and other very cute things. Just know there’s a world out here that can’t wait to see you.

Your Florida grandma and her husband will be coming to visit. They want to be here around the time you arrive. Your uncle–my brother–wants to visit sometime this summer. Your uncle is quite a character and I know you’ll love him.

A woman stopped me in the hall yesterday after church. She told me about how excited your father is about you. This thrills me to no end. Several people have told me he gets this sparkle in his eye and a huge smile across his face and that makes my heart want to burst with joy. He marvels at the sheer miracle of you growing inside me. He points to my tummy and says, “There’s a baby in there” in a cute voice and no matter how I feel, it makes me smile.  He’s quite in love with you, too. Of course.

It’s important for you to see how much your father and I love each other. We have promised to take care of you and teach you what you need to know to thrive in this world. We also accept that you’ll probably teach us quite a few things. You’ve already taught us a lot about patience. We hope you’ll be patient with us, not only as we raise you, but during the next few weeks. We still haven’t decided on a name for you. Please don’t ground us.

Dear sweet child, our Baby Girl, thank you for blessing our lives. Your father and I can’t wait to start a new journey with you.

Love, Mom

Constant Movement

Video title

Baby Girl seemed to know when I picked up the camera. I’d feel her move and want to get it on video, but once I turned the camera on, she became quiet. So I had to be sneaky about it. The camera captured minutes and minutes of stillness, except the 20 seconds or so you see in the video.

The segments you see are in the order they were filmed. Our baby obviously came up with a well-planned storyboard and didn’t depart from it.

I’m sitting sort of slumped back on the couch. Baby Girl moves best and most often when I’m in this semi-reclined position.

Baby Girl quickly warmed up to the idea of another video about her. She insists on the credits being longer than the actual video; sorry about that. She likes seeing her not-yet-decided name rolling up the screen.

The video was fun to make, but I also consider this real documentation, acknowledging our blessings. Besides, it’s important to preserve certain things for posterity and the improvement of the human race.

Our daughter would like you to know the rules for watching this video:

Do NOT:

  • make fun of Mommy’s tummy
  • laugh, unless it’s out of awe and excitement
  • say out loud how cheesy you think it is

Do:

  • watch with the sound on. In Baby Girl’s opinion, the soundtrack is one of the greatest introductions to anything she’s ever heard.
  • watch closely. The movements may look like indistinguishable jiggles, but they’re actually quite distinct.
  • smile a lot
  • be nice

Depending on what Baby Girl wants, she may post more videos in the coming weeks.

Enjoy.

Beach Day

Am I ever going to catch up writing about vacation? Do you ever have the intention of writing deep, soul-searching rambles, letting your mind wander and return refreshed? Would you ever let your mind bend, commit a perambulatory dimension shift, jump up an energy level or two to uncharted parts of the brain?

You would? Good for you. I’m just going to talk about the beach.

We decided to go back where it all began, at Jacksonville Beach, where Reilly proposed to me.

When we got to the parking lot near the pier where we lost Jenny’s keys, it had started to rain. We waited for a little while then headed to a nearby gas station to get something to drink. When we returned to the parking lot, it was raining even harder. Because we are supreme nerds, both of us brought books to read and talk about. We cracked a window and read while it rained.

About 45 minutes later, the rain stopped, and we carried our books, drinks, and towels and found a nice place on the sand. The sky was still overcast, so it wasn’t very hot.

THE pier.

We stayed at the beach for the next two hours. Here is a list of things we did while we were there:

  • Applied sunscreen
  • Read and talked about books
  • Remembered seagulls from our engagement day
  • Drank our drinks
  • Got sandy feet
  • Took photographs
  • Watched people
  • Made fun of people
  • Peed in the ocean

Squinty photo

More clouds

Still more clouds

We only peed in the ocean because we’d been drinking those drinks from the gas station so we had to go, and the parking lot bathrooms were locked, and we thought it would be sort of fun to pee in the ocean. I mean, let’s be honest. We walked casually enough to the water and allowed enough space between us so that we wouldn’t by grossed out by the each other’s warm current. We walked to where the water was about to our hips. We didn’t talk to each other for a few seconds, then I asked Reilly if he was done. Then we let the ocean gently roll in and rinse us.

But here’s the thing: Do you know what acid rain is? So, because people pee in the ocean, and water from the ocean evaporates and forms clouds, and some of these clouds make rain, I wonder if we often think about how often we pee on ourselves. Despite this, I still and will always love the beach.

After a couple of hours it was lunchtime, and we decided to eat at the Metro Diner. It’s a small Jacksonville chain with some distinct charm. It’s just a few blocks from the beach. If it weren’t for my friend Jenny’s recommendation, we wouldn’t have thought to go there.

Yummy food here

Reilly had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, and I had an enormous fish sandwich. The staff was really nice, and I took half my sandwich to go.

It was a sunny December afternoon when we got engaged a year and a half ago. As is typical for Florida summer afternoons, it rained on our way back to my parents’ home. But not very much. And maybe we had driven far enough away from the ocean and the wind hadn’t blown the clouds to where the familiar smell in the rain wasn’t my own urine.

During Spring Break

Reilly’s spring break was this past week, and I also didn’t have to work. So, we partied.

Ikea

Tuesday morning we wandered around the entire showroom at Ikea. We talked about improvements we could make to our living space. We recently renewed the lease on our apartment, so we decided to try to create cozy home feelings instead of being poised to move at any second. We purchased a few things and reorganized a bit. I admit that watching a lot of HGTV helps motivate with home projects. That can be bad and good at the same time.

Bridal Veil Falls

Wednesday morning we decided to “hike” Bridal Veil Falls. Utah County offers a ton of easy nearby trails, and the weather permitted us to go and explore the area. We didn’t climb the trail close to the falls, but we stayed on the low path and took pictures and had a picnic and watched people. We also noticed some foreign-sounding accents, which was cool and made me glad that world travelers can enjoy Utah.

More pictures if you click the photo below.

Yay, falling water!

Natural History Museum

Wednesday evening we met with Reilly’s sister at the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City. The museum rests on the east foothills, which provides a fantastic view of the city. We started from the fifth floor and worked our way down. The building runs on solar power and the lighting doesn’t waste energy and the exhibits display lots of information about Utah’s natural history. There were displays about climate change and evolution. Sometimes Utah participates in science, which is refreshing.

Solar panels

My shoes!

Are they always smiling?

Luther

We finished the BBC series this week. Two very intense seasons so far. We started about a month ago and then we decided to watch all the episodes. The first season has six episodes, and the second season has four. It actually didn’t take too long.

BYU Museum of Art

Thursday afternoon we visited the heroes exhibit (which has now ended) at the BYU Museum of Art. Last week my friend Bridgette presented a paper at the “We Could Be Heroes” Symposium (which I’m very sad I couldn’t attend); my friend Annie had a display at that exhibit. Thanks, cool friends, for being so cool.

One we finished at the museum, we got the heck off BYU campus.

Kidding. Mostly.

Temple

Friday morning we attended a session at the Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork. The temple is a gorgeous building, and the crowded parking lot indicates that it’s constantly busy.

Basketball

Friday evening we met with some friends at the Orem Rec Center to play basketball, which means we shot around for a long time until we played a few rounds of lightning/elimination/speed and then shot around some more.

General Conference

What an uplifting way to end our week-long party. Except we also watched the season premiere of Mad Men. So there’s that.

Now

Since BYU doesn’t have a spring break, this past week felt like a vacation. I enjoyed spending it with Reilly.