Filed under: Life

Saying Goodbye to 2009

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 • 1 Comment on Saying Goodbye to 2009

I don’t know if I even dare come up with a list of resolutions for 2010.  I wrote a post called Not Resolutions at the start of this year because I failed so spectacularly at my resolutions for 2008.  My only goals for 2009 were to be happy and write more.  Hmm.  Well.  I suppose I set the bar a bit too high, still.  There has certainly been happiness in 2009 and I will try to remember that as the year closes out, even while I’m feeling a certain kind of soul-deep melancholy for things that might have been.  And I find a certain happiness in looking forward to what will be…

I did not write more in 2009—I think this may have been the worst writing year I’ve had in a very long time.  Pregnancy and baby seemed to suck my creative energy away and the writing suffered.  Frustrating, but something I can forgive myself for as it’s not likely to happen again.

2009 was a year of firsts for me, in ways I never imagined a year ago.  I had a piece of nonfiction published in a book for the first time.  I was thrilled that my essay “The Last Letter” was chosen for inclusion in the collection P.S. What I Didn’t Say.  The sale was very special to me, but also bittersweet. 

I also added the title anthologist to my resume in 2009 with the sale of Fairy Tale Lust to Cleis Press.  My first anthology won’t debut until 2010, but I’ve already gone through most of the firsts of putting it together and it’s been a delightful experience.  I’m looking forward to editing more anthologies for Cleis.

Then there were the non-writing firsts.  Pregnancy firsts—starting with making it past the first trimester—and baby firsts.  It was an amazing ride from the end of March when I found out I was pregnant to Patrick’s birth earlier this month.  Terrifying and exhilarating and often exhausting, but I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on this experience.  I could have done without some of the not so fun firsts of induction, surgery and hospital stay, but in the great scheme of things, most of the firsts have been positive.  Even my first ever diaper change, four days after Patrick was born (I managed to postpone the inevitable until I got home from the hospital) was successful.

I even had some technology firsts this year.  Because Jay is in Dubai for eight months, I learned to use—and love, when it works—Skype.  And I discovered a surprising passion for Apple’s iPod Touch (bonus: I got it for free when I bought my MacBook Pro in August because I’m a college instructor).

There were other firsts—finally meeting people I’ve considered friends for a long time, my first card addressed to “Mom”, my first Thanksgiving where someone else did most of the cooking, my first—and hopefully only—Christmas alone with a baby.  But what I will remember most about 2009 is the first time I held this little guy:


Onward to 2010…

Posted by Kristina in Baby, Life, Musings, Pregnancy and Baby, Writing

Off Balance

Monday, December 28th, 2009 • 3 Comments on Off Balance

One of the persistent themes I’ve blogged about over the past five years is finding balance.  Balance is everything,  at least for me.  When my life is out of balance, it’s hard—sometimes impossible—for me to be creative.  I have found myself more off balance this year than I have ever been in my life.  When the writing has come, which has been rare in 2009, it has not come easy.  And now Patrick is here and the concept of balance has gone completely out the window. 

Granted, I know that’s how it’s supposed to be right now and in some ways I don’t mind at all.  I’m only three weeks into motherhood and it’s been an incredible learning experience already.  Not all of it good.  We went on our first mother/son outing to Starbucks yesterday and something that seemed so simple a month ago was suddenly a production.  I wasn’t surprised by that—I may have little experience with babies, but I do know how much work they are and I was/am at least mentally prepared for that, even if I was never prepared to do it alone.  I know it’ll get easier as I gain experience and get my strength back, but I’m just so impatient for that to be now.

Thankfully, in addition to being devastatingly handsome, Patrick is a pretty easy baby.  Of course, I have no basis for comparison to know what an “easy baby” is, but so far he rarely cries except when he’s hungry or gassy.  That’s pretty easy, right?  He does get fussy sometimes—flailing his arms and getting red in the face without ever really breaking into crying.  Sometimes in the afternoon and evening it’s hard to get him to nap after he eats, but even then he’s not really hard to calm.  Of course, I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop as everyone warns me it can change in a heartbeat. God, I hope not.

But as beautiful and easy as Patrick is, I’m acutely aware of the lack of balance in my life.  Technically, I’m still recovering physically and I’m trying to cut myself some slack when I get frustrated over the fact that I’m not charging full speed ahead.  I should be writing, I tell myself.  I should be working on ideas for my next anthology.  Planning events and promo for Fairy Tale Lust.  Etcetera. I can’t do too much physically yet, but I’m anxious to get the baby weight off.  (Yay for Wii in the winter months!)  Even in that I’m trying not to be too impatient.  As someone pointed out, it took nine months for my stomach to get that big (lord, was it big!) and it’ll take at least that long for it to go away.  But even though I wasn’t a size 6 when I got pregnant, I’m anxious to have my body back.  I’m able to wear some of my jeans already, which is a good feeling.  It’s a start.  Baby steps.  Ha.

I am profoundly grateful for this beautiful, healthy baby.  I don’t need to say that, do I?  I’ll say it anyway—taking care of a baby might be new to me, but I feel like I was born with mommy guilt.  I am grateful and I’m looking forward to so many things with this little boy.  But right now—in the midst of the feeding, diapering, cuddling, attempting to sleep before I start it all again routine—it’s hard to sit on the ground on one end of the see-saw when I feel like I’m never going to get airborne again—at least not for several months.  I was talking to my neighbor yesterday about traveling—he and his wife are going to Vegas next month—and he said my “wings have been clipped” now. At the time, I was sitting in the truck with Patrick on our way to Starbucks, mentally calculating how long I could stay out before he would wake up and need to be fed, so I suppose my wings have been clipped.  But I bristled at the comment—stumbled over my words and said not at all, we plan on traveling with Patrick (and I plan on traveling alone, too, but I didn’t even think to say that)—and it stuck with me.  Clipped wings.  Grounded. Shudder.

I keep reminding myself that I don’t do things like other people.  I never have.  I have proven people wrong, I have gone against expectations and norms and I have made people cock their heads as they try to figure me out.  Beneath the fatigue, the circles under my eyes, the baby spit up on my T-shirt and the lack of a decent meal despite a freezer full of food because I haven’t had much of an appetite in nearly a week, I’m still that same person.  I know that and I don’t have to prove it.  Except to myself.

Posted by Kristina in Baby, Life, Pregnancy and Baby


Monday, November 16th, 2009 • No Comments on Anticipation

I’m sitting in Starbucks, watching the manager put up the holiday decorations.  This is a week of strange anticipatory excitement and nervousness for me.  Thanksgiving—probably my favorite holiday because it means a 10 day break to play while Sheri visits—is next week.  Yet, I’ve hardly been thinking about Thanksgiving at all as I worked to get ahead on the baby (and holiday) preparations.

I always go into nesting mode around this time of year, breaking out the flannel sheets and pajamas and the recipes cut from magazines 10, 15, nearly 20 years ago.  Being nine months pregnant at this time of the year has magnified that nesting instinct to the point that has me almost manic—at least on the inside.  On the outside, I’m moving almost as slow as the dark corn syrup that I use to make Jay’s favorite pecan pie.  Which I won’t be making this year because he will be in Dubai for Thanksgiving.  Unless baby comes early, of course.

I have a few things left to get before baby arrives—a new birthing ball, because I can’t find the pump to the one I have now and I desperately need to use it to help get this baby in position.  A diaper genie, because apparently it’s the thing to have.  A good baby-wearing wrap (I want a Moby wrap).  Other things, that I probably don’t know I need but will find out (or be told) I need in the next couple of weeks.

I have a ton of cleaning to do before Sheri gets here and about a quarter of the energy required to do it.  But it will get done, because once the cleaning is done the Christmas tree can go up and the train can go under it and the presents that are piled in the guest room (“Sheri’s room”) can go under the tree with train.  I need to get a Christmas stocking for baby—or maybe three new ones for our new family (even though it doesn’t look hopeful that Jay will even be here for Christmas).  I need candy canes for the Christmas tree and pillar candles for the candelabra in front of the fireplace.  I need Christmas candy (that I can’t eat right now) to share and stuff into stockings.  I need some cold weather so it feels like Christmas!

Of course, before that I need the Thanksgiving food (which will be a small affair this year, with just Sheri and me—unless someone needs an invite!) that kicks off the season.  I’m already craving the salt-brined turkey I will make next week (unless baby makes an early appearance, in which case Thanksgiving will be held as soon as I feel like it) and the starchy, high-carb foods that will blow my blood sugar but will be well worth the one-day indulgence.  (Seriously, just one day—I’ll be good, I swear!)  It doesn’t seem likely there will be a Thanksgiving brunch this year—at least not at the Jefferson Hotel.  It’s a bit of a drive and most of the food isn’t gestational diabetes-friendly, sadly.  So that yearly tradition will be on hiatus until next year.

There are appointments to be kept and scheduled—doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds and meetings with the doula and a much needed massage (or two) and a last minute hair appointment to make me feel pretty even though I’m big as a house.  There are the fun things to do with Sheri close to home in the (hopefully) two weeks before baby arrives to help me stay active and let gravity do its work.  There are names to be chosen for the “short list” and a hospital bag still to pack.  There are pets to snuggle while I have the energy to devote to them.  I’m especially worried about Henry (the almost 14 year old dog who has gone almost completely deaf), who is used to being top dog and Wilbur (the almost 20 year old cat), who is blind and frail and never even ventures downstairs anymore.

There are bills to pay and holiday cards (and thank you cards) to write and there will be a birth announcement to stuff into envelopes soon.  There is a book review I must write this week to wrap up my reviewing commitments for the year and author contracts to file and author bios to submit to the publisher.  There are two stories that need to be written while I still have the brain cells to write.  There is book promotion for Fairy Tale Lust to start planning (hopefully tomorrow) and future books to contemplate.

There is one friend’s new baby arriving in a couple of days to celebrate (both baby gift and mom’s and baby’s Christmas gift are already wrapped and ready to go) and another friend’s baby coming a few weeks after mine (and the congratulatory card is waiting with the holiday cards).  There are still a pile of childbirth books by my bedside—some read so long ago I need to re-read them, some only half-read or skimmed.  The newborn and breastfeeding books haven’t even been opened yet.  There are movies to record for those weeks when I can’t find the energy to read a book and television shows to catch up on and delete to make room for the movies.  There are friends to have lunch, coffee, dinner with while I’m child-free.

The freezer is nearly filled with food, but there is still food shopping to do to stock up on the staples for a month or two.  I am preparing as if for a hurricane—or a disaster—but I know that I’ll be too tired to haul myself and baby to the grocery store to buy cat litter or toilet paper, especially as the cold days set in.  There is still room in the pantry for an extra box of dog food and a few more canned goods, maybe some of those treats that I haven’t been able to indulge in but will be able to have post-baby.

Then there is the all-important detail of getting Jay home.  We won’t know how that’s going to happen for at least another week or two, but then the wheels will be in motion.  There will be that stretch of time while he’s here—probably only 10 days—which seems like nothing, really—to enjoy and savor as best we can in our sleep deprivation.  There will be pictures to take and videos to make, all to be uploaded and shared whenever there is time.  There will be sleep—blessed sleep!—to enjoy whenever I can.  Right now, the afternoon naps are like heaven and I revel in them like a cat in a sunspot. 

It hit me last night that this is the last week I will ever be alone.  I know people who can’t stand to be alone; people who would rather spend time with people they hardly know or don’t even really like rather than be alone with their thoughts.  But I am one of those people who likes to be alone.  I crave my alone time and when I don’t get it, I feel my sanity (and temper) slipping.  The Navy has facilitated more alone time than I’d ever care to have, but I’ve made the most of it.  We’ve been through many separations over 19 years, ranging from a few days to eight months (this one is the longest), and I usually don’t mind the solitude.  Even when Jay is home and on shore duty, I get my alone time during his scuba diving trips and weekends.  After Sheri arrives next week, I can’t even imagine the next time I will be truly alone.  It scares me because my most creative times seem to be when I’m by myself for a stretch.  I can’t quite imagine a life where I’m never alone.  I know there will come a time when I can go away for a few days or Jay will go off with baby for whatever father/son things they might do, but those times are far in the future.  What will I do?  Make the best of it, I suppose.  Find a new rhythm and a new way to create, even if it’s only a few hours alone rather than days or weeks.  I hope to go away on at least one or two short trips next year after Jay gets home—I think it will be good for all of us—but that’s still at least 8 months away.  Incomprehensible to this loner.

Along with the holidays comes the biggest life change I’ve ever experienced.  My anticipation grows as my stomach expands, with so much to do and so much coming up.  I feel this way every year in the week before Thanksgiving, but now it all seems bigger, brighter, more overwhelming.  Mostly in a good way.  Mostly.

Posted by Kristina in Life

I'm a writer, editor, blogger, mama, wife and coffee lover.