Before the Sun Comes Up

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 • 1 Comment on Before the Sun Comes Up

I have been an insomniac for as long as I can remember. Taking forever to fall asleep, waking up throughout the night for stretches that last from minutes to hours—this is normal for me. I have adjusted and adapted to interrupted sleep. Sometimes I’ll nap, though it doesn’t often work into my schedule.  When I am particularly fatigued from too many really sleepless nights, I’ll stay in bed for as long as possible (usually going to really early to accomplish this goal) even if I can’t sleep. Rest is rest, or so I tell myself.  But insomnia during pregnancy is a different animal—it’s like insomnia on steroids.  In addition to my regular insomniac habits, pregnancy means I’m up every 60-90 minutes (sometimes every 45-60 minutes) to pee or readjust my position or to pop a couple of Tums for the heartburn. Those are normal sleep interruptions for most women in the third trimester. So I’m napping more days than not and often finding that my naps are my longest stretches of sleep. And so it goes…

I’ve been awake since 4 AM. In a couple of weeks, I’ll have a good reason to be up before the sun—I’ll be caring for a newborn who doesn’t care what time it is. I remember those long days and nights with Patrick in the dead of winter, the two of us alone in the house, me getting to know his cries and needs, him learning how to self-soothe and sleep through the night. It was… tough. Though not nearly as tough as I imagined it would be. Of course, I was in a haze of complete exhaustion and a lot of those days are a blur…

I told Jay that anticipating this new baby’s arrival feels a bit like a holiday celebration—the preparation, the sense of newness and excitement, it’s like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all rolled into one. Yes, there will be exhaustion and long nights and lots of work to be done, but that’s the way holidays are, right? Lots of work for a wonderful return. Waiting for Patrick to arrive felt more like an apocalypse—anticipating the absolute worst and preparing accordingly. The worst didn’t happen (though 5 months alone with an infant really sucks) and we survived and even thrived. Obviously. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be preparing to walk the gauntlet again. This time, I’m calmer and far less stressed—which seems to be making for a healthier pregnancy, both mentally and physically.

I am both more prepared and less prepared for this baby. More prepared in the sense that I know what to expect from a newborn and from my own body. I have experience, changing a diaper is nothing foreign to me now, I know how to rock and soothe while multitasking. On the other hand, I’ve done very little actual preparation for this baby. His room is Patrick’s current room, so all of the preparation has been in getting Patrick’s new (bigger) bedroom ready for him to move. I’ve bought only two new baby outfits—one will be his coming home outfit. The rest of his clothes will mostly be hand-me-downs from Patrick and whatever gifts friends bestow on him. I’ve taken one (blurry) belly picture, though I’m determined to get a few more in before this is all over. I’ve only barely glanced at birth announcements, much less pre-ordered and addressed the envelopes two months in advance the way I did with Patrick. There is no baby registry (and no need for one), there is no stockpile of diapers (yet) or household goods.  There is me, not worrying much about the little details and instead focusing on getting my writing and editing work done before the baby is born and trying to enjoy these last weeks of pregnancy as I am 99% sure I won’t be traveling this road again.

Motherhood changed me in profound ways I could not possibly comprehend before Patrick’s arrival. I am certain having a second baby will bring about its own changes as well.  But the changes I have undergone with Patrick have not been about a loss of identity or freedom (I experienced none of the former and far less than I expected of the latter), but about understanding real balance and discovering deep wells of strength and patience I never knew I had. I am, oddly enough, far more focused and ambitious about my writing career than I have ever been. I am more productive in this pregnancy than I was with Patrick—in part, because I’ve stayed contracted to edit anthologies, but that really is only part of it. Some other part of me—the part that has come to understand the importance and need for balance—keeps me motivated. Keeps me writing, keeps me plotting, keeps me brainstorming new anthologies.

With Patrick, the world was going to stop with his birth and, with it, my creativity. It happened for a time—I lost all interest in writing stories and couldn’t seem to think of an original idea to save my life. On the other hand, I did a lot of other kinds of writing through those last months before Patrick was born and in the first months of his life. I blogged a lot more than I do now, I wrote letters to him, I wrote long emails to Jay on deployment. i started plotting again before I was really up to writing, I kept a list of anthology ideas I wanted to pitch when I was ready to go back to it. My creative recovery was a lot slower in coming than my physical recovery. This time, I feel like the creativity is still there—and I really don’t have the time or energy to even keep up with it. That is comforting and frustrating at the same time.

In terms of work, I am essentially booked through 2012. I have contracts, projects, ideas—enough writing and editing work to keep me busy. I had planned to take several weeks of maternity leave—doing nothing more than the bare minimum of responding to emails and fulfilling obligations like copyedits and proofreading. That plan has become more fluid—I will take what time I absolutely need and then I’ll get back to it. I want to. That’s the important part. I want to write and edit and plot and promote. I want to, even though I know I will be tired with a toddler and a newborn and post-partum recovery. Wanting something makes anything possible. I know that.

It’s going to be a wild ride for the rest of the year. A new baby and all that goes along with him, books rolling out in October and December, anthology deadlines at the first of the year, at least a dozen stories I want to write and a potentially large project I might be starting as soon as I can after this baby is born, all of the holidays, including our 21st wedding anniversary and Patrick’s second birthday, catching up with friends, planning parties and so many new memories to make. Whew.  Wild ride doesn’t begin to describe the next four months. But I want all of that, too. It’s been a rollercoaster year already and I’ve accomplished more than I thought I would—and yet, still less than I wanted to. I guess that’s another kind of balance—content with what I’ve done but still wanting to do more.

Life is good and sweet now. It’s not an impending apocalypse, the sleepless nights are not impossible to cope with, I can anticipate the light at the end of the tunnel when new baby is sleeping through the night and I might get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time. The future is bright and shiny and smells like fresh-from-the-bath babies and fresh-from-the-printer books. Even in my less than three hours of sleep exhaustion and nine months pregnant discomfort, that makes me smile.

Posted by Kristina in Life, Pregnancy 2011, Pregnancy and Baby
 

Friday Links

Friday, August 12th, 2011 • No Comments on Friday Links

This week’s topic at Oh Get a Grip! is “Soundtrack.” I wrote about music as inspiration and the first story I wrote after Patrick was born (which appears in Rachel Kramer Bussel’s new anthology Obsessed: Erotic Romance for Women.

Music comes and goes from my life—sometimes little more than background noise, other times providing much needed creative inspiration. I go through musical phases—times when I will pop in a favorite CD and listen to it again and again… for months. Or times when I discover a new (or old) favorite singer and have to listen to every song they ever recorded. Or times when a friend will turn me on to a new song outside my usual musical tastes and I will find myself being immersed in a whole new world.

Post-baby #1, I spent a lot of time listening to music. I needed a break from the usual household noises, which were either total silence or heartbreaking infant wails. It was winter, my husband was deployed and it was just the babe and me. There were days when the lyrics to the songs I played were the only adult voices I heard.

You can read the rest of my journey back to writing (thanks to Jakob Dylan) here: I Ain’t Changed, But I Know I Ain’t the Same

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I’m also over at Girls Who Bite today, blogging about vampires and other lovely paranormal creatures. I’m very much looking forward to Delilah Devlin’s new anthology and I love, love, love the blog she has set up to promote the book! Do stop by and check out the interesting interviews, excerpts and contests going on!

Posted by Kristina in Writing
 

Some Day My Toddler Will Be a Teenager

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 • 2 Comments on Some Day My Toddler Will Be a Teenager

The picture below is cute and innocent, but it’s a reminder that someday my baby (babies!) will be old enough to drive. Scary thought. Normally, I’m not of the “I don’t want him to grow up!” mentality. I love watching Patrick learn new things and discover the world around him. My little baby is about to become a big brother and that (mostly) delights me. He’s still my little baby, always will be. But someday, sooner than I would like, I’m going to have to send him out in the world and trust he will be safe—and trust that I have taught him to do the right thing and look out for himself. It’s not something I’m looking forward to.

One of the girls at my regular Starbucks was in a car accident over the weekend. She wasn’t wearing her seatbelt when the car hit a guardrail. She’s okay, relatively speaking. Her poor face is a mishmash of cuts and abrasions and stitches and bruises and swelling, but she’s alive and will likely have little more than a faint scar or two to remind her of the experience. But oh, I couldn’t help but look at her pretty face and think how much worse it could have been. She could’ve lost an eye, or broken delicate bones in her face. Or died.

I was in a similar car accident when I was 19. It was before there was even a seatbelt law (Florida was one of the last holdouts) and I had a Camaro. Those two facts were a disaster waiting to happen.  But for whatever reason, on the fateful day my tires spun out on wet road and my car crashed into a wall, I was wearing my seatbelt. I still managed to crack the windshield with my head, but I walked away from the accident with nothing more than a goose egg on my forehead and a nasty bruise from the seatbelt. I was lucky. Just like the girl at Starbucks. But I was 19 then and thought I was invincible (or didn’t much care that I wasn’t). I’m older now and know my own mortality—and that of those I love.

Someday, I will hand Patrick (and his brother) the keys to a car and watch the slow grin spread over his face at the realization of his freedom. I will remind him to be careful, to obey the speed limit, to remember everything he’s been taught—and to wear his seatbelt no matter what.  And I will hope he listens. I will hope he is smarter than I was at 19, smarter than the sweet 21 girl at Starbucks, smarter than every other teenager who ever drove a car. It’s a naive hope, I know, but it’s the only thing I can do. Hope.

Wear your seatbelt. Always. And remind your friends and your kids and your kids’ friends to do the same.

Posted by Kristina in Life
 

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

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