Katrina and Her Waves

Five years ago this weekend found Mr. X and I stuck in a little CR-V with two cats, a litter box and our most precious worldly possessions stuck in traffic in Houston on a very hot day.

Six hours earlier we had left our home in New Orleans, bound for Mr. X’s parents’ house west of Houston, not knowing what the future would bring.   As we were leaving town, we listened to C-Ray being interviewed on WWL -I distinctly remember his talking about how Katrina was like a storm on steroids due to the warm waters in the Gulf.  I probably snorted at the obviousness of this statement and the total lack of awareness by C-Ray at the obviousness of the statement.  By the time contraflow had kicked in and most people were getting themselves out of harm’s way, we were ensconced in a Mexican restaurant in BFE nowheres-ville Texas downing margaritas.  They were not celebratory.

The rest of our Katrina story is actually pretty boring – although, Mr. X did get to play commando loading handguns going back in nine days after the storm via the Causeway with my boss to check on our house and my firm’s office.  Our house was undamaged, if only by the grace of the levee on the other side of the canal being a little weaker.  We had no looting or other problems. We even managed to save our fridge, which was a very big deal since after the storm, new fridges were taking four months to come in.  Four MONTHS.

Still, Katrina changed our lives dramatically.  We moved out of New Orleans for good two months after the storm.  We had been thinking about moving before Katrina, but the storm turned our vague discussions into action plans.  I was tired of living in fear six months out of the year and the city, even our relatively undamaged portion, was going to take a very long time to recover.

You would think that ours was a Katrina success story, and in many ways it was.  Mr. X quickly found a new job in a new city and we determined that I could continue working at my jobin our new city.  We were able to sell our house not three months after the storm, which was virtually unheard of at the time.  We were able to get a moving company to come in from Dallas and move us.  We were able to extricate ourselves with the least amount of effort imaginable.  Yet, Katrina marked the beginning of a tough five years for us.  It was as if the storm was the opening salvo in a barrage of bad luck and adversity that we have only just now been able to emerge from.  I speak, of course, of our infertility journey and subsequent multiple miscarriages.   We had started our conception journey three months before the storm and of course, nothing had happened.  By January 2006, I knew that something was right and, in our new city, began the first of many infertility workups that would lead to our diagnoses (blocked tubes for me, low count for him) and treatment (IUIs, IVFs, FETs, you name it, we did it!).   All of this effort and heartbreak culminated in Rex, who arrived four years, ten months and about 11 days after we first decided that it was time to become parents.

Like New Orleans, we have come a long way since Katrina.  We are different, stronger and more resilient in some ways, more cautious and untrusting in others.  We had no way of knowing that bright, gorgeous Saturday morning in August when we left the city that had been our home for ten years that we never be able to fully return just like we didn’t know then how much it would take for us to realize our dream of being parents.   But, five years later, we are parents to the most beautiful gift ever conceived and our city has and continues to reinvent itself.  Perhaps, someday Rex will return to New Orleans and continue to help with the rebuilding of the city that his parents so love.

image: omnibus

From Shock To Awww

My first introduction to Motherhood was when she ran me over in the middle of the street with a Mack truck.  I have the tire marks on my nursing bra to prove it.  Our relationship did not improve after this, either.  Motherhood flitted around me like Muhammad Ali, light on her feet and jabbing me in the ribs at the first sign of weakness.  In other words, she was just a total bitch.

Those were dark times for me, people.  Times when I’m certain that Mr. X tiptoed around me like I was Voldemort.  Times when despite all outward appearances, I had a crazed gleam in my eye and could be goaded into either tears or anger at the drop of any object.  Times when I was so wretchedly unhappy that I seriously considered going to sleep with the fishes.

I wanted to be happy, too.  I wanted to be in love with my baby and wax poetic about how I loved being a mom, how naturally it came to me and how I knew that I was meant for this one role.  I wanted to be BFFs with Motherhood, walk down the street arm-in-arm with a cooing, giggling baby.  But, I wasn’t happy.  I was miserable.  And that made me feel even worse.

It continued to get worse in June and July, July in particular.  I can’t say what about that month was so wretched, but I was just drained emotionally, physically, mentally by the end of it.

And then, almost all of a sudden, things changed.  Motherhood and I reached a detente and more importantly…

I fell in love with my baby, this gorgeous creature, and it was and is wonderful.  Finally, finally, I get to feel what I have wanted for so long. I love to hold him on my lap and just feel his solid weight on my stomach.  I love to hear him laugh knowing that at least a few times, I was the one who made him laugh.  I love how when I put him down to sleep at night he squawks, flips onto this stomach and falls blissfully asleep.  I love it because I know that I had a hand in doing that – I gave him all the love and comfort that he needed to know that it was perfectly safe to just pass out for the night.

I feel that heart squeeze now when I look him and I’m just so thankful that I finally have this one final gift.

I’m That Mom

Lately, I’ve been asking myself , what kind of mother am I?

In some ways, I am the mother I always thought I would be.  In others, I am the mother that I know many people would shake their head at in disgust and disapproval because they would think that I’m selfish and cruel.  And you know what? When it comes to what others think, I can finally, honestly say, I don’t care.

Let’s get my mommy sins on the table, though, shall we? Rex hasn’t had the sweet taste of breastmilk since April, instead subsisting on the crack that is Similac (ooh, is it bad that crack and Similac rhyme?). He sleeps in his own crib, and has since we brought him home from the hospital.  If he cries in the middle of the night, I turn over and go back to sleep.  If he is happy in his crib and talking to himself, I let him stay there.  He goes to daycare pretty much five days a week.

Do these things make me cruel and heartless? Do they make me a bad mom? Nope, although if you think so, so be it.  I have excellent reasons for why I commit all of these ‘sins’ against my child, all of which culminate in the fact that they help him gain valuable skills that he will need in this dog eat dog world of ours.

You know the part about letting him cry at night? It’s because it teaches him to soothe himself and put himself back to sleep, which he can now do in under 10 minutes.  I’m certain the neighbors whose master bedroom is about four feet from his window are thrilled with that development since there were a few nights there where he was averaging 20 – 30 minutes of pure on crying (and I’m not sorry, guys – this is payback for leaving your extremely reactive dog with the World’s Most Annoying Bark outside at all hours for the last two years).

The daycare? It’s a fabulous facility that stimulates him socially, physically and intellectually far better than any regimen I could dream up or implement.   I’ve missed seeing him hit a few developmental milestones, but what’s most important is that he’s hitting them, early sometimes, and that he has someone there who is just excited about it as I would be.   And, its his daycare that lets me go back to work which I needed to do for my sanity and for our bottom line.  I need that time as an adult to be the best mom to Rex that I can.

The Similac Crack? Several different reasons there. One, the child has the appetite of an elephant.  There was just no way my itty bitty titty committee could keep up and I really detested pumping.  Two, frankly, I wanted my body back.  I gave him 110% for nine months, just as I gave my two previous pregnancies the best chance possible with following all of the draconian food and beverage restrictions of pregnancy.  The way I see it, though, I’ve let others have my body for the last five years – through the initial wonderment phase of trying to conceive, to the trenches of treatment.  My body did everything that was asked of it and I limited, restricted, cut back on whatever I needed to get the job done.  Once Rex was born and I had safely delivered my perfectly confected cargo, I knew that I would want my body back to do with as I pleased.  I knew that it would be sooner rather than later.  I just knew.  In the end, he got four weeks of breast milk, which I am happy with.  I had some wonderful moments with him breastfeeding and I’m glad for it.  He’s growing like a weed on the formula and thriving.  So it’s costing a small fortune.  It’s worth it if it means that Mr. X can drag his ass out of bed at 3 am and feed Rex without me having to do anything but give him an encouraging shove.

Rex sleeps in his crib because I was initially terrified about rolling over on him in my sleep and looking forward, I don’t want a three year old in my bed.  It’s hard enough to sleep with Mr. X throwing himself around (I don’t care what you say, Tempurpedic with your damn wine glass demonstration, I still feel him moving all time) and the cat wedged up at my head let alone a three year old throwing himself around the bed too.   No, I wanted to nip that one in the bud (or bed?) ASAP.  And, when Rex wakes up in the morning, I love to hear the sound of him chirping as he talks to himself and grabs at his little footsies.  He  babbles, raspberries and coos to the ceiling fan.  He’s learning to amuse himself, which again, is a terribly valuable skill, especially when it means giving mommy and daddy that extra 30 minutes of sleep.

I used to fret that I was too selfish to be a good mom.  Now I know that the question is not whether I am too selfish, but if I am selfish enough to let him grow and develop in the way that is best for him.  The answer is a resounding yes.