Friday, July 18, 2008

Biting the Bullet

There is so much to say, and so little time to say it. More than ever before I'm so glad to have this blog. It helps me to know that I'm jotting some of these things down here. It is cathartic and therapeutic and reassuring all at the same time. It is also incredibly frustrating because there is so much that is not put down here, and yet this is our only "journal"/baby book/scrap book/photo album. So much that just can't be said (either because we choose not to make it public for various reasons, or because it simply is too deep to be able to be articulated no matter how hard we try). And so much that just isn't said because there just isn't enough time in the day. My mind is swirling everyday with multiple (seems like zillions) of thoughts that I wish I could blog about. Afterall, blog material, for us, has never been an issue -- and now it is true more than ever. I want to try to catch up on some of what has been going on here over the past seven weeks... and I've been putting off doing it... but finally today I am biting the bullet. And on that note... I've got to do this in bullet points or it will never get done.

* The boys have said so many interesting things since their baby sister was born. One of the most interesting (to me, at least) is this: They insist (Owen especially, and repeatedly) that Meera looks like them. ???!!? Before the baby was born we had talked at length about the fact that her skin would "look like Mommy's skin because she grew in Mommy's belly." That she would "not be brown"; that her skin "would not match" K & O's. Etc., etc., etc. Bizarrely, they (Owen mostly) from the start (first time meeting Meera in the hospital) and several times since (at random times, out of their own initiative) have said: "You were wrong Mommy! She doesn't look like you, she looks like us!" They point to their skin when they say this. They insist that her skin is more similar to theirs than to mind. I gently prod, but get nowhere. I have absolutely no clue how or why they believe that Meera looks like them, but they do. They sincerely do.

* By far the hardest part of this new life so far is figuring out how to get dinner on the table. This was my biggest challenge before (pre-Meera) too. But now it is harder than ever. In the first few weeks it felt like Meera was nursing non-stop. I could barely get out of the chair for five minutes before I had to be back there again to nurse. 24x7. It felt overwhelming to me. And making dinner felt impossible to me. Thank goodness for several good friends who dropped off food for us. I'm not sure how we would have survived without those given-to-us meals. The nursing has become easier (less frequent, and for shorter periods of time) in the past couple of weeks. But getting dinner on the table still feels like a monumental task. If I had to say what we've eaten for the past seven weeks, I would not be able to. Lord only knows what we've ingested around the dinner hour each day. But every once in a while I actually have managed to make a real meal. That feels like a huge achievement. And every now and then I manage to make something really nice that we all really love to eat. Those evenings -- as few and far between as they have been -- feel nothing short of miraculous. It feels so good when we can have something nice in the midst of the mayhem. There is nothing like a nice dinner to make me feel o.k. about everything-- even when my shirt is covered with a long day's worth of caked on baby spit up.

* Kyle is so incredibly gentle and sweet with Meera. Watching him with the baby makes my heart ache out of love for this boy who is so sensitive and sweet and loving and gentle (at least when he wants to be! LOL!). In the beginning he didn't want to hold her, for fear of hurting her. But he's warmed up to it and isn't afraid anymore. When he holds her he is calm and soothing and deeply caring (albeit nervous). But Meera seems to pick up on only his love for her, not his nerves. She is (generally) very content with Kyle. Her body is relaxed when he holds her. She watches him as he plays around her. And she smiles easily for him. Kyle also kisses Meera constantly. Throughout the day he stops what he's doing to give her a peck on the cheek. He does this many, many times each day.

* Kyle cannot stand to hear Meera cry. The littlest fuss and he's immediately telling me to feed her. He's always hated to hear babies or other children cry. Hated it. And it seems even more accute with Meera. Nothing can distract him from it if he hears her crying -- not his favorite video, not his favorite meal, nothing. Luckily he sleeps right through her crying at night. Despite the fact that her room is right next to his, he has not once woken up from her crying. We thank our lucky stars for that. Owen is my huge helper. He thinks of everything, and jumps in to help, before I even ask him to help. If I need to nurse Meera during dinner Owen jumps up and runs to get the boppy pillow. If we're going out to the pool Owen grabs Meera's Bjorn chair and carries it out with us. If Meera is drooling Owen brings me a burp cloth. It is really remarkable.
* I've found Owen doing his thumb-pinky maneuver on several occasions. He doesn't pay as much attention to Meera as Kyle does. But when he does pay attention to her, it is all about her. He seems to zone out (that's the only way we can think of to describe it) whenever he holds her. Drifting to some distant place unknown to us. He drifts so afar that it is hard to get his attention -- even if we're right in his face. We're not sure what is going on with that, but it is very noticeable and we're trying to understand it. You can see the distant look in his eyes in most photos of him holding Meera.
* One day Owen said to me, "Me and Kyle were adopted. And Meera was adopted too!" I said, "Yes, baby, you and Kyle were adopted. But Meera was not adopted." He looks at me with a blank face. I gave (for the millionth time) our basic age-appropriate explanation of adopted vs. not adopted. He said, very matter of factly, "You're wrong mommy, Meera was adopted. She was adopted when we brought her home from the hospital." Interesting. I've gotta say, though, I sort of like his logic: like all children are adopted/'chosen'... some are adopted by people who didn't grow them in their belly and some are adopted from the woman whose belly they grew in... either way, the woman who takes them home and acts as their mom is their Mom... like it is an act to become someone's mom-- an act that requires something more than just giving birth to a kid no matter what the circumstances are or aren't... or something like that. I don't know-- but in some way it kind of works for me and I 'get' what he's saying here.
* Meera's favorite thing to do, undoubtedly, is to sit in her Bjorn chair. There are times that she actively prefers this to being held. She also loves having a bath. She loves people. She just loves life. She has seriously got to be the most laid back, easy going baby that ever lived. I really feel like we were given such a gift with her temperment. I find myself asking daily, 'how did I luck out?' Granted, I prayed every day of my pregnancy for this. But still, I find it unbelievable that I actually got an easy baby. Kyle and Owen have always been so ACTIVE and they have always required such vigilent constant active monitoring......... (God forbid you leave the room for five minutes-- something crazy will be happening upon your return)........ K & O are still giving us a run for our money every day -- not a day goes by that they don't EXHAUST us.. so, it just seems waaaaaaaaay toooooooooo easy to have Meera now. Not only is there only one of her (OMG!!!!!! one baby is a BREEZE compared to twins --- a BREEZE!!!!!!!!!), but she is so very splendidly mellow and easy. Don't get me wrong, having a newborn is most definitely a full time job. It is a lot of work. But it is all relative. And after K & O... well... I'll just leave it at that: Meera is a breeze.
* It feels remarkably different now-- having another female in the house. It is noticeable to me. I like it. :) I think the three males in the house notice it too, although we have not discussed it and have never drawn any attention to it. I got a kick out of something that Owen said last Saturday--- Braydon and the boys were leaving the house to go to the golf course to hit golf balls. I was staying home with Meera. As Owen was running (and jumping/skipping/stomping/yelping/yahoooing) through the kitchen, heading for the garage door, Owen shouted back into the house "BYE LADIES!!!" Owen loves it when Meera wears girlie things. The more pink/flowery/fluffy the outfit, the better. He says stuff like, "Oh, I like this dress! She is soooooooo cute! She looks sooooo BEAUUUUUTIFUL today!" Kyle just thinks she's cute all the time, regardless of what she's wearing. He regularly says -- just out of the blue -- "SHE'S SO CUTE!" And, regarding the other girl in their life... June (for new readers: this is their shared imaginary friend)... Since Meera was born June is alive and well, more than ever. There is non-stop talk about June these days. June June June June June. I find this interesting and I'm not sure how to make sense of it. They talk about June more than any other topic -- by far. It is all June all the time.
* Kyle has twice asked, "When is she going to be a real sister?" Upon further discussion I've come to understand that he means 'When is she going to be able to play with us and actually do stuff with us?' Kyle has also twice said, "I want her to go back in your belly." Upon further discussion I've come to understand that he means he wants a 'do over' for her birth--- he is still very disconcerted about the idea that she "came out Mom's belly not vagina." The c-section has thrown him for a loop --- more than anyone (including me). He does not like things not going as planned. So, he asks, 'why can't she just go back in there and we can try it again?!'
* It seems truly unbelievable to me that K & O haven't had feelings of jealousy toward Meera. Although they have never once shown any indication that they're jealous of her in any way, I continue to be bewildered by this. How could they not have those jealous feelings? I didn't expect them to have lots of issues with it (because they wanted a baby so badly and because they're twins so neither of them ever had undivided attention in the first place), and we did prepare them extensively for life with baby (read all the books about becoming a big brother, spent hours upon hours talking about it, planned like crazy for as smooth of a transition as possible for them)... but still... it truly does amaze me. The other day at a perfect moment to open up the conversation I asked them, "Are you sometimes jealous of all the attention Meera gets?" They both looked at me like I was absolutely NUTS. "No!" they both said in unison, dead serious. Then Kyle said, "We're not jealous of her attention. We're just jealous of all the boxes." (i.e., gifts that come in the mail for Meera).
* One day out at the pool Kyle said, "When is my sister going to die?" I was stunned. He's never asked this question about anyone or anything. I said, as nonchalantly as I could, "Why sweetie? Why do you ask that?" He said, "I don't want her to die. I only want her to die when she's very old. Not soon. Just when she's very, very old and me and Owen are very, very old too."
* I thought our family used to get a lot of looks, stares, questions, comments before... well---- now it is tenfold. On the few occassions so far that we've been out and about people have literally stopped and stared, turning slowly to follow us with their eyes, watching as we walk by on the sidewalk. You can almost just see the curiousity on their faces-- they see the boys, they see Braydon and I, they see the baby stroller and peek inside to see a newborn WHITE baby. And they are visibly baffled. It is intense. Very intense. I knew it would be, but didn't expect it to be this intense.
* Over the past couple of weeks I've read a novel for fun. Just a fun fiction novel. John Grisham. Just for fun. I cannot remember the last time I did this. I think it was before the boys came home. Don't get me wrong-- I'm a voracious reader. I always have at least 3 books going at any given time. I'm a professor for goodness sake-- it is part of my job to read. I read a lot... a lot of sociology. Plus, all the reading I do on the homefront about anything/everything related to Haiti/adoption/twins/race/parenting/pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding/etc. I cannot even explain how great it has been to just read a novel for the heck of it. I cannot even explain how great it is to be on maternity leave. Every single day feels like a vacation. A real, true vacation. And a long vacation. My university has a great leave policy -- I don't have to be back until January. I cannot get over how wonderful this is... and I am trying to savor every precious lovely vacationy moment. To just sit and read a novel for fun... !?!!!! And the icing on the cake-- I get to do it while rocking my tiny baby bundle. Some of the moments are just so, so, so sweet.
* This afternoon I did the boys' hair (re-twisted their dreadlocks). This is a major undertaking. We had not re-twisted their hair since before Meera was born. It takes me about an hour to do each boy's hair. We always do hair while sitting on the family room floor, in front of the t.v., so that the boys can watch a video to keep them sitting still. About halfway through Owen's hair Meera woke up from a nap. I went and got her from her crib and put her in her Bjorn chair on the floor facing Owen and I. She happily sat there, about two feet from us, watching Owen and I, as I worked on his locs. It occurred to me --- 'just look at this scene. how many 7 week old white baby girls are sitting there watching their big brother's dreadlocks get re-twisted by their white mother??' I started thinking about it and it suddenly struck me so strongly --- 'seriously, how many white girls are growing up watching their brothers' locs get re-done/knowing about black hair from such an intimate vantage point/being in that moment from the inside out, from the time of birth onward??' And then I was pondering it for the rest of the hair session... in all seriousness-- how many other newborn white baby girls watched their white mom re-twist their big brother's locs this afternoon? I think it just might be possible that in that period of time this afternoon Meera might have been the only one like her in the entire world. Is it possible to be that unique on the entire planet? I don't know... and I don't know what it means (if anything)... but I couldn't stop thinking about it. My little white seven week old daughter just watching as I worked on my son's locs. What are the chances that anyone else out there was in that scenario this afternoon?
* So, that's it-- a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to post about. There is a lot more where that came from. Lots of other posts for other days...


Jess said...

Brava. Great post, great family scrapbook.

Heather said...

Beautiful. It's such a special thing to share in your world. Your pictures are beautiful. Keeping everything in one place makes is something I aspire to as well. But when you mentioned that your blog is your only baby book I thought of this website, blurb, and decided I'd mention it in case you ever wanted a printed copy of your baby book.
Although I see no reason to worry, there are a lot of benefits to having it online, I just thought you might like to know it is an option. :)

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us out here in the blogosphere. You are an inspiration--as a mother, as a woman, as a professor, as a wife and daughter. Your blog is my most favorite :)

mayhem said...

With baby Meera at home now, do you find yourselves thinking about where the boys were and what they were doing at her age?

Anonymous said...

This was a fabulous post!

Zahara said...

I love your blog --- and just fell in love with your boys and baby girl. You guys also take fantastic pictures -- I don't know if you're professoinal or what but just stunning - and LOVE LOVE that they're not posed pictures.

I'm just wondering about the stares & comments you recieved since having Meera...did people ask questions, did you say anything or was it just the looks etc.?

Beautiful family. Thanks for the updates --- please don't ever stop blogging. :)(Selfish me thinking about my entertainment :)

Brittany said...

Your family is so lovely.

glamah16 said...

Wow! You do the boys hair. Thats remarkable. I'm not a Mom, but I know that the whole black hair thing and kids is a huge undertaking. I remember my "tender headed" self crying when any work was done(especially combing out).The stories people can tell. That was a great image you wrote of the scene. Those kids are going to be the most open minded, informed, adjusted children ever.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so fess up: what's in the delicious looking salad (including dressing)?

Cindy said...

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks and just wanted to say "thanks!" I love reading the stories about your boys and your new precious little girl. We are the parents of a VERY active 3 year old boy adopted domestically. He is bi-racial and his father and I are white. He LOVES looking at the photos of your boys! He tells me he wants to see pictures of the boys "like me" and will sometimes think he's looking at pictures of himself! Your blog is definitely a big hit in our house!

Bek said...

Thank you for the update! What tender boys you have. Meera is getting BIG!!

I have to say that I hadn't really thought about it, but after reading about how you get looks with the new white baby in tow..the same thing has been happening to me, but it didn't click.. hmm. They are more likely to think I am babysitting when I have Grace with me...

I can believe that your boys haven't been jealous of the baby. Cubby (who is so similar to your boys) has not one single time, ever, ever that I am aware of been acted jealous of either sister when they showed up. He is still very sweet and kind and loving..he loves to hold them, play with them, etc, etc. WIth his OLDER sister, that is another story... but I never worry that my tornado of a boy is going to be agressive to the baby girls... so I get that..

Glad that you are getting more time inbetween nursing sessions. I am so glad you have friends that fed you (I always take lots of meals to new mommies that I fact, our congregation tends to organize things like is the best service ever...). You deserve it.

Meera DOES look like the boys.. two eyes, a nose, a mouth...etc. :-) That is cute!