Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Busy with the Big Boy

That book thing....right. I haven't even looked at it. Between all the work involved in getting Nolan's new big boy room together, and the process of transitioning him into it, plus the two freelance writing gigs I got over the weekend, my book has been on the sidelines. Not that I am complaining about getting the freelance work at all - money is money right? No, I just can't believe they both came in right when I was going into the Big Boy Bed transition.

And on the subject of big boys, would someone like to tell me how exactly Nolan is over two and a half and in a big boy bed, and Aaron is heading for 18 months and walking around like he owns the place? Where did my babies go?

I rocked Nolan for the last time in his nursery and put him in his crib for the last time on Tuesday for his nap. All through the weekend, every time I was in that room I was reminded of all the times I have gone through that same routine with him. Of the long, long nights post-op when he couldn't sleep and I rocked him and sang to him and tried desperately not to fall off the chair with exhaustion. I have reflected on preparing that room for his arrival, on sitting in that chair and wondering what it would be like to hold my baby - and what he would look like. What this cleft we had been told about would really be like, and if everything would really be ok like everyone promised it would. It was. It is.

My little baby, born with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate, is two and a half. His speech is excellent and you can barely see his scars. He is the poster child for cleft repair. And everything that I went through with him, it has made us all stronger.

He went down in his big boy bed tonight without crying at all - on only his second night in that new room. I am just proud of him, and overwhelmed by the reality that my first baby is really growing up, and that he is everything I could ever have wanted - and not in spite of his cleft, but because of it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thanks mom!

Motherhood. As far as I can tell it's all about working your butt off and being completely unappreciated for it. Cooking lovely healthy meals that your kids will refuse to eat, wiping their little rear ends a dozen times a day, making sure they have clean sheets, clean clothes, a clean face, and providing them with a warm and cozy bedroom so they can cry and fight every time you try to put them to bed.

I am engaged in madness of the last kind on this list right now. Preparing Nolan's big boy room, which will be themed after his favourite show, the Imagination Movers. With the help of my very dear friend Tracie I am going all out to make his room perfect. Multi-coloured gears to decorate the walls - which will be painted each in a different primary colour - new curtains, bedding, a dresser, even the cutest little couch. And who will appreciate this all the most? Well, not Nolan I suspect.

I am hoping and praying that the transition to big boy bed does not result in a whole lot of lost sleep - because let me tell you, I am so done with the sleep problems - but I am also hoping he is going to love this new room. While I know he won't come running to me and thank me for all the hard work and credit card bills that don't bear thinking about right now, I am hoping he will at least be happy. I have this fear he is just going to beg to go back to his old room.

Ah well, the paint awaits me. Let the unappreciated work begin.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

29 Weeks

So, I have started the book, and in the interest of keeping myself sane and also making some sort of progress, I have decided to write the easy parts first. The parts that stand out in my mind so clearly it's like watching a DVD when I close my eyes. Those days, hours, moments, that are etched into my memory and thus easy to pull up and spill onto pages.

I wrote the story of Aaron's birth. In more detail than I have ever written before, and for the first time trying to express how I felt as it was happening. Are there words for the feeling of being told your child is going to be born immediately - and at only 29 weeks gestation? I have tried very hard to find them.

“The baby is delivering right now.”

The words stopped the world. I shook my head, unable to form sentences. From far away I heard the doctor requesting that the NICU be notified. Unbidden, the words fell out of my mouth. “No, no, no, no. It's too soon. No, no, no.” The room was spinning. Someone placed a mask over my mouth, and I fought to take it off. I couldn’t breathe.

Looking back on that day now that Aaron is so big and strong and healthy, is almost surreal. I am pretty sure his head alone now weighs more than his entire self did on the day he was born. At 3 lbs 4oz, he was actually a pretty big baby for his gestational age. But to me, he was the tiniest thing ever. This is no longer the case. My preemie turned into a chunky monkey in record time, and is now toddling around the house like a madman. All the fear of that day has been entirely washed away.

But I am often reminded that I am one of the lucky ones. Not every baby born early, especially as early as Aaron came, goes home. Writing his birth story, reflecting on his short life up until now, I can't help but feel unbearably grateful.

Yeah, yeah, that is my teary moment for the week. I wasn't crying when he pooped in the tub tonight. Nor when he did the same last night. Neither was I laughing. Motherhood. What a rollercoaster.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whose kid is that?

Let me tell you a secret: I sometimes wonder if I am cut out for this mommy business. Today, as I lugged Aaron in one hand, and the package I was unable to ship due to an equipment malfunction in the other, I watched Nolan take off at a sprint across the parking lot. And even as I chased him, trying desperately not to drop Aaron or anything else, it crossed my mind that maybe it was my fault. I know he is 2 and a half, and kids his age do crazy things like that. But when it's your kid, that nagging voice in the back of your head just kicks in: "You're a bad mommy, you're a bad mommy, if you were a good mommy your child would not be engaging in suicidal parking lot behaviour. You suck."

If you are a mom, you know this feeling. You know the sensation of the eyes of everyone around you judging your parenting skills whenever your child misbehaves in public.

And then, the voice comes out of your mouth. The one that you can't believe is really you, even as you're speaking. It's the one that you have heard from other moms when they lose their cool and you have sworn you will never use.

"Nolan, get back here RIGHT NOW."

It actually worked. I got him in the car, got Aaron in the car, sat there shaking for a moment. Took the package to Shaun and asked him to ship it for me, as there was no way in hell I was going back to the post office. And spent the entire drive to IKEA wondering what I was doing wrong in teaching Nolan that it is NOT ok to run across parking lots. And feeling a bit better by the time I got there.

Only to have Nolan throw himself on the floor in the middle of IKEA and throw a complete tantrum because he didn't want to get in the cart.

Seriously, maybe I'm just not cut out for it. Too late though, really.

Needless to say, I have chosen to drink vodka and blog this evening rather than write my book. Which I did, by the way, start last night. But more on that later, right now I need another drink.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chapter One! Or not.

So day one of my new career as a novelist was not exactly stellar. In fact, I can't actually call it day one because I didn't write anything. No, that's not accurate, I did write some articles, but I didn't write anything related to the book. And yes, it's only 8 pm here, and I could do some writing yet. But my head is pounding and I am not quite sure I have it in me this evening. I really just want to hit the couch and vegetate. I fear this is a sign of things to come, proof positive that this is a pointless endeavour. When I told Shaun I was thinking of writing a book he said "What, in your spare time?" And he's right, I really don't have a whole lot of it.

So. What to do. Lie on the couch and relax for the first time since I got up at 7:30 this morning, or force myself to at least start this alleged book? I am hoping it's one of those things, like exercise, that gets easier as you go along. That once I form the habit of writing every day, I will not want to beg off. That once the ball is rolling, it will pick up speed. It will, right?

Ok, ok! Here I go. Writing. I will write for a little while, and then I will re-introduce my backside to the couch. Here goes. No, really.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Who I am, Why I'm here, and other fascinating information

Hello there nonexistent blog readers. I'm Leslie. And right now, I am listening to my 2.5 year old son scream in his crib because I refused to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star again. The very same child I intend to move to a big boy bed in the next few weeks. This should establish for you that I am, in fact, completely out of my mind.

With that out of the way, let's cover the basics of who I am. I am a 32 year old mother of two boys. Nolan is 2.5 and Aaron is 17 months. Yes, you read that right. My kids are 13 months apart, which officially qualifies them for the title "Irish Twins". It wasn't planned that way, but we'll get to that. I live in a small house in a unincorporated area of the suburbs outside of Portland, Oregon. Also residents of this small - very small - house are my husband of nearly ten years, Shaun; a flatulent but endlessly patient lab mix named Kona; and two cats name Aragorn and Stitch. It's a full house. I am a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, but have lived in the US for the past ten years. I've also lived briefly in Seattle and for four years in Southern California. Having very briefly been a resident of British Columbia as a child, that only leaves Alaska to cover every state and province on the West Coast. It's not in the plans, but with us, you just never know.

And on to why I'm here.

When I was little, and I do mean pretty little, think seven or eight years old, I decided I was going to be a writer. It was fully my intent to go pursue a degree in journalism and one day write for a major paper while publishing bestselling novels on the side. As with most such plans, I somehow got off track, and wound up with a Bachelor's Degree with a triple major in Psychology, Sociology and Justice and Law Enforcement instead. I got married shortly after I graduated and never went back to school. And on the story goes until I find myself where I am today - a stay at home mom beginning an attempted career as a freelance writer. With a few small jobs under my belt, you could say I am feeling overconfident. So I've decided to write a book.

About what? About the past three or so years of my life - the surprising conceptions of my kids, Nolan's birth with a cleft lip and palate and the journey through his surgeries, Aaron's premature birth and seven weeks in the NICU. And about life with two kids under two, both miracles in their own way, both causing me endless laughs, frustration, tears and chaos.

Who cares? I don't know. But writing is my dream, and I think I have a story to tell. A pretty good one, and if I am half as good a writer as I hope, one that just might be readable, publishable...who knows.

So I am here to document the insane process of attempting to write a book while caring for two toddlers, pursuing freelance writing to help pay the bills, and of course all the other things that a wife and mother has to do. Somehow, on top of it all, I will try to find time to write both the book and this blog. It's almost laughable. No wait, it is entirely and completely ridiculous and laughable, so please, get your chuckles out. I'll wait.

All right, so that's it. The basics. This is me and this is my life: dirty diapers and blank pages. Here we go.