Year One

baby-love

365

For the record, I didn’t really believe everything would change.
I imagined less time, of course, less sleep, less general air of sans souci
but not the entirety of life all upside down, and least of all me.

It seems after 52 weeks of daily miracles
I have become someone completely new.
I am milk maid and diaper genie and an utter fool for you.

Little Light of September Moon, all my selves were made to love you.

-Lo, whose entire world changed for good one year ago today.

Separation Anxiety

superbaby

You are smiling when I leave you
and smiling still when I return
but how many smiles do I miss in between?

Locked down in endless afternoon meetings
I doodle your face in the margins of creative briefs.
The countdown to five is slower than ever.

On the way home I gamble on freedom, SuperLotto style.

-Lo, dreaming of being jobless and solvent.

Post Partum

mood: quiet | drinking: water

pumpkin2

With the exception of one poem called “Good Dog,” written shortly after LeeLoo’s death, all the poems I’ve written in the last nine months have been all about this change, this life, brewing inside of me.

That includes a series of 13 poems titled after fruits and vegetables, starting with “Kidney Bean” and ending with “Pumpkin”… the idea being that the size of the titular piece of produce corresponded with the size of the little one in my womb.

Someday I’ll publish all 13, but I thought now was a good time to post the final poem in the series. So here you are…

Pumpkin

early
I bare my toes to the ocean
and wait for the waves,
salty and cool against my skin
steady and measured inside my womb.

active
There are women
who proudly tell stories
of profanity in the labor room,
of squeezing fingers to pulp, of
screaming fault lines
at the nearest person
possessed of a penis,
of blood, chaos and drama.

But in Room 203 I am falling in love,
knowing we have never been together
quite like we are on this night.

push
They tell me to push just one more time
and I find his eyes and bear down
quivering with effort.

“That’s great, now do it again,”
they say, and I do and I do and I do
and I think “This will never end.”

But it does, in a rush, and you slide
purple and wailing from that world
to this.

He sees you before I do, and turns to me,
eyes welling with the wonder
of having finally met
the person you made
and finding her utterly perfect.

post partum
I am halfway to the drugstore
when I remember
you are no longer with me.

After 10 months of cohabitation
the shock of your absence
is devastating.

A song comes on the radio
that has nothing to do with us

but I weep nonetheless
for the sorrow of solitude
and the joy of delivery.

***

(written September 1st and 2nd, technically weeks 40 & 41)

-Lo, with a little less writing time on my hands.

Altered State

mood: accomplished | drinking: yes

altered_state

At long last, a new cinépoem!

This isn’t the big one I’ve been talking about all year. That one, “The Tyranny of the Mirror” is still in the editing process and will make its debut in a month or two.

But this one is pretty special. Earlier this year, when I was about 5 months pregnant, Boy and I took a big trip to Europe. We called it The Babymoon Tour, because we knew it would be our last chance to go on such a big adventure, just the two of us, for quite awhile.

One of the stops on our Babymoon was Prague, and since we had packed a video camera, we decided to take full advantage of being in such a lovely city and record a cinépoem.

What followed is “Altered State”, a sweet and simple little cinépoem. I wrote the poem about coming to terms with the changes that having a child will bring, but it could really be about anything… just depends on where you’re at when you read it. Or, in this case, see it.

I’ve had a big long list of things I wanted to finish before the Bean arrives, and this was at the top of the list. I guess my nesting instinct also takes the form of making cinépoems.

So go, take a look. You can watch “Altered State” on the cinépoems page or on YouTube.

Just keep an eye out for the peacock.

-Lo, who’s quite pleased with herself.

Any Day Now

mood: waiting | drinking: Bruce is

hot-sauce

Mini Watermelon

Any day now
could be The Day,

and then for years
we will mark it
with candles and confections.

The only immediate trouble is
knowing which day
will be The One.

I have always loved September,
so if you want to wait
a few more days
to make your entrance,
I won’t mind. But then,

I am already accompanied
every hour
by your elbows
and kneecaps.

Your father, however,
enjoys no such comfort
and has grown so anxious
to see your face,

he has begun to lace
my BLT sandwiches
with hot sauce.

-Lo, from week 39.

In Limbo

mood: ponderous | drinking: water

limbo

I picked up LeeLoo’s ashes today, brought them home in a small cedar box.

This weekend we will meet up with a few of her favorite people to let her fly free at the beach.

It’s been almost a month now since she left us, and I was getting to the point where I didn’t cry every time I thought of her. But when the vet tech handed me the smooth, heavy box, the reality of her loss crashed over me again.

I loved that dog more than I love most people I meet. She was a part, a big part, of the best years of my life, sharing the last 8 years with Boy and I, traveling with us everywhere that didn’t require an airplane.

We knew that change was coming… we’ve known it since the plus sign appeared on the stick in January. But somehow, losing LeeLoo made the end of our old life very clear, as if we suddenly reached the end of a book, closed the cover and put it up on the shelf.

And soon, any day now in fact, we’ll begin a new book. We’ll open up to page 1 and start writing a new era, one that includes Bean. Everything will be different.

But that’s the future tense. LeeLoo was the past tense. And right this moment, we’re in the present tense with not a lot to say. It’s a surreal time. We are living in the in-between, a weird frozen moment between what used to be and what will be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying all these last moments of alone time. I’m sleeping in, watching movies, reading books, getting facials and massages and waxes and mani/pedis. I’m loving all this time with Boy, just the two of us.

But every time Bean puts a heel in my kidney, every time I feel the cramp of a Braxton Hicks contraction, every time I try and fail to hoist my planet-sized body out of a chair, I’m reminded that this time is just Limbo. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I have no idea what the future will look like, but I’m hoping very hard that it will be even better than the last eight years. Because that would be pretty goddamn amazing.

-Lo, with less than 2 weeks to go.

Making Room

mood: excited | drinking: nope

rocker

I’m minutes from leaving on a jet plane, headed off to Illinois for a baby shower my Mom is throwing for me.

But before I go, here’s a little update… the latest poem in what’s becoming known as the “Fruits & Veggies series” because the title of each poem corresponds to the fruit or vegetable that most resembles the size of the little one.

This week’s veggie is an English hot-house cucumber, according to BabyCenter.com. I have no idea what an English hot-house cucumber looks like, actually, but I’m assuming it’s on the large side, as cucumbers go.

Last week’s vegetable was a Rutabaga, and here it is, in sevenling form:

Rutabaga

We are busy making room for you, redefining
our borders and relegating sharp objects
to the safety of high shelves and dark corners.

But it seems there is not enough room for my spleen,
and my gall bladder also has been displaced, small
squishy organs summarily relocated

by the push of my ever-expanding heart.

*****

-Lo, who has a boarding call.

Sugar and Spice

mood: ebullient | drinking: water
bean_shoes1

…and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of. So they say.

(Although I remember being a little girl and I wasn’t always sugar and spice. There might have been a puppy dog tail or two thrown into my recipe.)

From the moment that plus sign appears, you find yourself wondering who this new creature will turn out to be. And “Boy or Girl?” is right up there at the top of the list of questions. It’s certainly the thing people most want to know, right after they ask you when you’re due.

Finally, we have an answer. The Bean is a bean-ette.

I made the ultrasound technician check, twice, to be sure there were no beans and frank hiding anywhere. She was quite positive in her diagnosis, though. “No suprises,” she assured me, “It’s definitely a girl.”

This whole time, I’ve tried very hard not to want a girl over a boy. Because what if Bean turned out to be sporting a penis, and then later he found out that his mum actually wanted him to be a girl? That would suck.

But let’s be honest. I’ve been stashing away girl stuff for a very long time now, just in case. I really, really wanted to have a daughter. bean_dress

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Bean will turn out to be the kind of girl who will even be interested in the trinkets and goodies I’ve been saving for her. But maybe, someday is good enough to go on for now.

The day before the big reveal, I wrote this poem to capture how I felt before I knew the answer to the gender question. I hope someday Bean will like this, too…

Heirloom Tomato
(week 19)

Wishful thinking will not change
the tint of your eyes
the grain of your hair
the Xs or Ys of chromosomes.

You already are whoever
you are going to be.

In a windowless room at the office
I lay on the graying carpet
and let a woman string a ring
on a strand of my hair.
She held it motionless
above the mound of belly
where you swim.

If it swung in a circle,
you would be a girl.
Perpendicular, a boy.

In my impatience to meet you
I have imagined a whole wardrobe
of bright cotton dresses. I have drawn up lists
of names. (The page for girls is longer.)

Your aunt has entered birth dates
into gender calculators,
all of which predicted
you will be my daughter.

But today the ring swung
in a line, not a circle.

I want you to know, now,
before we inspect you
with sound waves,
that you are loved
exactly as you are.

-Lo, amazed.

We are family

mood: busy | drinking: water
momdad_muir

The Mama & Papa Witmer were just in California for a visit. (They’re pretty adorable, no?)

I always look forward to the parental visits. Having moved so far away from the place where I grew up, I don’t often find myself reminded of my childhood.

But seeing my parents always brings back a flood of memories, and we usually end up around the table swapping stories that start with, “Remember that time…”

I have no doubt that becoming a parent myself will alter my view of my own mom and dad. For the first time, I’ll be standing in their shoes, forced to make some of the same decisions they had to wrestle with when my sister and I were tiny.

Boy and I have already started talking about how to let Bean be whoever she (or he) will be. How to let her (let’s just go with her for now) grow up to be confident in who she is, even if that “who” isn’t quite what we expected.

momdadme_muirI’m sure when I was a little two-year-old tow head running around pulling puppy dog tails, my parents didn’t expect that one day I would change my hair color a ridiculous number of times, date a boy in a band, stop going to church, get tattoos and buy a motorcycle. (Not necessarily all at the same time, of course.)

I’m sure, when they tucked me in at night, they had very different ideas of who I would become.

But they have let me grow up with grace. They let me make decisions they didn’t understand. They let me disagree. They let me go.

It couldn’t have been very easy for them.

But the freedom they gave me has made me a better me. And I think it’s one of the many reasons I actually get excited when my parents are coming to town, while many of my friends live in dread of that day.

If we start now, and we practice really hard, I hope that Boy and I can give Bean the same freedom and let her fly.

-Lo, who somehow also grew up to be taller than both her parents.

Blueberry, Kumquat, Lime, Apple

mood: impatient | drinking: vitamin water

bump

I’ve become quite familiar, over the last weeks, with the use of fruit as a metaphor for the ever-changing size of a fetus.

First it was beans, limas and lentils. Then we moved on to fruit. Now, at 15+ weeks, the being we’re currently calling “Bean” (because that’s what she looked like when we first saw her) is now the size of an apple. My bump, on the other hand, is the size of a large cantaloupe. Mmmmmmm. Cantaloupe.

In the weeks when Boy and I were keeping the secret to ourselves and a small group of friends, I wrote a few poems that I also kept secret.

But now that the cat’s out, I can share a couple with you…

Proof of life
In the space
where they say
a heart will grow

a tiny light flicks on
off-on-off-on
faster than
hummingbird
wings.

It’s been only me
in this skin
for so long.

Now suddenly,
strange alchemy.

I am just learning
to share.

(Written on January 20, after our first ultrasound.)

Week 10
On the way to the doctor’s office
I nearly convince myself you are dead.
(I like to prepare for the worst.)

Not for the last time,
you prove me wrong

because when we see you
on the Toshiba screen
you are standing on your head
and dancing.

You wave webbed fingers
and thrash your stumpy legs
to the thrum of your wee heart
as if you haven’t a care.

And you don’t.

The worry
is all mine.

I eat walnuts by the handful now
just to make you smart.
I switch to decaf so you’ll grow tall.

I lie awake obsessing
about unpronounceable genetic anomalies
that could ruin you.

I haven’t even gotten to the part yet
where you get a driver’s license
and a boyfriend in a rock band.

*****

-Lo, who has been told this is only the beginning.