Thursday, September 29, 2011

rainy thoughts

I have been reading emails from friends. And friends of friends. And friends of friends of... Well, you get the idea. I put out a call to my peeps for anyone with information, connections, or personal experience with Tetralogy of Fallot and what I got back has left me dazzled.

So many people went out of their way to try to help us. So many words of encouragement, from all the crazy corners of my life. The poets and the doctors; the lawyers, the teachers, the pray-ers and the skeptics. I love you all. Thank you.

Any of you who've followed this blog over time may have gathered that our Isaac -- from here on out to be known as "our first-born," just because it amuses me and feels charmingly cliche and like something I'd never say, ever -- is a rather intense little person who demands a great deal of our time and attention. And while he is still that and in all likelihood will always be that, Isaac our first-born has been doing a fabulous job of busying himself lately. In fact, he never stops being busy. Ever.

One of this favorite things these days is cutting out snowflakes. You know, the fold the paper and snip holes kind. And while I might object somewhat to this premature winter filling my windows, considering I'll have a real, New England winter on my hands before you know it, I can't help but be charmed by my son's creations which include his very best writing.

Bundled into the center of his snowflakes are conglomerations of the words he can spell without thinking too hard, so that they usually say things like "IsaacMomDadRhysCatLove." And I take them from him and think, yeah, pretty much, that's it.

The authentic snowflakes are still a ways off for now, gratefully, but weather has been unusually rainy here these days. Downpours several days out of the week seem common.

Both my boys were born in the pouring rain. There is a sacredness to rainy days. I have always thought so. There is something to gain from the darkened scenery, the baptism of garden and asphalt alike.    

All I can do is just move through this time with Rhys. Move slowly through.

Everything wants to be the rain.
The yellow maple leaves
pinging against the walkway
gather first to fall in a gold sheet
of sound. The dry grasses
bending in the wind
thirst to be like the rain --
how it can calm the most hassled
day, put us softly to sleep.
The traffic on the highway --
especially the traffic -- puts on its best
mimicry, longing as it does
to be instead the beat and whoosh
of contemplation that is the rain.
And as the rain streams now, down
the windshields of rush hour,
it does not mock or scold its proteges,
does not deny them their allegiance
as it might, but simply continues, steady
in its example.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Imagine that you are delicate enough that the quarter-inch square stickers for the EKG they made you do left bruises behind on your velvet skin. Imagine now that you are so delicate that two hours under florescent lights, the ringing of phones, shuffling of folders left you so exhausted you slept the rest of the day and night, waking only briefly here and there to eat. Try hard to imagine it. Do. Because we are all that delicate.

My Rhys has been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He will require a corrective procedure, likely open heart surgery, before he turns six months of age.

I wasn't surprised somehow when they heard the murmur. Not that part. Not the murmur. A month ahead of schedule he moved down that canal red with blood and love and into my arms, a floppy doll, quiet as I leaned in and whispered my greeting, praying he'd stir, rally in the dark room of hope. And then that beautiful heart had something extra to say.

Metaphors are real and I will not apologize for them. I am a poet for a reason. And it is not to talk prettily about spring. My boy's heart came with a space most of the rest of us don't have; it is more open than the average person's and sometimes, because of this, he cannot catch his breath.

“What a perfect little being,” the barrista says staring at my baby bundled in his carrier. “Yes,” I answer, “Yes, he is.”

It is a new world. Always new. Imagine.

Monday, September 05, 2011

what it means to have two

The other day Rhys' milk blister was back posing as a perfect tooth dead center on his upper lip. And since I've spent the last two weeks with the baby asleep on my lap reading Captain Underpants books to Isaac, it reminds me of a buck tooth – specifically the buck tooth of Sulu the Bionic Hampster. Not something the average mother normally says about her newborn.

photo could be better, took it on my phone.

I know I'm supposed to be goofy in love and showering everyone I know with photos of the most beautiful being ever produced, and most of the time I'm like all kinds of ready to call up Anne Geddes and be in her face with “Do you have a flower pot?? 'Cause do I have a baby for YOU.” But sometimes I look at my new son and I see Sulu the Bionic Hampster, and I want other mothers out there who spot mutated rodents from juvenile chapter books in the images of their children to have somewhere to put their feelings. I'm here to tell you, it makes you no less of a mother. It just makes you a candidate to write a blog.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

peaceful waters

Rhys is four weeks old. Today is his due date. Time is like water -- rushing, rushing.

This morning is one of those mornings when daylight enters the room to reveal two adults completely and utterly defeated by the smallest of beings – barely 7 pounds now – lying asleep on the bed between them, looking all of the miracle he is, any strains of the Midnight Devil we came to know hours before vanished.

Sleep. If only. Our 6-year-old is hungry, and we might have to feed the cat, too, although so far she's caught herself a mouse and a bat (!) for her time in the house.

It's the stage way before smiles and giggles, before clutching toys and eating toes. It is the stage when, if their eyes are open at all, they stare past you and over your shoulder with a great suspicion, tiny brow furrowed into deep gorges, mouth pursed. The question in the air is clear enough: did someone make a mistake? pull the parachute cord over the wrong cloud? Who ARE these people??

Last night, Mike and I tried to discuss our goals for the long weekend. The project list is too big to write down. The house is too much of a mess to start anything. I wanted to hear about floors being sanded, lamps being purchased.

“I think we should be patient with each other,” Mike says.




“I think we should be patient with each other.”

“We're not being patient with each other?” I ask impatiently.


Wake me up when you've got some goals, dude.

In the newly installed shower one of the two shower curtains that circle the claw foot tub is printed with a colorful world map – a long-ago gift from my sister, Rita. Due to geographic and stylistic considerations, as I stand in the respite of hot water, I spend no time looking at, for example, Australia or, as it turns out, the Arctic Circle, which is shown in detail in a callout much below its actual latitude. Instead, while I bathe I am regaled with décor such as Greenland and, particularly, the upper regions of Canada where I study the many fort towns with bemused curiosity.

There are Forts Nelson, Norman, Simpson and Smith – your garden variety embattlements. Then Fort Reliance and Fort Resolution that have a bit more to say about the state of things. Among all these is my favorite: Fort Vermillion, which bounds forward in my imagination, its brilliant colors streaming, its watch towers vibrant in wild shades of red. And through it all there is the Peace River, holding down the waters of hope that everyone will quit it and just get along. 

Friday, September 02, 2011

Excuse me, but did you just say the word 'casserole'?

blueberry muffins
homemade ketchup
homemade pesto
and the topper – a brown rice casserole.

This is the current list of things we've been greeted with my our new neighbors. We seem to have landed in some kind of wonderland of friendliness, not to mention, victory gardens.

Also worth noting is that we seem to be surrounded by Californians. The wives on both sides of us are California natives, the diaper service lady called Arcadia home before moving east, the mailman hails from Santa Rosa, the young couple running the groovy farm in the next town just moved out here the month before we did from Santa Barbara, the woman across the street lived several years in Palo Alto. Curious.

In my first couple weeks in the house, which of course were also my first couple weeks with a newborn, I have not been able to get out and about and meet these west coast transplants with good community habits. I am quite secluded in my tiny room filled with a collage of straws, washcloths, ibuprofen, pillows, and a squalling infant they say is mine. My sequestered existence only deepened when Little Guy, being pretty little, was not able to eat so very much, and I ended up with badly blocked milk ducts, near mastitis, that culminated in the precipice of delirium and a 103 fever on my birthday. (This child crowded into August, for goddsakes, when every other event in our lives happens. He knows how to find the party.)

Milk Duds? exclaimed Gerard.
Ducks! I shouted. Milk Ducks!
-- from Anagrams, by Lorrie Moore

When I complained I'd never get out to see anyone, that I felt like a ghost, here but not really here, Mike suggested putting on a long, black veil and walking slowly around the lighted porch at night, just to add to the mystery and mystique, charge up the rumor mill.

There are many, many things I have no memory of in my life. Many, many of those many, many things relate to the early days of being a mom. But there is one thing I remember with keen clarity. It took nine days for my nipples to stop being ripped apart and feeling like they were on fire. Nine. Not eight, not ten. This time was no different. Nine. Though there was a space in which I dreamed of a shorter penance.

I heard through the grapevine that my next door neighbor was a lactation consultant. She was also, as it turned out, on vacation. We waited in great anticipation for her to return.

When did my life turn into an Alanis Morissette song? I moved in next door to a lactation consultant...who was on CALIFORNIA.

Obsessed with someone I never met, the days ticked on and my tender nipples scabbed. Until one day, Mike was looking out the kitchen window and, adding on Mike's inability to remember anyone's name, you get this conversation--

Mike: Hey! There's Tim...
Me: You mean Todd?
Mike: Todd is putting car seats in the car; maybe he's going to pick up his family...You should go over and ask him if Natalie...
Me: You mean Cynthia?
Mike: Cynthia's coming home today.
Me: 'Hi, Tim-Todd. I'm Kitty. Is your wife Natalie-Cynthia coming home any time soon? Because I'd really love to show her my boobs!'

Won't you be my neighbor?

The deed to the house arrived in the mail and I set it on the changing table.

The weather added to my insular existence; rain just kept coming. There was nothing to do but wait for it to stop and heat up the casserole.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

family portrait

must update that sidebar.

notice the steps we're sitting on go nowhere. entries on more of such charms of the new house and more baby-related life coming soon. also notice surrounding us are some of the succulents I dragged 5,000 miles on our cross-country trip. they make me happy. those wacky boys pictured have also been known to do same. 

Share Related Posts with Thumbnails