Occupy

On Sunday the whole fam jam went to Costco, part of a special day pass dealie. We found it overwhelming and expensive in the end, but, of course, we nabbed some great deals. Miss Red got a case of the gimmies in the toy aisle, and when it was all said and done, we were relieved to leave behind the SUV-sized carts and hurried shoppers.

While we were there I grabbed a winter coat for our little lady. She has a few winter coats that are 4T, and while they fit her, they remain a smidge too big and will most likely fit more when it’s still snowing in April (sorry, folks, we do live in Wisconsin). So I found a non-obnoxious purple coat in 3T and threw it in the cart. At the time, I was more annoyed that I hadn’t found one second-hand, but didn’t think much beyond that.

I chose the purple option.

It wasn’t until Monday, back at work, that I realized how nonchalantly I tossed the coat into the cart, adding it to the toilet paper, carrots, diced tomatoes and cereal. A $20 coat. No big deal, right?

Yet, I was transported back to my childhood and the first 10 years or so of my life. Up until middle school my grandparents or great-grandparents purchased my winter coats for me. My grandmother, who has a full-fledged shopping addiction, thought nothing of buying me a ton of clothes, such a every color of a turtleneck in my size. They outfitted me for much of my childhood, until I moved to Milwaukee. At that time I moved in with my mom and soon-to-be stepdad. Money was tight, no doubt. I remember going shopping for back to school clothes and getting two pairs of pants. Two. And one fall, in fourth or fifth grade, the check from my great-grandparents hadn’t come yet for my winter coat, so I went to school in an old coat of my mom’s for a while. It was a white, shaggy coat, clearly not intended for a child, and I was mocked.

All day Monday I was thrown back into that very real time of my life where we really didn’t have very much money. There was always food on the table and our essentials were taken care of, but something like a winter coat made a difference in a budget.

++++++++++++++++++

There are people now, all over the world, participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement. There are various reasons why people are camping out: disgust at corporate greed, lack of health care, to be part of a movement, to instill democracy, to protest rising costs of education… the list goes on. I get it. I see how bad things have gotten, and I’m only 33. I see how different life might be for our daughter, and we think nothing of buying a $20 coat, when that, at one time, meant everything to my parents.

What was the difference between wearing my mom’s coat and me tossing one for Miss Red on the Costco pile? Well, there are many factors, and I’m sure my parents – all four of them – would have input, but I can say that education was a key factor in what changed. My parents finishing their education and me having access to great schools, including UW-Madison.

Where are we now? We’re comfortably middle class, but that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. We live in a 1,200-square foot house on a wonderfully quirky street, but for many people it would be too lacking, too little, too quirky. What does middle class mean for me? For me, it’s the amazing luxury that a $20 winter jacket for my daughter is a simple reality, a reality most of the world doesn’t have.

– MD

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The Loves of My Life

Dear Readers,

This is what I get to come home to. This is what makes me smile, laugh, cry, raise my voice and sing songs.

The loves of my life, photo by EC

Thank you, Universe.

– MD

Here and Now

As I was praying for my daughter to fall asleep, I came across Emily Rapp’s article in today’s New York Times, “Notes From a Dragon Mom.” It’s a gut-wrenching essay about being in the moment for her terminally ill child. Each sentence sticks to me, but this paragraph, in particular, levels me:

And there’s this: parents who, particularly in this country, are expected to be superhuman, to raise children who outpace all their peers, don’t want to see what we see. The long truth about their children, about themselves: that none of it is forever.

I’m not one to compare myself to other moms. I don’t really care about being a “supermom” or a woman who “has it all,” because I don’t know what that means and thankfully, feel like I have a lot. Wait – to be honest, I do envy women who don’t “look” like they’ve had children, while I no longer can wear yoga pants in public. But that’s my deal. I digress.

Round and round we go, photo by EC

Rapp’s story serves as that snap-of-the-fingers to stop wishing now away.

Check out her story, and remember that right now, right here, is all we have.

– MD

Thunderbolt

I had a baby.

I’ve been aching to sit down and write about it. I want to detail my birth experience before I forget the details. I want to write about the thunderbolt of pure love that struck me upon seeing my new baby girl.

I want to write about nursing, how I am trying again, and succeeding (though it’s perhaps ‘success’ by my standards alone, as I will always struggle with low supply and supplement with formula). I want to write about our five days in the NICU, our heart-wrenching time there and the immeasurable kindness we were shown.

I want to write about the joy and gratitude in my heart when we were released to go home.

I want to write about my smart and hilarious toddler, who just hasn’t been herself since we all came home to live our new life. I want to plead for advice in easing this transition for everyone involved.

I want to memorialize my beloved friend and dog who passed away a week after our new baby girl was born.

I want to rejoice through words how, after seeing the chaos that is our life these days, my dad told me, “despite all of this, you are the happiest I’ve seen you in months.”

I want to sit down and write. I want to make an apple pie. I want to have some beers and go to bed tipsy and sleep until I wake up. I want the lawn mowed.

But I had a baby. So for now, I’ll carve out time for my toddler. I’ll kiss her and hug her and tell her that it’s going to be okay, that it’ll work out, that we love her as much – and more – than ever.

I’ll nurse my baby because I finally, finally can.

I’ll sneak in a shower. I’ll study tiny fingers and toes and beautiful new-baby lips. I’ll nuzzle a soft downy peach fuzz head. I’ll kiss tiny, soft, paper thin ears and a button nose.

I’ll try to take a mental snapshots of these early days as a family of four, for despite the chaos and confusion, I know I’ll remember these as some of the best days of my life.

I had a baby. Her name is Georgia.

– ALW

October

Among the things I never thought of before I had a child was the weight of losing a child. How could I? I had yet to experience the mind-altering experience of having a child, so there was no way I would know what even a potential loss would feel like. Some people experience a loss most of us can never imagine – loss during a pregnancy or shortly after delivery. ALW has shared her accounts here and here. She is, thankfully, resting at home with her new baby girl.

I have friends who maybe have one or two children living, and are brave enough to say, “well, in my third or fourth pregnancy,” or who speak the names of their children. A statement, a name, a word that means and carries so much. The weight of a name that holds hope, promise, sadness.

October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Month. The amazing blog, sweet | salty, wrote about the remembrance walk she spoke at, and I was grounded to  halt, as I often am, while reading her words.

Mikayla’s Grace is a local non-profit that provides “support families with a baby in the NICU and those who experience the death of an infant at Madison Area hospitals by providing NICU care packages and angel memory boxes that offer both practical and emotional support for the parents.”

What I’ve learned over time is that there is no perfect thing to say. But what is most often hoped for is what isn’t asked for – you. You, sitting. You, remembering a lost one’s birthday and saying their name. You, remembering them.

– MD

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