heartcare

My post for The Red Dress Club is at Exploded Moments today.  It’s about a memory involving a game.

**************

My summer was slipping by.

I was stuck in the house day in and day out with a colicky infant.  People were doing things and having fun and relaxing their summers away, and I was crying all the time.

I wanted to get away from my child, but I didn’t want to.

I wanted to love him and snuggle him and have wonderful days.

But I also wanted to run out the front door because my head wouldn’t stop pounding from his screams.

He never slept by himself.  He always had to be held.

I couldn’t get anything done.

I had postpartum depression and didn’t know it.

*************

The plan was that Eddie would go to daycare full time when I went back to work in the fall, but that he would go maybe a half day or a day a week for a couple weeks before that just so he (and I) could get used to the daycare routine.

Notice I said “plan” and “was”?

Yeah.  We should have learned by now that when we make life plans?  They rarely go our way.

And my plan to love every minute of being home with my little boy?  Definitely didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.

Cort convinced me to call our daycare provider and see if she could take Eddie for a half day, one day a week.  Just to give me a break.

She said yes.

It was a relief and a terror at the same time.

I had never left my baby with anyone other than family–and at that point not even many of them had been left alone with him.

As much as I wanted to get away, I couldn’t imagine my baby being somewhere without me.

The day I left Eddie for the first time, I couldn’t even stay and chat.  I must have looked like I was in a huge hurry, but really I was racing against my tears.

They began to fall before I even got back in my car.

And I started to ugly cry as I realized I had run out so fast I hadn’t even kissed him goodbye.

That afternoon my house got cleaned from top to bottom for the first time in months.  And I took a shower.  Before 6pm.

It was wonderful.

*************

Miss Amy has been a friend of mine for years.  She and I scrapbook together which means we have gone through pregnancies (mostly hers) and breakups (mostly mine) and laughed until we cried.  Plus she lives about 4.5 minutes from my house.  And that is just because I have to leave my subdivision to get to hers.  If I walked though the woods from my front yard to her backyard?  It would probably only take about 2.5 minutes.

She is loving and caring and wonderful.

She was the only person I ever wanted as a daycare provider, and when we got pregnant with Eddie, she didn’t have any openings.

Her license only allows her to take six children at a time and she was booked solid.

I refused to worry about it.  I knew something would come up and it would work out.  And honestly?  I had no idea that it would be so hard to leave my baby.  I was a clueless first time mom who had a rosey outlook on everything.

I remember being so excited when Miss Amy emailed us to tell us that she was losing a couple kids due to moving and other things and that if we wanted a spot for Eddie full time, it was ours.

There was squee-ing involved.

And we thought our world was perfect.

Then I had PPD.

But she was there for me.

Then Cort lost his job.

But she was there for us and let Eddie continue to come once a week, keeping a spot for him in case Cort found work.

And then Cort found work.

And we thought our world was perfect again.

*************

I never knew that leaving your child with someone else is like leaving a piece of your heart behind.

That first day that I left Eddie with Amy I cried of a broken heart.

She had part of it in her arms, and I could feel that.

Even now, when I am at work, she holds that piece of my heart safe all day.  She nurtures him and loves him like her own.  He said “Ahh ee” before he said “maa maa”.

It hurts less knowing that piece is being cared for, but it’s still an ache until I see him again at the end of the day.

But I always trust that when I get that piece of my heart back?  It will be in better shape than I left it.

*************

This weekend we got the news that next fall Amy won’t be able to take Eddie anymore.

There are lots of circumstances that I won’t go into, but with Eddie, she will exceed her six children limit.

We totally understand that she has to do this.

We know she is broken up about losing her little buddy.

I wish I could say that because I logically understand and know we will find something else, I feel fine about the whole thing.

But I don’t.

I cried ugly tears again last night at the thought of letting someone new hold a piece of my heart.

I buried my face in my pillow trying not to imagine my little boy meeting new people, learning new rules, and trying to nap in an unfamiliar place.

I know he will adapt.

He is braver and stronger than I am.

I just wish I could explain to him.  I wish I could make him understand and prepare him.

He is my heart.

How do I prepare my heart for this change?

*************

My dearest readers, Amy reads my blog.  And while I don’t believe any of you would say cruel things, I just thought it would be fair to tell you that she reads.  My intent is not to make her feel bad about any of this, just to share my heart.  And right now my heart hurts.

the cue

ahhhhh GO!

He runs full speed down the hallway in just a diaper.  His run is more of a prance and his blond curls bounce in rhythm to his quick trot.

Smack!  He gets to the end and both hands slap the wall.

When he turns he is all smiles and eye twinkles.

He backs up straight and tall with his back and palms flat against the wall, and pauses to make sure I am ready.

This is my cue.

I snap my arms and legs open toward him.

This is his cue.

MA MA!  GO!

He leans forward and with complete trust, rushes down the hall toward me.

His giggle melts me.

I can’t wait for him to get to my embrace.

His curls blow back from his face revealing the gleam of joy in his eye.

He doesn’t slow his pace as he approaches, flinging himself with all his force into me.

There is no fear of hurt.

He trusts me completely.

And in an instant, we are one person.

I wrap him up in me, close my eyes, and fall backwards.

We are one like we were in the beginning.

Our hilarity and tears and mischief are the same.

Time stops, but our merriment does not.

He has buried his face in my neck and wrapped his arms around me.

He is gasping for breath through giggles.

I am filing these feelings away into my heart.

His hair will not always be this soft and silky and blond.

His fingers will not always have the little dimples instead of knuckles.

His feet will not always be round and smooth.

He will not always smell of baby lotion and graham crackers.

He will not always trust me so freely.

Running into his mom’s arms will not always be his first choice.

I lie on my back and release him.

He scoots down and takes my hand and instructs me in his gibberish to sit back up.

Once I am up, he decides to lean in one more time before starting the game again.

Awww Ma Ma!

He hugs me and bends in to touch his nose to mine.

And with a snap, he turns to run back down the hall.

Ahhhh GO!

A blur of giggles, curls, and baby skin goes running from me.

My smile twitches.

And my heart makes a promise to that boy.

I will always be here for you to run back to.  My arms will always snap open for you.  Just give me the cue.

I Got You

This one goes out to you, Kim.

By the time you read this post, you will probably have read Lauren‘s and Miranda‘s.  And by this time, there might be others too.

You know we are telling you that we love you.

You know we wish we could help.

But here is the thing.

I’m not going to be we for a second.

I’m just going to be Katie.

You are my friend.

No, we have never met “in real life.”

No, I don’t know what your voice sounds like.

No, I have never watched you go from serious to a huge smile.

But….

BUT…

I have read your words.

I have seen pictures of you.

And you are my friend.

I don’t have a ton of close friends.  (Shut up, I don’t).

But those who are my close friends?  Know I can’t sleep or eat or function well when they are hurting.

They know I will do anything in my power to help.  Even if the only help I can bring is an inappropriate giggle.

Last night I tossed and turned thinking about where you were.  How you were.

I would dream of looking for you.

I checked my phone each time I woke up.

No Kim.

I cried silently when I thought of what “could” be.

I asked Cort if I was crazy since I didn’t technically know you.

He said, “of course not.  She is your friend.”

Yes.  You are.

My friend.

Why yes, you ARE on the wall-o-friends

And as my friend you have taught me to laugh at the bad in life.  Not because it’s funny, but because it’s our defense against it.  Bad hates laughter.  And we can bring the laughs.

As my friend you have shown me it’s ok to not be perfect…because that is more fun.

As my friend you have cheered my sorry ass on when I thought PPD and just life would win.  You made me realize there is too much going for me to stay in my hole.

You have showed me what a fighter is.

Right now?  You are finding it hard to fight.

You trained me.  Let me fight for you.

Or?  Let this guy fight for you.

hey pretty lady...let me take care of that for you.

and?  since I love you so much.  I had this made for you.  I will mail it soon, but here is a preview.

to be worn as a protective sheild against the evil world

Kim?  You are my friend.

I love you.

I am here for you, girl.  I got you.

And so does the rest of the bloggy world.

deluge

The windshield looked like it was melting.

The rain wasn’t coming down in individual drops; it was a steady stream washing out everything in its path.

Including roads.

I shifted the weight of my distended middle so that I was leaning on the center counsel armrest.

I fruitlessly attempted to pull the black maternity dress back down over my lap where it belonged, and my red wedges had been cast off long before we had gotten into the truck so that I could wade through the rushing water to get into our vehicle.

Because we couldn’t stay at the restaurant.  There was no power.

We had been in the truck for over an hour and had only gone about 3 miles.

The normally easy 20-minute route home around the lake had turned into rivers of detours.

Each time we tried to turn we were faced with more streets acting as reservoirs for the deluge we were experiencing.

We were on the Southside trying to weave our way to our Northside home, but the land in between was low, and the safe paths were few.

Each time we were forced to take a water-logged road, I held the door handle tightly, peering out my passenger-side window as the waves lapped the door and almost covered the tires.

I had to use the bathroom, but I wasn’t about to say anything.  There was nothing he could do about it and whining would just make the situation worse.

I tried to quietly massage Eddie into a different position–one that didn’t involve his foot in my bladder.

I started breathing calmly through my mouth to avoid thinking about the liquid jostling under my son.

Cort gave me a worried sideways glance.

“No, I am not in labor.  Just have to pee.”

“Do you want me to pull over?”

“Where?  No, just keep driving.  It can’t be too much longer.  The rain is letting up.  I am sure we will be home soon.”

I had no idea it would be another hour before we got to our subdivision, only to find the entrance completely flooded forcing us on yet another detour to find dry land.

We had no idea what was ahead, but we were trying to have a good outlook, stay calm, and not have an accident before it was all over.

This post was nonfiction.

Please vote for Sluiter Nation in the Mom Central Grant Contest on facebook.  You may vote once every 24 hours.  Thank you.

“no” is an answer

Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.

Oh..Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.*

Dear Lord, please heal Cort’s dad.  Take the cancer away and make him whole.

No.

Dear Lord, please let this bleeding be normal and NOT a miscarriage.

No.

Dear Lord, I want to be a mom so badly.  Please help my body know what to do.

Not yet.

Dear Lord, please don’t make me go through another miscarriage.  I am too weak.  I can’t do it.

Yes, you can.  And you will.

Dear Lord, please save me from being on the “cut” list for work.

No.

Dear Lord, please help Cort keep his job in these hard times.

No.

Dear Lord, please make these demons leave my head.  Please make me the mom others think I am.  Please help me fix this crazy.

No.  You can’t fix yourself alone.

Why, Lord?  Why us?  We are good people and hard workers.  We try to be like Jesus and love people and give of ourselves.  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?

—silence—

Lord, I want to turn my back!  I want to do this alone.  I think you must have lost your “plan” for us somewhere.  You have left us!

Go ahead and try.

Lord, this is our plan…please oh PLEASE let it work.

No.

Lord, I can’t be in charge.  I can’t make anything work right.  Just please handle it for me.  Please let me find someone who will love me for everything I am RIGHT NOW.

Here is Cortney.

Lord, I can’t make things better with Cort’s dad.  He is going to die.  Please let me know what to do to help Cort.

I will strengthen your shoulders and pad your hugs.

Lord, he lost his dad and his appendix and now he is alone in the hospital.  What do I do?

Stay with him.  I’ll be there too.

Lord, I only have one try left.  I can only try once more.  Please bless us with a child this time.

Here is Edward Steven.

Lord, please help me keep my job.  My family needs me to provide.

You will teach Spanish.  You can also teach at the college.

Lord, I can’t change myself.  I need help.

Here is Cortney.  Here is your family.  Here is an internet full of support.  Here are your friends.  Here is your doctor.  Here is Celexa.  Here is a therapist.

Lord, what will we do?  Unemployment runs out in August.

Here is a job for Cortney.

Sometimes the answer is no.

But sometimes?  The answer is yes.

No matter how many times you falter.  He will save some “yes’s” for you.

This week?  He finally said YES to Cort’s job prayers after many, MANY no’s.

We are blessed.

*lyrics from “I believe in miracles” by Pearl Jam

If you also believe in miracles, please pray for our nephew(s)/niece(s) in Ethiopia.  Our siblings were dealt a GIANT “no” this week in their adoption process.  Please read about it here.

Click to vote every 24 hours for Sluiter Nation to win the Mom Central grant!

And don’t forget to shop my Thirty-One party!  Ends this week! (go to “my events” and shop my party–Katie Sluiter).


tiny reminder

Spring had come, and with spring, baby showers.

So many cute little jammies and hats and shoes and onsies and teeny tiny pants.

I sat in the middle of the almost finished nursery carefully cutting tags and placing items into a basket to be washed.

My first load of itty bitty items.

The socks were so small.  Would they get lost in the great big washing machine?  Would they get eaten in the dryer?

snip snip snip.

I held each item to my round, growing tummy.

I told Eddie how sweet he would look.

There had been quite a few showers, and as I worked through the pile, I remembered the guests at each one.

Who had given me these cute overalls, and who had gifted my son with the warm jammies, and who had squealed with me as I opened the hand-made hats.

I was happily snipping the tags off what I thought was the last blankie when I saw it.

It was wrinkled and shoved to the bottom of the pile.

The tags had already been eagerly clipped off long ago in hopes of already belonging in the rotation of clothing for a small one.

I picked up the tiny white onsie.

I ran my fingers over the two embroidered ducks and the wording on the front.

“Mommy and Me.”

I tried to brush the cat hair and dust from the front–clearly the cat had been the only warm body enjoying this discarded memento of the past.

I shook my head and threw it to the top of the pile in the basket– and in turn,  the memory out of the front of my mind.

And let my hands rest on my swollen middle.

As if he knew I was distracted, Eddie pushed a heel up and out near my ribs.

I gently rubbed his little foot back into a more comfortable position and realize…he will wear that onsie.

His older siblings never did.  They never made it to the clothing stage of life.

They  never made it to life.

But he will wear it.

He will wiggle and cry and sigh and giggle in it.

He will lie in my arms and sleep in it.

I picked up the harsh reminder again and looked at it.

Then, gently, I spread it across my tummy where Eddie rolled and flutter kicked me.

A smile for what would be spread slowly across my face and moistened my eyes.

Just as quickly as the sadness had come, Eddie took it away.

———

pssst.  I am guest posting today at the lovely Hannah’s place, Peggy Ann Design.  Name sound familiar?  It should!  She is one of my amazing sponsors! This month is the Month of Hannah!  Valentine’s Day, her (leap year) birthday, and her anniversary all in one month!  To help celebrate she asked little old ME to guest post!  yippee!!!

So hop on over to her place and leave a little love on this Friday, would ya?

The Blackest Friday

It was important that this day be as normal as possible.  Remember that.  Normalcy was important to me.

Black Friday of 2007 started out normal and I was ever thankful for that.  My mom and I did our shopping and we had a good time.  I didn’t bring it up the entire time we were out.  Not during our first few shops.  Not over coffee.  Not while when we walked past the baby stuff.

When I got home with all my packages, I intended to decorate the house with Christmas and wrap all of my newly bought gifts.  Just like any other year.

But this is when my “normal” was shattered.

While I was out, Cort had made plans for us with our friends (who, by the way, are usually only in state once–maybe twice–a year).  This wouldn’t be a big deal to me if those plans had fallen into the customary time period after my decorating and wrapping frenzy, but the plans called for us to be ready to go in less than 2 hours and I hadn’t even showered yet.

I know.  Big deal, right?

My world fell apart.

I was immediately angry at Cortney for messing up my “tradition”.  Inconsolably so.

“Just decorate tomorrow,” he offered.

“THAT IS NOT THE POINT!” I told him. “TODAY is when I wrap and then decorate all to the sounds of Bing Crosby.  Why can you not respect this?  Why would you make PLANS for us during this?  Do you not know me at ALL?”

He was speechless.  He even offered to cancel the plans.  But I wouldn’t let him do that.

“how would that look?” I questioned him.  “what would they think?”

So I begrudgingly showered and got all ready.

And went out to eat and to have beers.

And acted normal.

But ignored Cortney. I mean, how could he be so thoughtless?

The rage built.

After dinner we all headed over to our friends’ house where we could sit around and visit and share some wine and snacks.

I continued to ignore  my husband.

It got so bad that nearing the end of the night he came to the chair that I was actively ignoring him from and asked if I would like to go home.

I said yes.

We left an awkward wake behind us.

I started crying somewhere between here and there.

Once home my memory blurs.  I think the yelling started as we got ready for bed.  I finally started telling Cortney how this entire day was a big suck for me thanks to him.

He didn’t yell back (he never does).  He just looked sad.

But he questioned me.  He questioned how in the world this small change in my “normal” Black Friday routine could be THIS awful.

I raged at him.

And then?  I collapsed into the ugliest cry I remember having and blurted out,

“We were supposed to have a baby this week.”

And proceed to cry so hard I couldn’t get my breath.

In the dark warmth of our living room, on the leather couch where I had lain recovering from the loss, Cortney sunk and wrapped his arms around me.

“Oh, honey,” he managed.

It all started to make sense.  I was grasping for routine.  For nothing to be out of the ordinary.  For everything to “proceed as normally scheduled.”

When it didn’t?  I lost my shit.

And we sat in the dark on the couch for a very long time.

He instructed me to breathe.  To take deep breaths, and to talk about it.  Neither of us had mourned that loss like this.  And I didn’t expect the due date to hit me so hard.  I thought I was over it.  That it never bothered me that much.

But it did.  I had just suppressed it.

In the winter, when we had found out my due date, it was perfect.  All of our friends would be in town.  Family would be around.  Everyone would be ready to celebrate our baby. Somehow that fact made our unexpected pregnancy ok.  It made things start to look up.

But that night while Cort’s arms held me, my arms were empty.

No baby.

And I started to cry all over again.

It still never escapes me that if the first time around had happened, we would have been throwing a 3-year old’s birthday party this week.

Sometimes I still don’t know how to feel about this.  If we were having a birthday party, Eddie maybe wouldn’t be here.  And he is…well…there are no words for how that little boy makes my heart swell.

But yet…

someone is missing.

(two little someones, actually.  but that is another post.)

The very next Thanksgiving, Eddie was baking away in my tummy and we have never had a “normal” Thanksgiving weekend again.

I am closer to Cortney.

And I have never loved this holiday more.

And So…

you know that dream where you are chased, but your legs feel thick and won’t move?

or how about the one where you need to scream because either you or someone else is in danger, but nothing but some forced air comes out?

what about the one where you forgot something, lost something, need something and it is nowhere…impossible to grasp?

I have these dreams all the time.

But worse?  I feel like this during my days.  During my waking moments.

I didn’t know how to talk about this.  I just didn’t know what to say.

But it’s been on my heart.   So I wanted to write about it.

It has been “right behind my eyes” as my friend, Adrienne, would say.  So I HAD to write about it.

But I have been struggling.  Then I read this by my wonderful friend, Nichole.  She describes this feeling as “trying to hold tightly to water.”  YES.

And I read this, by Tiffany.  She describes the overwhelming anxiety of what “could” happen as time passes.  YES.

These posts that these women have written are the tip of the iceberg for me.

I toss and turn at night with feelings and images of me not keeping up.

During the day I grasp at time.  I try to halt it.

Where is the time going?  It’s such a cliche question, but it is one that plagues me.

Time takes things and people away.

I am told that time heals all wounds, but I don’t believe it.

I have wounds that are far from healed.

Time?  Is a thief.  Time steals people from me.

Time took my father-in-law.  It took my grandmother.  It is taking my grandpa.

Time is taking my baby and all his cuddles and giggles.

It will take my parents and my husband some day.

Time is taking my friends.  While I struggle to keep all things around me in orbit, my friends have slowly moved away.  They are still with each other, but apart from me.

I am angry at them.  But really it’s my own fault.  But I am tired of everything being “my own fault”.

My overworked self.  My fault.

Not spending enough time with Eddie.  My fault.

Not being the wife I could be in SO many areas.  My fault.

Not having time to respond to emails or comments or people I love.  My fault.

Everything is from choices I made.

I am struggling to hold water.  Water that I chose to try to grasp.

Everything is slipping away from me because you can’t hold water unless you have a vessel.  And I am not sure if I ever had a vessel.

Sounds like the ramblings of a crazy woman?  Yeah, I think so too.

But here is the catch.  I understand that everyone goes through this.  I have a logically sound mind that gets all that.  But I can’t help not FEELING the logic.

I know the logic.  I can’t feel the logic.

This is where I feel my therapy sometimes fails me.  I can nod along and understand that I need to say no to things, I need to realize everyone goes through this, and I need to not worry about things I can’t control.  I get it and feel ok about it while I am sitting there in that chair.

But the very next day?  The fear and terror and dreamlike feelings come flooding back.

The feeling that everything is on the precipice of falling apart.

The want to hold my little boy tightly in this minute–suspended forever in time.

The closeness of being young and healthy with my husband–never changing.

Because of this overwhelming anxiety, I am in a constant state of annoyed.  I isolate myself from everything.  It’s not fair to my colleagues or my students.  It’s not fair to my friends.  It’s not fair to my family.  It’s not fair to me.

I KNOW THIS.

So how do I overcome it?  What do I do?

The anxiety was there before the postpartum depression, but it has gotten worse.

I don’t just worry about deadlines and failing students anymore.

I worry about death.  I worry about the time slipping away.  I worry about something happening to someone I love.

Because as I get older?  All that stuff becomes much more plausible and real.

I have lost people.  It happens.  And as we get older it happens more.

I don’t want it to, though.  I don’t feel like I can handle it.

And so I am anxious.

And so I get depressed.

And so…

Do I hit publish on this?  If you are reading this, I guess I did.

Please don’t forget about all the discounts that are available on my Top Ten post from this week. Since I am hitting publish on this train wreck of a post, I may as well remind you that the ladies who are offering the discounts are super awesome and are a great source for holiday shopping!  And the discounts?  Won’t last forever!  They expire next week!  So go support handmade goods!

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