Monday, March 10, 2014

Shattered

I just broke a jelly jar, and it was the best part of my morning.

This is not because I've had a particularly bad morning. Yeah, it's the first Monday of daylight savings time after a one-day weekend, but I got up early enough, saw a 70-degree forecast, and am enjoying a balanced breakfast of sugary coffee and flaxseed oatmeal. But the jelly jar smashing on my kitchen floor was the highlight.

Trust me, it made a mess. The glass shattered into tiny slivers and menacing shards, one of which sliced my hand during clean-up. And the sticky strawberry goo had a blast radius far greater than was convenient. Happiness and gratitude weren't my original reactions as I got on my knees to clean up the mess. But the scenario brought me back to a similar one over two years ago when I accidentally broke a ceramic bowl in almost the same spot. It shattered, too. But at that point in my life, it felt like a metaphor. My miscarriage was fresh, and I felt like my whole world had shattered, just like the bowl did. And I fell to my knees on the kitchen floor and sobbed.

It was the first time I truly let myself feel all of the out-of-control emotions that were inside me. I screamed. I banged my fists on the floor. I smashed the bowl into even smaller pieces. I had never done anything like that before, and even typing the words now, I feel embarrassed of my madness. But it was real, and the brokenness continued and intensified for months until I finally found ways to heal.

So this morning, cleaning up the shattered mess, I reflected back on that moment and realized that this one today was not frustrating or annoying. As I picked up each speck of glass, I thought of Zuzu and her safety, imagining her crawling and pushing up to a stand in that very spot. I thought of the reason I needed the strawberry jam in the first place: her first birthday party, which is less than two weeks away. I looked at the small cut on my hand and smiled, seeing it as a reminder for the day of my job as a mom while I'm at my job as a teacher. Now, when things shatter, it's easy to see that so much has been put back together again.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why I'm not sad my baby is turning one

"I can't believe it!"

I've said and heard this phrase many times over the past several weeks as Zuzu's first birthday approaches. Time has indeed flown; in less than a month, I'll have a one-year-old. A big girl. A toddler.  My baby won't be a baby anymore.

And I'm not sad about it.

I love that she's growing up. I love that she gets more fun, knowledgeable, and loving every day. I love watching her learn new things, develop deeper relationships, grow into bigger clothes, and get more hair (a tiny bit more at least). I can't wait to celebrate her first year of life and my first year as her mom. And while I might shed tears of joy or sweet reflection, I won't cry that she's getting "too big" or that it's happening "too fast."

Some of you might be reading this and think that this post is in direct response to you. Just today, I saw three people on my facebook feed expressing sadness about their babies growing up. Or maybe you've made a comment, with sweet and sincere intentions, to me about Zuzu needing to stop growing or wanting time to slow down. This post isn't a rant or even a critique, especially not to anyone in particular. I understand that it's a thing, a common thing, to be sad at how fleeting infancy is. But it's not my thing.

Maybe I'm not sad because I don't like babies. I like Zuzu, of course, and I liked her as a tiny newborn and a two-, four-, eight-month old. But, like I said, she just gets cooler all the time. There might be things I miss about her during her first year that I won't get back, but so far, they've been replaced by even better treasures.

I think the most significant reason that I'm not sad that she's growing up is that I had a baby who didn't. I had a baby who didn't make it to his twelfth week, let alone his twelfth month. "I wish she would stop growing" is never something I wish for Zuzu. I don't want time to stand still. I don't want it to slow down. I want her to grow, to thrive, to have a life full of memories and moments that far outlasts my own.

In just a few short weeks, I'll be celebrating my birthday girl. I hope you'll celebrate with us!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Yes, her name is Zuzu.

One of the best things about the holiday season is watching Christmas movies. I've never been one to complain about watching something I've already seen before (or twenty times before). I like to watch my favorite movies until I can quote them, and Christmas movies are perfect for that. ("Keep the change, ya filthy animal!" "I love smiling. Smiling's my favorite." "I don't know what to say except... it's Christmas... and we're all in misery.")

Daniel and I have watched both Home Alones and Elf so far; Christmas Vacation is next on the list. But we haven't really talked about watching It's a Wonderful Life yet this year. We will, of course, but perhaps we're both waiting for a moment that is special and peaceful enough to watch it this year when it will mean the most it ever has to us. Our Zuzu - named after sweet Zuzu Bailey in the movie - has made it such a wonderful life this year.

Zuzu and George Bailey 

I understand that my daughter's nickname is unique and because of that not everyone loves it. In the many months since we named her, we've gotten a lot of polite, tight-lipped smiles and quizzical looks when we've introduced her. ("Wait, what is it? Zuzu?") Sometimes Daniel or I will hurriedly explain that her "real" name is Elizabeth Faye and Zuzu is just her nickname, especially if they look like they want to call DHS on us. But other times I give the haters a puzzled stare right back. "You mean, you haven't seen the movie It's a Wonderful Life? That's embarrassing. It's a classic. You should really watch it and get some culture." (Okay, I've never really said that. Yet.)

In case you haven't seen it, or haven't seen it yet this year, Zuzu (one word, one capital Z) is main character George Bailey's daughter. And, spoiler alert, in the midst of George's struggles and hardships, it's Zuzu who helps George see he truly has a wonderful life. I blogged about this first here when we named our Zuzu, but I've been thinking about her name more again now that it's Christmastime. Two years ago I experienced deep grief when we lost our first baby, and Christmas that year was absolutely horrible. And even now with so much of my joy restored, I still wince a bit this time of year as I remember the pain I felt then. But, just like George Bailey, I have a constant reminder of goodness and hope: Zuzu. She is a beautiful representation of God's promises of redemption and steadfast love. She makes us smile, laugh, sing, and stop dead in our tracks for quiet, simple moments where nothing else seems to matter.  Regardless of the aches of the past or the frustrations or worries of the present, it truly is a wonderful life.

Mary, George, and Zuzu
Megan, Daniel and Zuzu

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We hope your season is, well, wonderful.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's been a while

Back in August, I meant to blog about going back to work after maternity leave and the challenges of finding balance as a working mom.
First day of school
Back in September, I meant to blog after Zuzu's half birthday and her dedication celebration weekend.
Happy Half-Birthday!
First food
Dedicating our lives to raise Zuzu to know and love God
Zuzu's Orange Day
Back in October, I meant to blog again about the challenges of being a working mom after making a significant and unexpected move to teaching 5th grade in the classroom instead of working as a 4th grade ESL specialist. I also meant to blog about one year of being "Team Pink" and about Halloween.
After Mama's first full week in 5th grade
(My thoughts exactly!)
Have a sweet Halloween!
This month I meant to blog about my two-year loss anniversary and the growth I've made in my grief journey.
November 2013
I even started a post a few days ago in the morning, but Zuzu woke up before I got four words out.

It's not hard to find the words; it's hard to find the time. But right now, I have a little slice of solitude: a sleeping baby, a husband at a meeting, and two dogs curled up at my feet in front of the fire. So I'll blog.

Today I saw a friend I haven't seen in many months. She was consistently a source of empathy and compassion after my loss; as a loss mom herself, she listened to, prayed for, and supported me during my darkest and saddest days. And she rejoiced with me once I found out about Zuzu. Today she and I had only a few minutes to visit briefly, but I was so glad I had my phone on me to pull out my most recent picture of my beautiful rainbow baby (who is 8 months old today!). She got chills; my eyes filled with tears. "God is good," she proclaimed.

He is good. I'm thankful I had people in my life to remind me of that when I didn't feel like that was true, and I'm thankful I still have people who remind me of that today. And I'm most thankful that one of those people is sleeping peacefully in the other room.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What a difference a year makes

I've always been pretty good at remembering dates. No, that's not to say I haven't ever forgotten a best friend's birthday or missed an important deadline, but overall I have a pretty good mental calendar. And because of this, I will always have these two dates burned into my memory: November 4 (the day of my loss) and May 26 (my estimated due date with Nub). After hitting the one-year anniversary of both of these, I think they'll sting a little less each year, but I suppose I will always think of my first little one on those days.

However, my memory serves me well to forever remember another date: July 6. Last year on July 6, I got the best news of my life when the second line turned pink. I was pregnant with Zuzu, and I was so, so happy.

This year on July 6, I held my squirmy, smiley, 3-month-old in my arms and cried tears of joy, just like I did when I found out she was a tiny poppyseed speck inside of me.

July 6, 2012 vs. July 6, 2013

My friend Kelli saw this picture and said that I have so much peace in my eyes in the picture from this year. While I also have more bags under them, she's right. There's nothing like the peace and joy that comes from holding your beloved baby in your arms, the one you've hoped and prayed for for well over a year. I'm so happy she's here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Time flies


I used to have a goal to blog weekly. Now, if I write a blog post and clip my baby's nails in the same month, I will have maxed out on praise-worthy accomplishments. Last time I updated, Zuzu was almost two months old. Now she's a few days past three months. The most popular piece of advice I received when pregnant (and continue to receive) is to enjoy every minute because they grow up so fast. And while I can't say I have enjoyed every minute (poop explosions at two different taquerias, sleep depravity for all of us, and self-induced stress and second-guessing), I have loved watching her change and grow.

Many moms of babies say things about wanting their little ones to stop growing so fast, for time to slow down or stop. I understand this sentiment, but I don't really share it. Sure, there's a small part of me that misses Zuzu as a tiny newborn, and there will be months to come that I'll miss her nursing exclusively or her only being able to get somewhere by carrying her. But overall, I love that she's growing. I'm glad she's getting bigger and doing more cool things. I love that she smiles, plays with toys, likes her doggies, loves to read books, and makes hilarious and adorable sounds. I want her to keep growing. Yes, time flies, but it's because we're having fun!

She'll be one, ten, thirty before I know it. But I don't grieve or dread that. Perhaps it's because my first baby did stop growing. Time did slow down - to a screeching halt. So even though these first three months with Zuzu have felt like the blink of an eye and the next three months, years and decades will go by quickly, too, I am so excited to see my lovely daughter grow up.

First trip to the beach
In LA to celebrate my first students' graduation
Zu at the Zoo
Playgroup
Father's Day
First shots
Rolling over
"Sleeping" in the crib

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Smile! (No, seriously.)

Zuzu will be two months old on Tuesday, and she consistently gives us gorgeous, sweet smiles. However, if I pull out the camera to capture one, this is the face I get:


(She's actually smiling at me right now because she sees the phone in my lap out of reach and out of her face.)

So I tried again, and here's what she gave me.









Better luck next time! But for now, I suppose these faces are actually quite cute.