Miss Spoken: Life during a pandemic

This week I got to read for Miss Spoken, a fave live lit series in Chicago. Since most of the country is under a ‘stay at home’ order because of the Coronavirus pandemic, they held their first ever livestream show, and through the magic of the internet I was able to join from Los Angeles! We had some technical difficulties with the video, but my full piece about living during a pandemic with an infant is below.

Quarantine day: I don’t even know. I know it’s week two. And I know that I haven’t cried today.

It hit me the other night that this isn’t just a temporary two week thing that we need to buckle down through. This is the new normal, at least for a while, and we need to adjust accordingly. For me, that means structuring a new day with an infant. I need to approach my day with intent. Or my day will shape me.

My daughter is now 3 months old, 14 weeks to be exact. We had just started to emerge back into the world after weeks of postpartum isolation, which was surprisingly difficult on its own. Figuring out how to get the car seat in the base on my own, driving with my baby in the car with all those maniacs on the road?! Learning patience while someone is waiting for my parking spot as I fold up a stroller. Figuring out how to shop for groceries with a baby taking up all the room in the cart or stroller.

All this while my body is still recovering from the physical and emotional toll of growing a human and then birthing it.

I didn’t start to feel postpartum depression until about 8 weeks when my husband went back to work. All of our visitors and helpers were gone, and I was alone with this baby that I barely knew all day. The mornings were toughest. I felt sad when I woke up, and didn’t want to get out of bed. The day ahead felt overwhelming with its demands and unpredictability.

We adapted by scheduling one thing outside the home each day: a mommy and me yoga class, one of my mom support/social groups, a coffee play date, or just a walk or a trip to the grocery store.

And now, Coronavirus. Classes: canceled. Groups: canceled. Play dates: canceled. A stay at home order for the state of California was issued on March 19. Our once a day respite outside of the house is over. We’re back on isolation. And we have to worry about catching a deadly invisible virus. I have to worry about my baby being exposed to it (with the minimal comfort that it doesn’t seem to be affecting children that much). I have to worry about my baby having some other medical emergency or injury and the hospitals not having the capacity to take care of her, plus risk exposing her to whatever is inside.

Still, I’m grateful that we had the baby when we did. I’ve heard birthplaces are now only allowing one support person and no visitors (not even an exception for a spouse and a doula). My parents spent all day every day with us in the hospital and were here in my apartment after to help us. That time is still a total blur to me, and I couldn’t imagine having to do it without the team we had. My in-laws and sisters both also got to visit and meet the baby, and a couple of friends.

I’m not saying I have it worse than anybody else. This unprecedented event is affecting everyone in different ways. There’s my friend who is a nurse, seeing patients who are coughing directly on her, my parents who are in the higher risk group in their 60s, friends who work in retail that counts as essential business now, friends who have already been laid off from their jobs, kids who don’t have warm meals, or safe homes to spend their days.

We’re all coping, or not.

I still feel depressed in the mornings, and now my days are coupled with anxiety. But this is where I try to see the bright spots. I get to spend my mornings cuddled in bed with my new daughter. My husband is home and safe (even as we struggle to share our small space with him working from home). My support groups and even yoga communities are holding online video meetings. I’m talking to my friends and family in Chicago and St. Louis more than I did before the pandemic. We may be living in isolation, but we’re more connected than ever before.

Yesterday in one of my mom Zoom meetings, I was talking through some of these challenges and wrapped it up by saying ‘But we’re getting by.’ I was reminded that we don’t have to be ‘just getting by,’ life is for living and you can decide what that life looks like, what your day looks like. Even if it’s going to be indoors for the foreseeable future.

And sure that can be tough with all the challenges we’re facing right now, or ya know, when an infant dictates what most of your day looks like. We need to approach our day with intent, now more than ever. Or the day will shape us.

Theme Unintended

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When I named this site, I really did mean for the title to be placeholder, and if anything else, just be ironic that I never got around to changing it. Lol, right?
Well, since then, I’ve become even more conscious of how many things in life are temporary. I’m aware of just how much this theme runs through life, especially after being pregnant… the “morning sickness,” the SPD pain, the swollen feet, ultrasounds, baby’s kicks, postpartum pain and recovery, postpartum hormones and tears, nighttime feedings, newborn clothes, changing diapers, literally milking my boobs and juggling pump parts. It’s all temporary, and what feels like forever right now (hello sleepless nights) really doesn’t last all that long.
I can’t wait to see her grow up, but I also wish I could freeze every moment. She changes every week, every day. She’s already almost doubled her weight! I’ve watched her little hands and thumbnails get bigger, knowing that she’ll never be this small again. I try to absorb every little sound and funky movement she makes, knowing that next week she may move on to something else.
The only thing that isn’t temporary is that I’m a mom now. And that’s alright with me. As I watch her grow and change, I’m happy to continue being that guiding light, whenever and however she needs it, for the rest of my life.

Frosé Pleasé

07552662-63C7-424A-9DB9-5163A9F078F5As I stand up and look at my moms social group (yes, I’m in a moms social group), a little part of me still can’t believe I’m here. I delved into the new High Fidelity reboot series last week, and it reminded me so much of my old life in Chicago. Concerts, bars, booze, spirited discussions about music and culture, bad choices and unnecessary drama… check, check, check, check aaand check.

I don’t miss that life (and I certainly wouldn’t want to return to the drama and heartache that accompanied it), but seeing the scene so well represented sure does pull on my heartstrings. I have a fondness for the places, people, experiences and of course the music.

I’d like to think I’m still a little more Rob than frosè girl in spirit though, or at least somewhere between, but as I walk my stroller up to the coffee shop in my yoga pants and a tank top that says “grateful thankful blessed,” I fear I may have gone full frosè.

Trying to reconcile your past with your present and future is a complex thing, especially for someone so cynical. One episode especially hit home, where Rob’s brother realizes that his life is drastically going to change with the addition of baby:

“I’m so excited to have this baby with you. Just, I don’t wanna lose the person that I used to be. That guy’s – – I like that guy. He’s super chill.”

Ouch.

I felt that hard. But, the thing is, you are still you when life changes! You bring all that shit (good and bad) with you as wisdom, and maybe you have some cool stories to boot. As my girl Lisa said so eloquently when we discussed it, “Getting older is becoming ok becoming the thing you use to hate, and realizing you hate a bit of who you were in the first place.”

Hashtag growth.

She also added, “Eh, frosè is delicious. Like Rob said at the bar, ha.”

Hashtag truth.

 

Six months pregnant.

I’m in the last week of my second trimester, and wouldn’t you know it, things all over my body are already starting to hurt and/or swell. They say the second trimester is the bright spot of pregnancy–you’re not nauseous anymore like in the first, and you’re not yet feeling the bodily discomfort of growing larger and larger in the third.

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It’s something new, something different, expected or not, every day.

But each week as my belly grows bigger, my baby’s kicks, punches and rolls are growing stronger. I can’t really describe the feeling of having another tiny human being moving around inside my body. It’s weird, wonderful, and oddly comforting and routine. There’s the way she riles up about a half hour after I eat, the way she responds when she hears her daddy’s voice, the early morning kicks before I get out of bed, and late night jabs when I’m trying to fall asleep.

Sure I tire easily and some days it hurts to walk, but I’m sure that I’ll miss all of it once she’s with us on the outside.