From Ballpoint to Sharpie

It has been a while. I have been thinking of you and trying to read your updates whenever I can. 

I have been thinking of this blog and my lengthy silence. Yet the words have been evasive, the emotions myriad and oscillating wildly. 

Parenting a highly intelligent and spirited toddler whose parents fought hard to bring him to life and are accordingly doting and indulgent has proven much more difficult than I could have imagined possible. He loves his baby brother but cannot be trusted with him (because too much love can be a bad thing…) and has developed a repertoire of behaviours to test boundaries and confirm his place in our family. 

The challenge of it all has become particularly (and painfully) obvious in the wake of a cesarean delivery followed in short order by a ruptured organ and emergency appendectomy together with a spouse who has had two surgeries of his own (eye, both times) and been wrapped up in trial and other work demands during my slow and occasionally stuttering recovery.  It has felt tremendously difficult and often overwhelming, at times soul-shattering if I am being honest. 

I have never felt more humble. More broken. More defeated. More desperate and without hope. Not at all times. Yet when it happens my ability to see past the tempest and dark sky enveloping it vanishes. 

I have made terrible mistakes. I have said dreadful things to a little boy I love with my entire being. I have cried myself to sleep and back to waking again. The suffering has been great and sadly shared. 

Parenting is hard work. The hardest work. Ever. 

On the good news front? Baby Azulito is thriving. Adjusted for age he recently measured in the 97th percentile for height and weight. I am finally (as of 3 days ago – yes, it took 10 long, exhausting and tearful weeks) breastfeeding exclusively. I have been reticent to write or say that for fear of my supply disappearing and my baby crying out in hunger because I cannot sustain him once again. 

Along the way I made peace with feeding my baby formula. Peace was preceded by tears. And a few scars. 

Mommy shaming is real and truly devastating. It needs to stop. It likely never will. Not in my lifetime anyway. I wish it were otherwise. But I have made peace with that too. 

Without knowing it, without having or finding words to make sense of or name it, I struggled in these past ten weeks with forming a deep and impenetrable bond with baby Azulito. This too has been deeply humbling. Yet with this too I believe I have finally made peace. 

With the Miracle Toddler, the bond crystallized with the endorphin tsunami that swelled and crested with his birth. It materialized in tears that rolled down my cheeks as I looked at his newborn perfection. My heart exploded from the love I had never known or known so intimately and a part of that heart I never knew existed opened up. On it was written the name of my first living child. In indelible ink. 

Not so with the birth of Azulito. The writing was there on my heart. In ballpoint. Tentative. Watchful. I was not ready somehow to surrender to the drowning waves of love. I was not even sure if I had gotten wet yet. Something more was needed. 

Sometime in the past week that something happened. I do not know when. Nor how. Nor why. I only know it happened. My heart broke open and where once was written haltingly in ballpoint Azulito’s given name are now penned those same letters in the bold, black ink of a Sharpie. The waves of love have crashed. My heart has burst open once again. 

If you ask me now what was missing I could not tell you. Not with any certainty. I have some ideas. But they are speculation at best. 

Perhaps it was delivering via surgery and not when planned rather than experiencing all that comes with a vaginal delivery?Maybe this is one more instance of how recurrent loss has crushed my confidence and faith that such a gift could really be mine and might actually stick around? Perhaps having chosen to use donor eggs left me feeling once removed? Maybe being so sick so soon after delivering made a difference? Perhaps being unable to nurse at all when I was sick and unable to sustain my baby with what little milk I was producing before I finally sought and obtained a prescription for Domperidone a few weeks ago had an impact on the bonding process? Maybe our struggles with the Miracle Toddler preyed on my self worth (they still do) and I unwittingly erected a barricade to loving and being loved deeply by Azulito? Perhaps all of the drugs I had taken for my rampant immune system had dulled my emotions?

I do not know. 

What I do know is that I am in love with this beautiful little person, this enchanting old soul who has come home and into my arms at last. My heart hurts with the depth and breadth of this love. 

The ink is indelible at last. And so it shall remain. 

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28 thoughts on “From Ballpoint to Sharpie

  1. I’ve missed reading your lovely writing and honest thinking, so welcome back. I can only imagine the intensity of patenting – two! – in the midst of intense physical recovery and I’m sure it is, indeed, trying on the soul. But I’m very glad that azulito has captured your heart, even if it took a bit longer to grab on to this time. Glad you’re back.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear that after EVERYTHING you endured to get Azulito that his birth and infancy have been burdened by so much real strife. I hope you all have hit a stride now and can settle into enjoying each other with just the everyday stuff, xo

    • Thank you. That’s very kind and I truly appreciate it. There definitely are moments of stride being hit. Then a derailment happens. But at least no one has blown up the track yet so I can keep getting everyone back on it… Eventually.

  3. Thank you for being so courageous and sharing your truths. My heart goes out to you that you’ve been through SO much physically and still have to parent two small children on top of it! If you survived these months, you can survive anything.

    • Thank you very much. I survived this morning without any homicidal moments notwithstanding the MT’s decision to decorate my walls with black crayon that stubbornly refused to come off with my usual remedies. At least he wasn’t hitting anyone though he did throw the plastic box of said crayons at his dad and a crayon almost hit the baby (while I was in the basement tending the cat I inherited (rescued?) a few weeks ago. But the cat (my late mom’s cat, now 15 and badly neglected when I got her) and her story is fodder for another post. Maybe. Lots of sorrow around that too. I joked that it was easier being at work than on maternity leave the other day. I’m not sure that’s really a joke. πŸ˜‰

  4. There was nothing easy about your road to having baby number two and certainly nothing easy about the road after he arrived between your son adjusting to being a big brother, your 2x recovery, and your husband being away for work. I hope you acknowledge what a tremendous feat it was that you survived that tough 10 week period and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back… And possibly a glass of wine. πŸ˜‰ I can certainly relate to the fear and worry about this gift being taken away and I’m so glad to hear that you now share that same connection of unrelenting love as you do with the miracle toddler. Thank you for your candor in this regard. I’m so happy to hear the breast-feeding is working out for you full time (albeit a little jealous…just kidding) and also glad that you addressed the mommy shaming issue. I wish there was more support for formula feeding for those of us who weren’t able to make it work. The guilt, stress and frustration of try relentlessly to make breast-feeding work only heaped on more stress and insecurities during a very hormonally charged and emotionally insecure time. I, too, hope the mommy shaming stops because the end of the day were all just trying to do what’s best for our child. Sending our love to you and your family.

    • And excuse some of my typos i’m using text to speech with a napping baby in my arms. My poor little man had his vaccinations today however I’m quite certain I cried more than he did!

    • Thank you so much. Moms are so vulnerable in the post partum period. The last thing we need is people telling us that there is only one way to care for our children. By making peace with formula feeding I actually had to except that it may be the only thing I fed my child is my milk supply did not change substantially. I will give myself a pat on the back if you do the same for making peace and doing what was best for your son as well. And believe me there have been glasses of wine! I would love to share one with you and celebrate making it at long last and faking it whenever we aren’t quite able to make it yet.

  5. It is so lovely to hear from you, my friend. I have noticed that a lot of the recently post-partum ladies have expressed some level of ambivalence or anxiety over their new babies or the new routine that they have now assumed. I’m so sorry that the first weeks of Azulito’s life was wrought with surgeries and other challenges, and that it perhaps affected your bonding together. I’m glad through, that the tides have turned and that you’re settling into your new found love for your new babe. Don’t beat yourself up over your frustrations with the MT. You’ve got a lot on your plate right now, and the MT needs to work out the boundaries that exist to keep everyone sane and safe. Hugs and love to you!

  6. My friend, pregnant with her second child, worried/wondered how she was ever going to love this child as much as she loved her first child, Jennifer. Then Kristin was born and it happened. “A part of that heart I never knew existed opened up.” Her husband suffered the same anxious thoughts, and the bonding took a few weeks, and then it happened. My theory is that each time a child is born, a new room is created in our heart. Sometimes we create it and decorate it in advance, other times it is built in and furnished a bit later. But somehow, our two bedroom heart (husband and child) becomes a three-bedroom heart. I believe the heart’s ability to expand is infinite. We can love and love and love!

    I’m sure you are too young to remember a columnist named Erma Bombeck. She was a humor columnist who wrote of family life. In one of her columns, she wrote to her three children and addressed first the oldest, then the middle child, then the youngest like this: “I always loved you best because…” How can this be? It just is.

    As children grow, we might have more in common with one or the other, but the love is equal.

    My goodness, you have gone through so much to have your children! Your bravery is almost beyond my comprehension. And here your children are, throwing boxes of crayons and learning to nurse and being beloved little beings who are going to bless the world. What happiness! Why not draw a frame around the wall art and let it be? If he grows to be an artist, that little piece of wall art might fund your retirement home! πŸ™‚

    • What a delightful sequence of thoughts. Thank you very much. Wasn’t it Erma Bombeck who also wrote that rather than spending 9 months bemoaning the inconveniences and discomforts of pregnancy she would savour every moment of joining God in creating the beautiful gift of a child (I’m paraphrasing and perhaps misattributing but I thought it was her. I fully relate to the concept and reality of each child being the best ever. Thank you again for sharing your wise kind and compassionate words.

  7. Its so great to read your blog. I was missing your updates. You are so strong to have dealt with so much to have your second miracle that you still dealt with more after. Just remember you have done amazing and how strong you have become through this experience. Your boys are so lucky to have a strong mom!!

    A little update for me unfortunately we have had another setback.. Our donor now has a medical condition that needs to clear up until we start the cycle. One day at a time I will be happy once things start again getting very frustrated and anxious… Just have to know a few more months we can happen. 😊

    • Thank you very kindly Milena. I am very sorry to hear that you are facing yet another setback. I am confident that when the time comes all of this waiting will have served some purpose but I truly appreciate how frustrating it is in the moment.

  8. I am so sorry that this birth and the subsequent weeks have been so physically and emotionally challenging. Your fight to bring baby A here has been an inspiration for me. I’m glad that you are finally able to feel the bond and love that you two obviously share. Transitions are hard and the MT is just learning this. As he tests and recognizes the new boundaries I expect that things will settle down. Please be as gracious with yourself as you would be with one of us. I’m sure that you love those boys so much and so well that anything said or done out of pain/frustration/anger will not leave lasting impressions on them. I hope that things get easier and you continue to feel better with each passing day. πŸ’›

  9. I am so glad that you are bonding with the baby and finding your own beat with MT and making that adjustment. It is challenging I’m sure, but I am glad you were able to find your way. Give both boys a hug from me and enjoy this time !!

  10. Hello, my dear, dear friend! I, too, have been in a period of lengthy silence but I have been thinking of you, as always. Much like you, I have struggled mightily lately with putting anything I’m going through into words for others to read. Perhaps soon I will also break my silence….

    What a beautifully written and poignant post, as always. The intensity is so honest, and so real, here. Sometimes I wish I was a person who didn’t feel things so intensely. It’s a blessing, and yet a curse. It leaves you so vulnerable, capable of being shattered as you describe. I’ve been there, too. Am there now, probably. But with that vulnerability also comes intense love, truer than anything imaginable.

    Be well, my lovely.

    • Thank you so much for writing. I was thinking of and worrying about you. I had intended to email you yesterday to check if you were still afloat but yesterday was a Very Bad Day. Envision 3-year old shrieking “bad mommy! You’re a bad mommy!” in fever pitch as we waited for over 90 minutes for parts at IKEA… Erstwhile punching me and baby brother… I know you will be able to relate. Ugh!

      • Aw, thanks for worrying about me. I’ve been thinking about you, too! I NEED to write a post. Maybe today I can squeeze something in. There’s been lots of good, but also some not-so-good with me, and as always it is all a rapidly moving target. But I miss feeling connected to my bloggy friends.

        I am so, so sorry to hear about your Very Bad Day. Boy howdy, can I empathize with that. It must be doubly or triply hard in public. In our case, it all pretty much happens in the privacy of our own home. But if I had a nickel for every time Peanut told me “I hate you, mama!” in the past month we would probably have enough to buy a new car.

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