Thursday, May 27, 2010

Royal Wood and the Full Moon

It's been an extraordinary week. The stars definitely feel like they are aligning somewhat. I hope this bodes well for the sale of my farmhouse.

Tuesday evening, I took myself out on a date. No, it wasn't a date with anyone else. Just a date with myself. For myself. My Sonshine has been becoming so much more mobile and active and all of my energy is devoted to him 24/7. My sister offered to babysit and I attended a concert at the local concert hall in town: David Gray, all the way from England. The guy who opened was Royal Wood.

What's not to like about a guy named 'Royal Wood'?

I first met Royal three years ago when I was lucky to catch him and Emm Gryner play a benefit concert for R.O.O.F. in the main floor of Pazzo, a cozy restaurant in Stratford, Ontario. That night, a winter blizzard swept in and my yoga instructor, who lived in Stratford at the time, invited me to the concert. I had just split up from my common-law husband of 9 years and he and I were still co-habitating for a time before he could move out and I could move on. Those couple of months felt awkward and so I made myself as scarce as I could during those days and got myself out of the house. Blizzard or no blizzard!

Now, this past Tuesday, Royal opened for David Gray, but truth be told, I secretly wished it had been the other way around. I came to adore David Gray years ago by falling too hard for his album, Lost Songs, but the bulk of what he played on Tuesday night sounded so Pop-Tunish, I felt all hoodwinked and disappointed. Royal only sang maybe 5 or 6 songs, but I could have listened to him all night. He was charming, self-deprecating, folksy and he has this warm, melodic, old-world quality to his voice. It's a voice from another age, another time. With witty and winsome lyrics to boot! Plus, he's a pretty damned dapper dresser in his buttoned vest and matching suit pants. The whole package goes down smooth as a tumbler of peaty Laphroaig. I could have nursed that particular drink all evening. Yum, yum!

Instead, I barely made it through the Gray portion of the night and chose to leave early. He just was no longer my thing.

Tonight a full moon has risen. And I own a new home. Well. 'Kay. Conditionally, I own it. I found a home this morning in the town I want to move to and placed an offer to purchase that home by the afternoon. I learned about two hours ago that my offer was accepted. Of course, it's conditional on the sale of my current home. But it's one step closer to everything clicking into place. I have six weeks to sell my current home and hope to move by August. Just in time to watch the Perseids shoot across the sky from a new backyard. May have to get out of town, though, to celebrate them properly. Maybe I'll come back to the conservation area near where I have lived the last 10 years to toast this year's meteor shower. Sounds like a plan.

Tonight, I feel wistful. I cried when I learned the news. I cried for this home, the one I'm leaving. I cried with relief because I know if it all works out, I will feel happy in this new home I'm buying. Life feels really good tonight. Summer is approaching.

Full moon on the rise...

And just to top it all off, a huge silver disk rises in my rural sky, just over my 162-year old apple tree. A part of me feels I am waxing towards "full" myself. Coming full circle. Towards some wholeness. Some greater sense of completion. An even brighter future. It sheds a soft light, like lunar silver on lake water. Like we are sailing towards our own Sea of Tranquility. He fell asleep in my arms while I was on the phone when my agent broke the good news. When I walked him through the home today, he laughed and giggled. I think he could feel the spirit of this new home is a happy one. The street is tree-lined. The street is ride-your-first-bicycle-ride safe. There were buggies on other driveways. It's walkable to my work. It will be walkable to his school. It will be walkable to his daycare if a spot opens for him.

The stars are aligning...

I step outside and breathe in the scent of ploughed manure. A bat darts near the tops of my pines out back. Goosebumps rise on my arms, from the cool breeze approaching over the fields, from the feeling that my days out here are dying now. My heart weeps and sighs. And winks at me. That wink feels familiar. Maybe that's where the goosebumps come from. I look up at dat ol' moon. She's so bright tonight. A waxing moon is good luck. Tomorrow she begins to wane. I make a wish that everything will align by the next time she begins to wax.

Life is good. I feel so blessed.

And blissful...

Music: Royal Wood: Thinkin' About

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


As I write this, you lie curled in fetal position. A strand of my hair still entwined in your fingers from ten minutes ago when you turned and pulled my face close to yours, shut your eyes. Your soft, fragrant breaths hitting my nose in rhythmic caress before I silently, slowly extricate myself from your slumbering grasp.

You have just turned one year old. Your two front top teeth are coming down. One has broken through. Its neighbour on the left side, also. Three new teeth coming! I pause to watch your small chest rise and fall, the sides of your rib cage expand and release. Your tiny, open mouth is perfection. The length of your eyelashes astounding. Your face is still flushed. Ruddy from 48 hours of fever. I have nursed you through two days. You refuse food. You consume nothing but breastmilk. I rock you. I hold you. I sing to you. I love you.

What did I do to deserve you? What did I do to deserve you?

Last year I lay in this bed, just as you are doing now. Fetal position. Belly round and firm. Pillow between the knees. I could feel your kicks, your own tossing as I tried to sleep. It was like carrying heaven on my insides. Certainly, I felt angelic. The moving, stretching limbs inside me, a fallen, shooting star exploding. The labouring and birth, the ultimte act of Divinity.

Twelve years ago today, I saw blood on my panties while peeing in the washroom of a local diner on the way to visit friends. I was miscarrying my first pregnancy at 12 weeks. I look at you now.

Never did I dare dream this.

Every tear I shed those years my body remained mute and unresponsive or screamed aloud each attempt after futile attempt, treatment and drugs. Broken. Empty. Barren. Every tear I shed was some silent prayer that you would come to me.

Never did I dare dream THIS. This YOU.

I had donned a suit of armour. Every bloodstained month was another screw tightening its visor in the face of Hope. Terrifying, hope. My shield, protection. Don't hope too much or you will know devastation. You will know despair and sorrow. Do not go forth to meet the dragon Hope.

But I plodded forward alone, my sword at the ready. My knees were shaking. When I lifted my visor, I expected to be devoured for good. When I lifted my visor, a flame shot through my belly and buried itself there in the endometrial lining. A shooting star exploded.

Into you.

What did I do to deserve you?

Every pull of those 35 vials, every prick of those 35 needles, the tiny round dots of blood on my belly. Every failed month. Every tear shed. Every fucking thing was worth lifting my visor to look upon Hope. To not steal myself against it, finally. Instead, to let it enter me. Devour me. Spit me out. With you intact. Inside me.

A year ago today, I crossed the threshold of my farmhouse with you in my arms, just shy of one week old. Tonight I found out some truly, happy news concerning you and me and this next unfolding year. I can feel my first baby I lost a dozen years ago smiling somewhere out there. Looking down upon us and grinning. A twinkling in the universe. In the ink black night, a light glows a little brighter somewhere.

I stop typing and just savour the sound of your muffled intake of breath. Its song of release through your nostrils. Your shirt has this dinosaur on it. The words on your chest say, "I'm kind of a big deal." No shit.

You roll to your other side. My heart sings. It giggles and flips, in turn.

We begin another new adventure together...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

one year

He turned one year old today. I cannot believe how fast the last 365 days have flown and all that has happened since I pushed him out of my body one year ago. All the emotions I have felt. All the little steps and advances he has accomplished. All the smiles, all the laughter. All the JOY. I really couldn't do it all justice by attempting to put it down here. Kinda like trying to take a photograph of the Grand Canyon.

10 minutes old...
I have some major decisions ahead. And not simply to do with the sale of my home/buying a new home. There is a lot on my mind these days in addition to all of that.

But today, I just wanted to focus on him. My parents came by to celebrate and my twin sister came to watch him for me while I ran some errands. The big party is here at the farmhouse on Saturday afternoon.

1 month old                        2 months old
Today started off slowly and perfectly. We lounged in bed, fell asleep again, and didn't wake until 9am. It was unusual, but lovely and lazy and his face lit up every time I sang, "Happy Birthday" to him. He listened to all the phonecalls, trying to grab the phone all the while and wondered why everyone else seemed to be singing the same song.

3 months old                          4 months old

My camera kind of died today. So my sister was kind enough to lend me hers so the photos I include here are ones of over the past year. The changes in him as we celebrated each month older.

5 months old                             6 months old

And now twelve months have passed. When I have more time and am not so exhausted, I want to compose a blog to him, written for him, dedicated to him and about what this past year has meant to me.

7 months old                               8 months old

For now, I need to clean the house in preparation for a showing and hit the hay. I am too tired to gather my thoughts very well tonight, but I will say that giving birth to him was the singular most fulfilling and happiest day of my life thus far and every day since I have felt no diminishing of the immense JOY it was to become his mother and give birth to this beautiful Sonshine of mine.

9 months old                              10 months old

I continue to treasure the gift he is to me and my life. What a lucky, lucky woman I am! Happy birthday, my beautiful, sweet, angel boy. You are my Son and Moon and Stars. You are my world. You are my universe.

11 months old                           12 months old

And I love you with all my heart.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dia de la Madre

It's indescribable. But I'll try writing this post, anyhow...

For a long time now, my family has gathered together for a Mother's Day brunch. It was really to honour our mother. But for many years, it was a gathering I would dread. I hated going. After losing one baby, then trying trying trying for a number of years for another, then losing a second baby six years after the first baby...

Well, I'm sure you can imagine. It was a bit painful to be out for brunch where I was literally surrounded by mothers being celebrated and motherhood, the focus of the day. Everywhere I looked there were mothers and their little children, flowers and laughter and smiles and, best of all, homemade cards from their little ones.

I bit my lip, my tongue, tried to swallow my envy down with the pancakes and syrup, but it would just get stuck in my throat and I'd go home, curl up in bed and cry myself asleep into my pillow.

Eventually, I had to tell my parents I wouldn't be attending the family Mother's Day brunch. I just couldn't do it. I made a point of going separately to my mom's and giving her a card and gift that morning or the day before. They both understood my decision.

Last year was the first time in many years I attended the brunch. I was so round and ready to burst, literally as I would give birth three days following Mother's Day. I felt safe celebrating it a little early.

But today. Today was my very first official Mother's Day as a mommy finally. There was snow on the ground this morning. This, after record temperatures in April reaching 25 degree, summer-like weather.  On the drive to meet my family, the sky was full of fluffy, white clouds. And I thought that is just what my heart feels like today: bright, white, fluffy, weightless, glorious, breathtaking. Like a cloud without rain. Like a cloud whose precipitation is pure and white and falls slowly and gently and quietly on a May morning such as this.

How do I properly put it into words just how I feel this day? Nursing him this morning, I made sure the tears that flowed down my cheeks didn't hit the soft curls of his hair. Tears of relief. Of pure ecstasy. Of longed for Joy. Tears for the babies I'd lost. Tears for the baby I found. The baby I have now. Smiles and tears.

I overhear people bemoaning parenthood all the time. Rolling their eyes in collusion over the burden it sometimes is, and according to some, often is, as though it is more often than not. And even as a parent now, I remain in mute astonishment towards this attitude. I wonder if I will ever get to a stage where I take this gift for granted? This amazing gift bestowed and entrusted to me. To parent the child I have. Would I, too, be one of these nodding, winking people had I not endured such a battle to have my child? Would I, even if I'd had the struggle I've had, if my baby had been colicky, not so easy, not so perfect as he's been? I admit I have a hard time imagining me ever taking this gift for granted after all the years of wanting it for so long and dreaming of it and hoping for it and having those hopes dashed time and time again.
People say, "you must be tired." "You look exhausted." And I know I do. I am tired somedays. But it's a happy tired. It's a "I'm so goddamn lucky" tired. I wouldn't trade it for all the sleep in the world. People say, "it must be hard on your own." But I know, having lived both sides now: I would rather be alone with this gift of a child, than be with somebody without this gift. If I only had those two options, I know which one I would choose. Have chosen.

I am so lucky lucky lucky. I know so many women who have struggled with infertility. Who still do. Who have had one or more IVFs in their struggle and whose IVF surgeries failed in some way. The fact that mine worked on my first attempt, resulting in the birth of my beautiful Sonshine, is unfathomable to me after all the years of failed attempts and despair, loss of hope.

This day. To celebrate this day, finally! I cannot describe it. But I will say, it feels like heaven. And I am over the moon this day.

Today, before leaving for brunch. I caught a gift outside my front window: a very pregnant robin perched on the wooden stoop in the snow. A sign, perhaps. A message...

Happy, Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Georgian Bay Lullaby

On Thursday, April 29, I finally put my fieldstone farmhouse on the market. The sign is hammered into the lawn at the end of the driveway and I breathe a hearty sigh of relief to have finally reached this first part of the moving process. I had stayed up almost every night the preceding three or four nights, cleaning and tidying, straightening and dusting, washing and organizing. The entire process of home preparation started so many months ago now, I cannot even tell when it truly began. But to have reached this goal, for the most part single-handedly, I feel no small amount of pride and sense of accomplishment.

I have lived here for a decade now and while I've been packing away items, either for donation or for a future move, I've felt that each box weighs a little heavier with the memories I am enclosing along with the actual items. There is a LOT of stuff! And ten times as many memories to carry with me...

Tom Waits and Homemade Pies. What more could one want?

Three weeks ago, I receive an e-mail from a girlfriend inviting me up to her family's longtime cottage on Georgian Bay. The invitation is for April 23-25, the weekend immediately preceding my on-the-market goal date of the 29th.

My initial response is, "I don't think so." I don't say no immediately. I express my gratitude for the kindness to have myself and my son included, especially on a women's weekend away designed for mothers to have a break from mothering, some time to themselves, some girl time, some adult conversation time. I write that I doubt I will be able to swing taking the time away so close to the final approach of my listing date.

By the time the 22nd rolls around, however, I feel exhausted. My inner resources are depleted and I am still a crucial week away from getting things done. I write my friend and tell her I've changed my mind. Perhaps a break from all-things-house-all-the-time is just what I actually need to make it through the next week and meet my listing date? And so, I pack some bags, food and clothing for my Sonshine and three Subarus roll their way up to LaFontaine the evening of Friday the 23rd. This part of the Bay is near Christian Island. Gordon Lightfoot immediately comes to mind and I smile a secret smile.

It is dark when we arrive. As I step out of my car, I remove my shoes to feel the cool sand ooze between my toes for a moment before unpacking the gear. He has fallen asleep, of course, it being a three-hour drive and the dark of night licking the windows, slowly inking away the blur of trees and telephone poles.

The first thing that hits me as I walk into the cottage is the heavy, smoky scent of cedar. The walls are planked with it and it makes the bunk bed I am assigned in the back room even cozier. I lie down and stretch out to the sound of his tiny snores in the portable playpen I have set up in my little back room. The waves I do not hear. It is much too cold to open the windows.

cedars = dreamy

I wait like this until I'm sure his slumbering is solid, then creep out into the living room where huge plates of cheese and fig crackers and chocolate so-called 'orgasmatrons' (don't ask) await consumption. With the wine and the women, all that is missing really is song, though someone eventually clicks an iPod into a speaker base. There is a lot of laughter. There is warmth and wit. I feel like I've OD'd on some euphoric drug and realize how much time I've been spending alone out at my farmhouse. How much I've missed, not only adult conversation, but the company of wonderful women friends. I feel so blessed to have been embraced on this wee, Northern adventure.

sailboat, like an upturned belly of a beached dolphin

Saturday morning, the weather is glorious. The wind still a little cool, but a high of 17. It is odd for me not to have my eyes on my son every moment. Every time I enter or leave a room, I hear murmurs of, "We'll watch him." "I've got him covered." "Let me take him." "Will he come to me?"

White Pines. Signature of Northern Ontario.

It is as though I've been sent to some kind of camp for new mothers in heaven. He has 16 extra arms holding him, lifting him, swinging him, rocking him. And mine are, unbelievably, empty for a good chunk of the weekend. It feels strange. Surreal. But I allow myself the break. So this, I think to myself, this is what it is like. To have a partner, some "other" helping you. Eight partners, in fact. Wow. I didn't know it could feel like this.

Beach baby. All blissed out.

It is the first time I realize how much of my time, my body, my soul, my essence is spent connected to him and invested in him every second of each day. I am given the chance to relax, not to have to rush back to him, to breathe. I am encouraged to go for a walk on the beach. Alone. What a luxury it is to do this! I love the imprint of my foot sinking into the wet sand. The water is chilly. It is only April, after all. I am thinking of leaving my farmhouse. How much I will miss it. The surf of Georgian Bay rushes over my toes. I feel like I am this sand and this farmhouse is the water. The tidal pull, my heart. It is slowly ebbing away from me. I have to let it go and move on. I turn and look down the beach. He is back at the cottage. On the waves, small spurts of laughter carry over the water. In the sand are two perfectly shaped seashells. One for him. One for me. I pocket them and head back.

sockless before May = heaven

I feel so self-indulgent taking this brief time on my own. And still, I miss him! The feeling is as though one of my limbs is missing. That third arm I have become so used to son on my hip as I move around my kitchen, his small hand clinging to the button at my breast, the other reaching up behind me to gently caress the curls at the back of my head.

By nightfall, he has encountered an unusual amount of excess stimulation in 8 different smiles, 16 laughing eyes, 8 pairs of hands, of arms, passing him round and around, holding and hugging him. So much stimulation that he has problems falling asleep. This is a strange place for him. He likes the feel of the sand. The bay water is cold. Those white gulls sound so funny! This isn't home. Where is he? He is so out of his regular routine and familiar world that he will not go down to sleep. Each time I lay him in his playpen asleep and creep out, he awakens again crying for me. It is not until the fourth time I return that I begin to sing the lullaby. It is one my father and mother used to sing to me. An Irish one. He recognizes it immediately with a quiet smile as I nurse him. I am rocking him slowly in my arms, the fragrance of cedar, the sound of lakewater lapping to additionally soothe him. His tiny hand is at my throat, sensing the vibration of my chords as I sing, the pulse of my heartbeat beating its own rhythmic lull. And finally he succumbs to a deeper sleep. The kind he has at home.

Georgian Bay Lullaby

And I, myself, am lulled: from being up North, my favourite part of Ontario. From a two-hour hike in a forest of thick, old birch trees. From the company of 8 lovely women, giving their time, their support, their ears to me. Their compassion and strength and generosity and man, their FOOD, all that glorious cooking! I feel replenished. My inner batteries recharged.

Cloud on Georgian Bay

The rain doesn't start until we are on our way back home. I wave to darling J., the hostess with the mostess. I look in the rearview, at the white pines receding. At the mirror facing my son's seat. His eyes look up and to the side. He is smiling a tiny smile. I know he is replenished, too. He likes this North country. The water. The beach. He likes the sand and the cedars. He is an outdoors kinda boy. And he loves Nature. Just like his mama...