Sometimes, We Cry Over the Silliest Things

For Mother’s Day, I shared a snippet of my journey through being a mom of a baby in the NICU. I thought I had faced most of those demons, but we defrosted our fridge last weekend.

When I came home from Texas Children’s Hospital, the Milk Bank sent me home with over 100 bottles of breastmilk I had pumped while staying at the hospital. They represented hours of work and tears. I put them all in the chest freezer. We did not use bottles and they all just sat there. I knew the effort that I had put into those bottles, so I started looking into donating them. It turns out that donating breastmilk is not at all easy to do. Nearly impossible, which is very sad.

Then, Hurricane Ike made an appearance.

We live less than four miles from the coastline and, while we may be at the high point in our neighborhood, we are always in one of the first zones to evacuate. We went north to safety with our four month old baby in tow. Our house was fine, but the electricity went out for about 24 hours. The chest freezer contents were alright, but I did not want to take a chance on the milk if it had even defrosted a little. I had to throw it all out. It was difficult, but I did it.

There was this one bottle though, wedged in a corner and cemented in ice. It would not budge and I left it there.

Seven years later, it was time to defrost the freezer. Past time, actually. I unloaded all the other contents and there was that bottle. I had forgotten it was there, covered up by some cranberries and juice from the lemon tree. It was wedged tight, still. I turned off the freezer and waited. A couple hours later, I knelt down, pulled out the bottle, and took it inside.

I put it on the counter.

I never could fill these things up by pumping. I'm in awe of working moms who do.
I never could fill these things up by pumping. I’m in awe of working moms who do.

The label has his name, medical number (which I had memorized after a few days because I wrote it so often), the date (6/2/08), the time (8am), and medications (which I never listed because I was too tired to write advil every dang time).

I moved it around the counter.

I carried it around the kitchen. I put it in the fridge. I took it out. I put it back on the counter. I looked at it all day.

I could not throw it away.

That night, I was washing dishes, looking at it sitting on the counter, and I started to cry.

That bottle was hours of sitting in a curtained off space in the Milk Bank at Texas Children’s. It was oceans of tears shed while I begged God for the life of my son or the fortitude to survive if he did not. It was words of prayer sent up. It was almost seven weeks of sleeping at the hospital, going to the Milk Bank every 3 hours without fail to pump. It was mastitis and wondering if I was making an effort for nothing. It was pain and heartache.

That bottle was realizing that my baby might live. It was falling in love with Mr. R all over again as he read C.S. Lewis to our boy who we had never yet heard cry. It was holding Gideon for the first time when he finally got off ECMO and was stable. It was rejoicing when I was able to feed him for the first time. It was joy and peace.

That bottle is still sitting in my fridge. Mr. Rochester asked me today if I wanted him to throw it out. I said no. I think I will pour out the milk and save the bottle.

I want to be reminded of that time. I want to remember the tears and the joy. I want to look at it and remember to be thankful for what I have been given because it is a blessing, that child that lived against all odds. I want to remember what it feels like to be cast into the fire and come out refined. I want to remember so I will remember to share my story.

Sometimes we cry over silly things and sometimes we remember why we are blessed by those tears.

Out of All the Titles, Really?

I could not help thinking as I read this article about a Fond du Lac, WI parent seeking to ban 7 books from the school library that it is a good thing she is not more versed in YA literature. The books she has her knickers in a bunch about are pretty tame!

Her list: Ann Brashares’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern, and two Sonia Sones titles, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies and What My Mother Doesn’t Know.

Good thing she has never read any vampire YA. Her head might explode.

–Jane, *boom*

Cones and Uncertainties

Ike is on his way and we are in the (cue ominous music) Cone of Uncertainty!!!!!!

I think this is a crazy name for the situation in which your house may or may not be battered by wind, rain, tornadoes, and storm surge, but I do not have a better label. The problem with uncertainty is that it is… uncertain. Outcomes are unpredictable.

You may remember, dear readers, that I live with two boys. One young and useless, except for his smiles, and one old and an engineer. This means all planning happens in my brain because to an engineer, uncertain is not certain, and until the formula equals out on both sides, i.e. Our City = Mandatory Evacuation, there is no planning to be done.

It makes me wish weather could me measured in formulas. At least then Mr. Rochester would be a little more wary of the storm. I myself only want to be prepared. I grew up in Houston and therefore have respect for hurricanes, having rode some out hunkered down in a bathroom, but I do not worry much. You can only prepare as you are able and then pray for the rest.

It occurs to me that many things in life are uncertain. There is only so much preparedness that can occur when your cone of uncertainty is so large. Whether you are expanding your family, hiring a new employee, launching a program or a website, or starting a new job. There is always a large amount of unknowns and it is how we deal with the unknown that shows our core.

I think it may help to know what our cones of uncertainty cover. In my life, cones of uncertainty cover the next 3 days (because Ike still has some directions to choose), how my now part-time writing and professional obligations fit into my new full time job of being a Mom, and if I will ever be able to sleep all the way through the night again. Ever. I would settle for 4-5 hours at a stretch really. I am not too greedy. I can not really plan for these things. I can plan for different scenarios and pray and that is about it.

Being prepared is the only thing we can ever really do about uncertainty. Preparing without worry, that is. I try not to worry, though I am not always successful. I at least rationally know it is a useless endeavor. Just do what you need to and let things happen. In that vein, I have a full tank of gas, in case of evacuation, a freezer full of ice, in case of power outage, and other things in case we are hunkered down for a few days.

Are you prepared for your cones of uncertainty?

–Jane, watching the storm

Babies, Babies Everywhere and Not a Thought to Think

I am convinced that the more pregnant you are, the more your brain can only focus on babies. I think, biologically, this prepares you for having to concentrate on a wee person’s survival for weeks. I mean years and years. What was I thinking?!

As a result of having what my more experienced friends call “Mommy Brain,” I have been unable to do much of anything interesting. Couple that with the fact that it takes me twice as long and about twice the energy to do even the simplest tasks and you have a Jane who has energy only for nesting.

I am pulling the life trumps blogging card now and taking my maternity leave from this site for a few weeks. I will pop in occasionally with a quip. There will be very big news here on Friday. Not baby news, but actual library related news. Keep your RSS readers ready for that because I think it is fabulous stuff. Would I lead you astray? Never!

There will be an announcement and picture here of Baby Rochester once he decides it is time to join the land of the living, breathing people. He is officially one day late today.

I expect to be back annoying you with inane commentary later in May. Until then, I will be posting ridiculous updates and pictures of the most. wonderful. baby. ever on our family blog.

–Jane, expects to be less round by late May

Why Quitting for Kids is Not So Bad

Penelope Trunk wrote a great post on why women are not as concerned with “taking time off” to have kids as some people think.

I am not expecting “time off” from anything. Raising kids is a full-time job. I do not agree with everything Penelope Trunk has to say on her blog, but much of it resonates with what I have observed and what I feel to be right.

At least one person online and multiple people off, have expressed sadness/concern that I am not staying to climb the traditional ladder or that getting back into “regular” librarianship will be harder then I realize. I do not want the traditional ladder. I want to build my own. The traditional ladder looks incredibly boring from where I am sitting and I do not have the patience for boring. Scenery aside, I am also smart enough to know that I am not cut out to be a full-time 9-5iver and a full-time Mom. That situation would make for a very unhappy and crazy Jane and an extremely unhappy family.

As to the concerns about getting back in, as Penelope Trunk points out, starting one step below where I left or taking a different kind of job is not such a bad deal. It just means I will have diverse experiences. Having those formative years at home with my kids is more important then the job title I end up with when I retire. You can’t take it with you. Besides, I may end up doing something completely different then what I am doing at this very moment (which is sitting at a reference desk, answering directional and simple reference questions). I dare say that something will likely be much better then telling people where the stapler is located.

–Jane, the corporate ladder, ur doin’ it wrng