Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Life Higher Than Love: What Else Marriage Needs

Today is the two months until our two year anniversary mark. I'm a sucker for the 21st day of every month now, gleeful over another month married to my beloved.

Will and I have been through a lot together.

  • We were long distance (about two hours, give or take traffic) while dating, engaged and six months into marriage. 
  • We were longer distance when Will was away on "away rotations" - rotations during medical schools done at other hospitals for more training.  
  • He supported me as I realized all my hopes and dreams were no longer what I wanted, and as I moved forward without having a clear plan. He cheers me on in new jobs; first nannying, now teaching.
  • I supported him through medical school, graduate school for clinical research, and now, into his emergency medicine residency. 
  • We were with each other through our first pregnancy, our first birth, our first baby, our first diagnosis, and now, our second pregnancy. 
  • We've moved three times, and lived in three very different regions. 
  • We've been together through funerals, births, and weddings; hurt feelings, pain, wonder, surprise and new happiness.
  • We have driven literally thousands of miles together in the car and still enjoy each other's company (a feat, some say). 
When Will proposed, I did not squeal or cry (though the when and how was quite a beautiful surprise), but rather, felt such a sense of calm and overriding joy that he wanted to join his life to mine, forever.

I say forever because Will and I do not believe divorce is possible in a marriage of true minds, bound together under the Catholic sacrament. We were 24 and 25 on our wedding day: the re-start button on our lives was pushed. No longer could we live for ourselves; we are responsible for what we have tamed. We are responsible for the roses in our heart. We must tend to others, as well as ourselves, and think of the seasons.

There is a beautiful sentiment I read in a short story once: a woman runs into her ex-husband, a man she was married to for 24 years. Hello, my life, she says. I was struck by that line. What? No life of mine, the ex-husband spat back. But this is not the case.

Our marriage is more than the love I feel for Will, the love I have for Will, the love I want for Will. Love is important. Love is everything. And past everything is the reality of trust.

Trust is an entirely different element of our relationship. I trust Will with my emotions - when we disagree, he does not belittle me. When I am upset, he comforts me. He trusts me to build him up and not tear him down.

We've been having a lot of discussions about money lately. We go over our finances and budget every single month. This kind of accountability shows each other that we respect our mutual funds. We both have "wish lists" and always put family needs first. This can be challenging when all I'd rather do (than clean or do laundry) is decorate our home, and buy better organizing pieces, or buy more frames to fill with pictures, or a can of paint for our dreary rental kitchen.

That being said, the kind of trust Will instills in me is empowering. When I was struggling over being the one who interacted with Grace every day, responsible for doing exercises and stretches with her, he reminded me that I am her mother, and I am the best thing for Grace. And this is true - even when we are playing, we are doing therapy, and having a wildly good time. I trust Will to be the best father to our littles. My heart exploded tonight when he came home; Grace saw him and immediately grinned and started waving wildly to her Dad.

Late summer 2014
I trust that Will is there for me when I need him, and that he is going to put me first. I put him first too - even though that means I am missing Thanksgiving and Christmas this year with my family. There is sacrifice in love, and sacrifice in trust, and beauty.

Trust is earned every single day. I trust Will to do his best at his job, and he trusts me to do the same. We hold each other up, and are realistic about day-to-day happenings. Some days, he has to fold seven loads of laundry because I went laundry crazy and didn't stop to fold. He doesn't trust me to be efficient, but he asks me to be. Realism and reasonable expectations is another part of our marriage.

When looking for someone to marry, it is more than someone to love and be loved by - it is someone you can trust, and someone you can hold at a high standard to be the best partner to you. They should inspire you to be the best version of yourself too, and a better partner. Trust does not deceive, does not seek retribution or its own gain.

Trust is what makes marriages last, and what I am learning to really dive into without my safety net.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

My View (vol. 24)

What I am reading: The Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie

What I am eating: yogurt, Halloween oreos, candy corn, kiwis, colby jack cheese sticks

Meal planning: This went much better this week (I actually made a plan!) - only to be derailed by a stovetop that stopped heating, so my 30 minute meal turned into a two hour ordeal. On the positive side, this baked chicken recipe (panko crumbs + parmesan cheese, need I say more) recipe turned out well. We're eating the leftovers tonight! I even had double the chicken, and the covering outlasted it all!

TWO. HOURS. LATER. (recipe to follow because delicious)

This week, I am going to try lentil soup, some sort of beef and noodles dish (because we are eating too much chicken again), and a sweet potato side my mother-in-law passed on to me.

We are still trying to integrate adult foods into Grace's menu. She was eating really well and now - poof! She is mostly interested in what is on our plate, and then once we share (or give her a baby portion), she is over it. She does love colby jack cheese sticks, though, so I will be picking up more tomorrow! She is also drinking a lot more milk, and showing interest in our cups, which deserves a thousands claps.

Helping mama fix waffles after an extra early morning wake-up
Note: As I type this, she is eating a fish stick. Miracles happen! And yes, I like fish sticks. 

This week in history: GRACE TOOK HER FIRST STEPS. At PT on Thursday, we kept the bench we usually stand her at lower than usual to practice standing up with her right leg first, and on her own volition, she took five steps to the left. Then back to the right, then back to the left, and so on. Her therapist was beyond elated, and kept saying she had not expected Grace to be trying to walk yet. She also said earlier that she had never seen a hemi (Grace has right hemiparesis CP, aka her right side is affected) do an extended crawl before, and that is 85% of Grace's crawling now.

She also likes to put herself at the edge of everything (and expects you not to let her fall).

Will... Will... WILL PLEASE DON'T LET HER FALL. - me
She pulls herself up on her knees, and occasionally can stand. She is babbling more and continues to love her parents the mostest. She is a rock star!!! So in love with my smiley baby.

Go Gracie go!

And this girl:

Hi bebe deux!

Will stayed home from work one day this week because he got chills, etc. and he's on his OB rotation. He was fully pathetic, and then felt better enough to go in the next day - and he got to deliver a baby! I felt sick again this week too (what is the deal?!), totally blanked on an OB appointment (whoops), and finished grading all outstanding essays by my students with the help of Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet). Still playing catch-up, but that felt really good. Now, prepping for class this week while Grace crawls all over me. Looooving it.

Will and I got to play tennis yesterday too and it was great fun! Grace did a great job watching us from her blanket!


{{Also... like The Corner with a View Facebook page? All the cool kids are doing it! I tried to get over 100 this week, and now I can fingers cross for 200! Thanks to all my new readers for being so awesome - and ye olde faithfuls!!!}}

Prayers: For the Middle East. For the lonely hearts. For my three siblings who have birthdays this month! For the Church and her members. For peace in our hearts, and any private intentions in yours.

Next week I am going to: Finish thank you notes, get Grace's medical/ therapy papers better organized (vs. the lovely pile I have going on), make myself feel well enough to bake snicker doodle cookies, enjoy Fall, and get ready for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to come visit this next weekend! Also, see good friends T&B who have a wedding in the area!!

Re-living our birthday this afternoon... indulgent mama, happy baby!

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I Don't Ask About Future Babies

TW: babies, infertility, miscarriage

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I've never lost a baby in utero, but it's more common than many admit. Both my mother and my mother-in-law have children in Heaven, and my Father says that losing that baby (whom he calls "Joseph") is what firmly cemented him in the every-life-is-precious camp.

I am also in this camp: both my babies are miracles. I do not take either of them for granted. I have too many friends who have confided in me that they have lost a baby in utero, or have been unsuccessful in conceiving a dear one.

It's a common enough sentiment: a couple gets married -- So! when are you going to have a baby?!

Then, that baby is born. A few months later: So! when are you going to have another baby?!

Sometimes, people ask because they think you should wait. Other times, they ask because they hope it is soon. Most times, people are just being nosy.

Will and I have discerned differently about baby timings, and fortunately, so far, we've conceived both times under an agreed-upon time frame. After bebe deux is born next year, we will re-evaluate for when we'd like bebe tres to make a mark in the world. We will continue to re-evaluate and talk about it, which is one of the definite perks and intimacies of natural family planning.


But we're realistic that babies have their own timelines. That conception rates are under 25 percent. That we've been very, very, very lucky and blessed to have two under two.

When we ask people about their baby timelines, it brings up a lot of emotions: it brings up career fears and ambitions, it brings up longing and doubt, it brings up the serious side of sex and the true effort that goes into having a baby.

Not everyone is so lucky.

Many people will try for years. Some people suffer miscarriages, even multiple miscarriages. Those losses are not easy to move on from, and the woman's body often needs time to heal, as well as her spirit.

When I became pregnant with our second, I was ecstatic. It was exactly right. Will was excited, and this means our two babies will be babies together. We wanted the first two close in age.


Then, sadness draped over me like a mantle I could not take off. I couldn't tell anyone! Anyone who was married and trying, anyone I knew who was suffering from not becoming pregnant. This pregnancy would hurt them, deeply. I told my family and slowly told friends, and wondered when I should go public. Technically, I did not have to go public - but these days, I couldn't avoid having my picture taken for nine months, and then no one would notice the extra baby just happening to hang out with us...

After a month and a half of this sadness, I realized that it is good to rejoice over the happiness of our second, and there is a time to be sad with others.

I would never wish away my babies, but I can pray for those angels in Heaven, including my brother Joseph, and for their families on earth.

I should add that I do not mind discussing babies or future babies with the well-intentioned and loved ones; but there should be a spirit of discretion. I pray that the joy I have with my babies will inspire a love and want to pour out self-wants and fear, and fall in love with the little human who will always love you better than you can love yourself.


Now, back to the baby who is calling "mama!" to me...!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Finding Your Groove

Current Groove: Part I

I'm beginning to sense a pattern in my days... wake up with Will at 5:30 a.m., drop back to sleep; wake up to Grace talking (babbling, whatever) through the monitor, force myself up; breakfast for her, eggs for us, and playtime while I eat my breakfast. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all have morning therapy sessions. Then a nap for her, and usually me too. Force myself up (unless nausea is too much) and do something productive - clean up the kitchen, the bedroom or the downstairs. Vacuum. Sweep. Repeat.

Grace is awake. Hello, sunshine! On Thursdays, we have to rush off to PT. It's our busiest day.


Our babysitter comes at noon, feeds Grace. I scurry off to prep for class. Teach class. Back to Grace! Afternoons blur together. We'll go on a walk, or swing and play on the porch, or play inside, and she "helps" me do more chores. We start dinner together. I feed her. If we're lucky (like this month!), Will is home for dinner. (Sorry ED rotations, I do not miss you.) We have family time and play, talking and laughing and encouraging Grace to imitate us: ba ba ba ma ma ma da da da!

Bath time for Grace! New diaper and jammies and brushing her teeth and reading books! Family prayer time: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, O My Jesus. Kisses and hugs for Grace, and her wubbanub and blankets. Music and stars out of her elephant. Lights out.

Game over. I am spent. My evenings are slow - I catch up on work and e-mails, before closing my computer to read something not on a screen so I will actually fall asleep at a reasonable time, hopefully before 10:30 p.m. I try not to think about my to-do list; I am trying to be more active about reading Scripture and praying the rosary (especially during October!) or divine mercy chaplet. Even one decade is better than none.

That is to say, I am learning to love where I am planted. 


We're only four months into residency (?!?!?) and I am already over it. Will and I were laughing the other day about what would have happened if he had taken a surgery residency last year instead of his Masters program. GOOD LORD, we laughed. Disaster averted. It would have been worse, with less Grace time and way less together time.

Without trying to be woe-is-me, residency is tough because all I want is a best friend to come over and schmooze and drink coffee with me, or invite good friends over for dinner so we can laugh forever, or have family close enough to help me when I am sick (like I have been, for the past two weeks) or take care of Grace when I go to the OB's office (she isn't allowed to come on Friday, apparently) or just be around. Residency for the non-doctor is isolating - your spouse is gone for over half the day, swallowed up by hospital pace and work and patients.

My resentment of residency is nothing to my gratitude of the awesome program he is in, or his employer. This is not resentment of my husband working long hours, then studying for many hours - he still spends time with us. My husband is a total, total rock star.

So back to my groove.

Groovin': Part II

What I am learning in my loneliness is that there is holiness in my solace.

In motherhood, I am everything to Grace. Everything! She wants me to hold her, play with her, be with her. She tells me that I am important. She loves me. I thank God every day for my most perfect daughter, even when she is being a stubborn wiggle-worm, it is her wiggles that bring me joy! I am grateful for my 20 week roll-polly bebe deux; I am so excited to see him or her on Friday! I meditate on how to be a double mother.


In my personhood, I am learning more about myself. I am responsible for my health: I prioritize napping, exercising, eating well. I am responsible for my prayer life and my relationship with God. I am starting a prayer journal again. I am resisting the temptation to be totally overwhelmed, and to accept that I can only do so much in a day, week, month. I exercise my brain with good books. I pray for others. I spend less time online (though, arguably, tough with my jobs).

When others are not around to fill a void you feel, we must not let negativity leak in. Even if I want friends to come over, I recognize that our daily schedule is not very flexible. I recognize that I am often looking for someone to connect with, and if Will is working, it is easy to feel extra lonely. It is easy to seek the material gains - buying something special, rewarding myself for a Julie-well-done! Accountability to a budget keeps me away, but isn't it so easy to justify?

In my marriage, I am learning that I am flexible, but I do not always have to bend. I told Will I've been feeling "more married" lately - not unreasonable, I think, to feel that way about a person I've moved three times with, two pregnancies with, two graduations and now two jobs with - a kind of settling more into my vocation as wife and mother. Will says he still loves me more than anyone. Well, fine. A reasonable response to my expressive love. I am still getting used to this safe honesty. I am no longer holding back my tears during movies, be it Lord of the Rings or The Young Victoria (because beauty is worth feeling!!!) I am taught so much by the ways Will loves me. 


Finding My Groove: Part III

Okay, so I haven't found my groove yet. But I'm going to yoga on Friday (trying new things), and I am doing 10 minute challenges with myself to:
  • Read Scripture
  • Pray [part of] the rosary or divine mercy chaplet
  • Clean house (therapeutic to me)
  • Clean inbox (my avoidance)
  • Read for pleasure!
  • Rest
  • Find a way to be creative 

This last one is my missing piece of the grooving, I think. But even if this means I am coloring with crayons or colored pencils for ten minutes a day, I hope it gives me a sense of drive and strength as I navigate my ship through calm and waves.

Life will never line up, waiting for you to receive gladly. We must seek the beauty and truth, and pursue goodness. That is my battle cry.

How do you groove?



Saturday, October 4, 2014

My View (vol. 23)

What I am reading: Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

What I am eating: Progresso soup, English muffins, applesauce, baked potato, green beans.

Grace had cheese.
Meal planning: None. I was sick this past week(s), so I had Will do the grocery shopping. He bought all chicken. Nonetheless, my SIL bought me a super cute meal planning pad for the fridge, so I think I'll start using it this week. (Because the pad means I am serious...!!)

We're working on our food budget + Grace's diet. She is interested in adult food, but only what is on our plates. When I fix her a GHB dish, she usually tosses it on the ground. Scrambled eggs have been the exception there, fortunately or unfortunately. We're sticking to her baby food for now, but we're both getting more serious about more "grown up" baby food. Tomorrow, we're trying a quinoa, black beans and avocado dish out of the baby + toddlers cookbook I have. We'll probably dish up more chicken too!

This week in history: Hard to remember; all I really know is how tired and not well I was... and that one student told me to stop yawning in class because I was making her yawn! I promise I am sleeping! More pregnancy nausea; trying to offer it up.

My in-laws left (I'll post pictures from Grace's birthday this week); class for me; Grace made great progress in therapy (including an extended arm crawl!);

Like a boss.
Will ended his anesthesia rotation, started his OB rotation, and rocked his ATLS (advanced trauma life support, aka his job) test!

Grace had an awesome 12 month check-up, complete with four shots and a new board book! 

Yes Grace, a few more minutes...
We also made the family decision not to go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It would just be Grace and I (Will works holidays), and either I would have 14 hours in the car to Cincinnati (maybe more! Eek!), or I would have to fly with a baby on my lap plus a nice sized preggo bump on an airplane. Neither sounded very appealing, and our budget thanks us for not spending the money too.

This will be my first Thanksgiving without my family, and my second Christmas. My Dad was cheering me up by saying how good it will be for me to spend it with my real/new-ish/little Baldwin family ...

... is it weird that I still struggle with the familial lines? I love Will and Grace more than life, but I am so programmed to being with my extended family as well as my first family during the holidays. I know exactly what my family will be doing on major and minor (e.g. Mother's Day, etc.) holidays. We move like clockwork. It is a very different way of celebrating now - more Baldwin style, I suppose, since Will did not grow up with all of his extended family in close, within 15 minute range like me. He's not as sentimental either, perhaps.

Fortunately, an ER attending couple has a 48 hour Thanksgiving at their house every year, and a college friend of Will's invited us to his parents' house an hour+ away. During Christmas, my bestie Vivian is coming down from NYC for two days, and then my family will arrive the next day! Positive thoughts!!!

Oh, and duh... this week, we felt the baby roll around for the first time!!!!

Prayers: The Middle East! For private intentions. For all celebrating (and living) Spina Bifida Awareness Month (check out the #embracethebif campaign!) Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and Pregnancy & Infant Loss Month this October! We celebrated World Cerebral Palsy Day on October 1. May these lives shine light on the inherent goodness of all humans.

Next week, I am going to: Laugh and play a lot with Grace. Teach class. Pack for my friend Kate's wedding in VA. Run the dishwasher once a day. Feel better. Grade a lot of papers. Try to write more. Hopefully sleep more. Have my 20 week anatomy scan!

Will and Grace playing peek-a-boo!

For more giggles, here are Will and Grace in action. Happy weekend!