Tag Archives: relationships

YOU Don’t Love ME?!

So the other day I was telling my single-and-fed-up-with-dating friend the story below, and she responded, “You should write about this, because based on your blog, I never would have guessed that you and Eric experienced anything but the smoothest sailing from first date to marriage.”

I was horrified by the fact that I was inadvertently giving public credence to the bullshit notion that good, solid relationships are and should be easy, so I think it only fair to my plethora of readers   two readers   mom that I set the record straight.

Eric and I have had our fair share of little roadblocks along the way, but my favorite roadblock, if we’re ranking roadblocks (and who doesn’t?), is when we I first said “I love you.”

It went a little something like this:

Me: “I love you.”

Eric: giphy-2

Me: “I said I LOVE YOU. Say something!”

Eric: tenor.gif

Me: “Ummm….DO YOU LOVE ME TOO?”

Eric: tenor-2

(Side note: this was not the first time I had told a guy I loved him and didn’t hear it back, but it WAS the first time I told a guy I loved him and MEANT IT and didn’t hear it back– so needless to say, this hurt more.)

So after Eric pulled the real-life equivalent of a Homer Simpson bush-melt, I realized I was not getting an “I love you” back– which, quite frankly, surprised me because according to Eric this is the celeb version of us as a couple:

devito.jpg

Which is Eric’s hilarious, self-deprecating way of saying “I married up” (people DO tell me I look like that actress, btw, but only when I brush my hair. So never.)

And while I don’t disagree that he married up (I’m great), he needs to give himself more credit with his celeb doppelgänger, which is only Danny Devito in height, but clearly Daniel Berger in all other features (minus being good at golf):

FullSizeRender.jpeg

But I digress.

The point of this is to say that I was kind of like, “Wait– YOU don’t love ME?!” First of all, I was desperate openminded enough to look past the fact that your dating app photo was taken 200 feet away, head to the side, wearing sunglasses and a hat, forcing me to be like twitter-squinting-girl-meme-e1523213473157.jpg trying to figure out whether or not you were a mutant (you weren’t 2c469354-bcfa-488f-bd41-a860f9f87e38-596-0000001613c064d7).

And THEN I even looked past the fact that you lied about your height by an ENTIRE inch, which is such a trite internet-dating-jew-move. Lucky for you, on our first date, I was too drunk to notice once again openminded.

All this, and YOU don’t love ME?!

moron.jpg

But yeah. He couldn’t say the words.

So I did what any rational, mature, 33-year-old woman would do and kicked him the fuck out of my apartment. I told him that if he didn’t love me, I didn’t want to look at his ass face, which I think we can all agree is a good way of persuading someone on the do-I-love-you fence to hop on over with enthusiastic ardor.

Ok, no, jk, I wasn’t that harsh about it (out loud), but I did think he needed to take some space to sort out his feelings, since he claimed he was “confused” and “scared” (I think those were his words. I don’t know guys I’ve spent the past year wiping drool and cleaning poop. Nora’s, not mine. Nora’s and mine? Point is, my brain has atrophied.).

In Eric’s defense, he had only recently gotten out of a years-long relationship, and it had left him with some emotional baggage– the kind of baggage you think is totally compact and manageable but then you reach your gate and the attendant scoffs because there’s no way in hell that tattered, 400-pound Samsonite is fitting in the overhead compartment.

So I asked him to go home and take some time to think through his feelings and “unconfuse” himself, an idea he decided he hated the second he left my apartment.

He texted me from my lobby saying something along the lines of “This sucks. I don’t want to go home. I want to be with you,” and I replied with something along the lines of “Tough shit, dickwad.”

Or maybe I just said, “I know, I’m sorry, but I think you need some space to think about what you want from this relationship.” Like I said, details are hazy these days (grand…pa….SHARK do do do do do do….).

Bottom line is that clearly I was hurt and embarrassed, although embarrassment was really secondary to the hurt, because I think when you truly love someone, you’re able to put your ego aside. Plus, like any woman who has spent more than 5 years online dating in NYC, I had lost every last modicum of shame.

So Eric went home and called one of his guy friends for advice. Now this could have gone very poorly. Don’t get me wrong, Eric’s guy friends are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, but I would only take advice from a select zero of them. Thankfully, Eric chose the arguably most normal of the bunch, who immediately told him, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Stop being such a pussy.”

The next morning, I went for an 18-mile run at 4:00am on a workday, because I was training for a marathon and also because I am insane.

I blasted Adele’s “Hello” on repeat, screaming the lyrics as loudly as possible in order to prevent myself from crying over the fact that this dude clearly didn’t love me. What I quickly learned is that you don’t play Adele when you’re trying to NOT cry. You’d think after 18 years battling clinical depression I would have curated the optimal soundtrack for emotional soothing, but no, I still play Dave Matthew’s “Grey Street” when I’m feeling hopeless as fuck, which (spoiler alert!) doesn’t help.

I arrived back at my apartment around 6:45am, snot-nosed, bleary-eyed, nauseous, and sweating profusely. I smelled like a prepubescent boy’s gym sock. So it was the perfect time to encounter Eric, the man I was hoping would fall in love with me, standing right there at my front door. He was holding a bouquet of bodega flowers fresh, long-stemmed roses and waiting to deliver a 10 minute speech about his feelings for me.

I tried to pay attention to all the reasons he loved me (something about how I’m a good listener?) but could only really focus on the fact that I was sweating from all holes and going to be late for work.

Regardless, I was elated. I finished half-listening and gave him a kiss that surely tasted like regurgitated PowerGel, hopped in the shower, and arrived at work 5 minutes late, still sweating.

But giddy as fuck.

My co-teacher took one look at me and asked what was happening with my face, and I had to explain that this is what it looks like when I’m experiencing a happiness that isn’t induced by four coffees or a bottle of Wellbutrin. She was thrilled for me, and we spent the morning re-hashing the details of the story while our 4th graders ran amok? fell asleep? stole supplies? full blown Lord of the Flies murdered each other? There’s really no way to know worked independently.

So I just realized this story is less of an “All relationships have roadblocks and that’s ok and normal so just work through them and have faith” story and more of a “Nice job bullying your boyfriend into professing his love for you!” story but either way ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL GUYS.

Because two years later we made this:

 

 

So hang in there, single ladies.

 

Completely Ridiculous

Eric: “I had a dream last night that you were cheating on me. You were texting some guy whose name started with a ‘C’, and I kept trying to ask you about it but you wouldn’t answer me, but I could see you texting him about where you were going to meet up. Like it was obvious you had been having a full-blown affair with this guy for a while.”

Me: “Ok, well, that’s completely ridiculous.” Face_With_Rolling_Eyes_Emoji_large

Eric: “I know.”

Me: “His name doesn’t start with a ‘C.'”

 

Guess I’ll Be Handling All the Coming-Of-Age Talks

Eric sits down with Nora, who is playing with her new favorite toy– a box of tampons….IMG_6908.jpeg

Eric: “Hey! Did you find a new toy? You like tampons? You’ll use tampons one day, you know. Dad’s not gonna wanna hear about it. (picks one up, examines wrapper) Look, this one says ‘L’ on it…and this one says ‘R’. Huh, they make different tampons for righties and lefties? Who knew!”

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Parenthood is Just a Slow Erosion of Your Convictions

Me: “It’s so annoying and dumb when parents use squealing, high-pitched baby talk with their kids. Babies are humans. Just talk to them in a human voice about normal things, for christ’s sake.”

(Discovers that baby-talk makes Nora smile)

Me:


Me: “Babies need to explore and fall and get hurt sometimes. It’s how they learn.”

(Sees Nora crawling toward something dangerous)

Me:th-1.gif


Me: “Talking about babies is boring as hell. I’m not going to be the person who has a kid and only cares about baby things. And I definitely don’t care what other moms do with their kids.”

(Overhears parent talking about a new trend in baby-feeding she’s been trying, and how her baby can now eat without her help.)

Me: giphy-2.gif


Me: “Let’s be honest, babies only need ONE toy. None of this baby-takes-over-the-home-with-her-endless-crap nonsense. My apartment is my zen place.”

(Sees Nora stays occupied when she has a variety of choices)

Me: IMG_6573

      (white-up-pointing-index.pngmy actual apartment right now )


Me: “Under NO circumstances will I listen to other parents talk about their child’s poop.”

(Overhears parent claim she diagnosed her child’s illness by inspecting the color, consistency, and odor change in his poop)

Me: tenor-1.gif


Me: “Above all else, parenting is not a competition. None of this petty bickering bullshit. We are a team.”

(Eric thinks Nora’s crying in her crib because she has a dirty diaper. I say she’s testing us. Eric goes to change her diaper, and there’s nothing. Nora laughs at him.)

Me: told-you-so.gif

(One hour passes)

Me: giphy-downsized-large.gif

(One day passes)

Me: pat.gif

(8 months later)

Me: “Hey remember that time I was right?”

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So As You Can Tell, I’ve Been Listening

My therapist and I spend one full hour discussing motherhood, and my difficulty in finding balance in my life. We discuss strategies for coping with the mom-related anxiety. We talk about how to feel less overwhelmed by the huge responsibility of raising a child. We come up with a schedule that will allow me to spend quality time with Nora but still be able to do things for myself. We discuss the utter importance of carving out time to write, because writing provides immeasurable benefits to my mental health.

Therapist: “I’m glad we have a plan for you to find more balance. Motherhood can be hard, but you’re doing great. Now before the session ends, is there anything else going on that you think I should know about?”

Me: “Oh, yes– I stopped breastfeeding. So we’ll probably have to keep an eye on that, from a hormonal standpoint.”

Therapist: “Yes, definitely. And I think with stopping the breastfeeding, you’ll find you have a lot more time to do things for yourself, which will be wonderful.”

Me: “Totally.”

Therapist: “Is that why you decided to stop?”

Me: “Well, no, not exactly. It’s more that with all the crazy hormones that go along with breastfeeding, I really just wanted to get my body regulated again and back to baseline…”

Therapist: “I think that’s a great decision.”

Me: “…so we can have another kid.”

Therapist:game-of-thrones-dany-meme-1168366-1280x0.jpeg

 

The Birth, Part 2

(Continuation of The Birth, Part 1)

So there I was, doing nothing.

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Eric was trying to stay upbeat and positive for my sake, but every once in a while I’d glimpse over and see this:

200w-4.gif

My cervix continued to be poked and prodded but, like my 4-year-old nephew at the seder table, remained completely disinterested.

Then the doctor had a theory– perhaps my water broke not because I was about to go into labor, but because there was some kind of threat to the baby, such as a virus or infection. So she took my temperature, but it was perfectly normal. “Phew,” I thought, “a fever right now would be bad.”

But you know what’d be worse? Having a thermometer stuck up your butthole. Which is exactly what they had to do in order to get a more accurate reading. Luckily for all involved (besides, I suppose, Eric), at this point in pregnancy I had zero percent shame left, and so had virtually no reaction when they rolled me over (a team effort) and prodded me in my 3rd-trimester-inflated tush.

“Yup! Fever!” determined the nurse excitedly, I guess because that finally offered an explanation for the nothingness that was occurring, but given that I was crouched there with my ass blowing in the breeze, I resented his merriment.

So it turns out I had some kind of minor infection, which triggered my amniotic sac to say “We gotta get this baby out!” and burst, but in its hysteria forgot to relay the message to the rest of my body, including the second body living inside my body, who remained so high up I swear to god I could feel her in my throat. Nora had no interest in coming out, and I can’t say I blame her because as far as she knew, the outside world consisted only of sitting on toilets, vomiting, and the Kardashians.

But now we were on a clock. The longer you sit around with your water broken, the greater the risk of infection for the baby. It was already determined that I had a fever, and although they gave me antibiotics to protect Nora, it still made things slightly more urgent– and as everyone knows, a ticking time bomb is exactly what an anxious person who has been instructed to stay as calm as possible needs.

raw-2.gif

The doctor presented us with a choice:

“We can do a c-section now, or we can give it some more time and see if anything starts happening. If we do give more time, it seems unlikely that anything will happen without the (induction drug) Pitocin, which we have to stop giving you because it’s lowering the baby’s heart rate. But it’s your choice.”

“Ok, well. Let us talk it over,” Eric said, as my catheter bag filled with nervous-pee.

She left the room and we discussed the pros and cons, deciding that it probably couldn’t hurt to wait a few hours. Perhaps we’d get lucky and things would suddenly kick into gear, and I could avoid a c-section. Plus it would give my mom, already on her flight to NYC, more time to get to the hospital and be there for the birth.

So when the doctor came back we told her, “We’ve decided to wait a few hours and see if anything happens.”

Doctor: “Ok, but nothing is going to happen. Your body is not in labor at all, and is showing no signs of starting. There’s really no point in waiting.”

Us: “Well, we just figured something MIGHT happen on its own…”

Doctor: “It won’t.”

Us: “So you’d recommend not waiting?”

Doctor: “There’s no reason to wait. Waiting will just increase risk.”

Us: “Oh. So when you said we had a choice…”

Doctor:url

What the actual fuck?

Thanks for letting us spend half an hour in this hospital room discussing a choice that was not a choice, and having us select an option that was not an option. Cool use of tax dollars!

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I was then told I was getting a c-section.

Now.

They were going to have a 5-minute team huddle, then come wheel me into surgery, and the baby would be out in 15 minutes.

So 9 hours of 200w-2.gif morphed into giphy-3.gif in a matter of 4 seconds and I gotta say, it was a little jarring.

In what seemed like no time, a medical team of six wheeled me into the operating room and whisked Eric away to outfit him in his surgery gear (side note: nothing made Eric happier than when they gave him a hairnet– “See, they think I have hair!” Then moments later he saw that the literally hairless anesthesiologist was also wearing one. Apparently it’s just protocol. They would’ve put Britney Spears circa 2007 in a hairnet.)

giphy 3.gif

So Eric entered the OR expecting, naturally, that there’d be a sheet blocking the scary parts. Instead, he walked smack into my naked body on a metal slab, spread eagle and covered in orange goo. The doctor was literally already cutting into me when Eric opened the door. His demeanor remained calm but his eyes said “I’m am screaming on the inside.”

giphy 2.gif

Fortunately for him, even though a nightmare of epic proportions was taking place below the curtain, above the curtain was nothing short of glam-squad allure:

IMG_0763.jpeg

The nurse asked if I’d like any music playing.

Me: “Ummm…I guess Adele would be soothing?”

So he whipped out his iPhone and Spotify-ed that shit, as any professional would do mid-surgery. But then he continued to look at his phone for another 2-3 minutes, on what I can only assume was Tinder. Which of course is completely fine but if you’re going to be online dating during my c-section at least have the decency to let me see who you’re swiping right on. I mean have some fucking respect.

As Adele played, I closed my eyes and tried to take in the hugeness of this moment, but found the only thing I could think about was my post-surgery snack. I silently prayed that Eric had already picked up one of my favorites, and it’d be waiting for me in post-op. Most people pray for their life before undergoing surgery– or, if nothing else, their child’s life.

I prayed for a muffin.

After a few minutes of tugging and digging through organs, the team began compressions right below my ribcage. Nora was already in the correct position (head-down) so the standard method is to then compress from the top, by her feet, which would force her head to emerge from the bikini-line incision and her body would eventually be entirely force-squeezed out of me. You know, like a sausage.

tenor-3.gif

But damn was this one uncooperative little chorizo. Right before her head was about to emerge, Nora decided “Nope- fuck this noise!” and TURNED AROUND.

Like her mom on a  Monday  work day  day, she caught a glimpse of the outside world and decided

nope-1.gif

She managed to somehow contort her body 45 degrees so that she was now laying across my stomach in transverse position (aka horizontal instead of vertical, aka nowhere near an exit hole). Not sure where this little bozo thought she was going. Clearly someone forgot to read the fine print of her 9-month lease agreement, but eviction day was upon us and, if resistant, tenant would be removed by force. 

The team continued compressing from my ribcage, but with her new positioning, instead of moving down, Nora just swished from side to side. The compressions became more forceful and I could hear and see my body flopping around like a beached jellyfish. I have to trust there was a method to the madness, but eventually the medical strategy simply devolved into this:

0.gif

She would not come out.

I heard the doctor call for an attending, and then for a vacuum. I looked up pleadingly at Eric. He lovingly stroked my hair and, in the most reassuring of tones, whispered, “I have no fucking idea what’s happening.”

I then turned to the anesthesiologist, and he assured me that everything was just fine. You know, like a liar.

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A few more minutes of flopping, a couple rounds of suction, and a few buckets of sweat pouring from Eric’s pointless hairnet later, Nora emerged to the song “When We Were Young.”  And it was beautiful.

The song, not Nora.

Nora looked like this:Nora birth.jpg

Which some people might argue is beautiful, because everything about pregnancy, birth and motherhood is beautiful, and to those people I say GET OFF MY BLOG.

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Thankfully, they cleaned her up before handing her to me, because, for christ’s sake, I’d been through enough.

And then, she was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I simply could not believe she was mine.

“By the way,” said the doctor, “the second I took her out of you, she shit all over me.”

Ok yup she’s mine. woman-raising-hand-medium-light-skin-tone.png

IMG_6495.JPG

 

The Birth, Part 1

(I started writing this 8 months ago. I got one paragraph in and then forgot about it, because #mombrain. “The Birth, Part 2” will come at some point, but this was getting too long and I’m tired and someone should probably check on Nora. Where IS she….)

The evening of August 24th, 2018 was like any other evening in my third trimester of pregnancy: I was rip-roaringly uncomfortable, sweaty, and crippled with impatience. Eric was bored out of his goddamn mind. This general state of misery (misery being a relative term, I’m aware that this all falls under the umbrella of #champagneproblems) had been on repeat every day for the entire summer, and with my due date two days away, I had lost all hope that this baby would be arriving early.

One of Eric’s best friends was having a birthday party that night, and even though I could have technically gone into labor at any minute, I assumed I was going to be pregnant for another 3-7 years, and therefore urged Eric to go. I would’ve gone myself, but alas, breathing while standing was a luxury I could no longer enjoy.

“Have fun,” I told him, while yearning to be in a body that didn’t contain a whole other body.

200.gif

He swore he was only going to have one drink, just in case. “No, whatever,” I replied. “Get drunk. Enjoy yourself. This baby is never being born and I will forever be two people and I’ll never poop alone again and I’ll have two vaginas forever and that’s just a fate I’ve now accepted.”

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So obviously after this diatribe he slowly backed out of the apartment, sprinted down the hall, fled to the west side and had himself a few hearty drinks.

And obviously, my water broke.

He got home from the party around 10:00pm, which is when people in their mid-thirties get home from parties. At 3am, I woke up thinking I had to pee, but when I stood up, I found I had no control over it, and bolted penguin-shimmied to the bathroom, luckily making it to the toilet before the major “break.”

tenor-1.gif

“How do you know the difference between your water breaking and just peeing?” many people have asked me. “Doesn’t it feel the same?” Yes, it feels the same in the way a light ocean ripple feels the same as a category 5 tsunami.

NO IT DOESN’T FUCKING FEEL THE SAME.

One thing is normal and the other thing is giphy-2.gif.

If your water breaks and you think it’s just pee, you’ve been peeing wrong.

I flipped on the bathroom lights and screamed, “Eric! It’s happening!” Though questionably drunk, he was out of bed in .5 seconds and ready to call an Uber when I casually removed my torpedoed granny panties and got into the shower.

A strange calm took over. I knew this was it, but I also didn’t feel panicked. I knew I wanted to feel clean going into the hospital, and that I had time. In a voice I didn’t recognize, because calm is a distant stranger I’ve never met, I told Eric to call the doctor while I enjoyed my last shower as a non-mom (had I known what I know now– that Nora would insist on watching me shower every day, curtain open, like a complete tater-tot-sized creeper, I would have cherished that last lone shower even more).

nora.jpg
(actual pic of her outside the bathroom door watching me shower and, I suspect, body-shaming me.)

The doctor said I’d probably start going into labor soon, but it was my choice if I wanted to go to the hospital now and induce, or wait at home for things to get moving. Asking an anxious person to sit around and wait is like asking my sister to emote– technically it can be done, but it will be painful for all involved so why torture ourselves.

We hopped (well, Eric hopped. I groan-waddled) into an Uber where I immediately called my Mom to let her know my water broke, and then immediately learned that you shouldn’t let your Uber driver know your water broke. They definitely surcharge that shit. I assured him that I wouldn’t leak in his ride, because “Don’t worry, Sir, I’m wearing a pad the size of Atlanta,” which definitely smoothed things over and made everyone feel more comfortable and less disgusted.

My mom, who was in the Outer Banks, where my entire family was vacationing without us, picked up the phone. She was 99% excited but I definitely caught that 1% of disappointment that I couldn’t kegel-squeeze this baby inside of me for another week so that her vacation could continue uninterrupted.

“I guess I’ll book a plane ticket!” she said, and I assured her, one last time, that she didn’t HAVE to fly in for this, but Cha Cha is no dummy and knew there would be social media evidence of her absence.

So she flew in for the optics.

When we got to the hospital I was asked by the nurse if I was SURE my water broke. I explained that I’m no medic, but if this isn’t my water breaking then either my body forgot how to pee right, or it turns out I’m a mermaid. For reasons I cannot place, she remained skeptical, and so took me into the bathroom to “test” the liquid.

“Alright, your funeral,” I shrugged, and as predicted, pulling down my underwear triggered another gush, which went all over her shoes. I’d assume labor nurses are used to and cool with this kind of thing, but she didn’t seem the least bit amused when I suggested she grab a boogie board so I don’t know maybe it was her first day?

“Ok, let’s check you in,” she said, now convinced that I was not in fact a mermaid and was maybe just having a human baby.

Another, more chill nurse thankfully then took over, and as she got me settled in my bed I caught a glimpse of my shitty-looking nails and said, “God damnit, I KNEW I should’ve gotten a manicure yesterday,” because that’s something that someone who is ready to be a mother says.

The nurse laughed and told me you wouldn’t believe how many women have glam squads come to the hospital to fix them up for the instagram birth series. That’s cool. I looked like this:

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I was then asked if I wanted drugs, to which I replied YES PLEASE THANK YOU AND ALSO NOWWWWWWWW before the nurse could finish saying the word “epidural.” Please note that I was in absolutely zero pain at this point. I just wanted the zero pain to stay that way for as long as possible because, I don’t know, I guess I don’t hate myself?

But seriously, to the women who choose to suffer through the contractions or go all natural all the way, I gotta say damn you are brave. But also why? WHY?!

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So they started the epidural and then the Pitocin, a drug to induce labor. And then I sat back and relaxed while nothing happened.

NOTHING.

Literally nothing.

When the doctor went to check my cervix, she saw this:

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Apparently my amniotic sac had decided it was go-time, but forgot to inform my cervix, which remained as closed as Donald Trump’s mind. (Relatedly, if Trump really wants an impenetrable border wall, he should build it out of my cervix).

No man, woman or baby was breaking through that barrier any time soon. I was 0 centimeters dilated. I know this because no less than four arms went up my hooha to check.

You know what’s a bad sign? When your doctor removes her fist from your vagina and says “Hmmmm, that’s odd.”

So we continued to wait while nothing happened. NOTHING.

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So much nothing, in fact, that when the nurse came in to check on me, he just walked in, grabbed a seat and joined our binge session of The Sinner (great show, btw), which we were watching on Eric’s laptop. He didn’t even ask how I was feeling or if I needed anything– it was clear from the zero things happening that I was feeling nothing and needed nada. So he watched tv with us. Because Netflix n’ birth.

Clearly, it was going to be a long day.

Or so we thought.

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*I’m totally kidding about the optics joke, Ma! I know you love me. Probably not as much as you love the Outer Banks, though, which is fair because the Outer Banks never called you a bitch when it was 16.

Small

Kid: “How come you never wear your big diamond ring anymore?”
Me: “My engagement ring? I do. Just not all the time. I take it off when I go to the gym and sometimes forget to put it back on before I leave for the day.”
Kid: “Is your husband mad that you don’t wear it?”
Me: “No.”
Kid: “But now no one knows you have a husband! It’s like you’re not even married.”
Me: “Well, that’s not true. But regardless, I always wear my wedding band.”
Kid: “Huh?”
Me (point to wedding ring on left hand) “This. This is the ring my husband gave me at our wedding.”
Kid: “But that’s so small!!”
Me: “It’s not that sm—“
Kid: “No one will be able to see that it’s so small!”
Me: “Ok I mean I disagree but–”
Kid: “I CAN’T EVEN SEE IT AND I’M SITTING RIGHT HERE IT’S SO SMALL.”

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We Named Our Daughter After a Mouse

(Note: This post was written while still pregnant, lest you think I just shot a kid out of my baby-cannon and now have any ability to construct a coherent sentence, much less a mini-memoir.)

Yes, a mouse.

But stay with me. We have a rational reason for doing so. Well, maybe not a rational reason (not sure how anyone can expect me to be rational right now, as I am currently in month 9 of having two vaginas), but a reason that will at least provide some context for my desire to name our child after an animal that most people try to kill with strategically placed snap-traps.

Ten years ago, I suffered a deep, terrifying, paralyzing depression. I’ve written about it and referenced it many times on this blog so I won’t re-hash the details in this post, but needles to say, it was my darkest hour. What I haven’t mentioned before is a somewhat interesting (and now extremely relevant) aspect of this terrible time in my life– my obsession with mouse-kid Noisy Nora.

Yes, I’ll explain (because who? And huh?).

In the months I spent depressed living in my parents’ home at age 26, I was unable to do virtually anything. One day, while robotically eating breakfast and staring blankly at the Honey Nut Cheerios box, my mother put a pencil in my hand and suggested I draw something. Not only did I think this was pointless, as EVERYTHING was pointless, but I thought it was extra ridiculous given that, a mild talent for photography aside, I had never at any point in my life shown any kind of visual-arts ability or interest.

But I had nothing to lose (and nothing to do), so I grabbed the pencil and started drawing what I saw on the cereal box in front of me.

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Looking at it now, I think “Not a bad little Cheerios bee!” At the time, however, all I could manage was, “Well this drawing sucks.” Because, you know. Everything sucked. But what I did notice was that for the brief time I was immersed in the sketching process, I wasn’t, for once, writhing in despair and wondering how the minutes of life could possibly be ticking by so slowly. I was able to escape my agony for a short, precious time, and that alone was enough reason to keep drawing.

So I did. Basically, I stuck to sketching images that were on the boxes of the food I was eating:

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As you can see, I was really into carbs.

Then one day, in a further desperate attempt to pass the interminable minutes, I began sorting through mountains of crap in my parents’ storage room. To my delight (delight is a strong word– I hated everything) I stumbled upon a box of my most beloved childhood books. They were all there: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Doctor De Soto, The Snowy Day and, finally, at the very bottom of the box– Noisy Nora.

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GOD how I loved that book as a kid. It’s about a very endearing yet insufferable little mouse-kid who is jealous of the time her parents spend with her siblings, and therefore seeks attention by being a destructive little pain in the ass. I adored her, because I was her. No one could yell, stomp, and slam a door (then open it and re-slam it) for NO GOOD REASON like kid-me (and, ok, teenager-me. Adult-me…).

And for reasons I could not articulate, I suddenly became OBSESSED with drawing Nora. So obsessed, in fact, that I purchased a separate sketch pad solely for Nora drawings, where I could practice sketching her over and over again until I had her every tiny little detail perfected. (Side note: This genius separate-notebook idea backfired, as somewhere in the five times I’ve moved residencies since then, it got misplaced, while my notebook full of meaningless cereal box characters has somehow stood the test of time Face_With_Rolling_Eyes_Emoji_large ).

I sketched these Nora drawings in the privacy of my own bedroom, and kept the special Nora notepad under the bed where no one would find it. Unlike my Cheerios bee and Keebler elves, I was very protective of my Nora sketches and did not want to show them to anyone, even my mother, who was always so delighted and impressed by my cartoon drawings– so impressed, in fact, that she suggested I pursue a career in comic-strip writing (she was pretty desperate to give me purpose. She was also, understandably, drinking a LOT of wine during that time).

Nora was my little secret. I was never really able to articulate or explain to myself why I was so obsessed with her. Sure, I loved the book as a kid, but I loved lots of books and characters and wasn’t obsessing over any of THEM. At the time, the infatuation made no sense. But then again, nothing made sense, so I didn’t spend too much time or energy trying to figure it out.

Eventually, with copious medical interventions and the unwavering support of family and friends, I began to heal in early 2009, and life restarted again. I moved back to NYC, got a teaching job, found my marbles, and was functioning like the human I had forgotten I was capable of being.

And in the process, I let Nora go. Not completely and not forever– after all, she was there with me for those lonely, agonizing months and got me through a truly hopeless time– but now that I was able to participate in life again, the inexplicable obsession subsided and found a cozy spot in the back recesses of my mind, rather than in the fixated forefront.

Fast forward 9 years and I’m pregnant. As soon as we learned we were having a girl, out of (seemingly) nowhere, the name Nora came to my mind. I casually mentioned it to Eric as a name I liked, and he agreed it was nice, but suggested we keep thinking. He liked it but didn’t necessarily LOVE it, and maybe there was something out there we’d both LOVE. That was fine with me– I wasn’t even sure in that moment why I liked it so much, or why it came to me so suddenly, so I agreed to keep thinking. We looked through list after list and flirted with other names, many of which I did really like. But at the end of each day when I put my head to my pillow, I kept coming back to Nora.

And slowly, I began to realize why. Now, bear with me here– I’m not typically a hokey, whimsical or overly-spiritual person. But I am a big believer in things happening for a reason, and I do think “the universe,” however one might define that, plays a role in the direction our lives take. And in that time when I felt I truly had nothing to live for, I feel that maybe, just maybe, the Nora obsession was the universe’s way of saying “Do not give up, Emily. This darkness is temporary, and light awaits. There’s something big coming, and you’re going to want to be around to see it.”

Now I don’t want anyone to interpret this as me thinking that having a child is the only, or the ultimate, thing to live for. It has been 10 years since that depressive episode and my life has been beyond full of reasons to live– from big reasons (family, friends, major accomplishments both personal and professional, fabulous travel, discovery of new talents and interests) to all those little moments that make up a full, meaningful life  (a burst of uncontrolled laughter, hearing Journey’s “Faithfully” and remembering every single lyric to your camp alma mater, a post-run nap in a shaded hammock, the satisfaction of finally killing the pesky fly that’s been occupying your apartment for a week– sorry, that last one just happened like 5 minutes ago and DAMN it felt good! Anyway, we all have our things.)

There are trillions of reasons to live, big and small, but when you’re severely depressed, you can’t access any of them. So I think this Nora obsession, for which I had no explanation at the time, only an intense and seemingly primal NEED to draw her, was the universe desperately trying to shove hope in my face– to tell me that if I could just hold on and get through this time, I would rediscover all the reasons to be here, and come to see that I still have so much important work left to do in this life, including (but certainly not limited to) becoming a mom.

So I kept coming back to the name Nora, and although Eric liked it, he still wasn’t totally sold. I wanted to disclose the reason I was so attached to it, but I also worried he might think I was nuts (not sure why I still occasionally fear this. The guy has witnessed some pretty emotionally ape-shit moments and he’s still here, inexplicably, with bells on). For months, I kept pressing the name on him, with no explanation other than, “I just really like it,” only to get a non-committal, “I like it too, but let’s keep thinking,” in response.

So eventually, on a particularly hormonal day, I explained my reasoning. With tears in my eyes, I cautiously relayed the story of my Noisy Nora fixation, and how in hindsight I think it might have been the universe giving me a reason to hold on.

“Oh,” Eric said. “Well then that’s it. That’s her name. Why didn’t you just tell me that? Of course that’s her name. And now I love it.”

And that is why I married him.

And why we named our daughter after a rodent.

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