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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

At four weeks

... you are feisty and fierce in your demands, little owl. You've kept us on our toes since mere days after you were born, with jaundice that required in-home nursing care. You finally learned how to latch to the breast but then refused to nurse two weeks later for reasons we can't explain. That mild fever you had the same day? A change in the musculature of your mouth? We're at a loss. Thankfully you've gained weight on our alternative measures -- round-the-clock pumping for the bottle feedings we swore we'd only rely on until we got your nipple strike figured out. You'll latch now, but only briefly, and you draw blood sometimes before milk.

You're learning at last how to bring your fists to your mouth to comfort yourself when we are not enough, which feels like it has been every day since March arrived. Your cries break my heart even as my own impatience to find answers takes away any confidence in my ability to choose what to do next for you. Keep you alive, yes. But there are so many avenues we've gone down, trusting the guides -- pediatricians, lactation consultants -- who were supposed to help but only compounded our problems.

I've jotted down parts of the story of your arrival -- also complicated and fraught with decisions I wish we hadn't had to make, but there we were and here you are. I remind myself that you are still safe and whole. Even as we continue to find ourselves against these hurdles no one ever talked about or prepared us for. (And why would they have, given how unusual your circumstances seem to be? No sense scaring expectant parents further.) Every time I go to write about you, thinking we've finally cleared the latest obstacle -- now, now we can report with some distance and relief that all is well, I tell myself -- something else catches at our heels and threatens to throw you from our grasp.

But now you're bundled skin-to-skin with me inside the fleece jacket I've zipped around us both. We huddle against each other, tear-stained but not at odds for once. And while you sleep, I can hold off on deciding what we should be doing next for you, for me, for all of us on this wild course that seems to have no end. What I would give just to remain this way, in this quiet hour holding you, and not have you wake again just yet, hungry.

6 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT. It sounds like it's been hard. There is so much *worrying* that goes into motherhood. So. much. I'm sorry that your share of worry has been extra large. My Boy also required in-home care for jaundice, so I can relate to that. But it sounds as if you have had challenges throughout. Hugs to both you and your little one. I'm so glad you took a moment of your precious time to give us an update.

(((((CT))))))
(((((Little Owl))))))

TKW said...

Boy, does this bring it back memories. All of that doubt and uncertainty and the bossy advice that doesn't help at all. Especially the breastfeeding stuff--argh! It is hard at first, but you know what is best for your family.

C. Troubadour said...

GEW -- thanks for your kind words. We're struggling, but we're managing. The good news today is that our little owl is still growing well (a full two inches in length since birth!), and his weight is fine. So we have some room to get his feeding challenges worked out. It'll just take more time than we ever expected. We've been given some options in the last week that we need to research so we can make some decisions. I just want them to end up being the right ones for him. It's so hard to know, and sometimes we just don't get to know until afterward.

Kitch -- I keep reminding myself that we know what's best for our family because we have to live with the consequences. I am amazed at how different the advice from various lactation consultants can be. I'm totally skittish after getting partially helpful advice from a few at independent appointments that also ended up creating new problems. Trust issues? Yeah ...

BigLittleWolf said...

CT, It's hard. It's really hard the first time, especially when everyone is telling you what to do, or - we have preconceived notions of what should be easy / natural / necessary, etc.

Don't let the Lactation "Experts" make you feel badly. I was bullied, bullied, bullied with my firstborn - and the first 3 weeks (trying to get him to feed sufficiently from the breast) were brutal. It hurt, I bled, it hurt, I bled, he screamed, I pumped, I hurt, I wept... No matter what, he was never full, I was treated like somehow if I just tried harder it would be fine.

At 3 weeks I told them all to go to hell (basically), and we went with formula exclusively. Best. Decision. Ever.

My second son? Same thing, but this time after a week of misery and bleeding I told you-know-who you-know-what.

Just another personal story for your input.

And by the way, I have two extremely healthy sons.

Hugs.

Sharone said...

Oh, man. I don't have any experience here or words of wisdom, but I'm wishing with you that you'll be able to linger in that quiet hour, wherever you can find it. And I hope that the writing of this hard time, as you've done so beautifully here, helps.

(I know that I commented on the birth announcement when you posted it, and the internet seems to have eaten it. Please accept my belated congratulations and all my hopes for a wild, beautiful life for you all.)

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- it's so helpful to hear what your experience was. We're hoping to get the latch problems remedied. We've learned there is actually a physical problem with the baby's mouth making it hard for him to latch without wearing me raw. So if we have a way to help him before giving up, we'll try. I agree, though. At a certain point, the "experts" -- especially those who bully -- need to know when to back off.

Sharone -- I so needed to write this. It's the first thing I've written in a while that came without so much effort. Sometimes the rawest work is what we need to let fall to the page and allow just to be, I guess. Thank you for your good wishes. (Oh, internet, eater of words ... sorry that happened to you!)

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

At four weeks

... you are feisty and fierce in your demands, little owl. You've kept us on our toes since mere days after you were born, with jaundice that required in-home nursing care. You finally learned how to latch to the breast but then refused to nurse two weeks later for reasons we can't explain. That mild fever you had the same day? A change in the musculature of your mouth? We're at a loss. Thankfully you've gained weight on our alternative measures -- round-the-clock pumping for the bottle feedings we swore we'd only rely on until we got your nipple strike figured out. You'll latch now, but only briefly, and you draw blood sometimes before milk.

You're learning at last how to bring your fists to your mouth to comfort yourself when we are not enough, which feels like it has been every day since March arrived. Your cries break my heart even as my own impatience to find answers takes away any confidence in my ability to choose what to do next for you. Keep you alive, yes. But there are so many avenues we've gone down, trusting the guides -- pediatricians, lactation consultants -- who were supposed to help but only compounded our problems.

I've jotted down parts of the story of your arrival -- also complicated and fraught with decisions I wish we hadn't had to make, but there we were and here you are. I remind myself that you are still safe and whole. Even as we continue to find ourselves against these hurdles no one ever talked about or prepared us for. (And why would they have, given how unusual your circumstances seem to be? No sense scaring expectant parents further.) Every time I go to write about you, thinking we've finally cleared the latest obstacle -- now, now we can report with some distance and relief that all is well, I tell myself -- something else catches at our heels and threatens to throw you from our grasp.

But now you're bundled skin-to-skin with me inside the fleece jacket I've zipped around us both. We huddle against each other, tear-stained but not at odds for once. And while you sleep, I can hold off on deciding what we should be doing next for you, for me, for all of us on this wild course that seems to have no end. What I would give just to remain this way, in this quiet hour holding you, and not have you wake again just yet, hungry.

6 comments:

Good Enough Woman said...

Oh, CT. It sounds like it's been hard. There is so much *worrying* that goes into motherhood. So. much. I'm sorry that your share of worry has been extra large. My Boy also required in-home care for jaundice, so I can relate to that. But it sounds as if you have had challenges throughout. Hugs to both you and your little one. I'm so glad you took a moment of your precious time to give us an update.

(((((CT))))))
(((((Little Owl))))))

TKW said...

Boy, does this bring it back memories. All of that doubt and uncertainty and the bossy advice that doesn't help at all. Especially the breastfeeding stuff--argh! It is hard at first, but you know what is best for your family.

C. Troubadour said...

GEW -- thanks for your kind words. We're struggling, but we're managing. The good news today is that our little owl is still growing well (a full two inches in length since birth!), and his weight is fine. So we have some room to get his feeding challenges worked out. It'll just take more time than we ever expected. We've been given some options in the last week that we need to research so we can make some decisions. I just want them to end up being the right ones for him. It's so hard to know, and sometimes we just don't get to know until afterward.

Kitch -- I keep reminding myself that we know what's best for our family because we have to live with the consequences. I am amazed at how different the advice from various lactation consultants can be. I'm totally skittish after getting partially helpful advice from a few at independent appointments that also ended up creating new problems. Trust issues? Yeah ...

BigLittleWolf said...

CT, It's hard. It's really hard the first time, especially when everyone is telling you what to do, or - we have preconceived notions of what should be easy / natural / necessary, etc.

Don't let the Lactation "Experts" make you feel badly. I was bullied, bullied, bullied with my firstborn - and the first 3 weeks (trying to get him to feed sufficiently from the breast) were brutal. It hurt, I bled, it hurt, I bled, he screamed, I pumped, I hurt, I wept... No matter what, he was never full, I was treated like somehow if I just tried harder it would be fine.

At 3 weeks I told them all to go to hell (basically), and we went with formula exclusively. Best. Decision. Ever.

My second son? Same thing, but this time after a week of misery and bleeding I told you-know-who you-know-what.

Just another personal story for your input.

And by the way, I have two extremely healthy sons.

Hugs.

Sharone said...

Oh, man. I don't have any experience here or words of wisdom, but I'm wishing with you that you'll be able to linger in that quiet hour, wherever you can find it. And I hope that the writing of this hard time, as you've done so beautifully here, helps.

(I know that I commented on the birth announcement when you posted it, and the internet seems to have eaten it. Please accept my belated congratulations and all my hopes for a wild, beautiful life for you all.)

C. Troubadour said...

BLW -- it's so helpful to hear what your experience was. We're hoping to get the latch problems remedied. We've learned there is actually a physical problem with the baby's mouth making it hard for him to latch without wearing me raw. So if we have a way to help him before giving up, we'll try. I agree, though. At a certain point, the "experts" -- especially those who bully -- need to know when to back off.

Sharone -- I so needed to write this. It's the first thing I've written in a while that came without so much effort. Sometimes the rawest work is what we need to let fall to the page and allow just to be, I guess. Thank you for your good wishes. (Oh, internet, eater of words ... sorry that happened to you!)