It’s a Flood or It’s a Drought.

I think, but I’m not positive, but I think…I nursed for the last time yesterday. Probably forever.

It wasn’t much of a session, so considering Desmond’s ear infection and need for cuddles and ear-soothing jaw movements, that definitely told me something. “It’s over.” What’s funny is that I was going to write a flood vs. drought post today anyway because it’s been on my mind. And of course it brought forth the memories of the flood of milk Des needed in the beginning and just how exhausted I was and looking forward to this day. And now that it’s here, I feel..I don’t know. Relieved? Excited? (to eat & drink whatever I want, which I pretty much do anyway) And to think of all the prescription drugs I can now take! (which I pretty much never do anyway). Now begins the drought. The permanent drought. With Scarlet too, I didn’t know the last time was the last time.

Maybe I feel a lot. Maybe I don’t. Maybe it’s the good/bad mix of everything, just like how life and love and parenting are.

I miss the closeness, sure, but it was pretty much gone anyway in that department. It’s been replaced by recognition of words and songs, slow speaking, and his unique evolution of mobility. Hugs when he’s standing and I’m kneeling. The way he lets me cuddle him in a towel and hold him like a newborn after every bath. The way he calls me “Dada” when I’m looking for “Mama” and then smiles and calls out “Mama” when I’ve already given up and walked away. That’s the way it is with Des. It’s always when I’m at my wit’s end with something he’s doing or not doing, and then he changes the rules just in the nick of time. He reverses the behavior. He learns something new and BIG. Then we sail in a sea of bliss and consistency and new party tricks until the next challenge presents itself:

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I have flood moments and I have drought moments. It can be flood days and drought days, flood weeks and drought weeks, as well as even flood months and drought months in extreme circumstances. In a flood everything touches me. Deeply. The music on the radio. Every hair on Scarlet’s head. Dogs, kittens and horses – the intricate work of a spiderweb or even a (shudder) hornet’s nest, so beautiful and fine and all of that hard work smashed in an instant. Maybe you get the point. I’ll feel emotions like overflowing rain.

I generally write my best stuff then. It’s great when it lasts a week and I’m brimming with blog posts. I line them up for launch.

Then during a drought minute or hour or day or week (or month), it’s just less so. I wouldn’t call it numb but maybe I’d call it distracted. Restless. Pulling too hard only to get pushed back. Misconnecting and disconnecting. Giving up only to try again later. Listening to the radio and hoping to feel something deep, but the overlying feeling is tired. Nothing will change until the flood comes back. And it always does. Usually when I least expect it. And I’ll laugh at my own jokes. I’ll Facebook and tweet in rapid-fire motion. I’ll blast music and head bang in the car. When people are looking. I’ll line up four blog posts for the next week or so. I’ll edit photos..

..from the last week or so:

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It’s not special formula. It’s not magic..mostly. We all feel it – the floods of inspiration and the droughts of stagnation. As with the weather and the deserts and these fragile New England gardens (so under attack by the elements and the animals), it always comes back around. Sometimes too much and sometimes too little. The only thing you can count on is the change. You will not be let down.

I’ll always miss some things about you, my little friend. Things that we’ve lost. I’ll always gain some things about you too.

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The only thing you can truly count on is the tides of change. You will not be let down.

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Afterword: What It Felt Like To Write That.

This post references the writing and completion of my month-long, 20-part, completely and utterly true epic love story of meeting the father of my two-year-old daughter and my unborn son. The entire story can be found here: Episodes
One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine
Ten
Eleven
Twelve
Thirteen
Fourteen
Fifteen
Sixteen
Seventeen
Eighteen
Nineteen
Twenty..

Hello, again. I’m back even though I was totally here the whole time, telling my story in my present voice, writing it as I posted it. Everything said by the me of now. The reflections, nearly eight years after we started our courtship.

I wrote this story now because after I delivered the news of the sex of the baby, I realized I would have 3-4 months of space before having a baby and potentially losing the time and inspiration to write this. Also, I really want to write about my baby when he comes. I’m sure you’ll probably be a bit curious to meet him, right? I know I am.

Enough about him.

I’ve been asked to describe what writing this story felt like. And I often find my mouth forming the same words: It was like natural childbirth. Sure I could have stopped or numbed the pain of contractions and delivery at any time, but not without risks involved. And I wanted my end result to be perfect – no missing fingers or toes. No missing words or paragraphs.

For all of the detail I gave, and I know I gave a lot, there were details I held back if they weren’t important to the story, or mainly, if they could potentially hurt one of the many beautiful men and women who were fortunate or unfortunate enough to get involved in the long crossfire of us falling in love, and then falling in love again. I had to acknowledge the ones on my end as if to say, “I loved you. I love you. You happened. This isn’t a story about you.” And the ones on Cassidy’s end? If it was important enough to say, I said it. If not, there was no need. This story could have been more bitter than it came across.

It also could have been WAY more detailed and..you know..it could have told you how babies are made just in case you didn’t know how yet. I skated that fine line between, as my uncle said, “Feeling like I’m reading your diary!” and “Feeling like I could probably do with less info than this!” I am a classy broad, after all. True stories can be challenging in those ways.

When I write, really write, I get into a zone. I often write directly from my brain and an occasional fact checking Google search. This story was like writing a book. I did heavy research. I picked Cassidy’s brain to piece together memories in order. I pored over nearly every single one of our old emails, and even my emails to other loved ones during this time in my life because it all contained hints and dreams, feelings and memories. Sometimes it was exhilarating. Other times it was torturous. I wrote the end long before I wrote the second half of episode posts. I knew it was perfect before half of my story had been told. I guess that’s just my way. When I write deeply and with research and for hours, I get into “the zone.” After I’d finish writing for the night, I could not just go to bed, no matter how dearly my pregnant body needed sleep. I had to have a “cooldown” in which I watched mindless TV. Preferably on The CW channel. It was easier to do alone and this is why:

After writing so heavily, wherever I was in my story – the good, the bad, the really bad, the really good, it colored my atmosphere for awhile after I finished writing. Obviously my grip of reality was intact, but I’d walk around my house, breathing it all in and breathing in my present and thanking God I had gotten to where I was today and I didn’t have to go back to some or most of the places I was in the story. I didn’t necessarily love the person I was researching so heavily – the me of eight years ago. I had to learn to love her and her growth. It was so strange to come down from writing every night and look at Cassidy and try to negotiate him with the “him” I had just been reading emails from. This is my current husband. But just as you are when you wake up from a deeply, vivid dream and you can’t quite shake it from your head instantly, I would look at him and see a magical prince, an evil heartbreaker, someone 3,000 miles away from me, someone who hurt me, someone I hurt, someone I didn’t know well, someone who didn’t know me well…wherever I happened to be in the story.

And of course, I’d recover each time, with time. Yet it was turning me into a bit of a crazy person. I’d be up in my little computer nook having the time of my life, laughing and feeling my spirits soar as I fell more and more magically in love with a mystery man. The next night, I’d be up in my computer, crying, the tears falling onto my many Post-it notes, heartbroken, so heartbroken for a man I loved so much but couldn’t have. It was like these dreams I sometimes I have in which I’m watching a movie, but then I’m somehow in the movie and I have to fight bad guys, climb mountains, save a princess, slay a dragon, and each time it’s scary and horrible and joyous and wonderful, yet I always already know the ending. Cause I’m not just living this movie. I’m watching this movie from a bit of new distance and perspective. And still it feels fresh. Too fresh.

I was watching it unfold, knowing the ending all the while, but feeling the twists and turns just as powerfully the same.

Then I would recover each time and hug my husband, who is my husband, and I know him and he knows me and I’m not going to run away from him and he’s not going to run away from me, I hope, and we don’t have 3,000 miles of physical and emotional distance to work so hard and so painfully to bridge.

And I’d wake up in the morning to the sound of my first born, while feeling the gentle kicks of my second unborn.

And I’d never for a second confuse the past with the present. It was only when I sneaked up to my computer each night that the inner conflict would continue.

There were times I’d be fully immersed in an email from Ruth. It would contain quotes or pictures or wisdom I needed to use. Then I’d snap to the present for a second, to find a current email from her, also filled with quotes or pictures or wisdom. That would confuse me for a while…

There were times I was talking with more than one of the other men in this story, but in the present. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some of them would read the story. And we’d be having powerful conversations, not unlike the conversations we had several years ago. That would confuse me for a while…

I loved, so loved, writing this story. And I hated, so hated, writing this story. It was a labor of love. It was labor. The afterbirth was astoundingly relieving and beautiful. Like a proud mother looking over her newborn, this story has been a baby I’ve been pregnant with for almost nine years, rather than months. And then there was the letdown, the “Now, what?” of it all. That’s where I’m at now. The postpartum period. What will I say or do next? What will fill my spare evening time? How long do I get to feel proud of myself for completing this project before getting involved in the next one? How far apart do you space your “children?”

Still I’m glad it’s out where it should be, after all this time of kicking and gestating. I’m glad you can see it now.

I will think of other ways to shake it up a bit, make blogging more exciting. And I have to thank each and every one of you for the comments, emails, texts, whatever. I really needed that, probably more than I ever knew.

When the spell of writing a specific piece has been lifted, you may wonder what kind of black or white magic expelled that…miracle and wonder…from your brain and onto paper or web. You may have been possessed by demons. You may have been kissed by a fairy godmother. You may have been under mind-altering drugs.

Either way, you did it. You wrote it. And you’ll do it again.