Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pregnancy Week 26: What do you do with your last few months before your life changes forever...

Let's be clear. I'm not dying. There is nothing preventing me from fulfilling any artistic, emotional, personal, intellectual or career-oriented dream after having a child. We still plan to go on vacations, I still plan to write, to teach, to work on my music. Mike will continue working in marketing, editing his blog, writing and recording music. We'll still hang out with friends, go to movies, have romantic nights together... These are not things that will necessarily be easy to do once we have a child, but they are not impossible and if one makes them a priority now and then, they will happen.


It will never be the same. Even if we vacation without our child, we will still know we have a child. We will still miss that child, care and worry about that child. There is no way we can be as carefree as we are now.
The time we spend on our artistic pursuits will change as well. Mike won't be able to play his guitar loudly late at night. I won't be able to simply plop down on the couch and pull out my laptop whenever I feel like it. We will have to be more careful about using our time wisely, supporting each other, making time for each of us to have the creative alone-time. And creative together-time.

So as we are entering into the seventh month--about three months left--what steps do we want to make before our lives take this irreversible path?

For one, I made the big decision to leave my job before we have the baby. It was a hard decision, especially financially, but Mike has been encouraging me to utilize my last few months to truly focus on my writing. January 15 is now my last day, and while I will teach Playmaking part-time February to June (or as long as I am comfortable before/after delivery), my every day job will end. So I will have 3 months to hopefully relax, try to sleep better, take yoga classes, enjoy my pregnancy without rushing through it, prepare our room and apartment for the baby, and of course, work on my creative goals. It is a leap of faith we're taking, but hopefully it will be an investment that pays off in the future. After all, I'll never have this opportunity, not like this, again in my life.

We have also planned the increasingly popular "babymoon". After a great deal of research regarding health, safety, weather, and travel costs, we decided on a 6-night all-inclusive stay at a resort in Antigua. We leave just two days after my final day of work. Not only are we looking forward to a proper vacation (we've had short vacations in the past few years, but our last week long vacation was Mexico in 2006), but we can't wait to spend that isolated time together.

Mike also has been working very hard at his music. He feels an even greater pressure than I do to complete a certain amount of songs before the baby is born. I feel badly when I can see he is clearly anxious under the pressure of a looming life change. I try to encourage him, to work on his music now, but to know it doesn't have to end when we have a baby. It will be harder, but if we make the effort...

In some ways, I think having a baby will focus us even more. I remember my High School band conductor telling me, "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it." I have found that to be true in many instances. When I look at my most prolific times of writing and accomplishing goals, they often are when I have barely had a moment to sleep. These sleepless nights are right around the corner, so maybe this is a good thing creatively?

Of course, I could be engaging in multiple forms of self-delusion, on many levels, when I think about this for the present and future. Ultimately, we just need to make the most of the time we have now, and make the most of the time we have with our baby.

On Sunday, we celebrated Russian Orthodox Christmas with Mike's parents. They came over to our apartment for brunch, gifts, and visiting. They are graciously bird-sitting Darius while we are in the Caribbean, and so as they are about to leave, Mike asks them how their cat, Maxie, is doing.

His mother starts explaining, "He got sick. He wasn't doing very well..." Mike is a bit confused, but she goes on. "He was throwing up a lot and howling in pain..."

Mike is starting to realize, but still not certain.

"So we took him to the vet..." she says.

Mike pauses, then asks,"So...is he dead?"

She nods. "We had to put him to sleep. He was in so much pain."

After they leave, Mike comes to me and says, "My childhood cat is dead..." He is clearly very affected by this and after some tears, we talk about the cat a little. He says he wishes he had spent more time with him. I point out Maxie usually ran away from us when we visited--so it's not as though Mike hadn't tried (Maxie would hop on Mike's mom's lap, but other than her, he often kept to himself, although Mike and the cat would rough-house together from time to time).

But this is not the point.

The point is, Mike would have liked more time with the family cat. When the timing is appropriate, I tell him, "Well, maybe we can take something away from this. Maybe we can use this as a reminder to spend time with the people or animals we love. If someone dies, we don't want to say, 'I wish I had spent more time with this loved one rather than doing X.'" I know this is a common philosophy, but is does ring true, and Mike agrees.

Projects are important. Work is necessary. Creative goals are inspiring, fun, stimulating and nourishment for us. But, people are...well, people are what we miss when they are gone.

One priority will never change, and that is my devotion to Mike, as my husband, the primary person in my life, with or without a child. And we will continue with our writing, our music, our work, our blogs, our computer time. But we have created a person. And some priorities are going to change. And as I sit here typing this, feeling my little boy move around inside of me, I am really quite okay with that change. I'm ready for my number two person to take his place in my world. I can't wait.


Anonymous said...

If the time will come to me that I am bearing a child after giving birth. I will continue the things I am doing but with some additional things to do because I have my angel to take care.

Kat said...

First of all...Tara, how on earth are you still wearing those pants?
Second of all, I loved this post. It's very honest and very thoughtful. You're right, a lot of things are about to change and your life will never be the same as it is right now. But, you guys can do all the things you want to do and more! They may take more time to complete, but they can be done. And how wonderful to share your creativity and your love for one another with your son. We are the best role models for our children. When our kids see us devote time to our talents and to our marriage, they learn that these things are important to them too. I firmly believe that when we invest in our relationship as husband and wife, we are also investing in our kids. Having 2 parents in a loving relationship is one of the best gifts you can give them. I think you guys have it figured out already :)

Mike said...

So, that first comment left on this post was apparently left by someone in the Philippines that was searching for "pregnancy blogs" in a blog search engine to generate a link to SheKnows.com.

What does it all mean? BabyBouteneff.com has been targeted for a link generation campaign; SheKnows.com (or an SEO agency working for them) is contracting southeast asian labor to create links to their site.

We're honored. :)

Mike said...

But Philippino spammers aside... I'll admit, I've let myself get somewhat demoralized with my music projects. I suppose it's easy to look back on many intentions that never really came to fruition and get frustrated. Free time will be even harder to come by very soon...and it'll be so incredibly worthwhile. (And like you said, Tara, we'll still, somehow, find ways to make time for those creative pursuits.) Isn't a family the most amazing, challenging, and rewarding creative pursuit one can aspire to have contributed to?

Monsoon Mama said...

amen to all of this! (well, not the Phillipino spammers...) as someone who is approaching 19 months post-baby, i can truthfully say that yes, things TOTALLY change, and it took me a while to re-find myself after becoming a mom. i think it was so obsessed with reclaiming pieces of who i was pre-baby, and i eventually realized that i never lost myself-- i just changed. i think having a baby forces us to live in the moment and be more present in each moment, and this can be hard at first because we always have something to do-- dishes to wash, music to write, an email to type, etc., and when your child is pulling on your pants and whining, "mama, UP!" all that crap just isn't going to happen! and YES to what kat said about investing in your relationship and in yourselves-- happy mommmy and daddy = happy baby. for sure. you guys will be SUCH loving, wonderful, nurturing parents!

Anonymous said...

Yes your lives have changed. Your title in life is now and always will be mom and dad. Now that my three boys are all grown, I will always think back when they were all home running around. Your life will be a continues remote always changing channels. You'll be there for there first tooth, first day getting on the bus, then finally graduation etc. etc. How time just goes by. Now I'm waiting for grandchildren someday. How did my life get this far......I just blinked and they became young men.
Judy W.

Tara M said...

Pregnancy Spammer--hank you for your message that did not quite make sense, but yes, I hope hope I bear a child after giving birth too (as cute as carebears are...)

Kat--hahah--yes, the time is probably coming for me to update my belly shot gear! I can still wear the jeans for the picture, but I just can't sit down in them! I love your reaffirmation about the parents working being a great gift for your kids!

Mike--yes, a baby, a literal part of you and a literal part of me, coming together to literally CREATE a person--that has to be the most creative, fulfilling thing...I mean, it's creation at its rawest, right? And it wasn't even that hard! :)

Monsoon--that is also a great point to not worry too much about finding/losing yourself, when you are really still there anyway, just a big changed (and change is often good). Otherwise, we can spend too much time clinging to something that isn't even really gone! I will try to remember that!

Judy--wow! I can only imagine the feeling of suddenly realizing your kids are married and will start having kids of their own! Mike was already talking about that and our imaginary time flies too! What a ride!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on everything: babymoon, quitting work, healthy pregnancy. You look great. Btw, I recommend, _Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy_. A humorous read with good information--very quick since you can skip the first half, chapters like "Telling your Husband." One of the Girlfriends decided 1/2 way through her 9 (10) months to ignore the scale. Threw her home version out and looked away while the doctor weighted her. Sounds like a smart plan! Eat healthy, eat when you're hungry, the baby will be healthy! Of course, this is advice I couldn't really take myself; I obsessed about weight. Looking back, I would try and ignore the scale, too, but on the other hand, it's one of the very few real indicators we have that everything is "okay." A few grainy pictures, some tests for the obscure, the doctors assurance. Besides that, what else do we have?


grandma berta said...

A baby does change you forever. Yes, you will change when you become a mom and dad, but from my experience, it's only for the better. You will not be who you were and you will not be who you think you will be. I am not who I would have thought I'd be 40 years ago. But I know I have no regrets and I have loved becoming who I am, through the ups and downs; it all makes you who you are. You will still be who you are now in many ways. You won't change in the important things; you'll still be the creative, fun, loving person you are, but you'll show that in other ways, not instead of what you are now, but in addition to it. You'll look back 20 or 30 years from now and wonder how you got to be who you are, but I hope, like me, you'll be happy with who you are. A baby (and each new one) changes you forever! And that's a good thing!