Friday, April 22, 2011

A (Mother) Earth Day Crisis

So they’ve been on my mind for weeks.  Diapers.  And not just because I’m changing them more often than I check my email.

It’s the changing them and then putting them in the diaper pail where they form a conveniently packed cellophane tube that I then heave into the trash bin that’s got me thinking.  That’s a lot of waste.

I recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminum, tote reusable grocery bags, go “paperless” billing, leave lights off more than on, keep my small kitchen appliances unplugged, only flush every few visits to the bathroom (it’s not gross if you’re home alone!), try to burn as little gasoline as possible, eat home grown veggies, abstain from overfished menu items, and welcome lizards as natural pest control.

Except for my diapers!
So why on God’s green earth am I throwing away a toddler-sized sack of diapers twice a week?

Before this baby was born I was one hundred percent sold on using cloth diapers.  And then the horror stories started to pour in.  Friends and family alike had me conjuring up mental images of puddles of leaking pee-pee, sweaty plastic pants, scraping number twos into the toilet, and toting baggies of stinky cotton everywhere I go.  So before I even got started, I threw in the, err, diaper.

I know it’s the right thing to do.  I’m just having a hard time getting excited about actually doing it.  My laundry piles have already grown substantially.  My baby doesn’t just dirty his own clothes, he dirties ours too!  Can I handle washing loads of diapers on top of all the new responsibilities I've taken on lately?

I know it would be greener.  I’m just not sure if I’m ready.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Miracle

It’s almost a universal reaction.  You gaze at a newborn baby who is sleeping in sublime peace, and you’re overcome by the sheer miracle of life and birth.

In the week after my son was born, as various relatives and friends were stopping by to hold and meet the baby, I heard more than once, “How can you look at a newborn baby and not believe in God?”  The question wasn’t directed at anyone in particular.  It wasn't an admonition.  It was a statement of awe.  Look at this miracle of creation.

My mother-in-law held him and stroked his tiny ears, “Look how they’re so perfect.  How everything is so perfectly formed.”  They are perfect.  Just look at a newborn.  Mine had a misshapen and bruised head at birth.  Infant acne set in around week two.  Then his scalp started peeling and his hair fell out in odd patches.  And while these “flaws” might be decidedly off-putting in an adult, on a delicate newborn, they were barely noticed.  Instead, visitors commented on his beautiful eyes, his perfect mouth, his exquisitely tiny fingernails.

Yesterday, I texted a picture of my two month old to my dad.  “What a blessing,” he replied.  Indeed.  Then at the grocery store, the teenage girl who was bagging my groceries couldn't take her eyes off him, and finally cooed, “He is so precious.”  A passerby in the mall murmured, more to herself than me, “What a beautiful baby.”

As human beings we seem to intuitively sense God’s perfection in babies.

Pushing my cart out of the grocery store yesterday, I passed a very old man.  He must have been close to ninety years old.  He walked slowly, like it was no longer easy, and yet he walked.  His skin hung almost loose and in folds.  His hair was white and sparse.  Behind glasses, there was unmistakable light in his eyes.  I looked at him, smiled hello, and heard myself saying, “What a miracle.”

Why do we see beauty and perfection in children, but not in each other or in ourselves?  Each person you encounter was once that delicate, perfectly formed infant.  Have they become less worthy of love and adoration just because they’ve grown?

Two days ago, my daily calendar of Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati’s teachings read, “You are the miracle that you seek.” What a reminder.  If only we could see in ourselves and each other, every day, the beauty we see in babies.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Not about You

Lying in bed at eight and a half months pregnant, I rubbed my swollen belly, poking gently to elicit the little nudges and kicks I had so come to love.  "I'm ready for you, Baby," I told him.  I was 38 weeks and, according to the books, now considered full term.  Pregnancy was losing some of its charm.  My feet were full of fluid, sleeping was a pillow-piling challenge, and even some of my maternity clothes were getting snug!  So I voiced my desire to my son-to-be. . .Come on out.  Mom and Dad are ready to meet you.

The nursery was ready.  Diapers stocked, onesies washed, cradle assembled.  In fact, I even placed the cradle next to my bed and smiled to myself each day, "I'm ready for you, Baby."  It was my mantra.

A week later my sweet entreaty had become tinged with frustration.  I'd begun to awaken each morning groaning, "I'm STILL pregnant?"  Didn't my boy hear me?  I'd read that sometimes babies weren't born until their parents expressed readiness.  I asked my husband to put his face to my belly.  "Tell him we're ready."

He kissed my tightly stretched skin and spoke, "Mommy and Daddy are ready for you," in the voice I'd later come to know as his "Wells Voice."  There.  Now he can be born.  I turned off the light, tried my best to use my pillow configuration to get comfortable, and drifted off with hopes of impending labor.

Another week, the eve of my due date.  I placed a waterproof crib pad under the sheet where I slept. "In case my water breaks."  I had spent the evening bouncing on an exercise ball and sending very clear instructions to my baby.  "Come on.  Be born!"

My due date came and precisely nothing unusual occurred.  That evening, lying in bed, I started feeling sorry for myself as I peered down at my undulating abdomen.  And then suddenly I realized that causing those amazing waves and bumps, was a very active and miraculous being who had his very own ideas about when to be born.  And there was the clear insight, "It's not about you." Truth has a vibration like a perfectly tuned chord, and at that moment I heard its sweetness.  That was it.  My first lesson as a parent: it's not about me.  Sure, I was ready for the discomforts of pregnancy to end, but my role as mother was not about my comfort.  It is and always will be about the health and wellness of my child.

The next day the obstetrician said "no signs of labor" and started talking about inducing.

"No way," I told him.  He looked pretty shocked.  Apparently, most women are ready to induce just as soon as the doc allows.

But I knew this baby would come when he was ready.  And I wasn't going to rush him.

Wells Long was born exactly one week after his due date, a healthy baby boy.