Life as a queen in a land of many kings…

The “C” Word

If you know me, you know I’m insanely in love with my dog.  Morgan was my first baby before I had a baby, and he remains a key member of our household.  He gets more bed space than I do, and I don’t mind waking up with a sore back each morning because I love him and his warm snuggles that much.   That’s why I’ve struggled to write this post, to write about how he might have cancer. 
I pointed out a small growth on the underside of Morgan’s tail at his yearly check up.  Prior to the appointment, I had jokingly referred to it as his “butt bubble” because its location made it seem more like a harmless hemorrhoid than something we should be concerned about.  The idea of it being troublesome came and passed quickly until the vet said what I feared in the back of my mind–it’s a tumor.  It seems benign, he said, but the only way to know for sure is to do a biopsy.  He recommended that we have the tumor removed while it’s still small since the procedure will only become more complicated and risky once it grows.  
At first the news didn’t seem so bad.  Likely benign?  No problem.  Simple surgery?  No problem.  Even the possibility of a malignant tumor didn’t scare me until I admitted to myself that malignant means cancerous.  The dreaded “C” word.
I lost my childhood dog to cancer when she was 6 years old.  It claimed her life before we really even had time to decide what we wanted to do about it.  Morgan’s only 5.  I’ve always told him he needs to stick around for awhile and die an old, happy dog.  I just feel karma owes him that much after the suffering he endured his first few years.  I’ve imagined another 5-8 years with him.  I’ve imagined a walking, talking Westin romping through the house with him.  And now there’s a chance none of that will ever happen.
Sometimes my mind runs wild with thoughts I don’t want to have.  Home euthanasia.  Cremation vs. burial.  Life without a dog.  Life with another dog.  OMG, is this really where we’re headed?  I get emotional if I think about it too much.  I struggle with the idea of losing him so soon, though I know that no matter what the outcome, I’ll remain grateful to have had him in my life and to have given a once-abandoned dog the loving family he so deserves.  Karma or no karma, I remind myself it’s the quality of life he’s had with us that matters more than the quantity.  If he died today, I’d feel satisfied that we gave him the absolute best life.
But mostly I believe he’s ok.  He’s still my Morgan, so full of life–taker of belly rubs, giver of kisses.  I’ll take him to the vet next Wednesday, tail wagging, for that simple surgery for that likely benign tumor.  I’ll hope to never hear the “C” word.  I’ll hope this isn’t the beginning of the end.
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Little Moments

Lately I feel like so much of my pregnancy and Westin’s first few months of life are already such a blur. I know everyone says to savor those sweet moments, even the late night and early morning ones, and while I thought I did, so many of those newborn snuggles are already gone from my mind.

What did it feel like when my baby kicked inside my belly? What were my first emotions when Westin was born? I remember a wave of relief and pride and excitement. And love, of course. But it was mostly an out-of-body experience–there was too much to take in. I quickly fell in love with Westin’s curly hair, though he lost the wave by the next day. What did that look like again? Did he actually fit in newborn sizes? Were his hands really that small? How did it feel to hold his floppy, curled up body during those 2 a.m. feedings? (Was I even awake for them?!) When did twelve weeks of maternity leave suddenly become only five, four, three, two, one…?

I think in many ways I took maternity leave for granted. I loved every moment of it, but in having Westin with me 24/7, I’m not sure I savored the moments the way I do now that they are more limited. I wish we had done more skin-to-skin snuggling. I wish I had taken more pictures of him while he was still pose-able. I wish I had held him more without worrying about all the other things that needed done. I try to give myself that time more now.

Because now, Westin is five months old! And in February, he’ll be six months old. And by next year it seems I’ll be sending him to Kindergarten. It blows my mind how quickly my baby is growing into a little boy. He was such a chatterbox the other night at bedtime, and I gave him a big hug and remarked how only five months ago, all he could do was cry. I miss where we were. I love where we are. I look forward to where we are going. But does it all have to go so quickly? Regardless, I’m loving this journey. Too often it feels like I blink and the day is over, like I can’t stop and savor these baby days, but we always manage to sneak in little moments that leave an impression on my heart.

Someone recently asked me if being a parent is easier or more challenging than I expected. I said it’s easier. But maybe that isn’t the whole truth because being a mommy while being a million other things (wife, homemaker, full-time employee, etc.) can be HARD. It’s a balancing act. It can be overwhelming. There are days and weeks when I feel like Super Mom, on top of the world. And then it all comes crashing down and I have the Mt. Everest of chores to climb while still trying to make the most of the few waking hours I share with Westin through the week. In the chaos of life, I try to remind myself of something I read recently: Sometimes, good enough is PERFECT. Westin won’t grow up to be a better person because I cleaned the house from top to bottom. He’ll be a better person because I spent time with him…and because I spent time with Matt and he got to grow up in a secure and loving environment. So I guess the dirty dishes can wait one more day…

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Welcome, 2012!

I spent about two hours the morning of New Year’s Eve assembling Westin’s jumper.  When I was almost finished, Matt noticed a piece that was defective.  I’m not a violent person, but I wanted to murder that thing!  If not for the need to exchange it or get a replacement part, I would have crushed it or thrown it against the wall or run over it with my car.  Ok, I’m exaggerating, but I was HOT.  What mother of a four-month-old baby has two hours to waste only to find that the thing doesn’t work?!  Imagine all the time I could have spent with Westin or all the chores I might have accomplished…  It was like our crib fiasco all over again.  And the idea of starting over with a new one was maddening.

It was soon after this that a dirty diaper led right to bath time.  Westin kicked and splashed and smiled, helping me to get over my rage.  As I dried him off, it hit me:  we found out about our sesame seed-sized baby one year ago today.  Any anger that remained melted away instantly as I recalled celebrating last New Year’s Eve with a positive pregnancy test.  I scooped Westin into my arms and just hugged him.  It’s amazing what a difference a year can make.  Though we wanted to have a baby, the news that we were expecting still came with shock and excitement.  Was I really ready to be a parent???  My doubts quickly subsided, and one year later, I can answer without hesitation:  ABSOLUTELY!

2011 was a memorable year for us.  Aside from Westin’s birth, we welcomed two nieces into the family and also celebrated our third wedding anniversary.  We had some trials and challenges since Matt worked out of town throughout my pregnancy.  We both fought bouts of loneliness.  Though I had an easy pregnancy, I sometimes felt cheated that Matt couldn’t be home to take care of me and experience the day-to-day journey of my growing belly with me.  EVERYONE worried about Matt making it home to witness Westin’s birth and wondered how long he’d have to work out of town once Westin was born.  We didn’t have any answers.  All I knew is that we would take it one day at a time.  And it all worked out in the end.  It always does.  Westin arrived on a Saturday when Matt was home, and Matt’s working locally now so we can spend our time as a family once again.

We don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, but this year we joked that our resolution should be to clean the spilt, dried up Kool Aid from the bottom of the refrigerator.  It’s been there for a few months, and we’ve avoided the chore since it basically requires us to completely deconstruct the inside of the refrigerator.  These things just aren’t priority anymore, not with all the things we have to look forward to in 2012.  Above all, I can’t wait to watch Westin accomplish new milestones.  Before long he’ll be bouncing around in his jumper and I’ll wonder how I ever felt mad at something that brings us all such joy.  I also look forward to celebrating Westin’s 1st birthday and then Matt’s 30th birthday one week later.  (I’m already contemplating parties for both!)  And of course I’m eager to take the vacation (or two) that we missed last year.

Whatever 2012 brings your way, just remember, it always works out in the end.  I hope these words will guide you through the year.  I wish you safety, health, and happiness.  I wish you strength to get through whatever challenges you may face.  And most of all, I wish you the company of friends and loved ones to enjoy along the way!

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