My book is available!!!!! Here's the link:
I was very worried that as River became more active, I'd lose my usefulness because how I've been able to care for her thus far while Jason works is having her sleep on my belly. Although her extra pounds are a challenge, now I'm feeling good about continuing to help, though. Some things are just easier, like now that she has more neck control, I'm able to sit her in my lap and read to her. And some things we're just finding a way around. For instance, we're converting my room of inspiration, aka the gym, into a play room. We'll baby gate the doors and put a big rug down so she can roll or crawl around and around, and we'll arrange a chair, cushions, handle bars, whatever I need so that I can take care of her. (other than the dirty diapers!)
Yup, we're figuring things out.
“Courtney’s Quest” has been released!! It should be available on Amazon in a few days and I’ll post a link when it is.
I’m doing a book signing during a clinic I’m teaching in Portland, Oregon, next week, and I have to say, I rush ordered copies for that before I did my final draft and have found a few insignificant but embarrassing mistakes, like leaving the “e” off “courage” and using the word “meet” instead of “meat”. I really wanted to have books to display and I hope that the Portlanders will feel that having Righty do his damndest to sign my name makes up for a few spelling errors!
Although I’ve been anxious to have it finished for the last month and it feels fantastic to have a three-and-a-half year project culminate into a tangible object, I must admit that completion brought a bittersweet sensation. I always need to be busy, and I thought having a daughter would eliminate my fear of boredom, but there are still her many catnaps and I’ve become very cognizant of making sure she doesn’t become tired of my ugly mug! I thought I’d take up painting again, but painting requires solid chunks of uninterrupted time. The great thing about writing, although it can be hard to tear yourself away from it, is it doesn’t get ruined if you leave it. In reading all my old journals for information for my book, I found a great many poems I’d written over the years, and my idea (which I may or may not do) is to put them all together, add a few and make a book out of that. We'll see!
Look, I have teeth!
I didn't get to go to my book club meeting because I'd had a bad night (I still have trouble sleeping), but that's ok because I can get the book they're reading and be able to contribute next month. If I even go! A girl I knew long ago emailed me and we're meeting up for a play date with our daughters! I actually don't have any free time before August 12 but I'm excited. And I'm going to call the hospital where I gave birth and see if they can recommend a mothers' group because that's of more interest to me. I found one that's perfect, meets for dinner or coffee, just a bunch of ladies chatting, but it's an hour away. So sad.
Meanwhile River's making exceptional progress. She's getting teeth (which she's handled stellarly), is rolling over from back to belly and from belly to back, and the pediatrician was very impressed with her strength in every regard. She's in the 95th percentile for height and 75th for weight.
Although I want to do everything with her, I'm coming to accept that I can't and am simply lucky that I'm surrounded by people who can. For instance, she LOVES the outdoors; it always makes her happy, and what I loved as a child that my mother did with me was critter catch. We'd turn over dead logs and catch salamanders, trudge through the woods and catch snakes, toads, turtles and crayfish. I can't do it, but Uncle Gib can and lots of Kiwi cousins.
It's fun to watch her progress. I'm processing and coming to accept my limitations, and what I said when I was pregnant is true: sadness over not having a child at all would be far more painful, and that knowledge is more profound now that I'm a parent.
I just realized I should have been clearer. I have some excellent friends nearby: Jason, Koryn, the owner of my farm Clair, Lendon, some old clients Francine and Kathleen... simply no one close by enough or free enough to hang out with often. I do go to ladies' dinners at Clair's but only about every two months. I love my friends dearly and know they love me, so I don't feel lonely, I'm perfectly happy. I just know I need to broaden my life to take the burden off my daughter. I deeply appreciate the time I get to spend with her, I never want to be away from her, I just know it's unhealthy for her to have mummy all the time. Besides, she may get sick of me!
We had a fabulous Fourth. We stayed at my Dad's cottage in Northern Michigan, and it was so special to have my large and loving family shower my angel in adoration.
I want to thank everyone for their notes of encouragement and support in my moment of despair. Hearing such reassurance was like a warm blanket on a cold night and as normally happens with me, once I digested the knowledge that more things are beyond my capability, I accepted it and was fine. I was initially fine with being unable to do the big things because I'd prepared myself for that, but realizing I couldn't do some of the smaller things was a shock to the system. But once I gave my mind a chance to fully process that realization and reflected on some of the good traits I possess which many of you kindly reminded me of, I was fine. One lady wrote to me that she had to send her kids away in order for her to recover. It broke my heart. At least I'm able to watch River grow.
I have my first book group meeting tomorrow! A couple people also suggested a new mothers group which I think would be fabulous idea, but unfortunately I couldn't find one near us. There's no way I could ask Jason to drive me an hour to have dinner with a group of ladies!
I had a brief breakdown on my journey to Michigan for the Fourth. I was riding in the back next to the carseat as I always do and Cath, Jason's mom, was on the other side. When River would get upset, I'd try to entertain her to no avail. Then Cath would move her head in and out of hiding saying boo relatively quickly and that worked. Cath was so kind and let me have a go, but at my slow pace, it wasn't entertaining. I tried to go slightly quicker, but fast isn't in my repertoire. Cath would lift each of River's legs in rhythm, kiss her up and down her body at a million miles an hour. Then when we got to the hotel, Jason took his two hands and did spiders crawling up her body. I broke down. When he lies down and sits her on his chest, does reps of lifting her straight in the air and then down for a kiss, does the airplane around the room, I'm fine. I've been fully aware that that's not in my capability and completely accept it, but I thought I could do some other things to entertain her. Like make noises to her (which she loves), but I've found I can't even do that well, can't roll my tongue, make the kissy noise quicker than slow-motion, smack my tongue without clucking, blow through my lips to make them vibrate with sound. I thought I could do spiders with at least one hand, but my coordination is so poor, my spider looks as if he's on deaths door. I can't even put my head close enough to gobble her neck or attack her cheek with kisses for fear of her getting excited and moving quickly which would cause our heads to bash as my finesse and reaction-time are lacking. I've found that reading while I hold her is impossible because I can't turn the pages. Luckily Cath brought me a pop-up book with thick enough pages that if I position her exactly correctly, I'm able to grasp the pages.
But what really wrenched my heart was the realization that I'm basing all my happiness on her. What a horrible responsibility for a child. At one point I realized I was basing all my happiness on riding and I knew that was unhealthy, so I consciously separated my life into two clear parts: the horse life and the non horse life, and made sure to keep both full. Realizing this made me sadder about my accident than I ever have been. I've been SO thankful to have all this time for River that my career would have made impossible, but if I were still in the throws of working to excel, I would have been a good role model for her, someone she could look at as a person separate from herself to try to emulate.
So then I thought, ok, so I need to have a non-River life. I'd certainly love to work more, but I can't create clients out of thin air and my door is far from being knocked down as it was when I was active. And for everything I do, I'm dependent on a caretaker and driver. I thought, well I'm sure Jason wouldn't mind just driving me to a local book club. But the problem is finding one. I have no friends in the area, so I'll call the local library. Although Jason will need to accompany me to the first meeting to make sure I can handle everything ok, I think it's important to do something on my own. But since my accident, it's hard to sustain a conversation as my muted volume invites constant talk-over. This combined with my previous awkwardness will make making friends hard, but I need to put myself in the situation that I'll be able to try.
River has single-handedly fixed my relationship with my mom, with whom I've struggled for decades, and she's challenging me to overcome some of my new and old shortcomings. My hope is that I'll succeed in making a local friend and I'll become involved in other activities.
In summary, I became more sad about the self I had lost and the abilities I once took for granted than I've ever been. I'd accepted that this is the way I am now and chose to be happy in my new body, but for the very first time, I had a half-day of of full-blown lamentation. But, although the way in which I came to the realization was painful, the reminder that life is full of challenges no matter what was one hundred percent refreshing.
I've always wanted River to have the opportunity to grow up with a big dog--something to lie on, snuggle with, ride. The passing of dear Quiver eliminated this possibility because there's no way I'd ask Jason to care for yet another being. Then I started thinking... perhaps a dog could actually help. In her toddler years, I won't be able to physically prevent her from going to unsafe destinations but perhaps a therapy dog could.
So the first step is to speak to a trainer of therapy dogs and see if this would be a realistic task and, if so, how to go about finding the right one.
If there are any therapy dog organizations out there who could steer me in the right direction, hearing from them would be much appreciated. Please email email@example.com as Facebook is a very uncertain way to reach me.
Sorry for the long time between posts; Jason and I are in the midst of a slew of visitors. It began when my brother, sister and sister-in-law came for Memorial Day weekend. My mom came on Memorial Day, left Thursday, I had a clinic on the weekend and Jason's aunties and uncle came from Sunday to Wednesday. Thursday was Jason's birthday, Betsy came Friday and left Sunday when Jason's parents arrived from New Zealand for their six week stay. Having them all around is not only extremely enjoyable, it's also helpful.
I feel incredibly fortunate that there are enough clinics nearby I can do regularly, so my travel is infrequent. I'm doing one in Portland, Oregon in July, which Jason and I are taking advantage of to scope out a city we've never been to. Other than that and one in Maryland, all our travels are for personal reasons!
At most of the clinics we do, someone gives her a present and the ladybug in the photo is one. It's the first toy she's purposefully grabbed, stares at it and puts it in her mouth. It's fascinating watching her discover that her hands belong to her and she has control over them.
What else can I say? I love motherhood. I'm making the most of these early months when she sleeps on my chest and is so warm, yummy, comforting and adorable in my arms as I already lament their passing, but I'm full of anticipation for watching her discover the world little by little.
I have to admit that when River was an infant, I felt sad that she'd grow and develop, scared that as she progressed, my inabilities would taint my happiness... not my enjoyment of seeing her progress but the happiness that should accompany that progress would be cloaked in sadness at having my abilities unable to meet her needs. And I'm sure there will be moments (as there have been) that I'll lament being unable to satisfy her increasing needs, but that's what they'll be. Moments.
This picture is perfect to display where we are now and what I have to be excited about in the near future. It looks like she's crawling and although she can't yet, judging by the determined look in her eye, she will be soon! She can keep her head held up and track things with her eyes. So fun to see the little steps of progress she takes... very rapidly!
This morning Jason, River and I went out for breakfast and this woman came up behind me and said "Boys day out, hu?" When I turned around and the brim of my hat revealed my face, she got a start and said, "You're a girl!" I'm used to having to tell people River's a girl because we dress her like a boy, but maybe I need to wear pink, too!