Through The Lens

I have a funny relationship with my camera.

In high school, my parents' gift of a fancy-ish Nikon inspired me to take roll after roll (remember those?) of photos of my friends lounging angstily on fire escapes and brownstone stoops, eating toast in diners and putting on lipstick and blowing out smoke from pilfered cigarettes. I love these photos, but they aren't really photos of us - they're photos of us trying to be someone else, someone closer to the picture of "cool" we held in our heads.

And then there are the years that I jokingly (but not really) think of as "the lost years" - when I forgot about my camera for one reason or another, and many months went by without a single photo. I have only one album from college, and it's filled with shots from maybe three or four especially photogenic nights (a formal, another formal, a night my roommates and I got dressed up to go out and then decided to just stay in my room and drink bad tequila and dance to the Footloose soundtrack).

When I graduated and moved to California, my camera was stolen during a break-in, and I didn't replace it for a long, long time. I have a few shots from nights out at clubs with friends, but not of the times I'd really like photos of: the nights spent sitting by the pool with my dad, looking up at the moon and the palm trees and talking. The long drives I took to Santa Barbara. I wish I had more photographs of my sweet friend. I think of him every day; I'd like to see his face.


In The World

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I have to admit: I was terrified at the idea of venturing out into the world with two children. I worried that both would cry at the same time and I wouldn't know who to go to first; I worried that my son would go running off somewhere and I'd be dealing with the baby and not notice; I worried that two kids would be so much to handle that I wouldn't be able to handle anything else…like whatever it was I'd theoretically gone out to do; grocery shopping or picking up dry cleaning or grabbing dinner.

I worried that I simply wouldn't have enough hands to carry all that stuff.

When Kendrick's around, we can sort of divide and conquer…but when I'm on my own with two (and I am, a lot of the time)? Wouldn't it just be easier to…stay home?


Still There

A couple of days after we brought Goldie home from the hospital, I was sitting on the couch feeding her and my son announced that he wanted to go kick a soccer ball outside. "Why don't we wait for Mommy?" Kendrick asked him. "She wants to come too."

"Mommy doesn't like to go outside," Indy said, and my heart broke.

That quickly - in just days - I had gone from being my son's primary playmate and general partner in crime to the "un-fun" parent, the one who "didn't want" to run and kick balls, or go swimming, or play hide-and-go-seek.


First Light

There's a scene in Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, a story of a woman returning time and again to live different versions of the same life, in which the heroine is just a baby, laying in a bassinet and looking up at the sky, comfortable and dozing. When I read the book I thought that was such a lovely image, and the kind of sense memory that I think we all have of our own childhoods: a hazy recollection that's really more of a feeling - light on your face, carpet under your feet, the sound of someone singing - that seems like something you might have read in a book once, but that you're pretty certain you actually lived, months or years before you could put words to it.

Yesterday afternoon, I was laying in the shade next to the pool with my daughter in a seat next to me, sort of halfheartedly reading and mostly watching Kendrick and Indy playing in the water. Goldie was so quiet I thought she was asleep, but then I looked down and saw that she wasn't; she was just sitting there peacefully, looking up at the scarf that I'd draped over the seat to give her some extra shade and moving her fingers in little circles.

I watched her watch her world, and I hoped so much that that moment she was living might tuck itself away somewhere deep her mind, maybe come back to her in her dreams: sunlight filtering through a square of rainbow mesh, leaves rustling way up above, the sound of her mother turning pages next to her and her father and brother laughing and splashing further off in the distance.


If You Only Ask

I went into the birth of my second child absolutely convinced I'd experience at least some degree of the postpartum depression I dealt with after Indy was born. It was something I brought up at my very first appointment after finding out we were expecting, and something that I touched base with my doctors about over the course of the next few months. I didn't want it to catch me unguarded and without a plan in place, because with a toddler and an infant to think about, being that emotionally out of sorts even for even a day didn't feel like an option.

My primary concern: you know how I've written extensively about my insomnia (which is largely related to my anxiety)? Well, when you have a newborn, you sleep even less. And less sleep = a greater chance of suffering from PPD.

At the mid-point in my pregnancy, I went to meet with a psychiatrist (which I should have done a long, long time ago), because even though I didn't want to start any new medications while expecting, I figured you know what? I've been dealing with this problem long enough. I've tried lots of different things - some that have worked for a time, and some that haven't worked at all - and if there's a longer-term, more stable solution, I'd like to find it. What we decided: that I'd start on an extremely low-dose daily antidepressant immediately following the birth. I don't suffer from depression, but apparently this kind of medication can help to shut off the sort of ruminative thinking that characterizes my particular type of anxiety.

(As a side note, this decision to try medication wasn't something I was going to talk about here - it feels so, so personal - but then I realized: am I ashamed that I suffer from insomnia and anxiety? No. Am I ashamed that I've tried lots of different things over the years, and that now I'm going to try this? No. And I know that these are issues that a lot of people suffer from, and that a lot of people feel ashamed about, and I believe with all my heart that there is no shame in being open about your struggles and seeking out help wherever you can find it.)

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