Sunday, December 27, 2009

Good Enough

Baby Sunshine - 33 weeks

As usual here I am playing catch up and wondering why it is so difficult for me to stay current in documenting the most amazing, life-changing phase of my life. True, I have been ridiculously tired. Who knew that a five and a half pound uterine squatter could make my daily life feel like I am carrying a load of bricks in a backpack? Or that twenty-five overall pounds would result in fluid-filled cankles, toes that Pierce lovingly describes as sausages and an overall inability to find comfort in anything but Uggs? But truthfully, these have been my only real issues. My normal response to all who have asked has been, "I feel really good. No complaints," and I sincerely mean it.

We have had three beautiful and incredibly generous showers. All of which deserved their own blog entries before now; however, have you seen them? Incredibly I have only just finished my thank-yous from said showers due to my other random, not previously mentioned pregnancy symptom, carpal tunnel. I don't know how many cute little jungle fold-over notes were wasted when my handwriting went askew, and I refused to mail them as is. I know that most recipients probably would not have given them a second glance, but I was mortified. They were not good enough.

Our son's room is nearly complete, but I am not ready to post pictures just yet. I am always finding something to change. Just one question, is it really important to anchor the furniture to the walls? How likely is it that he going to make it topple over if it took two grown men to haul this stuff into our house? OK that's 2 questions, but feel free to comment. I need to know what I am missing regarding our little guy's superhuman strength.

So when we found out that Baby Sunshine has a penis, my relationship with Pottery Barn Kids and the "G is for Giraffe" pattern fell by the wayside. Our first instinct was to give our little one a timeless Classic Pooh, not to be confused with the over-commercialized Disney Pooh, nursery. After a week or so of scoping out the looming plethora of Pooh-adorned bumper pads and comforters (mind you both of these items are not even safe to be used in cribs), I chucked the Pooh idea in search of something less cliche. Not willing to give up on previous giraffe concept I was thrilled to find the most adorable pattern and color palate from Cocalo. We set our sights on creating a room that would soothe our little one yet conjure up lyrics to the infamous Guns and Roses tune, yes...wait for it..."Welcome to the Jungle."

As previously mentioned it is almost done. There is a positioning of wall letters issue to contend with, but then, I promise, it will be ready. Ready for who? Despite all of my neuroses I recognize that our little bundle could give a hoot what his room looks like. As long as he is warm, fed and dry he will be a content little man. When he is born the only way he will know if it is Mommy or Daddy holding him is from our voices and smells. He will not care, much less be able to read, if his name is hanging horizontally, vertically or upside down. Clearly I can delude myself into believing that it is for him, and nothing's too good for my little boy. But in reality, it is for us to enjoy and show our visitors as some kind of unwritten parenting scorecard. Today, at 36 weeks, it is still not good enough.

Who decides what is good enough? Is it a deep internal nagging that sounds an awful lot like my mother when she disapproved of my first far-too-tight pair of Calvins in the seventh grade? Is it my friends and coworkers or the customers that I work so tirelessly to please every day in the this fragile balance to establish my own self-worth? I would like to say that I don't care about the opinions of others, but that statement deserves the inevitable eye roll that comes with working in the fashion industry. Of course I care what others think. Otherwise, why would I be so terrified for the rest of the world to learn that our son has Down syndrome. I am past the point where I feel like I have done something wrong, something that caused him to have this difference, but now I live in a place where I want him to be accepted as if the difference did not exist. I want to protect him, and I want to protect myself and Pierce from the criticisms and whisperings of the judgmental ones. I want the perceived difference to disappear.

When we had our amnio in August and found out about the Down syndrome, one of my dear bloggy friends suggested I read Expecting Adam by Martha Beck. I bought the book the same day but did not read it until about a month ago. I have never felt such a connection to a character in all of my life. The book is a national bestseller, so I suspect it appeals to many on a completely different level, as I am quite certain that one does not achieve best seller status by marketing to the 7 percent of the population with T21 children. If you do not know the story, it is about a young couple who are studying at Harvard when they learn that they are pregnant with a child with Down syndrome. The book is a journey of courage and acceptance in a cruel world where not one doctor could understand why Martha would not terminate her pregnancy. Clearly the Harvard elite could not accept a member of their community who was not "good enough". In the end Martha showed her disdain by purchasing Adam his coming home outfit at the Harvard bookstore, a newborn sweatsuit with the Harvard crest on the shirt. She went through Hell to make sure that that baby made it to this world safely and faced all of the same fears that have been instilled in me since that fateful day in August. Martha is my hero, and our "Adam" will be arriving very soon.

I find it ironic that the university I attended was nicknamed "Little Harvard of the Midwest", and I often wonder what the views of the elders there would be of my pregnancy. It's almost as if it is expected that these special children be born to the less educated or those without the capacity to make the "right" decision. I recently read a blurb on in which Robin Elise Weiss questioned why the percentage of births of children with Down syndrome was on the rise despite all of the testing options available to women now. My blood was boiling by the time I had finished reading this insensitive editorial. I could not believe that a doula would have the nerve to put something so controversial out there, so caveman like, words so completely clueless spewing forth from an intelligent human being. I considered commenting but took the time to read the four earlier comments and decided that those four women were my soul sisters and sent them a virtual kiss for reading my mind.

This may seem like an awkward transition, but I promise you I have a point if you stick with me, that is if I haven't lost you already, so high up on my soap box this morning such that I am. I have known our son's name for nearly five years now but have not gone public here for whatever reason...I can't say I truly have one. I have enjoyed the nickname Baby Sunshine for so long that it didn't seem necessary to give him a formal name just yet. However, here it is...drumroll please...his name is Miller Christian. Anyone who knows me in IRL knows that Miller is my maiden name. I spent months trying to decide if it worked as a first name and finally decided that it most certainly did. Shortly after making this decision I watched Matthew Mc Connaughey on Conan O'Brien reveal to the world that his new nephew's name was Miller Lyte. I have lived with the beer reference my entire life, so I was not surprised. But REALLY? In October I had the pleasure of having lunch with a very well known fashion designer whose last name also happens to be Miller. I laughed out loud when she asked me what we were naming the baby. When I told her, her response was, "Well, you know that is Stella Mc Cartney's sons name". So, unknowingly, I have joined the ranks of celebrities who give their kids crazy names like Dweezil and Fifi-Trixibelle. In doing so, do we move up the ranks of what is good enough? I would think so if the barometer for measuring "good enough" is public opinion. And does that opinion change when the public learns that Miller has Down syndrome?

And then there is the question of my grandfather. My grandfather, who gave us all the Miller name, a second generation German immigrant and, as he reminded us every chance he had, valedictorian of his class. A self-made, Phoenix-rising from the ashes man (How far was it he said he walked to school in the snow, uphill, with no shoes?) with a very low tolerance for inadequacy. So low a tolerance in fact that he used to correct others' grammar outwardly as they chatted over playing cards, and his middle son, my uncle became the black sheep of the family by choosing the military over a college education. So what would this larger than life Miller think of our little Miller, with his yet to be seen challenges, carrying on the family name? Would he be able to embrace the beauty of this little one or would he look at me with pity and wonder why I chose to make a mockery of his family's name in this way? Fortunately I will never know, until perhaps one day when we meet again before God. Only then will I have the chance to ask him and I doubt that I will care, "Grandpa, are you proud of my life? Did I do good enough?"

As I sit here at the computer, the lists of things still yet to be done rush through my head. I keep an ongoing shopping list of last minute items, throw more toiletries in a giant Ziploc for the hospital, and wonder what's on the mind of the little person who alternates between pushing on my bladder and rolling over and making a wave in my stretched belly. It is the opinion of our Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor that our son should be delivered some time next week. I stopped working last week after my blood pressure reached an all time high, and the fear of pre-eclampsia is on the rise. I know that we will be ready. I know that we may not know what the heck we are doing, but most of all I know that we will love him more than anything. And I know that will be good enough.


  1. I have been a lurker for a long time. I really enjoy reading your blog. You write beautifuly and have often made me tear up. I wish you a healthy easy labor and all the happiness in the world. Good Luck next week!

  2. What a beautiful entry..and not only that - Miller couldnt be cuter - what a perfectly adorable face!!! I want to pinch those adorable cheeks!!!

  3. My point was actually completely missed in the post you are referring to - I think that the reason that the rates of babies bein born with Down Syndrome, despite the testing, is that more women are opening their hearts and minds rather than be fear mongering over something that they may not understand. I apologize that it made your blood boil, I trully meant to point out that women were more open minded than their practitioners.