Thursday, December 29, 2016

Things That Happened in 2016


January: The big news this year was the birth of Noah Stanley Kochany Cinovskis, baby extraordinaire. He arrived at the top of 2016, January 25, six days late and after three days of fuckin' back labour that had me seriously questioning how many kids I want ("zero" no longer being an available number). I had an emergency C-section. I didn't poop for a week. The baby had trouble latching but we got him fed. It was cold but not insanely cold. So: solid B, overall.

The other big thing has been my father's recovery from his brain tumour, a metastatic melanoma that reared up three days before last Christmas. He had emergency brain surgery at the tail end of last year. The day before our baby was born, my dad started radiation therapy. My sister moved back to Ontario, quitting her job in Calgary to be here. M and I were useless and distracted with the final weeks of my pregnancy and Noah's birth. Also! David Bowie died.

In January, everything felt edgy and extremely emotional, which is basically the theme of 2016: Edgy and Extremely Emotional (E&EE).

February: I spend a lot of time thinking about moving to the forest and starting a commune. Every time I close my eyes, I'm picturing tiny houses, ringed at the edge of a field, each with a nook to sleep and a place to park a laptop, where the membrane between inside and outside is thin. This is the first time I think seriously about leaving Toronto, and the idea, in various permutations and executions, will be a motif for me this entire year. I feel so depleted, and the idea of recharging in this city seems totally impossible.

March: My parents housesit in Etobicoke and we spend a bunch of time in their white-leather living room, wondering who, exactly, decorated this house. I take the baby to the One of a Kind show and it's like going out with the Beatles in 1964. Women are elbowing each other out of the way to fawn over him. I leave with a dozen butter tarts and a newfound appreciation for personal space. I do a workout for the first time since NS was born and cry because my body feels so irrevocably unsame.

April: The days are all of the same: we sleep, sort of; we walk a lot; we eat a lot; we try to get the baby to sleep. Buds appear on trees and our jackets stay in our closets, but it feels like time out of time. Looking back at the spring, it feels like something we survived. New moms on Instagram who are seeing other people's beautiful babies and weirdly flat stomachs and fun brunches, while you have a screaming infant who doesn't sleep and who just pooped on your last clean pair of sweatpants? Take heart, you are not alone in feeling like you were sold a bill of goods. This is a tough era, the first three months. I kind of can't believe we got through it.

May: I launch The Stroller Derby, which is where I've been writing for most of the year. It's fun to have a different outlet—my mom voice, which is different from my Hipsters voice—but I also miss writing this blog, too. This year's creative output has been...compromised, shall we say.

June: Mike goes back to work. It's weird and hard to be alone with Noah all day, but it's also fun and easy, in other ways. His sleep is all over the place. Naps take so much energy to make happen that by the time Mike gets home from work, I am spent. He's also spent, because night sleep isn't much better. I miss him, but I'm also glad to have my alone time again—only now, they're snatched moments instead of hours. I spend a lot of time walking Noah in the stroller.

July: Sleep deprivation. Hard. Worse than anything. There's a moment where I go into Noah's room for the third—fourth? fifth?—time that night, and a tree taps gently on his window, and I am convinced and terrified that it's a murderer. I have panic attacks. I'm seeing things out of the corners of my eyes: a backpack in the corner transforms into a severed head. I feel utterly broken. Ultimately, we sleep train Noah, because we have to: I am really losing my mind. I feel so upset about this, though. I wanted so desperately to give him everything, to never hold myself back. But I can't give him my sanity, because he needs me to have it. I feel lonely and like my mom friends with judge me, so I get weirdly evangelical about the benefits, even if it's just to my husband and neighbour, both of whom sleep trained, too. This feels like such a dark time of the year.

August: I spend a week in Stratford, saying a slow goodbye to the place my parents lived for almost twenty years. It is time to sell that house. Five bedrooms is a lot of bedrooms for a family of two, but my siblings and I have a tendency to rotate home every now and then, and it feels sad to lose this huge house, surrounded by trees and friendly neighbours, in a small town studded with coffee shops and nice little bistros. Even though I haven't lived there in years, my parents' move feels like a real loss to me. I spend a few weeks obsessing about moving to a small town, walking the trails, working in a little shop or at a relaxed firm.

September: I start group therapy at Mt. Sinai, because my post-natal anxiety was pretty heinous. It was kind of a big shrug, if I'm honest, but it was nice to feel supported, and like I wasn't alone. Mental health issues have always been a rough area for me, but since my 20s I've been getting better at insisting on help, and refusing to feel any shame for needing it. Anyway, this was more of that.

October: We dress up like witches for Halloween and hit two separate kid parties. It feels very parental. I do some heavy emotional work with a friend with whom my relationship hit the skids right before NS was born, and it feels so hard that about seven different times I feel like saying. "Fuck it, let's not be friends any more!" but that's not the right answer. After a lot of emailing and some in-person talks, we feel more settled, but holy mother, that was hard.

November: I threw my first event, a dance party for parents and babies. I rented out Buddies in Bad Times, sold tickets, made a playlist...all the things you do when you're throwing an party. This was a prime example of "fake it 'til you make it," because I didn't even really think that hard about what I was doing; I knew if I did, I would start to second-guess myself and get imposter syndrome. So I just kind of did it. And you know what? It was awesome. I got some critiques (about hours, how to make the event friendlier to queer families, about the music), but I also got great feedback from parents who were like, "THANK YOU, I just wanted to go dancing one more time before my children graduate middle school." Also, Donald Trump won the 2016 American election, and everyone started barfing and panicking and have not stopped.

December: We host Christmas dinner. We fight a lot. We make up. We buy each other cookies. We let each other sleep in. We drink tea. We play Peggle. The baby gets his first cold. I make resolutions. I look at the baby while he nurses, half-dreaming, and I cannot even begin to tell you about all the different ways my life—my heart—has exploded and shimmered and ended and begun this past year.

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