As I slid my hand around my newborn’s back and settled into bed with him, I realized I never expected to be this kind of mom.
Especially in these early weeks I thought about what I was feeling and deciding about my child and felt like a psychologist, clinical, calculating, and insensitive. Except all of those early child psychologists were men, who weren’t affected by the same rush of hormones as a mother is, who aren’t evolutionarily primed to know their child is sleeping next to them, regulating their breathing and body temperature and feeling secure just by the smell of me.
It’s raised the question a few times in my head about what kind of mother I think like as opposed to what kind of mother I feel like. A lot of my feelings are instincts, intuition, and hormones. My husband has admitted a few times he doesn’t feel connected to our mewling newborn the same way as me, and for someone as clinical and masculine in her thoughts as I am, this has been a remarkable identity transformation.
For me, too, I’m bombarded by sappy mom posts about how overwhelmed with love moms feel for their babies – which is true; I’m confounded by how strongly I feel for Ronan, and the rush of affection I feel when I squeeze his warm squishy body against myself. But for me, the love is honestly aggressive, assaultive, truly hearkening to the “Mama Bear” identity more than anything. Mess with my cub and I’ll rip you apart.
There’s also the fact that as I’m moving through this postpartum period, the hormones are starting to ebb and thus affect my creativity a bit less. I’ve always known the PMS-y hormones make me ultra creative, and giving birth to a baby is truly the ultimate culmination of a rush of female hormones. So I was explosively creative despite my deep and confusing hormonal distress. And now as my body is slowly returning to normal (a new, cyst-free normal), my creative levels are returning to normal as well, and admittedly I feel like I’ve dried up a bit. I don’t ever force myself to create, so I went from making two or three sketches today, baby aside, to knowing I’d rather read a book or play the Untitled Goose Game.
I really will have to redefine normal for myself though, and that’s before I even go back to school in 2 months. Eep.
Yesterday when I was going to lunch with my husband and baby I realized I hadn’t formally introduced my child to my OC boys. I told Ryan I had to make a drawing with the three boys meeting Ronan and Ryan seemed confused and indifferent. Until I started this drawing. Then he told me yesterday night that he felt a little jealous that I had myself drawn with our baby and three guys (my “waifus” he called them. Only Micah was my waifu though…but I didn’t correct him) and he was like “boys get out of here” and then admitted with annoyance that I’ve technically known them longer than him.
I told him unfortunately for him it was delightful to be having a conversation like that with my awesome nerdy husband, who the day before had harshly judged me for telling him that I’d had Yu-Gi-Oh fanart at the library we were driving past when I was a kid.
THAT STARTED MY LIFE AS I KNOW IT OKAY
Anyway, I did the above drawing pretty easily yesterday and slapped some color on it today. I must say I have hit a new level with skin shading and I’m really happy about it. I probably credit Dumping a Dragon for that and for pushing my digital coloring to new heights, but that was a whole year ago now that I was working on DaD according to my Timehop.
Finally when I was working on the picture of my guys meeting my baby I kept thinking of this picture of them.
Based on the jacket I’m wearing this one was from my junior year of high school, so 10 years ago.
The funny history of it is drawing them when I’m 28 and a mother with a husband who in certain lights definitely does look like he could have evolved from Myoku. 🙂
My first alcoholic beverage during daylight (a cider) and I spill it on my nice green keyboard. Nice one Mary.
Anyway, here is some doodling I’ve been doing since Ronan came. Honestly I have a lot more free time than I did when I was working right now. Newborns just sleep, pee/poop, eat, repeat. And my husband is home still for another week too so we just trade off doing whatever we want and holding our calm happy sleeping (attitudey) baby.
In the mornings I get up early, get him dressed, and sit him at my desk with me. I sing terrible 2000s punk rock to him (FOB) and don’t feel sorry for it while I do art on my tablet.
A few mornings ago I finally painted my baby. I think it turned out to be a pretty good likeness of him. He’s the cutest baby in the world fight me.
Okay so a few weeks ago I woke up to, of all things, a very noisy crow cawing. I went into the nursery to look out the window and found Snowball very intently watching a crow perched in the tree outside our house, who was very very noisily cawing at Snowball. At one point he even jumped on the roof to get closer to the window (then I yelled at him because that was scary). So then I started telling Snowball that was her boyfriend and have since seen her go careening into the nursery window in response to crow cawings. I’m just saying. I ship it.
So this week I have snatched some quiet time at my art desk and worked on some fanart of this ship. It was also a good chance to get used to drawing on my new computer setup.
Ryan said I did this one because I needed “something saucier.” I mean, he’s not wrong.
Worth publishing, but incomplete – I was working on this blog entry and scanning a large painting with my newer scanning software, paused for dinner, and then after dinner, my waters broke and I went to the hospital to have a baby! So…a bit distracting, the whole week is gone now!
Ryan and I became parents on August 27 at 3:30 in the afternoon to our magical boy Ronan Mylo. The three days since then have been quite a roller coaster. I obviously haven’t been doing any art, but I’m gearing up! :3
I am 37 weeks pregnant! That means our little boy might be joining us any day now and we’ll welcome him with all our love and cuddles and it’s gonna be CRAZY. On my drive home today (I seem to do a lot of art planning on the way home from work) I decided I needed to do kind of a “last drawing” of us before we’re parents.
I think it captures the sentiment I’ve held for most of this pregnancy (ugh mostly), and Ryan’s sheer “I can’t fix it but I know you’re miserable” support.
I was also working on a Micah painting but it slowed down a lot since I started it last weekend so I decided to just save and post the incomplete sketch/painting. His face was turning out a bit weird anyway. It’s really that extended hand that made me even work on it for as long as I had. Perfection.
The slice of yellow was gonna be a highlighter but I redid his whole shirt and hadn’t gotten back to it yet haha.
Last weekend at work I was so bored I grabbed some 8×14 paper and did some pen drawings that I’ve been meaning to scan since they turned out pretty cool. But I have to scan them in and, lazy.
I mean honestly Ryan and I were in our best friends’ wedding this last weekend and that made all last week pretty fucking busy.
I’m also being cut a $3900 check from my insurance company for hail damage to my car, so Ryan and I are gonna both upgrade our computers! It’s just a matter of whether we can make our choices and get the check soon enough to have them before our son comes, haha.
Blammo! I have just now completed a brand new Emotia drawing. It’s been a year and a half since my last piece in this series, and good god was there plenty to try to put into it since then.
I would like to present, “I am Growing But Please Let Me Be.”
This took an extraordinary amount of work to conceptualize. I actually had a fairly completed first draft of this concept that hung me up when I got to the shading pieces. Looking at the first draft now I definitely see how it hadn’t hit the mark yet, but honestly it left me fairly surprised that when I sat down to restart again, I actually completed it. All week I’d been trying to start a new draft and not getting much farther than an outline and maybe a background color. But I also couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I guess I knew I wouldn’t quit until I had finished this.
I’m not really sure why or how this ended up being the final pose. The previous drafts after the first attempt were much more aggressive than this one. But I looked through my other Emotia paintings a lot as I was working on this and none of the others are incredibly assertive or aggressive either, so ultimately I don’t think that would have worked. Plus, if this hadn’t been the final pose I don’t know if I would have liked how I tried to incorporate the books/papers.
Anyway, there were so many emotional layers to try to fit into a single image from 2019. It’s been intense. It’s been really difficult to process.
In many ways I don’t believe I’ll fully process my cyst and subsequent surgery, weight loss, and recovery until long after I’ve also given birth. The cyst still feels like an emotional gaping hole because I have a lot of resentment for the timing of how we found it. While on the one hand if we’d found it on its own, when I wasn’t pregnant, I know we would have felt convinced it meant we could never have kids, and that would have been devastating (and also incorrect). But as it happened, not only did it make the first trimester really really difficult (not that anyone loves the first trimester), it robbed me of the opportunity to essentially see what my healthy body was supposed to look like without the cyst. And I never will, because the next time my belly will be empty will be after I’ve given birth to a human.
And it also definitely feels like the cyst came out and my baby filled that hole without actually…patching it up so to speak? It was really interesting gaining those first 15lbs after the surgery because I still maintain that since my belly had previously been stretched around the cyst, I didn’t get a pregnancy belly so much as my baby belly filled up the cyst belly, same shape and everything. It wasn’t until after I passed the point that my cyst had brought me that my stomach looked and felt different to me. So it felt more appropriate to include the representation of my pregnancy still in a gaping hole in my body.
Finally, this year I’ve also just been calmly keeping my schoolwork in lockdown. What a better way to represent that than have it be squished under my thick ass? I actually put some screenshots of three papers that I wrote for my program on the fluttering papers haha. It was hard because I haven’t really had any significant textbooks necessarily for this program; it’s been mostly the paper-writing that has provided most of the learning. Grad school has definitely been a non-issue in many ways, but it always seems to come up and people always seem awestruck that I’ve been doing as much school as I have this year, with as slow as I’ve actually been going with the program.
Moving up, I’ve got my heart on my sleeve this time because pregnancy has destroyed any sort of social filters I used to possess. I’m cranky, you’ll know. Immediately. You offend me, you’ll now. Immediately. Fortunately, most of the time since maybe May, I’ve just been indifferent. But hell hath no fury like my opinionated ass if you start to rile me up.
This has not felt like “me” either. I’ve felt a bit of distress over the seeming lack of control I have over my tongue. I don’t consider that maybe I’ve gone too far till after the deed has been done. Fortunately I can still focus on smoothing things over with people after I wound them, without actually apologizing given that usually I lose my temper over shit I definitely still mean.
And…the eyes. So 2019 has been a very…public year for me. But not in a social, I’m involved with people kind of way. Pregnancy just is a very public affair. Your body becomes public property, essentially, with everyone soliciting their opinions, admiration, curiosity, etc. where they have previously not shown any interest in me. I think that’s the biggest difficulty I have with how closely people watch me these days. I know that many of the interactions I have had with people, especially at work, would not have happened if I weren’t pregnant. People who hardly consider me a fleck in their vision have to ask me “how are you feeling?” every time I see them. So really, the question is not even directed at me, but my pregnancy.
And the thing about pregnancy is most days, most hours, most experiences are just daily living, only it’s living that is happening while I also have a little boy in my belly rolling and jabbing and growing.
People are just really excited and curious about pregnant women and it generally ends up being inappropriate, invasive, and unnecessary in their execution. And circling back to me not being able to hold my tongue, if you are the 50th person in the span of a very long day where I work 8 hours and then go to 6 hours of class who loudly and enthusiastically asks “HOW ARE YOU FEELING!??!?!?”, then I will probably shut you down.
Maybe it’s because I’m someone who has had mental health problems for years and years but someone asking me how I’m feeling when they’re really just wanting to know, most likely, if I’ve got morning sickness right now (people honestly believe it’s normal or expected for a woman to throw up for an entire nine months of a pregnancy apparently), ends up feeling offensive, intrusive and disingenuous. If you didn’t ask the other two people who walked in before me how they’re feeling, don’t fucking ask me. Especially if you don’t actually care what I have to say (if I’m not comfortable with you as a person in my life, do you think I want to be honest when you ask me that anyway? Because the chances are, if I was great before you asked me that, the moment you ask me that my most honest answer would be “irritated” and you don’t want to know that, do you?).
Just because you’re really excited about babies and pregnant ladies doesn’t mean that the pregnant lady you’re projecting this onto has any obligation to share your enthusiasm. There’s less and less to be enthusiastic about when relaxin makes your neck crack every time you turn your head, or your thighs are constantly sore and achey because your pelvis is so aggressively shifting, or your baby moves so rapidly in your belly you get light-headed, or you read another article about the amount of blood you’re going to lose after you give birth and suddenly consider the possibility that you’ll just bleed out after delivery and die in a hospital bed.
At work at least, I’ve expressed my annoyance to the people I trust enough to lessen their pregnancy-related inquiries, and I’ve been rude or cold to enough other people so that my daily experience with people asking about my pregnancy has dropped to a more tolerable level. At school, I found, with few exceptions most 22-year-old girls and varying ages of men are disinterested if not terrified of “the pregnant girl in their class.” I could get away with nobody but me bringing up my pregnancy in a whole class, even after I was very obviously pregnant in my two summer classes. But when I did unironically have to pee two or three times during a lecture, everybody was quick to justify it for me, so I’ll enjoy the free pass to have an overactive bladder while it lasts (although the overactive bladder before pregnancy was most definitely a cyst symptom. It’s going to be crazy when I can potentially go 6-8 hours without NEEDING to pee in a few months.)
So…yeah, that’s the eyes. In my first draft I expressed the constant public interest in my body as a spotlight, but that didn’t feel right. It wasn’t really a source of light for me in any way. Usually it causes latent anxiety if not my normal irritability. And since I knew I wanted my belly to glow (although in the first draft I just did this weird like “here’s my heart, it slid down from my chest into my belly” which I didn’t end up liking), I didn’t want there to be a competing light source. I was going to try eyes on stalks for a while, or just like a grid pattern, but then last night as I was trying to decide how to display them I was like “wait why don’t I just do scribbly inky black drawings of eyes” and aha! Ryan helped me make them a bit more interactive with my hand and then I gave them some pigment and that was done.
Speaking of Ryan, while I originally wanted to incorporate the floofy white skirt that was in my last two paintings, I opted out of that and just highlighted my wedding ring. Which I haven’t even been able to wear for three weeks because it got too snug and I was paranoid it would get stuck. But I still thought it was important to note that my marriage has been a source of constant stability and refuge for me. Ryan has been an amazing and steady source of emotional and physical support for me. We’ll never forget those first few days after my surgery when I couldn’t get up from the toilet without his help. I’ll never forget how he cried when we saw our baby at 12 weeks before our surgery. I’ll never forget the sheer joy, camaraderie, relief, and pride of choosing a name for our son. And I also can’t take it for granted that he has been patiently supporting me while I’m in school even if it’s meant leaving him 2-3 nights a week alone to fend for himself. We keep in constant contact and if we argue it’s straightforward, quick, and honest. I really would be completely alone without him.
Finally, my other Emotia paintings except for “Rise Again, Fighting” don’t really feature “me” even though they’re embodiments of “me.” This time around, this feeling I was trying to depict was so intimate, and so closely related to my own bodily experience, I didn’t even bother pretending like it was happening to someone else. On the contrary, it’s very much me, and my body, that has been affected by these experiences.
The rest of the drawing feels a bit simpler than I expected but again, looking back at the other Emotia drawings, they haven’t necessarily been conceptually more complicated than this. If anything this one is a lot more focused and personal than especially some of the earlier ones were.
Another interesting contrast to the other ones is that at least in the last two I worked hard to include some of the recurring elements of earlier drawings. But any attempt to do so this time around would have been forced and unnatural. I think that makes a good point, though, about how different from my past self I have felt this year. I actually wrote a paper for my careers class, unexpectedly, that made me realize not only that I am in a very different place in my life than ever before, that that is in fact not a bad thing. Of course I am. I am having a child. That will change everything. I am fundamentally as I have always been, but in many ways my beliefs, feelings, and plans have shifted to revolve around the new and slightly strange concept of “my family” …where now, for the first time, by that I mean, my husband and my child.
And with that, here’s all the earlier ones! Most recent to the oldest.
On my husband’s birthday my Timehop was like 4 years in a row of fanart of the two of us and then when I was on my laptop working on his toast card, I fell down the rabbit hole of our whole folder of fanart and found this gem.
You can always tell how far along we were in our relationship based in part on how many tattoos we had, and definitely on the tone of the drawing. Am I still trying to impress him with being all cutesy but also, fancy pro art? We were probably actually really struggling at the time so I’m going to write encouraging things on art for us in hopes we will somehow be led to believe it? Yes, this one was probably the latter, haha. And without really knowing to what extent I would get into it, I decided this particular one needed a reprise.
I think I ended up spending two or three days on this one? I really really love it, except in the earlier draft I was snoozing with a little o mouth and that was why my eyes were closed. Now I look much more peaceful than I am, but we can pretend it’s general exhaustion, which is usually accurate.
I think my favorite part is the tiny kitty prints in my belly. And also Ryan’s silky smooth looking skin.
In other news, today marks 100 days until the due date for our little dude! Whether he comes that day, or hopefully before, or hopefully not after, 100 days until the day we were told about months ago when we really weren’t sure what to expect on this pregnancy journey (we’re still not).
After my semester ended and my daily digital drawings project came to a close, I felt a little void and wanted some new motivation to keep doing art regularly. So Ryan suggested another 100 days project like before our wedding, only this one would be up until our baby (should be) born. Since it’s following a fairly specific and limited project from the semester, I decided my only rule for this project is that I do a drawing more or less daily. Whether it’s an ongoing painting, a doodle in the margins of my school notes, or an unrelated cat comic like today, I’m marking the days until this baby is due by just being creative. I think I want to write the baby a note each day, but I don’t know if I’ve figured out how to document that quite yet. I’ll write today’s note, and then figure out how to tack it to the drawing when I have a full day off tomorrow.
That’s all I got! The cat comic I did today is posted on my art Insta account!
You know it’s really hard going into it to wrap your head around what you can expect throughout the whole course of being pregnant. 40 weeks is a long time. You grow a baby over the course of most of a year. And since I got pregnant right before the new year, it really is the cornerstone of the whole year of 2019 for me.
There’s a lot of moments to enjoy, and it’s great having so many people surrounding me to support me and listen and take care of me (usually anyway). My husband has been amazing x infinity hands down, patiently yelling at me when I complain about my daily changing body, planning activities for us after our son is born, and not giving me too much shit when I want to eat disgusting amounts of food (this week’s legacy was a double cheeseburger with a large shake – from a SECOND fast food restaurant).
But there are also lots of moments, more so right now that I’m looking pregnant, I’m feeling my son move everyday, and the summer is quickly flying by to where my son is coming in just about 3 months…where I’m just pretty scared.
Things should be feeling MORE real by now, and they probably honestly are…which is what makes them so scary. With the internet, and just…people giving you unsolicited opinions literally at all times in all situations, there are just a lot of big scary things that can happen to a baby. They probably WON’T, but when all you’re doing is waiting and waiting, it’s hard not to imagine many worst case scenarios sprinkled into the good daydreaming.
Obviously you can’t spend nine months in a state of perpetual excitement and optimism. Obviously there are days when I feel sorry for myself for gaining weight, or being sore, or having an anterior placenta. Unfortunately, those have been most days for me at the moment. I can’t help it. I’m naturally anxious when I’m waiting for things, and when people ask me how I am I feel guilty that I’m basically perfectly normal right now honestly. We got a lot of preparation for baby out of the way a month or more ago, and a lot of it is going to wait a month or so until the baby showers start happening.
The good news, and always, always, always the bottom line is that the only person I’m really in this together with is my husband. Always just him. Nothing else, or anybody else really matters, ultimately.
And luckily for me, my husband is AWESOME. He patiently yells at me when my self-esteem gets low (it’s almost always low right now), he doesn’t judge me when I get whiny, and he is so totally up for being a dad. What it comes down to is just putting one foot in front of the other, doing life together on the days when everything feels normal, and fighting through the days that feel terrible and scary because all I can do is wait and I’m hormonal and scared and frustrated.
I can only hope our little boy grows up with my husband’s calm in his head, and his deeply loving nature.