Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Women I Love, Day One: Ruth Shultz


Chup and I were lost.

I was looking out the backseat of our car as I tried to entertain Ever Jane, the surroundings didn't seem right. Chup was peering around in a neighborhood swimming in sunset. We could hear the robotic voice coming out of the GPS demanding us to follow.

Turn left. Turn left. Turn right. Turn left.

But it seemed every turn led us deeper into a foreboding, non-residential part of town. A spot where I was sure we weren't meant to be. People were staring at us like we were aliens. We stared back like we were seeing this planet for the first time. Finally we came to what the GPS announced was the address we punched in the beginning.

Arriving at address, on right.

A gigantic, gray warehouse hiding behind an overgrowth of wilted ivy.

"We need to retype the address," I suggested.

It was off. We were east when we needed to be south. I knew this even though I had never been to this corner of the OC before.

When the address was repaired we set out again. Over a hill, by a nice shadowed park and suddenly things started to feel right. It was ten more minutes before we were in a different town, with a different feeling and one turn right and we were there.

It was dark and we were late.

I could see Ruth holding Davy next to her husband Scott in the window next to the front porch. Even though I had never met them personally, and I had certainly never been to their house, it felt like we were home.

Last spring Ruth had emailed me offering tickets to her husband's show Yo Gabba Gabba! She had been a blog reader who had met up with some of life's complications and was grateful for online distractions. When I investigated her linked blog I found a new mother and daughter team fighting to survive the first few months of their relationship. Davy was born one month before my Ever but with some extra challenges, namely a rare chromosome deletion and a cleft palate. As I read entry after entry my reverence grew for their story--it was as though I was reading something sacred. Here was faith and love beyond most birth stories and I couldn't finish the archives without crying out my entire reserve of newly mothered tears.

And Ruth was stunning. A photographer and season mother of three handsome boys--Max, Oliver and Harper. Wife to Scott-a man with a head full of unique imagination and  a world wide audience. A bright, blond beauty. Never afraid to talk about the heartache she was feeling, the anxiety of her new relationship with the medical world-surgeries, plugs, tubes and suctions, looky lous and the annoyance of pumping her milk only to tragically spill it somehow. And every month a new photoshoot with her Davy proudly signaling every mark made, every miracle spent, 1,2,3, 4, 5.

Plus, she was sincerely funny.  

Ruth and I were sharing a postpartum space, but hers was so much more intense. This connection made me love her bravery. She practiced giving shots to apples to prove she could take over Davy's care at home. She educated herself. She rallied everyone around her. And now her Davy was home and healthy.

And I was about to meet her.

In one of Ruth's first emails she offered, "If you ever come to the OC we are gonna hang."

Now, I am not a forward socialite. I'd rather not impose. But when we planned a vacation to the OC last week, I asked Ruth if we really could come and meet.

And we did.

Ruth welcomed us at the door, as gorgeous in person, as she is on her blog. Her home was soft and warm, bathed in a cozy Sunday night light. She lead us in where we met Harper and Scott. My husband quickly making connections with hers, Ruth and I picked up a conversation we never started, but felt like we had.

But the very first thing we did was swap babies. Because that is what old friends do.


Davy is luscious. She's squirmy and soft like my Ever Jane and I felt a sense of maternal honor in holding her. It was her bedtime and we watched Scott swaddle her tight and hand her back to me. Then I had the job of bouncing her to sleep. And when she was out of baby consciousness Ruth took me back into the room where she was tucked into a crib next to Ruth's bed. Everything safe. Davy is in the greatest hands.

"The pregnancy was actually the hardest part," Ruth told me. Ever since she had become aware that her baby was going to have some complications the pregnancy was scary. "I'd get nervous if I didn't feel her kicking." And I could relate, perhaps the hardest part of pregnancy for me isn't the morning pukes or the dizziness, it's the constant awareness that a being may or may not be thriving inside of me. The divine assurance of a kicking baby is always welcomed in my womb.

And Scott, Scott is really sweet. Quiet and smiley. You wouldn't know he was the creator of a hugely popular children's show, he's humble and unpretentious. He chats with my husband and Ryan--a familiar family member who has brought cookies--as I ask Ruth about their love story. She knew she was going to marry him from the first time he was ever mentioned in her presence. And she committed to his desire to make creativity their livelihood. In an email after our visit, Ruth talked to me more about having Davy, "I can honestly tell you it has made me love my husband even more then I thought I could. Someone told me that the divorce rate for couples with a special needs child is 80%(rude huh). When I told Scott this we laughed cuz if anything we are closer and stronger then ever. Davy has brought SO much love into our life, the world should be jealous. We are the 20%."

Ever starts screeching. I know this is the signal that we should go, but I want to hang out with Ruth longer. She's so willing to talk about her life with me and I am so wanting to hear it all. I want to know more about her life as a mother to sons and her life as a sister and I want to know more about her beliefs. The one aspect to Ruth's soul that was extremely apparent to me was her solid sense of faith. She talks about it as casually as anything else in her life and it makes her a comfortable person.

Until Davy is completely capable of fighting back infections, she has to stay mostly at home. "When we go out I put a sign on her carrier that reads, 'If you love me, don't touch me.' " Ruth tells me. I imagine that this sign is made with the regular vibrant originality that everything else is made with in their home. Sometimes I check the blog just to see what Davy is wearing.

Before we go I have to tell Ruth the message I came to deliver, "Your story has changed me as a mother. Thank you for letting me read it.You are so brave and lovely." I've thought a lot about how lost I feel after having a baby, but reading Ruth's blog helped me find something, and this is it:

Mothering is scary. The levels of love you can feel borders uncomfortable. It stretches your impulses, your fights, your flights, it teeters on insanity how much you love your children. And to seem them hurt, to feel them squirm with pain, to be unprepared to be unhelpful is torture. Real torture. But Ruth has seemed to conquer the part of every mother who wonders if she could do it daily. Not only has she fought the fear but she's done it with style and color and perfectly placed humor. It's nothing short of remarkable.

I love that Ruth.


Ruth's blog is called The Mom. She writes about her family and their colorful life. I highly recommend adding it to your morning.




And congrats to Scott and the Yo Gabba Gabba team for their spread in People!



(Man, I wish I were back on that couch.)

 By-the-way, Yo Gabba Gabba is touring these days. If you want to go to a live show in your area, check out the tour dates here. We are going to the West Valley party in November! Someday I will write about how YGG helped me and my niece Jane through some tough transitional times. I will always be grateful.







I am c jane and this is why I love being a blogger. Meeting up.
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