Monday, March 12, 2018

How Did It Get So Late So Soon?

The title of this post comes from not me, but from Dr. Seuss. Seemed rather appropriate since his birthday was earlier this month. Miranda has been studying and learning all about him these past few weeks. She has always been a fan, but I think her admiration is growing.

I feel like time is literally racing these days. I am really enjoying my new job and am so glad I accepted this position at this stage in my life. Hats off to all the full-time working parents who manage to get it all done. Part-time work has got me FRAZZLED! However, I am getting into the groove of it all and already can tell that I am more productive in my off hours than I was before. I am also more present on my days with Miranda.

Speaking of which, our little rainbow is almost 5. WHAT THE HECK? Tomorrow morning, I will sign her up for kindergarten. She is bright and courageous and strong beyond her years. We have a visit with her birth mother this weekend. I wonder how the conversation will go. This precocious young girl is starting to ask "how people are made" and other such questions which we can answer and will, but M may need to fill in some blanks. 

Miranda is also asking more and more about death. On a recent car ride, we were talking about Allie's birthday next month. She asked if we were going to celebrate it. I said of course. Then she asked when she died. I was forced to say on the day she was born. Many questions then followed, and I was glad that I was driving and I did not have to look her in the face with my eyes full of tears. She deserves to know the truth, and I think she will know it sooner rather than later now.

I used to think that parenting after a loss was particularly hard. I now take that back. Parenting, in general, is hard. 

Miranda and I went away this weekend for the first time by ourselves. We shared a bed (which we had never done before), and we experienced some other "firsts" as well. My takeaway? I do not care how hard parenting is some days. I love it. I was made it to it. My other takeaway? Miranda needs her own bed. She kicked me all night long.

I am starting to fear my own mortality. I want to be around forever. I want to do and be everything that Miranda needs to be. And I want to be alive to keep Allie's memory alive.

In Harry Potter, there is the idea of a "Horcrux." Essentially, they are objects that hold pieces of your soul so you can never die. Now in the books, they are evil, and I won't say much more in case I was not the last person on Earth to read the series. I have to say I like the idea of a Horcrux for me. I like knowing that I could put a piece of my soul in various pieces of jewelry of picture frames or furniture pieces and live for as long as I was needed. 

Since that is not likely to happen, I just have to keep doing the best I can. And being the best I can. Some days I succeed. Some days I fail. I guess that's life, right?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Let The Wild Rumpus Start!

Last week, I submitted my clearances for my new job. This week I planned my outfit, went to the doctor, followed up with my plastic surgeon, did laundry, cleaned the house, and bought enough groceries to make sure I can pack my lunch the next few days. I even finished the Harry Potter series.

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has arrived. I am heading back to work.

It's a tough week to start since Gary is traveling (again). However, this trip should be his last one for a while, and I just did not want to wait any longer.

I cannot wait to walk in tomorrow, head held up high and start his next chapter of my life. I am a blank slate and can fill my narrative the way I want it to read. I am not a bereaved mom or an adoptive mom or a super cool mom. 

In reality, I am all of those things. My new coworkers will find that out in due time. Tomorrow, I am just me.

I am not someone who has struggled with weight gain and loss all her life. I am not someone who is still healing from a recent surgery. I am not someone who still watched repeats of Gilmore Girls whenever she can or someone who gets so nervous when she meets any kind of celebrity that she almost vomits.

In reality, I am all of those things, too. But tomorrow, I am just me,

I have a fresh start. I get be a part of an organization that is helping others. I get to be more than me.

I cannot wait.

Yesterday, while playing hide-and-seek with Miranda, I discovered she can hide in the dryer and close herself in. After I had a mild heart attack and explained to my her why that was NOT a good idea, I realized going back to work, even part-time work will hopefully make me more present when I am home. Or maybe not.  Time will tell.

There are things I will miss by being in an office 15-20 hours a week. Tuesday matinees. Naps. Time to take leisurely walks. I will have to find a different and more effective way to use my time now.

I do not want my writing to suffer. It's too important to me. My goal is to blog once a week and once I am in a routine, start to submit pieces to various publications. I can do more than one thing. I can be more than one thing. Now is the time to try.

So here goes nothing. Or here goes everything. My glass is half full, and I am ready to take a big, giant sip!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

All You Need Is Love

For most of my life, I hated February 14th. It seemed the whole world was celebrating love and I had nothing to celebrate. My dad had left. I didn't date much in high school. My prom date was gay. I was destined to be alone and loveless forever.

Thank goodness we are not teenagers forever. As I got older, I became less melodramatic. I would protest Valentine's Day by buying up all the leftover chocolate the day after the holiday and devour my feelings with the buttercream.  It worked...until it didn't.

Eventually, my dad and I reconciled. He would send me a big bouquet of flowers every year, and if he was in town, we would go to dinner. He tried to make up for the lost years and sometimes it even worked. 

Then I met Gary.  Just like that, Valentine's Day took on new meaning. I saw it for the true Hallmark holiday that it was, but I did not care because I had love in my life! (And sometimes diamonds).

Then we got pregnant. And just like that, I knew the love I had for my unborn baby far surpassed any other kind of love I had ever known.

And then she died. Before I had a chance to say hello. Before I had a chance to tell her how much I loved her. Luckily, she could feel it for those 37 weeks. I have to believe she could feel it as she grew so close to my heart when she was alive.

Once our hearts were mended and we were open to the possibility of parenting again, we were rewarded with the best gift ever. My daughter who was born from our love, if not from our bodies, has taught us both about unconditional love. A love that I never knew existed until she was placed in my longing arms.

This morning, before the sun came up, I raced downstairs to get the balloon I purchased for Miranda. I wanted it to be the first thing she saw when she woke up. I gave her a card from mommy and daddy that appropriately had a big rainbow on the front and lots of little hearts on the inside. In a few hours, I will march proudly into her school and help her hand out her cards and cookies and lollipops and celebrate this day with her and remind her, as I do every day, that I love her to the moon and back and to all the places along the way.

I am blessed to have so much love in my life. I am honored to be able to return much of that love. I wish I had not spent so many years thinking that love was out of my grasp. Maybe, though, love is that much sweeter since I waited for it extra long? 

Happy Valentine's Day. Here's to appreciating all kinds of love and never taking any of it for granted. Here's to no longer dreading February 14th!


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Moving Right Along

I can tell what kind of mood my daughter is in just by looking at her. A smirk means she's feeling feisty. A frown means she's feeling down. A smile means she is feeling adventurous. A blank stare means nothing good because that means she will surprise me with her mood and I am not someone who cherishes surprises. 

I plan her outfits each day with pride. Some days she wears what I choose, and other days she fights me something fierce. The days she wants to be a jaguar, for example. I have no hope of winning on those days. 

I sit in the backroom of her dance class and listen to her tap tap tapping to the music from the stereo. I talk to the other parents about activities and colds and birthday parties, and I always leave with a smile on my face.

I am a mom. I am an active, participating, involved mom. I love being a mom. I did not always know that being a mom was going to be my greatest role, but it has become that for sure. 

Lately, though, I have been feeling restless. 

Henry David Thoreau wrote, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." 

Am I living? Truly? 

I decided I was, but not in the most deliberate way that I could. So I started to focus on going back to work. Right now, I only want part-time hours. I want my Mondays and Fridays home with Miranda, at least until she goes to Kindergarten in the Fall. 

I tried that schedule a few years ago, and I got burned out fast. So now I know what does not work for me, and I went on a quest to find what does work for me. 

I accepted an offer earlier today. I will be the new Volunteer Coordinator for a local agency that is working to end domestic violence. I will recruit, screen, and interview volunteer candidates. I will develop and arrange training and placement for the volunteers. I will help out with special events and make sure the agency is represented at community events, health fairs and more. In short, I will help other women find their way. 

I am not sure how I could be a better fit! Thankfully, I have no knowledge of domestic violence first hand. However, I know plenty about survival, and I have the non-profit and training skills from my past experiences that make me the ideal candidate for the job. 

To say I am excited is an understatement. I am putting myself out there, which is terrifying, but I am doing it to continue to be the best version of myself that I can be. With more of a routine and structure to my days, I also think my freelance writing will improve. I have been unmotivated of late, and that does not look good on me.

So here's to a new chapter of seeing what works for me. If I start to feel that this move was not the right one, then I will take steps to fix it. However, I do not think that will be the case.

Here's to taking chances, moving forward, and maybe - just maybe, doing some good in the world!

My motivation

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Living in the Present; Remembering the Past

Gary is traveling for business this week. Today he is in The Netherlands and tomorrow he will be in Sweden and Norway. We have certainly been apart before, but never for this length of time. He will not be home until Saturday night.

Our house is off balance without him here. The three of us work in such harmony that when one of us is gone for any extended amount of time, we feel it. A lot.

I often say that I barely remember what life was like before Miranda. I remember the raw grief and gut-wrenching pain of Allie’s death, do not misunderstand. In many ways, though, that seems like another lifetime. This lifetime feels like it belongs to Miranda. 

Today I was trying to remember what life was like before Gary. We will be married eight years in May and together for ten years in October. So I went to my memoir, which is so hard to write that it is taking FOREVER, and saw this excerpt. I felt it was appropriate to share now.

I am not sure how many frogs you have to kiss before you meet your prince. I kissed my share. And I did more with a few others that I really should not have done. After many diets, I finally felt positive about myself, and I was ready to share my life with someone. I was in my thirties by this point, and I felt like a late bloomer. I had a good job. I had my own place. I was ready! Many of my friends were married and starting families, and I wanted in on the fun. 

So I played pool and went bowling and met for drinks and agreed to dinners. I went on online dates and blind dates and any date that came my way. One low point was sneaking out the back of a restaurant during one particularly awful date. I just kept at it, though…what other choice did I have?

One warm June night, I was sitting on the lap of a date, kissing my face off and thinking about how he wasn’t so unattractive if didn’t open my eyes. When we came up for air, my date asked me what kind of engagement ring I wanted. I got up and looked at him – really looked at him. He was a husky fellow, with a grease stain on his big and tall shirt, and beads of sweat forming on his brow. I silently banged my hand against my forehead. What was I doing???? Not to mention that he looked nothing like his online profile. I guess he used his Bar Mitzvah picture which was a good 15 years old. I wonder now if it was even in color? This guy was not what I wanted. Not now. Not ever. Maybe it was time to take a break from the dating world.

Gary and I started dating that Fall. It was all an accident, really. We were co-workers who went out for drinks to celebrate a recent job promotion. The rest is history.

I know how lucky I am. I really do. I found someone who is just as likely to laugh with me as he is to laugh at me. I hope I never take it for granted, although I am sure that I do. I hope that I do it less as more time goes by.

Four more days till he is home... 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Seven Year Theory

At least a decade ago, I was introduced to the theory that your body shifts or changes every seven years or so. I can't remember how it related to me at the time, but it made a lot of sense to me then.

I was curious about it now, so I looked it up:

"Are you the same person now that you were fifteen years ago? In fact, are you the same person you were just seven years ago? Most of us have heard the old saying that every cell in the body is changed over a period of seven years; but recent investigation has uncovered facts of far more significance to us as human beings. This concerns the emotional, physical and mental changes that seem to occur in approximate seven-year intervals. Of course there are no fixed boundaries and so one may achieve these levels of maturity at any period of our life." Credit: Tony Crisp

So why am I thinking about this theory now? It's simple. Allie would be seven this April.

Something has shifted or changed in me over the past few months. Although I miss my first baby so much, I also feel like I need to let her go a little bit. I do not want to live in my grief anymore. I am taking a step back from publishing articles about stillbirth and loss. I want to move forward and stop standing still.

Is that the changing of my cells talking or my heart? Or both?

The recovery from my surgical procedure from last month has been much more intense than I anticipated. I have spent a lot of time sleeping and healing and reflecting and what I realized was that despite my best intentions, I spend a lot of time mourning the past or anxiously awaiting the future.

My family has always been my first priority. Lately, though, I feel more present when I am with them. Forcing myself to slow down helped me take a focused look around. That's what happens when you can't drive for over a week!

To quote Dear Evan Hansen which I saw last week in New York City, "No one deserves to be forgotten. No one deserves to fade away." Allie will not be forgotten. Not by me. Not by her dad. Not by her sister. And not by anyone that loves us. I think it's time to trust that love.

For example, in New York last week, I thought a lot of my dad. He loved that city and called it home for a good number of years. The sounds, smells, and energy all made him feel alive. I always shared that passion with him. I have not hidden the fact that my dad was a flawed man. A hurtful man, even. But I felt connected with him last week as the taxi cabs whizzed by us. I trusted the love that we did share and knew it would be there for me when I needed it. As suddenly as I felt him, I also felt him slip away. He is not forgotten. He has not faded away. If anything, the negativity of him has, leaving behind just the good.

I just turned 44 on Sunday. While that is not a derivative of seven, I feel a shift in my soul as well. Part of it is from the surgery. Part of it is that my daughter is heading to Kindergarten next year and I see this chapter of our lives closing and the next chapter getting ready to be written. Part of it is just the passage of time. 

I am excited about the future. I am even more excited for the present. It truly is a gift.

Souvenirs from NYC. No one deserves to be forgotten.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

To Thine Own Breast Be True

At Spring House Country Day Camp, I was cast as Danny Zuko in the Summer production of Grease. I was never going to be Sandy, and I was thrilled to land the role of one of the leads, even if it was the male lead. We put lots of pomade in my hair, had a knock-off T Birds jacket on standby and on opening day, my mom and step-dad were there with the camcorder ready to record my theatrical debut.  I think I was 11 or 12.

"Danny Zuko's got tits!" was the first thing I heard as I stepped out for my first line. It was preserved forever on the recording my parents made.

That may not be the first time I was embarrassed about my chest size, but it was the first time I remember being so self-conscious about a part of myself that I could not control. And it was surely not the last time. Not even close.

Clothes never fit me right. I was buying adult sizes when I was just a kid. I often looked like I was wearing a curtain or a drape when my contemporaries were wearing The Limited or Guess. My poor mother took me specialty bra shopping when I was a new teenager and almost fell over at the sticker shock of what a minimizer bra would cost and at how much material was needed to hold my ladies in place.

Sports were hard, so I stuck to drama (which was more than ok with me as I started to fine-tune my craft and get cast in female roles!). There were always certain things I could do not or wear, but I got by. The Fields women were known for their ample bosoms, and that was just the way it was.

Over the years, I lose and gained various amounts of weight. At my very lightest, I still need 2-3 sports bras to run or exercise and I never got below an XL top. It was what it was.

I met someone in college who had a breast reduction, and she was reborn! Victoria's Secret was not just a shop for perfume! She could fit into the bras, too! WHAT?

I thought seriously about the procedure after college, but I knew I would need help. I would need my mom to live with me or vice versa for a good week and tend to my dressings and take care of me. We were both working full time then, and it seemed not so much a "waste of time," but not the best use of our time. So I put it to the back of my mind.

About five years after that, I thought about it again. I was in my early 30's and single, but in the back of my mind, I thought that there might be a distant and remote chance that I would want to be a mother someday. And if I were, I would want to nurse my child. Nursing can happen after breast reductions, but often times it is complicated and sometimes even impossible. So back to the back burner it went.

Then I met Gary. Love changes your perception of things. I no longer cared as much about the size of my chest or the back pain or the shoulder grooves I now had from wearing such heavy bras so much of the time. It was just a part of my story, and I liked that this guy was really into my whole story.

When I got pregnant with Allie, I felt like my breasts were like, "FINALLY! SOMETHING FOR US TO DO!" I registered for a breast pump, and I bought nipple pads and salve for cracked nipples and a whole bunch of things I knew nothing about. But I was excited to have a use for these things and ready to put them to work.

When my baby died, a part of me died as well. No question about that. I stuffed my maternity bras with cabbage and wrapped them in ace bandages and prayed that my milk would not come in. I do not think I could bear it if it did. They somehow heard my prayers, and I was spared that added pain.

This past summer, I reconnected with an old family friend. She had a reduction a few months prior and was thrilled with the results. So much so that she wanted to take me into the Ladies Room to show off her new appendages. That lunch got me thinking. If not now, when?

I talked to Gary. I talked to my primary doctor. I got a referral. Quickly, I got my insurance company to approve the procedure. We were all systems go.

My reduction mammoplasty was scheduled for December 9th. We were all ready to go. I went to the surgical center, got ready to go, went under anesthesia...and then promptly got pulled out because I had bronchitis and it was too bad to continue.

I was in tears. I was SO close, and then I was denied yet again. The doctor and the nurses hated to see me in so much pain. They all agreed they would come in over their Christmas break and do the procedure for me then. New year, new you - I heard that more than once. December 29th was my new date.

I did not tell many people. That shame I had since I walked out on that stage at camp had followed me through my life. I could not quite figure out why I was embarrassed, but I was. In a way, my surgery became my little (big) secret.

That was 12 days ago. What I have learned in my recovery is that there is nothing I should be ashamed about! I had plastic surgery to correct an issue that has plagued me my whole life. The path to healing has been rocky for me - first I had a reaction to the anesthesia and puked the better part of my first night home and then I learned I had to sleep on my back which has been problematic for me, so sleep has been elusive for me. The pain was more than I expected and I still have not driven yet. Plans have been canceled; apologies have been made.

But get this - I NO LONGER HAVE THESE MAMMOTH FUN BAGS HANGING OFF MY BODY! I have these perky little things that I have no idea what to do with. I saw my doctor on Wednesday, and I am healing beautifully. I go back in a week and a half.

My back and neck pain were erased immediately. The shoulder grooves will go away in time. I feel freer and lighter and almost euphoric! I am tired and sore and in many ways, happier with my body than I have ever been.

I have lots more work to do. Work I can do myself once I can exercise again. Work on my mind and my soul, as well as my body. I am not worried. I know I can do it.

Gary deserves a plaque and an award and every Captain America statue that exists. He has taken on me as a patient (not an easy task) while comforting and tending to Miranda's every need. I am never ever letting him go.

A special shout-out, too, to Dr. George Zavitsanos and his incredible staff for all the care and support they gave me and will continue to give me, of this I am sure. I cannot imagine using anyone else.

So that's my story. I will not spend time wishing I had done it sooner or that my belly was flatter (now that there are no boobs to obstruct it!) or that this happened or that happened. I got the surgery when it was right for me. And I am so very glad that I did.

Lunch at the food court yesterday, My first time out of the house in a week!

How Did It Get So Late So Soon?

The title of this post comes from not me, but from Dr. Seuss. Seemed rather appropriate since his birthday was earlier this month. Miranda h...