Saturday, July 27, 2013

For Allie and Leo

There once was a woman named Sam.  She lived in the Greater Philadelphia area.  She was a newlywed.  She was Jewish.  She was in her mid 30's.  She was fortunate to get pregnant relatively easily.  Her son's name was Leo.  She delivered him.  He was born still.  Her life was forever changed.

Our stories are eerily similar.  We even share the same name!  A mutual friend connected us with each other back in 2011 and we have been "pen pals" every since.  She has been an avid reader of my blog and we connected on Facebook.  At first, Gary and I wanted to meet her and her husband but they were not ready.  When they were ready, Sam was pregnant with her rainbow and we were not ready.  So we waited.

Today we were both ready.

I was so nervous on my way to meet Sam and her 15 month old daughter, Sydney.  I felt like it was a blind date!  I checked my lipstick in the car, put Miranda in the prettiest little outfit (which is insane as there is not an outfit she has that is not adorable) and I nervously walked the stroller over to our meeting spot.

I saw her before she saw me and my heart jumped into my chest.  Even now, several hours later as I write about it, I feel the tears behind my eyes.  Then she saw me and ran over and gave me the biggest hug that I have ever gotten from a stranger.  Except that is really is not a stranger. She is my friend.  A sister I met in grief who turned into a friend that I will have for life.

Our Rainbows
We were instantly comfortable with each other.  We talked and talked and talked.  We walked laps around the mall.  We talked about Allie.  We talked about Leo. We talked about Sydney.  We talked about Miranda.  We talked about parenting after a loss.  Neither of us got a chance to do it any other way.  Does that make us different parents?  We feel that it does.  Better?  Probably not!  Just different.

We said things out loud that we would only share with each other about fear and loss and grief and pain.  We laughed and smiled and shared happy stories, too.  We talked about hope and frustration.  We talked about adoption and fertility.  We talked about rainbows and how symbolic they are in the baby loss community. There was so much we did not get to say - so much that we will save for the next time as there will be a next time.

The time flew by.  We met at 11.  Then it was 12.  Then it was 1.  We stopped for pizza and then kept walking.  We eventually had to say goodbye but it was really goodbye for now.

I felt like I knew her my whole life.  In some ways, maybe I have.

So to Allie and Leo - thank you for bringing us together.  Thank you for the lessons you teach us each and every day.  Thank you for letting us share your stories and remember you.  We love you.

Looking at Allie's butterfly bush

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Limbo

Limbo is defined as "an intermediate place or state". I think it's technically a religious term but that is not how I think of it.  I think of it is a place in between where you are and where you want to be.  

I feel like I am in limbo right now and I can't really explain why.  Being a mom, a real live parenting mom is a gazillion times more awesome than I ever dreamed.  It's also that much harder.  And I have help.  Real help.  A husband / dad who does every bit as much as me.  And yet it's still being on, 100% of the time.  Putting the needs of the baby before yours.  Making sure she wants or needs for nothing.

I am getting used to being a working mom.  Last week was easier than the first week.  I found myself able to enjoy the time at my desk or immersing myself in my work and I sure loved getting paid on Friday!  But I still struggle with dropping her off and pulling out of the driveway knowing that it will be hours before I will see her again.

I miss parts of my life pre-Miranda. And I hate myself for saying that as before her, all I could think about was her. And her sister.  Maybe what I miss is not the life I had before but the grief that I was able to hang on to more before.  Maybe that's it.  Allie has become a butterfly in the truest sense.  She flutters around and I see her several times a day but there is not much time for anything else.  Her room is Miranda's room.  Her clothes are Miranda's clothes.  It's not like she has been replaced...and yet it is harder to feel her like I used to.

I still look at the scar that stretches below my belly and I try to remember Allie inside of me.  It hurts.  I think of that naive woman that I was then and I miss her.  She is long gone.

We will always talk to Miranda about adoption.  She will always know that her birth mother did not "give her up" but hand picked Gary and I to raise her and be her parents.  And yet I have this vision of her watching me get ready for work or a party like I used to do with my own mother and ask me why I have that scar.  How will I tell her it was from a baby that I had that is not here?  How do we explain stillbirth when I do not understand it myself?  I never want her to feel like she was Allie's replacement - I want her to know that we loved Allie so much that we knew we had to grow our family so that we could share that love.  It's so hard.  

I am not sure why I feel like I am in limbo, but I do. I also feel like the girl in the bubble.  Is that a thing?  Our lives so completely revolve around this little girl that I have lost sight of other things.  I am aware of current events and heat waves and maybe even gas prices, but I feel so out of the loop on other things.  But do those other things matter?  If so,why?

I suspect that these feelings are not that unique to me.   Maybe it's a little bit of feeling like I have all that I have ever wanted...now what?  I think I need to take a step back and just live in the moment. Enjoy all the coo's and giggles and love and affection and take each stage and each step as it comes.  Only then will my feeling of limbo subside as I move on to the next phase or the next stage.  

I need to remember to be kind to myself.  My heart and soul have been through a lot these past few years.  It's ok to feel what I feel.  Whatever that is.  Those feelings make me who I am.  They are as much as part of me as anything else.  I can feel up and I can feel down.  As long as I love and allow myself to be loved, I think I will be just fine.

My heart

Saturday, July 13, 2013

86%

86 % of working mothers say they “sometime / frequently” feel stressed.  Phew.  Ok.  It's not just me.

As far as weeks go, last one was not a bad one.  Miranda slept through the night each night.  We got her to my mom's each morning on time.  We got to work on time (even early).  We picked her up without any trouble.  When my mom ran out of formula, she made more.  When Miranda got fussy, they went for walks.  By the end of the week, they were pros.

Everyone has been very accommodating at work.  I was greeted with many hugs and happy smiles and so many people stopped by my desk to see how I was.  Miranda was given some presents. I was given lots of advice.  There was a welcome back lunch.  It was nice to have a routine again.

It took me well into the 2nd day to go to the bathroom when I wanted to and to refill my water bottle when it was empty - I had gotten very used to doing many things very rushed or not at all that I am not quite used to having some time of my own again - even if it is while I am at work!  Gary and I went out to lunch one day and opened a bank account for Miranda.  A task much easier to do without her with us!  My arms felt empty during those days, but not in the way they felt empty when Allie died. They felt lighter, I guess...knowing they would be full again by dusk or sooner each night.

I was as exhausted this week as I was the week we first brought the baby home.  Every bone in my body hurt.  My pores hurt.  The stress from the going back and the planning out each day and the making sure she is ok and that my mom was ok and then trying to actually do some work on top of it was exhausting.  But I did it.  And I will continue to do it.  At least that is the plan for now! I am sure next week when I get my first pay check since Easter, I will be very happy that I went back!

I miss Miranda when I am not with her.  I wonder what she is doing.  I know she is having a good time and being so well taken care of, but I still micro-manage my ever-patient mom.  When did she eat, did she burp, did she nap, for how long...and on and on and on.  And she has not once told me to stop asking.  Bless her heart.  She understands as she raised 3 children.  She understands because she knows me.  She understands because she loves the family that I have built.  She understands because she has been waiting for the privilege to help me raise my daughter for some time now.

Miranda Hope.  We sure picked the right name for her.  She is all that we ever hoped for each and every day.

I feel like that stress level may decline for me once I really get into the swing of things.  But it may not.  Only time will tell.  

My last statistic for now:  85% percent of working mothers who say they are “very happy” or “pretty happy”.  Hmmm...interesting.  I have talked to a lot of mom's who work and many of them love the time they have for themselves and their careers as well as the time they have for their children and their families.  It's finding the balance that will help me.  And with so many great people in my corner and such an amazing family on my side, I think I just might be able to do that.  In the meantime, however, I am not upset that tomorrow is only Sunday and I get one more day at home!!

Miranda's "Village" of caregivers
Uncle Jeff trying out a new way to take Miranda for a walk!

She sleeps just fine at my mom's!


A surprise gift from Gary to remind me of our butterfly.  I wear this bracelet along with Miranda's birthstone necklace that Gary got me for Mother's Day.  I have both my girls with me no matter where I am.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

61%

If you look up "Working Mother Statistics", you will learn that 61% of mothers work outside their home.

Tomorrow morning at 8am, I will be one of them.

I have so many mixed feelings about going back to work.  While I hate the idea of not being around Miranda all day long, I kind of like the idea of finding myself again.  I like the idea of a purse and not a diaper bag...I like the idea of being able to use the bathroom with the door shut...I like the idea of getting back into the swing of things and having a routing again outside of this house.

It helps more than I can say that the baby will be with family for the next 3 months.  I do not have to worry about her level of care as it will be every bit as good as it is here. I do not have to worry if we are late to drop off or early to pick up as my mom wants to make sure that these next 3 months are the best for her granddaughter and is willing to be and do whatever we need.  Whatever she needs, really.  I can call and text all day long.  I can stop by for lunch.  My hope is by the end of the 3 months, Miranda will be super prepared for the great daycare center that we hand picked for her and then be ready for "school".  I see her meeting friends and sharing giggles and while all of it tugs at my heart, I know it is what is best for her. That is all that matters.

Do I think tomorrow will be hard?  Yeah, I do. I am not going to pretend that it won't be.  But isn't that what parenting is in some respect?  Putting your child first?  Doing what is best for them even if it is hard for you?  

Gary walked in with yesterday's mail - 2 packages from Zulily and one from Baby Steals.   If I am gonna keep shopping like I have been, I need an income!  And fast.

And so I am trying to cherish the time we have - the evenings and the weekends and the holidays and hope that I am a good enough mom, a strong enough mom, that those times will make up for the times when I am not with her.  I feel like they will as I was raised by a working mom, too.

Here's to the future...and here's the the 61% that are able to do what I am about to do tomorrow!

"Just like a rainbow, you know you set me free" - Depeche Mode

Our last week day together
Adorable as ever


Always in my heart

Monday, July 1, 2013

Irony?

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
"Well isn't this nice..."
And isn't it ironic... don't you think 
-Alanis Morissette  

I remember listening to that song over and over in college.  And I remember the debates and discussions as to whether that really was irony.  Most people did not think it was.  Irony is "The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect."

To me, irony is that I used to count the days and weeks since Allie died and now I count the days and weeks that Miranda has been alive.  But I guess that really isn't irony.  It's more a concept of time and how it plays a role in my life.  One week till this, 2 weeks since that...

I have one week left with Miranda before I go back to work and I am very much aware of the precious little time that leaves us during this time in our lives.  Next Monday, we will drop her off at my mom's where she will be loved and cared for every bit as much as she is here.  I want my mom to have that time with her.  I want my brother and sister-in-law, who just moved back, to be able to bond with her.  But I want to be there when that all happens!

I know I have to work.  I think financially and emotionally I need to work.  But I also know how hard it is going to be to leave my little rainbow.  Even when I am leaving her in the best care possible.

On Friday, Gary, Miranda and I met with our social worker for our 2nd Post Placement Visit.  There are 3 total visits.  All went well and things are moving right along.  There will be a hearing to formally terminate the parental rights of Miranda's birth parents (the documents were all signed back in April) and then there will be a hearing for finalization where Gary and I will get Miranda's new birth certificate with our names and her name on the same document.  I do not want to rush the process, but I sure can't wait for that day! 

On  Saturday, we threw a surprise retirement party for my mom.  It's because she is retired that she is able to watch Miranda for us and so that is even more reason to celebrate!  It was so nice to be with our family and her close friends to celebrate the end of one chapter in her life and the beginning of the next chapter.  It's nice to be together to celebrate joy and and happiness.  I am glad the sorrow (for now) is behind us.

I see butterflies everywhere.  I wonder if Allie is trying to make her presence known.  The butterflies make me happy.  They do not make me sad.  She is always here with us.

So what is irony?  Did Alanis have it right?  Do I?   I think for me, it's not irony.  It's just time marching on and life evolving. I supposed the way it's supposed to be.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it."  -Ferris Bueller 

Oh, I am stopping plenty.  I do not want to miss a thing.

The happy retiree and her kids
3 Generations


Gary, Miranda and Me

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