Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mom

I vividly remember being in grief counseling and trying to explain to Gary and to our counselor how I was not really a mom.  I mean, I was...but I wasn't.  I had the stretch marks and the c-section scar, but I had no late night feedings and diaper changes and intricate knowledge of what it was like to parent.  They were both so sure that I was a mom that in time, I came around and agreed that I was a mom.  For the months that I carried Allie under my heart to the years that I have mourned her, I am indeed her mom.

Miranda made me a mom for the second time.  It's very different this time around.  With Allie, being a mom meant exhaustion from crying and grief and longing to hold her.  With Miranda, being a mom means exhaustion from playing and feeding and laughing and living and all the while, trying to make sure that I am doing the best job I can for her.

Being a mom to Allie meant talking about her and remembering her.  Being a mom to Miranda means living in the moment and giving her all I have to give, even on those days when she was up most of the night and Gary is at work and I can barely keep my eyes open.

Both definitions are of a mom - it's the subtle nuances that make them different for me.

Now I can add the words "stay at home" before the mom.  And holy crap - for those of you that are or were in the same boat, why are there no awards for this service?  Every day I think I should get a plaque and balloons and national recognition that we made it through the day.  And that's on the good days!

Here's what I have learned about staying at home (that work for me).  GET OUT OF THE HOME!  All kidding aside, we are trying out different gym classes and possibly a music class.  We have met up with friends for lunch.  We have run errands.  We have driven around aimlessly just so Miranda could sleep.  Gas prices be damned.  On the days when it's just us and this house for 10 hours a day, it ain't pretty.  I have learned that we need to leave once in a while.  If not in the car, then in the stroller for a walk.  Miranda loves the fresh air and the sunshine and I love the times when she is quiet and happy and at peace!!

Being a mom to Allie is easy.  Emotionally hard, but physically easy.  Being a mom to Miranda is emotionally easy but physically hard.  My love for the girls is the same but my actions around that love is different.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  We will light a candle on October 15th and we will possibly attend a balloon release.  My mom and I are attending a Zumba-thon for UNITE.  I do not attend meetings anymore but I feel so strongly about what they do and how they were there for me.  I feel good doing these things in Allie's memory.  I am proud to be her mom and in time, look forward to sharing the love I have for her with Miranda.  

Every second of every day, I worry about Miranda.  Is she too hot or too cold?  Is she tired or does she need to be changed?  Is she happy? Does she know she is loved?  I eventually step back and inhale deeply and remind myself that I am a good mom and that she is fine.  More than fine.  She is thriving.  It's just that I have no experience with the baby that thrives.  My only experience was with the baby who died.

But no - that's not true and I refuse to have Allie remembered like that.  When she was here, she was very much alive and as long as her dad and her sister and I are here, so too shall her memory be.

I love both my girls so very much - even if in different ways. Love is love and I now truly believe...a good mom is a good mom. 

1st gym class

Goofing Around

Celebrating Fall

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Love

In all my years, I thought I knew the definition of the word love.

I was so wrong.

Love is all encompassing.  Love is romantic.  Love is never ending.

Blah Blah Blah

Love is someone holding your baby so you can go to the bathroom.  Love is your husband cooking dinner AND cleaning the dishes after you have been home with the baby all day.  Love is the person who brings you lunch.  Love is hand-me-down clothes.  Love is listening to your anxiety and fears and telling you that you are a good mom in spite of it all.  Love is sharing a funnel cake with your close friend on her birthday because you wanted to take the baby to a carnival.

Love is what makes MY world go round.  Love is how I can stay home with Miranda full time.  Love is indeed all we need.  (And a cleaning person, professional laundry service and full time nanny!!)

It takes many months to acclimate to a new job.  I am glad someone reminded me of this fact yesterday.  Learning to be home with Miranda full time is as adjustment to us both.  My first week home, I had a head cold and she had a tooth coming in and I was not sure what end was up.  I need to find my rhythm and in time, I know I will.  While waiting for that to happen, I get rewarded with enough giggles and smiles to make any day a great one.

At lunch with a friend last week, it was pointed out to me that motherhood may be harder for me than some because I came to it later in life and was so used to a life that just revolved around me.  And then Gary and me. Adding a baby to the mix tossed our world upside down - but in the best possible way.  The 37 weeks of pregnancy with Allie prepared me to be Miranda's mom but there was a 2 year gap.  In that time, I got used to sleeping in and binge watching shows like Dexter.  We had 2 weeks to adjust to parenthood this time around and now that I am home, I am adjusting even more.

And I would not have it any other way.  I wish I could add "Miranda's Mommy" to my resume for this is by far my hardest job yet.  And I am beginning to suspect, it is also the one that I am gonna to rock the most!

Love

Pumpkin Pickin'

Happy Birthday to my college roommate who drove 6 hours round trip to spend the some time with Miranda (and us!)

Enjoying tummy time

Friday, September 13, 2013

Termination

This week I learned that the word "termination" can have more than one meaning.

On Wednesday, I went to work like it was any other day.  It was not however.  It was the anniversary of 9/11 and it seemed a much more somber day than usual.

Around 3pm, I got a call at my desk to come to HR.  My department had just merged with HR so I did not think anything of it.  In fact, I thought maybe that had added adoption benefits to the company handbook and I got excited.  Gary and I had mentioned before what a help it would be if our company supported adoption.

The call was not about adoption benefits.  Or any benefits.  They were eliminating my position.  Effective immediately.  There were no other roles for me at the company.  Do I have any questions.

WHAT THE WHAT??

I cannot go into detail here exactly how I felt as Gary still works for the company.  We met at that company. We fell in love while at the company.  We celebrated our pregnancy at that company.  We mourned Allie's death at the company.  We went through the adoption process at that company.  Less than 2 weeks ago, we brought Miranda in to that company.

To say I was blindsided is putting it lightly.  I literally felt the air whoosh out of my body.  My heart started to race.  I held in the tears until the person in charge left and then I feel apart.  Someone went and got Gary.  They read me my termination letter, Gary packed up my desk and out we went.

7 years and no room for me?  7 years and no chance to say goodbye?  7 years and I was made to feel as if I did something wrong?  Shame on you, company. Shame on you.

Somewhere during the tears and the fury, I realized that since they were terminating my position, that means I would be eligible for unemployment.  That means I get to be a stay-at-home mom.  That means I get to really be there for Miranda day in and day out.  I get to have play dates and Mommy & Me events and a whole bunch of other things that were much harder with working full time.  In a way, they set me free.

The last 2 days have been a blur of activity.  The Fields Family Fun Center is off the clock.  Their services are no longer needed full time.  I called Miranda's daycare and deferred her enrollment.  The deposit is good for a year so hopefully she can still go but just at a later date.  

I am torn between the bliss of knowing I can raise my daughter full time to the sorrow I feel of losing a job that I liked and that I was good at - no matter what happened at the end.  I need to get rid of the bitter taste in my mouth and see this as an opportunity.  The connections and networks that I made there will remain intact. Of that I am sure.

The second termination is WAY better. Today was the hearing for the Termination of (Birth) Parental Rights and everything went great!  The judge signed the termination orders for both parents on the state and federal level.  We have a few more legalities to take care of, but we are on track for finalization to occur on October.  Finalization is a court date we will attend in which a judge will declare Miranda "ours".  We are very excited for that day.  In the meantime, we are so happy with how the Termination went today.

Who knew termination could have so many meanings??

Our Rainbow - and my new full time job!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Friendship is...

When Gary and I were first dating, I asked him to do something for me.  I can't remember what it was but I remember saying, "Be your best friend" and laughing.  He looked at me with a very serious face and said, "you already are my best friend."  I realized that he was right.  We were (and are) each others best friends.

I am lucky enough to have other best friends in my life.  Friendships that I have cultivated and nurtured and treated with care to make sure they would always be there.  I have mentioned many of these friends in my blog - the ones from my childhood that knew me with braces and bad hair cuts and love me in spite of it all.  Friends from high school that were there for first crushes and proms and drama productions.  Friends from college that were there for all the growing pains and more bad hair cuts and probably some heart break.  Friends from different jobs.  Friends from friends.  Family that became friends.

This past weekend, I went to the beach.  That's right.  I went away. Overnight.  Without Miranda.  I was not sure I could do it. I was not sure I wanted to do it.  I knew I needed a little time to myself and that I could benefit from a day or two to recharge and to refresh.  Gary said he was looking forward to daddy/daughter time.  He took all my fears and made me confront them and in the end, I hit the open road late Friday night.

Leaving was much harder than I thought.  I was crying to hard that I could not see straight.  Gary hates when I cry as it makes him cry so there we were, both crying, while Miranda was giggling her head off.  (She thinks it is a riot when I cry and has laughed more than once at me this week as she has started teething and this may have caused a few tears on my end as I am SO VERY TIRED).  Anyway...there we were, crying and laughing and I am sure if I had been able to take a step back, I would have cracked up!  In the moment, however, I was so afraid to leave them both.

A half hour after I planned to leave, I finally left.  Gary and Miranda waved to me as I pulled out of the driveway and off I went.  I was a mess for the first 30 minutes or so and then I felt the stress start to lift.  I turned the radio up and tried to enjoy the solitude and the night sky and the anticipation of the days ahead.

Slowly I started to relax.  I inhaled.  I exhaled.  I enjoyed the peace.  I enjoyed the quiet.  Before I knew it, I had arrived.

The weekend was wonderful.  We laughed so hard that we had trouble breathing.  We shared stories and hopes and fears.  We talked about our kids and we talked about our other relationships.  We swam in the ocean.  We wiggled our toes in the sand.  We took a dip in the pool.  We went out for a fresh seafood dinner.  We shopped in the little boutique shops.  We missed our friends who were unable to make it this year but shared stories about them that made us laugh at the memories. 

Through it all, Gary sent me pictures and updates.  I missed them and I was worried that I was not here to help with feedings and diaper changes and play time and nap time.  We did a video chat and I could see how happy they both were.  They went on walks.  They went to the mall.  They chilled out and napped.

I am so glad I went.  I think it's great for Miranda to see the network of friends that I have built.  I think it's great for her to get that special one-on-one time with her daddy.  I think it's great for me to be surrounded by love and laughter and compassion that only true friends can provide.  I think it's great that my husband is my best friend and encouraged me to go.

Friendship is the most wonderful gift.  I can't wait to pass that knowledge down to my daughter.  I can't wait to see who she chooses to be by her side.  In grade school.  In Hebrew school.  In high school.  In college.  In her career.  In her life.  

Friendship is...whatever you allow it to be.  Driving hours and hours to spend just a few together.  Sacrificing yourself for the needs of another.  Dropping everything to be by their side.  Encouraging.  Supporting.  Loving. Sharing secrets.  Sharing memories.  Sharing your life experiences.  Friendship is....well, everything.

Part of our GWA Group


Funny Selfies


Laughing so hard it hurt

We look better when we ask someone else to take our pic!

Signs of Allie in my every day

Brought Bat Girl and Captain A with me everywhere I went


Having a blast with Daddy at home on the deck - guess this means I can go away again! 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rosh Hashanah

Wednesday night at sundown, we will begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year.  2 years ago, I wrote how it was supposed to be Allie's first Jewish holiday.  My dreams of the apples and honey (the combination of eating sweet foods to express our hope for a sweet new year) were dashed.   

I remember how sad I felt for much of that year.  Hopeless and miserable and isolated.  The rest of the world was moving forward and I was just stuck.   I remember going to see the movie Bridesmaids and laughing out loud and then feeling so terrible for laughing.  How could I laugh when my daughter died?

Eventually, the time and the love and support of those around us (and our fantastic grief counselor whom I still miss but know we do not need to see her anymore) really did heal my heart.  The scars are still there - as well they should be - but life moves on.  It's not that I am strong or courageous or brave.  It's that I really had no other choice.  What kind of legacy would it have been to my daughter's memory if I simply gave up?

Fast forward two years.  Rosh Hashanah dinner will be at my mom's. She will have to prepare it while Miranda plays at her house all day.  My brother and sister-in-law have moved back home.  My other brother and sister-in-law just added to their family.  We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  We have a lot to celebrate.  Our family is thriving and growing.

Yesterday, we took Miranda to a local farm where they have cows, chickens, goats and I think we even saw a donkey.  We got some fresh watermelon and nectarines to bring home.  I enjoyed some homemade ice cream.  YUM.  We took this picture which we plan to update annually. We met up with my friend and her daughter and we talked about going back when the girls were older and talked about what they wound enjoy the most.  It was a lot of fun.

I love being a mom.  I love being Miranda's mom.  I feel such pride in all that she does.  I post so many updates on Facebook that I fear they are going to start charging me for my membership.  I do not care.  We waited a long time for the apples and the honey and we are going to enjoy every moment that we can.

Happy New Year to my Jewish friends and followers.  Heck, Happy New Year to everyone.  I think we can all embrace the sweetness and the joy of a new chapter, a new beginning and a new start, right?

Next time she will stand!
Friends

My loves

Miranda & Me

A Letter to My First Daughter

My Dearest Allie, It’s been a while since I have written to you. I find it easier to write about you than it is to write to you. ...