Friday, February 28, 2014

What I Did For Love

When I was younger, I did not always take care of myself as much as I should have.  There were missed dental appointments simply because I disliked going and there were years where I skipped a physical all together.  Denial, I suppose.  What I did not know could not hurt me!

Luckily, I have been pretty healthy most of my life.  And luckily I grew up along the way and made the appointments I needed to make sure I stayed that way.

This week I had my annual OB/GYN appointment.  Gary surprised me in the parking lot and walked in with me and we held our heads high.  We were delighted to share that we were parenting and showed off pictures of our rainbow to everyone from the receptionist to the nurse to the doctor.  It was a routine visit and I was in and out before I knew it.  

I left with a script for a mammogram.  Kind of a parting gift for turning 40, I suppose.  I called to make an appointment thinking there would be a wait but sure enough, they had room for me today.  So my mom came and took Miranda for a few hours and off I went.

I heard it was bad.  I heard the horror stories.  I knew it was not gonna be a walk in the park.  But OH MY GOD.  Mammograms = torture!!!!!!! My poor body!  I am still wincing from the discomfort of it all.

It was over in probably less than 15 minutes.  I treated myself to a pedicure afterwards.  (I highly recommend this to anyone post-mammogram).

When you love someone and are loved by someone, it seems only reasonable that you do what you can to make sure you are around for as long as you can be.  I want to be here for my family and want to be able to do all the things we can.  So if that means a little discomfort along the way, so be it.

I do not want to look back and have regrets over the things I can control.  There is simply too much that I can't control.

"Point me toward tomorrow
We did what we had to do
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for love what I did for love"
-A Chorus Line 

Miranda turned 11 months today.  Or as close to 11 months as she can be since there are not 31 days this month.  Her party planning is in full swing.  I wish we had a mansion so I could invite everyone we know and everyone who loves us, but we are keeping it pretty small and simple.  

Shortly after her birthday, we will have a smaller and even more simple party for Allie.  She would have been 3 in April.  To honor her, we will have some balloons.  And some cake.  And we will share some stories about her with her sister.

Spring is coming and with it, the celebration of both my girls.  I am going to do everything in my power to make sure I am here and healthy enough to enjoy it all.  That's what I did for love.  And it's what I will keep on doing.
Discovered her step stool and the mirror at the same time
Gymboree class

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Making Lemonade

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
― William Wordsworth

I always wanted to be a writer.  I studied English Literature in college and was going to make it happen!  One semester in and I was so bogged down with books that I lost hope.  I switched my major to theater.  Yes! I would act! I would be famous just like my high school yearbook predicted.  I would be a thespian.  One semester in and I realized that it was hard to make a career out of acting and a degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania was probably not going to get me to the Great White Way. I switched my major again.  Education this time.  Did that for a semester until I realized that I was not 100% sure I wanted to teach.  My last switch was to Communications.  There I could still study English and Theater and take education courses and an assortment of others that would hopefully prepare me for...well...something!

I graduated with pride and hope of a bright future.  I moved back home since I did not yet have a job.  There I was, 22 years old, sneaking out of my childhood bedroom to smoke a cigarette and probably wait for a boy to call.  After 4 years away, I felt like I was right back where I started.

Eventually I found my footing as most post-college kids do and I got a job.  I moved in with some girlfriends and started the next chapter of my life.  I am still super close with those girls and the other friends that I made along the way.

During that time, there were periods when I kept a journal.  Times where I started to document my story of who I was and what made me unique.  I was never able to stick with it.  I never felt I was any good.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2011.  My first born had died.  After a few weeks, Gary went back to work.  I was left here in a quiet home, surrounded by baby clothes and toys and furniture and recovering from a c-section.  My body was beat up and bleeding and my heart was even worse.  

My oldest friend send me an article she read about how a few women who had also lost children had started to write to connect to their child and to the community of parents that had experienced the same horror.  At the same time, my younger brother encouraged me to start writing - to get out on paper what I could not even speak of at the time.

I have been writing ever since.

Most of you have followed me along the way with the most encouraging and uplifting support.

This week, I found out that a job that I interviewed for back in December was filled.  In the same email, I was told that if I was willing, they wanted to hire me as a freelance writer.  They loved me and my personality and my background and although the job I interviewed for was not the right fit, they want me to work for them in any way that I can.  We spoke on Tuesday.  They are going to pay me money to write for them.  I will write their blogs, promote their social media sites, proofread any materials that need a fresh perspective and whatever else they need.

Why?  Because I am a writer.

They are taking a chance on me.  In doing so, I can work from home and stay home with Miranda while bringing in some money.  It's a win-win.  It's about 12 hours a week to start but it could lead to more in time.  It could lead to a full time position with them as well.  

I can't help but think that I took the worst thing that ever happened - that ever will happen - and made it into something beautiful.  I lost my daughter but found myself.  Did I need to lose her for this to happen?  Certainly not.  But that's they way it unfolded and there is no denying this gift that she gave me.  This gift that will now allow me to stay home with her sister and see what I can do.  What I can create.  I took those sour lemons and made the sweetest, most delicious lemonade.  Ever.

 “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou

My heart

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love Is All You Need

Valentine's Day has come and gone.  There were cards, there were chocolates, and there was an early bird dinner with my husband, our daughter and my mom.  Quite a different kind of Valentine's Day that I have had in the past.  And I loved it!
Last year on this very day, I was brimming with excitement as we were officially "in the book".  At any moment, we could have been picked. I knew we were going to be picked.  I knew we were going to be parents. I did not know it would be so soon and that if you fast forwarded from last year to this one, we would have a 10 month old!  Take a trip back to 2013 here.

The the piles and pounds of ice and snow that we are having here are starting to drive me crazy.  I want long walks in the park.  I want short sleeves.  I want sun!  I want to be able to take my daughter out of the house!!  It seems that no matter what I have, I always do want more!  I guess that is just in the fabric of who I am.

With the Spring comes Miranda's first birthday.  We already have a date set with her birth mother so that she can spend some time with us right around that big milestone. I have started to plan her party.  But I am stuck.  I have never planned a birthday party for a living child before.  Sigh.

In a few weeks, my mom and I are going to an event that I am really looking forward to attending. I will meet other parents who have had to say goodbye to their babies long before their time.  We will spend the day remembering Allie and all she taught us.  We will honor her and remember her and I suspect it will be a very healing type of afternoon.  There will be poetry and wine and that alone sounds good to me!  I do not feel the pain of grief like I once did, but I do feel the pull to celebrate my first daughter, especially as I spend so much time and energy and love on my second one.

I suspect that once I come home from that event, I can plow forward with the plans for Miranda's party.  Buy every rainbow decoration and sticker and outfit on the market.  Think about the food.  Wonder what we should get her.  Decide how to decorate.  Think about what we will serve.  Find a bakery that will make a rainbow cake!

It's not hard to love both my girls, but it is hard to find the best way to love them equally.  One I can shower with love and affection (and I do!) and one I need to actually set aside time to remember.  I remember her every day, but I want to be able to celebrate her, too.

In a few weeks, the snow will melt.  The birds will fly back.  The flowers will start to bud and bloom.  Then we can celebrate Miranda turning 1 and Allie turning 3.  What a Spring it will be!

Snow Day Selfie

My Loves

Gram & Miranda

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Rainbow Connection

A "rainbow baby" is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or still birth.  A beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.

I have written about rainbows in the past.  Miranda is our rainbow.  Her photo shoots are rainbow themed. 

I am starting to plan Miranda's first birthday party and yes, it will be rainbow themed.  So it's pretty much all rainbows all the time here.  

Today, I went to brunch with some of my oldest and dearest friends.  We ran into Old Navy afterwards because we heard they were having a big sale on kids and baby clothes.  I got Miranda a new bathing suit for the summer for $10 and a pair of pajamas for $3.99.  On the way to the register, I saw a rainbow sock monkey so I picked that up, too.  Of course. 

Standing in line, I looked at the tag.  The monkey had a name.  Socks the Sock Monkey.  Not too many points for creativity there.  But then I saw that the monkey also had a birthday.  May 11, 2011.

Chills.  No words.  More chills.

That was my due date with Allie. 

What are the odds that she would be in any way attached to this little stuffed toy?

Very high, I say.  Because my girls are connected and have a connection and that makes me burst with pride.

I'll take the signs and roll with them.  Allie is very much a part of my life as much as Miranda is.  And I will keep buying all the rainbow clothes and toys and stickers that I see because you just never know which one will connect us all.

"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me."  
~The Muppets

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Reunited And It Feels So Good!

Last week, I had the chance to introduce Miranda to more family.  Her aunt and her cousin.  Well, step-aunt and step-cousin.  I know.  It's complicated.

My mom and her dad married when I was in middle school.  Every 3rd weekend for our teenage years, we spent sharing a bedroom.  We had similar likes and interests and bonded over high school theater and They Might Be Giants and everything between.  She was the closest thing I had to a sister.

Shortly after college, her dad and my mom split up.  We tried to keep in touch but it was too hard.  She felt remorse for things our of her control and I was probably a little bitter.  We were old enough to know the split was not our faults but young enough to think we had any control over the situation.

Years went by and we would once and a while try to track each other down.  It was still too hard and often too raw.  I found her one brother on Facebook and we reconnected that way.  But that was about it.

Apparently as the time passed, she had looked me up from time to time.  She knew when my brother got married.  Then she knew when my other brother got married.  She knew I met someone.  She knew I got married.

Then one day out of the blue, she Googled me and this came up:  She was stunned.  Shocked and sad and filled with grief.  Here I was going through the most painful time in my life and she had no way to reach out to me.  So she sent me an email and tried to reconnect.

From June 2011 till now, we became pen pals.  We lived less than an hour away, but email was easier.  She followed my blog and after any monumental post, she would send me a note to let me know she was thinking of me.  When we had a fundraiser last year to help with the adoption costs, she donated money.  She asked if we could meet.  I was not ready.

And then I was.  One day I just was.  So we set it up.  We had to postpone our first meeting due to the weather but last week, we finally met up.  And it was like no time had passed at all.

With her 10 week old son on her lap and Allie's sister in the high chair next to me, we sat and talked for hours.  We talked about our families and our pasts and our present.  We relived old stories and laughed and shed a few tears, too.  The time was finally right and it was so amazing.

We parted with a "bye for now" way are we going to let the years get in the way again.  Within the next month or so, we want to find a time to have more of our family reunite - this time with her older daughter and husband, too.  And she wants to meet Gary.  And she she wants to see my mom.  And my brothers.  And I want Ella and Summer to meet their step-cousins.  I cannot wait.

So what is the lesson here?  Family are the friends you can't choose and yet if I could, I would choose her all over again.  No matter what happened before and what will happen in the future, I feel lucky that there is someone on my side just because.  Someone who will love my daughter just because.  It's a great feeling to reconnect.  Reunited and it feels so good!!!

Adoption In My Heart

Today was the Adoptions From The Heart Annual Picnic . We love this event. It is close to our house, it is early enough in the summer that i...