Monday, February 23, 2015

Holding My Breath

When I hear that someone is pregnant, I immediately hold my breath. My very first instinct is to inhale deeply and think, "Here we go." The I spend the better part of the next several months waiting to breathe normally.

When my "baby" brother and his wife announced their pregnancy to me, I was overjoyed. Yes, my breath stuttered, but I pushed that aside and put on a brave face and tried my best to share their joy. It was not hard. Their excitement was contagious and their happiness was hard to ignore.

Instead of drawing away during the time that the baby grew, I drew closer. I gave them books and clothes and advice (sometimes when asked for - sometimes not!). I even helped throw a baby shower to celebrate the baby's arrival.

When they found out that the baby was a girl, I was not surprised. I suspected from the get-go that the baby was a she and not a he.

When the ultrasound came back with an image, I shared their happy tears of the beautiful baby being created.

When the checkups came and went and everything was fine, I smiled and kept thinking, "Just a little bit longer..."

37 weeks and 1 day came and went. So did 38. So did 39. So did 40.

I was practically deprived of oxygen from all the breath holding I had been doing! But my niece was not ready to come out yet and the non-stress test results were good and their caregiver was not worried, so I tried to not worry, too.

And then it happened.  Labor began.

It was not an easy labor. During one of the coldest days in decades, my niece decided she would rather stay inside where it was nice and toasty.

Her mom wanted to meet her. Her dad was chomping at the bit. Her grandparents and uncle and I were waiting in the maternity ward for something.  Anything!

They sent us home.  "We will call when there is news."

More waiting. A sleepless night. Memories came flooding back to me and I pushed them out of my head. I was so scared that I could not see straight. I tried to be encouraging and hopeful and optimistic, but I found it harder and harder to breathe.

The next day.  A whooooosh of air.  She was here.  She was healthy.  She was perfect.

She is perfect.

It's hard to say who this little lady look like just yet.  I see her mom and I see her dad.  I also see her cousin Allie.

The miracle of life is just that. This baby is a miracle. One my whole family shares and loves. 

We are lucky and fortunate and blessed.  She is, too, as she has all of us.

It's nice to breathe normally again. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Great Book

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.

–William Styron
I had the unique opportunity to talk with a friend of mine today. Not email. Not text. Talk. On the phone. To be honest, I almost forgot my mobile device allowed for such things. 

We talked about our children and we talked about our work. We talked about who we were before we were moms and who we are now. We both do not want to lose ourselves in being a parent, but know that our focus has shifted from when we were not parents. We talked about taking care of ourselves and how much that matters.

The idea of working in the city and commuting on the train and wearing nice clothes to an office every day used to very much appeal to me. Now the thought horrifies me. I want to see Miranda off and welcome her home. I want to be close by in case she needs me. I want to spend my time with words and thoughts as opposed to office politics and bureaucracy.

I blinked and Miranda is almost 2. I turned my back for a second and realized Allie would be 4 this Spring.  Time is too precious to waste on things that simply do not matter.

My book is still be written. I learn that every day. 

As much as Miranda comes first in so many ways, so must I come first, too. For if I do not take care of myself and make myself matter, then what use am I to her?

I have learned to set manageable goals. I have learned to be kind to myself. I have learned to accept the love and generosity of others. All of these lessons are making me the kind of person I want to be.

I still have a lot to do. I still have a lot to learn. But I am enjoying my book very much. I think that's the whole point, isn't it?


  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Yahrzeit

Yahrzeit: Remembering on the Anniversary of a Death. The yahrzeit is a time of remembering the dead by reciting the Kaddish, lighting a 24-hour candle, and remembering the person who has died.
 
Last week in the mail, I received a card that announced that the yahrzeit for my dad would be in mid-March. It coincides with the Hebrew calendar so it is a little earlier than the anniversary of his death in late March.

The notice took my breath away. Has he really be gone that long?   

I tried to figure out why this postcard shocked me so. It's not like I do not know he is gone. 

Now that I have had time to think about it, I am not sure it is shock as much as it is sadness. 

Sad for so many reasons. Sad that my dad was so afraid of who he really was that he had to lie and cheat and be dishonest. Sad that he knew no other way.  

When you bury a child, you still celebrate their birthday. At least we do. We also celebrate that child on any and all occasions that we can.  

When you bury a parent, you are aware of their birthday, but there is no cake. There is perhaps a longing on Father's Day and some extra time to pause during the holiday season, but it is different.  

Just as there are stages of grief, there are also degrees of loss. At least I think so. 

I miss my dad. I miss the way his laugh would echo in a room - empty or not. I miss the way he would make me feel like I was the prettiest girl in the world.  

Often times in death, the negative traits of a person fade away. My dad was not a great dad, by any stretch. He was not a good husband. He never learned to put others first. But he was mine.

Miranda will only know "Pop Pop Jim" by the stories that her uncles and I share with her. She will learn about his generous nature and humorous spirit and I suppose we will keep him alive that way.   

It may not be enough, but I suppose it has to be.  After all, aren't we all kept alive by those that love us and remember us?
 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Living in the present...and the past

I learned a long time ago that the "could have been" and "should have been" thoughts and talks do not do anyone any good.  They take you out of the "now" and often bring you back to an event or time that you can not change, no matter how hard you might want to.

Certain triggers, though, bring you back to an event or time anyway, no matter how much you try to live in the present.  Recently, I went into a Carter's store.  I have been to that store dozens of times, often with Miranda. Once I remember trying to maneuver the stroller through the small racks of clothes and one other time, I remember carrying her in and letting her run havoc all over the store.

During my most recent trip, however, it was not Miranda that was on my mind.  It was Allie. I pictured myself very pregnant, bundled in my brown maternity coat with my light pink scarf, looking at all the infant clothes and trying to pick out the perfect wardrobe for my first child. I caught myself in time and swiftly left the store.  As I left, I saw my reflection as I am now and it brought me right back to the present.  But for a good few minutes, I was certainly in the past.

We are starting to plan Miranda's 2nd birthday party. Between Elsa and Anna and Sophia, there was no way this bash could NOT be a princess themed day.  I am excited at the prospect of making the party such a special one for her.

Allie's 2nd birthday did not have a theme.  Nor did her 3rd. Nor will her 4th.

I feel so deprived of the things that I will never get to do with Allie and for her and around her. It makes me sad.

I feel so privileged of all the things I will get to do with Miranda and for her and around her. It makes me ecstatic.

There is no rule book for how to handle parenting after a loss.  There is no code for parenting regardless.

I read a wonderful article earlier today.  You can find it here.  Here are the points that really jumped out to me.

"At times I wish I had my other baby. It’s not that I don’t want this one. Believe me I have worked as hard as hell to get this baby here healthy and alive. It’s just that I wish my other one wouldn’t have died. What I really want is both. Does that make sense? Just nod your head quietly with empathic eyes, as in yes. I think that is what I need now.
  
I still check and re-check to see if baby is breathing at night. I don’t do it to the point that I wake the little bundle of joy up or that I can’t sleep at night, but I do still check often to see if baby is breathing. I think I will until this little one graduates and moves out. 

I still miss my baby that died. I still miss everything that could have, should have, and would have been. Those thoughts don’t go away. They are still there. Also, I don’t want to forget her. I want to remember her, and sometimes remembering someone who is gone turns out to be in the form of missing. Missing my baby is okay with me."

I fear that Allie will be forgotten. I worry that I love her sister so much that people thing I am "over" losing Allie.  Then I worry why I am worrying what others think.

Grief is hard. Parenting is hard. Life is hard.  Luckily I do not have to do any of it by myself.  I think that is my biggest lesson from today. 

I aim to live in the present...but if once and a while, I slip back into the past, I suppose that is ok.  That's simply just a part of life. And all in all, it's a pretty great life to have.

Vacation or Relocation?

I love a good vacation. Always have. I love the planning and the anticipation and the experience of discovering someplace new.  Once ...