Sunday, March 29, 2015

"2"

When I wake up Tuesday morning, Miranda will be 2 years old. 

How is that possible?

Wasn't I just pregnant with her sister? Didn't we just have a benefit to raise money for the adoption costs?  Didn't we just get the call that we were picked? Wasn't she just born? Didn't the courts just declare her "ours"? Didn't she just learn to crawl? Didn't she just learn to walk?

Where does the time go?

Our story is different than most. We will never sit around a campfire and tell our daughter about the night she was born. (Although does anyone do that?). We will never tuck her in at night and tell her how we knew she was going to be born with a head full of hair because I had heartburn my whole pregnancy or how her daddy and I looked at ultrasound pictures and knew her name right away.

The fact of the matter is, we did not know she was born until we got a text from our social worker.

But that does not make her birth story any less special.

Stories are told from different perspectives. Miranda is lucky enough to get lots of different stories. The perks of open adoption are that she will hear the stories from us and she will also hear them from the woman who gave birth to her. It's kind of like getting her cake and eating it, too.

I do not like to share. I like my stuff to be mine. So what in the world made me think I could share my daughter with someone else?

Well, the fact that another woman picked us to raise the child she made is what finally taught me how to share. For on Tuesday morning, she will also wake up and know that her daughter is 2.

I am Miranda's mother. There is no doubt in my mind. When she yells "Mama" in the middle of a store (which she does more and more!), it's me that she wants to see. It's me that changes her and bathes her and feeds her and drives her and plays with her and loves her and is in awe of her every day.

Yesterday, we spent the day with M. At first Miranda did not remember her, but then she warmed up to her. Physically, I do not see any resemblance to the woman who gave her life. What I do see, though, is an incredibly strong woman who put the needs of a child before her own.

I feel threatened by M sometimes. I feel in competition with her also. It's those moments that I need Gary to help me snap out of it. Or I need to remind myself that I am in fact her mother and that is a role I was somehow always meant to play.

I asked Gary recently if he regretted all the fertility treatments and time and energy we put into trying to get pregnant after Allie died. His response? Not one bit, as it led us on the path to get Miranda and she was the child we were meant to have and raise and love.

And love we do. So very much.



Monday, March 23, 2015

Joy and Pain

...are like sunshine and rain.

Anyone in my age group (or within a decade or so), probably has that Rob Base song in their head right now. And there is a good reason for it.

That song came out in 1988. I was 14 years old. My parents had already divorced by then and we were in the throes of a painful custody battle. I knew plenty about joy...and pain.

I feel like opposites are a very common theme in my life. In order to be happy, I must also experience some degree of being sad. It happens A LOT.

Last Thursday, I went to synagogue as it was the anniversary of my father's death (according to the Hebrew calendar). Sitting with my mom and my brother, hearing the familiar prayers around me, I could not help but start to cry as I stood to say the Mourner's Kaddish. The Mourner's Kaddish is a prayer we recite to honor those who have passed. When I looked it up to be able to define it for my non-Jewish readers, I found this very interesting quote, "Once a parent dies, you enter into a new realm of mourning and loss. Just as the mourner assumes a central position within the prayer community, Kaddish assumes center stage for the mourner. It provides a meaningful, repetitive and concrete activity that focuses the mourner on his or her loss, providing an anchor that grounds the mourning process." (Shiva.com)

I felt sad as we pulled away from the synagogue. Sad for my dad who is not here anymore and sad for those of us that are.

Less than 48 hours later, we celebrated Miranda's 2nd birthday. The party was all I hoped it would be - and then some! We had a house full of family and friends and laughter and love. It was a princess theme and all the little girls came in their finest gowns. My heart was so full with love that I am not sure I stopped smiling the whole day. Surrounded by the loved ones that celebrated my pregnancy and baby shower, mourned Allie's death, helped raise funds for our adoption fundraiser and then welcomed Miranda home with open arms, it was both joy and pain that I felt while celebrating Miranda's special day.

I kept thinking, "I am luckier than I have a right to be."

I kept stopping myself and instead thinking, "We are all so very lucky."

With joy comes pain. When there is sunshine, there is almost always rain. As long as I can focus on the joy and the sunshine, I think I can handle the pain and the rain.




 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Life and Death

On the day that my niece was born, I found out that a friend of mine lost her baby at 16 weeks. 

Earlier this week, another friend gave birth to a happy and healthy baby boy. The next day, I learned of a relative of a friend who delivered a baby sleeping at 22 weeks.

Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. 

From what I know, stillbirths happen to 1 in every 160 pregnancies.

These numbers are staggering. 

Who is to give these babies a voice? Who stands up for the moms and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who never get to see their baby cry or crawl or walk or talk? Why do some babies come into this world with such ease while others never get a fighting chance?

I went for a run this morning and I was thinking about life and death. This time last year, my dad was dying. We knew it. I suppose he knew it. For 40 years of my life he was a presence. Now he is not. How many people have I buried in my lifetime? And how many of those compare to the grief of picking my daughter up at a funeral home in a box? 

I do not know if death works in stages. Could you imagine if death looked like this?
  • Child, Stage 1, Horror of Horrors
  • Parent, Stage 2, Totally Sucks
  • Sibling, Stage 3, Yuck Yuck Yuck
  • Aunt/Uncle, Stage 4: Grief and Despair
I think all death stings and burns and takes your breath away and leaves you sometimes wanting the same fate for yourself.

This time 4 years ago, the nursery was painted, the crib was assembled, the registry was complete. I was counting kicks and drinking chocolate milk and wondering what my precious daughter was going to look like. I was getting annoyed that I had to wait till May as I was ready now.

I think back to that naive person and I want to slap her. Enjoy every moment. Enjoy every kick you feel from the inside. For they will stop soon and you will never experience that again.

My support group doesn't meet any more. We lost our charter and have been looking for a new location for over a year. I do not feel the urge to go anymore, but I do miss the safe place where I can talk about my first born. Where I can be there for others as they were there for me. 

Death...dying...life...living...where does the cycle begin and where does it end?

I do not take a moment for granted anymore. I learned that from my first born.

Born still but still born.

I wonder what she would be like now?


Monday, March 9, 2015

Fight Song

I keep hearing this song on the radio...

"This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me"  -Rachel Platten


I like the idea of having a fight song. I think it would come in handy on certain days.

For example, last week I had my annual appointment with my GYN. I do not dread those appointments like I used to, but I do not really look forward to them either. When I arrived, I talked to the receptionist whom I have known since I first starting using that practice. She is kind and thoughtful and always asks me quite genuinely how I am. She asked after Miranda and asked to see a picture. We were still talking when the nurse called me back.

The nurse was new to me. I am not sure how long she has been there. She brought me back to the exam room and took my blood pressure and made small talk about the weather.

Then she went over to the computer to review my chart. Was I still on these meds? Yes. Was there any change to my medical history in the last year? No? Then she said this:

"Well this can't be right. It says 1 pregnancy but no live births. I just heard you talking about your daughter!"

Really? Even there I have to explain stillbirth? For the 37 weeks and 1 day that I was pregnant, there was a big AMA on my chart for "Advanced Maternal Age". I felt old and wrinkled and asked why it had to be there. It just did since I was over 35 years of age. You mean to tell me that there is no code for stillbirth like UC "Use Caution" or TL "Tread Lightly" or even more to the point S "Stillborn". How hard would that be??

This is exactly why I need a fight song.

The nurse was not wrong. She wanted to back up into the wall and disappear when I explained that my first daughter was stillborn. Part of me wanted to back up there with her.

The rest of my exam went off without a hitch. I will be happy to not have to go back there for another year!

I do not know how to raise awareness for stillbirth more than just by writing about it. I feel strongly that there needs to be more awareness - from the doctors and nurses to the hospitals to the expecting parents and more. I just do not know how to do it.

In the meantime, I will borrow this fight song until I write my own.

"This is my fight song
Take back my life song..."





Monday, March 2, 2015

March

March is a big month for us. 

It is the month we were chosen to be Miranda's parents. 

It is the month Miranda was born.

It was the last full month that Allie was alive.

It was the month that my father died.

It's hard to be a mom to a child on earth as well as a child in heaven. How do I fully embrace being Miranda's mom and all of her accomplishments and milestones without feeling that I am neglecting her sister?

For the most part, I just do. I don't have time to stop and think - I just plow forward with life. It's the only thing that is fair to the daughter that is here. And to the daughter that is not, she has to know how full my heart is for her.

There is such a difference between losing a child and losing a parent, as I have written about before. I remember when my uncle died before I was even nine years old. I remember that everyone was so upset for my grandparents. "Parents should not have to bury their children" I heard over and over again. He was too young. Now I know almost everyone is too young when they die. At least to me.

I think of my dad so much less than I think of my child, and yet the pain of his not being here to experience my life the way it is now is very sharp at times. Although he was not the parent to me that I needed him to be and although he was so sick at the end that his memory was all but gone, that does not mean I loved him any less.

Love and loss. They seem quite related to me.

I remember not being able to laugh after Allie died. It felt like a betrayal to her and that is very common in grief. Now when I laugh, it is that much louder and that much harder because I realize what a gift it is to even laugh at all.

I am one of the lucky ones. In spite of it all, I know this to be true. I love and am loved. Two things I certainly do not take for granted.

I had a boss once who accurately said I was either all or nothing. I liked someone or I didn't. The world was black and white. Right or wrong. No middle ground. I like to think that I have mellowed out over the years and I am not like that any more. I no longer believe in absolutes. I can be happy and I can be sad. I can live in the moment but not forget the past. 

I kind of like the new(er) me. She's less opinionated, but still has opinions. Less judgmental, but still reserves the right to judge. Happy more than she is sad. Most days, anyway...

A very happy day

Learning to Love Yourself No Matter What

One of the problems with being a writer is that I use words as therapy. By writing my thoughts and feelings, I can often make sense of the w...