Monday, April 27, 2015

Safety First

As a parent, one of your main objectives is to make sure your child is safe. Physically, I do that just fine. We have outlet covers on all the electrical sockets, car seats that have been checked and rechecked, suntan lotion with the appropriate SPF so that Miranda's delicate skin does not get burned and so on. 

Physically, she is as safe as we can control. Emotionally? Well that is a different matter.


Last week we celebrated Allie's 4th birthday. We released pink balloons into the air with messages of love and longing written on them in marker. We tried to make it a joyous day. My mom brought over flowers and I picked up cupcakes earlier in the day, but the sky was dark and rain was in the forecast and there were more tears than smiles.

Miranda learned how to say "sister" that day. I know my mom thinks it's too soon as it is so very confusing. But it is confusing to us, too. How do I protect my daughter from something I do not even understand?

The other night after bath, Miranda was pointing to her belly and her belly button. Soon (not too soon, but still!) I will have to explain that she was attached to her mom through that belly button and that that mom was not me.

Miranda will grow up knowing all kinds of things that I do not think kids need to know about!  But then I think of my friend who was diagnosed with diabetes right before he turned 2. Did he need to know the ins and outs of blood sugar before he was potty trained? Or I think about my other little friend who suffers from migraines and is not even double digits yet. I guess no matter how much we love and protect our kids, there are certain things we just can't control. 

My mom still protects me. I can tell the way she talks to me sometimes that she says certain things in a gentle way to spare my feelings or to give me time to absorb it. I suppose as a mom, we are always protecting our kids - not matter how old they are.

Before I know it, we will be teaching Miranda about death ad dying and the truth about where her "sister". Before that, we will explain the intricacies of adoption and birth parents and biological parents. In the meantime, I will just keep putting her needs first, making sure she is safe, and loving her with every ounce of my soul. That's the easy part!

Monday, April 20, 2015

This Is Everything

Gary said it first on Saturday. Then I said it yesterday.

It started with our yearly Spring trip to Scranton. We go up there in the Spring and the Fall. We visit the comic book store where Gary worked in college and we have lunch. We also go to the campus bookstore and check out their merchandise. Sometimes we do other things around town and sometimes we just come home. On this particular visit, we were all fighting a rather nasty cold so we just did the comic book store, lunch and the college book store.

In the comic book store, Miranda entertained all the shoppers. She knew Thor and Hulk and Iron Man and made her daddy smile every time she pointed one of them out. Next we walked over to the college campus and it was such a nice day out that everyone was outside. There was music all around, football and lacrosse games were being played in the quad and there were students everywhere.  Miranda was walking in-between both of us and reached up for one of each of our hands. There we were, strolling along, with her in the middle, when Gary looked over at me and said, "This is everything". And he was right.

We drove home shortly afterwards. Sick from this cold and tired from a long day, but in the best of spirits.

Yesterday, I ran my second 5k race. This was a very special race in that everyone that completed, got a medal. It was not timed - the objective was just to finish. To set a goal for yourself and to complete it. Well, I timed myself and got my best time ever in a race! I had a blast, I felt amazing and I felt so very proud of myself. As I neared the finish line, I looked over and Miranda and Gary were cheering me on with wild claps of applause and wearing their "Team Mommy" t-shirts and that is when it hit me. "This is everything".

Allie would be/should be/is/will be 4 years old this week. 4! That is amazing. To think about what she would have accomplished in 4 years is not hard. We just need to look at our nieces and see the fantastic lives they are leading.

The best way we can celebrate Allie (aside from the balloons we will release on Wednesday) is to live our lives to the fullest. To make her legacy that of a family that bonded in her absence - not fell apart. To be strong and remember her and to live a full life. I think that is the least we can do for her. And I think we are doing it.

This is everything.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Weight of the World

For pretty much my entire life, I have carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. And in my arms. And legs. And belly.  You get the point.

There are pictures of me young and I was not overweight. But I thought I was. 

I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting in 8th grade with a friend's mom. 

My dad was overweight. My mom was underweight. I did not know where I belonged.

I used to exercise on my mom's work out bike in junior high. I would watch General Hospital and during the commercials, hop off the bike, eat a krimpet, then hop back on. When I worked my shift at the local grocery store that weekend, I would just replace what I ate. I also made a habit of eating the candy bars in the check out lane as I was working as a cashier.

My mom went to make cookies once and all the chocolate chips were gone. I thought I had more time to replace those. Huh.

My parents divorce did not help. I spent hours with different therapists trying to understand that food is not love. Well duh. But it tastes so good when the rest of the world is crap!

I thought I had a handle on my weight in college. I was on Phen Phen and dropped almost 80 pounds. I was a lean, mean, fat burning machine and I felt amazing. Then I graduated college and moved home and had a curfew and in between sneaking smokes on the front porch when everyone went to bed, I started sneaking food again, too.

And so it went. Up then down then back up again. Each time the up was more than the time before.

Weight Watchers, Atkins, Nutrisystem...each more than once. 

When I met Gary, I had just shed a lot of weight and was feeling amazing. Within a few weeks of us dating, the pounds started to creep back on.

I was too heavy when I got pregnant with Allie, but that did not affect my pregnancy at all. I surprisingly did not gain that much with her and was on track to be healthy when she was born. My goal was to be healthy for her. If she was the crutch I needed to get myself back into shape, then so be it.


Then our lives shattered. Allie was born still. And I did not really care if I lived or died.

With grief counseling, the love and support of others, and my writing, we got through the darkest days.  And the darkest of quietest nights.

I lost some weight before Miranda came, but then I gained it back once we finally had a baby at home and could afford to breathe.

Last Fall, a dear friend of mine was sharing with me a program that she was on that she had a lot of success with. She never really dieted before and only had about 20 pounds to lose, but she found this plan to be very good so she gave it a shot. I listened and wished her luck, but I could not fathom another diet.

I had a physical at the end of last year. My weight was horrendous. All the pounds I lost while running a few months prior were back on. I was winded chasing Miranda around. I was starting to hate myself. I reached out to my friend.

I met with the owner of the company. We decided this was the plan for me. I would go on a "diet" to get the weight off and then I would go on "maintenance" to learn how to keep the weight off. I would text my personal food coach each night with a journal of everything I ate that day. I would stand on the scale on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and take a picture of my feet and the numbers and send them to my coach as well.

It's been just over 14 weeks. I have lost 50.4 pounds.  I am running a 5K this weekend. I can play with Miranda and keep up. I can look at my reflection and not cringe. I cook every day and am eating better than I ever have before. I have energy and stamina and pride. Enormous pride for taking care of myself and taking back control of my life.

I hope that this is the last time I have to tackle this hurdle. I hope I can spend the rest of my life getting the weight off and keeping it off. I hope that I can stay healthy for my husband and my daughter and our family. I hope that writing it down will make it all the more real.

It's time for someone else to carry the weight of the world. I am done!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Tangled

We are all things Disney these days. From Frozen to "Mickey Mouse" and every character in-between. Miranda loves watching the characters come to life on the television and she loves to use her imagination to play make believe with them when the TV is off.  We recently recorded some new movies on our DVR since Gary and I both realized that we were singing different "Sophia the First" songs, by ourselves, when Miranda was not even around. We needed some new material.

Tangled was on the other day and Miranda loves "Rampumpl" (Rapunzel, for those of you that do not speak 2 year old). I do not want to give away the story for those who have not seen it, but basically, Rapunzel is taken from her parents and hidden away in a secret castle. Once a year on her birthday, the King and Queen (her parents) release sky lanterns, hoping for their daughter's return. Rapunzel sees the lanterns, but does now know they are for her.

Gary, Miranda and I were watching this movie the other morning and enjoying it very much.  Miranda was laughing at the "horsey" and singing along to some of the songs that she already knew from Pandora. At the end of the movie, Rapunzel is reunited with her parents. Ok, so apparently I did give it way, but it's Disney!  Of course she finds her way back home!

The problem is, that we are not Disney. We release balloons every year for Allie on her birthday and yet she will never see them. She will never make her way home to us. We will never know what she looks like as she gets older. We will never know what kind of person she might have been. We just won't.

I said it out loud and then turned to look at Gary. His face had fallen. He was thinking it before I even said it. No amount of balloons will ever bring our first born home. There is no happy ending for us.

But...that's not entirely true. Our happy ending is Miranda. Sitting there, on Gary's lap, oblivious to our pain. As I have said many times before, she does not make the pain go away and she does not make the longing for Allie any less, but she reminds us how to smile and laugh and have hope again. And she does it every single day.

Easter Weekend 2011 - I delivered Allie still. I was discharged from the hospital on Easter Day and Gary and I drove home in silence with an empty car seat and a memory box.

Easter Weekend 2012 - We went to Nashville to make new memories and managed to have a really nice escape.

Easter Weekend 2013 - Miranda was born. We had to wait to see her, but she was here and alive and ours.

Every Easter Weekend since - remembering, honoring, loving, living.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend doing the same. Bring on the Spring! Oh, and watch Tangled next time it's on. It really is a cute movie...



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. ...