Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pop-Up Support Group

Pop-Up Restaurants, also called supper clubs, are temporary restaurants. These restaurants often operate from a private home, former factory or similar space, and during festivals.

Pop-Up Support Groups are more rare. In fact, I know of only one. And I was honored enough to be a part of it.

A member of my former support group heard of a mom in need. This mom lost her daughter at 38 weeks this past May. She and her husband and their living son are beside themselves with grief. They did not know where to turn.

This former member, my friend, texted and emailed and supported this mom the best she could. But the grieving mom needed more. So my friend called in back up.

This past Saturday, we met up at a local park. We did not bring snacks and we did not dress up. It was unlike any other kind of meeting I have attended. We sat around a picnic table and just told our stories. We talked about our babies that were also born still. We hugged and cried and told the newest member of our circle that she is not alone. Unfortunately, there are many parents like us.

"There is no before, but we are here to show you there is an after." I said this and immediately knew I had to write it down. I was explaining to our new member that life as she knew it before her loss was over. Done. Gone. But there is life after loss, and a good life at that. In order to experience it, though, you have to let yourself grieve.

It's so easy to get caught up in the anger and frustration, but you can't live a good life with those feeling ruling your life. I think you need to find a place for them so that you can exist with them in you, but not consuming you.

Our support group lost our local charter so we do not meet anymore. But these moms and I decided that there are still parents out there that need us. So we are forming our own Pop-Up group. It will not take away from the formal group that still has many chapters and does great work. This is an more intimate group that will meet as needed, wherever we can find the space, to sit and talk and help.

It was nice to talk about Allie. It was hard to share her story, but once I started talking, my throat was dry from all I had to say. With Miranda, I have new stories to share every single day. With Allie, I had 38 weeks and 1 day to make and remember stories. I am so glad that I wrote so many of them down and that people want to hear them still. 

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. To me, every month is an awareness month. But I will play along. I will bring even more awareness than I usually do. I will do it for Allie and for her friends in the clouds. I will do it all the women that delivered their babies to silent delivery rooms. I will do it for all the men that will always wonder if their babies would have looked like them one day. And I will do it as a way to support all of us who have loved and lost and hopefully, learned to love again.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Time to Atone

Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

I have not fasted in years. While Judaism is very important to me and such a part of who I am, I have played it fast and loose with some of the traditions these past few years.

I feel a shift this year and have decided only recently that I will fast tomorrow. I knew I was not going to work and I knew I was going to spend the day reflecting, but I was not sure if it was going to end there or not. 

I do not believe that I will be a better or a worse Jew by sundown tomorrow if I fast or don't fast. That's not what it's about. I know as many Jews who fast as who don't. I know many that keep kosher and many that eat scallops wrapped in bacon at every formal function they attend. No one seems to care, as far as I can tell. It's such a personal thing. Whatever degree of tradition or religion you celebrate or embrace is entirely up to you. 

When my uncle passed away in his 40's when I was a child, I first questioned my religion. Then again when my parents divorced. Then again when other loved ones died for reasons that I could never begin to understand. I felt myself falling away from my faith, but knowing that it would be there for me when I was ready.

It was very important for me to get married by a rabbi and we found a great one. It was very important to me that my family be raised Jewish and luckily, Gary was (and is) so supportive of that. Allie was considered Jewish and she had an English name and a Hebrew name. I know we used a Jewish funeral home to help us honor her and that was very important to me.

Miranda was converted to Judaism as soon as her adoption was final and she was also named at our synagogue. At both events, I felt choked up with emotion as I was introducing her to a world that, although not always clear to me, was such a part of me.

I am so grateful that Gary has embraced Judaism and what it means to me and what it will someday mean to our daughter.

In the meantime, I feel myself coming back. I am not sure to what extent just yet. I just know that from sundown tonight until sundown tomorrow, I will be fasting. I will be atoning. I will be trying to figure out what kind of Jewish role model I want to be for my daughter. The way I look at it, that is a very good way to spend my time.



Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Struggle is Real

Look at me! I just lost 7 pounds!  Woo hoo!

No, this is not an old blog. It's a very current one. If I am going to document my weight loss journey, then I must show all sides.

There was the losing side. The pictures of me in various dressing rooms as I went down size after size after size. The excitement. The pride. The skinny jeans.

There was the stabilization side. The reintroduction of certain foods back into my diet. The pizza. The ice cream. The wine.

Now there is the maintenance side. The realization that I have not conquered my weight. I did not "fix" myself because in truth, I was not broken. What I was, though, was someone who made bad choices and when left to my own devices, turns out, will sometimes make them again.

But not so fast.

Now I know to step on the scale if I am not eating well to see the damage. Now I know to lace up my sneakers even if I am tired. Now I know that I am not the kind of person who can eat whenever or wherever I want. I need to plan. I need to prepare. I need to not forget all that I learned about myself and my body and I need to make sure I always remember why I wanted to lose the weight in the first place.

I want to be around for the long haul. I want to be able to play with my daughter without being winded. I want her to be proud of me. I want me to be proud of me.

I am. And one day, she will be. Not because I am "thin" or a size 10, but because I took the steps necessary to put myself first and take care of myself.

The numbers on the scale do not define me. The numbers on the tags do not own me. It is up to me to make smart choices and if it is a struggle, then so be it. After all, isn't what we struggle for the most sometimes what we also appreciate the most?



Thursday, September 10, 2015

#tbt

Throwback Thursday is a trend among social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook wherein users post or repost older photographs (often from their childhood) with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday or #TBT.

I love participating in this trend. I have posted old pictures of myself, my family, and my friends. I think it is so cool to see, in living color, the different phases of my life.

I have been having a lot of dreams lately about my pregnancy. Sometimes in my dreams, the pregnancy is current and not years ago. But the baby is always Allie.

As I have written so many times before, without Allie, there would be no Miranda. So, I cannot allow myself to think too much about a world in which Allie was here because that would mean that we would have never adopted and we would never have Miranda. Sometimes, though, I like to "throwback" to when I was first pregnant and everything was ahead of us and we did not know if the baby was a boy or a girl and the biggest hardship was figuring out what car seat to buy and what color to paint the nursery.

We were so naive. And that was so ok.

I miss the naivety. I miss the innocence.

For such a long time after Allie died, it was too hard to look back at all we shared with her. It hurt too much. Now that time has passed and our hearts have mended, it's not only easier, but it's cathartic. To be reminded of the love we shared, the excitement we had, the way the world was ours to conquer...it's pretty great.


Pregnant people used to make me so jealous. Then they made me so worried. Now they just make me cautiously optimistic that a healthy baby will someday be born.

I have no interest in getting pregnant again. I have no desire to adopt again. I am happy with our life as it is now. Miranda is our joy and pride and hope and the three of us work well together. The older she gets, the more we can do and the more we can share. We can provide for her and love her and enjoy her. 

A family from our adoption agency contacted us last week to ask for a referral. We gladly gave them one. A friend from my support group reached out to a bunch of us to ask when we can get together with a family who just lost their child.  I sadly said any time. That is my life now. Assisting others with bringing a baby home or helping others deal with the grief and the emptiness of not bringing one home.

Allie is woven into the fabric of our family. Miranda knows that butterflies are extra special. One day, we will explain why.

I tried to take a social media break earlier this week. I lasted three days. The fact of the matter is, I just enjoy sharing my life and experiences with my friends and family too much to stop. And not just on Thursday's. Pretty much every day! It's just as much a part of me as anything else. And I am ok with that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Back to School

It seems that everyone is going back to school. I adore looking at the pics of all the kids, dressed in their finest, some grinning, some not, all heading back to school. Some are new schools with new friends, some are old schools with old friends. All have new memories just waiting to be made.

I wonder about the kids that will never get to meet a little girl named Allie. She will never get to pose for her back to school pic. She will never get to do so many things. That makes me sad.

I wonder about the kids that will one day get to meet a little girl named Miranda. She is bubbly and determined and funny and bright. She will get to do whatever her heart desires. That makes me happy.

I am stuck in a land of missing what will never happen and the land of being excited for what will happen. 

The very first thing I did this morning was send our monthly e-mail to Miranda's birth mother. We send it the first of the month and I like to send it first thing. I recap the last month and send pictures. I do not resent those e-mails. I see them as a way to keep M informed and I still think it is the least we can do for her as she gave us the most amazing gift in the world.

I start writing the e-mail in my head a few days before. I reflect on what we have done and how she has grown. I almost always wonder how much of Miranda is us and how much of her is her birth parents. Her humor is from me (I like to think!). Her love of animals is from Gary (we both think!). There are some traits that I think she was born with. She has no fear and she is is adventurous. I think those came with her. And I do not resent them, either. If anything, I am grateful for them. They are part of what makes her so amazing.

There is no question that Miranda is ours. Sometimes I worry that she might not always see it that way. The older she gets, the more questions she will have. Will we be ready?

Yesterday, we went to the beach. Miranda squealed with delight as her toes touched the sand and the waves rolled up around her. We built castles and picked seashells and ran with carefree abandon. We walked the boardwalk and ate frozen custard. It was the perfect day. 

I cherish those perfect days so very much. It wasn't that long ago that I doubted I would ever have them. Remembering that, helps me live in the present and not in the past. Here's to spending more time in the land of what will happen...


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...