Monday, March 28, 2016

A Writer Writes

Or does she?

I somehow got lost earlier this year. I lost myself. In spite of doing everything I thought was "right", I was getting it all wrong. So what now?

The first step was to admit something was wrong. I was not feeling good about myself and I did not like that at all.

I am in a fortunate position in that my husband is super supportive. He wants me to be happy and is willing to sacrifice an awful lot to make that happen. So together we came up with a plan.

I gave my notice at work on Friday. This week will be my last one. Although there were some perks (a nice quiet commute, a desk with no sippy cups or juice boxes, dressing in grown-up clothes), it just was not for me. The job was not challenging and I was starting to get lazy. I am not sure anyone noticed the shift but me, but I was no longer proud of what I had done by the end of the day. I was staring at the clock and found myself more looking forward to the lunch specials in the cafeteria than the work I was doing. (To be fair, they have a really good cafeteria!).

So I am leaving. I am putting myself first. I am a writer and I want to write. So that is what I will do.

That may mean less time at Old Navy. That may mean no new Coach bag this season. That may also mean more time to run again and cook again and take care of myself again and more time to become the best version of me.

I was recently talking to someone about being a mom, specifically an adoptive mom. And how in some ways, that is extra special to me because that means that someone actually picked me to raise the child she created. That's a HUGE responsibility and while I think I am kicking ass at it (too modest?), part of being a good mom is to also be good to myself and to show my daughter what a happy and content woman looks like. It's more than a paycheck and putting food on the table - it's also about being personally fulfilled and taking good care of yourself.

Who knows what will happen next? I will finish up working this week and then next week, I will start my next chapter. One I am writing, so it better be good! I guess we will see...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Ahead, Fall Back

Today is the first day of Spring. Although cold, you can feel the earth starting to get ready for new life. I have always loved this time of year - the warmer days and the chilly nights and the promise of what's to come.

5 years ago, we were busy planning my baby shower. I was looking at my registry every day and I think our "go bag" was packed by now. Our new life was just around the corner. Until it wasn't.

3 years ago, we were busy meeting with a pregnant stranger and learning all we could about her - and her about us - for in a few short weeks, she was going to hand over her infant daughter to us.

It's hard to dwell on the bitter when there is so much sweet.

5 years is a big milestone. It's kindergarten and more freedom and a child who is really not a toddler anymore.

3 years is also a milestone. It's big girl panties and full sentences and laughter...oh so much laughter.

It's hard to wrap our heads around the fact that had Allie not been born still, we would have probably not adopted. We would have been content with our one child or we would have conceived a brother or sister for her. Adoption was never in the cards and thus Miranda would not be ours. But she is ours. So completely. And has been since the day she was born.

Someone asked me recently if I had trouble bonding with her since she did not grow inside of me. Or if I felt I missed out on her growing inside of me. I did not even have to pause. Nope. She is mine 100% and always has been. Allie was the baby I carried and Miranda is the baby I get to raise. 

Yesterday was Miranda's 3rd birthday party. It was such a joyous day and all the kids were smiling from ear to ear. From 1-12, they all gathered to celebrate our special gift. At one point, a bunch of kids that would be about Allie's age were all playing together and my heart skipped in my chest. Allie should be there! How is she not here? I still can't believe it.

And then I turned my head. Miranda was literally bouncing up and down, cheeks flushed, head back, laughing and having the time of her life. This is the life she was meant to have and I would never ever want to take that away from her. My heart went back to it's normal rhythm.

So much of me is moving ahead and yet so much of me still falls back. At 42, I am still learning how to navigate my life and I guess that's ok because once you stop living and learning, what's left?

Happy Spring everyone. To the future...

Monday, March 14, 2016

Where's the "Good" in Goodbye?

Where's the "good" in "goodbye"?
Where's the "nice" in "nice try"?
-The Script

After nearly 15 years, we had to say goodbye to our beloved cat this past week. You would think I would be used to goodbyes by now, but death is simply not a concept you ever get used to, as far as I am concerned.

I got Zoe in August 2001 when I was working for WHYY. I brought her home and called her Libby for the first 24 hours because I though Sam & Libby would be so cute together. She hated that name. So I called my mom asked for help (as I still do!). We tossed around the name Chloe (a name my dad actually wanted for me back in the day) and somehow came up with Zoe. It stuck.

When the 9/11 happened, Zoe followed the news ticker on the screen with her paw. She was a source of comfort for me during that time and I clung to her. We survived an apartment, a condo, several boyfriends, lots of parties, and more diets than I can recall. Then I met Gary and she loved him from the start. She moved in with him first. Then I packed up all my stuff and moved in, too. She had such a crush on him that she pretended she forgot about me, but I knew the truth. I was so smitten with him, too, that I allowed her behavior.

When I was pregnant with Allie, Zoe became very protective. She napped on my belly and followed me all around. Allie was named after my grandfather Allen but we also loved that having her name start with an A and Zoe's name starting with a Z had us covered. We had a complete family from A-Z.

Now they are both gone.

Zoe's kidneys started to fail a few weeks ago. Lots of trips to the vet, blood work, and overnight stays all brought us to the same conclusion. It was time.

Gary and I brought her back to the vet one last time. We gave her lots and lots of kisses. We told her we loved her. We help her tight. We asked her to look for Allie when she got to where she was going. We finally said goodbye.

Living without her has been hard. It's strange to not have to feed her as soon as we wake up.  The house seems empty without her napping in the sunlight or bathing in the shade. I miss her face, I miss her purring and I miss her.

We tried to tell Miranda that Zoe no longer lives here. We said she got "kitty cat sick" and had to go to heaven. We did not want to lie about death since it is a concept we are going to have to tackle sooner than most. All she says over and over is that "Zoe is a good girl." When I try to explain that she goes not live here anymore, her face falls and she does a nervous laugh and then pretends she didn't hear me.

How am I not used to death and loss by now?

Her spirit will love on in our memories and our hearts. She had a good life and I have to hope that was enough. I guess it has to be. I think it is.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Rainbow Mama Retreat

I spent the last 24 hours with the most amazing group of women. Women who have walked in my shoes. Women who have cried my tears. Women who have said goodbye to their babies far too soon. Women who carry the burden of sadness, guilt, sorrow, fear, anger and loss.

A rainbow baby does not replace a baby who has died. But as I know firsthand, a rainbow baby truly is a joy unlike any other and our rainbows help heal us in a way that nothing else can.

We met at 3. By 6, the wine was flowing, the sweet tea was being mixed with vodka, the fruit tray was being demolished and the chips and dip were adding just enough salt to accent all the food. Then there were homemade treats that were simply better than any words I can use to describe them. Empanadas with various fillings, rich butter cake, chocolate and peanut butter heaven on a plate.

By 7, the selfie stick came out.

By 8, the pizza delivery guys stopped by and we were all so loaded that we were joking that he was our entertainment for the evening. He was a good sport about it and did not laugh at us too hard.

Then it was 10. 
Then it was midnight.
Then it was 2. 
At 3:30 in the morning, we finally ran out of air in the room and went to bed. 

In that time, between bites of food and swigs of drinks and Jamberry nail demos, we talked. We cried. We laughed. We remembered. Many of us told our stories and our eyes lit up as we talked about the babies we carried for longer than we got to hold in our arms. We talked about our labors and our deliveries and it was safe place to speak. It was freeing, it was liberating, it was cathartic.

Many of our angel babies are close in age. Many of our rainbows are, too. We talked about how to explain death to our living children. It's so hard to explain something that we, as adults, do not understand. We got advice and we gave advice and it was so comforting and calming.

For most of my days, I do not talk about Allie. Miranda knows she has a sister, but we do not talk in too much depth right now for I do not want to scare her. I am now armed with some ideas and suggestions for when she is older and begins to ask questions.

I only slept for 4 hours last night, but it was a sound and peaceful sleep.

We checked out and went to brunch on our way out of town. We could not get enough of each other. It was so great to all be together. I look forward to doing it again soon.

Allie has given me so much. A strength I did now know I had, a passion for life and the knowledge that I must appreciate every single day. Now she has given me this group of friends. I am one lucky mama.

A Year In the Life

One year ago today, I became a bona fide published writer. I was ecstatic to get my first piece published and to share my words and story wi...