Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Writer Writes

"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say." F. Scott Fitzgerald

Five years ago, I started this blog. I needed an outlet for the pain and grief and agony of having my baby born still. I was home on leave and supposed to be nursing her and bathing her and loving her and instead, I was grieving her. The house was so silent. My life felt still. I was also grieving the loss of myself for I knew that I was never going to be the same.

I have blogged 308 times. This entry makes 309. I have been told time and time again that my voice is strong, my message is clear and that I have a lot of interesting things to say.
Well guess what? I am finally listening.

It took for me to go "viral" for me to get it. When Jennifer Weiner, an author I so respect and admire, shared my last blog and quoted from it, I finally got it. I am a writer. I have been for at least five years. That post has now been read over 3,500 times! It's time to compile my thoughts and ideas and try to make a cohesive story. I simply cannot put it off any longer.

I have so much I want to say. I believe that what I am in a strong result of the society in which I was raised. When my dad came out in the 80's, everyone was worried he had AIDS. Being gay and being sick were the same thing. Except they were not.

My family and friends helped me navigate my youth. Many are still an active part of my life today. All of them support me no matter what.

I have turned to Judaism at times to help me understand the why. I have turned to food many times to comfort me. I use my sense of humor to make light of certain situations and I am grateful for the ability to laugh so hard that I cry.

In spite of my outgoing presence and overwhelming wit, I am also very shy and spent so much time worried about what others would think of me. I preached about self confidence when I was sorely lacking some of my own. I made some bad choices but I also made some very good choices.

All of these (and much more) make me who I am. Make my voice what it is.

My goal is to share that with whomever wants to read.

I will still keep my blog, but I will be focusing on crafting some new stories, too. I suspect it might be painful to go back in time and experience my life again, but I am ready for it. Writing my story may be the best kind of therapy yet.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me. Buckle up, we are about to take this trip up a notch. Turns out I have a lot more to say!

u don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. F. Scott Fitzgerald
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/fscottfit162083.html
You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say. F. Scott Fitzgerald
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/fscottfit162083.html

Monday, July 25, 2016

Wear the Swimsuit

I have been an avid reader of Jennifer Weiner's for as long as I can remember. She is a Philadelphia native and a very entertaining writer. Her stories are amusing and fun and deep and sensitive at the same time. Often, if I cannot directly relate to a character, I can certainly understand her.

I follow her on social media and earlier this month, started to see something called #weartheswimsuit. Essentially, she overheard her two daughters talking one day about how they viewed their bodies and it made her angry and sad. She never imaged that body image issues started so young (her girls are 13 and 8) and it really made her think. How could they not have anything for love for their bodies? Especially at their ages?

Why are we as women so hard on ourselves? Why do we criticize ourselves to the extent that we do? Since when is that ok? I do not want that for me and I certainly do not want that for my daughter.

I look at my body and I cringe. I carried a baby to term in this body and I delivered her still. I then went thought the agony of fertility treatment and the turmoil that those medications took on my body. Determined to not give up, we adopted our rainbow and I can honestly say we love her as much as her sister whom I carried. I did not have to create her life to love her life.

I have tried EVERY diet in the universe. Except for maybe the grapefruit one. Even I have to draw the line somewhere. I have taken over-the-counter meds and I have taken prescription pills. I have done talk therapy and nutritional counseling. I am still trying every single day to learn how to live in this body of mine and treat it well. I have lost upwards of 80 pounds more than once and also gained it back more than once.

I am not giving up. I refuse to give up. I will keep fighting so that my daughter can see a healthy example and maybe not have to fight the same fight.

Step one of that fight is to wear the damn swimsuit.

To the beach or the Y or a pool party...I put it on.

I put in on, one leg at a time, the same as anyone else.

I try to make it look as flattering as possible.

I suck in my belly when I think others are looking.

I see my reflection and I sometimes do not recognize the body staring back at me. But I keep playing. I watch her giggle and laugh and exude the kind of joy that comes with being three years old.

Being a mom is about making sure your child's needs are always met. My child needs a happy mom. She deserves a mom who will play with her and make her dreams come true. She deserves for me to work through my other issues and trust me, I am trying. In the meantime, though, I will keep wearing my swimsuit...



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I May Be a Rock, But I Am Not an Island

"But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You've been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?"
-Bastille

For too long, when it came to me personally, my glass was half empty. When I looked at my life in general, my glass was more than half full. But when it came to just me, there simply was not a lot in my glass at all.

That ends now. I am choosing to be an optimist instead of a pessimist. I am choosing to be happy instead of stressed and overwhelmed. I am choosing to make myself a priority and not forgetting how important that is to everyone, not just me.

So how can I make this change? I'm already in therapy. I am already working on my "issues". What else can I do?

I can start by letting people back in. I am a social person. I love people. I love places. I love things. (I actually really love things, but that's for another time). I somehow became closed off and isolated and let me tell you, I do not work well on an island. I need my people.

I post on Facebook and Instagram DAILY. I wonder if that is because I am using social media as a way to connect with people. I am sure it is. But I also want to use real life to connect with people, too.

Here's the thing. Lean in close. You still there? No one cares what size I am but me. No one cares what I weigh. Even my doctor just wants me to make smart choices, move my body and do my best. So why am I punishing myself for something that is so obviously a struggle for me?

A good friend recently told me that when she looks at me, she does not see me as someone who gained some weight back or is heavy or anything like that at all. She looks at me as someone who tried. Pure and simple. And she respects me for even trying to make myself healthier.

I do not know what I want to be when I grow up. I do know that I want to spend more time smiling than frowning. I also know that I want the same for my daughter and she will learn happiness from witnessing happiness all around her. I want her to be an optimist. I want us all to be!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Sound of Music

I have written before about the power of music. It should not be a surprise that I am writing about it again as music plays such an integral part in my life.

Earlier this week, Gary and I were catching up on The Americans. It is such a good show! It takes place in the early 80's and the research that goes into the show is extensive. From the cars they drive to the clothes they wear, it's all appropriate for that era. We often comment on how well the show is done. 

During one scene, I heard a song by Yaz. I loved that band. I listened to the tape over and over and over. Immediately I went from my living room to my bunk at camp. I could see my bed and my clothes and I could smell the wood and the grass and the trees. It was 1988 all over again. I was transported back in time with just a few musical notes.

This morning at the gym, I had a new instructor who played a lot of music from the late 90's and early 2000's. I was running on the treadmill and belting out the lyrics to Eminem and Papa Roach and Blink 182. I was young and single and hung over and ambitious...until I looked in the mirror and saw the real me looking back at me!

Last week at the beach, we took a break from the sun and sand to have lunch one day. The music was pumping and we were all in such good spirits. Then came on a song that my friend associated with the music that played during her son's 3D ultrasound. Tears sprang to her eyes even though I know she had heard that song many times since then.

Last month when I was at the wedding of my beautiful cousin, she and her new husband kissed under the chuppah, held hands and walked out of the room to "Here Comes The Sun". I was the only one crying there for me and not for them. Happy tears that Allie managed to send me a sign that she was with me that day, but sad tears, too, that she was not there. And she never would be.

I sing all the time. My voice is not that good. I was actually instructed to talk my solos in my high school musicals as they just could not get me to sound the way they wanted me to sound. Could I act? Heck yes. Could I sing? Well...

Miranda now sings all the time, too. She makes up her own lyrics just like I do. We sing about school and we sing about the pool. We sing about food and we sing about our mood. Our life is one big musical production and I think it's fun and carefree. I like that I have passed on my love for music without even intending to do it.

No matter what kind of music you like, find a way to incorporate it in your life. I think it's good for the soul. I know it's good for mine.


“The only truth is music.” - Jack Kerouac
"I have a song to sing, O" - Peter, Paul & Mary


Monday, July 11, 2016

The Stillness of It All

When was the last time you just sat and listened to the world around you? Heard the birds chirp and the bees buzz? When did you last hear the breeze before it tousled your hair? When did you feel the heat on your skin before that first drop of sweat even formed?

I had the opportunity to be still twice this week and I will not likely forget either experience any time soon.

I recently met with my nutritionist. Did you know that the age you were when your eating disorder formed is the mental age you are currently when it comes to food? No wonder I get excited when I see ice cream! I am not placing blame because it's time I took the ownership of my disease, but with divorced parents, court battles, one parent with anorexia, one parent with compulsive overeating, and so much more in my formative years, it's no wonder I am struggling today. I could not control any of those factors then but I can be in control of my life now.

Halfway through my session, we went for a walk. In all my years of therapy, I never once took it outside of the office. We crossed the parking lot and sat on the dry grass and just took in the world around us. I did not think about food or hunger or my appetite or the way I view my body. I thought about nature and the beauty of everything that I am usually too busy to notice. I was able to step outside of myself and see how small I am in the scope of the world. It was pretty intense for me and it has stuck with me now, several days later.

The next day, I woke up, dropped Miranda off at school and went to the beach. It was a beach I had never been to before with a group of women that I had only ever met twice in my life. Our common thread is our babies that we carried in our bodies but now carry only in our hearts.

I extended my trip by one day. I just could not leave. With our toes in the sand and the ocean crashing on the shore, we talked. And we drank. And we laughed. And we remembered. 

In this forum, we were just a group of four regular moms bragging about our babies. There was no pity, no head-tilting, no disbelief. There was just love and compassion and a very special bond. Fortunate enough to all have rainbow babies, we also talked and talked about them. From potty training to bedtime to routines to school buses and birthday parties and vacations and girlfriends and jobs and grown up aspirations. We talked about the difference between having a baby versus having a stillborn. We all had babies. Little boys and little girls. They just happened to be born still. The same as if they were born with curly hair or ten fingers and ten toes. Being still does not define them. Or us. You are never the same after burying your child. But are you supposed to be?

I learned so much about myself this week and how the word "still" has so much meaning for me personally. I need to remember to be still and take it all in. I need to remember to still the voices in my head that spew negative thoughts. And I need to always remember that the baby I bore may have been born still, but she was (and is) so much more than that. So much more indeed.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Run Away

As most people are packing up to come home from the beach today, I am thinking about what to pack for when I go later this week. This time it's a shorter trip and it's not with my family. Not exactly.

I have the family that I was born into - and I love them very much. I have the family that I married into and I love them more than I ever thought possible. I have the family that I have worked hard to create and that family is my main source of pride and joy. I have the family of friends and almost-sisters that I cherish and adore. My newest family is the family that was created because of loss. That family consists of a group of moms who know what it's like to celebrate a birthday or a milestone for a child that is not here on earth. For a child that is a true angel.

One of Allie's friends is turning 5 this week. Her mom does not want a party or a cake or anything, really. She wants to be with her fellow "baby loss mamas" or BLMs. She wants to run away and there are several of us who are all to happy to oblige her!

I am usually an advocate of facing my issues. Dealing with them head on. Talking them out. Feeling them. Living them. When it comes to baby loss, though, there are no rules and the issues are different for all of us. I know first-hand how hard 5 was for us and therefore when my friend said, "Who is with me?", I raised my hand as high as I could. This is not a journey anyone should have to walk alone and a bunch of us rearranged our lives so that we would all be together later this week.

I can't wait.

This will not be a trip of boardwalk rides and amusement parks. We will not find a local zoo. We will not ask for a children's menu when we go out to eat. This will be at trip of healing and tears and I am sure some laughter, too. This will be a trip about us. A selfish, much needed escape.

I think it is so important to surround yourself with love and know to ask for what you need. It's a lesson that I had to learn the hard way, but one I am happy I learned nonetheless.

If you can and if you want to, run. Just make sure you come back home when you are done. That might be the sweetest part of the escape for me. I am not sure yet. I will let you know...


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. ...