Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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 with whoever was interested. I knew that writing for sites other than my own would give me more exposure (and money!) and I am proud of each and every piece that I have written.

I started writing for one site, and now I write for three. The rush of seeing my name on the byline never gets old. I have received such tremendous feedback from my work that it sometimes overwhelms me. But in a very good way.

My memoir is a work in progress. It's difficult to go back through my life and determine what is relevant, relatable and exciting to others. I think it is close to where I want it to be and with any luck, I will have it edited and proofed by the Fall and maybe even published by the end of the year. I am still trying to determine the best avenue for it. Don't worry. I will get there.

The hardest part of being a writer is that I spend my writing days (and often those surrounding them), going back over the times and experiences in my life that have been most painful. I want to share the story of my first born daughter. I want other parents like us to know they are not alone and I want other people to get some insight into what it is like to lose a child. I hope that the lessons that I have learned will help others someday. If I can take what I know and possibly help someone else, then I feel like the lesson was worth learning. 

Surviving was not an option for me. It was just something I did. With the help of my family and friends and support group and even my social media friends, I got up every day. I took a shower. I made breakfast. I kept going until it was routine to do all those things again and not something I had to check off a list just to get me through.

Then came our rainbow. Parenting her has been the most exquisite joy of my life. I am so worried about her growing up in her sister's shadow, though. My words help me through some of that anxiety and remind me that I am doing the best that I can and that has to be good enough. I cross my fingers every day that it is.

Being a non-fiction writer means I have an obligation to tell the truth. The truth can change with the story teller, but I owe it to myself and those that read my words to tell the most accurate truth that I can tell. 

Losing a child is torture. Mind-numbing, soul crushing pain.

Raising a child is a privilege. Also sometimes mind-numbing, but the pleasure I get from even the smallest smile is enough to keep me going for days.

Stillbirth, adoption, grief, parenting...all are key words I have used in this past year for my published posts. All are words and ideas that I will continue to explore in my writing.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. 355 personal blog posts since 2011. 40 professional published posts since August 22nd of last year.  Two daughters. One heart. Mine.

Can't wait to see what the next year will bring!

Enjoying life as a paid freelance writer!

Recently found the list we started with baby names. Turns out we did not need to go past the letter A.

Double rainbows!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Rainbows Have Nothing To Hide

If you follow me on Facebook, then you probably saw this blog coming a mile away. I have had post after post of a weekend getaway with my Rainbow Moms, and it was nothing short of amazing.

In my life, there has been no greater tragedy than my daughter's death. Learning that my daughter had stopped breathing while she was still inside of me, attached me, was almost more than I could take. I am not sure how my heart kept beating when hers stopped.

Six years later and my ache for her is still so real that I feel like it's sitting next to me some days. I love it when people say her name and when people remember that I had a child before the one they see me with at the mall or at the park.

I miss her with every fiber of my being. My husband feels the longing the same as me. After all, she was as much a part of him as she was of me. I will always remember counting her toes when she was delivered and seeing how they were chubby like a baby, but long like her daddy.

I have come to learn in those years, that there are others that feel the same emptiness. They are the parents who also had to say goodbye before they even barely got to say hello.

I spent the weekend with seven of those moms (and one very courageous dad to put up with us all!). We were together to celebrate a milestone birthday for one of us, and it was just the best.

Those of us that made it to the party all live far apart. We drove hours and hours, made carpools, shared rooms and did not think twice about it. We greeted each other with warm hugs and did not want to let go. We started with some cocktails as soon as we checked in and many of us did not stop celebrating until about eight hours later.

We laughed. We danced. We shared stories. We talked about nothing. We talked about everything.

I do not remember saying Allie's name at all on this weekend. But she was with me, as she always is.

Our shared grief has turned into such a bond that we live in the present and not the past. We tend to talk more about the children we are raising than the ones that stay forever young. We call ourselves the Rainbow Mamas and not the Dead Baby Mamas. We are about living and surviving and not death and dying.

We all know the bonds that brought us together cannot be broken. We all wish that those babies were alive and that we never had to even meet each other. We all know they are not and that the friendships we have formed in their honor is the next best thing to them being here.

It's a crazy kind of club. But it's our club. And I love these women in a way I never thought possible. Even when they get "Despacito" stuck in my head. Even when I have had too much sangria. Even as I belt out all the words to "Hungry Eyes" and "Living on a Prayer" when the cool girls are singing to Bell Biv DeVoe.

I know that they will not bring my daughter back any more than I can bring their babies back. They can, however, help me be a strong and courageous mom for my living child and make sure the memory of my baby born still is never forgotten. 

To Skylar, Leo, R.E., Jameson, Gianni, Evan, Tylee and Allie...thanks for giving us each other.  And thanks for helping us have yet another night to remember!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What My Day Looks Like On The First of Every Month

It's early in the morning on August 1st when I sit down to my computer. First, I invoice my largest freelance client for the work I did last month. Next, I e-mail my daughter's birth mother.

Since today is a Tuesday, Miranda has camp. Gary brought her in today and by 8:15, I have finished both tasks.

The month has barely started, and I am ahead of the game.

It's been four years since we adopted Miranda. Close to five years since we decided to use open adoption. While we know it is in the best interest of our daughter, I know many people wonder how we can do it.

To us, it's simple. One day, Miranda will want to know how we came to be her parents. She may have questions about her birth family. She may want to know certain things that Gary and I just don't know. In those cases, we can direct her to M, with whom we visit twice a year, send monthly emails and have Skype calls when it works with all of our schedules. M can attempt to fill in the blanks.

It's not the traditional way to parent. It's not the easiest way to parent. I think, however, it is what is best for Miranda. And in the end, that is all that matters.

As a parent, your needs often come second. Or third. Or last. It's an adjustment, for sure. It's also what is right and fair for the child or children you are raising. Whether they came from your womb or not.

I wrote a piece on foster care and adoption that should be out later this week. In it, I mention how "love makes a family - not blood." I stand by that. I really do.

Sometimes I wish that I was the only mom in my daughter's life. Sometimes I wish I did not envy her birth mother for the time she got to spend with my daughter before she was born. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself that the daughter I carried is not here with me.

Instead of shaking it off and telling myself to get over it, I am learning to face the things that I do not necessarily want to see. There is only so much I can control and trying to change history and alter the past is not going to do anyone any good.

I was meant to be a mother. Allie, my sweet butterfly, who flutters around so vibrant and bright and Miranda, my precious rainbow, who teaches me about unconditional love, infinite patience, and sweet compassion. I was meant to mother them both.

The rest is just background noise. I can let it in when I need to, and I can tune it out when I need to. That's what works best for me.


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. ...