Search results for 'thanksgiving'

No good feed goes unpunished.

1 Dec

As the old saying implies, you try to do something good, and it just ends up…

not being so good.

Today I made myself a kale smoothie.

Like a salad in a cup!

This came about after a few recent conversations;

1. A friend and I were emailing back and forth and he was like,
“So, what are you up to?”

and I was like, “I am just eating a handful of E.L. Fudge cookies, what’s up?”

and he went on to tell me about the rigorous workout he had completed that morning, the healthy, balanced dinner he had made and the clementines he was eating for dessert.

2. My cousin, who is has really become an expert in food and nutrition, sent me home after thanksgiving with a baggie filled with things like bars made out of dates and a mango from somewhere like Peru (or Portugal?).

And some other things.

So today, after I ate my soft pretzel and brownie, I decided to go for it; I was going to nourish my body with healthy things like fruits and vegetables, after an embarrassingly long hiatus.

And I was proud. I texted several friends and even put the photo on Instagram.

And it didn’t matter that it tasted like I was drinking a salad, I was drinking it…

drinking it while playing with my sun in the sunroom filled with toys…

and when I was 3/4 of the way finished, I went and knocked the entire, green smoothie into his giant wicker basket of toys.

Plush. Costumes. Electronics. Tiny crevasses.

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And Chloe. Oh no. Not Chloe.

Do you see all of those toys down there? Yeah, them. They all got covered in pulverized kale.

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So, I guess I’ve learned my lesson: Stick with the sandwich cookies and brownies, at least for the time being.

Goodbye, Sofia the First Karaoke Machine. I think I’ll miss you most of all.

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Have to run…It’s snuggle time.

28 Nov

There is this feeling inside of me and these thoughts that have been formulating in my head for a few weeks now; I have been trying to find the words. I talk so much on here about my son and my family and my struggles, but I have have been wanting to write about the gratitude–the immense gratefulness–that I feel for my daughter.

This is not a revelation; I started this site four and a half years ago to express such feelings, but lately I have just watched her in awe. Like last night, at Thanksgiving, when she got up in front of the room of 30 people, in a poofy striped skirt and Doc Martins, and sang 3 songs from Frozen like it wasn’t no thang.

I wrote in June about trying to be present in my precious time with my girl, and, more recently, about wanting to LIVE.

So every night at bedtime, I savor the one more minute that she begs for, because she is growing up and growing into herself, and there will be a time, someday, when I will be the one begging her for “just one more hug.”

Bedtime last week, she said, “You’re pretty mom. You look pretty when you’re sick. You’re pretty when you don’t feel well. You look pretty when you’re hurt. You look pretty when it’s your birthday. You just always look pretty.”

And my daughter is astute; I think that this was her way of saying “Mom, I know you’ve been a hot mess this past year, but I still think of you as my beautiful mother; I cherish you.”

And then there was two nights ago. Earlier in the day, as we were getting ready, I called her over to me and said, “Do you remember how I told you that you are my dream come true? Well, you’re better than anything I could have ever imagined in my dreams.”

“Awwwwww,” she said. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” She is a trip.

So at bedtime that night she said, “Mom, you are lucky to have me. But I am lucky to have you. And i love you so so so so much in my whole wide heart. And you are the best mom I’ve ever had. And when I was dreaming of having a mom, when I wished for you, I was a tiny baby and said ‘Wah Wah Wah, I want Rebecca Starr, Wah Wah Wah’ and you know what? I am so lucky because I got you and you are better than my dreams.”

It was her way of reciprocating. It was adorable. And it was more.

She and I don’t get a ton of solo time together anymore; Because I am staying at home with my son for the time being, he’s always kind of around (and he makes his presence known), so today I took my daughter out for a girl’s date.

First I let her pick out any necklace of mine to wear.

She went for ultra glam.

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Can’t say I blame her, frankly.

Then we went to the nail salon and got manicures, side by side. This is a rare and special treat for us, and she must have looked over at me 20 times and smiled, a beaming, knowing smile.

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And when we got into my car, instead of just heading home (as I had done 100% of the time we did any type of errand in the past year), I looked back at her and asked if she wanted to go out for ice cream.

We headed to a quaint ice cream shop and enjoyed rainbow cones and a really sweet conversation about all of the town’s landmarks. It was so cold outside, but it didn’t matter. It’s never too cold for rainbow ice cream.

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It was delicious. Every moment was delicious.

When I am in the thick of things, and feel as though I am unraveling, or feel frustrated at my lack of progress in the past year, it is hard to see how far I have come. My friends and family tell me. My friend even called me on the day I had both kids home sick with me to say “What you are doing is hard for ANYONE. Look at what you are doing. You never could have done this at this time last year.”

And I had to admit, she was right.

But I have this incredible family, and the heart and soul of it is my beautiful, kind, spunky, vivacious, sensitive, sparkly daughter. And she is worth living for.

So from now on, my goal is to try to always make that extra stop. To turn an errand into a memory.

Because I have gotten a second chance,

and I have gotten a dream daughter.

And, I couldn’t make this up if I tried, she just came into the room where I am typing and said, “Mom, can I just snuggle with you for a little?” and so I am going to put the computer down, put my arms around her

and live.

“I am thankful for magical days.”

27 Nov

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

In my life, it has also been marked with special moments and memories.

I remember Thanksgivings as a child, of course; helping to stir the mashed potatoes and the little mouse characters that my Nanny would set out on the table each year.

And then, as I got older, it was coming home from college to be with my family.

I remember being 21 and sharing my first Thanksgiving with my husband (who was then my boyfriend) as we both silently acknowledged this thing–this thing that meant that we were already on the road to being each others’ family.

Thanksgiving when I was 24, my husband called me into the other room at my Aunt’s house and said, “I want to have a baby.”

I will never forget that moment. I type the words with tears in my eyes.

The very next Thanksgiving day we were lazy, staying in bed to watch the parades on TV and my husband felt my growing baby, inside my belly, kick for the very first time. I was 19 weeks pregnant with our daughter.

And as we grew and grew, Thanksgiving became a tradition that we shared with our little girl. It was that day, 4 years ago, that she had her first bagel. It was blueberry. Tiny flurries fell from the sky, and we held her up to the window of our little former house to show her the first glimpse of snow.

Four years ago on Thanksgiving I also quoted my dear childhood babysitter, now a beautiful mother, as her words touched me:

“We don’t give thanks because we are happy. We are happy because we give thanks.”

And then there were other Thanksgivings. And some were lovely. And others…not so much.

But today, how could I spend the morning by being anything but supremely thankful?

My son woke me up at 6, as I heard him from his room. As I carried him downstairs for his morning milk, I noticed the softness of his skin. I am falling more in love with him each day.

Fifteen minutes later I heard small footsteps coming down the stairs, and before I saw her, I heard her voice:

“Wow! Look at the snow!”

Magic. My daughter still brings me magic.

In fact, in school, when they were asked to decorate a feather (!!!) with what they were thankful for,

she said “I am thankful for magical days.”

And right now it isn’t quite light out. My kids are sharing an apple and playing together with Mr. Potato Head, and Lola is sleeping, curled up beside me,

I am not going to begin to list the things for which I am thankful; not yet, anyway. I am still rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

But I can say that I am thankful that this morning, when I heard my son cry, my husband, still 90% asleep, pulled the covers up around my shoulders so that they would be covered and warm. I am thankful that I am that loved.

And for these two. I am happy because I am giving thanks.

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I just realized.

25 Nov

I am going to admit something difficult. Today has been a hard day.

My daughter finally got to go back to school, which is wonderful.

This is finally happening, which is also wonderful…

except that it means that they are currently jack-hammering the perimeter of an 1100 square foot basement. It’s a little loud.

So my son’s 2 hour morning nap was cut to 15 minutes.

I don’t like to bother my family and friends with my problems; I know that may seem surprising, as I am constantly talking about my incredible support system, but I desperately do not want to be self-involved or insensitive of their time or to worry them. I keep a lot in. But today, I felt like I could admit it. I spoke with my dear friend of over 13 years this morning about the crippling anxiety I was feeling. She guided me through some techniques to assuage the feelings.

And I told my mom, which is something that I have rarely done as of late. And she said that what I am feeling–this heaviness–is all because of what is coming up on Thursday. Thursday is Thanksgiving, for which I am more thankful than ever, but it is also the anniversary of a very troubled time in my life.

And then my mommom called to invite us to the mall and I wasn’t able to go because of the whole baby no-nap situation and she knew I was anxious and she said, “I am always just a phone call away. Although my fax machine broke this morning and I am so frustrated, I don’t know what to do.”

I assured her that I wouldn’t be faxing her with an SOS, so that she could take that off of her list of worries.

And then I texted with a special friend, a friend who gets me, because she sat on the floor with me all last winter, even through my darkest of times, as our babies rolled around and drooled on each other. And I told her that I felt as though I was unraveling. And she made it better.

And all of those things that I just wrote about are concrete examples of the incredible tribe that I have surrounding me.

But then I did the most important thing of all;

I picked up my son and looked into his eyes. I kissed his face and nuzzled him into my cheek and inhaled him so deeply.

“I love you, I love you, I love you.”

I asked him if he wanted a baba. “Baba!” he said.

My son, who is now learning to talk, and learning to walk, and dances when he hears music and squeals with glee over Lola and knows to pet her ever so gently and who understands everything we say; As I looked at him, I felt more love for him than I have ever felt for him before.

And then it hit me;

My daughter is, and has always been, so obviously my dream come true. She is named the name we chose 3 months into dating and that I chose when I was 10 years old. She is exactly like me in looks and personality. We are so bonded. She is my heart and soul.

But my son, my dear son

just may be the very best thing that has ever happened to me.

I looked over to the framed painting I made for him that hangs in the corner of his nursery.

Take me where the music’s playing

Get me on the dance floor, hold me a little closer.

And I swayed with my son, my lips to his cheek, and the deluge of memories of the past year poured over me.

He has taught me that I could overcome things that I never imagined I would be strong enough to endure.

He may drive me crazy with his “lively antics”, but oh my goodness, my son is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

He redefined me.

He has given me purpose.

He opened up parts of me that I didn’t know existed.

His first year was not filled with the magic and enchantment like it was with his sister.

He didn’t come out looking like me or acting in a way that I understood inherently.

But I now rock him to bed every night, and I look down at his sleeping face and I marvel at how he looks exactly the same as he did when they would place him next to me to nurse in the hospital bed.

This little ball of energy and activity and constant movement and craziness has saved me.

Remind me to thank him for it.

FIrst snow. Second chance.

14 Nov

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So long had life together been that once
the snow began to fall, it seemed unending;
that, lest the flakes should make her eyelids wince,
I’d shield them with my hand, and they, pretending
not to believe that cherishing of eyes,
would beat against my palm like butterflies.

Joseph Brodsky

It is the first snowfall of the season.

All around me, online and at the store and in the carpool line, I hear people complaining, praying for a winter less snowy than the last.

But, the thing is, I don’t remember the snow last winter.

I had no idea that it was the second snowiest winter on record until my husband made an offhand comment, prompting me to ask him about it. He thought I was kidding. I had no recollection.

Last winter feels like a blur to me;

I have small, unpredictable moments that trigger a deep swell of emotion; Like when I hear “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen. Or when I take a sip of red wine.

Or when I light a fire.

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But last winter was the darkest time in my life.

And so this year, it is my goal to embrace everything. To light a fire on a weeknight, just because.

To organize fun holiday activities with my friends like cookie parties and pollyannas.

To not just get through this holiday season, but to embrace all of the joy and warmth that people are meant to embrace during this time.

I want to savor the smell of sage and nutmeg.

I want to drink cocoa every night.

I want to live.

I am so grateful for this second chance to make up for last year, when I spent Thanksgiving alone in a chair in the corner and Christmas week in the hospital with a sick baby.

So, I don’t care what anyone else says…

I say, bring on the snow.

Snapshot of a Day

4 Nov

Tuesday, November 4th.

It is Election Day.

It is my Poppy Don’s 86th birthday.

It is the date when my son was supposed to have his bris, had he not come 4 days before his scheduled C-Section.

But this Tuesday is also an anniversary, and not a good one.
A year ago on the Tuesday of this week I received that first, fateful text from my husband that read, “Are you OK? I am getting a little worried about you. I see the light starting to go out in your eyes.”

And that was the beginning of the worst year of my life; It has been worse than all of my other years combined. And so I was dreading this week, as in some ways I am re-experiencing all of the fear and negative emotions of this day last year, like a victim of PTSD. I have nightmares. A lead weight sits in my chest.

But, it’s funny how life works.

Because it is Election Day, I had both kids home with me today, and because my daughter was a bit under the weather we had no plans. It was nice at times, and hard at others, and sometimes it got to the point where I felt like I was drowning in my anxiety. I thought back to this Tuesday last year. I can remember so many details of the things that were plaguing me then, and thinking about some of the events of that week made me feel physically ill. This is something I have never discussed on here before, but that week I was not only being hurt by the chemicals that began to swirl in scary ways in my mind, but I was being hurt by someone who I once considered a very dear friend. At the time, I did not know I was being manipulated by a master,

all I knew was that I was being made to suffer in agony at my most vulnerable of times. This person abandoned me during my lowest point last winter, despite a promise to “be there forever”, and while at the time it was a crushing blow, I now look at it as my greatest blessing. I don’t have to endure the pain of that poison anymore.

I remember it being 11 o’clock in the morning on this Tuesday of last year, and looking down at my phone and seeing that text from my husband and feeling loved, but also feeling scared, because he was right. My light was dimming. The initial high of having a new baby, a baby who was healthy and cute and who nursed well and whom I loved dearly from the start (and the high from my Dilauded Rx) was fading, as I began my slow descent into the abyss.

There are certain dates I remember about the past year that are very significant to me. I remember my son’s birth, of course, and our magical hospital stay. I remember his Bris, and how my girlfriends piled into bed with me as we ate Cronuts that my sister scored from the coveted NYC bakery. I remember Thanksgiving when I sat in the corner, alone and virtually catatonic. And I remember this week.

So, today started off hard. I confided in some of my friends as we messaged throughout the morning, and unsurprisingly I was met with great encouragement and support. But as the day went on, my daughter got sicker and sicker as she appeared to be coming down with some kind of nasty bug. Mommom came over and when I told her about the significance of today, she said, “But look. Look where you are now. You are great now.” And this is something Mommom does. She says that everything is great, whether it is or not. No matter what the ailment, she says “You’ll be fine.” It is her coping mechanism, learned at an early age, and it is something that is sometimes comforting and sometimes frustrating.

I rolled my eyes at her.

“Really?” I asked, as clearly I am still struggling a great deal. Physically I am still dealing with some major issues and emotionally, each day is a new hill to climb. But she assured me by saying, “Look what you’re doing. You want to get out there. You’re doing things with friends and making new friends and making plans. That is better.”

And I didn’t think much of it. But an hour later, my daughter got even worse. She complained that she was freezing cold, refused my offer of toys and cookies and said she just wanted to sleep (she has not taken a single nap in almost 2 years). So she climbed into my bed with me, as she curled up under the covers on my side, and my son curled up on the other, and the three of us slept. Before drifting off, I got an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Being in my bed, snuggled up with my two babies felt like such a blessing. And even though it was under less than desirable circumstances, it felt like home.

When the kids woke up nearly two hours later they immediately reached over my lap for one another and held hands. I only had my iPhone to capture the moment, and the room was dark, so the photo is grainy, but my kids grasped each other, anchoring themselves to one another and to me and anchoring me to reality. Things did feel a bit better.

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And we all trekked downstairs, and my daughter needed a blanket and orange juice and the episode of Yo Gabba Gabba about the Doctor and my son needed his afternoon bottle and my dog needed to go outside and I needed to have a snack and call the pediatrician and as I juggled these things, both figuratively and actually literally (at one point I was balancing many things in one arm, including my 26 lb son) I thought, “I am doing this. I am taking care of business. I am taking care of two children and a dog and myself and  I know what I am doing.

I’ve got this.”

And then Mommom’s words echoed in my ear.

As much as I feel like I am still in the depths of this thing, this awful thing that happened last year and swallowed me up and spit me out and left me weak and vulnerable and tired,

I am doing it. I am being a mom, and I think I am being a good one. And I realized that my grandmother was right.

So while today started off with a heaviness around it, it has lightened;

even though life circumstances actually got worse throughout the day, my perspective changed.

Like the grainy photograph of my kids holding hands, all of my tools are there,

it just isn’t always easy for me to see them clearly. But life isn’t made of moments captured in perfect lighting with a high resolution camera. It is spontaneous flashes of joy, snapped hastily, but still able to be savored despite their blurriness.

This Fall may be hard for me. It may be difficult me to get through each of the dates that remind me of my roughest times of the last year.

But as long as my kids keep holding hands,

and as long as I keep taking that in,

I think I am going to be OK.

The hardest post I’ve ever written.

24 Feb

Since having my second child my world has changed in more ways than I could have imagined. As our triangle turned into a square (quite seamlessly in many ways, I should say), I have experienced love and joy that I had not yet known. And one positive thing that I have done has been starting 511, Ever After, as it has been a wonderful outlet for me, a return to something I’ve loved, and the discovery of a new passion. If you’ve emailed me privately I have shared that with you, but I have also shared something else…

I have always been someone with anxiety. I have written about it countless times on this very site, and that is because my original intention in starting Mommy, Ever After was to write honestly about things that people were not comfortable speaking of. Like how motherhood can be scary. And lonely. And boring. And weird. And yes, I wrote all about how being a mom is magical and enchanting, and I still feel that way completely–actually, probably more so than ever–but something happened to me the second time around that has changed my life forever.

In having my son, my sweet angel of a little boy whom I love with all of my heart, I experienced great depression. During my pregnancy, I suffered severe morning sickness. Let me put it to you this way; during the first go-round I was hesitant to take even a tylenol; during this pregnancy, I had to take a prescription anti-nausea medicine every 4 hours to keep my vomiting down to 10 times a day. That is not fun for anyone. Plus, the hormones. The crushing hormones that sneak up on you and embrace you in their anxiety-producing grasp. So I suffered what I now know is called peri-partum depression. I felt down. Not all of the time, but some of the time. A lot of the time. I couldn’t focus on my family. I had scary thoughts. But I was ok. I was still myself.

And I saw doctors and they were all concerned for me for after the birth. I remember one saying “I am concerned about you having this baby and having a walloping case of postpartum depression.” And I didn’t quite understand it but I knew to fear it. I knew that postpartum depression involved feelings of wanting to hurt oneself, or, much worse, the child. I knew that I did not experience it the first time, despite some moments of blues or intense anxiety. But I also know that my two pregnancies were completely different.

I was talking to my friend Jordan over at Ramshackle Glam about these differences when she announced her second pregnancy. The first time, I felt like I was this enchanted, magical vessel of blooming life. I felt like every single part of those 10 months were filled with magic and wonder. And when I first got pregnant the second time around, I was excited. I peed on that stick, saw two clear lines appear, and I felt that magic again. We were going to be a family of four. I was even able to present it to my husband in a fun way, having my daughter hand him a box with the stick inside. I had my dad come over to “check out my new sconces” and had the stick on my mantle. It was all exciting. But I had anxiety. I had pretty crippling anxiety from the get-go. I felt a strong love for the growing baby instantaneously (perhaps because was already a mother and knew that kind of love) and therefore found myself protective of my midsection. I avoided hard hugs from my students, heavy lifting and anything else dangerous. I loved my baby that was the mere size of a cheerio.

And then, something happened to me that never happened during my first pregnancy; I started to spot at 6 weeks. At this point, I had yet to even see the baby on ultrasound, a different experience than the first. It was St. Patrick’s day. We were eating Chinese Food. And I saw a little bit of blood. We ended up in the ER and after ultrasounds and bloodwork we confirmed that my baby was in my uterus and with a beating heart and growing appropriately. It was an incredibly intense and scary night for me.

And after that night, I went numb.

It it very hard for me to write this; in fact, as I type this, as he sleeps on my bed next to me, I am listening to his breathing, in and out, in and out, and I have tears streaming down my face. I went numb to the baby inside of me. Clearly it was a defense mechanism.  I know that spotting is a very normal occurrence in many healthy pregnancies, but it threw me overboard. So instead of caring more, I cared less. This was not a conscious thing, mind you; it is only something I can recognize in hindsight. But I stopped feeling for the baby.

This numbness only intensified at 12 weeks when the perinatal ultrasound tech told me that he saw a penis. This is very early to find out the baby’s sex (that typically happens at the 20 week anatomy scan. And I was in shock. Not only was I having another baby, not only was I puking all day, not only was I feeling very mixed emotions, if anything at all, but a boy? We are such a  girl family.

And that feeling of incredulity continued.

I stopped being protective. I was responsible in my pregnancy, not eating deli meat or drinking excessively, but I also was not nearly as cautious or loving as I had been to my first. I didn’t sing to my belly every night or read it stories. I loved feeling my son kick and move (he was the biggest mover ever, and because he was transverse I felt EVERYTHING) but I wasn’t sure.

I wasn’t sure I could love another child.

I wasn’t sure I could love a boy.

I even asked my best friend if she would take him if I didn’t love him enough to be his mom. How crazy does that sound? She still asks me if the deal is on because she loves him a whole darn lot.

And then, I went into labor. The baby was born. We sang to him in the OR. And I loved him immediately. And all of those feelings of insecurity and doubt washed away. But what I did not expect was that my C-Section would be complicated; I had a lot of scar tissue, the front of my uterus was very thin and I lost a lot of blood. I was very sick and ended up in the hospital for 5 days. But I was happy. Happier than I had been in months. I was also on Dilaudid, an opiate. But I was happy.

And that happiness actually lasted. It lasted a good two  weeks, just about as long as my Dilaudid consumption. And then, something started to creep in. Anxiety. Fear. Doubt. Sadness.

And I remember a text from my husband from the first week in November. It said, “I want to make sure you’re OK. I see the light starting to go out in your eyes.”

And I sobbed. Because I was so loved. But because he was right. And I fought the demons. But he was right.

The story gets darker from here, so I want to stop now with the promise that I will continue with the same kind of honesty with which I have always written. But I warn you. This has been a bad time in my life. And even though my house is filled with pretty throw pillows, it has been bad.

So here is my story. In the hopes that it will help others.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this story, my Fall and Winter got very dark. So I warn you to proceed with caution. Because if you know me, you know that I am a happy person. That I’m always smiling, that I love children and that I have dance parties every day. This is a different kind of story.

In the beginning of November, I started to experience Postpartum Depression. Thank the lord, none of my depressed feelings ever had to do with my children; I was never overwhelmed by having two, I was never resentful at them, and I certainly never wanted to do anything but love them. I did not wish to hurt them in any way, which, as crazy as it may sounds, happens to mothers. And some other very crazy things did happen to me, so that’s why I feel the need to be so clear and forthcoming.

I decided that in order to be the best mother I could be, I would begin to seek therapy for my depressed symptoms. They were classic; I was tired, grumpy, sad and weepy, could no longer find joy in the things that once made me happy…and then there were worse things. I thought about my life a lot and why it was worth living. I knew that it was, but it was hard to feel it.

So I found a wonderful therapist, someone who did not judge me, but took me seriously, and was willing to work with me and my family in order to get me out of my funk. At that point, it was a funk. She prescribed medicine for me, which was a first. I have never before experienced any kind of depression, but she put me on an antidepressant that was safe for breastfeeding. I was still very committed to nursing my son, as I nursed my daughter for 18 months. It was something that I was not only consciously proud of, but something that I felt had defined me as a mother. I was a nursing mother. My daughter never once had a bottle. And so it was not an option for me to give that up with my son.

And then I started to face some resistance. My symptoms were getting worse. My bad moments were getting more frequent than my good ones, and stronger medicines were encouraged. But that would mean giving up breastfeeding. I heard the expression “It is better for your son to have a mom without a boob than a boob without a mom” but it was still hard for me. So I kept on nursing and kept on going down a spiral of deep, deep devastation.

People started to notice around Thanksgiving. It was a holiday I have always adored and even written about. This Thanksgiving I spent in the corner of my aunt’s living room, speaking to no one, falling asleep in a the chair at one point, and keeping my month old son in his carseat next to me. It seems surreal.

I was withdrawing from my friends. I was quiet in my online presence. I was slipping away.

And then things got worse. A lot worse.

The feelings that I had been having about my life and it’s meaning started to take over me like a demonic plague. I couldn’t think rationally. I couldn’t feel happiness or love. All that I could feel was pain. So in order to keep me safe, my family members had to stay with me at all times, taking shifts. I was never left alone. The therapist reached out to my husband. She told him I needed to be hospitalized and found a program at Brown in Providence, Rhode Island. She feared for my safety. So did my parents and best friend.

So I made an appointment to check in to a Postpartum treatment center, one in which I could keep my son with me, keep nursing and try to recover before it got worse. This was a very hard decision to come to and I was feeling everything from ashamed to terrified, but I said I would do it. So my husband and I went out to the movies. We saw American Hustle, the day before I was supposed to leave my life and daughter and admit to needing to be admitted. And during the movie, we were in and out of the theatre, taking calls from my therapist and the coordinators at Brown. It was all happening so fast.

And I got home from the movie and kissed my son. And he was hot.

I took his temperature. 100.4. The magic number for a baby 3 days shy of 2 months. We had to go to the hospital.

So at my darkest moment, I had a sick baby to take care of. I thought it could not get any worse.

Life works in amazing ways.

This is hardest part of the hardest post. And though I’ve been so overwhelmingly grateful for the outpouring of support, both publicly and privately, that I have received thus far, it is still hard to put all of these things into plain words.

This has been a life changing experience to me, and writing it makes it real. It also exposes me at my most vulnerable spot. My ability to be a mother. It is admitting to the world that I am not the person who you thought I was. And that is hard. So I started to doubt myself a bit.

But I received a sign.

In rushing to pick up my daughter from school, feed and change my son and tidy the house, I picked up a little jewelry box of my daughter’s. It jingled.

Inside I found this.

photo (82)penny from heaven, from the year we lost our matriarch. She is telling me to be brave. And so I shall.

So when I left off, my baby had a fever and we had to take him to the Emergency Room. There, they had to do a full septic work up, including drawing blood, catheterizing him and, worst of all, giving him a spinal tap. He was diagnosed with RSV, which presented itself in my daughter as a cold earlier in the week. While in the ER, out of sheer malnourishment and stress, I passed out. I had to be admitted as well. So my son and I spent a cold night in December in adjoining rooms of the Emergency Room, each hooked up to tubes and tests, each fighting.

My son needed Oxygen, and spent 4 days in the hospital. I needed help.

And that meant weaning my son and giving him formula. So in the hospital that night I gave him his first bottle. And I began to take the medicine I needed. And it began to work.

I am about to type the hardest thing that I have ever typed.

After my complicated C-Section, I was told that it is not safe for me to have any more kids. I can no longer have children. I am just shy of 29 years old.

Perhaps this was a catalyst for the deep depression that would consume me this winter. And perhaps it was a combination of things. But it breaks my heart.

I look at the time after having a baby as the most magical in existence…and I will never again experience that.

And I should be clear: I am so freakin’ lucky. I have two healthy children. I have a boy and a girl. I narrowly avoided a blood transfusion. My son got to come home from the hospital. I was fertile and was able to nurse two babies, one for 18 months, one for ten weeks.

But it is still something very painful for me, to be told that I am not in control of my own future, my own plans, my own body.

I am happy to say that while my story is not yet over, things are looking up. I no longer cringe when I see the container of formula. I look at my strong, moose of a baby and am thankful that he is fed and that we have the resources to feed him. I no longer look at life as hopeless. I have hope.

My days aren’t yet easy, but they are also not so bleak.

And I have seen who my real support system is, my incredibly family and the friends who have become that.

And I love my children. I am able to enjoy them again. There is some light back in my eyes. And I am working, clawing my way back to happy.

A good friend recently told me that his mother always told him that “This too shall pass”. And in my darkest days, I did not, could not believe that. But I believe it. I believe that I can laugh with my friends again. And snuggle my kids and feel that feeling of home and right once more.

So, though I don’t know what the future holds, I do know that, as my friend said,

This too shall pass.

And I am thankful for each day.

The hardest post I’ve ever written, Part 2.

24 Feb

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this story, my Fall and Winter got very dark. So I warn you to proceed with caution. Because if you know me, you know that I am a happy person. That I’m always smiling, that I love children and that I have dance parties every day. This is a different kind of story.

In the beginning of November, I started to experience Postpartum Depression. Thank the lord, none of my depressed feelings ever had to do with my children; I was never overwhelmed by having two, I was never resentful at them, and I certainly never wanted to do anything but love them. I did not wish to hurt them in any way, which, as crazy as it may sounds, happens to mothers. And some other very crazy things did happen to me, so that’s why I feel the need to be so clear and forthcoming.

I decided that in order to be the best mother I could be, I would begin to seek therapy for my depressed symptoms. They were classic; I was tired, grumpy, sad and weepy, could no longer find joy in the things that once made me happy…and then there were worse things. I thought about my life a lot and why it was worth living. I knew that it was, but it was hard to feel it.

So I found a wonderful therapist, someone who did not judge me, but took me seriously, and was willing to work with me and my family in order to get me out of my funk. At that point, it was a funk. She prescribed medicine for me, which was a first. I have never before experienced any kind of depression, but she put me on an antidepressant that was safe for breastfeeding. I was still very committed to nursing my son, as I nursed my daughter for 18 months. It was something that I was not only consciously proud of, but something that I felt had defined me as a mother. I was a nursing mother. My daughter never once had a bottle. And so it was not an option for me to give that up with my son.

And then I started to face some resistance. My symptoms were getting worse. My bad moments were getting more frequent than my good ones, and stronger medicines were encouraged. But that would mean giving up breastfeeding. I heard the expression “It is better for your son to have a mom without a boob than a boob without a mom” but it was still hard for me. So I kept on nursing and kept on going down a spiral of deep, deep devastation.

People started to notice around Thanksgiving. It was a holiday I have always adored and even written about. This Thanksgiving I spent in the corner of my aunt’s living room, speaking to no one, falling asleep in a the chair at one point, and keeping my month old son in his carseat next to me. It seems surreal.

I was withdrawing from my friends. I was quiet in my online presence. I was slipping away.

And then things got worse. A lot worse.

The feelings that I had been having about my life and it’s meaning started to take over me like a demonic plague. I couldn’t thing rationally. I couldn’t feel happiness or love. All that I could feel was pain. So in order to keep me safe, my family members had to stay with me at all times, taking shifts. I was never left alone. The therapist reached out to my husband. She told him I needed to be hospitalized and found a program at Brown in Providence, Rhode Island. She feared for my safety. So did my parents and best friend.

So I made an appointment to check in to a Postpartum treatment center, one in which I could keep my son with me, keep nursing and try to recover before it got worse. This was a very hard decision to come to and I was feeling everything from ashamed to terrified, but I said I would do it. So my husband and I went out to the movies. We saw American Hustle, the day before I was supposed to leave my life and daughter and admit to needing to be admitted. And during the movie, we were in and out of the theatre, taking calls from my therapist and the coordinators at Brown. It was all happening so fast.

And I got home from the movie and kissed my son. And he was hot.

I took his temperature. 100.4. The magic number for a baby 3 days shy of 2 months. We had to go to the hospital.

So at my darkest moment, I had a sick baby to take care of. I thought it could not get any worse.

To be continued…

 

Baby is back….baby!

2 Dec

Why, hello there! Yes! It’s me! I’m back! Remember me? I first wrote to you one, whole long year ago. Yes, it’s me! I’m back! HEELLLOOO!

So let me just begin by getting a few important things out of the way:

One, I am no longer a baby. I am a big girl. See how much more eloquently I can express myself now? See? Told-jya-so. I am a week shy of 20 months old. That makes me big. How big am I? Sooooo big!

Second, thanks so much for sticking around! When I first introduced myself last Thanksgiving, back when I was ever so small, immobile and hairless, I never could have dreamed that you’d hang around here, checking in on me, for all this time. Well, I’m just tickled. Thank you, thank you!

Now that we are all on the same page here, let’s talk turkey. Literally.

Since my last note occurred as a Thanksgiving recap, I figured that it would only be appropriate to do the same this year. So, here goes:

Thanksgiving this year was so wonderful. I was the belle of the ball (if I do say so myself).

What I wore:

Purple Tunic dress, Janie and Jack

Argyle tights, Janie and Jack

Knit cardigan, handmade for me by my Great-Aunt

Sparkly shoes, I don’t remember where they are from, but probably from a fairy, because they’re extra sparkly.

Because it was a holiday, I broke from my usual flashy, tie-dye, pink and glittery style of dress, and opted, instead, for a more conservative, polished look. With my glasses, daddy said I looked “Librarian chic”. I don’t know what that means, but it probably means I was the cutest girl ever. 

While many things about this Thanksgiving were the same as last year (my whole family, gathered around the fire, gathered around me), I was like a whole new gal. For one thing, whereas last year I was just learning to sit up on my own, and my biggest trick was giving kisses to my toys, I now am a bona fide member of the family; I walk, I talk, I joke, I laugh, I smile, I sing…like I said, life of the party, I am.

In fact, speaking of singing, music has become one of my very favorite things. I love to listen to music, to drum along with my favorite tunes, to sing the many songs I’ve memorized and, of course, to dance. I can’t get enough of my music. Right now, my favorite songs are Oasis’ “Wonderwall”, Brett Dennen’s “Sydney (I’ll Come Running)”, “Rainbow Connection”, an a cappella version of Taio Cruz “Dynamite” and “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”

I’ll totally make you a mix tape, if you’d like.

I had a great time singing for my family, and they had an equally great time challenging me to “Name that Tune”. All they had to do was sing one line, or even a few words, from one of my favorite songs, and I could call out the name instantly. Daddy thinks I am going to be a musician. Like my Mama.

The highlight of Thanksgiving was definitely the meal. It was so nice to have teeth this year! It’s amazing what a few canines can do for a gal. I tried so many delicoius treats, making sure to shout, “MMMMM, NUMMY!” after each bite, fore everyone to hear. My favorite was the apple sauce; In fact, I liked it so much, that I made sure to get plenty of it all over my dress, just so I’d have it to snack on later.

When we went around the table, each of my family members explaining why and how they felt thankful, it made me feel so proud to hear so many people mention my name.

I love them all, too.

When it was my turn, I kept it short and sweet, just saying, “Thank You.” Everyone must have liked my brevity, because they clapped and cheered. What can I say? I know how to win over a crowd.

After dinner I played piano with mommy, snuggled up with my Aunt and Uncle and chased after my cousins’ doggie. It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.

Well, thanks for letting me recap my night for you. It’s been swell! It’s so nice, now that I can talk in sentences, and all. That reminds me, I had my first four word sentence, just this afternoon. “I draw a penguin,” I said. And I did. I should mention, drawing has become my other very favorite pastime. Mommy thinks I’m going to be an artist. Like my Daddy.

To be honest, I’m not yet sure what, or who, I am going to be. All I know is this: I like being sweet. I like making nice to my mommy, rubbing her softly and gently with my little hands and kissing her, as many times as I can, every single day. I like laying my head down and burying it into my daddy’s chest, and saying “Love you, dada.” So I will keep doing those things, whether I’m a cartoonist or a cappella singer or designer of the sparkliest of sparkly shoes.

And I promise to try to keep you updated, along the way. Now that I can talk, and all, I will try to stop by here more often. If you’ll have me, that is. So in the meantime, I hope that you enjoyed a holiday as wonderful as mine. Again, I say “Thank You.” Short, sweet, and I mean every ounce of it.

As I love to say, “MWA!”,

Big Girl, Ever After

 

Wanna hear something crazy?

29 Nov

My baby,

my tiny little girl,

is now mobile.

While she’s not quite crawling, she’s able to really get her move on. She rolls, she drags herself, she pulls herself and can sit up on her own.

She can, quite speedily, maneuver herself from one end of the living room to the other end of the living room, and back again.

But no, that’s not the crazy part.

This evening, my little cruiser decided to roll around on the floor with her doggy brother and sister, as my husband looked after her.

She rolled to the armchair where she sat up and looked around,

and then to the TV stand where she made faces in the reflection of the glass,

and then to the coffee table, where she banged her pretty little head.

She wailed, and wined and fussed.

She fussed for a little too long.

And then she threw up. It may have been a normal spit up, but I couldn’t help but to worry. And then she wobbled a bit, as she pulled herself up to sitting. And then I couldn’t help but to worry a little more. And so, I called the doctor, just to check in.

The nurse on call told me that it was “better to be safe than sorry” and that I should take her to the Emergency Room.

But no, that’s not the crazy part.

When we arrived at the ER and checked in, the woman at the welcome desk told us that my daughter was not in the system.

She had been born at the affiliated hospital.

We knew her Social security number.

Yet, no record of her name.

After a bit of research on the part  of the receptionist, she determined that my daughter’s information, including our address, phone number and her DOB, had all been entered into the system under the wrong name. Not a wrong spelling. Not a close match. The wrong name. Yes, it had the same initials, but it was not really even close.

How crazy is that? But no, that’s not the crazy part.

When they brought us back to the exam room,

my daughter was able to demonstrate her newest new trick to the nurse.

You see, on Thanksgiving, the baby learned how to lean in and “give kisses”. Just today, she learned how to imitate the lips-puckered-kissing sound. The fact that she was able to learn and perform a trick on command made me feel a bit better.

But you know. I’m a little crazy sometimes. I needed to hear the doctor say she was OK.

And no, I’m not the crazy part.

As we waiting in the hospital room,

a small piece of fuzz floated into my view as it fell to the ground.

Aww man. I thought to myself. I wish it had been a feather.

I could use a feather right about now.

My thought was interrupted by the sweet, young nurse, who scurried into the room to tell us that the baby was looking great, and that despite her tiny bump she’d be just fine.

As she leaned in and stretched out her hand to squeeze the baby’s arm,

I couldn’t help but to gasp.

There, on her wrist was a big, shiny bracelet,

made out of a feather.

A feather.

What are the odds?

And that, my friends. is the crazy part.

 

here we grow

28 Nov

2 years ago, on Thanksgiving, my husband told me that he wanted us to have a baby.

Now, I had decided that I wanted to have babies with this man long before,

but that does not mean that it was not amazingly, incredibly wonderful to hear those words from the man I loved.

I will never forget how we dined with my family, that night,

how he led me into another room, holding my hand, and told me that he wished that we could have said, “And we are also thankful that there will be another person at this table next year.” as we went around and gave thanks.

That’s when he knew he was ready.

That’s how he told me he was ready.

That’s when my heart grew about 3 sizes,

and when I knew that we were embarking upon a journey, after which we would never be the same.

One year later,

at our Thanksgiving table,

he rubbed my five-month-pregnant belly as he gave a toast about how blessed he felt that a new member would be joining us at the table the following year. When we each went around and said what we were thankful for, each person, without fail, mentioned the tiny baby that was growing inside my belly.

And speaking of belly, I just dug this up.

Thanksgiving 2009


That was 4 days before we would find out that our precious baby was a baby girl.

That was 4 months before we would find out just how much we could love another human being.

That was before our hearts would grow another 4 sizes.

And then another 4.

And another 4.

Our hearts are still growing. Sometimes I feel as though mine will spill over. I can actually feel love; I feel love palpably and tangibly, as it courses through me, now. When I stare at my sleeping dear, and inhale her soft scent, I feel as though my insides are being set on fire with this most powerful, intoxicating love. I get it, now. I so get it.

And so, yet another year later,

this baby,

the one we had just wished for two years before

and dreamed about one year ago,

was a real person.

A real member of the family and fixture at the table,

talking and giggling and playing and high-fiveing and kissing and being so so so so loved.

Needless to say, we are so so so so thankful.

I am thankful that she is so adored and treasured by our incredible family.

I am thankful that she is so love-able.

And, I am thankful for her daddy, who wrote the beginning of her story, two years ago, as he held my hand

and my growing heart.

Well, look at that.

My heart.

It just grew another whole size.

Or, maybe 4.