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A Birth Story-My Sequel: Part 3

1 Feb

photo (30)When we left off, I was being wheeled into the OR in the afternoon for a surprise C-Section, 4 days early, at 38.5 weeks and scared as hell.

I am a very superstitious person and look for signs all around me. During the scary, unknown part of my first unexpected C-Section with my daughter, I was feeling helpless and hopeless and the doctor said “The baby is about to come out” and my Nanny’s favorite song, Desperado, began to play in the OR radio. That was a good sign and even though my daughter had been in distress, her chord around her neck twice, she was OK. Because my angel had told me so.

So for my second go-round, I had my husband in my lucky socks, and was looking for similar signs. First, I liked the date. I am a numbers person and like that 2 is my mom’s lucky number, 4 is my sister’s and added together, 6 is my dad’s. That seemed to me like a good sign.

The second sign was my med student, Anna, who stood by my side the entire time, was named Anna. Anna is a very symbolic name for me, as it represents the name of my other angel, my Superman, for whom my daughter was named. Then I met my new anesthesiologist. His name was William. That was the name of my husband’s late grandfather. I felt like this was another sign, that our angels had gathered together to watch over my surgery and this birth.

The final sign was that William’s last name was Shepherd. Dr. Shepherd. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy. That had to mean something.

But despite these comforts, I was still scared to the point of shaking uncontrollably. And dear, sweet Anna, Doctor Anna, hugged me and held me, and told me I was in good hands, and she even hugged me, as I had to curl my spine over in order to receive my epidural. After having explained my aversion to my previous spinal, Dr. Shepherd decided to give me an epidural instead of the one shot spinal, and it was a much slower onset, which I preferred greatly. They also gave me pain medicine and some anxiety meds through my IV, something that he equated to a glass of wine (as I did not want to feel too out of it, but definitely needed to take the edge off).

At this point my OBGYN came in to “Get the party started” and because an epidural works differently than a spinal, I could feel so much for. So much so that I heard them say, “Time to insert the catheter” and I shouted, over the blue screen that they had put up between my face and surgical site, “I can still feel my vagina!”

The next part is somewhat of a blur; they opened me up, my husband was allowed back in with me, my blood pressure kept dropping, I kept feeling scared, I literally felt myself lift off the table as they yanked the baby out,

I kept hearing them talking about things like seeing a hand and adhesions and blood and I loved it and hated it all at once

and then,

all of a sudden,

a cry.

I had a son.

And I looked at the clock. My daughter was born at 2:22 am, a hard time to beat in my book (for my lucky number is 11, so 22 is double 11. I know that I’m weird, by the way.)

My son was born at 4:11pm. 4/11 is my birthday. Could not have gotten better.

And speaking of numbers, he came out weighing 7 lbs 12 oz. The exact same weight as my daughter.

What is more interesting is that he was 7lbs 12 oz at 38.5 weeks, while she was full term at 40; so apparently my uterus hands out an eviction notice at just that size. They were only a half inch a part, him being 21.5 inches to her 21. I make solid babies, it seems.

And, because I had asked for it beforehand, they brought him to me, and I saw that he had fair hair and a cleft in his chin (like many of the men in my family) and I swear when our faces touched he smiled.

And then the world disappeared. I know this sounds like one of those hokey, cliche things, but everything else melted away as my husband, son and I cuddled up, as the doctors were still working to sew me up, and we sang to him. We held him and sang a song that my PopPop made up for us years ago.

Mommy loves the baby, 

Daddy loves the baby, 

Everybody loves the little boy. 

I remember wanting to be out of the OR, and holding him in my arms, and eventually we got there and he latched on immediately as I held him and nursed him and sent a text to my friend saying “I have a son.”

My pregnancy with my son was not nearly as magical or enchanting as that with my daughter, but I must say, the birth and the time right thereafter was extraordinarily special.

But there was one milestone left to happen; we needed my daughter to meet her brother. She had been having a great time at her best friend’s house, so much so that she peed her pants in all the excitement. So I am proud to say that my daughter met her baby brother for the first time wearing her boyfriend’s Cars underpants and cargos.

And at around 6 o’clock that evening, my little girl, who suddenly seemed so big, walked into the recovery room and over to her brother and said, “Hi baby. I love you. Don’t cry. Maybe I can carry him?”

And then there were four.

I will never, in all my life, forget the feeling of wholeness that that moment provided for me. All of my fears about not being able to love a second child, or a boy, washed away. I was, instead, swathed in rich, deep feelings of love and gratitude.

So that’s how it all went down. It was not easy, but it was beautiful.

And I am never doing it ever, ever again.

So instead of saying The End to this story, I will say something far more appropriate:

The beginning…

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Love (notes) and marriage.

16 Nov

This evening, as my husband was putting the baby to bed, I went down to the basement to go through our belongings.

I am cleaning things out because (gasp!) we are planning to move. But that’s another story for another day.

So in an effort to purge all things (I) deemed unnecessary, I took a few moments to gather my thoughts. And my belongings.

And in looking for junk to dump, I struck gold.

I came across a photo album, each flimsy plastic slot filled with a neatly folded love note.

A note from my guy,

to his girl. To the me I used to be.

***

Here’s the thing. Partnership is an amazing thing; a gift, a joy, a treasure. It feels good to have someone’s back, and to feel your own weight supported by another. Marriage is beautiful. But, like any other great thing (an exciting job, a child, a new home) it comes with it’s challenges.

Being the parents of a toddler is it’s own unique flavor of hard. It’s hard to talk over a temper tantrum. It’s hard to juggle the demands of the day. It’s hard to make time.

***

Lately, I have found myself getting sentimental about my relationship. Starting many sentences with “remember when”s and reminiscing about our days of old. Because truly, we’ve grown up together. Not just in the literal sense (as neighbors all our lives) but because we met as young people, and have faced some unimaginably hard things together. We’ve lost opportunities, lost jobs, lost loved ones. He cheered for me when I graduated from college. I’ve held him as he’s cried.

That’s what happens when you have history with someone. For someone.

And maybe it’s because we’re making a big life change,

or because our little girl is growing before our eyes, or because we are about to travel back to our special place,

or simply because quality time for us right now often consists of 15 minutes alone together at the end of the day,

with me pointing out a couch I like on Houzz

and with him giving me a kiss goodnight as I doze off during Homeland;

it’s easy to sleep next to the same person

year after year

but it’s hard to always remember how you’ve gotten there.

***

Tonight, as I cleaned out my basement, I unearthed my memories. I read note after note, lingering over each word. Words of love, of hope, words of a future still unknown. Declarations. Promises.

And in reading, it did not feel as though I was seeing these words for the first time, but it felt as though I was understanding their sentiments in an entirely new way.

I picked up a note from this date six years ago. In it he drew a cartoon, and wrote “…You are the greatest caretaker and friend anyone could ever ask for! You are always there for me to help me when I am sick, to make me smile when I am sad, and to do something silly for a laugh. It is just one of the many reasons that I love you so very much…”

My husband tells me he loves me every day. In the morning. From work. On his way home. Before bed. I am no stranger to those words. But these notes told me why.

Because, when it comes down to it, when he gets home from work and I’m in my velour sweatpants, hair up in a ponytail, stirring a pot of soup as I chase after our daughter and dog,

it’s hard for me to always believe that he loves that me. That me that I now see.

Even though he tells me. And shows me. And looks me in the eyes and promises me how lucky he feels that I’m his.

Reading these notes helped me. They reminded me. They did exactly what he promised to do, as he scrawled in permanent marker on the inside jacket to the photo album. He wrote, “The pages of this book hold letters that are the hard copy proof of my love for you. They will always be here for you as a reminder, or when you just need a smile. I am yours, now and forever. I love you.”

***

Marriage is hard. Being a parent is hard. Moving is really freakin’ hard.

And sometimes, you need years and years of memories to envelop you, to make you feel safe, and to make you feel loved.

And sometimes, you just need a little album.

I miss writing.

2 Nov

I do. I miss it terribly.

I miss writing like it’s a limb that’s been asleep and I’m just now shaking it awake;

It hurts a bit, it’s still uncomfortable, and I do not yet think I can bear weight on it.

I miss it so much that I ache.

But it’s been hard to write.

Not hard because life’s been hard (which it has, and it hasn’t)

but hard because it is hard to put that first bit of pressure down on that sleepy leg, knowing that the pins and needles are coming.

But it’s the kind of hard that is hard but good.

And sometimes that’s the best kind of hard.

So, here goes.

Tonight, I wrote the first actual paragraph (with real punctuation) that I have in months.

(I have, in the interim, become quite skilled at the emoticon, I should note.)

It was on Facebook, if you can believe it.

(You can. I know you can. ;-)!)

It was for my sister. For some reason, that kid always opens the floodgates for me. And no. There was no pun intended here. You’ll see why. This is what I wrote:

This time last week we were plagued with the anxiety of the coming storm. Sandy, with her winds and rain, brought fear, chaos and devastation to our coast. Those close to me lost so much at Sandy’s brutal hands; I’ve watched, helpless and sad, as our dear friends have lost their electricity, phones and water, their homes and properties, their family businesses…as well as things intangible and unquantifiable. While I have mixed feelings about what a massive race run along dark and dilapidated streets would mean, the NYC Marathon is now another sad casualty of this storm. For on Monday, I worried because my little sister had lost her power and phone service, and her safe place to live in a city in which she is a stranger; But tonight, I worry because she has lost something, while different, no less great; the promise of the finish line she has been training for, fantasizing about and working towards for months. So as I continue to ache for the damage that Sandy has brought to our cities, homes and friends, I also ache for my baby sister, and the loss of her (little AND big) dream. — 

And I don’t know why this little note did it to me,

but boy did it do what it did. What it do.

It made me want to write in a way that I haven’t felt in a long, long, painfully long time.

It made me want to write my stories, my chronology,

to write love songs and poems and with sidewalk chalk on the front stoop.

It made me want to stomp on my leg, no matter how much the recirculation would make me want to scream.

It was like I could not get the words out fast enough.

In fact, full disclosure, I’m wading through a sea of typos right now. My fingers can’t keep up with the deluge that is pouring out of me. Please forgive me.

The raw emotions that coursed through me this week

as the rain pelted down on my roof, and the wind batted fiercely at my windows,

have been almost too much to bear. Certainly too much to keep inside. For this storm did not scare me in what it was in actuality, rather it scared me in what it represented; The ephemeral nature of our homes, our comforts, our lives and all that we know.

In it’s vastness,

with it’s almost effortlessly epic power,

it made me feel so small.

Made me feel out of control.

And so I write.

And it’s scary. Because I don’t know that I know how to do it anymore.

I’m forced to limp along as I go. My leg is still not strong.

But on it I will still stand. Until the muscles remember how to operate. Until the tingling goes away.

***

Since my last entry, so much has happened. In my life

and in yours.

Life has become more vibrant in some ways,

and seems more fragile in others.

In the past month, 4 of my very best friends’ grandmothers have died. It doesn’t make sense to me. I have felt so lucky to be able to hug these friends, to remind them of how much I love them (I do. I love them so much) but it also makes me sad. And confused.

I don’t like seeing my friends sad.

I wish I could take away their pain.

***

Tonight, when we got the call about the Marathon, I watched my sister’s face as it fell. As she fell to pieces. Earlier today, we chatted excitedly about her plans for Sunday. What she would eat. What she would wear. The different phrases we would use to adorn the hats and t-shirts and tiaras we would make to show her our support as we cheered her along her way. We synced our phones so that we could track her progress. We made plans.

I saw my sister brimming with confidence,

with promise,

with pure, unbridled excitement.

So tonight, when she found out about it’s cancellation

(which, please let me note, we all understand. My family and I are all so sensitive to the situation in the city and completely support the Mayor’s decision)

my heart fell with hers. It sucks. Plain and simple. Not as much as flooded homes and downed trees and destruction and devastation suck, of course. Not even close. But it sucks, nonetheless.

My sister lost power this week during the height of Sandy’s wrath. She lost phone service, hot water and any ability to travel across her city. She had no way to contact her loved ones, clean her clothes, and had to hitchhike to work across town.

But tonight’s loss hurt the most.

Not because she is a fierce competitor. Nor does she lack the ability to put life’s perils into perspective.

My sister was running the New York Marathon for The American Cancer Society. She was running in honor

and in memory

of people we love with all of our hearts.

She was running to honor our father, our aunt, our grandfather and our dear friends, who have all fought cancer and won.

And she was running for our uncle, our grandmother, and her best friend

who were not so lucky.

She wasn’t running to beat a time. She wasn’t running for bragging rights. She was running because none of us can control things in life.

She certainly cannot. But she can run.

And so, we can’t go back in time and stop Sandy.

We can’t go back to Tuesday to tell the Mayor to call the race off then.

We can’t give any of our loved ones back what they have lost this week,

even though we really, really, really wish we could.

But,

she can run.

She can, even though her heart breaks.

And I can walk.

I can walk even though my foot is asleep.

And we will.

Pins,

needles,

and all.

Anniversary

4 Jun

Last week, we celebrated our Anniversary.

I have so much to say, but don’t quite know how…

except for this:

Four years ago, life looked like this:

And this year, on our anniversary, it looked like this:

And today, it looks like this:

Ever after,

for always

and love love love is still all I need.

To my original little girl,

16 May

my sister:

Today, you graduated from Graduate School with your Master’s degree

and I could not be more proud.

As you are about to start your first job,

a real job,

an amazing job,

I can’t help but to gasp as I realize

you are now grown up.

The hours we spent in your little, pink Laura Ashley bedroom,

playing hairdresser as “Sherry Shamu” and “Britney Cooler”,

dressing and undressing Barbie dolls,

making up dance routines to “Do You Love Me?”

and gravity defying games like “Crocabunga”,

did not prepare me for the fact that one day

(today!)

you would no longer be my little sidekick.

That you would grow out of the plastic vanity chair

and the Laura Ashley bedroom

and even the white platform Spice Girls shoes that I forced you to wear for Glamor shots,

and grow up

into a beautiful,

poised,

remarkable

adult.

A person. Who now goes to celebrity stylists

and not good old “Sherry Shamu”.

Who writes a fashion blog

instead of dressing Barbies.

Who walks down the street with confidence and savvy

and a beauty that never fails to take my breath away.

You may be my little

but today

I can’t tell you how much I look up to you.

All my love,

Sherry.

Oh Happy (Mother’s) Day.

13 May

Oh happy day, indeed.

In the 23 months since I first began keeping this “baby book”, I have worked towards defining what it means to be a mother.

From scary moments to celebration,

dance parties to dress-up dates,

these small snapshots fit together to paint a cubist picture of a concept that is so precious,

so dynamic,

so colorful

that it is impossible to put into plain words.

But, this morning, on mother’s day, I got a bit closer;

You see, as we sat and ate breakfast

on our bouquet-covered table,

my husband asked my daughter what her mommy means to her.

“What does mommy cook for you?” he asked.

“Pizza. And birthday cake. And quesadilla!” exclaimed my daughter.

“And what does mommy do with you?”

“She plays.”

“What does she play?” he continued.

“She plays jungle.”

And that was that. In my daughter’s own words, what it means to be a mother. She was able to,

with her limited vocabulary,

define what “mommy” truly means.

And what that means to me I may never be able to express…

Except that it means everything.

 

#febphotoaday/28

28 Feb

28. Money

A 7-year-old bottle of Essie Nailpolish

in Castaway.

purchased at the fabulous El Corte Ingles. In Barcelona. With Euros. European Monday.

And, seven years later,  when I catch a glimpse of this color on my toes

I am brought back to Placa Catalunya,

to the Barca Spring,

walking in my Espadrilles

and becoming a big girl.

And, seven years later, the polish still works. And looks as good as ever.

So, yeah, that’s just MONEY.

Let it do what it do.

20 Feb

This evening, my daughter had some play time with her very best friend.

The girls play several times a week, and have done so for the past year. They share family dinners, dance parties, sweet toddler kisses, and a language that is their own.

They are so in love.

Yet tonight, they were two. Terribly two. My daughter marched into her little friend’s house and promptly tried to take every toy from her, screaming “Mine!”. And then threw tantrums. My girl was ornery. She was impolite. And once, when her friend grabbed a toy that my daughter had been eying, my kid hit. She hit her best friend.

And I was mortified, horrified, frustrated and sad. But, most of all, I was confused.

Where did she learn to hit?

We certainly don’t hit in our house, and as her teacher I knew that it was not a behavior she was witnessing in school.

My instinct was to protect my daughter’s little friend,

and to admonish my daughter properly.

And then, of course, to feel guilty.

What could I be doing differently?

What have I done wrong?

But, fortunately, a few bounces on the trampoline, a musical blanket ride and several bites of chicken nuggets later, the girls were back to being the tender, caring besties we have come to know and cherish.

But, her behavior continued to haunt me.

And as we walked home, I made sure to snuggle my daughter in my arms, and to show her love and affection; It is my job, after all, to model kindness, love and, most of all, understanding.

And once we were back inside our house, my daughter asked for me to hold her in my arms, and she sang to me.

Looking into my eyes, she sang “Mommy loves the baby”,

the song I sing to her each night as I walk her to her crib and place her down for sleep.

This song signifies our bond; it means love.

So despite all of the stress of the afternoon, the tears and the temper,

and the little things that I may be doing wrong along the way,

at least I know I have done one thing

one very small

yet very meaningful

thing right.

Somethings (and #febphotoaday/16)

16 Feb

16. Something New

On May 31, 2008,

as the saxophone played,

I held onto my dad’s arm

and walked, down a peony-lined runner, towards my forever.

I had something old,

a headpiece made of champagne and ivory seed pearls,

worn by my Nanny on her wedding day;

I had something borrowed,

the tiny, gold wedding band, that had been on my Mommom‘s own finger when she and my Poppop said their vows;

I had something blue,

a bracelet in honor of my Superhero;

and then I had Fancy shoes. Fancy new shoes.

And while they’ve now been worn,

and have scuffed soles

and loose threads,

and so many dance steps trailing behind them as distant memories,

they will always be my

something new.

#febphotoaday/14

14 Feb

14. Heart

A little girl, walking hand in hand with her grandmother and great-grandmother. Be still my heart.

“I love you only because it’s you the one I love;”

My Man, Pablo Neruda

Spotted:

14 Feb

If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.

courtesy of Love Actually

and my refrigerator door.