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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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A Birth Story-My Sequel: Part 2

31 Jan

Perhaps I should back up a bit. As I mentioned, the doctor told me that because of the nature of my contractions,

the difference I was feeling (despite having already been through FOUR false alarms),

I should come in to Labor and Delivery to be checked out. You should know this about me: I am a positive person, I am constantly accusing my husband of being a big ol’ naysayer. But in this case, I was miss “this is ridiculous, why am I going in again, I am going to be pissed to be sent home again, blah da de bla bla”. And remember. I had “Hot Cocoa” on my nails and they were 2/3 chipped off. And, while typically I don’t care about dirty hair, I did a hasty wash, threw on some eyeliner and blush, and called my mom, while in a towel.

“The doctor wants me to come in.” I said sheepishly.

And for the first time, her voice was different. “I think this is it.” She said.

We didn’t tell my husband.

We called my mama bestie to have her “On call” in case we needed her to pick up my daughter from school, and off we went.

Just in case, I wore my lucky underwear and purple socks, but I was still skeptic city.

Upon our arrival at the hospital I was greeted as an old friend; everyone there knew me. The residents and I were on a first name basis. It was embarrassing. But I had to admit, the pain I was feeling was different. And the monitor showed the same. I was having strong contractions every three minutes, regularly.

But, alas, as it has always happened when it comes to me and my labors, my cervix was not opening. Not at all. Not even one centimeter.

So I waited in the bed, for hours, contracting to the point of agony, when I started to cry.

I cried from the pain.

I cried from the uncertainty.

And, most of all, I cried because I hadn’t said a proper goodbye to my daughter.

I had had fantasies of how we’d spend our last night together as a tripod; A special dinner, and then maybe I’d sleep with her that night, since it would be our last time being just us. 

As a side note, late in my pregnancy my kid discovered a PBS kids show called Peg and Cat. The theme goes like this:

It is a show that encourages counting and early math. But the lyrics go

“We are two, na na na na na, Me Plus You, na na na na na…”

and every time I would hear this I would think,

“It’s me plus you, girl. It’s us. What the hell are we going to do with a fourth? And a BOY!?” I still get a lump in my throat when I hear that song.

Anyway, back to the hospital.

I was contracting and thinking and perseverating and all of a sudden, I started to cry.

I cried to my mom, really from the pain. “I can’t go another weekend like this.” I said. And I consider myself to be strong. Emotionally, I may be a basketcase, but pain-wise, I am pretty darn tough. But I just knew, much like the first time around, that it was time for this baby to come out.

At about this time my OBGYN showed up. He confirmed what the residents had said, that my cervix was still closed, but added that it had softened a lot, and said that my contractions were really strong and regular on the monitor, inevitably putting stress on my uterus.

“We’re having a birthday party today.” he said.

And then I cried some more.

Out of relief, out of fear, and out of, pardon my french again, the “What the fuck?!” feeling of having planned everything, every last detail, and having it all turned upside down by a sideways (literally) baby.

And I still hadn’t called my husband!

At that point the doctor offered me an epidural for the pain, but I declined. If i couldn’t experience a natural birth, my dream, I’d at least experience natural labor. And that I did. I am no masochist, but it made me feel like I could, at least, have some control over my body.

And so we called my mama friend. She would watch my daughter, and host a playdate with her son, whom my girl refers to as her “prince charming”. And then we called my husband. He was in a big meeting. He was told to rush out. He asked for permission to go home and change out of his suit. He was told no, there was no time.

I was forced to take off my all of my clothes, including my lucky socks. And so when my husband arrived, handsome and dapper in his suit, I had him put on my lucky socks, in their neon purple glory, under his gray slacks and ultimately under his full scrub attire.

The next bit was a blur; I met with anesthesiologists, got an IV, met my labor nurse…it was really happening. And my nurse, Katherine, held my hand and told me I’d be OK, as I told her how scared I was to go into surgery. How unprepared I felt. How my three and a half year old needed me.  I am very superstitious and her name starting with a K, the same as my Nanny, comforted me. It was a sign, like the signs I had experienced during my first birth. My angels were there. And there were more of them to come.

But then Katherine told me it was time. So my hair was placed in a net and I was placed in a wheelchair and I hugged my mom and husband tightly. It was time. I couldn’t stop shaking. It was time.

Time to meet my son…

(Stay tuned for more…and it involves some more signs from angels and maybe even a little spontaneous singing in the OR)

Love Notes/My Reply

30 Nov

You may remember my recent discovery,

in which I was able to give new life to (/soak in the beauty of) my husband’s old love notes.

Well, it happened again. Except, this time, the love notes were from yours truly.

I know. Right? You didn’t think I had it in me. Ahhhh, way back in old ’06 when I was just a babe in the woods.

(Or, you know, had two free hands at once, on the reg.)

So here’s how it went down: Once again, I was cleaning out and packing up my basement.

And feeling all sentimental, for a couple of big reasons.

First, the move is imminent. Imminent as in come 2 hours from now, the couch that I am sitting on as I type this story will no longer be in my house, but en route to an old Middle School friend of mine in Ohio. But, again, a story for another day.

Second, I am supa sentimental about things love and marriage for one pretty spectacular reason. You ready? TWIN is getting married. My Twin. I know. I can’t even type right now without crying. Dear Go Go will be making an honest woman out of my girl. My sister. My better half. But this is most certainly another may-jor post for another day. Because, as I said, I have tears to dry, and because, as I said, I have a UHaul to load. But let me just give you this teaser: My Twin Sister is getting married to the most spectacular man + a week ago today she made me ugly cry (with joy!) with some wedding related news + we are planning the most epic pre-wedding-night-sleepover-EVER for late this summer….and, I must be saved from myself. You see? Once I get on the subject of Twin getting married, I can’t stop. And I have a story to tell. A different love story. So the Twin story is coming…but for that you must, as my Twin herself says, “Wait with breath that is bated.”

Sob.

So back to today. I was cleaning out a bunch of boxes when I came across my guy’s old wallet. I saw it and immediately got a case of the sentimentals, as this was the first ever real gift I bought for him.

(In case you’re wondering what the first ever fake gift was, it would be this package, delivered to his doorstep on week 2 of dating: King Kong DVD, a paperback copy of In Our Time and a package of homemade brownies. I know. Now you can sleep tonight. Phew!)

I peaked inside (secretly hoping to find a hidden 20 stashed in that sucker!) and came across a little bundle of papers. Small, crumpled little papers.

These:

notes

My guy is sensitive. And sometimes, when he had been faced with a challenge– the first day of a new job or a seemingly insurmountable task–I liked to give him a little reminder that my love would be with him. And so I gave him little notes; affirmations; poems; I gave him my heart,

in the form of a heart shaped post-it.

And as I sit here and reflect upon that sentiment, I realize that I can do the same thing for myself now;

I am moving to a new house, and about that I am unbelievably excited. But also a bit nostalgic. This house is the place where we brought our daughter home from the hospital. This house has held our memories and kept our secrets. This house means something to me. But all of that, all of the memories, all of the love, can come with me as I move on.

They may not be able to fit into a wallet

or an album of hand-drawn declarations of love,

but I know they will continue to live in me. In us. In the new home we create.

So, while I wish I could write more,

it’s time to get off the couch. Because this couch has some new memories to make.

And so do we.

So,

here we grow.

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.

Who else but that baby sis

14 Jun

will send a late night email, headed “THREE VERY IMPORTANT THINGS!!”

that details three separate accounts of the goings-on of some of our favorite Bravo-lebrities and Bloggers?!(!?!?)

It should also be noted that:

This morning, we planned her future wedding song,

talked about the Sex and the City re-run that we had both, coincidentally, just re-watched

and came up with the menu for the Father’s Day Brunch Feast we will be cooking together on Sunday morning.

(Oh! And I also found a card that she wrote to me over three years ago that said, “Happy Mother’s Day to a (Soon-to-be) Mother-to-Be (Knock wood)”. She knew how much I wanted to be a mama, then. And she acknowledged it. And honored it. Perfectly. And I found that card, today. And she was right. The very next Mother’s Day I spent with my sister…and my daughter.)

All that and we managed to do our day jobs. We’re really something, now, aren’t we?

Oh, and sisty, I love you, so!

Sweet little thing.

10 Jun

Early morning,

on a walk to the bakery.

The bells on the shoppe door jingled and sang as we

escaped from the sunny heat

to the cool, sugary air.

We held her up to the displays;

row of confections all covered in pastels and powdered sugar and gold leaves.

She pointed to what she fancied:

One Blueberry Macaron, please.

(And a Madeleine, just  for good measure. To keep in her back pocket.)

A sweet little thing, indeed.

 

On Peace.

4 Jun

This afternoon, on a walk down our street, my daughter held her two fingers in the air

(as she has been known to do)

and said, “Peace, man.”

To whom, I don’t know. I like to think it was to every man. But that’s just me.

And her gesture got me thinking about words

and concepts

like peace

and equality

and how I will teach these things to my little member of the future.

And what a coincidence it is that this very month last year

I attempted my very first lesson to her.

Remember this?

She may not,

but I always will.

As my daughter’s baby steps have turned into confident strides,

I hope that our country-

our world-

will follow her lead.

For if she can hold up her hands and wish for peace,

why the heck can’t everyone else?

 

 

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.

We’re the three best friends that anyone could have

22 May

The Beach Edition:

And we’ll never ever ever ever ever leave each other.

2 stories.

22 May

When I was a Sophomore in college, I found myself on a weekend trip to a small and beautiful town in the Mid Hudson River Valley of New York. Since I was a child, I’ve spent weekends exploring similar places, first by my parents’ insistence (they loved nothing more than spending a weekend at an antique auction or sprawling flea market), and then by my own accord. I began to find the thrill in the treasure hunt and even started a collection of my own: antique salt and pepper shakers.

On that particular trip to New Paltz, I found an extraordinary treasure in the form of a small, worn magnet. It had the name I had chosen for my future daughter, something I always looked for in collectibles and read, “Lady _____: Made with Purity and Excellence”. That magnet stayed with me for years, packed away in the tiny, beautiful paper bag that they gave me at that little vintage shop. And now, as of last week, it is hanging on my refrigerator, holding up a photo of my daughter in a bubble bath. When people spot it, they smile. So do I.

****

Last night before bed, my daughter was being particularly delicious; trading kisses for hugs, engaging in epic tickle torture battles and blabbing up a storm. We knew it would take a lot to wind her down, so we rubbed her back and sang to her as we prepared to start the bedtime routine. We asked her about her day at school and in a slightly dazed and relaxed state, she sat up, looked at her daddy and said, “I paint a rainbow, baby.” And then she held up her hand, raised her two fingers slightly and, looking at him square in the face, said, “Peace, Man.” We nearly fainted from cuteness overload. And I realized, her free spirit may be, in part, credited to the two us, but should also be attributed to her very first Tribe of friends.

*

So, My lady: Made with Purity, Excellence and Hippie sweat.

Good Vibrations

21 May

In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of watching as my daughter’s obsession with music has soared to new heights.

She sings along to the radio.

She writes her own songs

(“Sunglasses. I want sunglassES on right NOW. Doggie wears sunglassES TOO. Mommy, sunglassES! Wear sunglassES to Zeydie’s offICE!”)

She plays notes on the piano in time

and turns everything into a drum

and asks for dance parties incessantly.

And I cannot express how happy this makes me.

But, I can’t say I’m surprised.

For as I spent this past Saturday night with my original Fab Four (Mom, Dad, Sis, Moi)

at the Beach Boys Concert

I realized, once again, that she has come by this trait honestly.

Because we (the four of us) lost ourselves in that show.

Like that old saying advises, we truly did dance like no one was watching.

When the Boys did their surfing set, I tapped my foot and patted my thigh, (like the good former drummer I am!)

as my sister swayed rhythmically to the melody.

The four of us belted the words to “Don’t Worry Baby” at the top of our lungs

and swayed, arm in arm, to “Good Vibrations”.

We each put in our right hand, clasped them all together, and waved them back and forth, as one unit, to the cover of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”.

Fools in love, we were.

And we did The Swim. A lot of it.

We each found our own home in the music

and then joined together

in (what I can only describe as, so pardon the cliche,)

harmony.

It was the best concert ever.

So, the next morning, as we danced to “Wouldn’t it be Nice” in our pajamas,

fighting over who would get the chance to hold the baby as she bopped and swayed and spun around,

I realized that music isn’t just in her

it is in all of us. It’s another member of our family.

Good Vibrations, indeed.