Friday, July 17, 2015

Attempting To Process: 9 Months After

You know that feeling when you wake up from a terrible nightmare, that reassurance that washes over you upon the realization that everything existed purely in your subconscious?  I still get these moments, where, briefly, I think I only imagined that CJ is gone. But just as soon as it came, the nanosecond passes and the grief comes rushing back in just as fast and just as hard as reliving that first moment of my new reality - the one without her : "We had to let her go."

I read something awhile back about the first year of grieving the loss of someone you can’t live without and one thing in particular stood apart from the myriads of other grief advice.  The writer said to "enjoy" the first year of grieving.  What a harsh word- enjoy.  But the point of it was that CJ will never feel closer to me than this first year without her.  I don't know if I believe that (because, let's be honest, her death has challenged everything I've ever believed in).  Then again, what the hell do I know about this process?  I have never experienced a devastation this profound and deeply rooted within me, settling in to the very core of my being - a permanent resident.  Its stark and hollowed branches encircle my bones, a constant chant of sorrow reverberating through me.  I want so desperately to be sure of some things - like that something,anything can grow from these mangled limbs. To hope, someday, for a sprout - its face upturned to the sun.

But, for now, I am only sure of one thing at this point in my process: I changed the moment I met her and I am forever changed by her death.  I only hope that whenever I emerge from this process, I can find that elusive acceptance.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Nutritionist

The Nutritionist
By Andrea Gibson

The nutritionist said I should eat root vegetables
Said if I could get down 13 turnips a day
I would be grounded,
Said my head would not keep flying away to where the darkness is.
The psychic told me my heart carries too much weight
Said for 20 dollars she’d tell me what to do
I handed her the twenty,
she said “stop worrying darling, you will find a good man soon.”
The first psychotherapist said I should spend 3 hours a day sitting in a dark closet with my eyes closed, with my ears plugged
I tried once but couldn’t stop thinking about how gay it was to be sitting in the closet
The yogi told me to stretch everything but truth,
said focus on the outbreaths,
everyone finds happiness when they can care more about what they can give than what they get
The pharmacist said klonopin, lamictil, lithium, Xanax
The doctor said an antipsychotic might help me forget what the trauma said
The trauma said don’t write this poem
Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones
My bones said “Tyler Clementi dove into the Hudson River convinced he was entirely alone.”
My bones said “write the poem.”
The lamplight.
Considering the river bed.
To the chandelier of your fate hanging by a thread.
To everyday you could not get out of bed.
To the bulls eye on your wrist
To anyone who has ever wanted to die.
I have been told, sometimes, the most healing thing to do-
Is remind ourselves over and over and over
Other people feel this too
The tomorrow that has come and gone
And it has not gotten better
When you are half finished writing that letter to your mother that says “I swear to God I tried”
But when I thought I hit bottom, it started hitting back
There is no bruise like the bruise of loneliness kicks into your spine
So let me tell you I know there are days it looks like the whole world is dancing in the streets when you break down like the doors of the looted buildings
You are not alone and wondering who will be convicted of the crime of insisting you keep loading your grief into the chamber of your shame
You are not weak just because your heart feels so heavy
I have never met a heavy heart that wasn’t a phone booth with a red cape inside
Some people will never understand the kind of superpower it takes for some people to just walk outside
Some days I know my smile looks like the gutter of a falling house
But my hands are always holding tight to the ripchord of believing
A life can be rich like the soil
Can make food of decay
Can turn wound into highway
Pick me up in a truck with that bumper sticker that says
“it is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society”
I have never trusted anyone with the pulled back bow of my spine the way I trusted ones who come undone at the throat
Screaming for their pulses to find the fight to pound
Four nights before Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington bridge I was sitting in a hotel room in my own town
Calculating exactly what I had to swallow to keep a bottle of sleeping pills down
What I know about living is the pain is never just ours
Every time I hurt I know the wound is an echo
So I keep a listening to the moment the grief becomes a window
When I can see what I couldn’t see before,
through the glass of my most battered dream, I watched a dandelion lose its mind in the wind
and when it did, it scattered a thousand seeds.
So the next time I tell you how easily I come out of my skin, don’t try to put me back in
just say here we are together at the window aching for it to all get better
but knowing as bad as it hurts our hearts may have only just skinned their knees knowing there is a chance the worst day might still be coming
let me say right now for the record, I’m still gonna be here
asking this world to dance, even if it keeps stepping on my holy feet
you- you stay here with me, okay?
You stay here with me.
Raising your bite against the bitter dark
Your bright longing
Your brilliant fists of loss

if the only thing we have to gain in staying is each other,
my god that’s plenty
my god that’s enough
my god that is so so much for the light to give
each of us at each other’s backs whispering over and over and over

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I'm calling it.  Luca is officially a fulltime walker at 13.5 months old.  He's actually been able to walk for a couple of months now, but much preferred crawling as his method of getting somewhere fast.  He would take about three steps, decide he'd had enough of the slow pace and drop down to his hands and knees to scurry off. 

And scurry he does.  Luca (or Lou, as we've begun to call him) is into everything, constantly leaving a path of destruction in his wake.  I know you are never supposed to compare your two children, but these two could not be more opposite if they tried.  While Jude contemplated every decision he made, Luca throws caution to the wind.  He's headstrong, motivated, stubborn, and hilarious.  Kiddo loves an audience.  I'm pretty sure he will be our performer.

No walking blog post would be complete without a few photos of his accomplishments!  And maybe one of a defeat. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Outlook

I've never been one for resolutions.  But come January 1 every year, when that beautiful white slate of a fresh new year is laid out in front of me waiting to be written on, it's hard to not get a little excited to plan.  There are always the usuals- lose weight, exercise more, look good in a bikini, get more sleep, etc.  And of course I plan on accomplishing every single one of those.  My biggest goal for the next year is to work on being less pessimistic and more optimistic.  With motherhood, my anxiety levels have definitely risen.  I understand this is normal and I'm not racing to a psychiatrist to get meds to counteract it or anything.  But I do find myself always predicting or preparing for a worst-case scenario.  Then by the time the scenario has played out (mostly not the way I had predicted), I realized that I didn't even get to experience it fully for fear of the worst happening.  And I don't want to live like that anymore.

Like any year, there some not-so-great things about 2012.  Rather than focusing on those, I'm going to forget about them completely and focus on what I really loved about the year.

Maternity Leave
Luca was born in November of 2011.  I took a 3 month maternity leave from my job at a software company to stay at home with him after his birth.  I love this time period with my babies.  It's mostly hazy days filled with breastfeeding, catnaps, diaper changes, and soothing.  But it's also what the first memories are made of.  Learning my little boy's facial expressions, what he loves, what he hates, and falling in love with each other.  I went back to work on Valentine's Day 2012- with a heart filled with more love than I thought it could hold.

A Potty Trained JudeWhile I was pregnant with Luca, I naively thought that I could have Jude completely out of diapers by then.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  At two and a half years old, he was still stubbornly refusing to use the potty.  We decided to give up and just let things happen on there own.  The way I figured, every adult male you meet is potty trained (well, most anyways) so he'll get it eventually.  We left his potty in the bathrooms and consistently asked him if he wanted to go and said "Ok, well, it's there if you change your mind" when he heard the familiar "No."  One day, seemingly out of the blue on Easter weekend, Jude announced that he wasn't a baby anymore and that he would like to start going on the potty.  And that was that.  There was no indication prior to that declaration that he had any intention of quitting diapers.  We went with it and the next couple of days yielded a few accidents and then he was good.  Both while awake and sleeping!  It was awesome to not have to wash two sets of cloth diapers every couple of days!  At the same time, it was very bittersweet in that it meant my baby truly was growing up.  The very last time Jude wore a diaper- 2 years 9 months old.

Lactation Exultation
Having a gigantic freezer full of breastmilk might be an odd thing to list as one of the best things about someone's year.  But, for a fulltime working mama who wanted to breastfeed exclusively for at least one year, it's a pretty big deal.  If anyone still following my blog remembers my first year with Jude, there was alot of stress about pumping towards the end.  My supply plummeted the last few months and I was having to take tons of herbal supplement, pump five times a day every day and add power pump sessions in the evenings just to meet what Jude ate during the day at daycare.  I did make it to a year of breastmilk for Jude but it was a definite struggle.  Finally, at 12.5 months, my supply was down to nothing and we were done breastfeeding.  This time around, everything seemed to work in my favor.  I didn't have the horrible oversupply and engorgement in the beginning like I did with Jude.  We didn't experience any latch or clogged duct issues.  And boy was I able to pump!  So much so that I was able to donate frozen breastmilk to a dear friend who needed it for her little boy.  Luca is 13.5 months now and I am still pumping for one of my bestest friends in the whole world who had to quit breastfeeding her three month old to undergo chemo and radiation for breast cancer.  My supply is definitely dwindling now that Luca has dropped nursing sessions to morning and night, but I'm going to keep going for my beautiful friend as long as I can.  More to come on that later.

Family Vacation to Estes Park, CO
This October, we embarked on our first family vacation with the four of us.  We made an 8 hour trek up to the Colorado Mountains to Estes Park.  It was such a beautiful and memorable experience.  The weather was perfect, the lodge we stayed in was amazing, and the wedding of my first cousin to his beautiful bride was breathtaking.  Luca was 10 months old and didn't appreciate the long car ride so we did break the trip up into two day increments, staying overnight in western Nebraska each way.  It was a week long trip I won't forget and made me fall in love with my little family all over again.

Creighton Baseball Games
We've discovered there is no greater time than going to a ball game as a family.  Jude is a baseball nut.  The kid has a passion for the sport like no other.  Our city is lacking in professional sports, but they sure make up for it in college sports.  We bought season tickets to Creighton University baseball and had a blast going to games this summer.  Season tickets have already been renewed for the 2013 season!

I'm blessed to have a great career with a company I have alot of dedication and respect for.  I've been working there for 5 1/2 years and just had my fourth promotion this fall since starting with the company.  I love what I do and I love the team I work with.  I'm so blessed and always grateful.  I know plenty out there that are not so lucky.

I have definite plans to touch in this in much greater detail in a post to come.  But, we left our daycare that Jude and Luca have both known since they were born.  There were many reasons we felt compelled to take the boys out.  We researched and visited with a Montessori center in our city and absolutely fell in love with the program.  Much more to come.

I know I am forgetting plenty of wonderful moments of 2012 that deserve a spot in the best list.  But for now, this is what plays out first and foremost in my head.  I have a feeling 2013 is going to be even better.

Eternally grateful.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The special days

Life with a baby is very consuming.  So many diapers and feedings, attending to cries, trying to keep up on laundry.  Balancing work with a baby.  It's hard enough when the baby is your only one.  But if you have more kids, they need just as much from you in different ways.

Jude has truly been the best big brother.  Honestly.  My sweet little boy posesses all the characteristics of a good person.  An old soul and the age of 3 1/2, he posesses empathy, sensitivity, and is genuine and kind.  We have yet to experience the horrible obstinance and temper flare-ups associated with his age group.  Sure, every once in awhile he loses his mind over something.  But all in all, he is simply a really good kid.

I make it a point to escape once in awhile with my sweet boy.  We go out and we do something together, whether it's an adventure walk around the neighborhood, a trip to the zoo, or a drive through Starbucks to go get a coffee for myself and a Horizon Vanilla Milk for him- I make it a mission to have some alone time with him.  He might not appreciate it as much as I do, but it's a chance for us to reconnect.  To escape the sometimes demanding jobs we have of being an older brother and a mom of two.

Saturday was a day we got to escape for a couple of hours just the two of us.  We decided to leave Luca at home playing with Daddy and sneak a quick trip to the zoo aquarium and butterfly garden.  It was a great day filled with a gazillion of Jude's questions.  He is especially fascinated with what animals eat- the gorier the better.  I'm not sure he is so much interested in the gore, he just wants reassurance that the animal doesn't eat kids.

Me: "That's a Honduran Milk Snake."

Jude: "What does he eat?"

Me: "It says here they eat slugs, insects, crickets and earthworms."

Jude: "But does he eat kids?"

Me: "Nope.  No kids."

(Races to the very next display)

Jude: "Whoa!  What is THIS?"

Me:  "It's an African Bullfrog. It eats insects, small rodents, reptiles, small birds."

Jude:  "But does he eat kids?"

Wash, rinse, repeat.

I'm sure I'll be confronted in this new DOES HE EAT KIDS? phase with Jude about an animal that does, in fact, eat kids if presented the opportunity.  I think I need to figure out a response to that one.  My little worrywart won't like the straightforward honest answer of "Yup, that one eats kids!"

The best part of our escaped time together isn't so much the seemingly big events of the day.  The best are the small, inconsequential moments.  The joy of kicking soccer snowballs all through the zoo parking lot on the way to the car upon leaving.  The shrieks of pure delight as muddy snow ricochets about, Jude breathless with delight as he does the things that boys do best. 

And I smile and close my eyes for one second, making a promise to myself that I'll never forget these small moments.  These special days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Luca's Birth Story (Part II)

My induction was started at 7 am on November 21, 2011.  I was hooked up to Pitocin and my OB showed up to break my water when I was about four cm dialated.  It actually turned out that at some point, my placenta had developed a slow leak anyways, probably due to all the contractions I had experienced all weekend!

I can say with absolute certainty that Pitocin is the devil.  The contractions were long and dramatic.  And painful.  Oh so painful.  Because of my sensitivity to epidurals that became evident during my labor with Jude, I declined an epidural and just dealt with the pain.  I really wasn't prepared for it.  The contractions I experienced with Jude before the epidural were nothing compared to these.  By the time I was dialated to 7 cm, I was in complete agony and taking it all out on my poor husband.  At one point, he started to sit down in a chair.  I directed a slew of insults at him that basically surmounted to "You don't get to sit even for one second until this baby is out!"

After what felt like an eternity, I went from 7 centimeters to 10 centimeters fairly quickly and then was told that the baby was posterior.  Meaning, he was sunnyside up and this was going to make pushing him out a bit more challenging.  I attempted several different positions to push in an effort to get him to turn.  Nothing worked.  After two and a half hours of pushing, I was so tired and in tears.  I just wanted him out.  At one point, I remember one of the nurses asking if I wanted to consider having a csection.  All I could think was HELL NO- I am NOT pushing for this long and enduring Pitocin contractions for 8 hours just to end up in a csection.  I finally got my baby boy out twenty minutes later!  Luca Blaise entered the world at 3:20 pm, 22 inches long, 8 lbs 8 oz.  (NOT 10 lbs).

Unfortunately, due to him being posterior and his size, I suffered a fourth degree tear that required quite a bit of aftercare to get everything stitched back up.  I also lost quite a bit of blood from it.  But, I was able to hold my baby in my arms and look at his sweet little face (that looked a lot like Jude's!) and every single second of the labor was so worth it.

Luca latched on and started nursing almost immediately.  He received a 7 for his Apgar score (he had some slow reflexes initially, probably as a result of spending almost three hours in the birth canal getting squished), but was alert and taking it all in.

I did deal with some bitter feelings about being forced to make a decision to induce a week before my due date because of 10 lb baby fears, when he turned out to be not even 9 lbs.  Because he was so long and lean, the measurements were off because ultrasounds cannot take body fat into consideration and thus, overestimated.  I can't help but think that my labor would have been cake if everything had happened when my body and Luca were ready.  If we are ever blessed with a third baby, my mind is made up that I will absolutely do a midwife and birth center.

But, here he is- moments after his birth.  Beautiful and perfect.  I'm a mommy to two boys- the luckiest gal in the world. 

My beautiful boy.  Look at his conehead from being pushed for so long!

First photo with daddy.

My amazing mother, who is an awesome labor buddy.

My sleepy sweetie.

Luca's Birth Story (Part I)

I have a lot of catching up to do.

I left off with sharing the news that I was having another little boy.  I'd like to tell the story of that little boy came to be in my arms.  After I share his story, I will post a photographic recap of his first year and we will pick up all of our new adventures from there.

Luca Blaise has always wanted us to know that he doesn't ever want to be in anyone's shadow.  Starting with his birth.

Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was measuring far ahead.  Mind you, I'm well aware that I had some pounds to lose when I got pregnant, but it was ridiculous how far ahead I was measuring.  Six weeks to be exact.  I was tested for gestational diabetes twice- both times passed with flying colors.  I had several extra ultrasounds in my third trimester and the doctor predicted a BIG baby.

The week before my due date, the ultrasound revealed predictions that he was currently 9lb 13oz.  My OB expressed concerns that if he got too big, shoulder dystocia (where the head enters the birth canal but the shoulders are too big and broad to get through, thus creating a dangerous situation for baby) told us we could :

1. Schedule a C-section for 39 weeks.
2. Schedule an induction for 39 weeks.
3. Let things happen on their own but know that if we wait until I go on my own at say, 41 weeks, shoulder dystocia could be a very real fear and I would more than likely need a c-section.

Those were my choices.

At that appointment, I was two centimeters dialated and conditions seemed favorable for an induction.  She stripped my membranes (OW!) and sent me on my way, with an induction scheduled for that Monday when I would be 39 weeks 2 days.

Throughout the weekend, I was constantly having big contractions and just when they would start to develop into a consistent pattern, they would time out.  I was dreading an induction in a big way.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I would like everything to happen on its own.  I was overwhelmed with the constant question of Is this the right decision?

The night before my induction, I was so emotional.  Another downside to scheduling a birth, you have time to dwell on the what-ifs and watch the clock tick by, knowing precisely when things will be happening.  With a spontaneous birth, you don't have time to stew and worry.  I was in tears the evening before, giving Jude his last bath as an only child, his last story as an only child.   I was in such a state of anxiety about how a new baby in the family would affect my sweet boy.  I got little to no sleep and was a ball of nerves when I arrived at Bergan Mercy Labor and Delivery for my 7 am induction on November 21, 2011.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Continuation

I have a whole year to catch up on!  There will be a lot of changes coming in the next few weeks as I pick up our story where we left off and decide what I'd like this blog to be. 

Life has gotten pretty dang beautiful around here.

(Also, I've published some posts I had saved in Draft status about my pregnancy before we went public.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some news!

It's high time I stopped abandoning this blog.  Especially when there are some majorly exciting things happening in our house these days!  The first is that I now am the proud mother of a 2 year old!  When did that happen?!?!  Oh yeah, last Saturday.  But seriously, the past two years have just flown by.  My little boy has gone from a snuggly, cuddly newborn to a rip roaring, sports obsessed toddler.  And I'm loving every minute of it.

The second bit of exciting news I have to share is that...

We are having another baby due in November!!!

Yes, it's another miracle.  A surprise miracle actually.  But a miracle nonetheless.  We were shocked, but couldn't be happier.  It took me awhile to share the news as with our past infertility issues, I wasn't sure it was going to be really.  But, I'm almost twenty weeks along, everything is looking great and we found out we are having another little boy!  I'm over the moon.  Such blessings.

I'll add some creepy ultrasound photos later- blogger isn't letting me upload anything for some reason.  More to come!!