Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm Not Gonna Spend The Night Trying To Name This Dam Post

So, I had a realization tonight. When I first started this blog, back in my first trimester with my now 5 month old, I was so eager to be heard, and to be perfect. I worked hard on each post, trying to convey some giant point, and stand apart from the gazillion other mommy bloggers. I was not writing freely, for fear of being too simple, not grammatically correct, or just plain boring. I was so worried about what my readers thought of me, and more so, my writing. There is so much competition out there, and so many styles of blogging, that I didn't want to be labeled. I wanted to be sophisticated, politically correct, and most of all, I wanted to be gratified with each post. It was SO fucking draining. That is what I realized tonight. That is the reason I gave up my blog. I am witness to a number of bloggers, who are religious about posting every other day, and I simply can not imagine doing that, if I were to expend the kind of energy I did back then. So forgive me if the posts to come are short or boring, or piss you off. I am on a mission to let go of your expectations and just be me. I'm really not even sure why I am back here, attempting this post, after so many months. All things in my life happen that way, so I'm gonna just go with it. And, I'm not even gonna re-read this. Fuck, yeah, I guess, just one time...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Alexander's Birth Story

Sunday morning I woke up as usual with Victoria at 7am. That night I had a dream that my water broke while I was at a restaurant and splashed all over the waitress, so embarrassing.
We came downstairs and I quickly found myself in HIGH gear. In addition to the usual duties of getting Victoria fed, I was cleaning like a crazy woman!
After cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, vacuuming and mopping the floors, I cooked a giant breakfast.
It was 11am and Vlad was still sleeping. This was very unusual for him, these days at least.
After we ate breakfast, it was time for Victoria to nap and I was overcome with tiredness. I slept for her entire nap and woke up feeling flushed and a bit out of sorts.
It was then that I felt the trickle come down my leg.
I decided to take a shower and do some last minute grooming, lol!
The trickle became more like small gushes. I told Vlad he should call him mom to come from Boston for Victoria.
The contractions started to come on around 5:30pm. They started off pretty slight, but by the time my mother in law arrived at 7, were growing in intensity.
Once Victoria was off, I called the midwives office. I was so thankful to find out that Julie Bell was on call. Her and I had a recent visit in the office in which we had a heart to heart about my last birth experience.
We were really at odds about what to do. Our last experience started the same, with broken water, but the labor never really picked up and we ended up at the hospital with almost no dilation and needed to eventually get induced.
This time, we wanted to labor at home for as long as we could, without being stupid! With a 40 minute drive in the bitter cold, we had to be careful and mindful. After consulting with Julie and discussing the consistency and timing of the contractions, we decided to head in.
She agreed to meet us at triage and help us bypass all of the bright lights and craziness.
The contractions were coming about 3 minutes apart all the way to the hospital. Julie greeted us in triage around 9pm and checked to make sure it was indeed my water that had broken.
She also listened to the baby, who was doing great and checked my dilation and station of the baby.
She revealed that the baby was very deep in the pelvis and that I was 3.5 centimeters dilated. I was a little frustrated at this point, wondering if this was going to be another 3 day event being hooked up to all machines known to man.
Once admitted to our room, we quickly made it comfortable, as the contractions were getting more intense.
Julie did not require monitoring, IV, and allowed me to eat and drink as usual. Vlad was helping so much, swirling with me, rubbing my hips and back, and giving me reassurance every step of the way.
After laboring for about 2 hours she checked my dilation again. At this point, she announced that I was only a little more than 4 centimeters. I felt pretty crappy about that, as I was in severe pain and the contractions were coming every 1-2 minutes.
I was really confused about how I could be only 4 centimeters and be in this much pain. Julie suggested I go in to the shower to help with it.
Last time I didn't really enjoy the shower, but decided to give it a try.
I ended up coming up with a method of making it hot during a contraction and cooling it down for 30 seconds in between, so I didn't pass out.
Wow, the contractions were coming on like crazy now. And they were intensely painful. The pain is something that is so hard to describe to someone who has not experienced it.
By the time I got out of the shower, I wanted to bang my head in to the wall. I was literally shaking uncontrollably, and could not stay warm enough or cool enough depending on the minute. The mental turmoil of thinking I was only 4 centimeters or so and in this much pain, had me begging for the epidural. I was not going to make it natural at this juncture and in my heart I was truly ok with it.
The anesthesiologist finally arrived after what seemed like an eternity and I sat there one contraction after another while the resident desperately tried to locate the right spot. I truly thought I might die. I thought, I am not sure I can do this for one more minute. This pain was so intolerable, I truly could not believe it. Finally she finished and before putting the medicine in my midwife asked to check my dilation again. Wouldn't you know, she tells us I am over 8 centimeters dilated and that I have been going through transition. WHAT? How could this be? I was just 4 centimeters before the shower less than an hour ago. No F-Ing wonder I felt like I wanted to die.
I went ahead with the medicine but asked that she keep the dose super low, as I didn't want to lose the urge to push.
I am so thankful for this much needed break. I was still able to move my whole body, including my legs, and the dose she gave me just took the edge off enough.
It didn't take long and I had that bowling ball in my bottom feeling coming on. Julie checked and said, "We have a head, here comes the baby."
She geared up and we began to push. 10 minutes later at 2:23am baby Alex was in my arms! He weighed in at almost 8 lbs and was 21 inches.
We could not be more happy with our birth experience. We were treated with decency and respect and we have the most beautiful little boy to show for it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Potbelly: Coming Soon to a Town Near You.

We returned today, from our mini-vacation to the big apple. My husband and I love New York City. Let me expand on that. We love to visit New York City. We have no interest in living there and actually find it quite amazing that people do. It astonishes me with every trip the way that it works. With the level of diversity, the density of the population, and the number of honking horns, it surprises me that anarchy does not break out.
As I walked from our hotel on 50th between 3rd and Lexington, I was so happy to be with the people. Oh the people. NYC truly defines America, and truly is the real deal. With each person that passes, there is a wonder for me about how they got there.
What struck me with this visit?
The potbelly is back.
I'm not talking about the large protruding bellies that are an obvious result of being unhealthy. I am referring to the small, soft bellies on women otherwise in good shape. Ladies of all backgrounds and ethnicities are proudly sporting their lovely (wow, I just used the word lovely, hmmm) kangaroo pouches. Don't get me wrong there were plenty of women who had zero percent body fat and flat bellies walking the streets.
But, there was a discernible amount of women, that were proudly highlighting their potbellies.
I was particularly happy about this trend. I know that I am often blogging about being in good shape, but there is something so sexy about a woman with a potbelly. I am not sure if it is the thoughts of childbearing, lovemaking, or self confidence that makes the potbelly on a woman so appealing to me.
We all know Fabienne and Butch's famous conversation in Pulp Fiction about Fabienne wishing she had a pot and Butch asking her if she wished she had more pot. It was the end of their conversation, particularly the last line, that strikes me.

Fabienne: No. Pot bellies make a man look either oafish, or like a gorilla. But on a woman, a pot belly is very sexy. The rest of you is normal. Normal face, normal legs, normal hips, normal ***, but with a big, perfectly round pot belly. If I had one, I'd wear a tee-shirt two sizes too small to accentuate it.
Butch: You think guys would find that attractive?
Fabienne: I don't give a damn what men find attractive. It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same. "

Touch has emotion. Touch arouses more than just the body, but the mind and the spirit (think making love to your soulmate). Touch can temporarily block all other senses or cognition's (think getting together with the guy you just meant at the bar).
Love is love, lust is lust, either way, touch is powerful and raw.
I am a proud supporter of the potbelly, in fact on most days I sport one myself. NYC usually initiates trends before the rest of the world can tell. So with any luck in the near future, you will be witness to the potbelly in a town near you.
How do you feel about that?

PS: If you are thinking I just went on a tangent with the psychoanalysis of touch, I did. That is the beauty of having a blog. It is mine and I can do what I want with it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Teenage Syndrome

The sad passing of Henry Granju, a boy that I recently came to know through his mothers words, got me thinking about my own very turbulent teenage years. I was raised by wonderful parents, I mean truly amazing people. My father, the son of poor folks and my mother, the daughter of even poorer folks.
Dad is probably as close to Jesus as I have seen. (BTW, I am not a religious person looking for ways to compare biblical characters to my life.) Anyone reading this who knows him will most likely attest to this fact. For a man of his status, his humility is hard to wrap your mind around. I once heard someone who worked for my dad say that if he sat next to him in a dingy bar in the worst part of town, he would NEVER know that my dad was, what he is.
My mother, The Beautiful Warrior, is the strongest woman I know. As a survivor of childhood abuse, she spent most of her life healing. Luckily she found writing early on to express herself. The pain that she faced was incomprehensible by most and as she reminds me, "she would never want me to know." She faced her pain head on, with not a single vice, and without perpetuating the abuse. She is the most loving kind of human, with a heart that is arguably too big. As for her spirit, it is the most free, for better or worse.
Together they are an odd couple. Their physical differences alone, with almost a foot of height between them. They are the manifestation of ying and yang, complementary opposites within a greater whole.
As for me, I was a good kid who got mixed up with other good kids who did bad things. Does that make sense? Sadly, I think it often does. I did not come from a bad family or live in a bad neighborhood, and I certainly was a wanted child. I was experiencing what I like to call teenage syndrome, a temporary disease caused by a rapid stage of physical and mental development. One of the symptoms of a teenager is thinking they know everything and worse thinking they know how to handle everything themselves. Add an intelligent mind, and trouble is inevitable. (I often tell my husband's 14 year old sister that she should assume that she is under the control of a syndrome that makes her think she is smarter than she really is. It seems to make sense for her to understand that her judgement is temporarily impaired by the syndrome and therefore she has to revert to what us adults tell her. I explain that by truly grasping that concept she is a head above the rest.)
Couple all of that with parents who believe that their children are "just being teenagers," assuming that experimentation is normal and will not lead to anything more. Or the parents that feel guilty because they "used to do it," or still do for that matter. Then we have the parents who live by the motto "Ignorance is Bliss," wearing blinders usually without even knowing it and mostly because they can not handle it.
My teenage behavior could have had some serious consequences and sometimes it did. I was lucky to have a brother who turned me in; took the blinders off my parents weary eyes. For me it was not too late, I was able to make a change. But for others, especially those with predisposition to addiction or mental illness, there can be a point of no return.
The temptation to be a cool parent is a hard one to fight. But we must protect our children from their owns selves during this very critical transition period from child to adult.
Having said that, it is hard to know exactly how much control we should have over our kids.
My blogging comrade Galit wrote these wise words, "But in parenting, hand-in-hand with love, is control. In the form of responsibility, accountability and consequences. And that should start when kids are little. You can’t go for a decade all lovey-dovey and then suddenly come down with with all of those -itys. You know what’s right. You know what choices are okay with you. And you also know why."
One thing I do know is that I will work to lessen my judgements of others. Katie Granju lost her son, and there was certainly no lack of love or good parenting.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"If You're Reading This"

I wasn't planning on writing about Katie Granju and her son Henry's sad passing. So many have reached out with their words to pay tribute to this suffering family.
It was when I was driving today and heard the song, "If You're Reading This" by the talented Tim McGraw that I became inspired.
The song begins with these words.

If you're reading this
My momma is sitting there
Looks like I only got a one way ticket over here
I sure wish I could give you one more kiss
I'm up here with God
And we're both watching over you

I immediately thought of Katie and the depth of her pain, now. Even more, what is to come when the initial protection that God gives us in these situations wears off and life keeps happening.
Still listening...

So lay me down
In that open field out on the edge of town
And know my soul
Is where my momma always prayed where it would go.
If you're reading this I'm already home.

As I listen, I feel deeply sad, brought to tears for a mother and her baby boy. A mother who undoubtedly loves this boy more than life itself.
Katie and I are strangers. But all mothers are so completely connected when it comes to the love, the undying adoration, we have for our children.
My mother, who survived extreme childhood abuse, always told me that her healing may make her crazy, but if she ever lost me, that would be it.
And when I lost my baby at 7 weeks gestation, a misfortune that some do not even consider a loss, I felt doors of pain open up in my soul that I didn't know existed.
But even more, when I hold my baby girl everyday, I feel love that I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams.
The loss of a child is incomprehensible pain. It will never fully go away, nor would we want it too, but time will heal your heart Katie. Time will give you back your breath.

Just remember this
I'm in a better place
Soldiers live in peace and angels sing amazing grace

Henry you are a soldier, your passing will not be in vein, your memory will live on.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Skinny Bitch

Last August the dam book finally got me. I had seen it on the shelves floating around for weeks. I even picked it up a couple of times briefly to immediately throw it back on the shelf and tell myself that I have no reason to read this book. Somehow it just continued to end up in my eye sight (I know, most likely it was not "meant to be" but rather good marketing on the part of Barnes and Nobles). I finally caved and purchased it during the week that my husband invited his family to stay with us. Enough Said. I had not even read the back of the book. Judging by the title coupled with the fact that it was a New York Times Bestseller, I was expecting a book about the plight of being overweight and how to FIX IT. Boy was I in for a surprise. And it wasn't a pleasant one.
This book was far from the usual diet book that offered quick fixes and 10 minute workouts. The information in this book is not to be taken lightly. I offer a full disclaimer, here and now, READER BEWARE. Once you read this book you will never look at food the same again. You can not go back and forget, the information will stick to you like SUPER FUCKING GLUE. So if you are considering Skinny Bitch for a summer read, be sure to eat as much of what you like for about a week first. All day everyday, eat, eat, eat.
Maybe I am ignorant, but I had NO idea what my chicken or bacon went through to get to me. And frankly that is an entirely separate post that will take some real heart to explain. It's seriously a dam shame and I am embarrassed that for the past 30 years I have been a mindless drown completely unaware of this horrifying situation.
And the information about humans being unable to process meat and in no way biologically created to hunt meat. How much sense does that make? I don't know about you, but I couldn't kill an animal with my bare hands and I certainly don't have claws.
Did you know that animals have a really short intestinal track that allows them to expel meat almost immediately? Not you sweetheart. You have super long intestines made for processing mostly fruits, veggies, and grains. Guess what happens when the meat tries to make its way out of you. YUP, you got it. It sticks to the inside of your intestines and ROTS! If you take a peek behind you next time you are on the toilet, you will notice that your movements are quite shoddy and not very whole. After giving up meat for 2 weeks my stuff was SOLID! Straight up Diesal, as my boy Deehan or my sister from another mister Erin, would say.
Here is another one that blew my lid. Humans only produce the enzyme that breaks down lactose for the first two years of life. So for those first two glorious years of nipple sucking, we have what it takes and after that we are on our own to process milk products without any real help. That explains why you end up gassy and bloated every time you digest milk products. We are all pretty much lactose intolerant after age 2. And we are the only mammals on earth to drink milk after two. Furthermore, we are the only species that drink milk of another species. Let's take that a step further and realize that nearly any animals milk IS suitable to drink, but Cow's milk is the MOST profitable.
Here is the deal. I never ate another piece of meat (Except for some Jewish Penicillin once or twice) since I finished Skinny Bitch. But there is an important concept to note. The authors, Rory and Kim, advocate for a vegan lifestyle. Although my husband and I have 1 week of veganism a year, the lifestyle just does not work for me. At least not yet. What I am trying to say is, I recommend this read, no question, but do what is right for you. Knowledge is everything.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Carolyn, Angel of Mine

Friday evening I dreamt of my dear childhood playmate. When I think of my childhood, I think of Carolyn. She was my neighbor from birth through age 10 or 11. The details escape me. I can still see her angelic face, her soft pale skin and her golden locks. We played for hours on end, played and played.
As I walked in the receiving line the day of her laying to rest, I cried harder than I have ever cried before. It was an uncontrollable wail, a howl that in a normal setting would have been heard miles away and would have commanded help of some kind. But that day, May 29th, 2003, everybody cried. The room was filled with tears, heartache, loss and love. As I approached my dear childhood companion laying still in her casket, my cries were replaced with peace. That was the effect that Carolyn had in life and now in death.
Thinking about the last interaction her and I had is hard. Almost 5 years in a new home, with new friends, we passed in the hall at school. She suggested we get some lunch over the weekend. I can still picture the very hall, the color of the walls, her backpack, my black boots. It was if somewhere inside me, I was aware that this would be my final conversation with her. To remember so clearly. To remember SO clearly.
We never did have that lunch. That will always be my biggest regret. I know that I could not have saved her, Carolyn's life and death was predetermined. But I could have said I love you. I could have reminded her of the way we used to paint her driveway with water and really believed it was paint every time. Or of the million or so times we watched Annie together. I could have told her how I cried for hours the day my dad told me we were moving. I could have just held her hand or her body.
This was not the first time Carolyn has come to visit me. When I lost my baby a few years back she came to me several times. She brought light to such darkness. It was a Facebook post by her brother on Saturday morning to memorialize her 7 year anniversary that jogged the memory of the dream I had the night before. There was no premeditation that led to my dream that night, I am not one for remembering dates. Carolyn came to me, as she has in the past, peacefully and timely.
Thank you, Angel of Mine.

Carolyn was tormented with overlapping mental illnesses that modern medicine could not help. If you know someone who suffers from mental illness and would like to help, please visit the National Alliance For Mental Illness (NAMI) website.