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Archive for the ‘family’ Category

2015-01-18 21.42.47

Esther Andrews, almost 3

 

Esther,

I am sitting here on the eve of your 3rd birthday and I am overwhelmed in the best way. This time 3 years ago I was on bed rest anxiously awaiting your arrival. After months of barely breathing, or sneezing or lifting anything heavier than a toothbrush….afraid that trying too hard at anything would jeopardize your health, I could finally relax. Now there we were, finally in a safe zone and I allowed myself to actually feel excitement without added fear. We were ready…I was ready to meet you. I imagined what your face would look like. Would you have my eyes? Your father’s nose? What about my long fingers? I’d hoped for the latter because I wanted you to play piano someday 😉

When I first met you something changed in me. Immediately I loved you. I can’t adequately descried this experience, because it’s just something you have to go through yourself to really “get”. If you decide to birth your own children into the world, you will understand. Nothing prepared me for that moment. It was everything, I felt everything in a nanosecond- joy, pain, fear, excitement, anxiety, euphoria….the most important…LOVE. I’d read about it, heard GOD be described as it and now I had the honor of finally knowing, feeling it…meeting it. You are love. You are amazing and no matter what happens in this life, please always remember and return to that. Things with shake you, rock and try to destroy you…don’t be moved. Stand in your power. You are love- the most powerful force in the universe.

At 3, you are a threenager for sure. You challenge almost everything and most days it demands that your daddy and I become our best selves so we don’t throw ourselves out of a window. It is normal for you to test your limits at this age…but REALLY…does it need to be so much!!?? Then I remember. You’re our dragon baby so this is par for the course. I remember saying something to your pediatrician when you were a baby about your drastic swings. One minute you’re an angel the next…well…”challenging”. He gave me good perspective by saying it was a good thing. It was a good thing that you can cry your lungs out, that you can wake us up at night demanding our attention because he sees babies who can’t. Babies who are too sick to cry, too weak to be “challenging”. I try to remember those words even now. In the midst of those many tantrums I try to find an ounce of thankfulness. Do I always, no…but I try. That’s one of the many lesson you have taught me. Be thankful, even for the challenges. Sometimes I think you are teaching me way more than I am you.

 

This year Fiona joined our family. You adore her and the feeling is mutual. You are the only person who can get the good belly giggles out of her. I was worried about how you would be with her. You were used to having us all to yourself, but you’ve done a great job sharing and I’m proud of you. This is what I was hoping for- daughters who could also be friends. My hope is that you two will always be close. Allies. To be fair, I also worried about how I would accept another child. I could not imagine loving anything or anyone as much as you. I had heard from other moms of multiple children that your heart expands and you find a way. It was true. When I saw Fiona’s face, I fell again. I loved this little girl so much! Even though that is true, Esther, there is still a little corner of my heart always reserved for you. Why? Because you MADE me a momma. You were the first to call me “momma”. You were there when I was stumbling through new motherhood. You survived it with me. The mistakes. The times I questioned if I was doing it right. If I was enough. If I could keep you safe. You were there when I questioned why on earth the universe would give me such a gift. You were also there when I rocked it and kicked its ass! You journeyed with me when I figured out how to speak your language. When I could look at you and tell when something was wrong and get resources to help. You watched me as I confidently stepped into my grace. You ARE with me. So for that, my firstborn, you will always be loved by me in a special way reserved only for you. That doesn’t mean you’re my favorite. Both you and Fiona are my favorite! 🙂

Esther, happy 3rd birthday my lovie. I hope this year will bring new discoveries and new experiences that will continue to nurture who you are in this world. Each year I learn something new about you and it’s been so cool. Sometimes I look at you and think, “This is amazing! How on earth did we make such a cool person?” Then I remember, we didn’t. You have always been and were just waiting to pick us because you knew we’d give you the space to be who you are. Thanks for choosing us, monkey. This wild ride has been amazing and we can’t wait to pack for the next leg of this adventure.

 

Love you a million bajillion. You are my happy thought.

Momma.

 

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Hi. It’s been awhile. I won’t waste time with inserting a bunch of excuses. Basically we had the baby. YAY! She is perfect and delicious…see 10497917_10152415248501195_8709602348851770029_o
Esther loves being a big sister…see
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So life has been good to us. Life with 2 kids is like playing man to man defense (that’s a thing, right? I don’t know sports), but most days parents win! Hooray! I love saying, “my girls” and so here we are.

Esther is almost 3. People refer to the “terrible twos” and while I won’t say she’s been “terrible” she has been full of tantrums. It has been our goal as parents to make our home a haven. A place where our kids feel loved, safe and most of all have a place to decompress. With that being said, we all still have to maintain our sanity. Lately it’s been difficult for E to follow some basic requests like “ok, time for bed” “let’s brush your hair” “let’s not go outside in just our underwear” ya know…easy things like that. I want to nurture the “free spirit” in her, but I also want her to realize that we live in a greater society that has rules (sometimes they’re ok to break, and sometimes not).

We’ve found that E responds to lots of praise and positive reinforcement. So, if that works best, why not go with it. To me, that feels better than punishment or the threat of fear. So we’re going to try nifty little charts I found on the Handbook of Life also known as Pinterest.com. We’re going to start by placing magnets after doing each task. I’m hoping that this will make our bedtime and morning time routine go much smoother. I’ll let ya know how that works out for us.

Have you found anything cool that works for your little one(s)?

I already made Fiona’s a chart but I didn’t post that because it just says “Eat, Sleep, Smile at Mommy/Daddy/Sister, Play with my Hands. and Poop”.

I didn’t think you’d want to see an icon of poop, am I right?

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Working on taking it easy. Still not on bed rest…just limited activity. Maybe moved a little too much yesterday- so paying for it today. Lesson learned. I’m gonna barely move today and not sneeze too hard Trying to turn things around and think positive and trust that I can hold this baby in for as long as I can. Heck- at this point I’d even take a week late (well, maybe not…talk to me at 38 weeks).

 

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I’m still here. Already this second baby is getting the short end of the stick- ahhhh poor second baby. I suppose I’ll probably not even wash off her pacifiers and let her tongue kiss the dog too. Oh the joys of parenthood the second time around. You figure out they are actually kinda resilient and you don’t have treat them like glass. Of course, we’ll see how all of this goes when she gets here.

Which leads me to my update and check in. I thought I’d blog a lot more than I am, but of course, we live with a toddler who actually wants us to pay attention to her *sigh*. And then there’s working and Jim’s still in school and (insert many other excuses here).

I went into this pregnancy already at an anxiety level 10+ and it’s only increased from there. Because of our journey with the last pregnancy- which thankfully had a wonderful outcome- I was a little worried about how things would progress this time. I knew I wouldn’t have my guru/savior/most awesome doctor teammate around this time because she moved out of state (HOW DARE SHE ABANDONE ME!!!) and that made me sad. I stuck with the clinic I had before and took on a new doctor. Immediately we clashed and were not on the same page as to how we should treat this pregnancy. I wanted to go to war with Iraq and she wanted to sit back and have tea with Canada. What I mean by that is, I wanted to be as proactive and aggressive as possible. For me that meant getting a stitch on my cervix to close that sucker up. Traditionally this is most effective if done earlier in pregnancy- 12-14 wks. She wanted to just “wait and see” how things went. That meant doing bi monthly ultrasounds and cervical length checks.  I didn’t like that answer so I did what any good millennial would do and I went to find someone who would give me exactly what I wanted- a “Yes of course you’re right”. I sought out an office of specialists who are supposed EXPERTS in this  sorta thing, http://www.uofmmedicalcenter.org/Specialties/Maternal-FetalMedicine/index.htm.

I made an appointment straight away and went skipping into the appointment expecting to be booked into an OR in a matter of days. Imagine my shock and disappointment when the doctor there mirrored exactly what my doctor at my OB clinic said. Again, not  satisfied with what I was hearing (see, total millennial) I reached out to my old doctor I had with Esther  (so glad I saved that cell number, lol). I shared  with her the advice I was given by the other doctors- which was in contradiction to what we had originally planned- and asked if I should get a 3rd/4th opinion. She put my mind at ease a tiny bit, and said it sounded like a good plan. She was encouraged that I made it to 38 wks with Esther and said I’d probably do fine again and to just take it one step at a time. Only then did I finally accept that maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. So I acquiesced  and tried to walk into this pregnancy with a mustard seed sized spec of optimism.

That bring us to today.  I’ve thrown that tiny spec and ran over it with a semi. We’re on the same road we were with Esther. My cervix is failing, it’s now too risky to do a stitch and I’m bitter and angry feeling like, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!”. I’m trying to trust and believe that maybe this is meant to be. Maybe the stitch wasn’t the magic silver bullet and that things will be fine. I’m trying to trust my body and believe that it can do this again, but it’s tough. I’m currently not at a place where I can be hopeful. I hope that’s coming. I need it to come soon. For my sake, and my family’s. I want to be wrong about all of my deep, dark imaginings.

I’ve had several doctors appointments over these past few months. I almost have one a week, for sure one every other. Today’s appointment was a follow up to Monday’s when things looked grim.

Well, the jury is still out but today’s appointment went/looked better than Monday.
The baby looks great, as usual. Moving around and is very active. That’s no surprise if she’s going to be anything like Esther.
The cervix is still measuring short and there still is a tiny bit of funneling, but it’s better than it was on Monday, so perhaps the progesterone I started after Monday’s appt is helping with strengthening the cervix- which it’s supposed to do. So that’s a win.
The doctor today was one I haven’t met before. He was  much nicer and understanding. I told him everything I was told by the other doctors. He seemed upset and said that he wished doctors would stop saying that bedrest doesn’t work. Instead he wished they would phrase it like , “we have no hard evidence that is works, but we also don’t have evidence that it doesn’t work.” I told him that for me, I felt bed rest for sure made the difference and got me to term with Esther. I asked if he felt the current course of action was a good one. He said at this point he feels the risk of a cerclage/stitch is greater than keeping an eye on the cervix and maybe ending up on bed rest again. The surgery itself could either burst my bag of waters- which  of course means demise for the baby at this point, or send me into labor- again with a bad outcome.
So, I still have my appointment tomorrow with Clinic Sofia and another one to measure the cervix on Monday with Maternal Fetal.
Currently I’m not on bed rest, but he recommended very limited activities other than work. I asked for specifics and he said basically evenings and weekends are for resting. No housework- laundry vacuuming etc (Oh bummer *sarcasm*.) No exercising or extra walking (Oh shoot *sarcasm*.) No lifting and anything that causes me to strain my abdominal muscles. All of these restrictions until I’m at least 32 weeks. He said that’s the short term goal. Babies born then have less brain bleeds if any- and tend to have very good outcomes.
I’m trying to be optimistic, I really want to be wrong about everything. I hope I am. I hope that I can make it this time around as long as I did with Esther.
I guess, currently anyway, it’s still just a waiting game.
The only bright spot was seeing the baby and I’m pretty much giving birth to Esther’s twin…just 2 years later.
Here she is in all of her peaceful glory (hope that means she’ll be a baby who barely cries and sleeps ALL NIGHT LONG) Ha! 🙂
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I have News

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Desiderata

photo (37)Rarely does a day go by where I do not think about my mother. I think I will always have a desire to have her with me in the physical form. I MISS her so much, yet feel her around me all the time. Still, that’s not a substitute for a coffee date, a Sunday brunch or a shared laugh during one of our favorite TV programs. It will be 10 years July 10 since she left me-us. Some days it feels like a million years ago- but usually, it feels like it just happened 5 minutes ago. I don’t know why that’s so. I guess it’s because I am a mom now and I’m who she was to me, for me- to/for someone else.

I used to keep journals. Like actual real life, lined paper kind. They are strewn all over nooks and corners of our condo. From time to time I pick one up and open it to a random page. It’s like a peek into the person I used to be. Reading them is like visiting an old friend.

Recently this ritual led to me finding something I had forgotten about. I read it and immediately regretted it because It left me gutted. It brought me back to the night my mom died and all the feelings came rushing back. It was like taking a million steps back in my “recovery” process. I don’t know what  is compelling me to share it. Maybe someone else has felt the same…or maybe IS feeling the same right now. Anyway, here it is. I wrote it about 5 months after her death.
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January 9, 2005

The room was so still. It was as if all the air had been sucked from the room and my body. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I was  there, enveloped in the stillness of that room and the reality that a part of me had just died- my mother is gone.

I had experienced death before. I’d lost a friend or two, an aunt, an uncle, a cousin before. I worked at a nursing home in high school and I’d been working when a patient or two passed away. I’d seen death- but not like this. This time is was so very different. I wasn’t removed this time. IT happened to ME. It happened to MY mother.

I was afraid to look at her. I was afraid to touch her hand, to kiss her cheek. I was so mad at myself. How could I be afraid of the woman I’d spend my entire life with? The woman with whom I had shared a special bond. I didn’t know how to deal with all of the emotions. I was paralyzed. The world had stopped. My world had stopped. At that very moment, the world as I knew it, died and fear took over me and I didn’t want the next moment, and the moment after that, or the one next to come. I wanted to stay still. To just pause and exist in that single moment- forever. From that moment I knew I’d be different. I knew I would never, ever be who I was before. I was raw and exposed as so it was.

I walked over to my mom and looked at her face. It was as if I was trying to imprint it on my brain so I wouldn’t forget a single detail of it. Her skin looked so smooth and it felt like silk. Her lips were pink and her cheeks flushed. I was surprised by that because I had imagined when a person passed that they would look pale. She didn’t. She looked peacefully asleep and that provided me with an ounce of comfort in this storm.

I leaned over and silently thanked her for loving me. For being my best friend, for believing in me when I couldn’t, or wouldn’t,  believe in myself. Most importantly I told her I was okay. That I would be okay. I mostly said that part for me. I wanted to convince myself of it. I knew she wouldn’t have left me if she didn’t believe I would be okay on my own. We were like that with each other.

I caressed her hair and willed myself to walk away. I knew that this would probably be our last goodbye. Her wish was to be cremated and I wasn’t sure I’d have the strength to see her and do this all over again.

I left her room and began to walk towards the family waiting room. My feet felt so heavy, as if I had 100 lbs weights strapped to the bottom of my soles. As I walked the hallway seemed like with each step it would grow another yard. It felt like I’d never make it back. I feel like I’m never going to make it back.

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When I was growing up, especially during my teen years, whenever my mom would act a certain way or enforce some rule that I always deemed irrational and or ridiculous, she’d always close with, “One day when you have your own kids you’ll understand!” And in my youth driven naiveté I’d always think, “the hell I won’t….my kid won’t have a curfew I’ll trust them enough to come home whenever they want!” Ahhhh to be young and dumb. For the record, my mom was right… as moms usually are. Better to learn that lesson young, folks. Anyway, I have my own kid now and I DO understand.

Parenting is not at all what I expected. In some ways it has been. I expected to have an increase in responsibilities- normal parental duties like feeding, changing bathing etc. I expected the strain it can have on a relationship, “No…I can’t do (fill in the blank) I’m tired and the baby has taken all of my energy!” What I didn’t expect, and I’ve expressed it before in this space, is the constant feeling that I have to protect this little being at all costs. Does this feeling ever go away? Now I get why my mom enforced a curfew, insisted that she meet the parents of whomever’s house I was going to go play at and made sure she loved me enough so I felt I could come to her with anything. What she was good at, which I think currently I am failing miserably at, is her ability to run a tight ship, while also granting just enough room to fall, make mistakes and learn the lessons.

Esther is fearless! She runs, explores and throws herself into experiences….just as she should. She’s interested in the tiny ants on the ground and then a second later looks up and notices the vastness of the sky. It is refreshing to watch as it’s an invitation for me to reacquaint myself with the beauty around us just waiting for us to notice it. But, sometimes in her boundless curiosity she runs too fast, or doesn’t look where she is going and almost falls, or almost runs into a wall or ALMOST_____. Sometimes, she does fall. The momma part- the need protect part- then wants to make sure “it” doesn’t happen ever ever again. Also, I’ll think to myself, “It’s a good thing I was there, she almost____.”

Lately, I’ve been thinking about parenting and the impact I want to have on E. I’ve realized that oftentimes, I’m being selfish. I mean that in the sense of what I’m getting out of our relationship vs. if she’s getting what she needs from  me. Let me make it plain: I hover because it makes me feel needed even if it’s not necessarily fostering her growth and independence.

My baby isn’t a baby anymore. Fact. She is a card carrying toddler- ready to embrace the next step and I’m still stuck in the “she’s so tiny and needs me for everything” stage. I miss my baby sometimes. Yes, it was hard to wake up for feedings every 2 hours, but the physical contact, the snuggling afterwards and the look of satisfaction on her face was divine. The smell of her head was indescribable (you’d think someone would make a candle scent out of it already). Maybe it’s just me, but I would imagine that if you dig down deep enough- this is the root of most issues between parents and kids- the balance between letting them go yet hanging on enough to make sure they learn the lessons and you still feel somewhat needed. I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud.

Esther is craving independence. I can sense it and see it. This indeed means that yes, she will need me less. I should be proud because it means Jim and I are doing our jobs. The toddler stage has been challenging, but I’m starting to appreciate that each stage has its blessings and moments of sadness.

This morning at 5:30 I heard her say “uh oh” on the baby monitor. So, I went in to check on her and she was on her tummy in her crib trying to go back to sleep while reaching around her body to pull the covers over her butt – it was cold in her room.  I swooped her up and we snuggled on the ground with a pillow and a blanket .She faced me and cradled my face with her hands and said, “momma, MOMma” and it was the sweetest f’in thing you could ever imagine. I suppose this stage has its fun/sweet/tender/ she still needs me parts too. So, there’s that.

Family Portrait, Andrews, Tanisha, Jim, Esther, Burwell House, Minnetonka

Photo Credit: Julie Hruska Photography

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