Monthly Archives: March 2015

Dear (Not-So-Much-Someday) Daughter,

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lu1 lu2 lu3 lu4 lu5 lu6 lu7 lu8 lu9 lu10I have dreamt you into being.

I knew you when I was 4 and first decided I was going to be a mother.

I cried when the ultrasound tech informed me my first child was going to be of the penis-variety. I was supposed to be the mother of girls. At the very least, I was supposed to have a couple of girls first.

The universe is funny that way though. Giving you what you don’t plan for and showing you how perfect it really is. (Although I admit I cried again when I learned that my 6th-born child would also be of the penis-variety. Just. Like. The. Five. Boys. Before. Him.

Don’t get me wrong having six boys is a serious blast. It’s never dull. It’s bravery and glory and puddle splashing ad slaying dragons and midnight firefly catching in mason jars and mud castles and watching earthworms wriggle and superheroes and fantasy and starrtripping and always having a dance partner for living room dance parties and having doors being held open and ladies first and 6 little gentle men to love and protect me. I have grown to love being a mother of boys with all that is within me.

But something …..another deep part of me kept longing for the relationship that only a mother and daughter can have. The one I never full had with my own mother. The one I see some of my friends have with their daughters. I heard all of the “Be thankful you don’t have girls, they are so filled up with drama and they act like bitches.” and it always made me sad that that is the relationship so many have with their own daughters. Because I knew what I was longing for would be so much more. One day, my dear friend Christina, who has a grown daughter, wrote to me and told me how wonderful, how truly wonderful raising a daughter can be She said “Don’t listen to the naysayers. Keep hoping for a girl. My daughter is my best friend.” And then another friend, another Christina, began to tell me about HER daughter, whom was younger ad so much fun with her out-loud personality and quirks and all around spectacularness. I saw my future in those two girls. My hope. And Claudia, whose daughter has blossomed from an awkward child to a more self-assured, wise-beyond-her-years young lady. And I see how much Claudia truly loves mothering her, how they are friends as well as parent and child, how she passes down her understanding of life to her every day. And Christeen, who has this amazingly powerful relationship with her oldest daughter, and shares photos online of the two of them, standing side by side, like fierce warriors with laughter and passion for life.

I wanted that for so long.

I wrote you letters before on this blog. “Dear Someday Daughter” they would begin. Because I nveer stopped believing you existed somewhere out there.

When I was pregnant with you, when I didn’t know you were my long -awaited daughter, I spoke your name aloud one night into the silence of my bedroom. “Lucy Diamond Rainbow” I said, clearly, with purpose. And chills went through me. A shiver of yes. I knew it was you.

The day you were born. Your Daddy stood down by my legs, his face beaming with excitement as you emerged, as I roared you out from within me. You came out all pink and glorious and he was appointed the job of announcing your sex at birth but as the doctor lifted you I caught the very first glimpse between your legs and in that second I was the only person on earth to know my someday daughter had come home. And then he announced, loud and proud, “Its a girl.” and I bawled. Cried right along with you at the wonder of life. I had dreamt you into being. Here you were.

That was 365 days ago.

I haven’t shone through all  365 of those days. I’ll be perfectly honest. Postpartum Depression and Anxiety stole a large chunk of those days. I didn’t always mother you the way I intended to. I feel guilty for that, that I failed you in a lot of ways. I wish I had a do-over but you are so busy growing. The first year has flown by and I have a million photos and so many precious memeories and you are bound and determined to head straight into toddlerhood with your eyes wide open. You have purpose. A mission. Meaning. Power. You are my spirit wrapped in a whole new vessel. You are very much OF me, but you are not me. You are not my mistakes nor my flaws, not my hopes nor my desires. You have a pathway all of your own to carve and I am here praying with every thing within me that I can provide you the tools to get where you want to go, chin held high, eyes on the prize, magic in your heart.

Never stop believing. Ever. Never give up in what you feel truly matters, even if everyone else says it’s foolish. Stand firm even when you stand alone. Treasure the ones who walk beside you. Show gratitude. Dance with your arms up high. Sing as loud as you care to. Be brave. People will tell you girls cannot be brave. Ignore them. Keep a journal. Look back in gratitude for lessons learned. There is no such thing as regrets or mistakes. Only lessons. Never forget you are your very own spectacular version of beautiful. Know you are loved. So very very deeply truly loved. On the day you were born I posted the birth announcement and the first photo of you and I on my Facebook page. It got thousand of views, 424 likes and an outpouring of congratulations. You are adored. On the days you feel like you might not matter so very much in the grand scheme of things, just tell yourself how loved you are.

11 days after you were born I wrote you a letter. Part of that letter said : ”

” I love that you have the eyes of a mermaid and the smell of heaven and the sounds of ancient secrets on your tongue”. I was already amazed with you. I still am. You are brilliant and perfect and everything I always knew you would be and will be.

Happy Birthday starshine.

Love always and forever and even beyond that,

Mommy.

xxxxxxxooooooo

 

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Day 8 Word Prompt Blog Challenge: Beginnings

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I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding. Not one to judge mothers who choose not to breastfeed, but I can spout out the benefit of it if you ask me to and many of my most treasured memories with my children  as babies and toddlers are of me breastfeeding them. My first son was a preemie and I knew nothing of proper latch, good pumps, donor milk, etc as a new mom so we only lasted 6 weeks in our nursing relationship. But my next 5 babies all nursed like pros, each for at least 2 years. It was a joy. Were there issues sometimes like a clogged milk duct or a milk blister? (Blisters on your nipples are NOT , in fact, quite as fun as they might sound.) Sure. Nothing in life is perfect all of the time. But the good outweighed the struggles. My children grew up healthy and strong and happy on my milk. They were easy to soothe. Boo-boos were made to feel better with some nursies. Sadness or sleepiness or general grumps all were helped with mama milk. And the feeling I got at the end of a tough day, cradelling my child in my arm and watching them drift to sleep filled with breast milk, their sleepy little eyes rolled back in euphoria before passing out, a tiny drop of milk glistening on their rose petal lips…..well, nothing makes me feel more at peace and more accomplished.

Lucy was tricky from the get-go. Being my 7th child you would think she would be easy for me. After all, this wasn’t exactly my first rodeo.

But apparently it was going to be different.

She wouldn’t latch. Couldn’t latch. Had a lip tie. Needed a nursing shield. Needed different positioning. I was learning as we went along right with her. I got advice from a friend online. I powered through. And it got better. Gradually. But it got better. And all along the way I shared photo on my Facebook. I began posting a daily nursing photo. Hashtagged it 365 Days Of Lulu Nomnoms.  I wanted to show others that breastfeeding was normal and natural. Plus I was so in love with my baby girl and thought breastfeeding was such a lovely part of parenting her and I wanted to share small glimpses into that world with others.

So I did. For nearly 8 months. Everyday. nurse2

nurse3nurse4nurse5

And then December came. With a huge wave of PPD that threatened to drag me under in tidal waves. And I tried to keep on keeping on, but every thing required so much damn effort. I skipped a nursing session here and there, just one or two a day with formula in a bottle instead. Handed her off to a big brother or to Justin to feed her. I was lost in my own darkness. And she sensed it. Of COURSE she did, she was cut from the very fabric of my soul. She sensed it and took space, began to fuss at the breast when it was offered to her, began to squirm away in my arm. One day in mid December she simply quit nursing. I don’t know what day. I don’t know what day because I didn’t realize at the time it was her very last time. You never DO pay much mind to the last time of anything until after the fact. It started with one day she just refused to nurse. Then two whole days, then three……then it became weeks.

WEEKS.

I was failing at this. It was exacerbating my depression. In every single other area of my life I saw failures. All I had that I knew I was needed for on this earth was nursing Lucy. It was the ONLY thing I could do that no one else could do. The thin thread that kept me here. And it was gone.

I found myself on a dock one rainy  day, staring into the ocean water at the patterns the rain was making and contemplating dark thoughts that were darker than any I had ever had. Stuff that didn’t even scare me to think about despite the fact I always thought it would. About how drowning works. About defeat and uselessness. About how maybe my kids would be better off without me. About how nothing really mattered. About how it had been a really long time since I had heard Gods voce and I tried talking to Him out there that day but all I got back in return was the way the rain sounded on the hood of my sweatshirt over my ears.

I’ve lost people to suicide. I know what it is. What it does. How it works.

But I am infuriatingly stubborn.

I stood there and kept thinking. About my kids. About love. About God. About purpose. Kept thinking until my thoughts started circling back to where they were proper again and in a sane place. I understand now how so many folks get caught up in that point and choose death. Those dark moments wrap you up tight. There is no hope in them. No feasible escape. You cannot see it possibly getting any better. I am lucky. I am wired in such a way that I am no quitter. It was something I got into trouble for as a kid all of the time, my stubborn tendencies. I latch on and start biting and screaming and fighting and I don’t let that fucker go until it’s dead. Tell me I can’t do it. Even if I didn’t INTEND on doing it….well, now that you said I can’t I sure as fuck am going to. I am thankful for this quality in myself because that day at the dock alone I talked myself down off  of a ledge so to speak. I made a choice that day. The cards were spread out before me and I had a choice to make. I chose life.

I walked back home in the cold  rain. The kids were in the living room. They didn’t know where I had been. I told them I had gone on a walk.  Justin went to go get pizza. I went to go take a hot bath and remove the chill from my bones. Life continued. As it will. As it always does. And I was grateful.

Meanwhile, I had been trying for 3 months now. 3 months of daily failing failing failing to nurse my baby daughter. She wouldn’t. I would offer her the breast and she would scream and arch her back and turn her face away from me as if breast milk was awful. I found donors and I was so very deeply grateful for the sacrifice they made, the time they spent to help Lucy stay strong and healthy. But she was drinking another womans milk and refusing mine.I made jokes about how my milk wasn’t gross and she was cheating on me with another mama but I didn’t really think it was funny. It broke my heart. I couldn’t pump.I tried but it wasn’t helping. My supply kept dropping until it was gone. It took me 3 days just to manage to pump a quarter of an ounce. I would pump for a half hour and get maybe 3 drops. I was failing. I bought a new pump. Took fenugreek, took milk thistle, drank 4 cups of mothers milk tea a day drank dark beer, drank malted milk, massaged my breasts, tried hand expression, power pumped, pumped every 3 hours, meditated, tried positive thinking and visualization, kept offering her the breast, drank my greens every morning, ate so much oatmeal I grew sick of it, put flax seeds in everything, drank tons of Gatorade, tons of water, tried brewers yeast, bought ANOTHER pump, this one costing almost $300, found an SNS on ebay for only $30 brand new, ordered domperidone online, NEVER. GAVE. UP.

Because I am obnoxiously stubborn.

And I thought “How stupid am I being about this? When is enough enough? She is 11 months old now. Isn’t it time I quit? No one will understand why this matters so much to me.” Because it did. More than anything. Not only was it the very best for HER, but it was something I had to do for me To prove to myself I COULD, that I am no quitter.

And the SNS arrived. The pump was working better than the old one. The domperidone arrived and was making a true difference. Bit by bit. She still hadn’t latched on but one night she BIT my nipple, and I was ecstatic. Not about my nipple being bitten. That part kinda sucked. But the fact she seemed to understand my goal here was to FEED her from my breast. As if she had some vague recollection of it all. So, Justin ran to the store and bought a nipple shield. And I tried again. What a pain in the ass it all was. Figuring out how to hook up the SNS and fill it with donor milk, get her positioned , keep her from tugging on the feeding tubes, keep the nipple shield in place. I wished I was an octopus with a few more hands.

And she latched.

SHE. LATCHED.

I sat in perfect awed stillness for a moment, watching her little mouth and jaw work at it. I had been trying to do this for 3 straight months and had pretty much convinced myself it would never happen and now holy shit it was. “Get the camera!” I whispered urgently to Justin. I was afraid at any moment she would stop and it would be over. Like it was a dream I didn’t want to wake from but knew the dawn was coming soon. He found my camera and snapped a  couple of pictures. I wanted to share this moment. With those who had supported and encouraged me throughout this journey.

sns1 sns2

I cannot tell you how happy I was.

Grateful.

Excited.

New beginnings.

And how moved I was at the outpouring of support I received when I shared the photos. I expected a few close friends to say “Great job” and pat me on the head. What I got was dozens of responses, strangers commenting how I inspired them,people shared my post because it meant something to them. folks were celebrating with me. It made me cry, realizing I really did have a community. I had lost sight of that that day on the dock.

Lucy turns 1 in 8 days. I am currently on a regimen of flax seeds, blessed thistle twice daily, domperidone  4 pills every 6 hours, pumping every 4 hours, power pumping once a week (pumping ten minutes on, ten off for a cluster of hours) and babywearing as much as possible to stimulate milk production. I can now pump an ounce per 20 minute session. She has continued to latch on with the help of the nipple shield and SNS. Today she will  drink MY milk from the SNS. I am pretty damn excited about that. It takes me 2 days to fill a bottle. But I’m doing it.

Sometimes it pays to be so stubborn.

Cheers to new beginnings.

Just please be careful not to spill the breastmilk on the table next to me when we clink our glasses.

I worked hard to get that. And it was worth every drop.

 

 

 

 

Donna Day 2015

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A child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes.

Donna was one of those children.

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Not all children who are diagnosed with cancer die. In fact, many don’t. Not to make it sound like cancer is no big deal in that sense. Death is not the only potential side effect of cancer. It just happens to be the worst one. Cancer survivors are scarred by a loss of innocence, a cloud over their head threatening to open back up the flood gates and let cancer back in again someday, sometimes cancer is kind in a way by only robbing a person of an organ or a limb or their sight……

Donna was one of the ones who died.

Donna was diagnosed in 2007 at 20 months old. That was the day her families world was flipped upside and shaken around like a snow globe. I can’t even imagine the terror and heartache her parents walked through. She passed away peacefully at home in bed between her mom and dad. I wept the day I first read her story. Wept hard at the atrocity nd havoc that cancer has the ability to wreak.

Today is Donna Day. Today is the day we honor the memory of not only Donna, but of every child who has ever been lost to cancer. Today is the day we make a difference. Raise awareness. Give money.

Yes, money.

Money is what can make a huge impact in our work to find better treatments and ultimately CURES.

Go to http://www.stbaldricks.org/ and find out how YOU can play a part in this fight.

Do it for Donna.

 

 

 

Day 7 Word Prompt Blog Challenge: STRAWBERRIES

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flowers

There are moments, tiny seemingly-insignificant moments that linger in your mind for your entire life.

This was one of those moments.

I was little. About five years old. It is summer time. I am visiting my Grammy in Vermont. She has a big house on a huge hill. As an adult I will go back to this house and discover it is really just a trailer on a small hill but at five years old it is much larger.

My Grammy and I like to go for walks. Everyday. There are lots of flowers growing along the country road. My most favorite are the milk thistles that grow around the mailbox at the bottom of the hill. I am both scared of and have total respect for their tenacity with their sharp spikes surrounding their soft beautiful purple flowers. I want to be that: both strong and pretty.

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Today we are bringing a basket. But not for flowers. Today we are going strawberry picking. Grammy leads the way to a field a quarter mile down the road. It is laden heavy with wildflowers. Some of them are taller than I am. I could get lost in this wonderland wilderness. I stick my face right into a giant Queen Annes Lace. There are a lot of bees here. A LOT. I am nervous but Grammy says if I don’t bother them they won’t bother me. So I don’t and they don’t. Grammy is really smart.

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Grammy tells me wild strawberries grow here in this field. She stoops down and plucks a tiny red berry. It is smaller than a marble. I think this is not very big and won’t be very yummy. Strawberries are supposed to be fat and plump. She offers me the tiny fruit and I place it in my mouth.

I am thirty-five now. That was three decades ago. But I still remember exactly how it tasted when I bit down and it exploded on my tongue. Like sugar and sunshine and juice. Amazing. Delicious. Sweet and tart and perfect. It was like a kiss from God. Every single strawberry I have eaten since then pales in comparison.

And that is one of my keeping moments. The moments that make up life. The moments I imagine will flash like polaroids through my mind when I breathe my final breath. That is one gift my Gram has given me. A keeping moment. She doesn’t know how many more she is responsible for. This is her legacy. Love and time-spent and joy and strawberries. These are what I will remember. About her. About life. Always.

What are YOUR Keeping moments? The moments that encapsulate this experience called LIFE……<3 Will you create one today perhaps?

You just never know…..

Day 6 Word Prompt Blog Challenge: FAERIES

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I believe in faeries.

I believe in mystical, magick. In wonderous affairs. In miracles. In soul mates and rainbow gold and the power of wishes made on shooting stars and dandelion seeds sent floating on the breeze.

I believe in these things because in the past, when all around me other folks chose to turn to bitterness and jaded sight, I clung stubbornly to a blind faith in the potential of a situation. When I was living in a loveless marriage, I still believed in love. When I was poor, really truly struggling to survive, living-in-a-tent dirt poor, I still knew in my heart I would see easier days with financial blessings. When I felt all alone, I knew I was still cared about. When I was walking down a path that had a ton of disappointments I still trusted that eventually my pathway would lead me to brighter days.

I’ve seen it. A million times over.

Sometimes I forget for a bit.

Like in the days after my fiancé Ken died a few years ago.

Losing him was like losing the sun in my sky. I was ripped raw, tore up, broken down. I got on a bus to make an 18 hour journey to his funeral in Ohio. On the way was a layover for a couple of hours at a bus stop. At the bus stop was a man waiting to board another bus. He was telling a group of passengers about his journey. He explained how his sister had been beaten to death by her boyfriend. How he had “known some people” who had dealt with the boyfriend and they had beaten the boyfriend to death, his body found frozen in the snow he next day. And now this young man was on a bus to go identify his sisters body so they would release it for burial. I listened to his story in horror. A week ago I had been happy. living my simply little life with a man I loved who was my best friend, and our 5 sons. Life was good. But then I discovered that life can take away people you love in a blink. And I listened to this mans story and realized how much darkness and evil and horrible things truly exist. My faith in things like faeries and magick and love wavered. I was scared.

It took me a long time to believe again. I admit I lost my childlike belief system for a time. I quit believing in love and light and hope. It got beat out of me by the storms of life, by fists, by words, by broken promises, by my own doubt in God and myself.

But the sunshine can never stay away for long. Some things have no explanation or answers. Some things ……you just never find closure or comfort or peace in. But life is meant for the living. So, we have to. We must. To live in mediocrity within our own hearts is to live a half-life, a life dishonest to our own hearts.

So, I believe in love again. I once thought I would never love again like I loved him. But I am. I do. I believe in prosperity even when bills pile up. I believe in laughter and hugs on the darker days. I believe this world to be a simply amazing beautiful place and I believe people to be more good than bad.

An inscription was found scrawled on the wall of a cellar in Cologne,Germany, where Jews were hidden, that read: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God even when He is silent.”

This is simple truth. That things exist despite what we may feel or be walking through or think or rationalize. That life has so much to offer, even when we refuse to reach out and grab it.

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In The Dairy Of Anne Frank, a young but wise-beyond-her-years Anne wrote: “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Call it naive. Call it gullible. Call it foolish to see the world through rose colored glasses.

All I know is, sometimes, if I hike out far enough into the forest, and sit very very still, I swear I can hear the rustling of grass from tiny faerie feet dancing.

I swear they exist.