Giving birth to an angel.

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There are moments in our life we never forget.  Sometimes they are beautiful happy moments that we cherish and nurture by recalling them often.  Sometimes they are the darkest moments of your life, too painful to willingly recall.  Somehow they claw their way to the forefront of your mind, never to leave.  This post is about the latter.  I’ve always been OK with sharing my life, this particular moment especially.  I’m writing this because I needed an honest post like this 17 months ago.  I hope it is helpful, hopeful, or informative.

 

17 months ago…

It was the night before my 20 week ultrasound.  I was so excited to see baby again.  Normal pregnancies allow for maybe 2 or 3 ultrasounds.  We had planned to take our son, who was three and a half at the time, so he could see his baby sister.  In the middle of the night, I felt pressure.  Thinking I just needed to go to the bathroom I rolled back and forth awkwardly to get out of bed and waddled over to the bathroom.  Except it wasn’t just the urge to go, it was something else all together.  Something came out.  I’m not sure what.  My water broke.  That’s all I remember.  I screamed out my husband’s name.  I just kept saying No no no no no over and over.  I could feel my heart pounding in my throat.  This wasn’t right.  It’s not time.  Everything was normal, why is this happening?  My husband’s panic evident in his voice, looked at me “What do we do?”  This wasn’t something we were prepared for.  It wasn’t in any books, it wasn’t a part of any tour.  Nobody had warned us.  I sat there hovering over the tub, sobbing.  I couldn’t even talk.  I just watched the pinkish fluid trail towards the drain and my heart broke.  My husband had his head in his hands, tears welling up in his eyes “Oh no no no my baby, my baby.”  It is so painful to recall this moment.  The moment our hearts broke, our lives changed, and nothing was ever the same again.

Minutes later we were rushing towards the hospital.  I fell into a wheelchair, my mind spinning.  They rushed me to labor and delivery and told me to pee in a cup.  How could I?  If I pushed I would lose more water and all I could imagine was my tiny baby suffocating in my womb, the place she is supposed to be the safest.  I protested but the nurse demanded a sample.  She stood there with me while I tried and all that came out was more amniotic fluid.  My husband gripped my shoulder tight.  I sobbed harder.  I looked at her through my tears.  “I can’t. I can’t.”

I was laid on a bed and hooked up to monitors.  I heard the familiar rapid rhythm of my daughter’s heartbeat and what I felt wasn’t necessarily relief, but perhaps a flicker of hope.  She’s still with us.  Maybe there is something they can do.

I frantically started praying.  Even in my mind I was stuttering and sobbing through my prayer.  Will God understand me?  Does he just get what I’m saying?  I switched gears and talked to my baby. “We’re fighters in this family.  We don’t give up.  Please don’t give up.  Stay with me.  I can’t lose you, please don’t leave.”  I repeated this over and over in my head.

A woman was admitted to the space on the other side of the curtain.  I could hear her moaning through her labor.  The nurse excitedly motivated her.  “You’re going to have a baby, today!”  I listened to her husband trying to soothe her.  After a little while she was taken to a room to have her baby.  I smiled sadly at my husband, “This is one of the best days of their life…”  He knew what I meant.  Even in our situation there was joy all around us.  The bittersweet complexity of life.  One suffers while one experiences jubilation.  Life and death separated by a flimsy curtain.

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I was admitted into a labor and delivery room and was told I would be getting an ultrasound to figure out what is going on.  I asked the nurse for a catheter.  She looked at me like I had grown a second head.  “There’s no need for that, you can get up.”  But I didn’t want to.  I wanted to keep the amniotic fluid in.  “But it will hurt.”  I didn’t care.  That didn’t matter.  I needed to do everything I could to keep my child safe.   She reluctantly agreed.

Yes it did hurt.  But I squeezed my husband’s hand, distributing the pain between the two of us and it wasn’t so bad.  A necessary sacrifice.

There we sat.  Waiting on an ultrasound.  A few hours later the tech came in with the portable ultrasound machine.  His face was grim as he scanned all around.  The baby was fine but there was very little fluid in there.  I also had placenta previa.  He told me a doctor would be in and left quietly.  I knew what that meant.  There was no hope to be had.  It wasn’t going to be good news.

I wasn’t in any pain besides the ache in my heart.  I listened to the doctor quietly.  I felt like she was talking to me while I was riding a carnival ride.  A rush of wind in my ears making it hard to make out the words.  I realized later I couldn’t hear her because I was choking down sobs.  The prognosis wasn’t good.  I had lost my bag of waters so nothing was protecting the baby from the outside world.  She estimated I would naturally go in to labor about 72 hours in after getting an infection.  She said there was a slim chance I would stay like this, build up my waters, and have the baby prematurely.  But she didn’t want to give me false hope.  She said the slim chance was like 1%, maybe less.

My husband and I sat there.  Sucker punched by the news.  I turned to him.  Gripping his hand tight, I kept repeating that the baby would be ok.  I would stay just like this and we would have the baby early.  We’ve seen these miracles happen.  People go on to have healthy babies.  I desperately set the intention.  He wearily nodded his head and repeated back to me what I was saying.

We stayed in the hospital like this for almost three days.  That magical 72 hour mark.  I still felt fine.  The nurses in the department rotated through and I must have met every one of them.  One of them said she was praying for me to stay a long time and that the baby would be fine.  She decided she would teach me how to knit during my time there.  Her next shift she would bring me the supplies.  Each one stopped in for some hair advice and if they weren’t assigned to me they would come by on their lunch breaks to check in on me and chat.  By that third day I was so familiar with the schedule and procedures.

On the evening of that third day I laid in bed with a gas pain that wouldn’t go away.  I complained to my husband who rubbed my belly a little but fatigued from lack of sleep and an abundance of worry he fell into a deep sleep on the couch next to me.  I listened to his light snoring, meditating on it. Trying to focus on the pain and minimize it.  The pain became rhythmic and stronger.  I couldn’t help but let out moans and breathe through the pain.  I worried I would wake my husband.  Poor guy was so worried about me, I wanted him to rest.  But something about the way it hurt and the way I was moaning sounded so much like the woman who was admitted while I was being triaged.  I think I’m in labor I thought to myself.  My heart sank.  I tried to for a second concentrate on the pain, willing it to just be gas pain.  But it was pretty obvious that I was in labor.  I pushed the call button and a nurse came running in.  My husband woke up and came to my side.  I kept telling the nurse it just felt like gas pain.  She gave me something for the pain and told me that if it was labor pain I would still feel the pain but if it was gas the pain would go away.  I waited…as the next wave ripped through my lower half I began to cry.  No.  It was labor.  This is it.  She turned up the monitor and my daughters heartbeat filled the room.  I listened.  This was it.  I’d never hear that heartbeat again.  Something broke inside of me.  My husband stroked my hair and held my hand as I breathed through the labor.  He kissed my forehead and told me to breathe.  The nurses ran around setting up for the birth.  Before I knew it, I felt like I had to push.  The nurses nodded at me and said “Whenever you’re ready.”  Really.  Because I’m not.  I’m not ready for this.  I wasn’t prepared for this.  This isn’t how this was supposed to go down.  I lay my head back and cried.  I cried to God and anybody that would listen.  I no longer felt the pain ripping through my lower half.  I felt an ache in my throat.  Like a giant frog in my throat.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I listened to my husband’s soothing voice.  And then with no pain killers or analgesics I pushed out my baby girl.  The room fell silent.  Her heartbeat was gone.

They cleaned her up and wrapped her in the standard pink and blue striped blanket.  They handed her to me.  There I held my beautiful little girl, my husbands hand on her head.  I held her as she slipped away from us.  This cruel initiation into a club we never wanted to be in.  We cried together.  Both wracked with pain and grief.  They asked us if we wanted a picture and we declined.  As much as I knew I would never forget her, I didn’t want to remember these details.  I wanted to remember her my way.  We stared at her for so long.  She had my grandfather’s nose, my husband’s hands and feet.  She was really tall.  Her skin was so fair and she had a tuft of dark brown hair.  She had a slight smile on her face and oh God was she beautiful.  Just 21 weeks into my pregnancy and she looked so much like her big brother, like one of us.  I didn’t want to let go.  I held her to my skin just wishing that my breath could fill her lungs, that the electricity from my heartbeat would make hers beat again.  My doctor came in and sat next to me.  She touched the blanket affectionately and stood silent as I grieved.

They took her to the nursery and supplied us with some ham and cheese sandwiches.  I looked at my sandwich and tears welled up in my eyes.  I had stayed away from cured meats to protect her.  Somehow it seemed ironic to be eating it now.  I felt like a failure.  I felt empty.  My doctor came to check on me again.  She sat down next to me and held my hand tightly.  We cried together.  She reassured me it wasn’t my fault and that some things are out of their control.  I nodded but still felt like I failed my family.

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There are moments in our life we never forget.  This was one of mine.  It’s been 17 months and I’m still figuring it out.  The sadness never leaves you.  It’s inside everything you do.  I had a miscarriage before this and for me that was easier to get past.  The genetics didn’t line up, something was wrong and it was an early miscarriage.  There was a reason and explanation for what happened.  But this…no reason, no explanation.  My child was ripped from me for no apparent reason.  I flip flopped between anger and hurt and acceptance.  I had moments of strength and moments where I couldn’t bear the pain.  I cried like I’ve never cried in my life.  Nothing could soothe me.  My husband would hold me and rock me like a child.  He’d pat my head and just let me break in his strong arms.  I don’t know how he knew to do this, but he just let me break.  He didn’t try to make me stop crying, he didn’t try to fix it.  He just let the pain swell and steadied himself.  Like the rock I would hold onto during a flood.  We took turns falling apart and sometimes we fell apart together.  But we consistently had each other and that is what got me through.

One hard part of this was when it came time to tell people what had happened.  Not because it was difficult to talk about.  I’m an open book.  But the response I was getting.  One person texted us relating their miscarriages to what we went through.  Another person asked if there was anything I could have done differently.  Yet another told me I’d be pregnant again in no time.  On one hand I understand that most don’t know what to say in this situation, but on the other it hurt worse to hear this stuff.  There is no consoling this kind of grief.  As humans we have an inherent need to fix things or to say the right thing.  I’d say in this case it’s better to just listen and not say anything.

I won’t even get in to the folks who called it a miscarriage as if it was somehow less that way.  “Oh yea, so and so had a miscarriage but they had two healthy babies after that.”  No a miscarriage sucks pretty huge and a preterm birth is terrible too.  Each is a unique situation that can’t be compared.  I gave birth to my daughter.  I held her, saw her face.  She has a name.  We came home with a death certificate.  Is it less because she was so young?  Do grieving parents who lost their 16 year old somehow win this?  If I entertained all the questions that popped in to my head I’d be the cynical mess I know I’m not.  Instead, I choose to educate people.  When I see them struggling for words, I immediately say “You don’t have to say anything, it’s OK.  It’s a terrible situation, and that’s that.” or when they try to encourage me with a future birth I remind them that none of it is certain.  I accept this grief as a part of my life.  That it makes anyone else uncomfortable is none of my business.  I own this grief.  When it becomes overwhelming, I let it swallow me up and I experience it.  Then I release it and think fondly of my daughter.  She’s my angel baby.  We can’t see her, but we can feel her presence.  She is with me always.  When people ask how many children I have, I pause.  That is such a painful question.  What do I say?  If I say one then am I disregarding my daughter?  If I say two and one has passed, will people perceive me as an attention seeker?  But that’s the truth isn’t it.  How many kids do you have?  I have two.  One that runs and one that flies.

There are so many intricacies to being a bereaved parent.  It’s an unnatural pain.  No one in this world can relate.  Not even other bereaved parents.  Each situation is so unique that each person who goes through it has their very own pain.  Even between my husband and I, we grieve differently.  I don’t know his pain and he doesn’t know mine.  We are there for each other and understand the importance of allowing the pain to be present.  He watched his daughter enter the world and slip away, a visual I’m sure haunts him. He watched his wife, usually strong and confident, fall apart and suffer through a birth that didn’t end the way it was supposed to.  He had to grieve and keep it together for me and our son.  These are his pains.  I felt the tiny kicks and hiccups.  I went through a pregnancy and felt each contraction as I pushed her little body out.  I came home recovering from a delivery.  My milk came in and I had no baby to feed.  I sobbed to myself as I pumped the milk into the bathroom sink to relieve the pain from it building up in my breast.  How can we relate to one another?  Our experiences are unique.  I respect his process as he respects mine.  We listen, we stick around, and we get through it together.

Each person is different, and I think the important thing is to respect the grief.  Some people cry there eyes out locked in a room and that’s ok.  Some people socialize and try to move past it filling their days with normal activities.  Anything goes.  It’s all OK.  I went and got my nails done.  I had them put a bow on my ring finger to remember my little girl.  While getting them done I looked over at the pedicure stations and there was a mother and daughter getting pedicures.  I stared at them longingly.  Perhaps I creeped them out.  I blinked hard to push back my tears.  And as soon as I was done I ran to my car and sobbed into the steering wheel.  I wasn’t ready for the reminders.  Shortly after I went through the starbuck’s drive through and the barista asks me how I’m doing.  One of those questions we ask people without wanting the honest answer.  Just say you’re fine and move along.  Don’t complicate this simple social interaction.

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Overtime I’ve lost friends because they just don’t know how to process who I’ve become.  It’s a strange thing.  You assume your closest friends will always be there for you especially during your hard times.  But it seemed our grief was inconvenient.  If we talked about our daughter they get visibly uncomfortable.  Soon we weren’t invited to things.  I wanted to be hurt about it, but I felt numb.  People in my life I least expected to be there, rose to the occasion and became an important part of my support system.  People that had been in my life forever, faded into the background becoming a vestigial piece of the person I used to be.  The person who hadn’t suffered a loss like this.  The loss has made me more understanding and infinitely more compassionate.  I am grateful of everything.  The problem with this was that frivolous conversations ceased to interest me.  I defended the defenseless and because of my stronger sense of gratitude I had different things to say when these friends complained about petty issues.  I wasn’t the carefree kid I used to be.  I was a grieving mother with a story to tell.

If you’ve been through a pre term birth, or are facing circumstances that will lead you down this path, please know you aren’t alone.  It is surprisingly common, which doesn’t make it any easier, but at the very least please know you are not a failure.  Nobody talks about this.  Especially in the Indian Community.  It’s taboo.  I think it’s seen as a sign of weakness.  To which I would throw up my middle finger and scream bullshit.  Why are we so ashamed?  Why are we not more loving towards people who go through this.  I’ve heard people from my community talk about others this way.  “Oh did you hear so and so lost their baby, so sad, poor girl.” Says the auntie with the old spinster daughter, just barely hiding her glee.  It makes me sick.  I was terrified and confused when I went through it.  Since then so many people have told me they went through it or know someone who did.  There are support groups out there.  The group ‘Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep’ really helped me.  Talking to other mothers who had been through it helped me to clear away the confusion and celebrate my daughter.

I liken this experience to riding out a storm.  A storm so powerful it uproots trees and leaves debris in it’s wake.  You look around and see remnants of this storm, reminding you of the fear and difficulty it brought to your life.  We rebuild and wait for the clouds to part.  We wait for that rainbow.  There’s no telling how long it will take for that beautiful vision.  On the one year anniversary of Sahaara’s passing we visited the park where we scattered her ashes.  It had been sort of a gloomy day, the clouds threatening a storm.  As we walked towards the river access, the clouds began to part.  We looked up to see not one but two rainbows.  A flock of birds flew around and I noticed a beautiful sunset.  The sunset was symbolic of our daughter.  We kept catching the sunset on days we were really missing her.  It became an association and seemed very appropriate on her birthday.  To one side was a beautiful glowing sunset and on the other side the moon had risen and the sky was darkening.  I thought of that woman on the other side of the curtain…birth and death…separated by a flimsy curtain.  The day was so perfect.  When you have a baby after losing one they call it your rainbow baby.  The double rainbow made me think of that.  A few weeks later a positive pregnancy test parted the clouds and a rainbow broke through the grief.  Christmas morning I woke my husband up with the news.  I am currently 20 weeks and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby girl.  Sahaara’s presence is so much stronger; watching over her baby sister.    If we hadn’t lost Sahaara, we wouldn’t be having this baby.  If we hadn’t gone through all that, this wouldn’t be considered a high risk pregnancy.  It’s been heavily monitored and protected by a gaggle of doctors.  They’ve been able to intervene on things that wouldn’t have been tested for in a regular checkup.  So many times we wondered why.  It took us this long to find our answer.  We leaned on our faith and spirituality to make sense of it.  After patiently waiting for the storm to pass, the clouds have parted and our rainbow is upon us.

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xoxo,

Shreeda

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First Day of School

Well, today was my angel’s first day of school, EVER.  He only went for a couple of hours because they start out with a phase in.  Slowly they will increase how long he’ll stay there and soon it’ll just be his new routine.  Today was a big day for all of us.  Little man cried his head off at first, which was really difficult to watch for Jayesh and me.  It felt like my heart was going to just drop out of my butt.  I felt helpless, but found comfort in comforting Jayesh.  Does that make sense?  Being strong and positive for him helped me feel better about what was happening.  I found perspective in that moment.  It was really difficult at the time, but I know in the long run my angel will really benefit from this experience.  He was fine within a half hour so as soon as we stopped hearing his wails from the other side of the door, we made our exit.  I ran a couple of errands and came back to get him.  Turns out he had a really great day.  He observed and explored.  I love his teachers and I’m sure he will too once he’s comfortable.

I think angel had the biggest day of all.  I realized on the ride home that he just had his first personal experience.  The teacher filled me in on what he did, but I didn’t experience it with him.  Only he knows what his day was really like.  Am I explaining this right?  Thus far, he’s been doing things with me or my husband so we’ve been a part of everything, but today he went and did this all by himself.  It’s his very own experience.  The first one to add to a bag that will be full to the brim with wonderful experiences.  Today he was a big boy and navigated a part of his day all by himself.

When we got home I could already see how much he had grown.  He had lunch and when he was done with his bowl of grapes he took it to the sink and dropped it in.  What a big boy!

My heart is swollen and my mind is vibrating.  I had prepared myself for the difficulty of letting go of my precious little man.  I couldn’t help but think about my pregnancy.  All the times I felt him kick and hiccup.  I could feel his every movement when we were one.  I remember so vividly nursing him and all those special moments in the middle of the night when it was just the two of us.  It brings tears to my eyes to remember the loving way he would stare at me while he was feeding.  I remember helping him crawl and then walk.  I remember all these fleeting moments.  Suddenly I feel the importance of all these moments.    I remember all the ‘firsts’ but I’m not honoring the ‘lasts’.  The ones that sneak up unannounced and rip my heart to shreds in their wake.  You see you can almost always tell a first is coming up because there is a lead up.  Like when he would teeter around the sofa or table we just knew he about to take his first steps any day.  The last time he ever does something doesn’t exactly come with an announcement.  It passes silently and then a while later I realize, it’s over.  Done.  No more crawling.  He used to do this superman swimming thing just before he started crawling.  He would lie on his belly and just frantically wave his legs and arms.  It was so funny and crazy adorable.  But he doesn’t do that anymore, and I couldn’t tell you when the last time was that he did that.  There’s so many other things just like that.  They don’t happen anymore and I don’t know when they stopped.

So on his FIRST day of school I’m eyes-open-ears-up.  I’m making the most of all these beautiful memories we’re making.  Sealing them away in the vault in my mind.  Taking pictures and videos of all the moments I can.  Some day we’ll be feeling the emptiness of the house when he moves away for college or work and at those times, these memories will give us comfort.  A hug from the past.

My little angel I love you more than you know.  You’ve done so much for me with out even knowing it.  You awakened a love inside of me that I didn’t know was possible.  Not only my love for you but my love for your father.  You see, I loved your father the moment I met him, but I finally realized how much when I saw the way he loved you.  You are growing up and although it’s hard for me to let go, I will, because I want you to fly freely without anything holding you back.  Your potential knows no bounds and some day you will amaze this world the way you already amaze me and Daddy.  We wish you the very best as you start your journey as a student.  You will be one forever, whether you sit in a classroom or not, so make the most of the knowledge you receive.  Love you my little angel, forever the most.

 

Please enjoy some pictures from his first year.

Teaching Children


As my baby becomes a full blown toddler I have taken on a new job and that is teacher!  Each day I get with my toddler is a new adventure full of discovery and amazingness.  What I’ve come to realize is that this new job is one that every parent must take on.  Not every one is cut out for teaching, so I’ll tell you what I’ve learned in hopes that it makes the transition easier for you.
While working on my Masters of Education I had a wonderful professor who taught me about patience.  Each class period we would have to present the beginning of a lesson and all our classmates were told to act like students and ask questions and be honest about whether the lesson interested them or not.  It was so much fun and so eye opening.  What I learned from this exercise is patience is key.  Many of you might be familiar with the frustration that goes along with teaching something.  I think that frustration comes from an imbalance of understanding.  What I mean is that one person has a greater understanding and one person does not and that imbalance creates frustration for both.  I believe it is the teacher’s responsibility to strike the balance and remove the frustration.

Teaching in a classroom and teaching your child are very different in that one offers more control.  In a classroom there is a specific unit and lesson and so everyone in on the same page about what is being taught.  With a child, it’s random and all over the place.  You have to search for learning moments and think on your feet and FAST!

When ever we go shopping for groceries I will see other kids and parents at the store and of course I notice other parenting methods.  I want to emphasize right now that there are many different ways to parent a child and none of them are “wrong”.  It all depends on your desired outcome, your goals, your child.  I’m only referencing these other parents because their style is different from mine and a pretty good comparison.  It might be working for them, but I know it wouldn’t work for us.  So anyway, at the grocery store I will see kids touching the vegetables or different items and the parents yell and tell them to stop.  My son almost ALWAYS reaches for a fruit or vegetable so I take that moment to teach.  I grab his hand and squeeze and bring it to our noses and smell and describe to him how to pick the right one.  He probably half understands what we’re doing, but he sees the action and so he repeats it and one day soon he will understand the concept and then he will know how to pick fruits and vegetables.  Some day I imagine his spouse will thank me for this wonderful lesson.  Other times he asks me for a cup and so I give it to him.  He promptly takes it over to the fridge and reaches up to fill it from the water dispenser.  He’s not quite tall enough to hold it properly so the water will come spraying down onto his tiny face and he squeals with laughter and looks at me with a huge smile on his face.  At this moment I’m not so concerned with the water all over the kitchen tiles that I now have to clean up.  What I see is that he understands that the fridge is where drinking water comes from and the cup is what you put it in.  He already has the basic building blocks there and now I need to help him fine tune his motor skills.  He’s a child, I certainly can’t expect him to do this perfectly.  So I grab his hands and help him with the motion so that he is able to do it on his own somewhat.

What’s most important here is that you bring yourself to the child’s level of understanding.  If my son takes his bowl of grapes and turns it upside down sending grapes rolling in every direction.  I can’t get mad at him for it.  He has just learned about gravity!  How can I be upset at him for something that scientists do for a living?  It is an experiment.  Life is an experiment.  It’s all trial and error and that’s how we learn.  I’m not perfect, I used to get frustrated until I realized the value of these moments.

What I’m trying to say is, sometimes it creates more work for you, but the lesson that your child is learning is worth that extra bit of work.  Children learn through discovery.  If I was to grab the glass out of his hand or take the bowl of grapes out of his hand before he tips it all the way, what will he learn?  He may even feel like he did something wrong.  But did he?  No, of course not.

So be patient and find the learning moment.  You really have to think fast because these moments go by so fast and sometimes our natural instinct takes over and we miss the moment entirely because we were too caught up on trying to avoid extra work.

I let my son make the mess and then I show him the way it should be done and then he copies.  He sees the consequence and then he learns.  He also sees me cleaning up and learns to do that as well.  He actually cleans up on his own now.  He seems to have realized that things have their place and trash belongs in the garbage.

Another moment we had was with a pot on the stove.  We were cooking dinner and he insisted I hold him so he could watch.  He likes to stir the food and “help” make the food.  Sometimes he puts ingredients in the pot for me.  He’s a wonderful helper.  Now the biggest danger here is the heat.  I don’t want him to burn himself and perhaps the natural instinct here is to aggressively pull his hand away when he tries to touch the hot part of the pot.  I didn’t do this though.  He was ever so slowly trying to touch the side of the pot.  (We’ve held his hand near heat before to show him that something is hot and not to touch).  His curiosity ALWAYS gets the better of him so I thought ok let’s see what happens if I just let him.  He very gently touches the side with his finger and then immediately pulls away and looks at me with a surprised face and says the Gujrati word for hot.  YES!  He understands this is hot.  He doesn’t touch and reach for it anymore.  He points instead and says ‘hot’ in our language.  To which I reply, ‘yes, that’s right, it’s hot’.  Lesson learned.

I’m not saying put your child in harms way.  By no means let him run in front of a bus so that he knows to look both ways.  But sometimes just letting them make the mess, or get a little close to danger teaches them first hand.

This doesn’t work for every child, and it takes A LOT of supervision.  I am always focused on what my son is doing and it’s all about him.  If he is in real danger I don’t allow it, it’s the little dangers that won’t really harm him that I allow with EXTREME supervision.  If I have to do something while I’m with him like laundry or dishes then I involve him.  I never take myself away from him to do something.  Unless of course he’s watching Bubble Guppies and learning from Mr.  Grouper.

Having kids is work, no doubt.  That is to be expected.  The challenge lies in meshing that work with our busy schedules.  I know sometimes you just need to get things done or get out the door, but it only takes a minute or two to set the example.  Don’t under estimate the effect of brushing off these learning moments because you’re busy.  Put it in perspective.  Obviously when you’re leaving for work in the morning is not the time to hand your child a bowl of grapes to experiment with.  You do have some control.  But do take the time to teach.

Having kids is a learning process.  For both child and parent.  No one is perfect at it and there is no right or wrong way.  Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you’re doing things wrong.  People always have a bag full of unsolicited advice.  Listen patiently and nod and smile.  Sometimes there’s pearls of wisdom and sometimes it’s just irritating because they don’t know you or your child.

There’s nothing like the feeling of your child acquiring a new skill.  And it’s even better when you had something to do with it.  My little angel is rapidly growing independent and it’s scary and exciting at the same time.  We want to make sure he’s a good man to his friends and family, a wonderful husband, and a loving father.  He’s got the perfect example in his daddy.  🙂  Yea, yea I know, my perfect husband 🙂  But HE IS!

I hope this helped or at least gave you a different perspective.  A little patience goes a long way.  Good luck!

It’s a Boy!

Photo taken by Belkis Cruz Photography

Being a mother is the most rewarding job I’ve been granted.  It’s been about 15 months.   It’s hard work, the hours are continuous, the job touches every corner of my life, and there are no vacations or sick days, but the amount of work that goes in is directly proportional to the amount of happiness received.

Motherhood and pregnancy is often glamorized and I just wanted to touch on some of the things about pregnancy that no one ever tells you about.  Books often put it very mildly and women never seem to want to talk about the ugly embarrassing part of it.  Well today is your lucky day.  I clearly have no shame so I will be divulging this priceless information.

This post isn’t just for the ladies who are expecting or thinking about getting pregnant.  I’m talking to the men too.  The sooner you understand what a woman goes through, the easier that 10 months will be for you.  I have to really commend my husband, he is so patient and kind.  He has got to be the most understanding man I’ve ever met.

So let’s talk about body changes.  Obviously you get bigger and the weight gain is scary fast.  Your boobs grow into planets and cause back pain.  This is common knowledge I think.  What people don’t like talking about are those pesky stretch marks.  There are some wonderful people (like my mother) who never get a single stretch mark.  That’s just luck of the draw, ladies.  No amount of cocoa butter or bio-oil is going to save you from these bad boys, if you’re meant to get them.  I took cocoa butter baths and still ended up with a smattering of tiny little marks around my belly button.  The best part was that I didn’t get them until a few weeks before my son was born.  I almost thought I had made it!  I was really worried about this part before I got pregnant.  Oh, how vain we are!  But you know what?  Now when I see my stretch marks I am actually fine with it.  They are a reminder of the sacrifices I made for my sweet boy.  They remind me of what a miracle we’ve been blessed with.  At first they are an angry red and seem a lot worse than they are, but eventually they fade into shimmery ribbons and then it’s like having sparkly tiger accents on your body.  And who doesn’t love animal print?!

Almost right after I found out I was pregnant I had some serious back pain.  Some days I wondered if I’d even be able to walk around and function.  I went to the doctor and told her and pointed to my lower back and she says ‘Oh yea, that’s normal’  Be prepared to hear this every time you complain about anything.  What I’ve gathered is that no matter what happens and how weird it is, it’s normal during pregnancy.  Oh, your face turned dark, that’s normal.  Oh, your feet look like you’ve got elephantiasis, that’s normal.  Oh, you’ve had diarrhea for 8 months straight, that’s normal.  However, if your gut is telling you something isn’t right, ask your doctor, get it checked out.  My back pain ended up being SI Joint displacement.  Which means that the point where my hip connects to my spine was dislocating spontaneously.  It hurt like hell and at times if I laid down I couldn’t get back up.  I also got severe migraines on and off.  It’s all part of the ride.

You know that long beautiful hair that people look forward to during pregnancy.  That happens everywhere.  Hair and nail growth increase during pregnancy.  So while I was cutting my fingernails every other day, I was also having to shave just as often.  It’s annoying because at first everything’s normal and then you have this juice belly in your way and you can’t quite reach your legs.  Then you have this huge belly and can’t even see your feet.  At some point I just said oh well and turned into the Amazon woman.  However this wonderful lady named Monica dipped me in wax and took care of the issue.  Speaking of waxing.  If you don’t do it regularly, then as you approach your due date, go get a Brazilian wax.  You will thank me later.  Not only is everyone in your business the day you go into labor, but healing afterwards is much easier when you don’t have stubble trying to fight its way out past staples and stitches.  I had a c-section so my healing process was different, but it’s all much easier sans fur.

Let’s talk about the brain for a bit.  I typically have a very good memory and during pregnancy that was no where to be found.  They call it “baby brain” because during pregnancy the energy is concentrated on “baby tracking” and developing those crazy mom instincts you’ve probably experienced with your own mother.  There would be times where mid sentence I would completely forget what I was talking about.  This one time I was on one side of the bed and needed something from my night stand so I walk to the other side and totally forgot what I needed.  It’s bad.  I would get funny looks and impatient stares, but oh well, I’m busy growing a person, I don’t care.

People become extremely familiar during pregnancy.  I would go to the grocery store and have complete strangers come rub my belly.  Sometimes they would just ask me when I was due and if I knew the sex, and just when I think I’ll get away without being touched, they reach out and pat my belly.  Total strangers!!  Pregnancy brings out the angel in everyone.  People were so nice to me.  I would get to sit down or eat when I wanted.  It was wonderful.  People were so worried about whether I was tired, hungry, thirsty, stressed, etc.  It’s funny, people are so worried about stressing out a pregnant person, but if anything I was so much more calm during my pregnancy.  Those that know me well, know I don’t get stressed and I’m a very go-with-the-flow kind of person.  During pregnancy, I was even more so.  I honestly thought it would have me on edge and I’d heard about mood swings, but that didn’t happen to me.  I felt normal.  The only thing that changed was I felt more compassionate and I would cry often.  Commercials, really nice people, sweet stories, my husband being really kind and thoughtful…all these things made me tear up.  I know each women is different so just based on people I know and what’s worked for them-meditation, yoga, pilates, keeping fit, eating healthy, these are ways they stayed relaxed.

Be prepared for the onslaught of unsolicited advice.  I knew this was going to happen, but I didn’t know to what extent.  I’m not really sure what compels people to get so involved, but they do.  Hopefully they’ll just give you the advice and leave it alone.  Some get really offended if  you don’t take their advice, just nod and smile and do things the way you feel is right for you.  Every child is different and every family is different.  You have to make decisions based on your child, your family, and what balances with your values and life rules.  Don’t shut your ears to the advice though, sometimes there’s valuable information there.  Being a parent puts you on stage.  People judge your life and your parenting without even knowing you or your situation.  It’s frustrating and so ignorant, but that’s life.  Have faith in your abilities and keep your goals in mind.

Men: If you can just listen, comfort, and support you are golden.  Don’t take things personally, this woman that you once knew will return, her body is being taken over for some months.  Rub her feet/back, tell her she’s beautiful, love her, be patient and kind, you get the picture.  It can be frustrating and confusing.  You may not understand her feelings for the baby growing inside of her, mainly because most men don’t feel attached to the baby until they actually see it and hold it.  That’s totally normal.  My husband could feel the kick on the outside but he couldn’t feel the kick on the inside.  It’s two different things.  I could see my husband falling in love with this baby or perhaps the idea of it, but it finally came together the day our son was born.  Do nice things no matter how insane:  I’ll never forget the time I was craving birthday cake and Jayesh ran to Cub in the middle of the night to get some.  He called me sounding worried “They don’t have marble, do you want me to try another store?”  What a wonderful man he is.  He even patiently drove around to 3 different stores to find me real chicken nuggets.  Well that was more him than me.  You see the minute we found out I was pregnant Jayesh became this super protective version of himself.  He’d keep me away from high fructose corn syrup, tons of sugar, processed foods, etc.  I craved sweet and he would gently tell me to try and control the craving.  He made sure I took my vitamins and ate healthy and stayed active.  He was as involved as he could be.    I can only imagine how hard it was on him to pick up the slack around the house.  He would clean so I wouldn’t inhale fumes and let me relax after work while he whipped up some delicious meals.  Men, just because you aren’t carrying the baby doesn’t mean you don’t play a role in the whole process.  I remember in the evenings we would lay in bed and Jayesh would talk to my belly and tell it stories.  He would idly rest his hand on my belly- protectively, lovingly…it melts my heart.  If you could see them together now…peas in a pod!

As loving, patient, and protective as Jayesh was to me, he’s about 10x more to our son.  He is such an amazing father.  I know, I’m gushing.

LABOR!  I had a million questions about labor.  Most of which I just couldn’t ask.  Some of my friends were kind enough to give me every detail and paint this horrific picture of what I was about to go through.  Then my mom said the most intelligent thing ever and put all my fears aside.  “You want this baby more than anything right?  Well this is what you have to go through to get it.  There’s no way around it, it’s just the way it is.  Deal with it.”  Simple, but so true.  All of a sudden I had perspective.  It’s just the way it is.  No use in worrying about the pain or getting an epidural.  It all seemed like such little payment for the blessing we were about to receive.

I spent most of my time in labor watching movies and joking around with family.  My husband, mother, and mother-in-law were in the labor room with me.  I ended up having no pain at all, pushed for 3 hours and was finally told that my pelvis is too narrow to allow the baby to pass through so they’d have to do a c-section.  I was terrified to hear it because that wasn’t the plan and I wasn’t expecting to be cut open.  I’d never had surgery in my life.  They prepped me by numbing me from the chest down-scary feeling.  They draped me in the OR and allowed my husband to be with me.  I laid there with my arms out straight out to the sides.  I couldn’t feel anything, I just remember it being hard to breathe and it was a real effort.  The anesthesiologist told me that was because of the drugs.  They pulled out my son and took him to clean up and weigh and all that.  Then when they were closing me up there was a whole LOT of movement.  Like violently being shaken about.  It was really scary and made me wonder what the heck was going on behind the drapes but finally they just wrapped me in blankets and I was able to see my son for the first time.  My husband brought him over and I just couldn’t believe my eyes.  There was this tiny little guy that I’ve been obsessing over.  With tears in our eyes we just couldn’t stop grinning at each other.  The only other time I’ve seen that look on my husband’s face was our wedding day.  I can’t describe the feeling, it’s overwhelming and so exciting.  At the same time it’s just surreal like you’re dreaming.  You’ve been imagining this baby for months and now it’s finally here and all yours.

The change is profound.

Pregnancy isn’t easy, everything changes.  Your body doesn’t look the same, you can’t seem to remember ANYTHING, your boobs are borderline scary, you either lose your hair or grow 10x the amount…AH!  I would do all of it 5 times over just to have my little angel in my life.  Although things aren’t easy anymore, and no one gets to sleep in, there is meaning to everything.  One little person who can barely do anything for himself, has done so much for me.  He gave my life meaning.

Poops-a-daisy!

This morning something happened to me and it got my brain going. Let me first tell you about my morning so we can be on the same page:

I woke up and got ready as usual. My mother in law stays over on days I have to work so she was up giving my son his milk and keeping him company until I emerged from my room ready for work. While playing with my son I realize he’s pooped and needs to be changed so off we go. For those of you who are mothers of a mobile child, you know how much of a task it is to change a diaper. It’s that time period from when they begin to wiggle to right before they understand what the heck you’re saying that’s the hardest. So while my son is squirming I use my body to try to hold him still and boom…poop on my top. He does this new thing where he grabs his dirty diaper by the side flap and tries to pull it away. I’ve become proactive about this and grab that side of the diaper before he can get to it, but today he pulled a fast one on me and turned his body to squirm off the table. So long story short, I used my body to block him and got his butt right on the front of my top.

I immediately started thinking about which top in my closet would go with the rest of my outfit, since I was running low on time. Luckily I wear all black at the salon so replacing the top wasn’t a huge deal. And that’s when it hit me. At what point did I become so comfortable with feces on my shirt that I didn’t even think about that and just thought, OK I have to change my top, which one will it be?

Being a mother changes everything. It’s not the same changes for everyone, but change for certain. I find that I’m even more laid back than I already was. I was always accepting of things that happened in my life, but now it’s a whole new level. My son brings all sorts of adventures to my days and I’m proud to say I take it all in stride. Even during his tantrums and melt downs I find that my mind is a peaceful ocean and I’m just trying to figure out what his issue is and how to resolve it. Very seldom do I get frustrated, I’ve reached a level of understanding that allows everything to make complete sense to me.

I have my mother and my grandfather to thank for this. I can only remember calm reactions from them. . My mom is always understanding anytime anything happens. She would explain very thoroughly why something was happening. Not a drip of panic from her, ever. My grandfather was the same way. He was so accepting of people and their personalities. Even if someone was unreasonable and just awful, he would accept that part of them because he understood their story. He would tell me since I was a child, that people don’t change, and so if you can’t change something you must learn to accept it. These lessons have saved me so much heartache. I don’t take things so personally because I realize that people are different and in order to live peacefully I just have to let go and accept. Of course I’m human, and things hurt my feelings from time to time, but you’ll find no grudges in my heart. At the same time I am able to recognize when people are just toxic and need to be ignored. One of the most important lessons I learned from my family was forgiveness. Being surrounded by these calm personalities helped shape me into the person I am today. I hope to create that same environment for my son. (I should add in here that “calm” isn’t how most people would describe my family because we’re loud and outspoken, but I don’t mean it in that context. I mean the calmness that’s in their hearts.)

Nurturing a new life is hard work, and although your baby isn’t always going to be dependent, the challenges change and take new form. It’s important to keep a clear mind and analyze the situation and find your solution. Baby fell and scraped his knee, that’s fine, let’s go clean it up and get a cool band aid on it. Baby is teething and has turned into a monster, ok let’s cuddle and put this oragel on your gums. Got poop on your shirt, change it. Got pee in the mouth, don’t worry it’s sterile. What I mean is, there’s no use in worrying about what has already happened, just find your solution, there’s bound to be one!

New mothers and fathers, I was in your shoes just over a year ago. I’m familiar with the overwhelming feeling you get just before baby shows up. You know when you start to realize just what it is exactly that you got yourself into. Raising a human being, in charge of a life, teaching…the job duties go on and on. Take it easy and a day at a time. You don’t have to have it all figured out right away, just do your best in the moment.

Getting poop on my shirt and not batting an eye shows me my perspective has changed. 10 years ago I probably would have squealed “Ewwwwww!” and ran for my life. But you know, when you’re a mother, you get drooled on, cried on, peed on, pooped on, bled on, pretty much every bodily fluid will spend some time on you. That’s life. It’s the role I chose and I love every stinkin’ minute of it.

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Time is Love.

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Isn’t he just a button?!

My life is HECTIC.  I only work a part time job, I only go to school part time, I only usually do weekend clients for makeup…sounds like it’s sort of easy right?  Here’s the reality of it: From 8:45 am till 9:30 pm I’m not home on Mon, Tue, and Thur.  On Wednesday I’m home until 5 pm but then I go to class until about 9 pm.  I have Friday off and sometimes I take clients on that day.  Every other Saturday I’m in class from 10-5.  So really I’m home Wed during the day and Fridays and every other Saturday.  I spend some of my time on the off days working on my business and marketing.  What I’m getting at is that I’m BUSY.  I have a small child and more often then not I’m feeling guilty about how little time I actually spend with him.  I have to remind myself it’ll only be like this until I’m done with school next year, but so much happens in that first few years of life.  I know what I’m doing is for the better of my family and I’m following my dream and after all that’s what I want to teach my child, to follow his heart, to be happy, to sacrifice a little to gain a lot, to work hard, and to earn that happiness.

I’m writing about quality time today.  How do we squeeze it in, and what’s the best way to spend quality time with your child?  Here is my thought.  This is my opinion and what works for me.

No matter how you choose to parent your child, whether you hover over their every action, or let them figure things out on their own, one thing is true.  Your children need to spend meaningful time with you. They need to see how you live your life and who you are. This will, in turn, help you to better see who you are.

So how do we find this magical time, and more importantly, how do we make it meaningful?  What I find is that filling up the schedule with activities is meaningful time, but it doesn’t have to be planned like that.  Movies, dinner, lunch, zoo, park, etc is a lot of fun and yes you are spending time with your child, but is it really necessary?  Those meaningful moments happen whether you have something planned or not.  It happens when you least expect it: in the car, during bath time, or even just when you’re sitting there looking out the window together.

What I’m trying to say is, readjust your thinking.

If you work full time like we do, you look forward to the weekends for that precious quality time.  Think about this: there are only 940 weekends from birth to starting college.  Sounds like a bunch at first, but at 5 years, 260 weekends are gone.  Just like that, gone forever.  So obviously doing fun things is great, kids always remember that fun trip to the zoo that one time.  What I really want is for my kid to look back and remember ME.  Not so much the stuff.  I want him to remember how much we’ve loved him, and how much we care about his interests and passions.  I want him to look back fondly and also to have gathered knowledge about his dad and me.  I want him to cherish our family unit and really grow to understand the minutiae of how we all work together so well.  So each time I’m with him I think forward.  I remind myself these moments are fleeting.  I think 20 years from now, the house will be neat and clean, laundry will always be done, it will be quiet and I will nap, life will slow.  So I cherish the chaos now.  I laugh with my son, I don’t worry so much about the little things, and I focus on teaching him the things he needs to be successful.  Even at just 13 months, he watches us and picks up everything.  I set an example for him.  I talk to him about things that are important to me, whether he understands me or not, one day he will, and it won’t seem so foreign because we’ve always had these talks.  We sing and dance together.  Because eventually this will turn into a lesson on being active and fit.  We eat healthy foods and go grocery shopping together, because one day I want him to just know how to pick out a good cantaloupe.  I show affection to my husband and my husband does the same, we do kind and thoughtful things for each other, because one day my son will have a relationship and we hope that he’ll just know from watching us, how to nurture a healthy one and how to express love without relying on the words.  We talk about how we feel all the time and right away because we don’t believe in bottling things in.  One day my son will have a need to express himself and, hopefully, thanks to us, he will know exactly how to talk about what’s going on with him.

So let us appreciate the nuances of childhood and make every moment count.  Kids aren’t perfect and there will be off days but let your kid be a kid and try to laugh off the small things.  Teach them not to sweat the small stuff.  And enjoy every little moment…I love to sneak in when my son is sound asleep and just tuck him in and look at his peaceful face.  That will certainly not be there forever.  Some folks think time is money, but I think time is love.  Each second should be filled to the brim with everything your heart can muster.