Fall

WARNING: This content might make you blush if you are part of my family or I am part of yours … or if Christian Grey makes you blush in NOT a good way.

A November Night

I peered into a bassinet and saw a full-term baby. My baby was a girl, and she resembled Rowan. Through a translucent, heavenly membrane—only a dream can produce—I saw Rowan with her father. Rowan was as she is now—a spunky, beautiful toddler. These two were in their own little world—separate from mine. I was occupied in my world with my full-term Rowan-resembling baby girl. I had nothing to offer them, over there, in that moment. Rowan was happy, healthy, and well taken care of by her daddy. Within those moments, my new baby consumed me—that world was hers and mine.

*Nine.

I placed my new baby upon my breast, and she latched on perfectly. I felt that pull on my breast and the sweet relief of my milk releasing. Following those moments, I placed my new baby upon my second breast.

All was perfect and easy and heart-warming. She was not pale or discolored; she was ripe and beautiful. There was no darkness, no syringes, no chaos. We were not in Room 14; we were in Heaven. My new baby was a healthy, precious, six-pound baby; she was not just 1.5 pounds.

And when I awoke, my heart did not hurt; I did not wish to fall back to sleep. My heart was at peace, and I felt happy. I felt grateful for this beautiful gift I was given in my sleep.

I was grateful to find healing. I need much more healing, as I’ve neglected my heart for too long.

Flashback to October

She lost herself. Somewhere between the inability to conceive a child, the money she didn’t have to conceive a child; somewhere between the shots, the egg retrievals, the lack of control over her own body and happiness. She lost herself somewhere between her very first, ill-fated pregnancy and the blood that poured out of her while tears streamed down her face. She was lost and did not understand who she was when she realized her babies could not be conceived by her. Pieces of her died when the happiest months of her life were taken too soon as her body proved unable to fulfill the needs of her babies in her womb. Her heart migrated from numb to shattered to bitter because her baby died that morning. And she was not her anymore.

She put one foot in front of the other. Saggy, unflattering leggings. Unattractive, over-sized t-shirts with milk stains. The frizzy buns. With her shoulders slumped, with her broken heart, living in fear and desperation, she just put one fucking foot in front of the other and gave the universe her middle finger for torturing her in such harsh, hellish ways.

730 days of this was too long to endure this grief. But what will “talking” to someone do? Could there possibly be any medication that could help? Was she depressed, or was her happiness doomed because her baby died? I mean, how does one carry on, and who really cares anyway? Of course her heart was hardened; of course she wanted to hurt those closest to her; of course she didn’t need anyone. She was dead inside. But—this girl carried a fire with her, a fire she always had. Deep down inside, there was a desire to burn bright. Her heart was numb; the next best thing was a drug.

The feeling he gave her was intoxicating. His kindness and flattery—she took the bait. With each **encounter, her fire burned a little brighter. What a sick drug; so addictive that she turned her back on her family—on her husband.

She’d hit the bottom. Absolutely rock bottom.

He craved her body, and she craved those feelings. A woman’s body can be so convincing, and she was that woman. A Queen. She was so heavily desired—until she wasn’t worth it anymore, because he loved someone else. Of course he did; he loved someone who was so unlike her. She was no longer worth the effort. What a stupid girl. What a stupid girl for being so smart but falling for a player. The hard crash and withdrawal from this drug left her feeling used, rejected, broken. How cruel of her to break her own heart—to betray the one who loved her the deepest and the hardest. She betrayed the man who touched her body in all the right ways and gave her more pleasure than anyone ever could, finding secret places with his body and making her cry out of pleasure. She left the man who studied her—inside and out—and cherished every ounce of her.

Present Day

I finally surrendered.

I’ve been seeing a counselor for about six weeks now, and it is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. In addition, my medication has been adjusted, and I feel grateful for what I have versus angry for what I don’t have. My heart carries hope and has softened. I feel the depths of my emotions—the overwhelming, romantic love I have for my husband. My counselor has encouraged me to look at him differently; to feel him differently. She’s encouraged me to study my daughter’s beautiful face and embrace her touch when she hugs me or even rests her little arm on mine.

My counselor has advised me to live in fun. To have fun and be silly—live in my baby girl’s world for a bit each day. I asked her how I should heal my marriage. She knows our foundation is strong; she smiled and said, “Start with fun. Go have fun with your husband.”

We have spoiled our marriage rotten! Expensive dates; words of affection and admiration. Gifts and obsession and “I miss yous” … and—the best sex of my life.

Our bed hosts our dirtiness, our filth. Oh, if our walls could talk. The pleasure; the vulnerability. His body; his eyes. He yearns for me and takes my breath away. I’m obsessed with his sex; it builds my confidence and heals pieces of my heart. He is smitten with me and lights my fire.

I am happy today, and I will work hard every day of my life to maintain this spirit. I am grateful to have finally hit the bottom—for there is nowhere else to go but up.

*I was born and she died on the ninth—a day that belongs to her and me.

**Sexting; a single make-out session with some heavy petting.

September

She grins from ear to ear when her eyes meet mine. She is sunshine, and she is perfect.

I am preparing for a very difficult season. I can’t believe my Emmanuelle is so far away from me; I can’t believe it has almost been a year. How dare time pass so quickly. How dare she be a distant memory. She is not distant to me.

How very quickly we forget.

We prepare for celebration. We strategize and contemplate the logistics and decorations and food of an event to celebrate a person’s first birthday.

Damn straight.

This occasion will not be remembered by Her Majesty – THE babe-turned-one-year-old whom we celebrate.

“It’s really for the parents.”

Rowan has put my heart back together. I look at photos of her and wish I could tell her that I did not realize how truly broken-hearted I was before I had her. I mean, I walked around with a shattered heart, but I live now. I live.

I shower my baby with kisses and affection. I shower her with constant affirmations and speak often of her beauty. This child would have an ego one size too big if she could comprehend my words.

How do I raise a young girl who knows her self-worth, yet does not inhabit an entitled attitude? I hope to serve as a role model; I know she will see me as the definition of “woman”. I want that definition to contain words like “compassionate; gracious; hard-working; independent; polite.”

I know how to love this child, but how do I raise her?

That’s all for now I suppose. More later, hopefully…

Papa Dearest

When I think of Papa, I think of this fiesty *old man climbing the rocks of Garden of the Gods.

Fearless.

I think of a man who lived. Who was always willing to live.

Yes, Papa has a lot of stories to tell. Let him tell. 

The father of seven boys. You can tell they’re brothers.

I can only imagine my stunning grandmother in the 50s and 60s … with child … for 10 years.

What a treat it’s been to spend time with my Papa. I love you, Papa.

Be well. Please stay. I understand you are stable. Please be comfortable. (Tell your loved ones present if you aren’t.) Papa, be comfortable.

Please stay.

*I don’t mean “old” in a stereotypical (Senile? If you will…) way. But imagine this elderly, fiesty fellow …. hiking for heaven’s sake. Hiking.

82 Days

We have a 6-pound 12-ounce little princess who is keeping us on our toes, no doubt!

I was told preemies LOVE to be held and snuggled A LOT. I think my husband can attest to that. He has spent hours doing so …

My beloved let me sleep in this morning. Mommy ate some breakfast (chocolate cake) and took her medication (antibiotics for a UTI that must be chopped into a million little pieces). Now Rowie is just hanging out at the breast for however long she wants. Well – until it’s time to get ready for her eye exam.

Rowan has been home for two days now after spending 82 days in the NICU. I’m not as scared as I thought I’d be. Having her in a “normal” newborn environment sans wires and monitors – it makes sense. Of course, before I lay me down to sleep I check for her neck/head placement; her coloring; I check for moving air beneath her nostrils on that adorable button nose. I do this several times; I also rearrange any cloth near her neck. “Do not obstruct my baby’s airway, swaddle blanket. D’ya hear?”

I mean, Rowan and we spend very little time sleeping at the same time, so the hours of not monitoring her airway, coloring, etc. are few.

She de-sats, gets a little ahead of herself during feeds. And that damn reflux. But we know her well and how to help her recover. “Earth to Rowie.” We watch the blue turn back to pink, and it’s a beautiful thing, I tell you!

I can tell you she has the best daddy ever. I can tell you I have the best parenthood companion ever. Patience. Grace. Selflessness. Endurance. I don’t know – that’s our recipe I guess.

Grandma and Papa have been visiting us, keeping us company in the evenings and bringing us real food for dinner. I love them. Thank God for them and grandparents in general. My mother-in-law is traveling here for a three-week stay. She’ll arrive on Sunday, just in time for Mommy and Daddy to go back to work and make that money. Well, Daddy’s been working, supporting his girls like a champ. He took this week off for the homecoming of his little princess. Thank Jesus, I could NOT do this alone.

I will miss my Rowie, but – it’s weird. I’m used to not having her with me 24/7. That’s what an 11-week + 5-day NICU stay will do to you. I’m going to go ahead and call it grace. I can’t deal with emotions of that nature right now.

Sarabi has been phenomenal. We have had Rowan’s swings and hospital blankets in our living room for quite some time now. She has been trained that those items – and that scent – is off limits. She is very slow to approach Rowan.

I remember walking into our bedroom – where Sarabi currently resides – with Rowan and Daddy on Rowie’s homecoming day. Sarabi’s ears perked right up. It was really sweet; not aggressive, but she was just very curious. I have a good feeling about these two. 🙂

And so it’s New Year’s Eve. My New Year’s wish for the last four holidays has been what I hold in my arms and heart today. Thank you Heavenly Father. Finally …

There’s not really an adjective to describe 2014. January-April: Hope. May-September: Joy. October-December: Joy/Brokenness/Fear.

January 17, April 11, April 16, April 22, April 29, May 1, May 9, September 29, October 8, October 9, December 29 …

Those days define my year. My 2014.

I have hope because the joy I carried in 2014 remains with me. I have my husband and my girls, don’t I? My heart is content. The pain of 2014 were incapsulated into just days. Those days are over; I don’t have to live them again.

Of course there is an enduring ache in my heart for Emmanuelle, but that is her place. She will not be forgotten. There is no closure or healing when you lose your baby. I can still have joy amongst that ache though. I choose to have joy, though my baby is with Jesus.

In the darkness last night, I looked at Rowan in her bassinet. I saw Emmanuelle’s face. When Rowan smiles in her sleep, I wonder if she’s dreaming of her sister.

Our suffering was never welcomed, but – boy – has it taught us how to cling to the good stuff. We let go of the small stuff, even the medium-sized stuff. Life is messy. But where there is love, there’s a lot of hope for tomorrow.

And I’ve got a lot of love.

S & P

Sometimes I think I’m kind of lucky.

Do you ever look at Facebook or Instagram or whatever and read about or see true love? How does that make you feel?

I love it because I have it. I celebrate it because it’s wonderful.

I have that love. I’m pretty damn lucky.

My relationship isn’t dysfunctional or forced. Of course, we argue and have growing pains. Bluh, bluh, bluh; I’m not trying to write about that now.

Yesterday, my second oldest brother posted a Facebook status celebrating his one year “love” anniversary. He’s been married to this lovely young lady for six months now (actually, exactly six months tomorrow). He’s been through his fair share of hell in the love department for sure. But he’s found someone he loves passionately and obsessively; he’s found someone who reciprocates that love. That’s all I want for anyone; that’s all I want for the people I love.

I’ve had that kind of love for nearly seven years now, so I know it when I see it. I’m not an expert, have many more years to go, but—I think I have a clue after all we’ve been through. 😉

Some people may say that kind of passion will dwindle with time. That it inevitably has to dwindle because that’s how life is. I’m not so sure about that.

I love it when my mom tells me my dad is her best friend.

I love it when my dad says disturbingly gross things to my mom. Okay, I don’t actually love witnessing these displays of lust affection, but I appreciate knowing they occur—I guess.

But after nearly 40 years of marriage, it has to dwindle, right?

Not for the lucky ones.

And—yes—I do think it’s more than luck. It takes a lot of loyalty and selflessness. To me, these two things are love. Sure, we all have our selfish moments. Sometimes we choose to be selfish and don’t really give a damn because that’s what we need—or just really, really want.

And in my opinion—more power to you if you’re loyal and selfless toward the people you love. I mean, that’s admirable, not a bad thing. Can I get an Amen?

So, even if it’s not luck—you deserve it. You deserve the love you’ve worked for. The love you’ve searched for—because you desire it, you treasure it, you nurture it.

So, unlike all the Facebook pregnancy announcements that sting my heart, I love the ones that show love. That brag on love. Good for you—keep on keepin’ on.

Feel free to remind me how lucky I am.