the sectioning of my cesarean

before i tell you the story of how my twin darlings were ushered into the world, let me share with you my initial observations as i look back on the situation. there’s no pop quiz at the end, but these observations will give you insight into my mind-frame and disposition as i became a mother for the second time…and just two minutes later for the third.

obstetric observations:
– cold arctic breeze
– seafoam green tile
– sterile silver objects and tools
– a padded crucifix
– worker bees darting about donning shamrock green scrubs, cafeteria lady shower caps, and bird flu face masks
– THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED! i wanted contractions, dilating, effacing, water breaking, breathing, pushing, screaming labor! i didn’t want surgery. boooooooooo!!!
– fear. unfathomable i-am-not-prepared-for-this fear

and so…
a c-section is considered “major surgery”. looking back, i can’t say that i actually realized that before being wheeled into an operating room. it was quite the experience! i’d hate to scare anyone or bias someone’s opinion, but it was downright unnerving. it gives me a little anxiety just to reflect on it. but, the outcome was phenomenal, and i’d like to share our story.

full term pregnancy is considered forty weeks. that’s from egg-to-sperm conception to uterine eviction. where folks got “nine months” from is a mystery to me. gestation is almost ten loooong months, and a woman feels it. almost all women hit a wall around thirty two weeks. our bodies have been through the ringer. we’ve braved and survived trimesters one and two and as we round third base headed into home — we are exhausted. thirty-six weeks is considered safe. an infant is fully formed, inside and out, and simply gains weight for the remaining weeks. for those of us lucky enough to be blessed with multiple gestations (twins, triplets, etc) it is estimated that three weeks be subtracted from the estimated delivery date for each additional baby. in my case, my actual due date was december 02, my predicted due date (subtracting three weeks for the additional baby) was november 11, and my doctor advised that i would not be allowed to carry past thirty eight weeks, which was november 18. the more babies, the less room, and the more opportunity for complications. no bueno.

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snipets from my BabyBump app.

i saw my doctor on the morning of the eighteenth. nothing life changing (or date changing) was taking place. my daughter, Margo (known as baby A) was still breech. she was actually sideways (transverse) and was laying inside my pelvis. my csection was scheduled for the twentieth at nine. i left the doctor, went home, had a meltdown, and set out on a massive cleaning mission. if you’ll recall, this (csection) was not what i wanted. it was not the plan i’d contemplated and devised all these many long months. i wanted to deny it. reject it. but i knew in my mind that it was a necessary evil used solely for the purpose of bringing two tiny lives into the world — hopefully problem free. my logic accepted, but my heart and soul were in denial.

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taken by my coworker. if i recall correctly, from left to right:
13 weeks, 20 weeks, and 27 weeks.

the wee hours of the twentieth came. i zipped my hospital bag, finished the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and eventually went to bed. i woke just three hours later. i was elated, anxious, scared, worried, excited and nervous. i showered, tied my hair up and dressed for the occasion:

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a gift from Tiffany. this shirt turned us into celebrities. everyone wanted to know if i was REALLY having twins, if they were REALLY a boy and a girl, and if they could take a picture.

just after sun up, i woke my son, prepared him for his school day and waited (extremely impatiently) for danielle to pick us up. we loaded up, dropped off my first born and headed for the hospital. i met my expectancy entourage (the twins’s dad and oldest siblings) in labor and delivery. as well, prayer warrior #1 mz. Imelda came and prayed with me just as the whirlwind of procedures began.

undress completely. put this on. opening towards the back. put your stuff in here. sit down. do you have good veins? what’s your name? what’s your date of birth? who’s here with you? we are going to do this, this, and this. then we will go over here and do this. let’s see. oops. i’m sorry. oops. i’m sorry. uh oh. lemme get someone else. ok. hi. oops. i’m sorry. uhhhhh….that’s not good. lemme try again. yes? no. uh oh. oops. i’m sorry. let me get someone else. ok. hi. oooohhhhh. um, ok. sorry sorry sorry. ok, we got it.

it took three people and at least seven needle pricks to get ONE i.v. into my arm. the bruises that occurred from the attempts lasted for at least a month. once the i.v. was in, the green light was given and every little methodical tiny detail was underway. i bid danielle g’bye, surrendered my phone (re.luc.tant.ly!), and was whisked away.

as i lay on the hospital bed, slowly being wheeled away, i lost the warm fuzzy and almost comfortable feeling i had in the pre-op room. anxiety stomped into my heart and i realized that there was a lot more going on than i was prepared to deal with. we turned a corner, turned another corner and approached a doorway. wait. hold the phone. are we going IN THERE? in therrrrrre?

ohSWEETlordBABYjesusSONofGODinHEAVENpleaseNO!

the doorway led to the operating room. a brisk sixty degree breeze came from there. somewhere in my unconscious mind i heard “it’s cold to control the germs”. (*shrug* that’s the nerd in me). seafoam green tile and sterile silver equipment lured my eyesight. there were a few people in there buzzing about. each of them glanced at me and i instantly began to cry. i’m certain i began to shake my head and whisper “no no no” under my breath. if i had been one iota more coherent instead of scared i would have put my feet up and held my hands out, in animated cartoon fashion, to deter my entering THAT room. tears. big whopping alligator tears and a belly shaking sob. sob sob sob.

what’s the matter? is she ok? are you ok? what’s going on? scared? are you alone? ok, we’ll get him. are you ok? are you sure? just scared? you’ll be fine. ok, we’ll get him. we need a second i.v. we are going to do this this and this. ok? ok? are you ok, honey? let’s get started. ok, we’ll get him. a poke. a big bee sting. a burning sensation. lift your leg. lift your leg. help her. hurry.

within ten minutes, i was strapped to a padded crucifix, affixed with a second i.v., given a spinal tap (the bee sting, burning sensation of a pain blocker that numbs you from the boobies down), gently pushed over (because i was mentally numb and then my body went numb and i didn’t move fast enough) and prepped for surgery. i cried the whole time.

the worker bees buzzed about and my nurse; julie said:

we have to count the instruments. you’re going to hear some loud tapping of metal objects together and counting. don’t be alarmed.

shitcrap. don’t be alarmed? that was one of the most unnerving portions of the whole experience. knowing they were counting instruments because someone somewhere had left something inside of someone that wasn’t supposed to be there. ugh. CLINK! one. CLINK! two. CLINK! three. better safe than sorry, i suppose.

soon i saw the familiar eyes of my doctor. he grabbed my hand and greeted me with his ever so familiar “hello dear”. i cried harder. he assured me that everything was going to be fine, move along as scheduled, and within moments i would be holding my sweet babies. he was right. the busy bees put up a curtain at my bust line. the only thing i could see was directly above my head or to either side. WonderTwinDad was finally escorted into the room. he grabbed my hand, kissed my forehead and cheek, shushed me, and took his place at my side. he never let me go.

my doctor inquired about what i could feel and not feel. he asked me if i could move my legs. you bet i can! see? did you see that? ummmm, no. i was certain i was dancing a jig. he was certain i was completely numb and my legs were as heavy as two redwoods plucked out of yellowstone national park. boom! surgery began. there’s something “out of body” about being operated on. i was numb, but awake and alert. i developed a sort of tunnel vision and stared only at the ceiling and at the eyes and hands of the man with whom these miracles were made. without the feelings associated with pain and nerves, one only gets a pulling and tugging sensation. it’s very surreal.

it’s hard to imagine being pregnant for thirty eight weeks and then having the children without the involved birthing. for the most part, my job was done. i arrived. everything from that point forward was out of my control. an incision was made, and the babies were retrieved from within my body. WonderTwinDad said “i see a tiny foot”. i cried. first born was Margo. baby A. they showed her over the curtain but my head was turned and i didn’t get to see her. it was 09:37am. just two minutes later, a tiny little man made his debut over the curtain. Miles. baby B. it was 09:39am. and there … within two minutes, my motherhood had tripled.

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a few moments passed. the worker bees were busy. i know they were putting me back together, but i was oblivious to what was actually being done. i soon heard “mom, here’s baby B for skin-to-skin”. just then, a female nurse laid the tiniest baby boy upon my chest. he was wearing a diaper and a beanie. i was stunned. this little person had been inside me for months and now, finally, i was able to hold him. the nurse reappeared and soon whisked him away. i questioned “where’s the girl? where’s my daughter?” she was in the nursery with the NICU team. she hadn’t wanted to cry and they needed to “stimulate” her. 😦

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moments later i was stitched and taped up and ready to move. within a blink i was in a recovery suite. a huge room all to myself. where’s my daughter? where’s the girl? were my only thoughts. upon setting the brake, WonderTwinDad and the SuperSiblings arrived. they’d been admiring the babies through the nursery window. is she there? did you see her? is she ok? WTDad assured me that all was well. moments later the WonderTwins were wheeled in. the nurse asked “are you going to breastfeed? who would you like first?” i was giddy! my babies! my babies! MY BABIES WERE HERE!!! “give her the girl, she hasn’t seen her yet” said WTDad.

Margo was laid in my arms and i said “OHmyGODshesSOprettyyyyyyyy”. within minutes, i was breastfeeding both babies and that scaredy-fraidy-cat-sissy-lala feeling was gone.

let me give you the vitals:
Baby A: Margo Rae; 6lbs 5ozs, 19.5″ long, born at 09:37am
Baby B: Miles Raymond; 5lbs 5ozs, 18.75″ long, born at 09:39am.

you might consider me a little biased, but i think they are perfect. newborn babies come into the world with their heartbeats and not much more. as the hours pass, you find yourself in awe of their majesty. their tiny bodies and miniature everythings woo you into a state of bliss. i was in a full fledged newborn induced coma. this thing, this surgery was not my plan, but who cares, right? look what i get out of it.

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pleasant pregnancy

in case you didn’t know, i’m pregnant. yup. it’s true. i’ll be thirty six weeks tomorrow, with fraternal twins of the opposite sex. that means one boy and one girl, each in their own sac with their own placenta. we are nearing the end of our time as a three person unit and will soon be three individuals, with me in charge of care and concern. now, most women experience a variety of symptoms and ailments along the way that range from mild to horrendous. some are average and experienced by most, while others require bed rest or even hospitalization. i have no such experiences. i honestly have nothing to complain about.

today, at the local gas station, one or both of my tenants were doing something acrobatic, jarring and unexpected. as i stood at the rear of my car, rubbing my ginormous belly i heard “you’re so beautiful” from a neighboring car. i looked up to see a woman sitting in the passenger seat of her SUV. i said “thank you” and she followed with “you look great”. as i stated in an earlier post, this is not an unheard of compliment. my coworkers, both immediate and distant, have remarked at one time or another how amazed they are that i’m still walking and that the pregnancy looks good on me. let the record show that i do not share this point of view. i am a tri-plex and i feel like it. i feel huge. HUGE, disproportionate and clumsy. the few complaints that i do have are average and while they bother me, they don’t keep me from doing the things that need to be done.

i am and i feel blessed. completely. these babies are a certifiable Gift from God. i have yet to state “i’m having twins” without immediately hearing “oh, what a blessing”. when i further explain that they are of opposite sex, i hear “well that’s just perfect”. and it is. the perfect combination. they were named before i even knew their sex. i had one boy name and one girl name that i was dead set on, and was basically puzzled as to what the second name would be if they turned out to be of the same sex. but that’s not the case. they are Miles and Margo and they have been for at least five months.

i know of four other (immediately accessible) families with twins, and all of them are beyond happy. “C” has adult boy-girl twins that graduated high school this year. “R” and “E” have school age boy-girl twins. and “S” has boy-boy twins, born earlier this year. they have all assured me that this ride i’m about to embark on is going to be the best ride ever. i’m sure they’re right. 🙂

this time last year i would have been beyond denial if you were to tell me that i would be where i am today. thirty-eight years old, pregnant, with twins, and doing physically well. as with most of my posts, i started this weeks ago. i am now thirty-six weeks and four days pregnant and today is my last day at work before the big event. bittersweet. i’ve started my nesting phase which includes dusting, washing, vacuuming and sterilizing everything not nailed down (but those things get cleaned too). for the most part, i am prepared to bring my little darlings home and be comfortable and capable with necessary items at an arm’s reach. this is of course
after the feat of labor and delivery. :/

in true BrownSugarBritches form, i still didn’t post this entry and the weeks have flown by… several times over. if you can believe it, i have delivered, and my darlings are now a whopping SIX WEEKS OLD. i will share with you my delivery story as well as their progress in future posts, but first, i’d like to give thanks to God for allowing me such a problem free pregnancy. i would call it luck, but thats but that’s not what it is. it’s a blessing. a God given blessing. and now the drum roll…. introducing:

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i’ll post about my delivery experience next.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

missing my sweet gran

my grandmother should have turned eighty-nine today. her name is Arlena. i know that the word “should” sounds a bit harsh and implies overwhelming selfishness, but if it had been up to me she would have outlived me and my children. i know in my heart, that the eighty-two years she spent here was more than enough for her and that she longed to be with those that she loved but had passed on before her. including all of her siblings and her only son, my father.

brunch at the mission inn for my twenty-somethingth birthday.

gertrude and i; brunching at the mission inn for my twenty-somethingth birthday.

she’s my favorite person. she was born and raised in oklahoma. moved to california in her twenties, married, changed her name and had kids. she is still Arlena to many people, but i called her gran, or gertrude. i grew up with her. she raised me and taught me a sizable amount of what i know and everything you can’t learn in school. she was always eager to share and maintained an honorable quest for new knowledge. occasionally she would ask me a question, with a hint of mischief in her eye. when i would respond with my answer, she would say “that’s right, but you didn’t think i knowed that didya?” she was a hoot!

me and my gran! shortly after she got legal custody of me. i think i twas about 8, which made her 58. doesn't she look sweet?

me and my gran! shortly after she got legal custody of me.
i think i was about 8, which made her 58. doesn’t she look sweet?

Arlena wasn’t just my grandmother. from the age of seven to almost thirty-two (when i became a mother), she was my world: my hero, my father, mother, sister and best friend. she took care of me, provided for me and filled in the gaps as best she could. wherever there was lacking, my gramma spackled in love. she had an abundance of love. her cup overflowed with unconditional heartwarming, bear-hug type love.

she was a sweet girl full of country charm, southern sass and good ole fashioned etiquette. to me, she was the queen. her siblings called her “Brat”, as she was the youngest of five, born and raised in ardmore, oklahoma!

she said she was about fourteen in this picture. she manicured her own eyebrows with a straight razor! :/

she said she was about fourteen in this picture. she manicured her own eyebrows with a straight razor! :/

she had a sixth grade education, but stands alone as one of the most intelligent people i’ve ever known. she was a jack of all trades, with book knowledge, street knowledge, and the knowledge of experience. she was kind, generous and genuine. there was nothing fake about her and you knew when you met her. i have many friends extending as far back as elementary school that continue to ask about her. the mothers and fathers of those friends attended her funeral and shared their heartfelt love and admiration for her. when people ask about her, i always lead with “she was the best”. she really was.

free from oklahoma! fresh to california. all of twenty years old. and gorgeous (third face from the left).

free from oklahoma! fresh to california.
all of twenty years old. and gorgeous (second face from the left).

below is a photo that i think epitomizes my grandmother’s persona. from left to right is her sister Arlevia, her mother Annie Pearl, her eldest sister Ardailure and her. the front row is husbands, but i can’t remember one of the names, i don’t know who the other guy is and my grandfather is missing from this photo. but i don’t think i need to tell you the difference. which one of these women is not like the others? three old maids grimmacing in house dresses standing next to my smiling glamorous strapless choker wearing sunglassed hottie of a gramma!

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duck, duck, duck, swan.

when the bestie and i were just lil bits, my gramma and shannon’s nanny (from arkansas) used to cure and trade salt pork. do you know what that is? it’s a huge chunk of bacon-like pork with a god-awful ratio of fat to lean on it used to season foods. particularly beans and greens. my gramma used to buy it and put it on the top shelf of the pantry on top of the holiday china. she would leave it there until the white fat turned yellowy translucent. and then she would send it with me to give to shannon’s gramma. seriously. i mean, can you imagine? it used to make me shudder, but they would send them back and forth and be pleased as punch to receive.

during the years that we lived across from shannon’s family, my grandmother owned and operated a group home for developmentally disabled men. i believe she cared for more than a dozen men over thirty years. these gentle souls were once referred to as “retarded” or “slow”. for me, they were friends; the minds of children locked in the bodies of middle-aged men. she cooked and cleaned for and the same five “guys” for most of the life i knew with her. i don’t know where she developed the patience to raise her own children, care for handicapped children that weren’t hers and then love and care for me, before retiring and caring for preschoolers in the local head start system. i can’t say that i know anyone as compassionate as her. it takes a big heart to care for others, especially children, and children with disabilities. she did it all with a smile on her face. i don’t recall hearing any complaints about any of it. not once.

she was also a diehard dodger fan! the woman bled dodger blue! she was a baseball fan, but more of a dodger fan. and she looooooooved Vin Scully. she proclaimed that he was the best sports announcer to ever hold a microphone. she would watch the game on tv, but listen to Vin Scully on the radio. she could not stand to hear another voice pretending to know what they were talking about. through the Special Olympics program associated with her group home, we actually met several dodger players. they came to SBVC and signed a baseball that i cannot find. the players included Mike Scioscia, Mike Anderson and Orel Hershiser. tragic? I KNOW!!! in the last few years before she passed, she would call my friend Alfonso for baseball game information. her eyes were pretty bad and she didn’t have an understanding of the directv channel guide to surf through and find what she was looking for. she would call me to call him, and one time i just said “call him, gran”. so she did. later, he told me how he enjoyed receiving those calls. he said that he looked forward to hearing her voice and in knowing that he’d made her happy.

not a day goes by that i don’t think of her. she passed away (i really hate that phrase) seven years ago, on her eighty-second birthday. she had been ailing for some years. a horrid concoction of long-term hyper-tension, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. but what a marvelous eighty-two years it was! i was a part of her life for thirty-one years and i cherish everyday. my memories of her are abundant, thoughtful and often hilarious. again, i tell ya, she was a hoot. she could always make me smile. she’d been on hospice care for over year at home before we were no longer able to care for her. she was admitted to a hospice facility, and passed away just a couple months later. she was planning a thanksgiving feast.

it took a few years before my aunt and i were able to try and enjoy the thanksgiving holiday. with gran making plans to cook and needing our assistance, we were broken-hearted to say the least. thanksgiving had been a big deal in my younger years. over the years it had dwindled down to just the three of us and cooking a turkey day feast was a serious project that my gran just didn’t have the stamina for. she was excited and energetic about that upcoming thanksgiving. we’d discussed the menu and i was sent out to the garage and far reaches of the house to find miscellaneous pots and pans. old, antique, well-seasoned pots and pans that are part of the family. she’d even asked me to polish the silver (i’m rolling my eyes STILL at that undertaking).

in the last three years or so, my aunt and i have made our own thanksgiving. i don’t think we are “family ready” just yet. we enjoy the shopping and cooking, but it’s such an emotional event. last year i attempted my gramma’s sage-cornbread dressing (stuffing) and it brought tears to my eyes. i have no recipe to go by, so the secret lies within my nose and eyes. i’m looking for a particular texture, color and smell. i did pretty good. the peach cobbler was one level shy of gertrude-tacular, as well as the sweet potato pie. oh how i miss that woman!

she knew that i was pregnant but didn’t make it to see my sweet boy come into the world. i was five months pregnant with kenneth when she died. i desperately wanted them to meet. i could see the photo opp in my head of my sweet gran holding my sweet baby boy. my son named after her son. i’d hoped to share with her the joys and frustrations of my motherhood so she could laugh and heal me with her wise words. and now that i’m bringing the twins into the world, i just can’t imagine what she would say about my shape and size. i would love to hear it though.

while this post may seem somber, i am not as sad this day as i have been on this date in the past seven years. i miss my grandmother dearly, but i feel her love and guidance running through my veins daily. i wouldn’t be who i am without her. she taught me the most quintessential things that make me exactly who i am supposed to be. i cherish the memories of her, the stories she shared and the things she taught me. i wrote about her today to honor her existence in this world, in my life. i wrote about her to share with you the most amazing person i’ve ever known. and in the interest of not completely bumming you out, i will leave you with this:

me: gran, don’t you want a friend or a boyfriend type person? someone to go to lunch or the movies with?

gran: no.

me: why not?

gran: honey, i already get headaches, i don’t need one with a name.

on another occasion, i asked the same question and her answer was:

sweetheart, if i’m going to babysit, i want to get paid. you don’t get paid to babysit grown men at the movies.

BAM! it don’t get much more honest and southern than that! she was a hoot!

miracles of maternity

“a miracle”, “a blessing”, “how wonderful”, “so beautiful”, “you’re glowing”, “you carry it well!, “AMAZING!”

these are some of the top phrases heard by most pregnant woman. each and every statement is true. even the most uncomfortable, miserable, painful and trying pregnancy is still a miracle. a God given, (yet man made) miracle. even the woman who is sick all day, on bed rest, completely uncomfortable in her body, unable to eat or rest and appears to be all of these things — still carries a glow signaling the phenomenal goings on inside her. a woman’s body is made to receive, grow, birth and nurture children. the human body itself is insanely complicated, but the inner workings of a woman’s intricate birthing center are remarkable. pregnancy is astounding.

this week, i am thirty-four weeks pregnant with twins. one boy and one girl. Miles Raymond and Margo Rae. two unexpected, spontaneously conceived blessings. i’m a lucky girl. I AM BLESSED. i have endured far more (emotionally and relationally) during this relationship and this pregnancy than with any other relationship or pregnancy previous. but I cannot look at the ultrasound, hear the heartbeats, see the profiles, faces, and limbs and not feel completely loved and in love. whatever come what may, no matter the hardships and difficulties that the future holds; the blessing of twins is miraculous. i am in complete acceptance of this gift, and i’m grateful.

it is almost five a.m. and i’ve just been awakened by the crushing of my bladder. who can say if it’s stomping, jabbing, or just pushing. either way, there is additional pressure alongside the already full bladder pressure. this is somewhere close to the twentieth time i’ve gone to the bathroom in the last twenty-four hours. it’s an hourly trip made whether i’ve got a full tank or a solitary drop. to me, it all feels the same and carries the same urgency.

as i return to bed and settle into my far too familiar left-side-leg-propped-up-pillow-hugging position, my swollen belly starts to dance. the little people that live in there are awake and active. this will go on for another hour. their motions are sometimes abrupt, sometimes mild but always alien. my stomach jerks and pulsates out of my control. often times I giggle, but other times i squirm and grimace at the shape of my fetal apartment. i am hostage to their whims. my physical person is their home. i have tenants.

so far i’ve gained a little more than thirty pounds. i’ve outgrown my clothes, my first round of maternity clothes and my brazierre (an item that has not changed for more than TWENTY YEARS). i am the girl who ate a watermelon seed or swallowed a basketball beach ball. the thirty pounds appears only in my distended belly and according to spectators, i don’t “look pregnant from the back”. this is a compliment, i’m sure. ;D the rest of my body remains the same as it was thirty five weeks ago…

it is hard to see and feel the movement of a fetus and not be in shock. while contained within me, these two separate people are living their own lives. this isn’t to say that they don’t need me, only to point out that i hold them within but they do what they want. i am their life force. i provide the environment in which they will come to fruition, but they are essentially leeching nutrition from my being and energy from my soul. i am their guide to the universe. through me, they have their first everything. they are nestled amongst my relocated internal organs and are the sole disruption to my altered digestion. still, i cannot control their kicks, turns or hiccups. i belong to them much more than they belong to me.

it is in these times of quiet that i find myself most in awe. i share in the laughter and answer the questions of those around me when they marvel at my size, my shape, my glow. but as i lay here silently delaying my thirty eighth trip to the bathroom — i revel in the reality. what a wondrous time. they are dependent, yet fiercely independent.

ten months, forty weeks, or two hundred eighty days. during that time two microorganisms come together and create a life!! from invisible to visible, and on to touchable, holdable, hug and kissable. from the merging of cells comes the emergence of life. out of complete stillness comes a beating heart, breathing lungs, and blinking eyes. from pulsing blood and combinant DNA comes brain matter — that absorbs, transforms and consumes all it comes in contact with. the forming, growing and birthing of a child is a technology beyond all others. more advanced than any item of invention.

even the technological advancements that have allowed me to actually see the faces of my unborn children doesn’t compare to the fact that they are there. they are alive and everyday they become more alive, more aware, more beautiful, more prepared to tackle the world outside my body. and i will miss them so. as exciting as it will be to enjoy them with all of my senses, i will miss their presence within me.

perhaps this is also what makes pregnancy such an amazing journey. everyday that i am with child, my body morphs and changes to accommodate what is going on in my womb. the anticipation builds ever so slowly as does my size. my weight, moods, emotions, hormones and memory fluctuate in accordance with what my body needs. and i haven’t an inkling of control over any of it. a complete hostage, right down to my taste buds. something that i used to love may only bring disinterest or even nausea. and things i might not have ever liked seem appetizing. i am me, always, but now i’m a different me. forever changed.

i have turned the corner and moved from relatively comfortable to barely comfortable. my shape is awkward and “comical”. it takes time for me to move, as my center of gravity is shifted, my back and stomach are extended beyond their means and this makes me downright clumsy. all of my habits are modified. it won’t be long before i am unable to sit at work for nine hours. and soon thereafter i’ll be a mother, for the second and third time.

hopefully my sweet angel baby Little Miss Margo performs a miraculous acrobatic feat and turns her whole body around. as of two weeks ago, she was breech and blocking the door, while her smaller brother My Main Man Mr. Miles is smooshed into my rib cage. at least he is headed for the exit. either way, my doctor won’t let me go past thirty eight weeks (apparently every day past that can present complications for multiple births). that’s just a month from now. four weeks. in four weeks everything I’ve just written will seem like a dream — a vanishing memory that set in motion a new chapter in my life, my love, and my parenting. my heart is swollen with excitement, anticipation, anxiety, fear and urgency. before me lies the double edged sword of no longer being pregnant, but having to nurse TWO babies at the SAME time (say whaaaaat?). i long to see them, kiss their little faces and nuzzle with them in all ways. it will be nice to see what they actually look like and whom they resemble. but sadly, it marks the end of my pregnancy. don’t get me wrong, i don’t want to be pregnant forever (i’ve pretty much had my fill) — but i will certainly miss my little uterine terrorists. ;D

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allergies, asthma, and aha’s

i was close to twenty years old, living in Hawaii and JUST found out that i had allergies. nothing severe, but enough to make springtime in the island of aloha slightly more annoying than beautiful. for the first time ever, i discovered MY sinus, where it was located and that it was the source of a great deal of distress. dis-STRESS! and it was another ten years before i experienced my first asthma attack. again, nothing major. it came with a bout of bronchitis that had me down for a week. i may have used my aunts inhaler a few times over the next two days. in the long run, it seems i was lucky.

that luck has come in pretty handy when dealing with the one and only SuperBoy! being the parent of a child with allergies is rough business. i am unable to imagine how i could be helpful to him if i didn’t have firsthand experience. that’s not to say that those without allergies or asthma are of no assistance, just that it provides a level of “comfort in knowledge” for he and i. i have more comfort asking him about his pains and ailments and am more able to help him define the specifics of what’s going on.

while mild for me, allergies and asthma are very serious where SuperBoy is concerned. he has been in anaphylactic shock three times, hospitalized on three occasions for other allergy related ailments, and spent the better part of his six years being triaged, diagnosed and treated in emergency rooms, urgent care centers and doctors offices. i have spent his college fund and any vacation monies on prescription and over-the-counter medications. this is, in fact, why i call him SuperBoy. he’s a trooper. he takes it all in stride and embraces the reality of his condition. he doesn’t resist much (‘cept SHOTS) and is quite charming, as always.

today, SuperBoy saw a pulmonologist! a certified professional assessor of breathing (and asthma and allergies as they pertain). she is an amazing doctor who started our visit with a quick handshake and an immediate verbal interaction with my son. he was a bit bashful today and so we moved quickly into the “getting to know you” phase. she simply stated “i see he has a strong history, tell me all about it, I’M HERE FOR YOU NOW“. and that, my friends is what’s known as bedside manner! needless to say, she had the obvious knowledge and experience of someone who’s been helping children breathe and improving their quality of life for as long as i’ve been breathing and alive. her words brought me an instant feeling of compassion and understanding. she’d read his history (as requested of me with the intake paperwork) but exhibited a real interest in the QUALITY of my son’s life.

i led her through the milestones and major events of SuperBoy’s amazing existence. all the while she took notes but rarely took her eyes off of us. she asked what she wanted to know but already knew the answers. she kept her eye on him and soon asked him join her at the examination table. still bashful, he resisted, but she appealed to his gentlemanliness with requests for assistance in opening some drawers that doubled as steps. SuperBoy can’t resist a damsel in distress! she examined him and listened thoroughly to his breathing (remember? he had bronchitis two weeks ago, and the stomach flu last week). she spoke briefly with a young resident (medical school intern student person along for the ride) and returned to the chair next to me. again, she floored me with her understanding of us (i paraphrase):

he’s a good boy. handsome obviously, and smart. his lungs sound good. clear. he has been fortunate, he’s had some good doctors, BUT HE HAS A GOOD MOM. the doctors have guided you along the way, as they should, but you’ve done a good job making the right choices for him and you. my job is only to assist you further in maintaining a good quality of life for him in which he can be a child, be a boy, play and do sports and you’re both comfortable. we need to change a few medications and tweak a few things and it will all go smoothly. we will test his allergies and find out where he stands and keep an eye on everything. tests can only tell us this or that. but what you see with your eyes and what you know is what is true. what you experience is what is true. ok mom, let’s go over his medicine.

a weight was lifted. a weight i’ve been carrying for almost six years. you can never hear “you’re a good mom” enough. i believe the words but have doubts, as i think most parents do. i’ve been told by family, friends, coworkers and other doctors, but this time it really soothed my soul. i’ve spent so much time and energy worrying about my choices to limit certain foods and activities. questioning my own judgement calls. this lady is a doctor of breathing! and she gave me kudos for keeping my son breathing. it was the best pat on the back i’ve received in a looooooong time.

after changing pounds to kilograms, she tweaked his prescriptions, gave me a list of medicines to swap out, requested a phone book sized list of tests, showed me a short video and had her nurse demonstrate a few things, we were on our way. before leaving, i was given the option to request any additional foods to test for allergies. an option? for me??? i’ve been waiting for this!! for three long years!!! to pick and suggest things that iiiiiiiiiii think could be affecting him. happy happy! joy joy!!

perhaps (at this point) you’re (a little) unaware that this may possibly have been the best doctors appointment for me where my sons allergies and asthma are concerned. THE. BEST. after almost six years of battling allergies and asthma, after three long years of dealing with food allergies and reactions, after years of colds turned bronchitis within hours, years of missing school and work and fun — we have someone telling us that not only could it not have been avoided, but that we have been doing the right things all along. HALLELUJAH! she requested a follow-up visit in three months to assess her assessment.

being sick can be hard. having asthma and allergies is harder. and caring for yourself during those times is nothing less than excruciating. caring for a child who is sick because of asthma, allergies and food allergies is one of the most painful things a parent can endure. it’s a sit and wait type deal. you have to watch everything they eat and come in contact with, while trying to keep them as normal as possible. you have to teach them how to protect themselves and deny themselves yummy treats if you’re not there to examine and approve said yumminess. and if something does happen, you do what you’ve been trained to do and then you have to wait. wait for the reaction, wait for the medication to set in, wait for the breathing treatment to work. wait wait wait. all while involved in a life or death situation.

as the parent of a child with life threatening allergic reactions…. you worry, you question and you fear the worst, everyday. you arm your little one with emergency medications, information, phone numbers and the like. and still, you worry. if you’re lucky, you get a doctor who can explain it to you in a way that makes you comfortable, yet informed and prepared. if you’re luckier, you get a doctor who says “don’t worry, you’ve been doing it right all along”. this was that doctor for me and this was that day.

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my first, my little man, my SuperBoy.

wanted: experienced parent

parenting is a job. no, i’m serious, a J-O-B. it’s no wonder that it’s not listed in the local paper or employment website. the “job description” would frighten even the most confident applicant and cause the weak to piddle themselves where they stand. who, in their right mind, would volunteer for round the clock body fluid cleanup? or unlicensed, never paid, nurse/therapist/doctor/best friend? perhaps that is where the magic lies. in the fact that we only have an inkling of what it takes to be a parent and the true test and real reward come with the learning. so we do the deed, sew the seed and parents we become. or so we hope.

it’s 5am where i reside and i’ve slept only a percentage of what a normal person should. most days (as of late) i would have slept all of those lovely “doctor recommended” hours and would be on the verge of waking to start my day. but, my son currently has bronchitis. he’s coughing, sneezing, wheezing, barfing, whining, writhing, sleeping intermittently and highly feverish. did i mention he’s barfing, vomiting, and throwing up?

in the last twenty-four hours he’s returned everything that he’s eaten, missed school, been to the doctor, and slept like an infant. he’s coughing like a thirty year smoker and just exhausted. at six years old, his tiny man frame cannot handle the force of continually coughing, wheezing and sneezing…so, he’s just pooped out. and without food in his system he is unable to retain his harsh medications so we are in a “break the fever” and “try to get antibiotics into him” limbo. it stinks.

at almost thirty weeks pregnant, carrying thirty extra pounds, i too am pooped. for the last two months we’ve religiously gone to bed about nine and i lazily get up after five to start our day. i think i slept from one to two, and then again from three to four. all the while reaching for him to check for fever. a little after four, SuperBoy woke me requesting water. and soon after “some food”. (hallelujah!)

after giving him some water and having a short discussion on what causes an itchy throat and a noisy tummy we settle on a snack of white rice (in an attempt to keep the body fluid cleaning persona of parenting at bay). after slowly gathering my faculties and balance (a thirty pound belly fulla twin babies makes a gal a little clumsy), i retrieved the rice, more water, the antibiotics, ibuprofen and a napkin. once he was all set, he asked me if he could watch tv. on any given day of the week, he would not be awake at this time, but he’s slept more than he’s done anything else and i know he’s feeling better, and hungry. both are good things and I cannot protest. he looks at me sweetly, with dark circles around his eyes, a grain of rice stuck to his lip and while donning the cutest smile he says “you can lay down, i’ll turn the tv down, i know you’re tired” and he grins again. instantly i became verklempt.

verklmept

SNL verklempt

that. that right there is what it’s all about. that is what makes every other moment worthwhile. the fluid cleaning, pseudo-chef and unpaid unlicensed respiratory therapist that reside within me cheered and high-fived because even the mind of a sweet but sick little boy can recognize my efforts. if you’d explained on the parenting job description that my payment would come in the form of foggy-eyed smiles and the tired but genuine hugs of a tiny man, i’d tell you to take your job and shove it. but in this moment, i couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying payment.

you’re not a parent because you’ve submitted DNA or given your name. pushing a stroller, holding a baby or changing a diaper does not a parent make. parenting comes with the sacrifice. in fact, it is synonymous with sacrifice. parenting is the relentlessness that it takes from an adult to make a child happy and healthy. a parent isn’t born because a child is born. a parent is born when an adult puts a child before themselves. when the adult, after having no sleep, not brushing their teeth, showering, or changing their clothes can drag themselves out of the house with a worse-than-bedhead look and get more juice. a parent is born when you forget about yourself and focus only on the child. sadly, parenting and child bearing don’t actually have anything to do with each other — even though they are directly related (thehellyousay?).

some parents are better than others. some parents have more than others. some people had great parents and role models and became awesome parents and role models. some awesome parents are born from horrible people that shouldn’t be allowed to monitor houseplants, but they change their everything for their little ones. some people are well studied and some seem lucky. some people beg for parenthood and never get the chance. some people don’t want it but are blessed with it, repeatedly. It doesn’t matter how you became a parent. what matters is that you take the job seriously. children are persistent in all things. all things. and they need their parents, guardians, monitors, and providers to be just as persistent — and then some. parenting is for the wholehearted. it’s for the givers, the doers, the encouragers, and good listeners. parenting is not for the weak. it’s for the open minded, willing to learn, compassionate, young-at-heart who don’t have time to think about themselves, because their only aspiration in life is to nurture their child.

the rewards of parenting are not instantaneous or consistent. they are not guaranteed or even measurable. the rewards of parenting can only be felt in your heart — when your baby shows you how your hard work has been absorbed and appreciated. the biggest reward comes from watching your little one become a happy successful person and the look they give you to tell you they couldn’t have done it without you. the reward for parenting doesn’t come from the community, the classroom or the PTA. it can’t be handed to you, gifted to you, ordered or purchased. the real reward comes from your child, the child you care for, provide for, mentor or foster. it’s immeasurable but invaluable. more often than not, you won’t see it coming and that too is it’s beauty. the love, the respect, the appreciation for what you’ve done for that child will knock you flat on your ass, and it is in THAT moment that a parent is born.

let me plainly state, as well, that successful parenting is relative and situational. we don’t all have the same background, aspirations, resources, goals or passions. it is up to YOU (and to ME) to feel and appreciate the success we achieve as parents. we cannot look to another to validate this and we cannot succumb to the criticisms of others. only you know your struggle. only your kids know your parental love. that is a dynamic exclusive to you and yours and no one can take that from you.

i’d also like to point out that we are all human. we are not divine, perfect or flawless. we can and we will make mistakes. learning from them is all that we can do. mistakes in parenting are as constant and consistent as the doubt, love, frustration and satisfaction. it must all be taken in stride. after all, parenting is a lifelong career choice. it is not for a limited time or even for “eighteen years”. loving and caring for your child will extend beyond your imagination. from the first audible flutter of their tiny heartbeat to the day that you draw your last breath — your child, your children, your babies will be evermore the focus of your life. their happiness, pain, fun, love, dreams and desires become your own and you will exhaust yourself time and again doing whatever you can, as hard as you can, for as long as you can to guide, advise and help them. they are parts of you that live independently outside of you and you will forever-ever-ever be in awe of them.

children change you. they change your life, your views, your plans, your thoughts, feelings, and time schedule. they take over your heart and your mind and you go from being your own person to being theirs. you are their everything…but not half as much as they are yours. there won’t be a millisecond in time that you are not consumed with them from every angle, and it is in those moments — when you find the reward: the indescribable and overwhelming sense of love and pride in knowing that you “made that”!

as always, i can only tell you my experiences and share my thoughts. i welcome yours. i sought help with this post through my Facebook world and my friend JBRN shared the written advertisement below. he advised that this was not his own creation but one that he treasured and my prompt allowed him a timely opportunity for sharing. it’s quite ideal. please enjoy. don’t forget to comment, like and share! 🙂

  • POSITION: Mom, Mama, Mother (we know it’s not just moms though)
  • JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.
  • RESPONSIBILITIES: For the rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.
    Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
    POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT AND PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

    • Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
    • Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
    • Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
    • Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
    • Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
    • Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
    • Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
  • PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required, unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.
  • WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.
  • BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for
    life if you play your cards right.

p.s. call your mother and say something nice.