Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Day the Earth Shook




My darling girl, 364 days and 23 hours ago, I was trying desperately to go to sleep.  And as anyone who has ever stayed in the hospital for more than a day can tell you, that feat is nearly impossible.  But as the clock crept past midnight, my usual discomfort began to change and morph into something unfamiliar and more difficult.  I have never known such pain.  My body seemed to lengthen.  My mind tried to convince me that from the crown of my head to my toes, I had expanded a mile.  I never got wide, barely putting on weight with your small body.  But the pain seem too huge and too great to be held by my 66 inches, and if I we're to look down, I would not be able to see my toes, so far away with so much aching and ripping and thrashing between.

I would never have believed someone so small and so perfect and so helpless could cause so much pain and fear and anxiety and terror. But you did.  You came into this world quickly and ferociously.  Too quick for medicine and drugs and deep breaths and quiet, numb entrances.  I gnashed my teeth and screamed out at the woman next to me telling me to be quiet.  I couldn't understand her words telling me to direct my screams to my belly and push push push.  Screaming didn't help, she said.  Screaming distracts the body, she said.  I never went to a class or read a book or a website or talked to another woman who had made it out of this room alive.  I feared I wouldn't as I screamed and cried and yelled anyway in the face of the woman chiding me for my noise.

But then it was finished.  Your tiny lungs, smaller than the size of a not-yet inflated balloon let out a cry I can still hear.  And the fifteen doctors rushed around you and put a tiny hat on your head full of hair and a mask on your mouth to help those too-small lungs, setting you gently but swiftly into a plastic box you would call home for the next two and half months.  But before they took you, before they wheeled you away to make sure your brain and your eyes and your heart and your lungs were safe and sound because my body couldn't keep you anymore, they let us hold your hand.  And you reached up.  You stretched high with your translucent skin and your needle-thin fingers and you grasped ours.  You clutched my finger with your whole hand and you held tight.  You let me know that it was ok.  You let me know that you would be kept safe and to not be upset I couldn't hold you inside of me anymore.  You let me know you knew me.  You let me know you would fight and fight hard.

My darling girl, you are destined for greatness.  You have already overcome the hardest part, and beaten the toughest odds.  Every. Single. Day. You show up and give me the million reasons to do the same.  When the cards are stacked against us and things can sometimes seem really really hard, you still show up.

It's been a hell of a year.  A stranger asked me the other day how old you were.  I answered, a year next Thursday.  They congratulated me for surviving the first year.  I smiled.

We survived, baby girl.

We made it.

Tomorrow we celebrate you.

Tomorrow we remember the day the earth shook.

Tomorrow marks a year since the first time you changed everything.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Birthday






It has been nearly six months since I've posted anything on this blog and it's been even longer since I've written anything creatively other than a jotted-down line or paragraph in my phone's Notes section which I hope to come back to and use later.  But I haven't.  I've simply been storing them up.

It is also interesting, to me at least, to look back and realize that a year ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed, my back aching, eyes red and sore from constant crying, and my brain fuzzy from the information and weighty news it had received approximately a week before.  The constant oceanic pulse of my daughter's swift heartbeat filling my small room, the flowers and balloons I had received for my 29th birthday already starting to wilt and deflate.

I didn't know then, that she would come so early but also so perfectly on time.  I didn't know I would be flying to what would be my future home in Pittsburgh to stand next to my best friend, my sister as she vowed to love her husband forever.  I didn't know this kid would turn out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  I didn't know how much I would be changed, how much of myself I miss but also how much of this new self I am proud of and impressed by.

I have always worked hard.  I was and am still the girl you call to pick up a shift or ask to help out with some favor or another.  But raising this tiny human has given me so much more pride in the work I have done, am doing, and will still do to be a better person, partner, mother and creator during my short time on this earth.  She makes me want to be better, work harder, eat kale, run longer, and create.  Oh god, does she make me want to create.  Now, don't get me wrong.  More than anything else, she makes me want to take a nap.  However, when it's quiet here in the house, and I've just begun the third load of laundry at 12:47am, I think to myself, if I was able to ACCIDENTALLY create such a magnificent and incredibly wonderful kid, what else am I capable of doing intentionally?  How else can I return the favor of being alive and having the joy of mothering this person than to continue to produce other things to bring the same happiness she brings me?

I got my best birthday gift, ten minutes before writing this post.  I was given the peace which comes from knowing there is so much beauty left to make and see, because I have the evidence of its existence right now, sleeping in a crib above me.

Monday, January 23, 2017

France

It’s like we were told we had to move to France.

“You’re leaving in 2 months. You are vacating the home you had built for yourselves, walls bursting with plans and dreams and paintings and pictures of the life you wanted to have for yourselves. You may never return to this house. It has been burned to the ground and swallowed up by the sea. From this point on, you will be ex-pats of this single and childless house. You will now and forever be responsible for this new house which, in turn, has new rooms. It has new paintings and windows and furniture and beds for those who will lay relative claim to it. They now have the right to come visit you in France, whenever they want. Your dialect will be your own, you may paint your house. You may paint it any color you want. But that too will change. It will fade or brighten depending on the soil in which you set it and the sun that will shine upon it. It will grow and create new rooms which you do not have access to.”

That is how it felt when we were told we were going to have a baby. We were told we were going to
have a baby nine weeks before we were going to move to another city. We were counting down the
weeks like pregnant couples count them down and up and away. We were nine weeks away. We had
begun to pack. We had made a reservation for a U-Haul (for which I received a confirmation the day I
went into labor). But. However. Although.

There were so many endings wrapped up in that beginning. So many stops to that start. So much more pressure, so much more. Still, sometimes, I cannot breathe thinking about it. Still, I shake my head and wonder if it is all some sort of elaborate joke, a prank, a story about someone else who isn’t me. But no. This is my reality. This is our life. And it will forever be something I didn’t plan on or prepare for. What am I supposed to do now? I had planned on so much. I wanted so much. I needed so many other things to happen before (instead) of this.