Friday, September 23, 2011

My Journey to Motherhood

I have been thinking about writing about this for awhile. It has been a journey that is for sure.

Teenage years
I remember thinking that I never really wanted to get pregnant and carry a baby. I didn't want to mess up my body so I thought one of two things would be great. Either I would adopt or I would have twins, so I would only have to be pregnant once, of course. I also remember thinking that it would be awhile yet because, to quote myself, "I will not pass the garbage of my childhood on to my child." I knew I had to heal my childhood before having a child. A rather definite statement for a 16 +/- girl to say but I remember saying it and I remember meaning it. Physically I was having extreme cramping during my periods and actually overdosed on midol one time. My mom had to run me to the emergency room that night. Later I went on birth control pills to help with the pain. They worked.

First love
I met and was wildly in love with a young airman in the Airforce. He was my first "adult" love. I was 17 when we met but out of high school. He was 18 and had just been assigned the base near my home. We were set up by friends. We adored each other and after a couple of years he wanted to marry me. He wanted us to have a home and have babies. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. It wasn't because I didn't love him. It was because I could not see myself living the life he wanted. I had too much exploring and living to do as a single woman. So about a year after that we broke up. It tore my heart out. We remained friends. He is a very good man and I often wonder if anyone will love me again like he did.

I got married when I was 23, surprising myself and probably almost everyone who knew me. He was a good guy but we were not a good married couple. After about a year and half of marriage we decided to stop using birth control and get pregnant. We tried it for a year - nothing. I guess it was meant to be since we ended up divorcing about a year later. I still think we could have co-parented well together. During this time I also was diagnosed with endometreosis and ovarian cysts, probably what had caused the painful periods in my teenage years. I had laser surgery to burn off the endometreosis. Afterwards the doctor wanted me to go on hormones to simulate menopause. Umm... no. I decided to see an ND and used natural, homeopathic and acupuncture to help my healing instead.

Single and having fun
So from about 27-35 I was single and had fun. Still believing that I would find the man that I wanted to marry, who wanted to marry me and we would create some type of family. During that time I got pregnant. I was almost 30. I was in love with the father. I miscarried very early, around 6 weeks. Just enough time for me to know and lose it in one fell swoop. I remained friends with him for years after we broke up. Sometimes we would talk about how old the baby would have been and what he/she would have looked like.

Thirty five
At 35 it hit. I was dating a man who did not want and could not have children. What was I to do? Leave a man I cared about or decide that maybe I just was not meant to have my own children. I had 1 niece and 2 nephews then. Maybe that was to be it. I would be the cool, amazing, rockin' auntie. This was a very tough time for me. I seriously wondered if I could even get pregnant again, due to the medical issues earlier in my life, and if I did could I even carry the baby to birth? The likely hood of the husband I had been waiting for to come along I was also seriously beginning to question. Physically I was having problems with my thyroid (low) and doing MANY different holistic, alternative and natural healing to help it work.

March 24, 2010
I find out I am pregnant. Not planned. Not with the wonderful husband that I had been waiting for but with a man who I had just started to date. I was just beginning to understand how different he and I were and that it was not going to work out. So I decided on March 17th that I was going to end it with him and a week later I found out I was pregnant. SHOCK! At 42 years old I found myself, against all odds, pregnant. But not with the husband I had always wanted. Then on May 20th I found out I was carrying twins. I was continually asked by every new doctor if it was thru IV or fertility treatments. Everyone, including me, was shocked that I was pregnant and with twins. I was told how lucky I was to be pregnant and I felt it - lucky. And then TTTS reared it's ugly head....

The future
I understand as I write this, many will believe me to be insane. I will be 44 years old in 6 months. I question it myself, whenever I think it
I would like to have another child. Nolan has a brother but Eli is not here on earth with him. I would like to give him a sibling to grow up with.
I definitely do not want to do this one alone. I want a partner to share it with.
So - the Universe is really going to have to do some serious aligning for this one to happen.... It has happened before....

Who knows what will come. I could have never guessed that my journey to motherhood would look anything like it has. The possibilities are endless and so is a mother's love. I feel like I have more mother's love to share.

We shall see.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Did It! I Felt it.

I did it! I made it through one of the most challenging years for a new mom, the first year of their child's life. I have also made it through one of the most painful years of my life. The first year after my child's death....... Not sure how. At times I questioned whether I could but here I stand - well sit. I am here.

"It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children." - The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I have lived the second part of the above quote many times over this year and I got up every single morning. I got up. There were days when I went right back to bed as soon as I could but I got up, showed up and gave as much as I had. I did it.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow." — Mary Anne Radmacher

Another quote I have lived this year. There have been mornings, there have been days where I felt as though that was my only saving grace. This day will end. I will have some type of sleep and the sun will rise again tomorrow. Please, God, help me get to that sunrise tomorrow.

See, tomorrow is September 15th. At 8:18a on September 15, 2010 my son, Eli Michael, left this earth in my arms and somehow, by the grace of God, and a little bit of courage, I have made it to September 15, 2011 with his brother, my sweet Nolan, right here with me.

That's the "I Did It!" part of the post. Now on to "I Felt It!"

Part of my philosophy of life is that it doesn't end, not really. Time in our bodies end but our souls, the energy of who we are, is endless and timeless. Our souls are pure energy that shift, transform and change but do not disappear for it is impossible for energy to disappear. These statements have rung true for me, in some form or another, since I was a child.
I loved the movie "Powder". Below I have posted the end of the movie and it shows what I believe to be some form of truth to when we leave our human bodies.

Powder - click to watch

Now most of us probably will not leave this life running with lightning
I have always believed that when we love someone one and they die we carry a part of them with us
they become a part of everything else again. Their energy/soul does not die or fade away or disappear. It expands.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die." - I do not know who wrote this. It is not mine.
Wonderful and poetic and somewhere I have always believed it to be true.

September 15, 2010 and my 11 day old son dies in my arms after I tell the doctors to stop resuscitation. Those images from "Powder" and words like that poem were some of the furthest things from my being. My entire moment was filled with knowing that my son was stopping breathing and his heart was slowing until it stopped and there was nothing for me to do but be with him. The depth of shock of that moment was beyond anything I had ever known. There was no room for poetry in that instant of human anguish. Not for me. Not then.

Fast forward, now to September 13, 2011. I had been spending many nights crying myself to sleep knowing the 15th was coming and that would mean.... Well, I didn't know what that meant but I knew it hurt. It was taking me back to some of the overwhelm and grief I had experienced shortly after Eli's death. On the 13th, I worked a long day teaching online that morning, seeing clients during the day and teaching at school that night. When I left I was exhausted. I walked out of the school doors and saw that it was POURING rain, sheets of rain. The sound was scrumptious. The smell was heavenly. I walked to my car and was soaked by the time I got into it. The rain felt clean and cold on my skin. I actually turned on the heat in my car. I got home. Kissed a sleeping Nolan. Said goodnight to my mom. Changed into my pajamas and stepped out on the patio. I breathed in a lung full of fresh rain washed air and I felt it. I felt it! I felt him. My sweet little boy Eli. I breathed him in. He was there, in the clear night air. He was the clear night air. I knew it. I felt it. He was with me, surrounding me, in my breath and my blood. I felt him and I knew that I had finally, at least for a moment had gotten to experience the gift of what I knew to be true. He had never left...... I felt him alive and real. And I was blessed.

And so, I will wait for another experience like that to happen again, and another one and another one. Until they form a line without separation so that it is simply how I live, knowing that my darling little boy who left physical form way too soon for his momma is alive and real, right now. I am not there yet but I now know that I will be. If I can live that way just for a moment I can live that way for the rest of this life. And so it is. I am grateful.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Birthdays and Angelversaries

So last Sunday was my boys' first birthday. How strange to only celebrate with one of them. I held the party at a beautiful park. So many family and friends joined us in the 110 degree heat - Oh My Goodness.....

I was really excited to celebrate Nolan's birthday. I feel like he got shorted. He and his brother came very early - before the shower. Then of course Eli died and Nolan was in the hospital for over 2 months after that. When we did have a baby shower, it was very small. The situation of my boys' birth just did not leave much room for the celebration my little miracle deserved. So, I was so very excited to give Nolan the party he deserved where he would be celebrated as he should have been.

It was an emotional day for me, very up and down, tears and smiles, and sometimes both. One of Nolan's and Eli's NICU nurses, Amy, joined us at the party. The moment I saw her walk up to the party I started sobbing. I surprised myself. There was such emotion that sprung up when I saw her, the gratitude for her care of my sons, her connection to Eli and the fact that the last time I had seen her was the last night Nolan was in the NICU. For a couple of months after Nolan's release I would call/text her with questions or concerns, she was always there for me. She truly was a guardian angel to Nolan and I during the first months of his life.

Amy feeding Nolan with me watching - she taught me how to feed Nolan!

There were a couple of more times throughout the party where I shed some tears, whenever I spoke of Eli. About midway through the party I invited everyone to take a sharpie and write a note to Eli on a balloon so it could be released to him at the end of the party. I could barely get the words out before I started crying. We released them at the end of the party. They had notes of love written all over them.

I am coming up on Eli's one year angelversary. That is a term many mothers who have lost their babies use to explain that devastating day when their child left their arms forever - angelversary. I CANNOT believe a year ago today I still had two little boys living, developing and growing as they should have been. A year ago today was the first day that I had held both of my days in one day and I held both of them at least once everyday until Eli's death. I want to do something special with Nolan in memory of his brother but I don't know what yet... I guess I still have time - "A" day is September 15th. Eli died September 15th. September 15th.....

To end I want to include a picture of the beautiful birthday boy with birthday cake all over his face. I love you silly monkey!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Letter to My Boys

My darlings -

Mommy here. I just had to write you a letter on this amazing day - the first anniversary of your birth! It was on September 4, 2010 that you decided to make your very dramatic entrances into this world. Nolan Gabriel, you were born first at 1:55a - you seemed VERY impatient to come out. Eli Michael, you were born next at 2a - you were VERY hesitant to come out. You are my first and second children. What blessings you are.

Though you are identical twins I am learning the roles you are playing in my life are oh, so, very different.

My "sweets" Nolan - I love you so. What a gift you are in my life, every single day. I am honored to be your mommy. You have taught me just how patient I can be. You have confirmed that it really is the simple things, like your smile, your sleeping face, you reaching out to me to be picked up, that hold the meanings of the universe. I have always been protective of those I love AND nothing compares to how I feel about you. If someone wants to get to you they have to go through me and I am not easy to go through. I am in awe of the miracle of you. There were so many times when I was pregnant with you and your brother that something could have gone wrong in our battle with TTTS and I could have lost you. You have fought unbelievable battles to be here today to celebrate your 1st birthday. I am so proud of you.

Nolan, I believe that you are here to keep me on track on this earthly plane. Keeping me moving forward and making my goals for this life more concrete. You ground me, my little Virgo son. I desire to create a home and life where you are safe and surrounded by color, joy, beauty and love. I intend to teach you how to navigate being human in this world and always help you to remember the amazing spiritual being that you are. I know that I must live and breathe these things in order to support you and so I do - And will continue to grow in this area for the both of us.

Nolan Gabriel

My "star child" Eli - I love you so. You are missed daily by me, your brother and all your family. Somehow I knew, somewhere inside, that you wouldn't be staying long on this earth, regardless of how much I wanted you to be here. I still cry for you and I am thankful to say that the deep evil void I felt at your death has lessened. But this, of course, I know you know already. I feel you, hear you and see you and I know your brother does too. Thank you for the 11 beautiful days you gave me to see you, touch you, talk to you, hold you, feed you, change you, advocate for you. I am learning from you, my beautiful son. I know that you are helping me to be a better mother to your brother. I am blessed to have you as my teacher. I am blessed to have you as my son.

Eli, I believe you are here to help push me forward in a way that your brother cannot. It was through your death that I was forced to go to places in my heart and soul I had never conceived of before. I carry you deep within me (like I did when I was pregnant) You live, grow and thrive within me. You force me to walk my talk. I will work hard to do good work in this world in memory of you and in honor of the love you helped me to understand.

Eli Michael

Happy Birthday my sweet, darling, miracle boys. I love you always and forever. It is my deepest hope and greatest intention that I be the person I believe I can be so that I can be the best mother I can be to each of you, in the best way possible.

Love you with the depth of my being -

Your mommy

Friday, September 2, 2011

Virginia Piper Cancer Center - Part II

Had another appointment at the Virginia Piper Cancer Center yesterday. This was the post-op visit.

I had my surgery on the 23rd to remove my thyroid. It went well, so I was told. My sister flew in to help me and my mom with Nolan. My brother, Lucas, took off a day of work to sit at the hospital and wait with my mom. My SIL, Natalie, came up from Tucson to help and visit over the weekend. I am lucky to have such an amazing family.
I woke up from the surgery in post op with terrible pain. I whispered to the attending nurse over and over again that I hurt. At first he took it in stride telling me I just came out of surgery and I should be hurting. But I knew it was more than that. I began to cry quiet little tears out of the sides of my eyes. I hurt so much there was nothing else I could do. The nurse asked me if I was scared or having anxiety. I shook my head, barely, and whispered "No. I hurt." This time he believed me. I got 4 rounds of morphine until the pain finally faded away. My one hour post op visit turned into three. Until the pain was under control the nurse would not release me. I heard him call up to the nurse taking over my care before I was released, he said "When she tells you she is in pain believe her."

I was released from the hospital the next day at noon with a prescription for percocet and cytomel (thyroid meds). I went through that bottle of percocet in less than a week. The internal trauma from the surgery still hurts, more than a week out. In response to the pain in my neck (literally) the back of my neck and shoulders started tensing up in pain - Not a fun week.

But - things change. On Friday my surgeon called me on his way out of the office to let me know he got the pathology report back. All good news..... The cancer was in one small nodule with well defined edges. As far as he was concerned there would be no further treatment needed. His exact words "You are cured." I was so excited! But I put a lid on it. I wanted to talk to him and my oncologist face to face before I got overly excited...

So back to the second visit to the Virginia Piper Cancer Center. I met with my oncologist yesterday and she said the same thing. In her opinion, I met all the criteria to suspend any further treatment. I just need to make sure I get my blood work done in another 6 months to check my TSH levels.
I promised to do it. I have a very good reason to do so, wrapped up in an almost one year old body of a little boy.

I truly am amazed, once again, by the medical professionals that have been put in my path since the TTTS diagnosis for my boys last year until now. I have not been a fan of "western medicine" for a LONG time. For most of my life I had met very few who I liked, respected, made sense to me and were able to actually help me. My experience has changed. I have had a number of medical experiences in the past 18 months and I have been honored with amazingly caring, professional, gifted and respectful professionals. I feel blessed. As difficult as the past 18 months have been I truly feel as though I have been guided through these experiences and the exact person to help me move through each experience was brought into my path.