Monday, March 28, 2011

Pardon the Interruption

Well I had just cozied into my recliner writing hub – laptop warmly charged, crisp Pinot Grigio to the right, tv turned OFF -  about to act on the First Day of Spring typing inspiration I felt bubbling from within.  Lilac tinted flowers blooming in the backyard’s tired-of-winter grass, less snow flake animations on the weatherman’s forecast (notice how I wished I could have said no snow flake animations), the 7:00pm flaming sunset making it’s way around the corner of the neighbor’s cedar sided house that will eventually mean summer when it lands center through our picturesque ocean-view window.  Freaking love it.2011-03-15-Lucia-001aweb

.:record scratch sound:. But you can thank my darling husband for turning tingling bubbles into jet angry rage.   I leapt from my freshly burrowed hub to briefly help out with the first bathtime he’s seen in a week.  That being because Lyla & I had been in Buffalo and he’d been here alone for 5 days.  Alone with only take-out menus on the calendar.  Alone with Lyla’s folded laundry to be put away.  But no, only my hands are capable as the comment “I don’t understand why her laundry isn’t put away” painfully overflowed from his lips after I had walked off the plane 3 hours beforehand. 

Goodbye Springtime inspiration post. 

Hello rant on what I’ve learned about men & babies.  I am woman.  Hear me roar.

  1. Women think babies are more cute than work.  Most men think babies are more work than cute.  This is why women want to have 3 kids and men want to have 1. (Throwing the disclaimer of most men in there – I know some of you rare Jim Bob Duggar Super Dads exist and I applaud your enthusiasm for multiple siblings). 2011-03-19-Nana's-012web
  2. Being a stay-at-home mom is like Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua collection – it will never be enough. Husbands will always think they have a one-up because we don’t receive a paycheck and aren’t bound to a boss from 8 to 5.  Nope, instead we work the hardest we’ve ever endured for no monetary reward on a 6am – 8pm schedule, with a mandatory 2am conference call Monday – Sunday.  Lunch is at your desk.  No vacation time.  Holidays observed are one Grandma’s house weekend and one friend’s bachelorette getaway that requires only Mom to leave town for.  Wow, sounds like a White House intern job when you put it on paper. 2011-03-12-Lucia-001web
  3. Men aren’t so keen on a baby’s schedule.  Bedtime is after this pint of beer and before the latest Netflix DVD to arrive gets put in.  Baby monitors – who needs ‘em?
  4. Women love baby’s toys as they promote motor skill development.  Men love baby’s toys as a way to watch the Saturday afternoon game.  But heaven forbid there are more then 2 toys on the living room rug.  Then we just have a “mess”.  What I call a mess is Lyla’s new trick…throwing puffs on the floor as I tirelessly try to encourage her to eat them…along with her usual sockless life.2011-03-23-Nana's-009web
  5. Men hate strollers.  They’d rather carry the car seat – WHAT?!  WHY?! I still don’t understand this one.
  6. Babies pick up on Dad’s paycheck and give all of their firsts to the male.  First smile, first words, first kisses.  Theory is they can already smell the stack of Dad’s proudly earned cash in his wallet that will grant them a Barbie’s Dreamhouse.  Smart girl. 2011-03-23-Nana's-015web
  7. If your husband comes over to refill your wine glass after a said jet-fueled rage comment, all is well with your marriage.

And you bet I just backspaced a couple of paragraphs that would definitely get me into trouble.  Love you babe.

Ok, vent over.  The hot rage has dissipated into Man, I really do need to tackle her laundry tomorrow.2011-02-22-Kauai-002web

So let’s get back to the original thoughts of newborn bunnies hop hopping all over the backyard, temperatures so nice you knowingly walk out the door without your down jacket on.  Take a deep breath in that crisp air – that’s beach days coming baby!  Morning walks watching the birds fly back home, weather-able construction workers filling the sun-drenched afternoon with sounds of remodeled homes, sweet honey BBQ chicken sizzling on the grill you can smell from across the neighborhood.

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Spring will also bring a momentous day that I have been daydreaming about since Lyla turned 1 month old – her first birthday bonanza.  The balloons, the streamers, the people, the baby shoving her fingers in cake.  I used to think this signified the end of the baby era.  Now a big girl who’s age is referred to in years versus months.  Man, I can remember like it was yesterday proudly announcing her age in weeks as we paraded around town.  My little newborn peanut has grown into a whole peanut bush, sprouting her branches left and right into 26” of Jif yumminess.2011-03-22-Nana's-008webblu

2011-03-22-Nana's-010webblu2011-03-22-Nana's-009webBut it’s much more than transitioning from 11 months to 1 year old.  Much more than just a number you throw out when the cute elderly woman at the grocery store begs to know how long your special angel has been on this earth.  And I love how they always use the term special angel.  All of them.  It’s how much this little 18-pound nugget of smiles has changed my life from year 29 to 30.  I didn’t write much about the big D-day I faced in February.  Frankly, it really wasn’t a big deal respectively.  Just a number, right?  Mostly because I didn’t feel like it was about a gray day signifying my getting older, but instead felt the year’s worth of abundant wisdom pressing down on my 30-year old shoulders that a little someone in a pink tutu sent my way.  And I wore the wisdom proudly like Samantha Jones’ shoulder pads.  It’s like Lyla was preparing me for the “Ok, This Is Where It Really Counts” phase of life where I can check off so many unknowingly important things as I turn 31, 34, 38.

So I’ll take this revelation and celebrate each of my birthdays as recollection for things my daughter has taught me those past 365 days.  This first year I’ll sum it up into 3 lessons. 

Change, Beauty, and Strength.

Change. Her first months threw change at us like we were young immigrants ascending onto a new foreign land we would now call home.  Didn’t speak the language.  Didn’t know the land.  Just hopped off the boat and knew we had to figure it out for ourselves or we would perish.  Change is funny like that – you either rise to the top by embracing it or sink to the bottom from resenting it.  The phrase “well, we used to do it this way” must transform into “how can we do it now”.  I didn’t expect the overwhelming amount of information to have to learn about Down syndrome, to overwhelmingly want to learn.  All of a sudden the medical terms consumed me.  A scholar on a mission to know everything about something I sadly, sadly, sadly only thought meant “mentally retarded” before she came out. 

You could say I was like an art major suddenly changing her degree to pre-med.  (But that’s the student’s parents’ dream, right?)  The intimate pastel images that could be painted on canvas full of dad’s stares as he studies a babe that is his own turn into raw cardiologist appointments that have you studying terms like atrial septal defect, ventricle, and mitral valve.  Or the soft, black & white photograph of a mother nursing her child while peacefully lying as the morning sun peaks through the bedroom curtains became an un-Photoshoped Le Leche Group snapshot of 8 sleep-deprived women in a circle, bare boobs poking out of nursing tanks, unflattering fluorescent hospital lights shine down upon them, hungry naked newborns screaming everywhere, and lactation consultants squeezing lady parts like a toothpaste tube.  Now there’s a Pulitzer Prize.  And the elegant waltz of rocking your newborn sound asleep next to their bassinet became a stiff routine of poking & prodding in order to keep her awake for a measly 1.5 ounces of breast milk.  But as she slept so soundly during her first few months of life, recharging her 8lb body for an hour after tiresomely nursing for an hour, I was able to put my student hat on to learn the bold beginnings of change while she slumbered.2011-03-18 Lucia 005aJust as our little buddy Lucia did during her first playdate with Lyla. How precious is she?!

2011-03-19 Lucia 037aBeauty.  As for the second lesson, well that just speaks for itself…

2011-03-21-Nana's-006webEach day, the beauty seeps out from within her even more.  This beauty is simply, well,  beautiful.  More picture-perfect than any Pampers commercial could make my babyitis mind imagine.  And now, I see beauty everywhere.  In Lowe’s as I gaze at a married couple in their 60’s home improvement shopping as if it’s a Sunday ritual, hand in hand as if they’ve never let go.  At the nail salon as a 4 year old pig-tailed girl gets a manicure for the first time and tenderly walks out the door in awe of how big girl she feels.  In the Hundred Acre Wood around the corner where the deep blue ocean glistens and resonates peace from your hilltop wooden bench.  Just open your eyes and the world really is a beauty queen.

Strength.  The last was one for the books.  I thought I had won an Oscar for my Superwoman portrayal delivering a baby 2 times the size of the hole it came out of on a bum epidural.  Phshh, that was an 11-hour walk in the local dog park we love compared to our new medical world.  A world full of what if’s.  To let fear of the unknown consume you will succumb you to your knees.   It was always so reassuring to hear kids are resilient in times of medical complications that may take adults twice as long to recover from.  Young ones able to spring back into good health like it was the day before surgery.  Able to recoil more quickly due to the lack of worry us adults obsess over.  One day playing in their bouncer like they could jump to the moon, the next they’ve got their chest cracked open, the next week they’re eyeing the Bumbo for more action.  Can you say strong?  Just living in the present.  See the connection?  Let’s toss that s.o.b. Fear of the Unknown aside and just be fully in the moment right here, right now.2011-03-17-Lucia-001webGreat Grandma Margaret promoting Lyla’s love for music.  She was mesmerized.  Tear.

Freshman year is drawing to a close and Little J has succeeded as the coolest college professor ever.  Thank you Ms. Dolly for molding my na├»ve freshman self into a student who knows exactly what she wants now in life.  You were an inspiration to direct me towards a “career” in Change & Strength Management.  You are now responsible for me becoming the better person I intend to be for the rest of my birthdays.

Ms. Dolly deserves a raise.  Would you settle for a vanilla teething cookie?2011-02-22-Kauai-001aweb

Now where’s the beer pong table for that end of the year frat bash?!

P.S.  Sorry husband for having to use you as an example for the classroom.  I love you.Spring 09 022a

Friday, March 11, 2011

Aerophobia

Looking back at my 37 weeks of pregnancy, I remember being shockingly amazed at the baby’s puzzle piece development each week.  Need a heart?  We got that on week 5.   Need a liver?  Oh that’s week 14.  Just like that, no big deal.  Gone is the man physically putting these delicate pieces into place, no one seaming the organs all together to function as one digestive system.  Just these microscopic cells magically forming and multiplying to produce something with a heartbeat.  It was the hardest task for my body to endure – grow a freaking human being inside of another human being – but it was so odd being on auto-pilot.  Oh you mean I don’t have to actually do anything but gain impossible-to-lose pregnancy pounds?!  Perfect.  Let me get back to my DIY nursery decorating and TCBY then.378web374web

Little did I know, auto-pilot had a few scotches before takeoff.  Got a little off path with some holes in the heart, minor turbulence over the diaphragm causing a weak area,  late to arrive with the neurology connection plane, and took a whole new flight plan with an extra 21st chromosome.  Same beautiful end destination, just an unexpected route.  The control freak in me was right – I should have been flying.

Month by month we’re slowly learning the damage done from Lyla’s flight in utero.  You feel like you’ve conquered the world by successfully tackling gut-wrenching heart surgery.  But like a worst nightmare during post-op rounds the cardiologist gives you another BOOM! – here’s a diaphragm defect we found that will more than likely need another surgery next summer.  Dude, she’s healing from heart surgery at 9 months old!  Then comes the recent devastation of a possible epilepsy diagnosis from infantile spasms.  Regulation of the seizures would be possible, but the medication outlook is brutal.  Medication called ACTH that would take this soulful personality straight out of this porcelain body during it’s first month’s attempt at treating this mysterious condition.394web

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410webEach time one of these new medical terms is thrown our way, of course I do what all doctors tell you not to do…  Hit up Google.  I get it out of my system and for 5 hours straight just tangently search and search the internet for drawn-out definitions, medical history, hopeful best outcomes, lump-in-your-throat worst outcomes, painful images, symptom-confirming videos.  I basically scare the crap out of myself.  I don’t know why I do it, maybe it gives me a tough exterior shell for the endless appointments we’re about to have with these change-your-world specialists.  Preparing myself so no more curveballs can be thrown our way.  Sick of the curveballs.

So back to Children’s we went 3 weeks ago.  The 3rd time since walking out the doors with a new heart, the 8th time total in her 10 months of life.  Down the scrub-filled 1/4 mile corridor of Longwood Avenue we went that also houses Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s, and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  It’s a medical meca dedicated to lives like ours.  We are forever thankful.  But I hate this drive.  Through the giant revolving door we go to gaze upon a hospital lobby that’s never short of an ah-ha moment. 

We’re here.  Many will help us here.  We are not the worst case here.  Everything will be alright.

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The famous Dr. Duffy (who I couldn’t help but sing the other British blonde petite Duffy’s “I’m beggin’ you for mercy. Why don’t you release me?” over and over again in my head as I’m trying to seriously stare at this 80 year old man with Woody Allen thick black glasses), well he set up a 4-hour EEG to be done at Children’s when we get back from this glorious vacation in Kauai.  We shall see then if we have yet another checkbox to add to the babe’s medical conditions chart.

But until then Kauai is helping me focus on the “now” instead of the “what if’s”.  Some good advice that a blog follower Kim gave me as we got the pounding bad news. On top of bad news. On top of bad news.  (If you don’t know Kim, she’s the one that’s petitioning through the Comments section each week chanting “Book! Book! Book!”)  It was good advice my friend as I was able to just ENJOY this breathtaking island.2011-02-24-Kauai-002webSunrise walk our first morning.  We were waiting for the sun to come up from the jet lag.2011-02-24-Kauai-001web

2011-02-24-Kauai-003web2011-02-24-Kauai-004web2011-02-24-Kauai-006web2011-02-24-Kauai-007webKauai: a place that simply overtakes you as soon as stepping off the inbound plane’s stuffy off-ramp and gliding into the fresh open-air terminal.  They’re so chill here they don’t even have walls at their airport!!!  We drive into town through the winding cliff roads and all of a sudden can’t even remember the word epilepsy.  Days full of tree-topped balcony conversations over Coors Lights, browsing through the outdoor bird-chirping shopping pavilions filled with the aroma of kona beans brewing at the most content coffee shops.  Mornings spent playing with babies as the sea breeze flows through all 37 open windows in the rented mansion, afternoons lounging on the sugary sand as the coolest moment happens in a flash of a second – a huge navy whale leaps out of the wavy horizon to expose his entire massive body and come down with the largest white-water splash seen from a mile away.  Too quick for your camera sitting in it’s bag still.  But enough of a moment to bank in your “Coolest Shit Ever” brain space.2011-02-25-Kauai-001web

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2011-02-25-Kauai-010web2011-02-25-Kauai-012webAnd we saw a whale from the Kilauea Lighthouse as well!

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2011-02-25-Kauai-032webOut of the hundreds of tiles I could have glanced down at, this was the one my eyes stumbled upon. Preach it sistas!

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This is the location to get away from it all.  Some magical mist in the air that Puff the Magic Dragon is huffing out to make the word ‘stress’ disappear from Webster’s Dictionary.  The greenest greens you’ve ever seen in the luscious foliage.  The bluest of blues as waves come tumbling into a nature-carved Queen’s Bath.  The pinkest of pinks as hibiscus flowers pop up all over the bending dusty roads.

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A place that promotes no regrets enjoying lunch with your family & friends huddled around the large screen TV watching The Best of Saturday Night Live, knowing full and well that you should be out exploring some section of the Kauai Visitor’s Guide.  But for some reason laughing hysterically over cafeteria lady-dressed Chris Farley’s dance to Sloppy Joe is well worth the sacrifice of a sunny afternoon.2011-03-03-Kauai-018web

So relaxing that someone may be able to fall soundly asleep on the 2nd story balcony overlooking the stars.  And this someone may have been celebrating her 30th birthday with the best dinner she’s had in years, complete with a warm bananas foster atop caramel-sauced french toast a la mode.  Yeah, that was good.  And this someone may have woke up at 1:30am in the outdoor chase after all of the partygoers had already retired to bed.  And perhaps this person could wake up with 52 bug bites on her feet and ankles.  Literally, 52.  Must have been the sweet banana caramel sauce flowing through the veins still!

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2011-03-02-Kauai-046webIt’s an island you can mesh with the local sitting next to you at Java Hut that figured out the secret 10 years ago by moving here from the snowy Northeast.  Somewhere that makes you contemplate in detail for a quick 15 minutes about how you can shuffle up everything and just move here without a second thought…

We could rent Dad’s condo, Troy can work from home on east coast time, I can take up island photography, Lyla can become a local naked bronzed beach baby playing in the sand.

Wait a minute what the hell am I talking about?!??!!  …Vacations will do. 

But I guarantee if you ever visit The Garden Isle, this conversation will take place in your head.  You can’t help but daydream because the whole island just feels like home.  No high-rise hotels since buildings aren’t allowed to be constructed higher than a coconut tree.  And that seriously is the rule.  Living to just have a good time.  Everyone enjoying what Mother Nature granted Kauai with.  Beaches tucked away off of the main roads where you have to adventure out with a small hike to know they’re even there.  Surfers out to top the last rush they had off of the north shore’s notorious seas.  Shops shutting down at 3:00pm to take advantage of the 20-foot wave warnings.  No rush, no honking car horns, no “Why didn’t you answer your phone this afternoon?!” - because 1:00pm naps are also a given.2011-02-26-Kauai-010web2011-02-26-Kauai-012web

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Our last day on this spectacular 12-day jaunt, I must trust our pilots to safely bring us back to the mainland.  A trust towards auto-pilot that is obviously hard for me to give, but must accept I don’t have the capability to control it all.  Some things I’m required to give to the hands of others.  Whether they be pilots, doctors, Lyla’s future teachers, or an almighty creator forming a brother or sister for the little tot – these are trained professionals who do what they do for a reason.  They fly better than I can, they heal with their knowledge of medicine, they teach with skills not possessed by this engineer, and they create imperfect humans with individual purposes. 

Because none of us are perfect, and we each have a purpose.

So take us away auto-pilot wherever we must go.  Here is my trust in you that all will be well with the routes we take.  And it wouldn’t hurt if the destination was Kauai again.  But most of all, I trust in you that it will be a purposeful ride.2011-03-02-Kauai-017web