Sunday, October 26, 2014

Broken

There is a shelf on the side of my entertainment center, which for the last 8 years, has been the home to piggy bank.

A grey porcelain piggy bank with the name Michaela hand painted on either side.

I have had this piggy bank for over 30 years.

Believe it or not...that is pretty impressive because over 30 years ago finding anything with an unusual name on it was next to impossible...and even today it's hard for me to find things with my name on it (Note to Coke Cola... I would like someone to share a Coke with me!).

But that piggy bank...that piggy bank...some 30 plus years ago...my father, who was stationed in Germany at the time, somehow unearthed it and sent it to me.

It is one of the very few gifts I have from him.

For over 30 years this piggy bank has found its way to a shelf for display in every place that I have ever lived.

And trust me that is a lot of places! You discover how many it really is once you have to repeatedly fill out paperwork for your homestudy asking you to list all the places that you have EVER lived!

EVER LIVED!!

Writing that out makes you go "Dang I moved a lot!!"

And it makes me realize that is A LOT of places that piggy bank has ever lived too!

Well up until a few months ago...

My little Ladybug, my beautiful, sassy little girl, (man she has long arms!) managed to reach up to where  piggy bank lives and pull him down.

Piggy bank is now broken...

I honestly thought my reaction to piggy bank being broken would have been one of deep sadness and sheer remorse for letting one of the very few things I have from my father be in a position to be broken.

I thought I would tormented by seeing it broken into pieces...

I wasn't...I was slightly sad...I had a twinge...but I didn't feel that overwhelming sense of loss...that re-awaking of a familiar pain in my heart...the pain of not having a relationship with my father...that pain that plagued my younger years...I was waiting for that pain...but it was just a reminisce.

I picked up the broken pieces of piggy bank and he is now taking up residence in my bedroom, on top of my dresser with the hopes of someday being glued back together...I say someday because who knows the next time I'll have free time...Ladybug consumes all of my time...it's a good thing...

Not long after piggy bank took his humpty dumpty fall, I received news that my father was in a very bad car accident and in ICU.

All my life I imagined how I would feel about numerous scenarios involving my father...I don't think I ever imagined a devastating car crash that left him broken.

Just like I thought the site of piggy bank being broken would have flooded me with a pain...a pain of loss... I expected hearing such news about my father would torment me too...filling me with the that overwhelming sense of loss...re-awakening that pain that plagued me for years....but it didn't...

I felt a twinge of something...the beginning of an ache in my heart...but out of habit my heart went into self-preservation mode and allowed it to be nothing more than a twinge.

And the twinge...is that twinge there because my father was in a terrible car accident or is it empathy because no one should have to suffer that kind of fate...like the twinge I get when I see an animal on the side of the road...

Could that twinge be nothing more?? Nothing more but empathy....for my father...my dad??

My sister text me: "I just spoke to dad. He told me to let you know that he reads your blog and said you are a very strong woman and he is proud of you."

Ahhhh the twinge...against my hearts best efforts the twinge morphed into that old familiar pain...the pain you have when you lose a father...and how you lost them is inconsequential...even if they are still alive...that pain of loss...it still exists...even if it's disguise as a twinge...

"I just spoke to dad. He told me to let you know that he reads your blog and said you are a very strong woman and he is proud of you."

"He reads your blog"...

It's funny...I spent most of my 20s writing letters...letters in my head to him...never sent...some hit paper...but never sent...

"He reads your blog"...

I think in your teens you're rebellious...in your 20s wild...in your 30s you come to terms and in your 40s you forgive...you move on...you find the closest thing to peace that you can...

"He reads your blog and said you are a very strong woman and he is proud of you."

I wish he could have read the things  I wrote in my 20s and 30s...notice I didn't say teens...too harsh...and it was...but if I could have him go back and read some of it...he'd know I'm mad...he'd know I thought the world of him (what little girl doesn't)...and he'd know I remember...

"He reads your blog"...

So I guess I can let him know...(if he's reading)

Things I remember about my father...

I remember he used to bake bread...really delicious bread...it's the smell that I remember the most...

He had a really, small green car we called Kermit...

He used to flip me over his shoulder to carry me...

We used to go bowling...

We painted ceramics...

I thought he was so handsome...like Elvis!

We would watch "The Rockford Files"

I thought he was so handsome...like James Gadner!

We had a Winnebago!

His CB handle was "Ski"

He called me "short round"

"He reads your blog and said you are a very strong woman and he is proud of you."

I remember years and years ago...a good 10 years plus...I went to funeral of my friend Kay's father. It was a very sad funeral, her father was only in his 50s and she was a young girl in her 20s...

Not that losing a father at any point in life isn't devastating...

I have another friend who recently lost her father and even though he was older the loss is just as tragic...(and I think this still can apply to her because she was his world!)

Any way...after her dad died, Kay and I were talking. I was trying to bring her some comfort. I remember telling her to really hold on to the great moments she had with her dad.

My sentiments..."All my life all I ever wanted was to be daddy's little girl. I would have given anything to be daddy's little girl...for just one moment...to be daddy's little girl...you got to be daddy's little girl for over 20 years. Try remember that when you think of him."

And isn't that true of every little girl...wanting to be daddy's little girl...

But now some 30 years since, heck almost 40...I've learned to live with the fact that I am not...

My broken heart has been glued back together...

" He reads your blog"

" He is proud of you"

And my heart breaks...it's more than a twinge...to know that he is broken...

"He reads your blog"

I know physically he is broken...

But for the rest....

"He reads your blog"

I hope I can provide a little bit of glue...

And maybe...just maybe in those moments when he is reading my blog...in that moment...I am daddy's little girl.




Saturday, September 6, 2014

Just another ordinary day...sort of...Part III

August 28, 2009

As far as I can recall...it was just another ordinary day.

It was 2 days before my birthday (my "you waited too long birthday").

It was a Friday.

The plan...take the day off, go to the doctor and then head down the shore for a little b'day R&R.

The doctor...I had my first appointment with a fertility doctor to discuss Artificial Insemination.

My thoughts... I thought it was going to be easy...simple...you know like in the movies...

I walk into the doctor's office, declare my plans to have a baby on my own, the doctor does some kind of wave of his magic wand and...

PRESTO!! PREGNANT!!

Honestly that's pretty much what I thought!

I knew there would be some sort of testing and some kind of procedure but other than that...PRESTO!!

Boy was this ordinary day about to teach me lessons I didn't want to learn.

August 28, 2009

On that day not myself nor the doctor knew how this was going to end...because the journey...that long and painful road I was about to travel... had only just to begin...without even knowing it, I had taken the first steps.

And the testing...well the testing had only just begun too!

I know they took massive amounts of blood that day and they introduced me to  "Wanda" - why yes the seemingly harmless but somewhat invasive dildocam used to perform the ever so devastating vaginal ultrasound.

On that ordinary day in August Wanda started her reign of terror, revealing  to me that I had a low AFC - antral follicle count - which basically means a low egg count...I didn't know on that ordinary day that it was an "out of" egg count...just low...

None of this seemed to spell DOOM until Dr. Doom declared I had a practically 0% chance of getting pregnant.

Turning all my days from ordinary to barely livable.

This one seemingly ordinary day was the start of what seemed to be endless...

Endless testing...

Endless cycles - 20 to be exact...

Endless pills....

Endless needles...

Endless tears...

August 28, 2009

Just another ordinary day turned into the dreaded marker of time...

Marking the endless days...

The endless weeks...

The endless years...

I had no idea that this one...seemingly ordinary day...just another ordinary day...would permanently changed who I am and the trajectory of my life...forever...

August 28,2014

5 years later the endlessness ended...

I held my daughter...I played with her...fed her...bathed her and put her to bed...

It was just another ordinary day...sort of...




Sunday, August 10, 2014

I know her too...

Dear Moms of Adopted Children ~ read the full article ~

"I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.

But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself."


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It IS beautiful...I think???

On my "private" Facebook group one of the girls posted a link to this:

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN MAY | THE BIRTH OF MATILDA

Her comment: "Just wanted to share...it's beautiful"

My comment...or should I say reaction was:

"I don't know...that completely freaks me out and makes me incredibly sad at the same time"

My friend felt bad.  She posted an apology...she didn't have to. I know she didn't post it thinking this would be something that could be hurtful to me or to anyone else.

She posted it because she thought it was beautiful...

And it is...I think??

And it's the: "I think" that's making me incredibly sad...

The thing is many people will make references to pregnancy and childbirth and it will be something I know nothing about.

The private Facebook page is a Single Mom by Choice page. I am the only mom that has adopted. There is another mother that used a surrogate. I am not sure how she feels about pregnancy and childbirth, she has never mentioned it.

But all the other mothers gave birth to their children.

I am sure that they all (well at least no one's admitted to the contrary) think it's beautiful.

They've experienced it....I can't say the same.

I never got past 8 weeks...so I never REALLY got to experience pregnancy aside from some sore boobs and a little nausea...I never felt a kick or hiccup (Ladybug gets the hiccups all the time! It wonder if she did while in her birthmommy's belly?)...and I never felt a contraction or pushed or gave birth...and I'll tell you what...

Those pictures terrified me and made me incredible sad not because...well not only because of the obvious...but because seeing a little head coming out of her...FREAKS ME OUT!!

All I can think of when I look at that picture is "Oh God NO!!"

It doesn't seem natural and it's not beautiful...well at least not to me...

And that makes me incredibly sad...

Because it makes me think to myself...

Could that be it?

Could my inner reactions be why?

Why I never got past 8 weeks? Why I never gave birth? Because I don't find it beautiful?

I've felt this way as long as I can remember.  And I'm going to be honest here, I have the same visceral reaction to breastfeeding! (Please note - I am PRO breastfeeding...it just freaks me out!)

Even though I wanted it so desperately...

Could that be why?

The day I met my daughter the social workers brought me to this tiny, little room at the agency. In the corner of the room, turned so it could fit in the space, sat a rocking chair. A child's blanket laid across the back of the rocking chair.

They told me to sit in the chair.

I did.

I looked around the room. The social workers had set up children's blocks on the desk next to the rocking chair that said "Congratulations Michaela and Ladybug (well her real name) April 17, 2014.

My mother dressed in a bright orange shirt...bright orange because she read somewhere it is comforting to children...she stood behind the door that the social workers were about to carry my daughter through with her video camera posed and ready...

I sat there in this strange rocking chair, in this strange, little room with my name strangely spelled out in blocks and my mother wearing a strange, overly bright orange shirt...and I looked at my mother...no not to condemn her for her color choices...

I looked at  my mother and as a matter fact I said: "Could this be why?"

"I think so honey" my mom said with a smile..."I think so!"

I go into her room at night and I watch her. I can't stop watching her... and I know it doesn't matter.

I know it doesn't matter.

Just like pregnancy and childbirth...

It doesn't matter...

Just like the fairy tale of the guy and the dream of 2 kids...

It doesn't matter...

Your family...no matter what it looks like and no matter how it came to be...

That's what matters...that's what's beautiful...

That moment in that strange, little room at my adoption agency, with my mom in her brightly colored shirt poised with a video camera in hand as the social workers walked in carrying my daughter...it was beautiful...

But that doesn't stop me from wishing that I held her close to my chest the second she was born.

That doesn't stop me from wishing that her little head came out of my...well nope...nope...still freaking me out....

That doesn't stop me from wishing that I could see the beauty in that...first hand...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ungrateful?

There have been so many ways that I envisioned my baby shower.

And with each miscarriage and each failed cycle my visions kept fading away.

I even envisioned what my baby shower would be like if I adopted and I mentioned it to mom, my sisters, my BFF M2. It would be a "Meet the Baby Shower".

But I guess that's all I could really picture...a title or a declaration of what it would be...

But envisioning that day coming true....

Walking in a seeing everyone who came out to celebrate.

Envisioning  who was going to be there? The hugs...the joy...the congratulations...the amount of love and support I would feel...

No...there was no way to envision that.

And I still can't "see" it clearly...even though it happened.

We called it a "Sip and See" and the amount of love and support...it's indescribable.

It is a moment that I feel like I watched instead of participated in...

It's a sense...an emotion...an overwhelming feeling of gratitude!

At the Sip and See...my baby shower...one of my best friends from childhood, she has two teenage children but she also had several m/c's and one late term. She came up to me at the shower and said: "It makes it all worth it doesn't it...Well, not really! We could have totally done without the other shit but you know what I mean."

Yeah I knew what she meant...

The other day I had my annual checkup with Dr. O my gynecologist.

Dr. O is one of my favorite doctors. The man that I wanted to deliver my baby but instead performed my D&C.

When I confirmed my appointment I asked the receptionist if it was okay that I brought my daughter.  She responded yes, but  I am sure I confused her.

When I got there, there was a surprising number of children in the waiting room. This is something that would have crushed me a few months ago. Seeing women with their children...and it wouldn't have matter if their child was well behaved or throwing a tantrum...if she was put together or thrown together...seeing women with their children as I sat there alone, having another test or another period to remind me...

And in the waiting room (as expected; he is an OBGYN) were some pregnant women...

It was still hard.

I still looked with envy, hurt and pain.

And as I looked with the eyes of a wounded warrior at the pregnant bellies...directly across from Ladybug was a woman, by herself, looking at her.

Was she me a few months back? Walking into the worst place on Earth...the OBGYN! Knowing you will encounter all that you long for...

In that moment I was grateful. Grateful that my daughter was next me...

But what I didn't feel was gratitude that I can't carry a child or gratitude that I would never experience pregnancy...

It was like my friend said: "Yeah we could have done without that other shit!"

From the moment I started pursuing adoption people would say to me "Oh as soon as you adopt you won't hurt anymore", "That baby will make you forget all the pain" or "None of it will matter" etc.

Meaning that my adoption was meant to take away the pain of infertility and miscarriages.

My response...

I would tell them that it's not my baby's job to heal me...I have to heal myself...

Is that easy?

No!

But I have been trying to heal well before my little angel showed up.

Am I healed?

No! (evident by my trip to the gyno!)

Infertility and pregnancy loss will always be a part of me. And that I can live with...not being a mommy is what I couldn't live with...so in that aspect...Yes...she has healed me...she filled the hole in my heart that wanted to be a mommy...not the hole IF caused...and certainly not the hole in my heart that mourns my lost babies.

I could have done without the other shit...

And that brings me to one of the things that pissed me off (and still pisses me off) when I was stuck in my own private hell, when I was still in the trenches...I would read these blog posts of gratitude for Infertility.

It always came about a month after they reached the other side and it was always some sappy crap about "If I could have shaken the me back then..." blah, blah puke!

Of course these proclamations of unwavering gratitude ONLY come once that person had reached the other side. Happily holding their baby or their pregnant belly...declaring to the world their gratitude for Infertility.

Always after...I have yet to read a post where someone was grateful for the infertility while still in hell...

Am I ungrateful because I'm not grateful for the other shit?

I think I must be missing this overwhelming realization...

I keep thinking there has to be this incredible moment that brings you to your knees and floods you with this undying gratitude for something that's causes so much pain...and I'm missing it...

Because if I could go back in time...I would shake the me of back then and say: "Stop spending so much goddamn money!!"

I will tell you this...my heart is full with gratitude for my daughter... I have fallen to my knees sobbing over the miracle of it all...

I am grateful for many things...

I am grateful I survived!

I am grateful I never gave up!

I am grateful for the community of love and support that surrounds me.

But I'm still not grateful for my Infertility...

Not one teeny, tiny bit!            

Yeah...I could have done without the other shit...




Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Just another ordinary day...sort of...Part II

Mother's Day 2011

It should have been "just" another ordinary day...just another Mother's Day.

At the time Mother's Day was a day where I honored my mother by going to brunch and drinking mimosas!

My mom and I have always been close, so all I ever took Mother's Day for was..."just an another day"..."another day" to be with my mom.

My sisters both had children young so I can't even remember a big "ta do"  for their first Mother's Day. There absolutely could have been a big "ta do" but I was finishing high school and heading off to college...being a mother...celebrating Mother's Day...in my book NOT a big "ta do"...just another ordinary day!  So I wouldn't have even noticed...

I always pictured one day I would be the mom at Mother's Day brunch.  But having a longing for it...nay...I took it for granted. I guess I just always assumed that someday it would be me.

 My first miscarriage was so devastating that I spent that whole year determined to get pregnant again. I don't even recall that Mother's Day after my first miscarriage. I miscarried in March and it was now May. I was down but not out.  I still had hope...hope that someday I would be the mom at Mother's Day.  So it was just another day...don't get me wrong, I still mourned the loss of my baby and Mother's Day was a deafening reminder but I was sure the following year I would be celebrating Mother's Day as a mom... It still didn't sink in.

I never realized how much I wanted it or that there was an actual possibility...I mean a REAL possibility...that it might not ever happen for me until that following year...until Mother's Day 2011.

It was one year after my first miscarriage. If I didn't miscarry...this would have been my first Mother's Day. And a few months earlier I failed on my last IVF cycle with my own eggs.

It was hitting home and as I sat at my sister's house having brunch and drinking mimosas, it became painfully clear that this might not happen for me.

I had decided to put my adoption plans on hold and pursue donor eggs.

I remember sitting with my mom looking a photos of egg donors, noting how this one had my eye color or that one had my hair...another deafening reminder.

That Mother's Day 2011 was embarrassing and comical to say the least but what no one knew was that I spent my whole drive home crying...suffering in a pain of realization.

There was nothing ordinary anymore...nothing familiar was left.

But I followed through.

I pursued and 4 months later...I was pregnant...I was going to be a mom on Mother's Day!

Mother's Day was no longer going to be this deafening reminder...no longer this pain of realization...it was going to be "just another ordinary day"...just as it should be...

It was going to be my day...or so I thought...by the time Mother's Day rolled around again. I had suffered two miscarriages and have gone through well over 10 cycles.

It wasn't just another ordinary day anymore...it was my own private hell...one where there wasn't enough mimosas...

I think it was then that I stopped picturing myself as a mom on Mother's Day...well, I guess it wasn't that I stopped picturing it...it was that I couldn't picture it...it all faded away...

Mother's Day 20whatever...Whatever the year..I was determined to make it just another ordinary day!

I tried not to think of my lost babies. I tried not to acknowledge the deafening reminders...the pain of realization...

Mother's Day 2014

I celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mom.

Is it the way I "assumed" it would be?  The way I pictured it?

Is it just another ordinary day?

No...

Nothing is the way I pictured it...

Nothing is the way this ordinary day should be...

It is extraordinary!

I think that is what makes it so special and so unbelievably magical...

And that will forever make it anything but "just another ordinary day"...



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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ladybug

Riding on the dashboard of my car is a Ladybug.  A stuffed Ladybug that sits there and watches over me as I drive.

A stuffed Ladybug who's once black hair has now turned blonde from the beams of sun shining through my car windshield for almost 20 years!

In 1998 for my 30th birthday (yea, y'all can stop doing the math! I'm no spring chicken!) I was finally able to buy myself my dream car! (and yes this Jersey girl can say y'all sometimes too!! I have southern relatives! and some southern roots!)

For my 30th I bought a 1994 Ford Mustang GT convertible with "5 on the floor" - that's a manual 5 speed transmission for those of you who were wondering what "5 on the floor meant" - a stick shift!

I am a firm believer that a Mustang should be 8 cylinders with a manual transmission.  Those who get a Mustang in a 6 cylinder and an automatic are missing the beauty of this classic muscle car! Ford shouldn't even indulge the pansy ass public by making the Mustang in a 6 cylinder automatic! To me it's sacrilege!

So in 1998 for my 30th birthday, I bought myself the car of my dreams in red of course!  My favorite color.  And to christen my beautiful car, I bought a black and red stuffed Ladybug and placed in the windshield. Ladybug has been my good luck charm, my protector, my travel companion, my safe journey as I gallivanted as far as my 5 speeds would take me.

And there on the dashboard of my dream car Ladybug stayed until 2008 when I sold my dream car and bought a new car, a Chevy HHR. I know a far cry from my beloved Mustang but I love this car too! And of course it is red and a stick shift. There are two mandatory things I need when buying a car: it has to be red and it has to be a 5 speed (well of course a 6 speed would do too!)

Ladybug fit in perfectly with my new car and there she sits to this day being my good luck charm, my protector, my travel companion, my safe journey.

On the day I got the call...tax day...there was Ladybug sitting on my dashboard, watching over me as I drove to my adoption agency.

My mom was meeting me there and then we were going to meet the birth mom and the grandmother together.

We met with the social workers first.

I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know how this was going to go...I mean really is there a precedent? Is there any way to prepare for something like this?

At first we went over formalities,  then the social workers painted the picture of when the birth mom and the grandmother saw my profile and how they felt such a strong connection.

And now it was time to meet them...once again I wasn't sure what to expect...and I was scared...would I live up to this strong connection...

As they walked through the door...I felt like I was watching a movie...a movie that I didn't know how it was going to end...

The grandmother walked in. She came right over to me and said: "I feel like I want to hug you!"

I said: "Oh please do!"

And we hugged...we hugged as if we knew each other from a time gone past...

The birth mom was carrying something and reached out to hand it to me.

I was an Easter basket with bunny ears in it. But this basket wasn't weaved or in the shape of a bunny...

No this basket was black and red and in the shape of a...

Ladybug!

As the meeting progress, they told me of all the things that connected them to me...I felt a familiarity that is unexplainable...I studied them...I knew them...they were so familiar...and yes there was a strong connection and things that were just (add a sigh in here!)...things that were just kismet...for lack of a better word...that's the only way I can explain it.

I didn't mention Ladybug to them. Even after we started talking about all the amazing connections...for some reason I kept Ladybug to myself...until...until...

Until the day I picked up my daughter...

I gave the social workers two charm bracelets. One for the birth mom and one for the grandmother...

Two charm bracelets with a single charm on it...

a Ladybug...

I know they know...

And I want them to know that right now...sleeping safely in her crib...is our little Ladybug!


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