Five Years Later (A birth story)

Every mom has a birth story. A story that is filled with awe, wonder, and lots of love. The truth is, that some birth stories are not always movie worthy or worth repeating. Having been on both ends, the laborer and the supporter when my first nephew was born, I have many stories of birth.

Avery’s birth was a difficult one. She was already past her due date, and we were already cautious with the her heart rate with every contraction I had. For reasons we did not know at the time, her heart rate would drop after every contraction.

After a few hours in the hospital I decided to try the cheating way and get an epidural. The other two babies before I had natural. I was in my early twenties so I was naive and didn’t know better. After watching my sister deliver her first born with her epidural, can you believe that little brat was talking on the phone and saying, “Oh look… I’m having a contraction right now,” with the biggest smirk on her face. How stupid was I to go through all that pain?

Needless to say, the epidural did not work. It worked for maybe an hour. Then there was something called a “hot spot” on my lower left abdomen. It was a perfect circle. With each contraction the hot spot grew. They pumped my I.V. with more medicine to numb the area, and with just my luck, nothing happened except that my legs were numb and I was feeling every contraction. Oh, I forgot to mention, that Avery was not dropping either. That means even though I was dilating, her head was still not in position for delivery. So after artificially breaking my water, they decided to pump me with more water to encourage her to drop.

All that I could do was listen to this classical music Dan was playing for me and breathe through the pain. Then after a very strong ass contraction, and I was finally dilated to 10 cm., Avery’s heart rate dropped to an uncomfortable rate. I could see in Dan’s face something wasn’t right.

The Doctor looked at me and said, “We are going to have to perform a c-section.” So they gave me more drugs to stop the contractions, and gave me a bunch of paper work to sign. They placed that funny looking cap on me and made me drink some god awful syrup to make sure I don’t vomit while I am under. Since my epidural failed, I would have to go through the c-section completely under and without Dan by side.

They made him pack up our stuff and lead him to another room and they wheeled me in the O.R. and I waited. Then when it was time, they gave me the anesthesia and everything went black.

With all the details above, this is not where the birth story ends. I believe that every mom dreams about her birth story. In fact, now a days, we create birth plans. Plans that will help mothers have safe, healthy and memorable birth stories. Dan and I definitely had one, however, it did not prepare us for what happened.

See, while I was still under, Avery was taken from my womb and wrapped up to give to Daddy. I missed her first cry. I missed Dan’s face when he first met her. While carrying this child for nine months, and not only did I carry her, I was incredibly HUGE! All I could dream about was that day, the day she met her mommy and daddy together.

When I came to, I was shaking uncontrollably. I saw Dan holding Avery. No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t control the shaking.

Even with all that said, it still does not end there. No. What followed after that day, was nothing but hurt and pain. I was already disappointed with the c-section and then discovered that her Grandma was able to meet her while I was still under. This event caused a huge rift between us. I am not going to put blame on anyone, it just happened, and it hurt me.

It took two hard years to work through it. Mostly because communicating honestly and openly was something I couldn’t do at the time. Turns out I was going through Post-Partum Depression so I was a huge ball of fucked up.

So we are celebrating Avery’s fifth birthday tomorrow, and although we have come along way, and I am so happy that Avery and her Grandma have a wonderful relationship now, one that warms my heart and brings us all joy. Unfortunately, it is also the reason why her Uncle, Dan’s brother, continues to alienate us. It has been five years since we all talked. Five years and Avery does not know her uncle. It pains us all, but we cannot control anyone and we cannot change the past.

So tonight I write this little blog to finally accept what is. To let go of the hope that a perfect family exists. So tomorrow we will light the candles on her unicorn cake and she will make her little wish and we will smile, laugh and enjoy the moment even though there will be an empty chair at the table.

Life goes on my friends and even though our stories don’t go as plan, and sometimes our story just fucking sucks, but it is so important to let go of what cannot be changed and embrace the life that is.

Happy Birthday my little princess!

Love Always

Happy 40 Years Sister

Jo aka Fina,

Can you believe that I have known you your entire life? 40 years of hanging out and experiencing life’s biggest milestones- we sure did have a good time when we were little! Even though I tried to stuff bread down your throat because I wasn’t sure why you wouldn’t leave! The forts at the back of the house, the dancing in the garage, smoking toilet paper in our Grandparent’s bathroom. And don’t forget that I always knew how you lost your two front teeth, perhaps that was Karma’s way of getting back at you for destroying two perfectly good twinkies on our Grandma’s living room floor!

Then we started to grow up. How the hell did we survive sharing a room AND a bathroom without killing each other!?! Remember the masking tape we placed in the middle of room? Actually, you used masking tape for every, fucking, thing!  What’s so cool about growing up with you is the secrets I have about you. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone how you use to save the SAME piece of gum on your headboard for at least a week straight. No, I won’t mention to a soul how you cut your own bangs because, well why not? Your secrets are safe with me!

Then we started celebrating more grown up milestones- When you graduated from high school, and soon after experienced your first heart break. When you walked down the aisle (the first time) only to have your heart break into pieces with two little angels that you will meet one day. I remember the day you trusted me with the news that you knew, deep down inside that you wanted something different for yourself. Then a few years later, I got to witness you become a Mom for the first time. I’m not sure who cried more, you or me. It was definitely a moment that I will cherish.  Then one sunny day, at a soccer game, you introduced me to your soulmate as your “friend” and we all knew better! The day you married him, I saw the smile on your face, and I knew that your heart was slowly and surely becoming whole again. Now you have four crazy kids and house that you have made into home.  You may not know this, but your strength gave me strength to go after my dreams.

Now here we are! 40 years later- another milestone- and you are still kicking ass and I can’t think of a better “twinkie” to have spent my life with.  Just so everyone knows… that on September 23, 1979, the world gained a beautiful soul!

Welcome to your Forties bitch, it’s going to be a wild ride!!

Love Always and Your Sister Always,

Roxanne

Somedays Are Like This

Today sucked! For those of you who have had children, do you remember the strong feeling of love and protection you felt when you held your little one for the first time? Did you ever feel like you were going to knock the shit out of the doctor when they poked your little one with a needle because it caused them pain?

Today was one of those days. Stacy had her biopsy this morning and I hated that she had to lay on that sterile flat table while they poked her. She was already nervous, and when the doctor confirmed that a biopsy was necessary I could see the tears well up in her eyes. They begin to blurt out information to her and having her sign paper work, and all I can see is that my baby girl was upset. All I could do was hold her and plant seeds of courage. I wanted desperately to trade places with her.

We should get results by Tuesday. Until then we wait and hope for the best case. A benign mass that doesn’t need to be removed with surgery.

Worst case– well we can’t think about that can we?

What’s totally serendipitous is that I have been doing this book study Thursday night, in a small group called “Living Free” at Sagebrush Church. They’re small support groups for fucked up people like myself. This study is about fear. How to handle fear in our lives, because we can’t completely get rid of it that shit. (I’m cussing more than usual because I am PMSing, emotional, and had my own medical stuff thrown at me today as well, so I feel like cussing!) Anyway, the author, Steven Furtick, wrote this book, “Crashing the Chatterbox,” and how we can deal with the fears in our life. He suggests that we should think about our fears when they start to creep up on us. In other words, when the “what ifs” start playing roller coaster with your mind, you should face it and face it with a counter of faith. Here is an example. What if the tumor is not benign? That would be devastating. She would have to get treatment. She may need surgery. She’s been down that road before. She’s tough! She can do it! This girl will overcome this and I will support her and damn it–I’ll shave my own head in solidarity! No matter what happens, I know she will get through this. I know she will. She is a fighter, and she is strong!

I don’t understand friends. So much bad shit all around us. It’s easy to give in to the fears and then let them control us down the rabbit hole of darkness and despair. It takes faith to face the fear and know that somehow, in someway, everything works out. Somehow we come out of it stronger and wiser.

As her mommy I wish I could give her a life that is free of suffering and pain, a life that is smooth sailing. No troubles. Just like Nemo’s dad! Keep her in her room and never let anything bad happen to her, which means nothing will happen to her…

Meanwhile, I have been having issues with my bladder and after a consultation and exam with my doctor, she has ordered me to quit caffeine, alcohol, and chili. There may be a body in my backyard that has been fed to my chickens… just sayin. I think I need a new doctor! CHILI?!?! NO! I don’t think so bitch! Maybe I should move to Colorado!

Love Always

And Life Goes On

It is 10:00 and I should be sleeping.  And while I get to lay my head on my pillow in blissful sleep my husband will be out delivering pizzas so that our family can afford the lifestyle that we have created.  In reality, to pay all the bills and debtors and maybe we can have a little extra for some summer fun camping.  Funny story! I happen to find some cash in an envelope that was able to pay for our week in Red River. That envelope was found in a sewing machine that was purchased for me as a gift. It was bought in an estate sale. I highly recommend you try them out, but I can’t promise you that you too will find money in an envelope.

Funny thing is, every time there was a need there was some way it was provided.  The last few months have been trying, but they have also been miraculous. It’s crazy a thought, but sometimes I think it is better to have trying times, times that don’t make any sense because you truly come out of it a little stronger, a little more faith in God or the Universe, and sometimes in humanity.

When my husband comes home tonight, he will come home to a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, laundry that has been folded but not put in their rightful place, knocking pipes (because why not), and dusty shelves and dirty floors. He will also come home to beds that are warm with little children who are loved and safe, and on his pillow a note of encouragement, and canned beans on the kitchen counter, which explains the dirty kitchen, to help with the grocery bill. When he puts on his freshly pressed shirt, for his NEW JOB (we are still praying), the button that went missing will have been sewed backed on.

We are still waiting for that new job to come around. We are still waiting to have and get the results of my daughter’s lump. We are still waiting for the fucking pipes to stop knocking, and to have a good night’s sleep because at the end of the day, whether you are delivering pizzas or studying a broad, or writing that final paper, or teaching a class full of squirming children, life goes on, and sometimes you find cash in an envelope and sometimes you realize that no matter what, everything is going to be okay- and if it isn’t there is always wine… and maybe a life of crime!

Love Always

Your Heart Beats On

I was only 12 years old, in fact I had just turned 12 a week before. I was in my bedroom hanging up posters I had received as gifts. I was really into unicorns, and although I can’t remember who bought me that poster, it was the most epic unicorn poster. I was also annoyed with my sister, because we all know how annoying little sisters are, especially if you have to share a room with them!!

In fact, that morning when you were sitting in the porch, and we were arguing over a necklace, you nodded your head to us and said, “Don’t fight with each other hitas, one day you won’t have each other.” I wonder if you knew. If you knew that was the last interaction we would have. You planned an evening at the lake, to go fishing. We wanted to join you- how we loved fishing with you in that majestic lake. You told us no. So in our disappointment we went our separate ways and then a few precious hours later, Grandma came home in a panic. She said you were in an ambulance on your way to the hospital.

Adults don’t like to tell children the truth- or at least the WHOLE truth. Adults think children will somehow get hurt if they are told the truth. They mean well, but children are not as dumb as they treat them. I understand that we want to keep our children safe, and how we desperately want them to stay innocent and pure. When our family got into the car and headed to the hospital I prayed. I can see, no smell the fear around us all. The adults didn’t want to tell us what was going on, only that you were in the hospital.

We beat the ambulance to the hospital. Your heart stopped while you were fishing, and the lake was 30 miles away- a solid 45 minute drive. So our dad took the car to find it and follow it to the hospital. We sat in the waiting area and tried to stay busy. There was an empty receptionist desk, and so my sister and I played pretend until our dad finally appeared. His countenance was grave and his eyes were sunken in. Grandma was sitting with her rosary praying. Mom was watching T.V. No news, only that they were working on him.

When the doctor finally came out, it seemed as if time itself had stopped. Somehow all those little annoyances that were so annoying became no longer such a big deal. Somehow everything I thought was so important, became less important. The only thing that mattered at that time was you. You had to be okay. You had to survive. You would somehow come through, the same way you did when you fought in World War II.

Instead, the doctor told us that you did not make it. The translator for Grandma told her that they did everything they could, and they just couldn’t get your heart to beat again. She dropped her head, clutched her rosary to her heart and cried. All I could do was hold my breath.

When I saw you laying on the hospital bed, it didn’t look like you. I told myself it wasn’t you. I told myself the doctors made a mistake. This was not my Pita. The very life that was inside you, now gone.

It was in the waiting room when dad gave us your coins in your pocket. The coins you collected while over seas. I took it, ran to the bathroom and cried in secret. I didn’t realize I had lost them until that morning. I had spent that night on your bed with my sister. I awoke with the sound of my Uncles and Aunts who arrived from out of town. It felt like a dream, no a nightmare of some sort.

I kept expecting you to walk into the kitchen and make yourself a cup of coffee and listen to the Spanish Radio. I kept expecting to see you sitting in the porch carving out furniture for your grandkids. Instead strangers kept showing up with donuts… so many donuts! Giving us their condolences, and I kept thinking I was going to wake up any time now.

Your heart may have stopped beating this day, 29 years ago, but your heart beats in me, and my sisters and all of the children who called you Pita!

Thank you for teaching our family how to fish, how to love, and most importantly, “don’t fight with each other children, one day you won’t have each other.”

Love Always

A Late Start

Today I am 41 years old. I woke up, poured myself some coffee, sat in my favorite chair and read my morning devotionals. Now that it is summer break I don’t have to rush through it, instead I can sit quietly and just soak it all in.

One of the habits I am starting to form is to be grateful- to count my blessings. I sat in my chair and realized that I have been in this house for five years now. As that may sound like a little thing, it is a big deal for me. Since I was 20 I had moved every year or every other year until I married Dan. I shuffled around trying to find a better place, a cheaper place or to simply, get away.

I know some people move a lot because they have to, I moved around a lot because my life was such a mess. Now that I have been in this place for a few years, and plan to for a long time, I finally feel I at home.

It’s easy to start thinking stuff like, “If only I had this when I was younger.” Or, “If I had started doing this stuff in my twenties, imagine where I would be today!” It’s easy to put certain mile stones and attach them to our age. Then we start to fear that we are missing out, or not having a FULL abundant life, because we haven’t done this or that at a certain age. Such Hogwash!!

Back in January, I accomplished something huge- I ran 26.2 miles. I was 40. I had wanted to run a marathon for YEARS, but I just did not have the time to train.

There were over 10,000 runners for the Houston Marathon, and so the organizers placed us in corrals according to pace. I was placed in corral B. By the time I got there, after using the bathroom, checking in my gear, it was shut down. I had to walk to corral C. By the miracle of the Running Gods, I found my bestie Alma- we separated as she was placed in corral C.

We were surrounded by a crowd. I mean completely surrounded. We were standing on the sidewalk waiting to enter the corral. The race started at 7:00 A.M. and sure enough it started right on time. Slowly we marched like the penguins in “March of the Penguins” trying to reach our destination.

Then we hear, “Corral C is closed!” Suddenly I can feel the people around me wanting to rush to corral D I thought this was how I was going to die! Trampled by runners before I could run my debut marathon.

By the time we were able to reach corral D it was 7:30ish. The crowd still surrounding us as we slowly and inch by inch get closer to the start.

When I finally see the start line, I take a deep breath and begin to psych myself up. By the time I was able to pass the start line, it was 7:50ish. It took almost an entire hour for us to start the race.

Luckily with our technology, my time does not start recording until I cross that start line, so even though it took an hour for me to get there, my time was not effected. I still ran 26.2 miles even though I had a late start.

You probably see where I am going with this. We’ve heard it many times before, “It’s never too late to start, to plan, to accomplish.” Life throws stuff at us, and sometimes we do stuff that results in us having to put stuff on hold, or to wait a little longer for whatever it is we want. I don’t know why society puts pressure on us, or if we put it on ourselves, that we have to marry at a certain age, buy a house, and have kids- in that order too- or we are missing out or life isn’t as meaningful.

The truth is that life isn’t rigid like that. Life isn’t a straight line from start to finish. It’s thinking and believing that life is SUPPOSE to be a certain way that makes us feel bad, not how our lives truly are.

So where ever you find yourself today, be thankful. Let go of the messages that say your life isn’t meaningful because you haven’t done this or that yet. It is NEVER too late to start. Run your own race!

Love Always!

Happy Birthday to Me!!

A Mother’s Day Story

The parking lot was empty. Just an old building, falling apart but sturdy on the foundation. She just couldn’t hold it in anymore. The tears started to cumulate and the choking feeling in her throat had to be released. She laid her head on the steering wheel and cried. The baby was sound asleep in the back seat and the one forming in her womb stirred. “God, I need food to feed my babies and the church pantry is closed. What do I do?”

It was just two years ago, drunk and no worries in the world. All that mattered was satisfying her desire to fill the void. To feel beautiful and wanted.

The pregnancy test showed positive and all she could do was stare at it and murmur “No, No, No…” She wanted a baby, eventually, but not now, not like this. After all, she did just go through a divorce, at the ripe age of 19. The baby daddy was someone she only knew for a few months.

When she sat on the examining table, the doctor confirmed that she was indeed expecting. He asked what she wanted to do. She was paralyzed with fear but she knew in her heart and soul that she was going to have this baby and to do whatever it took to raise her. It didn’t occur to her to terminate.

The odds were against her. Oh! they were very much against her!

Unmarried. No permanent place of her own. No job. Just a 20 year old college girl trying to find her place in this world.

Leaving that doctor’s office she made a promise to her baby and to herself. She placed her shaky palm on her womb and whispered, “No matter what happens, little one, I promise you that I will give you everything I never had, I promise you that I will protect you and love you.”

That day she and the baby daddy found a place to live and started on journey that would not be comfortable, a journey that would encompass growing pains, hardships, heartaches, and redemption.

Two years later and she was expecting her second child. There wasn’t enough money for the month, and not enough government subsidies to assist with the necessities of life. She knew that a church offered food to families in need. It was closed and she just couldn’t hold it in anymore. Hopeless. Empty. Angry. Angry for letting her life be exactly what she didn’t want it to be. She stared in the reflection of the rear view mirror, eyes swollen and tear stains on her cheeks. She had to admit that she was falling into the same footsteps as her own mother. She stared into those eyes and murmured, “No, No, No… I will not let this happen.”

She left that parking lot, feeling a lot like that old building- falling apart, empty but had a sturdy foundation. That foundation was love, grit, determination, and faith.

A few years later, with a lot of therapy, support groups, faith and facing some Giants along the way, she made a life for herself and her children.

If you ask her today about her “why,” about what makes her so strong and why she works so hard. She’ll tell you their names are Stacy and Kevin. Fourteen years later, God said, “Well, since you love them so much, let’s bring Avery along to spread even more joy, to remind you that children are not an inconvenience, they are the symbol of love, hope and wonder. They are a blessing as you are to me.” There are days I disagree with God when these kids drive me to my breaking point sometimes… but they truly did save my life.

And how true! Because of my children, I learned what God’s love was all about. I may have lived my life backwards, but I would not want it any other way. I cannot imagine a world without my Stacy and Kevin and Avery. After that day at the parking lot, I no longer wondered where food was coming from. Don’t get me wrong, I still hunger. I hunger for more joy, love, peace and faith for the remainder of my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mamas out there. Doesn’t matter how your children came into your life, you love them and will do anything for them. I promise you that you are doing better than you think you are.

Also don’t forget to use condoms or don’t forget to take your birth control pills people. 😉 After all, are we not all a product of druken sex? 🙂 That was a joke…

Love Always