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To Margaret Hope, on her first birthday…

Dear Maggie,

This isn’t how I expected your first birthday to be. When you were still with me, I thought about how we would have a simple birthday party for you. Just the family and a small cake with a single candle for you to blow out (with mommy’s help). I thought by now I would have gotten to know you better. Learned all about the things you liked and disliked (maybe you preferred being burped a certain way, or smiled when certain songs were played, or had a fondness for certain animals or colors or shapes). I hoped that by now, JB and I would be looking for a new place to live. We would still be in Sanford. He would be working, I would be home watching and caring for you. It would have been an adjustment. I’ve never cared for an infant. I was so happy to finally learn from you, but this isn’t how it happened at all.

Sadly, this time last year, I was lying on a hospital bed with my feet elevated at Mount Sinai, praying to everything and anything that you would somehow stay put for longer. That the funneling didn’t matter because you would be the miracle that would change everything. People would write about you for years, wondering how you came to be, so young at only 22 weeks gestation. JB was right besides me always. My family taking turns inside that awful room. My body being poked and prodded with various needles. Fluids. Demerol. Steroids for your tiny, little lungs. A catheter which I would later see hurt your tiny face while you were still inside me. My water might have broken around this time, and that was when I knew it wouldn’t be long before I met you.

I don’t know where I found the strength to give birth to you, my love. I grabbed hold of JB’s hand so tightly, and did everything¬† could to give you life, if only for a brief time. The moment I saw you was the happiest, scariest, most surreal moment of my entire life. I did not see your face, only your tiny hands and feet up in the air, reaching out for something, maybe for me, maybe for warmth. The lights were probably too bright, but you couldn’t even open your eyes yet. You never saw daddy or me, but we saw you. Your skin was colored like fall leaves, brown and beige and orange and red from the blood, and I feel like I saw purple in there as well. But I can’t be certain of anything because of the drugs I was on. The drugs I never wanted to take but had to because you came so soon. I had pictured this beautiful, intervention-free birth, with music, maybe in a bath tub, and that I would bring you right up to my chest, skin-to-skin, and hold you close to me for the first time. This was not how it happened.

They put you in a plastic box and the doctors and nurses all crowded around you. I could not see you though I was desperate to. My job wasn’t done. There was still the placenta. And I was in no shape to stand or walk or be anywhere near you, though I feel like maybe I should have somehow.

I only saw you once more while you lived. I went later in the evening, walked over to the NICU to see you. My world was shattered when I saw you with all those tubes, lying so helpless and alone in that box. I wanted to rescue you. To bring you back into the warmth of my womb where you’d spent so many weeks. Just a week prior to your birth, JB and I watched The Little Mermaid and I sang along and you kicked inside me the whole time, enjoying our muffled voices and joy. It’s one of the few memories we shared.

Maggie, I wish you were still with me, and not just your ashes in a box by my bed. I miss you every day. You’re going to have a little brother. He’s still little. Smaller than you were when you were born, and I can only hope and stay positive that he will stay with me longer than you were able to. But you will always be my first, my darling little girl. Nothing will ever replace that. Your brother will know that you existed, that he has an older sister out in the universe, out among the stars someplace.

What I wouldn’t give to have gotten to hold you while you still breathed. The doctors did everything they could, but it was too late. You were so small. Why the impatience to get out here so soon? I know it wasn’t your fault. I hope that you never felt pain. We love you so much and still do and hope to honor you in every way we can. I tell others about you so that they know you existed. I know part of you is still with me, in my heart. You are what gives me the strength to go on.

I love you so much, Maggie.

Happy first birthday, my love. Forever frozen in time.

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On Establishing A Proper Bedtime Routine

My mother is one of the only people I’ve ever known to have a proper bedtime routine. She’s been doing it the same way since I was a kid. After dinner’s over and she’s washed dishes, she changes into her pajamas, brushes her teeth, washes her face and takes off any make-up, put on some night cream, does some praying and goes to sleep. Seems simple enough, right?

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That’s a lie. She’s always seemed impossibly perfect. I’ve never been able to get it, even though I’ve always wanted to have the energy to do it myself.

Yeah, I’ve just never been good at this bedtime routine thing. In my younger semi-adult years, my drinking habits made sure my bedtime routine was more akin to Homer after a few hours at Moe’s.

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I’ve gone to bed for the past decade with my make-up still on, teeth un-brushed, face un-washed, possibly still wearing the outfit from the evening (which used to have a tendency to reek of booze and various kinds of smoke), possibly with my laptop or Taco Bell Fourth Meal half-eaten still in my lap. What has resulted is my skin becoming permanently blemished (I still blame hormones for my lack of flawless skin…but maybe I could treat it better), cavities I have yet to take care of, and a lack of well-rested nights.

I have this feeling that maybe, just maybe, once my kid is born (and after the first, oh, year or so of insomnia), I’ll kind of be forced into a good bedtime routine because I’ll have to show him how to have one. I’ll have to remind him to brush his teeth and wash up. John and I will have to tuck him into bed at night (or take turns or something). We’ll read him a book or two until he’s old enough to want to stay up all night and read books himself the way I used to (I really hope he enjoys books!) And as for the praying part…ehh…not so important in my book. My mom used to have me recite a few Catholic prayers (back when she hadn’t become an Evangelical yet – It’s cool, I still love her because she’s still awesome) before bed. Maybe John and I can teach our son different kinds of spiritual chants and meditations and prayers so he can decide which ones feel most comfortable for him. Spirituality isn’t bad. Just the dogma, really.

Anyhow…I just brushed me teeth and washed me face (kinda…with water, anyway) and I’m in bed…about 45 minutes later than I intended to be. But! I am writing a blog post, meaning I AM writing, meaning this IS a good routine to get into. Now if only I could remember to do this every night, and possibly a bit earlier each night so I get a proper good night’s sleep? That would be ace.

 

 

 

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Nightmares

When I was a kid, I used to have this recurring dream…or nightmare, really…where I was in a boxing ring running away from something large and scary. I could never actually see what I was running from. It kind of reminds me of an old Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Well, at least the ring kinda looked like that. And I could tell there was an audience in the dark abyss around me, eyes peering from the shadows. But I was very, very small inside the ring. Maybe it was more like being in a play pen as a toddler. I had this dream probably until half-way through elementary school, and then it just vanished.

I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. Had nightmares about aliens and Freddy Kreuger and…I think it’s safe to say I watched way too many scary movies as a kid. But my dreams and nightmares have never been more real than while pregnant. It was one of the first things I noticed when I was pregnant last year with Maggie. I loved waking up and telling John all about the insanity that would go on inside my head in those nights.

Unfortunately, I feel like lately the vivid dreams have been more nightmarish than not. Last night’s was especially difficult, because it seemed that I was having a complication with my pregnancy again. It’s obvious that I am just still pretty scared of losing my baby boy like I lost Maggie. Her birthday (and subsequent anniversary of death) are coming up on Monday, and while I’ve been trying to ignore it, it’s just looming over me each day. I keep remembering moments of the days before, and how I was so scared that whole week before she was born and died. How badly the fear had taken over. Like I knew our time would soon be up.

I’m working every day to stay positive for baby #2. With more knowledge about my body and pregnancy, I feel somewhat more prepared than last time when I knew absolutely nothing. With the trauma of my loss just barely a year ago, I am definitely more apprehensive. I’ve taken to meditating and doing some light yoga poses daily. I’m trying to do everything I can to keep the nightmares at bay, to keep them from coming true. Losing her was the worst nightmare of my life, one that I still feel I am constantly trying to wake from. But like the boxing dream, it’s fading more and more into the background each day. I hope someday it won’t scare me as much anymore.

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Getting it out there…

I don’t read as much as I should, and I certainly write much less than I always promise I will. Someone once told me I was a master of excuses. At the time, it was a pretty painful thing to hear. I had let someone down, at least to an extent, and they’d lost money as a result. It wasn’t one of my proudest moments, especially when I had promised him I could do and would do so much. With time, though, I’ve always gone back to that moment to whip me back into shape.

I never used to call myself a writer. I don’t even know if I should call myself one. I’ve had articles published in small local papers. And I once had a poem published in an anthology…when I was 7 years old. It wasn’t even an impressive piece. I submit two poems, one about school and another about the 4th of July and fireworks. My teacher chose to submit the school poem, and it always bothered me. But I digress…

I don’t know if I should call myself a writer because I rarely if ever finish anything I start. I guess it’s not just with writing, but with a lot of things. I let myself down a lot. I think sometimes I don’t like myself all that much because of it. In fact, I’m pretty sure this button is about me.

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But that doesn’t mean I always have to be one. I don’t think it’s too late to finally grow into the person I always set out to be. What I want to be when I “grow up” is a writer. Maybe even a quasi-successful one. Not an editor like I am now (and that’s almost a joke because I work in the pornography business and my “editing” is sloppy at best…more on that later). I want to finally finish one of the many books I’ve talked about in my head. Like the one about my high school stories, the friendships and relationships and awkward sex and humiliating moments. Or the one after that about college and being out of college and back in again and all my sexcapades, cause I had a lot of them, and all my bad dates and the few good ones and the bizarre encounters with strange people whose names I can barely remember the more time passes. Or the one about the little girl, my daughter, the one that died, the one I miss so much, who I want to fictionalize and immortalize because I can’t think of a nicer way to honor her memory. Or the stories of when I went to Nicaragua, and how I can’t finish that book until I return. But I know there will be a nice section dedicated to my late grandfather and his dog, oddly named “Dancing”, and his books and his machete and his rocking chair and his wonderful smile and how his favorite dish was lengua en salsa (tongue in salsa). And there are other book ideas, and none of them have been written, and all of them lie heavily on my shoulders.

My excuses for not writing these days are pretty valid ones. I work full time, with a one-hour lunch break, and a 45 minute commute each way, yielding to a 10.5 hour day, not to mention the hour or so I spend in the morning just getting ready for work, and the minimum half hour once I get home spent trying to figure out what I want to eat. There goes most of my time.

I’m also pregnant with my second child, and because I am a high-risk pregnancy, I require frequent visits to the doctor. This results in my having to work extra hours around my appointments. This results in smaller paychecks and higher stress. Most especially because my husband has been out of work since July and it is now nearly October and I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed.

Add to that my numerous transportation issues (I’ll get into that another day), and you’ll see why I am so exhausted sometimes, and too exhausted to write most of the time.

But that’s still no excuse. I know this. I know that I spend more time than I should on social media sites, talking about garbage and reading about garbage.

So this is my new outlet. This is where I’ll write and where I can be honest. At least, as much as I can be. God…goddess…the gods know that it’s hard enough for me to be truly honest about everything in the end, which is just another reason why I rarely write. It’ll get better, I swear.

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