Saturday, February 26, 2011

Moving On

I'm slowly but steadily moving on.  Yes, Marta is still leaving.  She has 7 more days with our be exact.  But, I have hit the acceptance stage of the grieving process.  Didn't do anger (probably coming, yikes).  Bargaining was ugly...that stage included a sobbing conversation with Marta begging her to stay.  Denial was short lived -- mostly because I had to get up and figure out the next step.  Reality setting in was tough, I went for a few days with crying spells about every 45 minutes.  Luckily for me...the worst of it came the day I was in the office.  Awesome.  Really.  One of my finer moments?!?  Its good the folks that crossed my path that day were parents...really, really understanding parents, most who have been through something similar.

My amazing mom was able to point something out to me, that I felt all along but couldn't really pin-point.  As we were talking about why my emotions were SO strong with this (maybe too strong?), she reminded me that I haven't had a lot of experience with true loss in my life.  When my cherished grandma died, my 13-year-old self wasn't able to wrap my selfish mind around the concept, so I never really mourned her loss.  And, I've been good in my life pushing people away first, before they could leave me.  I guess I wasn't prepared, didn't see it coming and it hurt me to my core.  Especially as a mom.

Also, since my emotions were so big (and usually are), I forgot that my amazing husband is going through this too.  For some reason I felt the weight of the world rest soley on my shoulders.  He actually had to remind me that he is nervous and sad too and it felt really calming and comforting to realize this...knowing we will figure it out, together.

I'm seeing the light now.  We enrolled the kids in school for 3 days a week and are in the process of looking for a part-time nanny.  We didn't have to pull MDB out of the school he is currently in, which is a blessing to me.  Too many changes at once didn't feel right.  Ellie is starting at the same school.  And, the best part, on the day they nap at school, they get to do it together, in the same room, cots side-by-side.  I love that, especially for my baby girl. 

I have some feelers out there for a nanny.  This is the part I'm really scared to trust someone with my kids all over again?  But, for the first time since this all started, I know it's going to be okay.  We found the perfect nanny once...another one is out there too.  And, next week, I'm seeing a family therapist...just to make sure we're handling this okay with the kids.

I still catch myself from time-to-time with that hint of sadness and fear.  The moment stops me in my tracks, where I can feel my heart actually hurt a bit. 

So, next week will be a big week in the nanny search, as well as planning the perfect goodbye for Marta.  Of course, since I love giving them, I'll send her away with gifts.  Marta is a BIG coffee I got a coffee mug with the kids pictures on it and a frame with some of her favorite pictures of the family.  And, my amazing, amazing her this necklace, with a "M" on the back of one heart and a "L" on the back of the other.  So, the kids will always be with her, close to her heart.

And, we will plan a little "party" for her last day.  This is some advice that I got from a few fellow Moms, who have been through this before.  I can promise you this...she will walk away knowing how important she is to us and that we will never, ever forget her!

As I truly believe everything happens for a reason and there is a lesson to be learned from pain, perhaps this experience, will allow me to have deeper, meaningful relationships with people.  Because, now I know that I'm strong enough to prevail should we ever have to say goodbye. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Heart Ache

Tears roll down my face as I type.  Our beloved Marta, our nanny of almost 4 years, is leaving us.  Her sister is sick, her diagnosis unknown and they must return home to Poland.  Just like that.  In two weeks. 

I feel like there has been a death in the family.  I'm not sure how to say goodbye to her -- to this amazing woman who has been my rock, my source of comfort and calm, the protector of my precious children since both their births, the reason I could do the job I love and never EVER worry about the wellbeing of the kids. 

My mind is swirling.  Aside from our own personal struggle to quickly figure out what's next for our family and my own personal feelings of loss, my heart aches for my poor babies.  I fear what a struggle this will be for their little hearts and minds.  I know I can't shelter them from pain forever, but I also know this is going to hurt, bad.  And, my Marta.  I know she is scared of what lies ahead.  Her life changed in an instant...makes you stop and think of how precious life truly is.

In my heart I knew there would always come a time when we would have to part ways.  The kids getting older, our pending move -- but I guess I wasn't prepared for such an abrupt departure and to be honest, I wasn't prepared to feel so emotional and sad.  As an outsider, I'm sure it seems silly and trivial -- but this amazing person has been with us 5 days a week and countless weekend nights since MDB was 3 months old.  She has been instrumental in their upbringing and with us through every milestone, cough, tooth, skinned knee, laugh and more and I'm so not ready to let go, so permanently.   I guess I figured we would get through any life changes -- putting the house on the market, moving, school, etc., because Marta would be there to be the constant and make it all okay.

I know there is a silver lining here. Her departure is forcing us to take the next step in our lives without hesitation -- to make the move to the suburbs, increase school days for MBD and have Ellie start school.  But, for now, I mourn, I pray for Marta and her family, I help my kids and hubby get through this and I say goodbye ensuring she walks away knowing how much she means to us and how much she will be missed and remembered, always.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Dad Was Right!

When I was in High School, my Dad had this AWFUL rule that I had to spend at least 20 minutes a night on each subject.  So, even if I didn't have "official" homework, I had to do something educational.  Yeah right.  In reality, I hung in my bedroom and did anything but study.  I set up a pretty realistic scene, should he come upstairs and check on my studious ways -- with my text books open on my desk, an uncapped highlighter in the crease and a notebook at the ready.

So, as I was a few hours into a birth on Friday night with a completely, 100 percent, non-English speaking couple, I thought of my Dad and what if...what if I actually spent my 20 minutes on Spanish every night?  What if I didn't have my very best friend, native to Venezuela, do my homework for me?  What if?

Here's how it went down...I FINALLY got called into a volunteer birth, with the Chicago Volunteer Doula group.  I was on for the night shift, from 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. and left for the hospital at about 6:30 p.m.  I was giddy with excitement and nerves, as this was only my second birth and I was going solo.  There was a young, 22 year-old woman, a few days past her due date, that was induced due to her Cholestasis, a liver disease during pregnancy.  She was about 4 centimeters, didn't want pain medication and, along with her boyfriend, didn't speak a lick of English. 

When I walked into the room, I burned through all 19 Spanish words I know trying to get to know them better.  I was able to determine they were having a boy and that she was calmed by the trashy, Spanish-speaking soap operas blaring on the hospital room television.  Oh, I knew it was going to be a long night.  She was breathing well through her contractions, but was progressing VERY slow.  I knew I should get her out of bed, moving around, but I had a hard time expressing this so she could understand.  So, what did I do?  I begged for help.  My friend/co-doula is fluent in Spanish so I begged and pleaded for her to come help me for a bit, and g-d, love her, she did.

The moment she walked in, the relief in the room was palpable.  The midwife was relieved, I was relieved and the couple was relieved.  She stayed with us for about 3 hours, translating everything, as we did positions and tried to keep her comfortable and calm. 

When my life line left at about 11 p.m., my heart sank.  I so wanted to help this lovely woman, but how much could I actually do?  A novice doula (with only one birth under her belt) that can't communicate is NOT a good combination.  For the next few hours, her contractions were very manageable and there was barely any change.  It hit me, at that point, I would not be going home or getting any sleep that night. 

When the midwife checked her at about 2 a.m. and she was still 4 centimeters, they made the decision to break her water.  Poor girl, I know she didn't understand what was happening and I couldn't help.  Just imagine yourself in a foreign country, unable to communicate, in a hospital bed with people explaining things to you that you can't understand about your body and baby.  My heart ached for her, but I couldn't help and truthfully, I was starting to fade.  I hate to admit it...I thought years of staying up all night with my kids would prepare me for the all-nighter, but it didn't.  I was tired, frustrated and didn't know what to do to help.  Yuck.

Almost instantly after her water broke, her contractions hit high gear.  I mean, they went from her just closing her eyes and breathing to down right pain...moaning and crying so loud you could hear her from the hallway.  I was nervous at this point, up until now, her boyfriend had been playing games on his cell phone, not really a part of what was going on in the room.  But, thankfully, he totally stepped it up and held her through every contraction.  I did massage as best as I could, as she wanted to stay lying in bed.  She could barely keep her eyes open and her pain was worse.  At about 3:30 a.m., they checked her again and she was at 5.  She made the decision to have pain medication at that point and, since the only anesthesiologist was in a c-section, she would have to wait almost two hours for an epidural.  So, she opted for Stadol...I could tell she had NO idea the risks of this drug and I couldn't help her weigh her options.  Again, I felt so helpless and like a failure, could I have done more?

The Stadol made her so sleepy, but didn't take the edge off her pain at all.  For the next two hours, she would pass out in between contractions and was on the edge of hyperventilating for each and every one.  When the epidural finally came, she was so uncomfortable and out of it, she didn't understand she couldn't get the epidural if she didn't sit still.  The resident could speak a little Spanish and I had to leave the room.  It was 5 a.m.  It took them an hour and a half to get the epidural in, she wouldn't stay still long enough. 

At that point, the mother fell fast asleep and everything in the room calmed.  And, I made the decision to leave.  The next shift was starting at 7 a.m., so I knew if she woke up and needed help, the Midwife could call the next shift.  All that work and I still have no clue when she had the baby and if everything was okay.  I also made the decision I was quitting this line of work, on the way home.

I came to my senses after my totally understanding hubby took kid duty so I could pass out for a few hours.  So now, after my normal course of a few days processing, I am cutting myself a little slack and getting back into the game.  I'm sure a more seasoned doula would have known what to do, how to handle this situation, how to communicate without speaking.  And, the only way I can get there is by sticking with it.  And, by remembering what my Dad taught me so long ago...practice makes perfect!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby Girl

Yesterday was my precious baby girl's second birthday.  After, gulp, missing her first birthday last year, I wanted her day to be special, to spend time with her and soak in all her amazing-ness.  I think we must have sung "Happy Birthday" 100 times (including all the times she sang it to herself (adorable)) and gave her no less than 100 kisses.  As a side bar, I think she knew it was a special day, lets just say, the Diva in her was full-blown!  I just pray the terrible two's didn't start on her actual birthday.

My hubby and I were reminiscing about the exact moment we learned she was a girl. Things were a little tense in the delivery room during those final moments and with the commotion, my doctor said "he" a few times.  Once I knew the baby was okay, I remember asking in my haze if it was, in fact, a boy.  I vaguely remember someone saying, "did anyone check?"  And, then...the words I wanted to hear so bad, yet never really expected was a girl.  A girl, my girl.  I burst into, pure joy. 

We were also thinking of those first weeks with her...colicy, was bad, very bad.  I vividly remember my precious SIL, 7 months pregnant at the time, sitting with my wailing baby girl on the toilet -- as only the bathroom fan would do -- for an hour, singing "You Are My Sunshine" over and over again, just so I could get some uninterrupted time to put MDB to bed, without hearing newborn screams downstairs.  I definitely owe her one when her THIRD baby is born in April!

Those first weeks with her couldn't be farther from who my little girl is today...just a breath of fresh air.  My daughter, this off-the-charts charming, super smart, beautiful, hilarious little girl...I don't even know where to start.  She is my joy, my love, my kindred spirit, all wrapped in the most adorable little package...with cheeks so kissable, they're hard to resist.  Her smile and those big blue eyes...they get me every time. 

She is girly, yet tough as nails.  She is easy going, yet opinionated about what matters most to her.  She is cuddly, yet independent.  She is inquisitive and curious, her hugs addictive, her smile contagious and her sense of humor makes you laugh out loud. 

Sometimes when I look at her, I still can't believe she is mine.  Oh, how I love this little big girl.  Happy birthday my love!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I've lived in the Chicago-land area my entire life (except for a brief stint during college).  Winter, cold and snow are just part of life.  In fact, I NEVER had a snow day my entire childhood.  Not a one.  I vividly remember sitting in front of the TV watching the school closings scroll across the screen...crossing my fingers to see mine.  Even in college -- in Syracuse, New York -- where snow was a pretty much everyday occurrence up through May, classes were only canceled once...and it was because there was a tornado that knocked power lines down on campus. 

So, last week, when the reports started that the world was ending with the blizzard of the century, I didn't really think twice about it.  There have been similar reports this season, that have culminated with a measly inch or two.  The closer it got to the storm coming, the more the news people and authorities got hysterical.  I pretty much ignored it all...and rolled my eyes that those that were raiding the grocery store shelves to stock up, on milk and eggs, of all things.  As a side bar, these would not have been my choice of provisions should I be trapped inside for weeks on end.  I think red wine and Oreos would top my list.   

BUT, right on cue at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1, it started. It was snowing good and pretty windy, but no different than I had seen before.  Folks at the office scrambled to get home and I geared up for a LONG commute.  Luckily I could walk underground all the way to the train, got on the first one that came and got home in 20 minutes.  I still didn't see what the big deal was. 

Ok, I have to say, it was as bad as they said it was going to be.  The winds were howling, there was crazy lightening and thunder and snow, lots of it.  I went to sleep on Tuesday night, literally crossing my fingers that the power wouldn't go out.  I knew it was gonna be big as I watched the meteorologist from the Weather Channel get giddy, like a kid in a candy store, as the storm progressed.  He was jumping up and down, laughing as he was blown down Michigan Avenue, with lightening overhead.

We woke up on Wednesday to this...

The day turned out very first snow day.  Work was closed, the nanny couldn't get to the house, it wasn't safe to drive anywhere and it was nice enough day to be outside.  We baked cookies with the kids, played outside in the snow, took naps, hit the neighbors for a play date and wine and everyone was in bed sleeping by 7:15 p.m. 

I am thankful too...thankful that we have a garage for the cars, as I know people that probably won't see their car until Spring if they were parked on a side street.  Thankful that my nanny lives close to public transportation so she could get here on Thursday!  Thankful for the weather people, because if this didn't turn out as bad as they said it would, no one would EVER listen to them again!  Thankful that I didn't drive to work and that I wasn't on Lake Shore Drive, stranded like these poor folks...

And, just thankful for all that I have.  A friend told me that it is unprecedented that the Chicago Public Schools were closed the day after the storm, for the first time in 12 years.  And, even more historic that they were closed two days in a row.  She said it was such a big deal because so many kids are on the free school lunch program and, for a lot of those is their only guaranteed meal a day.  Puts things into perspective...that's for sure.

So, blizzard of 2011, thanks for the memories and my very first snow day.  Here's hoping that the Groundhog's premonition comes true and spring is on its way!