March 29, 2014

The Darkness in Giving Light

My heart aches as I write this.  A close friend of mine recently lost her baby girl.  She was 5.5 months pregnant.  I didn't think that I would be so effected, but my friend went through something I wish upon no one. 

I know how shallow this seems, but on one episode of Grey's Anatomy, which is my favorite show ever...Dr. Grey didn't tell her patient who was giving birth that the baby was not breathing.  When another Doctor questioned her later about it she said, "The hope of seeing your beautiful baby at the end of such a long and hard labor and birth is what keeps a women going, keeps her pushing despite the pain.  Why would I destroy her by telling her there is nothing at the end of all that?" 

I thought about this as I was going through my own labor.  It is so true.  I kept focused on seeing my baby boy's face at the end and that's what got me through the hardest moments.  Well, and solitaire that I played for the first 7 hours of labor while sitting in my living room. 

But, back to my friend.  I went to go visit her at home and she told me that she had an infection in her placenta that threatened her life and they needed to induce her labor and get the baby out immediately.  However, at 5.5 months pregnant, the baby was most likely not going to live.  With tears in our eyes and hands holding tight, she tells me that her baby was born alive but her little lungs didn't last long. 

She called her Marta, her son had picked out the name. 

The next morning she wanted to see her little one, had to take one look at her.  This was her 6th miscarriage.  This dreadful let down and heart shattering sadness was something she knew all too well.  She wanted to see her little baby, who she had interacted with and felt her little kicks the past few months.  She wanted to see the little baby who wasn't given the chance to be in this world more than a few minutes.  Marta would never know what grass feels like between her toes, she wouldn't ever learn to spell her name, or smile at her mother's beautiful face. 

My friend is so strong.  She left the hospital and knew that she never wanted to try again for another child.  She felt blessed to have a healthy boy already
and couldn't bare the thought of having this happen again.

When I went home and saw my son, I realized how fortunate I am.  I have a healthy son.  All of a sudden I was thankful for all those moments I might have resented at times.  I was thankful I had to wake up at 6:30 am every morning to feed him or having to walk him around the house screaming to get him to sleep at 11:00 pm.  And those moments I already loved, like falling asleep next to him with my hair clenched tightly in his little fist, made my heart ache with the overwhelming love I have for him. 

"The wound is where the light enters you."- Rumi

March 27, 2014

Finding the Balance of Happiness

You could say I have a tendency for extremes.  I am also 99% Vata dosha, free spirit, type A, slightly (or maybe not so slightly) OCD, perfectionist and my Grandmother was German.  Need I say more.  Pretty much I am a crazy person.  I like Chihuahuas and Great Danes, together.  I like 92% dark chocolate with vanilla ice cream.  I like moving to countries where I don't know anyone and making my own path.  My husband says I always have to be different than everyone which feeds my extreme opinions.  I like when my ideas makes other cringe.  The more people say, "I would never do that", the more I dive right in. 

Now I am a mother.  I day dream about the day my son and I go off to foreign countries together and live in the rain forest for a week.  Or him building a go-cart with his dad and he and I racing for the best time.  Before I wouldn't have worn a helmet, now I think I will.  But, there is a long way to go before we will do all this.  Now I am doing much more feeding, changing diapers and singing 5 Little Monkeys.  I am still finding my feet in all this motherhood stuff. 

My daily Yoga practice has helped tremendously.  I do a 40 minute practice everyday or at least 6 days a week.  My daily mantra is, "I love being a mother."  It has helped me transition from a me- world to a baby-world.  Personally I feel that not a lot of people talk about how hard that transition is.  Maybe because of who I am, but I found it challenging, oh...hell....I still find it challenging. 

Recently, I have been thinking about the next chapter in my life.  Do I want to stay home and be a mother full time? Do I want to work? Teach English? Yoga?  I have been thinking about my next steps and what they might entail.  One thing is for sure...Yoga is a part of that next path.  I have been having a vision of a studio here on the water with an amazing view of the bay.  I want to create a place where people come to connect, to be themselves, to take a Yoga class, to have a cup of tea.  I want to attract the wanderers of the world to come and breathe in the present moment and forget about where they have been or where they are going, even if it's just for a class. 

One thing is for sure, being a mother has made it even more important to be doing what I love in this life.  I find it essential to lead by example and demonstrate to my little one that happiness is a choice, a mindset and it comes from within yourself.  Only you have the power to create a life in which you are happy.  I hope by doing it for myself, my little one will follow suit.  But for now, I will be his source of happiness and change his diaper. 

March 1, 2014

Our Little Cactus

I should have seen this coming.  My mom always said I was a good baby and Fran's Grandmother said when he was little, you barely knew he was in the same room.  So it was fate that gave our screaming baby to us.  C-O-L-I-C. So far it is the worst thing to happen to me since I was high school, which was hell for me.  Let me first say that I do love my baby.  Judging by what I have read online about colic and how hard it is, that is already a miracle. (I wish I was joking.)  My mom put it well and said, "It's kind of like cuddling up to a cactus."  You got that right, it's painful.

We have good days.  I try and hang on to those moments.  When I am able to put my 2 month old baby down in his crib or on his blanket and him actually entertaining himself for 10-45 min.  On those occasions, he is being so good I feel like something is wrong and pick him up before he starts crying because I feel so bad for "leaving him".  Those days I have actually checked his pulse to make sure he is still breathing after 2 hours of sleeping.  When he does wake up, he smiles and coos and I catch a glimpse of what I think other mothers talk about being "wonderful times that pass too quickly".

The other days, like yesterday for example, are not so wonderful.  I wake up next to my baby who goes from sleeping peacefully to screaming his head off.  He screams while I try and feed him.  When I have finally gotten him to doze off and place him in his crib, he wakes up whaling before I even leave the room.  No matter how I hold him, he cries.  On these days I have to turn on the kitchen fan on high and  bounce my baby so hard you would think that I am abusing him if you looked in my window.  Then he is quite, as if nothing happened.  This goes on for hours...all day.

Yesterday I ended up handing him off to Fran to "rock" to sleep.  I had to get away.  The feelings of guilt, anger, frustration and sadness were overwhelming.  They say colic typically lasts about 3 months, I pray and hope it does.  I used to be a grounded, energetic and happy person.  To be honest this past month and a half I feel I have turned into a depressed human being who is always rushing and on edge.  I am unable to get in a lick of Yoga on most days and gulp every meal down before the baby wakes.  On bad days, I don't get a shower until 4 p.m. and even then it's to the background music of a screaming baby.

To say the least it's been hard.  To be honest, I have had some horrible thoughts and I have said some of them out loud to Fran about our "bundle of joy".  I relish the days he is smiling at me and I feel that as his mom, I make him happy, can meet his needs and I am doing a good job.  The other days, can imagine.

Even our dog, who had her second knee surgery two days ago, hobbled out of the living room to the spare bedroom to escape the screaming and get some sleep.  Our whole family has been put on hold due to the 24/7 care that this new baby needs.  I read about Post-Tramatic-Colic-Disorder that one man wrote about on his blog, saying his family suffered from due to their very colicky baby for 4 months.

I hope I can smile effortlessly again.  I hope the faint sound of a baby crying in my ear goes away.  I hope I feel loved by my baby one day.

The good thing is time is flying by, days are passing like clouds.  Whoever says, "I wish they stayed this little forever" never had a baby with colic or is FUCKING nuts.

October 10, 2013

A Real Friend

A real friend.  I wonder if we even know the meaning of this anymore in today's society.  Considering today's social media craze and that Facebook says I have 500 friends, I can tell you now...maybe a handful of them are ACTUALLY real friends...but it can leave you with the false impression that I have more. 

My definition of a real friend has evolved over the years. But I would have to say that one thing has always been true for me.

A true friend accepts you for exactly who you are. 
No changing needed, no alterations to your style, no nagging about your "negatives".  They take you in as a whole package.  They accept your good days and bad days.

They listen.  I don't mean that they listen to your horribly bad day and then say..." You need to...or I am going to kick his ass..."  No, they just listen and give you words of encouragement that it will get better.  They don't become your big brother and protect you, they don't try and tell you what to do, they support you and give guidance to be true to who you are, not who they are. 

They inspire you.  This is a hard one... but different friends of mine inspire me in different ways.  One sparks my creativity with her constant new ideas while another might ignite my passion for making a difference in this world based on our common interests and background.  It doesn't matter how they do it, but they add to your life in the same way you add to their life. 

When I packed up my whole life and moved to another country 7 months ago, it made me realize all the true friends I had made over my time there.  Being excited about the move and the future, I didn't think that I would have one of those "big emotional goodbyes", but one caught me by surprise. 

She and I are about as unlikely a pair as you can imagine.  Although we both have a similar ADHD when it comes to needing new things to involve ourselves in, we have more differences than similarities by far.  But what makes it work is that we don't change the other, we respect each person's interests and differences without making it personal.  When I went to give her a hug for the last time, I started to choke up.  I realized that this was a real friend.  I was so utterly grateful for her respect, for her companionship and not trying to change me.  She really KNOWS me.  She understands the two struggling sides of me, she knows my battles, and she listens to my rants. 

I was caught off guard by the deep feeling I was leaving a sister behind, one that just by walking in the room I could feel if she was pissed and needed her space or if I could try and cheer her up.  A sister whose foul tongue and fiercely-guarded insides I could identify with.  As someone who was just as afraid of "failing" in this life meant not being who you truly are and expressing that every day.  Someone who didn't find it weird at all why I left my newly married husband to go to Africa for three months.  And someone who asked me when I got back with all the sincerity in the world. " Was it everything you imagined it would be or much more?"  She just gets me.  She asks the right questions and listens to my deeply philosophical explanation of how I see meaning in everything.  She doesn't judge me even though she might not understand.  She just replied, "Holy Jesus fuck, Lynette!  That's deep girl."  
And I wouldn't dream of changing her.

October 3, 2013

What they don't tell you...

First becoming pregnant, I was excited about all the magical moments to come, seeing my growing belly reflect the little human that I am creating inside, feeling kicks for the first time, everything seeming to have more meaning, knowing that I am carrying my baby along in everything I do. 

Then reality hit. 

Most blogs and people I hear from say...pregnancy is one of the most beautiful things to ever happen to you, enjoy every moment. 

But they didn't tell me that the first three months I was pregnant I seriously did nothing but sleep and try to find something to eat that didn't make my nausea worse.  Small tasks like taking a shower all of a sudden seemed horribly daunting and time consuming, let alone made me feel even more sick to my stomach.  I solved that problem by not showering every day...or maybe more...I forget. 

That brings me to another point.  I have suddenly gone from remembering the smallest details in the most unimportant moments to not even remembering what my name is.  This has been difficult to hide since I teach English to children and I have to look up on my phone quickly how to spell "nineteen".  They don't tell you that you become absolutely useless after you get knocked up unless you have your planner glued to your hand. 

Another wonderful time during your pregnancy (they say) is when you start to feel the baby kick.  At first, I honestly thought it was gas or I had to go #2 but after a few times, I starting catching on... that's my baby sending little "waves" through my fun.

But then he got bigger...suddenly I would be in the car and my seatbelt would start moving.  HOLY SHIT I have something inside me!!!  Are f***ing you kidding me??? Oh shit...maybe he heard that.  On the verge of freaking out at times... I just don't think it's normal that you have something inside of you.  It doesn't help that just before getting pregnant, I should have been on that show, Monsters Inside Me with parasites and worms that took forever to get rid of.  Couple that with the scary sonogram pictures of my "precious baby" and I seriously feel like I have been abducted by aliens and am harboring their next leader.

A few times at the Doctor, during the sonogram, she did a close up frontal view of the baby's face... and it looked like an alien, with holes where the eyes should be...I screamed "It's a MONSTER!" No one told me that the face would be so distorted and the cute little baby I imagine is far from that for MUCH of the pregnancy.  I think they should just stick with profile pictures...they come out much better. 

On the other hand... all these pregnancy websites give you WAY too much information complete with lists that include a slew of terrible symptoms you might experience, just short of your vagina falling off.  The list is endless of headaches, gas, round ligament pain, heartburn, reflux, hemorrhoids, constipation, etc.

I have a growing baby in me...I can barely eat a palm-size of chicken without getting a pain under my ribs from the increasing lack of room in my torso...I CAN'T even imagine on top of that being constipated.  Feeling stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey from both sides is my definition of hell.  So thankfully, every morning I say a little prayer to the Shit Gods who bless me with the ability to go.  And...I make a point to eat as much FIBER as possible.   

Well, other than that... it has been amazing... looking for his first outfit, putting his crib thanks to the universe for the ability to bring a life into this world.  They didn't tell me HOW special those moments are.  In the end it makes the rest of it completely worth it.  Maybe that's what they mean after all. 

August 26, 2013

Not So Perfect Is My Perfect

I recently read an article from Elephant Journal titled something like "American fallacies: perfect laws and a melting pot". It brought me back to one of the biggest reasons I decided to leave my country. First, I should confess that my husband and I lived in one of "those" neighborhoods. If your lawn wasn't perfectly green and manicured to perfection, all of the neighbors would gather around and say... "what a pity they have let that house go." I even saw one of single mom's down the street one day cutting the edge of her grass with kitchen scissors. Although she got 10 points in creativity from me, is this something meaningful we should be doing with the precious time we have on this earth?

My poor husband is a perfectionist. And I have to admit, I like lush, green grass to run around with the dog in...but I forbid him to use any kind of fertilizers around the house, so he was constantly "rerouting" manually our Florida grass to grow in patches that had died. But let me get to the point. Why is the quality of our grass such a status symbol in the States? And if you don't live up to the expectations of others, you will be shamed and labeled a "slob" immediately.

To be honest, this same tradition exists with much more than grass in the states. There are so many societal norms that we think we have to force ourselves into. I have countless friends that live this way...after getting married they bought a big, suburban home with a two car garage and are living the "American Dream". Don't get me wrong, if this is truly what you want there is nothing wrong with it. But if you have unconsciously dropped all those hidden desires and dreams to fit into a box, then I find something terribly wrong with it. But, I knew this isn't what I wanted a long time ago. 

 I used to dream about backpacking around the world, sleeping anywhere I could, writing daily in a journal from a super quaint coffee shop and meeting globe trotters like myself and sharing our stories over a cup of tea. This wandering lifestyle always has called me. But instead I have ripened my vision to live in Europe and create a space myself where globe-trotters stop and visit me. That is what gets me excited. Meeting amazing, new people from the corners of the world and when the conversation is over you say, wow, what a great person...they seem to drop something into your heart that wasn't there before and you feel a little more full as a person. I call that fate. Those are the moments I live for.

Thankfully we don't have a lawn to manicure, I no longer go walking and choke on the overwhelming stench of fertilizers and don't get sprayed by religiously-timed sprinkler systems. No, now I live next to a far-from-perfect rural beach and spend my weekends in the mountains with wild horses, natural springs and pick my own fruit for salads. I am making my own box to live in.


July 3, 2013

O Bo Camino

In one of the books I am currently devouring, the author talks about how people typically surround themselves with people who think like them, enjoy similar interests and live within their comfort zone completely surrounded by familiarity. 

This is how I felt in Florida.  Safe, comfortable but unfulfilled.  I biked to the farmers market on Saturdays, walked along the beach, went to a Yoga studio 5 minutes from my house 3-4 times a week and shopped at the local Fresh Market.  I had a favorite coffee shop, pizza place and spot to watch the sunset but for whatever reason I was terribly unsatisfied.  I needed a CHALLENGE.  I needed to get outside my comfort zone and be somewhere new to force me to find my own way again. 

A lot of people didn't understand why we were leaving what SEEMED like a "perfect" (whatever that means) life to completely start over somewhere else.  We had a house, good neighbors and stable jobs... yet I yearned for something more. 

That something came...after our long journey, I found myself in a brand new apartment, in a small town in Spain, plopped in a completely different life.  I soon found out that Yoga is a pretty foreign concept to the locals but they can talk about seafood for hours.  (Secretly, I think that Gallegos have as many words for seafood as the Eskimos do for snow.)  What the hell had I wished this for??? 

Then in my book, I found the answer that changed my perspective.  When you put yourself in place so unfamiliar, you are able to grow, really reach into the depths of who you are to make a meaning for your life that is so far away from what you call "comfortable".  I think the hardest part of adjusting to my new life is the fact that this isn't meant to be permanent, it's only until the next opportunity presents itself, wherever that takes us.  This made the present moment even harder as it was a time of unsettled comfortableness.  But as I read, these times of challenging transition are the biggest times of personal growth and are often the only way to move onto the next chapter of your life. 

I felt relieved that this wasn't for nothing.  And wouldn't you know, as soon as I accepted this time of my life for what it was, things I was wishing for started coming true.  At first, small things like an invitation to eat one of the meals I had been craving.  But then, big things like jobs locally and opportunities, albeit small, have starting coming my way.  The summer has arrived and I have a good feeling that with it, many other soul lifting moments are also coming my way.