Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sam's Birth Story

Baby Sam 2000
Preface:  When I was pregnant with Sam, I belonged to and became pen-pals of sorts with a bunch of awesome ladies who lived all over the place.  I guess you could say this was the beginning of cyber relationships and pre-Facebook posting.  Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was sorting through some old papers and found several "posts" that I wrote to my friends.  One in particular, was very special.  It was my post just after Sam was born recounting the story of his entrance in the world.  I am not going to edit what I typed.  I am leaving it word for word, with even some typos because I was also nursing Sam.

Written March 27, 2000.

Sam is here!  All 7 lbs. 11.7 oz of pure joy!  He was 21 inches long and born at 1:22 am on Friday March 24th.  I had a little nubane that helped with the in between part of a total of three contractions, but the delivery overall was natural.  No episiotomy this time.  And I only needed a few stitches.  It was painful, but an awesome painful.  It was so intense and I will never forget it.  When they put him on my belly, I could not stop touching him and did not want to let him go!  He is beautiful and healthy and really here!  It was love at first sight and for some reason I feel/felt a little more protective about him than I did dd (dear daughter).  Maybe it was because I had a few more problems this pg (pregnancy) with spotting, etc... that I was more worried that he would not make it... anyway... his is wonderful.

About the labor... at about 7:25 I was coming home with dd from the neighbors and she was trying to get away, so I picked her up and had a major contraction, well just before I entered the garage I had this huge gush of fluid run down my leg, through my pants, on my shoes and the driveway.  I was not sure if I peed or if it was my water.  I went inside and took everything off and it did not smell like pee so I called dh (dear husband: these were shortcuts we used to communicate.)  He was at work and I told him I may have broken my water.  I told him to sit tight and I would call him back after I talked to the Dr.  Well after three pages I could not get a hold of him, so I call L & D and they told me to come in.  Dh came home meanwhile, he said that he could not wait and they sent him home.  He smelled my pants and also thought it did not smell like pee.  So we got ready to go.  We called mil and finally got her to agree to come over.  My neighbor came over so we could leave right away.  Dh did give dd a quick bath so that she would be all ready for bed.  

We drove to the hospital, I was having contras, but not real bad and only 5 min. to 8 min. apart.  We checked in and went upstairs.  I got undressed and the nurse checked me and said I was only 3 cm and my water had not broken.  So I guess it was pee, just not smelly pee lol. (side note:  I still think my water broke!!) Anyway she told me they would probably send me home.  Well then the Dr. came in and ripped my insides apart, said I was a good 4, he was going to break my water and we were going to have a baby.  He told us the nurses were busy and just wanted to send someone home, but this was a game and to just act like I was in pain  Well I was after they broke my water.  From 9:30 (when they broke it) until delivery, it was no fun.  Dh was a good coach.  He even had to help me go potty four times in the bed pan.  They would not let me get up in case of the cord prolapsing.  So I was in bed the whole time.  (little man is eatinng so I am typing one handed) The end was no fun because I was sitting at 7 cm and I had the urge to push.  I dilated to ten so fast and was climbing the bed with the urge.  They barely got me in the stir-ups and two big pushes later his head was out and then one more for his body  The placenta was no fun.  But was so worth it.  It was the most intense yet awesome/wonderful pain of my life!  (With dd I did have a local because of the episiotomy so this time was different with no local...)  

He is a good little guy.  He has really taken to nursing and that is going well.  Although I am so huge right now that I could feed five babies.  The hospital stay was nice, but Friday late morning little man gave us a scare.  After his circumcision, he started getting blue in his mouth and his arms and legs.  They ended up putting him in the warmer because his hr was low and his circulation was bad.  But by the end of the day and some major tlc by mom, he was better.  Except for a few short trips to the nursery for  weight and his 48 hour test, I did not let him out of my sight and would go everywhere with him.  I even had them give him his first bath in the room with me.

We got home yesterday afternoon and all is going well.  (Other than the fact that dh went golfing with the neighbor and left me with dd.) Thank you for helping me through this pg and for your friendship.  You are an awesome bunch of ladies and I glad to have you.

Lisa and Sam"the little man"Kenneth.

Postscript:  Re-typing this and re-reading it is very emotional for me.  I can replay all these memories like movies in my mind.  I remember in the middle of the night while we were still in the hospital, being all alone with Sam (My Ex slept at home).  He was sleeping on me and I was so high on adrenaline and love that I couldn't all asleep.  God had given me this perfect "little man" and I remember feeling so blessed, a feeling that has never faded.  Sam and I have a special bond.  He has always been my sweet boy and has always been such a love.  One of my favorite memories from this summer at that lake was during a late night boat ride with just Jerry, Sam and I.  We went out to look at the stars and say good-bye to the lake.  On the way back to the cabin, Sam fell asleep on me.  It felt like when he was just a little guy and would snuggle with me.  I truly felt like I was in heaven.  

I love you my sweet Sam.  You hold a very special place in my heart and I am so happy to be your mom.  Every moment I am away from you I miss you like crazy and pray to be with you again.  Happy Birthday and always remember... I love you to the moon and stars and back!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Talking with Grandma

This morning I had a beloved conversation with my grandma.  We are hundreds of miles apart, but I pretend as I listen to her voice that she's right there in the room with me.  Our conversations are a little more general these days because sadly dementia has taken it's evil grip on her mind, but our hearts still know each other and converse just fine.  At the end of our talk I told her I loved her and as she said "I love you" back, I broke down in tears.  I told her I loved her again and she said her good-byes.  I think I said it once more as she was hanging up, just for good measure.  She is so special to me, I wanted to make sure she knew.  I just sobbed as I hung up, I miss her so much.

After our conversation, as I got dressed and ready for a day of basketball and little ones, In honor of my grandma, I made myself aware, yet again, how blessed I am.  I have these six beautiful babies and a husband who I can still kiss good-night at the end of each day.  When my grandpa passed, I truly believe he took part of my grandma with him.  She misses him terrible.  

A few weeks ago, I was going through some old pictures and found this CD with images of a visit to the Albuquerque zoo with my sister and grandparents back in 2005.  Back then, they would come for a month at a time and stay with my mom (I still lived in New Mexico then) and I was fortunate enough to get to spend a lot of time with them.  I look back at these pictures and remember that day like it was yesterday.  Precious photographs, slightly blurry and out of focus, but priceless.  

Life is short and goes by in a blur.  Today, if you have someone special that maybe you haven't talked to in awhile, call them.  Even if it is to just say hi, or better yet, I Love you.  Do it in honor of my beautiful grandma!    

Monday, March 18, 2013

I just lost it.

Snapchat I sent to Savannah!

This morning Max found a school picture of Savannah "sister."  He showed it to me and told me about "sister" as he calls her these days.  He even put her picture to "sleep" and then they watched Thomas together.  Then, out of the blue, he talked about Savannah and Sam coming.  He says "they are going to pick me up."  It made me both happy and sad for Max to talk about them.  I lost it though when I found Max at the front window waiting for them to come, for some reason he thought they would be there.  I too wished more than anything he was right, but knowing in reality they were hundreds of miles away.  Now I am just sitting here crying, missing my two oldest babies like crazy.

Some days are better than others, but it's times like this that I don't know if my heart can take them being gone for so long.  This week is especially hard because Sam's thirteenth birthday is on Sunday.  I can't believe he is going to be a teenager and I wish that I was able to be there with him.  This morning I found some socks of his from his toddler days and felt a sentimental pang when I put them on Max.  The sweatshirt Max is wearing was also Sam's, these are the hand-me-downs I just adore.  

The choice to get divorced in order to bring a healthier life for your children and yourself is a really hard decision and one I did not make lightly.  I believe that our quality of life has improved and we're slowly healing after what we have all gone through. Unfortunately, some of the residual pain and time away from my little ones is something I am sure I will never get over, nor get used to.  They are my heart and soul. 

Love to all of my babies and special hugs and kisses across the miles to my Savannah and Birthday Boy Sam.  I love you to the moon and stars and back!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What if I told you that you could save a life for $5?

My friend Beth shared some pictures on Facebook yesterday that I took on my 2009 trip to Africa.  As we wrote back and forth concerning them, I began to remember the emotion that I felt when I first photographed this particular little girl, with Lake Albert in the background, separating us from the evil in the Congo.  The image of her will forever be imprinted in my mind and the surrounding moments will always be remembered as life changing for me.  A five dollar wake up call.  

It was taken on net distribution day. We only had a certain number allotted for this part of the refugee camp and the rest had to go to the larger distribution site.  As morning gave way to a hazy, hot afternoon and as the line grew, I started to worry that we would run out.    I watched as mostly women, children and the elderly came from miles to wait in line for one simple thing, a $5 Malaria net.  It boggled my mind at how patient everyone was, especially the children and the women, many with babies on their backs and wearing the only set of clothes they owned.  Flies were buzzing their heads, there was no water, no shade, no food.  One little girl, crippled and unable to walk, sores all over her body, spoke not a word, just patiently waited.  All we had to give them were the nets.  To them they were gold.  This $5 piece of mesh fabric represented their one shot at beating the statistics, that every 30 seconds, a child in sub-Sahara Africa dies of Malaria.  These women had already been through hell, having had to literally run for their lives with no belongings, to a new country and the reality of a refugee camp.  The idea of losing a loved one to a preventable disease is almost too much to bear.  They knew these nets were there one and only shot at defense making the uncomfortable conditions of the day a distant afterthought. 

While waiting for several hours for the allotted distribution time, I was able to get to know some of the refugees.  Fortunately, Rita, a vibrant young women with eight children in her care (one her own and seven orphans) stepped forward early on and offered to translate for me.  She spoke several languages including French and Congolese and with her help I was able to communicate with everyone.  I learned that many of these women were on their own, some of them pregnant or holding babies conceived after being raped.  It was truly unfathomable what they had been through, yet they still held it together.  Never in my life had I experienced anything even close to this.  The feelings that ran through me were ones I had never felt before.  It was like seeing both heaven and hell at the same time.  The atmosphere of love and gratitude was so raw and prolific.  At times I was speechless.

Rita wasn't my only new friend I made that day.  I also found several little people to keep me company and even join me in some songs.  The children that I met were truly amazing.  They sat so patient and while some were a little afraid of us, most were just curious.  Two little boys in particular stole my heart, Barack and Sajus.  I just loved them and one thing that fascinated me, was how they held tight to their school notebooks and kept them safe under their shirts.  To them, education was truly priceless and the only possible way out of here.  They walk miles everyday to school and don't care, in their world they don't have a choice.  The other thing that stuck out about the children was how small and malnourished they were, ten year olds the size of my five year old at the time.  However they didn't know any different, and their smiles lit up the afternoon.  

The actual distribution came and we went person by person and gave them their allotted number of nets.  For every four people or less, one net; every five to eight, two nets; nine or more, three and so on.  Orphans got a net even if they were all on their own and that is where my little girl came in.  She was wearing a yellow bracelet representing that she was eligible for her own net and was lucky enough to  receive one of the last few we had to give out.  After I handed her a net, she quickly tore off up a path leading away from the crowd.  She knew they were just about gone and she didn't want to risk having hers taken.  As I followed her, the cries from the crowd were piercing my ears, those that left empty handed were heartbroken and so was I.  All the fundraising and research leading up to this trip had done little to prepare me for what the money I was raising would truly mean to these refugees.  I broke down and let the tears fall at what such a small amount of money meant to them, $5 was the difference between life and death.  Not to sound cliche, but I remember thinking that the cost of a specialty coffee could translate into a lifesaving mosquito net.  If everyone could give up one coffee a year and donate the money instead, think of the impact it would have for these wonderful people.  It would mean the world to them.  After I caught up to the little girl I took her hand in mine and just stayed like that for a little while.  I cherish this picture, to me represents that love knows no boundaries and that at one point in our lives, we'll all need a helping hand.  

If you are inspired to give up coffee for a day and donate the money instead, then go to Think Humanity and donate $5 for a malaria net and save lives.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Death by Divorce

Tonight my husband and I were playing around on Google Earth and I decided to show him my bike route from my house in Fort Collins to Colorado State.  My last semester before I graduated, I made a vow not to drive my car to class and to ride instead.  Thinking back over that I time, I remembered how much I loved those rides.  The path was beautiful and it allowed me a fresh start in the morning and a stress-decompression time in the afternoon.  Recalling memories from this time in my life, is almost like recalling a dream.  I haven't been back to Fort Collins since I moved.  This isn't because I didn't like it there, I did.  I think it is more because I needed time to lick my wounds and heal from my divorce and the pain I went through leading up to that point.

Until last June, I also had not been back to the Midwest since my last visit there with my Ex to baptize Sage and Saxton.  It was there and then that he told me he wanted a divorce.  The act of going back and reliving those, as well as other painful memories of the past was not easy.  It was as if I was dealing with the death of part of me, years of my life lost in a void of space and time.

Maybe my experience is unique in the fact that I did move so far away at the very moment that one part of my life ended and another began.  Not only that, I moved to a place where no one knew me.  They didn't know what I had been through, who my friends were, anything about the journey I had been on with my four oldest children.  It was like starting my life completely over, a clean slate.  However, it also meant the near death of my past, both good and bad, including memories of my life with my Ex and our experiences with our four children, family and friends.  You could liken it to the act of getting rid of a tumor, where sometimes you have to lose good tissue and healthy parts of yourself in order to get rid of the bad.

This "death" is hard sometimes.  I often wish to bridge the gap between my two worlds and allow some of the good to come over into my new life.  Most importantly, I don't want my children to lose their memories because of the association with the negative.  They experienced their childhood during those times and deserve to cherish special memories, as well as feel free to talk about them.  As an example, my Ex and I took several cross country road trips, spanning several states.  These unique trips are still priceless to me as I recall introducing my children to the ocean for the first time, the mountains, great cities and spectacular monuments of our country.  These are the moments that deserve to live.

Our bodies and minds are amazing things.  When we are injured, broken, our body knows to shut down and only run the most important functions in order to heal.  People who have grave brain injuries often go into comas in order to allow for this necessary healing.  I think painful emotional experiences result in a similar phenomenon.   We shut down and only deal with what we have to until we are better.  Then, as we "awake" again, we might feel pain, and have to conceptualize our injury, but hopefully we have had enough healing time in order to deal with it.

I still have rough days as a result of what I have been through and continue to go through,  but thankfully the good far outweigh the bad.  I am finally able to begin to look back and bring life to those memories.  I believe this is all part of the healing process and hopefully someday I can permanently bridge the gap between my pre-divorce and after life.  Until then, I'll liken the process to my rides back in Colorado, and I'll remember the joy of the experience instead of the dips in the road.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are we trying to "Catfish" our Facebook Friends?

Photograph taken by me!
Catfish is a new show on MTV about people who initiate relationships with someone they met online.  The premise of the television show is that after some time has gone by, either months or even years, one of those in this unique tryst wants to meet this love of their technological life.  This is where Nev Schulman, Max and his crew come in.  They go through the process of interviewing the interested partner and then researching their cyber romance to see if they really are who they say.  Spoiler alert, for the most part, they're not!  Sometimes they're not even the same sex that they claimed to be.

The responses from this revelation are widely varied, and for the most part, the interested party feels a combination of anger and hurt.  The person they thought was a famous, rich model (for example) is actually just some average joe living at home struggling to get by like most people.  In the end, love is sometimes found and sometimes lost.  It just depends on the extent of the deceit and the ability of the jaded to forgive and understand.

What fascinates and draws me into this show, is how relatable the whole concept truly is.  At first, the deceiver might seem crazy and the deceived naive and gullible.  However, as I have continued to watch the show and really meditate on the idea of a "catfish,"  I realized that most of us are guilty of this very simple act of manipulating ourselves in a way that might seem attractive to others.  Maybe we don't go to the extreme that we might see on the television show, but we still deceive, even if they're the smallest "catfish" lies.

To prove my point, I am going to use Facebook as an example.  How many have profile pictures that are hideous?  Not many.  Instead, people make sure to pick just the right one, even if it is several years old or tweaked beyond recognition.  Moving beyond the "face" of Facebook, think of how we now pose for pictures or untag ourselves if we are not satisfied with what we look like.  I admit I am guilty of such things.

As I watched the show I thought of my own life.  I thought of my previous marriage and how what I chose to portray to the outside world was much different than what was actually going on.  After all, who wants to write on their Facebook status, "last night was miserable..." or, "found out my significant other is having a Cyber affair with someone on Facebook."  I chose to instead post pictures of my two youngest daughter's baptism and of our "happy" family.

The ironic thing about the show, is how often the people might have been deceiving about their physical self, but not their emotional one.  Because they felt comfortable with the look they chose to portray, it allowed them to be confident enough to let the true colors of their heart shine through.  (This was not always the case in Catfish episodes, but more common than not.)  There is something safe about the lack of actual face time and instead pouring out your soul over the anonymity of text messages and telephone calls.

My current husband and I started our relationship like that.  We met in person briefly, but the majority of our friendship grew through phone calls and text messages.  After pondering the motives of those on the Catfish episodes, I realized they just wanted to be heard and to have someone care about them.  They were lonely and looking for simple companionship, even if they went about it in a complex way.   I imagined they found the same comfort I did in having someone on the other line who actually cared about what I said, what I was going through and reciprocated by sharing their own thoughts and feelings.

No one is perfect.  I think that is the main point and premise of the show and of life.  However, if we feel we need to portray a spotless image in order to have friends and/or a romance, shows like Catfish will continue for years to come.  Since I have been divorced, I have made a concerted effort to lay it all out there.  Do I hold back details?  Absolutely and for good reasons.  However, this blog has given me an outlet to express my true feelings and to slowly tell the real story of my life.  Try it!  Put your catfishing aside and allow people a window into your world.  If people don't like your true "Face" then they can always de-friend you.