Tag Archives: dad

My Good Life and How I Fuel It!

CB Disclosure White Background 400 px wide

When I wake up in the morning, I always look to my nightstand where I leave a list of what needs to be done. It’s usually long and lists times, if necessary, but what’s it’s usually lacking is a place for breakfast.

#aisforadelaide #todolist #shop #MyGoodLife #CollectiveBias #cbias

…it’s been especially hard here with Addie not feeling well and having some pain eating solid foods. Naturally, Dave worries about us, but even more so, he worries about my eating and taking care of myself- especially while pregnant. To help both Addie and myself, Dave went on a mission to find some simple solutions for his ladies.

#aisforadelaide #addieanddaddy #shop #cbias #collectivebias #MyGoodLife

A very concerned daddy!

To fuel our mornings, we need quick, easy and transportable and in the breakfast aisle of Walmart Dave found just want he wanted… an easy to mix breakfast shake that I wouldn’t fight him to drink.

#aisforadelaide #cbias #shop #collectivebias #MyGoodLife Shopping at Walmart to Fuel My Mornings

I LOVE milk, but need more than a glass to sustain me until lunch. Nestle Carnation® Breakfast Essentials™ packets are something I come back to again and again. When I was pregnant with Addie, they served as an afternoon snack at work, and now they are what make breakfast so simple for me. In fact, this is the first whole week in my entire pregnancy that I’ve had breakfast with enough calories and complete nutrition. Seriously… 32 weeks today and I’ve finally accomplished breakfast on a routine basis. Go me!

#aisforadelaide #shop #cbias #CollectiveBias #MyGoodLife Fuel Your Morning with Nestle and Carnation Instant Breakfast


I feel like I had the opportunity to have breakfast because Addie has been under-the-weather and so we’re not rushing to her usual classes… but this also leaves us home all day and my sweet lady still not able to eat like her usual self- leaving her little ribs looking rather exposed. Knowing this, Dave and I have gotten really creative with just getting calories in her, but we don’t want to load her up with junk. What we came up with comes from the same family as my breakfast solution: Nesquick®. While Addie has never had any special milk flavoring (just plain, organic 2%), the need to get more calories in her with some vitamins took over, and as I mixed her a cup and we started our day (with lots of appointments), she gladly took it!

While we won’t use Nesquick a lot, it is nice to have knowing there are a few upcoming procedures she will be going through and some of them will render her hopeless in terms of feeding. Milk is the way we usually go to get energy in our sweet girl to just keep her going through the days of recovery. I am so thankful to have found something to help us boost her vitamin intake in  a tasty way!

It’s hard to get up and take care of everything that needs to get done in 24 hours for the house, your kids and family, while remembering yourself, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day! I try to remember that I am not just helping my family thrive by giving them the best nutrition, but by taking care of me  I am setting a good example, too.

Thank you to #CollectiveBias for helping us make breakfast a regular meal in this house again! This is #MyGoodLife… what’s yours?

#aisforadelaide #MyGoodLife #CollectiveBias #shop Fueling my Family's Morning

How do you make sure that you have breakfast every morning while still getting out of the house on time?

GARD Pro Skipped due to post having too many words in it which are on the filter list.

74 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Keep Pushing

I was unable to find anyone who recorded (or even took a picture!) of the LPA Speakers’ Night, but I wanted to share my piece with you. I plan on recording me speaking it, but wanted to share it with you (written) in the meantime. So, without further stalling, here is my LPA Speakers’ Night Piece entitled: Keep Pushing.

#lpaSD2014 #LPA Speakers Night

As I embark upon the birth of my second child, I find the title of my piece ironic.

Keep pushing.

While that’s not my birthing mantra- that one is just breathe- Keep pushing is my mission in life.

Letting ourselves be defined by anything, even things that are so apparent, like our gender, sexual preference, race or disability is no way to live. It’s no way I will let myself or my children live, so why do other people expect me to allow such behaviors from them?

The answer is simple. The answer points a finger. The answer stings. The answer is me.

People treat others as they are allowed to. Sad? Pathetic? Lame? You bet. But it’s the truth. We love to take advantage of life- be lazy where we can be. We often, as humans, forget the implications of our language.

We let people call us homo, fat, crazy, midget, whore. Because as a culture stopping these things is too “politically correct”. We fear that we are being “too sensitive”, we aren’t raising tough kids, or we ourselves do not have thick skin.

“Good luck this time!”
“Good for you- trying again.”
“Sucks you didn’t know before she was born.”
“Is there anything they can do for her when she’s older to make her taller?”

Fellow humans have said these things to me. Why does the world view dwarfism as something to be cured, rather than embraced as a difference?

We don’t want to question what others say. We give up our right to know about ourselves when we don’t ask the hard questions.

“I don’t know.”
“We will learn together.”
“Let’s come back to that.”
“This is my first one.”

Doctors have said these things to me. Why is the education about dwarfism so slim that many medical professionals fear the diagnosis of dwarfism- offering patients little education and less options.

My mantra, Keep pushing. For respect, for knowledge.

Do you see it yet? Do you feel the need to push?

There is change that can be made. There is change that needs to be made. There are generations coming up behind you and me, behind the children being born today and the children following them. There are millions of people yet to be born, and thousands will have a form of dwarfism.

But they will not be dwarfs.

They will be painters and doctors. They will be writers and scientists. They will be political leaders and dreamers and veterinarians. Those born with a form of dwarfism will love and be loved. They will change lives and shape the world for future generations. The way we need to now.

There is a need to define ourselves by what we want as a community and let the masses, not the few, lead the way. Television shows that pigeonhole this community, media misconceptions, movies and comedians are things of the past when we push- and keep pushing- to be defined not as little people, but as people. Height doesn’t make someone smart, or happy, or better than. Average height just makes you average.

Be spectacular regardless. Keep pushing.

When a doctor tells me they do not know, I ask, “how will you find the answer?” When I am given news about a health concern and then that same medical professional attempts to leave the room, I ask for further explanation. I ask what our course of action is. I ask what their medical opinion and experience are. What is the timeline. How do we proceed? I push to know more. I push to make them answer. To make them accountable for their diagnosis. I refuse to let Google do my doctoring. I refuse to leave not knowing.

Too many parents email me with the same story. It goes like this: The doctors told me my baby would be a dwarf. They gave me a packet of papers and told me to make appointments for these things. They told me to be prepared, but not for what.

More often than not, I offer my telephone number. I spend hours each week calming mothers-to-be and new parents. Not giving medical advice, but offering an ear and listening to questions that are left unanswered. Unanswered concerns from a doctor who left their patients with a handout and maybe a few people to call.

This is not OK. This is not how patients should be treated. Dwarfism is not unknown. Specialists exist!

In my hours on the phone I’ve looked up local hospitals with clinics, referred many to our own team in Delaware, and always given out the LPA’s website. Hours spent giving the same basic information that needs to be readily available to all patients with a diagnosis of dwarfism. Support, love and most importantly, knowledge.

Keep pushing.

Keep pushing so that when someone sees a person of short stature they smile, the same smile they offer any other human on the street. Why? Because a person of short stature is any other human.

Keep pushing to make changes, because if there is such an uprising about a professional football team name change, then there should be a change across the nation of high school sports teams named The Midgets. Because other people do not decide what offends you. Because other people don’t control our emotions. Because being sensitive, caring, respectful people is what defines a civilized culture. That is what humanity means. Because even doctors need to learn something new every day. Because bedside manner isn’t dead (and neither is chivalry, if you were wondering).

There isn’t a facet of our culture that doesn’t need advocacy from our community, so be that voice. Never stop pushing because it doesn’t bother you anymore, or because you think one person can’t make a difference. One voice. One community. One change at a time.

Keep pushing because letting ourselves be defined by anything, even things that are so apparent, like our gender, sexual preference, race or disability is no way to live. It’s no way I will let myself or my children live, and I won’t being defined by anyone but myself.

 

40 Comments

Filed under Achondroplasia, Community, Educate/Adovocate/Make Change

On being a special needs parent…

I read THIS yesterday as parent after parent on my Facebook feed shared the article. At the time, I was scanning the web from my phone from beneath my dearest Adelaide, softly crying.

Although I’ve posted a few updates on her, it’s been a whirlwind since we’ve returned from the LPA National Conference in San Diego… we landed late Saturday night, spent the day jet lagged, but as a family, on Sunday, then had an incredibly busy Monday running from Addie’s physical therapy, the OB and chiropractor for me, and fielding calls from 4 different doctors (have I mentioned that when an actual doctor calls, it’s usually not good?). On Tuesday morning I said goodbye to Dave as he headed to work, and he kissed me extra hard. The look in his eye told me what I needed to know; it pained him that I would be going through a surgery without him and he had no words. Neither did I. He carried our still-sleeping girl to the car for me and kissed her face and head as he hesitantly closed the car door.

I didn’t even cry. After she was under sedation, I calmly left the room, my head spinning as I attempted to control my breathing. I gathered our belongings for our overnight stay and meandered around the corner to the waiting room where, after spending  a solid 15 minutes staring at the surgical board, called my mom. Then I tried on one long-sleeve shirt, but then I was wearing too much gray, so I took it off and put on the blue one- it was from the 5k I did a few weeks ago. You’re strong enough for this, Chelley. I sat down and got out my work. I use 3 different spreadsheets to track my work, sponsored posts, links, blog posts and the like. I took out a pen and started to cross things off and move things around. I planned for a few days of recovery where I could do some work, but not a lot. I took out my highlighter and crossed off everything I’d done. I felt grateful that I have the option to push work aside when I need to because Dave takes care of us.

#aisforadelaide #specialneedsparenting #motherhood #specialneeds

So back to the article. It’s a few days post-tubes (second set) and adenoidectomy and Addie was on top of me, where she’s been a lot since her surgery. Perched on my chest, or curled up around my belly inciting kicks from her baby sister, inside. She was running about 100º and shaking, her little body clad in nothing but a Bumgenius diaper, snoring and sweating through my own tank top. Every now and again, she would stir and cry in her slumber. So I read, and I softly cried, too. If you follow along with the article, I cried because:

1. Sometimes lonely doesn’t describe it. Even when I have a moment to connect with friends and family I cannot express the fear I feel. The fact that everyone in the world could be there to hold my hand, and I would still feel like I was standing alone- especially when I am there without Dave. Because when we do have time to talk, I want to talk about Addie every moment and not at all, and not knowing how to process your own emotions is a lonely place to be.

2. Dave and I are a power couple. We aren’t changing the world, but we’re shaping our own. And we have to work at it everyday. We discuss a lot of medical things, we sleep very little large chunks… but we do it all together. Sometimes we snap and bite, but the lines of communication don’t close. Sleep, fancy cars, and, yes, even intimacy can wait… but not forever. We fight for that. For this. For us.

3. Enough said. I can go mama bear in 1.4 seconds flat, however.

4. All the time. This is also due to my losing a brother, young cousin and father before I was 13. But even more so, as we look deeper into Addie’s spine and decompression and blackouts and sleep… I feel relief when she wakes up. I hate that feeling. I just want to wake up and not have my heart leap and stop until I see her ribs expand and contract with the sweet sound of her breath. I hope this fear won’t last forever.

She is #aisforadelaide #strength #courage #laughter

5. Sometimes I know that my voice means less than my body. The length of my reach engulfing her body as she cringes in pain or fear at an appointment. The way she melts into my shoulder or tucks into my chest as they try to take another set of vitals, insert an IV, measure another limb. The way she won’t wear a mask unless I gently place it over her face. There are no words… just the touch of mom. Recently I learned skin-to-skin is important past infancy, as Addie craves feeling my heart beat and holding my necklace. She reaches into my shirt just to feel my skin, and I crave comforting her. Touch is so healing and speaks louder than words. When I ask her if she’s ok and she grabs my face into her own kisses me and settles into my arms. Words seemingly, in that moment, mean nothing.

6. While Addie doesn’t have speech issues, hearing your child come out of sedation like a lion screaming for you or waking in an apnea episode startled wanting only you… those are the times I cherish her communication most.

So, in light of her adenoids being removed, which gives off the most horrible breath, and my heightened sense of smell, her small shaking body, feverish and gripping, the hours we’ve spent in the same position (painful for me)… this is just what we do. And after the hours. The physical ache and mental exhaustion… the moments left in between. There’s still a light inside.

#aisforadelaide #sarifices #parenthood #specialneedsparenting

…been laying here for hours. Wouldn’t trade a minute.

34 Comments

Filed under Achondroplasia, Educate/Adovocate/Make Change, Parenting/Family/Lifestyle

Do you believe?

Second in my doula series is Jessica Fuss. When I met Jess, it was at a DoRI event, and I fell in love with her. She’s like a big sister, mother and best friend all in one. Although Jess had another client when I was due with Addie, we remained in touch, and she is still one of my biggest supporters in motherhood! From her beaming smile to her incredible knowledge in all things birth, cloth diapering and motherhood, Jess is such a super-woman! I asked her a bunch of questions, and wanted to share her thoughts with  you and a bit more about her doula services at Soft Touch Doula.

1. What does “doula” mean to you?
To be a doula to me means to take care of a woman…To find out what her needs, her desires, her likes and dislikes, her wishes are…then to do my best to surround her with so much nurturing love that she feels protected and safe to be whomever she needs to be in order to birth her baby in the best way for HER.

It also means for me to provide enough information and assurance to the partner so that I can take away all of his/her fears and worries so they can just be the partner and provide the support they have always wanted to be.

2. What’s your specialty and why did you enter that niche?

My niche is Birth.  I’ve heard it say I’m very good at being that doula who “mothers the mother”.  I’m very nurturing.  It chose to be purely a Birth Doula (not a postpartum as well) because it just fits.  I have always wanted to have ‘something’ to do with birth, ever since I was a little girl and read my mom’s Lamaze books.  When I found out about the role of a birth doula, where I get to purely support and care for the couple, and not to have to do any of the medical care, I knew it was for me.

3. How many births have you attended?
Back in 2012 I stopped counting at 100 births attended.  I’m sure I’m up to somewhere around 150.
4. Favorite/most anticipated moment about birth… besides the baby!
Ahhhhhh… :-)  My favorite moment.  My favorite moment is special to me.  It’s when I see by the woman’s soft face, hear by her orgasmic sounds, can tell by her loose body, that she has truly given over to the Birth process.  She has surrendered to the intensity.  There’s no more fighting the surges.  She is now purely allowing her body to flow and open.  If one was in the next room and didn’t know what was going on, it would sound like she is having a wonderful orgasm.  But in reality, the sounds a woman makes at this precious moment in her labor is exactly the same.

5. Hardest part of your work?

The hardest part of this job is most definitely for me the anxiety involved.  There is anxiety of not knowing when each momma will go into labor.  I am pretty much always on-call.  And when that momma does go into labor, who will be available to watch my kiddos.  It’s the unknown that is very stressful.  And the anxiety also carries over into the birth itself in not knowing how short or long the labor will be.
6. What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
I think the most rewarding part of being a doula, for me, is knowing that something simple I might have done, (for instance helping her get through that “wall” that often comes up during transition when she often cries  “I can’t do it any longer”, but in reality she’s almost done!) and it has helped to completely change the outcome for that woman’s birth…That simple act of support and encouragement helped her to achieve her goals for her birth.  When I leave after the birth, I quietly smile and know in my heart that I did a good job.
7. A few words that you feel describe motherhood?
Empowering, tiring, amazing, overwhelming, fulfilling, glorious, momentous.
8. What areas do you serve in RI/MA/CT?
Southern MA, Eastern/southeastern CT, all of RI.

9. Your hope for the future of your profession?

My hope is that the Insurance Companies will recognize the role of a doula as incredibly beneficial in that it reduces the need for SO many interventions that cost them money.  I wish for Moms and Dads that the services we provide could be universally covered by their insurance companies.

I love how doulas know they are awesome, but give all the credit to mamas! Raising a child takes a village, but birthing a child is totally teamwork (at least for me!). You can contact Jess HERE, and get to know more about this amazing woman!

What was the most amazing or helpful part of your birth experience?

 

50 Comments

Filed under Pregnancy/Birth

Sorry for the Disappointment…

It’s not a Marvelous Monday today. At least not for me. I want to make it great, as we climb into our car early in the morning and head into Mass to watch the Boston Marathon (we are, and always will be, #BostonStrong)…
But you left me 16 years ago and I can’t remember if there was a reason. I mean I know it took you. The sickness, the pain, the inevitable fate of being diagnosed so late in its takeover mission of your body. But why? Really, why?

Last week I went to my first rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother, Providence. I am so blessed to be in this amazing show- a presentation about motherhood and all that it means. And for me, it means so much- with Addie’s disability and living far away from home, motherhood is redefined for me each year as I am still so new to the game.

Woman after woman writes about her own mother, and her experiences. A loss, a relationship, the responsibility and being a mother and a daughter…. and while I love my mother, I miss my first love. I miss the first man- the one who hung the moon. I miss you everyday, Dad.

#aisforadelaide #markworth #missyou

How has motherhood come into the shape it’s taken with me? It came to be because I lost him.

Growing up I dreamed of having children, quickly replaced by the memory of my father dying on the bed before me. A nurse telling me it was time to say goodbye and people I’d never met introducing themselves to me as old college friends. In my 13 year old mind I was rebelling, I was dying, I was losing a part of me that I would never regain.

What the hell is hospice and why are we here? Why is everyone so nice? Why are people looking at me with such sorrow and pity?
I didn’t want another cup of water, or juice or soda, or a snack, or a pillow or a movie. I wanted to know why he wasn’t responding anymore. I wanted to know why everyone around me seemed to die and why he was in this bed. There is no way that my hero could leave me. He said he never would.

I decided I never wanted kids, because their parent could die, and they would be screwed up forever.

Like me.

I used men and I let them use me. Emotionally, physically. It really didn’t matter. I thought I was in love a hundred times, but in the end, we all ended up happier elsewhere, didn’t we? The only time I felt a hole- the blackest hole sucking in every smile I’d ever felt since April 21, 1998, was when he popped into my head.

And that was is all the time.

I have never thought of another man every single day of my life, besides my father. From the moment I was born until the day I, too, take to the Earth, I will never love someone the way I loved him. You only get one Father. Only one man created you, and he’s not supposed to leave.

My road to motherhood has been paved with the worst intentions, but somehow led me to my own form of utopia. Surely, if the path to Hell is paved with all the good stuff, it would only make sense. I never meant to fall in love, or get married, or have children who would one day have to say goodbye to me. To their father. And to so many others it is never fair to lose.

My marriage, too, has been shaped by his passing. At 18 I took out life insurance on myself, before I was married, I took it out on Dave and when Addie was born, my gift to her was a policy that would give her some money at 18- or convert to higher coverage. I’ve had a piece of paper in my car, my living will, since I could drive. It used to be a DNR, now it is save me for my kids. Dave and I drew up a will before Addie was born, and it will be amended before our second child comes. I try to keep some kind of emotional indifference, as though should he leave, I will be OK.

I want my kids to find their independence for more than their general well being, but so they can survive when we no longer do.

I am defined by you leaving, Dad. You both made me and broke me by leaving that 13 year old girl on that April night.
And I don’t think I’ll ever have a reason… but I’ve got three of my own to live for, now.

12 Comments

Filed under Marvelous Monday, Parenting/Family/Lifestyle

Marvelous Monday… the most thankful version

11 Comments

Filed under Marvelous Monday

Another Year

It always happens this way. April, that is. T.S. Eliot had it right for so many years: April is the cruelest month And then my sister got married, and Addie was born and I was sure that it would just be better. Magically. But it’s not. Thankfully, it’s not worse, either. It’s just different.

Fifteen years. You’re still gone, Dad.

During my pregnancy I was sure that Addie would be born on the 21st, and not her due date of the 25th. I just knew that she would make the day better, but when my water broke on the 15th I could not have been more relieved. And then this babe arrived on the 17th!

12 Month Collage

I didn’t want to have to share my grieving day with my child. I wanted that day to be selfish. To cry and curl up into a ball if I wanted. To run 10 miles, or stay in bed all day. I like the 21st to be a day I can fall apart.  I turn into an angst-y teenager and cry as hard as I ever have.


But then, a different plan was made. My best friend’s daughter Hadley was born.

Ashley and I didn’t meet until after the births of our girls in our RI New Moms Connection group, but as Ash introduced herself and week after week went by of new stories about our lives- we grew to see each other as sisters. We share many of the same stories, trials and tribulations of life. We’ve both lost a parent, grew up outside of Rhode Island, are married to men who work A LOT and we both love red wine and champagne! As we’ve gotten to know more about each other, there are things we don’t agree on and things we do. We call each other on our wrongs, and celebrate our rights. What struck me the most about Ashley is Hadley.

New Years!

New Years!

Whenever the thought of Hadley’s birthday comes up, I tear up. I’m sad our girls are getting older and I miss the groggy days of midnight feedings and remembering when I last had my cup of coffee, but more so, I’m just sad. Like I said, it doesn’t get harder as the years go by, but it doesn’t get easier. There are days that I am an independent woman- I don’t call my Mom, or text my sister or my brothers. I go about my day without intervention as Mom and Wife. Then there are days when my water heater shuts off, or the lawn needs to be mowed, or Addie claps her hands… and I want to tell my Dad. There are plumbers and my father-in-law and my Mom loves to see Addie pass each milestone. But I want to call my Dad and hear his laugh, and see his brown eyes soften as only a father’s do. I don’t just miss him for me anymore, I miss him for Addie, too.

As Ash and I drink our wine, or talk about schooling, the newest Twilight, or have an intense conversation about our dream houses, I know that she, Hadley and Evan (too!) were brought into my life to help make each year something to celebrate. For that, I am thankful to whatever higher power (or not) you believe in.

For this day, I have two letters to write…

Dear Hadley,When I first met you and your mom, you were so small and perfect. You’ve blossomed into a curious and silly little girl and I am so blessed to be your aunt.
I always thought April would have to be just pain, but you and Addie have taught me that’s not all it will be. Meeting you has brought me light on a day where there was only darkness. I’m looking forward to the many years ahead where the memories in the forefront of my mind, always stemming from 1998 are replaced with memories from each of your birthdays. The pain will always be there, I know, but you, baby girl, are my angel- sent to be in my life to help heal some of those wounds.
I wish you the happiest of days on your first birthday celebration and a lifetime of wonderful days like it. I am proud to be a part of your family and to have the opportunity to honor life on April 21st. I’ve been waiting to do so for 15 years.

Hadley Paige

Hadley Paige

Love, Aunt Chelley

Lastly…

Dad,
I won’t take up much of your time, but I hope, somehow you already know all this.
In the past 15 years I’ve shed rivers of tears, run uncharted miles and battled my mind with each passing 21st. I cry for me. I cry for the little girl who lost her father, but this year, I cry for us. I cry for the baby girl who will never get to meet you.
I don’t regret having such an amazing man in my life- I’m thankful you are my Dad, but I wish that I’d never felt pain like this. And I wish it would stop repeating every year. I wish you were still here.
I want you to know… she’s learning how to crawl, she has your golden brown curls and she loves the color orange- a true Flyers fan. You would really fall in love with her. I wish you could just hold her. Or me.
I miss you.
FTN

Dad

Mark L. Worth <3
3/26/49 to 4/21/98

5 Comments

Filed under Parenting/Family/Lifestyle

Moving on…

How did you choose what to do after high school? Did anyone provide valuable advice which influenced your decision?

This is the next prompt from Carla at AllofMeNow, who is running the Mom Before Mom series that I’ve been writing each weekend. I LOVE these pieces- initially because they allowed me the time to reflect, but now because they give me the right to feel things I didn’t get a chance to as a child.

I had always known that I would go to college. I dreamt of becoming a flight attendant, and then of being a doctor. The doctor thing stuck with me for a while. I was going to cure cancer. My cousin had died at 18 of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and I was going to stop it from ever happening again.

Then my Dad died. April 21, 1998 I had more than just bad dreams to battle, I had the dreams of a child crushed under the weight of fluid filled lungs and a 6’1″ man residing in a cold bed, now housing a 140 pound body. It sounds graphic. It might have been. Regardless, he was gone and I could never face my dreams again.

So… I did what lots of girls do- I tried to find my Dad. I didn’t go around to boys looking for them to be daddy, I dated boys who had strong dads who would protect me and love me as their own. They helped shape me into the woman I became- some offering advice on how to throw a punch, some telling me tales of how to write a good cover letter. It was all encompassing of my father, who would have shown me and told me how to do everything from reducing the swelling on a bruised knee, to building my own computer and how to french-braid my own hair.

You’re wondering how this has anything to do with my post-high school life? Let’s call him Mer. Mer and I had a relationship- he’d graduated from a college in Rhode Island earlier in the year we’d met, that I later graduated from as well. Prior to my application, acceptance, scholarship, over-achievement and early commencement, I was lost. My whole life I was going to cure cancer, but as I moved into my later teen years, I learned to accept the fact that I had no ability to separate myself from feeling. Six years of schooling, grueling nights working on a cadaver, no sleep, little money, insurance risks- all this meant nothing. What stopped me from accepting the obligation I’d laid upon myself 5 years prior to my high school graduation- to cure cancer- was the fact that I could not tell a child they were going to lose their parent.

So, as I held onto my high school job of working in a kitchen and found I loved planning events (I’d even been so blessed as to need to color code and list most aspects of my life), and Mer told me all about Johnson & Wales University, I knew I had my next step planned. Done and done.

It sounds so silly… how I got there, what it meant. I’ve done very little with my degree since 2008- I graduated in 2006. I learned a lot about the non-profit sector, and that’s been helpful… but I was meant to change things. Big things. I wasn’t just meant to plan weddings… which, by the way, I love! I have a wedding coming up in September, and I am SO glad to be back in the saddle (two weddings in two years can make a planner want more more more), but beyond that… I have a larger goal, a longer stride, a destiny to make a difference.

I’ve awoken in a cold sweat more than once, swearing that I was 13 again standing at the side of my father’s bed rattling off a litany of medications and therapies, transfusions and a test for… but I wake up. Before I can hear myself breathing as though I’ve just run a marathon, there is a high-pitched beep in my ear signifying a flat line. They’re all dead. My cousin, my Dad. Thousands of patients I didn’t save.

It sounds morbid, but perhaps it’s what led me to now. If I had gone to med school, I would have been confined to a lab, spending years of my life fighting to cure something I truly believe the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to cure (this is a whole other topic about conspiracy that I firmly believe in). I wish I could know my cousin now- she would be 34… I wish my Dad had walked me down the aisle at my wedding… but who would I have married? Where would I have graduated from? Forget college… I never would have gone to Upper Moreland. I would have been a Spring Side-er. I would have been a normal kid, whatever that means. I would not have met Dave and we never would have had Addie.

Because it’s Sunday, I’ll say it: I chose what to do after high school because I believe God has a plan. Is it the God hanging, bloody on the wooden cross in my Catholic church? Maybe not. Maybe it’s really the Messiah and we’re still waiting, maybe it’s just the idea that something besides our selfish souls and a boy named Mer controls where we end up.

There is a path, and it led me here. To Dave, to Addie, to writing.

3 Comments

Filed under Marvelous Monday

Chicken and Stars

I love this Mom before Mom series. Thank you Carla at All of Me… Now!This week’s topic is interesting because I can only think of one thing… here we go!

This week’s prompt:
Who took care of you when you were sick? How did you spend sick days? From soup to ointments to old wives tales, how did your family teach you to heal?

To be honest, I can’t remember too much about being sick. I’m sure I had colds and the flu, but I have no real lucid memories of those times. I do know that for me to get a fever is rare and sort-of dangerous. I haven’t had one in 20 years. But, when I don’t feel well, just as when I was a child, I request Chicken and Stars.

Not chicken noodle.

From www.mommymusings.com

From www.mommymusings.com

An old plastic tray carried Saltines, Canada Dry, hot tea and Campbell’s Chicken and Stars to me (via Mom or Dad). The salt stayed on my lips, the carrots always gave me just a little flavor and the stars… well- they were just awesome. I don’t think I was ever out from school for more than 2 days. If I was sick before school but OK to be out of the house, I would go to work with my Mom and sleep on her couch. Her receptionist was one of the most memorable women of my childhood. Her name was Gisela, and she was German (I think). Her blond hair and big smile were so welcoming, and I felt like speaking with her was a challenge- one I wanted to accept. I have such wonderful memories of those days with my Mom. I even remember Gretchen- she was a college student with beautiful hair. I think I only met her once, but she was a long-time patient of my Mom’s. Lord knows Mom would never tell me why she was seeing her, but I suspect Gretchen needed a mom to talk to that wasn’t her own (my Mom is kind of everyone’s go-to for that- she’s an amazing psychologist). That one time we met, she brought me for ice cream after a session. I remember her piggybacking me. She was like my big sister for the day. I’m not sure if I felt sick after that; like I just needed some love, or sugar (see below), to feel better.

Usually my Dad would come to school when I didn’t feel well. He owned his business and was closer to Meadowbrook than Mom. Often times, I had a headache. This was solved by rubbing my temples, and later with some food* (especially when I passed out in 4th grade from low blood sugar). I remember one time feeling terrible. My Dad did skin-to-skin with me. I was maybe six. We were laying in my parents’ water bed and my Dad put me on his chest to keep me close to him and elevate my head so I could breathe. I fell asleep on him. When I woke up, Mom was home- she tried to help my Dad out from underneath the soaked sheets (we were both sweating and I had drooled terribly). Instead, my Dad smiled at my groggy gaze and patted my head back down. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I fell asleep there and my parents didn’t put me to bed that night. I loved snuggling with them. Other times, Dad would bring me to his office, where I would climb on the conference room table, all the way to the end, where I would open up the doors on the wall revealing a white board. These were brand new back then. State-of-the-art stuff where you could write and project your presentations. Me? I chose to write notes and my name with every marker color they had. If the ink ran out, I would raid the office supply cabinet near the fax machine (and sugar cubes).

My headaches still come and are generally stress or lack-of-food induced, although you wouldn’t believe it by my pant size! However, since I have been a quitter (smoke-free) for 3 years, my colds are incredibly rare. When I do feel under-the-weather, I call upon Chicken and Stars. Although one can never does it, there is no other solution to a cold for me.

Having such loving parents, I learned that “things” are not generally what heals us. Healing, both inside and out, are not something that can come from someone else- it comes from within (rest, nourishment, caring for oneself)… but I also learned that things can comfort us in times of need. That is what this soup does for me. As I wait for my body to heal and my spirit to return, I find comfort eating my soup from an over-sized mug. Instead of my Mom delivering a delicious tray of goodies to me in bed, Dave proudly carries a baby on one side and a mug ‘o stars on the other. He then runs down stairs for ginger ale and orange juice with lots of pulp (his solution to all ailments).

While I am glad that memories of illness, at least not my own, are not focal points of my childhood, I am so thankful that Chicken and Stars created such a blissful bond inside me. I hope to pass down the love of this comfort food to Addie, should she ever have a sick day.

* While I mention 4th grade, do any of my UMHS alums remember my sophomore year? On a hot day in June, I stood in my choir robe on the top riser. I was proudly preparing to sing the National Anthem for our graduating seniors, and got to “Oh say…” before I went straight back, knees never even buckling, from dehydration and low blood sugar. I was taken, by ambulance, off the field and to Abington Memorial. My fellow vocalists never stopped… in fact, I think they closed in to fill my space- carry on, Choir!

5 Comments

Filed under Parenting/Family/Lifestyle

Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight

Prompt #7: Walk us through your bedtime routine as a kid. As a teen. Anything you still do now? Mom before Mom series

By that title alone, I hope there is an “oldie but goodie” playing in your head. I loved to be sung to as a child. I danced with my step-dad to “Lullaby” by Billy Joel at my wedding… it was magic, in his arms, wishing my Dad was still alive, but having a man who cares so much for me holding me there on the empty dance floor.

I cried the whole song. Al just held me up like I was his baby girl crying in the middle of the night.

I cried the whole song. Al just held me up like I was his baby girl crying in the middle of the night.

That dance brought me back to childhood- of times when I stood on my Dad’s feet in the living room in my footie pajamas extending those “five more minutes” for ten. I never had a true routine that I can remember as a youth, and if I dare devulge too much about college, I would have to admit I fell asleep standing up against my bed more than once, and even in a pile of “I thought he loved me tears” at least twice.

What I remember most about my youth is: “I can’t sleep”. As I stood at the top of our stairs, my parents peered past the threshold between the front hall and kitchen. There I was, pretending I had been asleep for a half hour and now was unable to remain in bed. “Do you need a cup of tea?” my Dad would ask. “Yes.”

Mom would bring me tea and rub my head, my back, my arms, hands, legs and feet repeating “relax”. I do this for Addie now. It works like a charm to get her to calm. Many nights my Dad would come in a sleep with me until I really was in dream land and not pretending. Other times I set my TV timer for 15 minutes, and inevitably, it became just like my alarm, but in reverse. I kept tacking on 5 minutes until I finally fell asleep holding the remote, or sat petrified because I had just watched a mini-marathon of Unsolved Mysteries. I would only hide when I heard my parents at the door to my bedroom. I quickly hit the power button and closed my eyes. It never worked. They knew I was awake.

As a teen, my routine was to shower after work- being a dishwasher is kind of gross- finish homework and go to sleep. I was an athlete, so I never had the opportunity to sleep in and miss morning classes (not in by 9am means no practice that day and no game that week), so I tried to get in at least 6 hours. Even in high school, when my Mom got home late from seeing her last session (she’s a family therapist), I would ask her to make me tea.

The funny thing is, 68% of the time, I never drank the tea. It was a way to lure someone to stay awake with me and talk a little longer.

As a mom, my routine is milk, pajamas, diaper, 3 books, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, prayers and bed for Addie, followed by a glass of wine and pumping for me. Dave usually gets sleepy around this time, and I always ask for tea. As usual, it’s a ploy to not be awake and alone. To have someone to talk to as I wind down for the night.

A routine? Perhaps not. But I assure you, if I ask you for tea at 10pm, what I mean is “I care about you and want to spend another few minutes with you today.”

6 Comments

Filed under Parenting/Family/Lifestyle