This past weekend, we had dinner with some of my husband’s family. As the night’s conversation went on, we got on the subject of grief. Each of the four of us had lost one of our parents: I lost my father almost five years ago, my husband lost his mother at the age of six, and our hosts also lost a father and mother.
It was an emotional conversation for all of us, as each of us know that the grief from our loss never goes away.
There are many days that I do not want to think of my father, and it pains me to admit it. The reason being, thinking of my dad ultimately leads to sadness at the fact that he isn’t here anymore. But despite my efforts, thoughts of my father always fill my mind.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my father. Just recently, I had the sudden urge to pick up my phone and give him a call to tell him about what his youngest granddaughter is getting into. Despair soon came over me, realizing that I won’t ever have a chance to tell him about my children. He would have loved hearing about all the new things my daughters are doing. In particular, he would have enjoyed that the girls are taking swim classes. I know he would have taken credit for how talented my oldest daughter is in swimming. Being a natural in every sport he played in his life, any athletic achievement my brothers and I made growing up, were because of him.
So I imagine how the conversation would go in my head. Telling him how well Isabella is doing in swimming, him telling me that she gets it from our side of the family. And I would chuckle, and let him take pride in his granddaughter’s athletic abilities.
I remember a time when I foolishly thought I had my grief under control, that I was finally getting better. But then I gave birth to my youngest daughter, and I was overcome with sorrow. I agonized over the thought of my baby never meeting her Granpappy. Pained, because the only memories she will have of him are the stories I tell her. It took me a long while to deal with this anguish. It is a feeling I still battle with daily.
I long to have one more conversation with him, to make him laugh like I used to. I want to give him a big hug and tell him how much I love him. Wherever my dad is now, I hope he knows just how much I miss him. My heart breaks a little more every day that he isn’t with me.
This April will be five years since my father passed away. Some days are easier than others. There will be times I hear a song my dad used to listen too, or I suddenly smell his cologne, and I break down crying. Sometimes I’ll hear the same song, and smile fondly at the thought of my father, sitting in our living room, enjoying the music, looking over at me with his smile. I like to remember him that way, before he got sick, before he left me forever. When I dream of him, he is his old, healthy self. I want to always remember him that way.
I’m sure many people, like myself, love Christmas. It has always been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. When I was very young, Christmas was my favorite because all the anticipation for the presents we would be getting. But I don’t remember many Christmas’s like that as I got older.
When I was a preteen, there were years my mother did not even want to put up a Christmas tree. I would ask her why and she would just say “What’s the point? There won’t be any presents under there on Christmas morning.” That feeling stuck with me. Yes, I was sad that she did not see a point in putting a tree up. So I made a promise that I would be the one putting presents under the tree that year, and every year afterwards.
We had a fake white Christmas tree, I was ecstatic when my father first brought it home. We had done real trees up until that year. But this year, I would be putting up the Christmas tree all by myself. I was the only one in my apartment with the Christmas spirit. I put the tree up, inserting each set of branches from bottom to top. Then, I got the ornaments out. When I came across my mothers antique glass figurine ornaments, I asked if she wanted to put them up with me. Still no.
But that didn’t stop me. I put the tree up, put all the ornaments, lights, garland, and finally our star with the angel in the middle. It was wonderful. I had some money saved up, and I would make trips to the Walgreens and buy little gifts for everyone: Milky Way candy and makeup for my mother, my fathers favorite musk cologne, and monster LEGO-type toys for my brothers (despite them being teenagers). I wrapped each gift and placed them under the tree. I knew it wasn’t much, but I was so excited for Christmas.
I honestly don’t remember everyone opening up their gifts, I just remember the joy I felt getting ready for Christmas. That feeling of bliss during Christmas has never left me, even years after that Christmas as a young girl.
And that wonderful feeling of happiness I have during Christmastime has only intensified since I’ve become a parent.
Seeing the delight in my daughters eyes as we put up our tree and decorations is amazing. Hearing Isabella talk about Santa and the magic of Christmas fills my heart to it’s brim. And absolutely nothing is better than seeing their eyes light up as they see their gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.
I will always love Christmas. To me, Christmas is a time of happiness, giving and pure magic. The tiniest gestures have a greater impact during this season. I hope my daughters never lose sight of the magic of Christmas. I sure haven’t.
My world has drastically changed since becoming a mother. Motherhood has taught me everything. I’ve learned about unconditional love, patience, failure, happiness, gratitude, and forgiveness to name a few.
My daughters are constantly teaching me new ways to be a better mother, a better person.
I remember this one time, a few months back, where I dropped something of my daughters. I don’t remember what it was exactly, a box of crayons, cereal maybe. All I know was that it made a huge mess. I apologized to my daughter and she just said “Don’t worry Mommy, accidents happen.” And it just stopped me in my tracks.
When my daughter was growing up, I always told her this. But recently, with the addition of another daughter and my patience wearing thin, I’ve gotten frustrated almost every time the girls make a mess. It took my daughter to remind me that accidents happen, we all make messes, and that’s OKAY.
I’ve been holding my daughters to a higher standard than I even hold myself. I’m clumsy, so if I drop something (which happens too much) I get upset but quickly brush it off. Why am I not doing the same for them?
When they get upset, aren’t they allowed to be angry or sad?
I’m learning more everyday about how they are just little people who need a great amount of patience. And I’m glad my daughter reminded me of that. It’s gotten too easy for me to lose my shit lately. But I’m learning to be patient with myself as well.
I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. Two of the three happiest days of my life were the days they were both born. My daughters mean the world to me. This journey of motherhood has taught me everything, and I’m still learning every single day. I hope everyday that I can be the best mom for them. I want to be someone my daughters can be proud of.
Being a mom is hands down the toughest job in the world. But even on the worst days, I wouldn’t trade being their mom for the world.
Making friends as an adult is one of the most difficult things to do. At least it’s been that way for me. I am usually very shy when I first meet people; it takes some time for me to warm up and I rarely initiate conversations with people I don’t know. Also, being a stay-at-home-mom, I don’t have many opportunities to meet new people. And of course, moving away from my family and childhood friends has made the quest for adult friendship much harder.
And it’s been even more difficult to make mom-friends.
I got pregnant with my first daughter at 20 years old, the first in my circle of friends (both of whom were back in the Bronx, while I was living in Florida) to start a family. My family was also back in the Bronx and I didn’t have anyone in Florida to lean on besides my husband. The friends we had made while living in Florida were all very different: the ones around our age were still living at home and the thought of kids was a long way off, and the ones who had kids already were so much older and a lot more established i.e. living in houses they owned while we were renting an apartment. So it was difficult for both my husband and I to find friends who truly understood our struggle as young parents.
Thankfully one of my best friends had a daughter a few years later. But living so far away from each other means not as much face time as we’d like. We do get together every time we visit New York and it’s like we were never apart. I love getting texts from her asking about breastfeeding and if I’ve gone through the same things. We lean on each other and realize things are okay.
And than goodness for my sister-in-law in Florida. Over the years, once my oldest was born, we grew closer and closer, which helped me so much. She has truly become my sister.
But we moved across the country to Arizona.
And we had to start all over. Don’t get me wrong, both my husband and I were all in on the decision to move, we felt this would be the best choice for our family, and it has been so far. But when we first arrived, I went through postpartum depression. I was already suffering from anxiety since my daughters and I were away from my husband for almost 3 months. To give you an idea of how my depression was triggered: before moving to Arizona, I lived with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and their kids. So, I went from a place where I had more help with my kids than I knew what to do with, to having absolutely no help with my 6 year old and 6 week old daughters while my husband was at work.
Thankfully, my depression wasn’t too bad. We soon started to make friends, but no mom-friends for me. And the mom-friends I had tried to make on my own fell through. We just didn’t click. It seemed like the harder I tried to make mom-friends, the more horribly it would turn out. So, I had to just come to terms with the fact that I probably wouldn’t have any mom-friends in Arizona. Oh well, I guess.
But recently, I’ve made a mom-friend here, and things are going pretty well. We all just went on an impromptu trip this weekend. The toddlers had a few meltdowns, but they’re toddlers. The best part about that was we understood the struggle each of us was going through. The meltdowns, tears, and tantrums were things we were both trying to deal with. With other friends who don’t have kids, sometimes it’s just embarrassing when your kid cries or misbehaves.
That’s why having a mom friendship is so important. Being a mom isn’t always fun, its demanding and can really wear you down. A lot of times, I’ve felt lonely because I struggle so much with my girls. I’m constantly worrying about them, wondering if I’m doing a good job. It’s nice to have a friend who can empathize with you. To know you’re not the only one having a hard time managing motherhood is a great relief.
So to all my mamas out there who are struggling, it won’t last forever. Find the courage to put yourself out there and make some mom-friends. And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away or if you don’t click with the moms you’re meeting. If you’re really having a difficult time, reach out to someone or even send me a message. Your tribe of mamas is out there. I sure do appreciate mine.
Growing up, we didn’t have much. I mean, my dad was a hoarder, so we had a lot of junk, but we were poor. But when I was younger, before my parents drinking got really bad, we had some great family traditions. I remember every October, my father would set up our Halloween monster, Harvey. He would take a pullover sweatshirt and sweatpants, stuff them with old clothes, and top him with the Harvey mask. We would set Harvey up on a chair outside of our apartment building, probably to scare the neighbors and religious solicitors away.
There was one time that my dad convinced my brother to wear the sweatshirt and sweatpants while we stuffed clothes around him. My father put the mask on him and then called my mother to see how Harvey looked. When she came into the living room, my brother jumped up and scared the shit out of my mom. But the sweatpants were stuffed so tight with clothes that my brother toppled over trying to lunge at my mom. We all laughed so hard, except for mom, who was pretty pissed off. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.
Now that I have children of my own, I’m realizing more, just how important it is to have family traditions. Making precious memories is powerful. So I’ve created our own family traditions around the holidays to make them more special.
October, November and December are my favorite months because they involve my favorite holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and my most favorite holiday ever, Christmas.
We’re coming up on Halloween in a couple of months, and one of my favorite family traditions is all of us making Jack-O-Lanterns. We go and pick out the best pumpkins, we get our templates, stickers and other decorations for the girls and bring them home. We put on our favorite Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus, and get carving. It takes us about the whole length of the movie for my husband and I to finish our Jack-O-Lanterns. Then when we’re finished, we put our lights inside them, turn out the lights and marvel at the fruits of our labor.
Our longest standing family tradition is watching The Santa Clause with Tim Allen while we put up our Christmas tree. Jon and I started this in our first apartment in Florida while I was pregnant with my first daughter. Its my favorite thing to do around Christmastime.
Since moving to Arizona, we recently started up new Christmastime traditions. A farm near our house sets up a little ice skating rink and this year will be our third year going ice skating. Its only August, but my daughter is already talking about how she cannot wait to go ice skating again. And yes, it gets cold here in Arizona.
We also go to a show called Symphony of Light, which is a drive through show with synchronized lights and Christmas music. Its such a gorgeous and well-done show. Last year, we had the girls watching out of the sunroof of our SUV. We top out at 5 mph, so it’s safe.
The best part about our family traditions is seeing how much joy my daughters get out of them. To see their faces light up and have so much fun. I love doing all these activities myself, but their reaction makes them much more enjoyable.
I hope when they’re older, they will remember how much fun we had together. I hope they will carry these memories and cherish them forever. I certainly will.
My youngest daughter Emilia turned two almost two months ago and we’ve currently hit the “terrible” stage. She literally just had a meltdown because I didn’t put her favorite show on the tv. It’s little things like that that have BIG reactions.
Her sister is playing with a toy she wants to play with:
When she’s hungry (which is pretty much every hour now):
Tears and screams. But I’m the same way so…
And god help you if she’s tired and hungry because she will scream, cry and throw her little fists at anyone who bothers her.
Honestly, its difficult to manage to say the least. I try very much to keep a cool head because a strong reaction from me only makes things worse. It’s this balance between maintaining boundaries with her (i.e. no hitting) and pacifying her (i.e. let her play with the toy). Her being as cute as she is, it’s hard not to just give in all the time.
Most days I feel stressed and anxious to the point where I want to pull my hair out.
But there are such great moments throughout the day. She’s doing countless things she couldn’t do even a month ago.
She’s talking more, she sings and dances. She loves to cuddle with everyone (provided she’s fed and well-rested). We have conversations and she’s starting to understand more and more. She’s in the process of being potty trained, which I was not ready for AT ALL. She loves to play games and she is so silly. Her personality is really shining through now.
So yes, two’s are tough and I know from experience that three will be more strenuous, but it’s also terrific. It’s honestly the most fun age. With all the new things she’s doing, I can’t help but be amazed and proud. She knows what she wants, and definitely what she does not want and will tell you so. Emilia is totally my sour patch kid. She is a little firecracker and I hope that her strong-willed personality will never leave her.
I got pregnant with my first daughter at 20 years old. Back then, I thought I was grown, but looking back, I realize how naïve I was. The birth of my daughter was one of the most frightening experiences I ever had.
My whole pregnancy was wonderful, no complications at all. If I was tired, I would nap. I never had any pain, even during my last trimester. All I had was horrible heartburn. I didn’t even realize that my gas pains were actually Braxton-Hicks contractions until I was in the hospital getting induced.
My husband, my mother and I went to my final 40 week appointment and it was there that my doctor told me that she wanted to induce labor later that night. I was 1cm dilated for the last four weeks, which was normal. I had hoped to go into labor naturally, but she had explained that there might be complications if we wait longer. I don’t recall exactly what, but I trusted her. This was my first pregnancy and I was young, so as much as I didn’t want to be induced, I believed my doctor knew best.
Later that night, we all drove to the hospital. I was so excited and nervous that I was finally going to meet my baby girl. When we arrived, I changed into a hospital gown and my stomach was strapped with a contraction monitor. My doctor then gave me Pitocin to induce labor.
And we waited.
My contractions started to get stronger and stronger after a few hours. Labor was progressing, very slowly. I wasn’t sure how much longer labor would be and I knew the pain would only get worse, so I asked for an epidural.
It was the middle of the night when the anesthesiologist came into my room. His hair was disheveled and he looked like he had just been woken up out of his sleep. He told my husband and mother that they were not allowed in the room with me and they left.
I had seen a video on how an epidural is performed and I was fucking scared.
I sat off the side of the hospital bed with my nurse in front of me. She gave me a pillow and told me to hunch over. The anesthesiologist warned me not to move and he gave me a small shot to numb the area. But it didn’t work. He started to poke at my back and I felt everything. He told me to stop moving and I apologized but I couldn’t help but wince at the pain. He poked me more than once and at one point said that my “vertebrae were really close together.”
I remember this going on for some time, and I started to get cold sweats and I felt nauseous because I was in so much pain. I looked up at my nurse and told her, “I feel like I’m going to vomit.” It was then that my nurse yelled at the anesthesiologist:
“Can’t you see she’s in pain? Give her some more numbing.”
I got a second shot of numbing and I felt my body finally relax. The epidural was in and I laid back in bed and felt my pain melt away.
Later, my doctor popped my water bag to try and help speed things along. She saw meconium, which is the baby’s first poop, so she flushed my womb. And we waited some more.
I got some sleep and in the morning my doctor came to check me again. I was 6cm dilated. I thought to myself, “great, we’re making some progress.” But my doctor told me I wasn’t progressing quickly enough, and she was having an operating room prepped for me to have a C-section.
I would be down in the operating room in 30 minutes.
I didn’t speak up because I truly believed she had my best intentions in mind.
We went down to the operating room and my husband was the only one allowed to be with me. The put a big blue curtain up under my chest so we couldn’t see anything. And then they started.
I remember a lot of pulling and tugging. They even pressed down on the top of my stomach to get my daughter out. I know the used forceps to get her head out because she had a bruise later on. Finally her head was out, and she cried right away.
And then I cried. I cried this huge sigh of relief that she was finally here, and that she was okay. They told my husband to look over to see her and I remember asking him if she had a lot of hair, which she did. And I asked if she really was a girl, which she was. She was 8 lbs 9oz, my big beautiful girl.
They gave her her bath right in the room, dressed her and my husband went with our daughter to the nursery while they closed me up.
And I was all alone.
I was surrounded by so many hospital staff but it was like I wasn’t even there. No one asked me how I was feeling, if I was okay or not.
I remember feeling freezing cold and exhausted. My job was done, I had my baby, and I was tired. So I closed my eyes to try and go to sleep and I heard my own voice in my head scream:
“Don’t go to sleep! Open your eyes!”
So I did. I opened my eyes wide and kept myself from going to sleep. At the time I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realized what had happened.
I was brought back to my room and my epidural was removed. I had a heated blanket on me because I was freezing cold. I tried to go to sleep but the pain started to creep in. My incision felt like it was on fire and the damn heated blanket was not helping. I rang for my nurse and told her I was in excruciating pain. She gave me morphine, which felt like a heat wave all over my body. I still felt some of the pain but I was relaxed enough to get some sleep.
Later that day, my new nurse came to my room and asked me how I was feeling. I told her I was really tired, but I had attributed that to the fact that I just had a baby. She had told me that I had lost a lot of blood and kept asking me if I was sure I was okay. I told her yes and brushed it off. But my husband told me later that when he looked over the curtain after our daughter was born, it looked like a horror movie. All he saw was my body there, open and surrounded by an enormous amount of blood.
And I realized why I heard my voice in the operating room, yelling at me not to go to sleep. I probably wouldn’t have woken up had I kept my eyes closed.
It’s unnerving to think back to what I went through over 8 years ago. The pain that I went through before, during and after my daughters birth still haunts me. I had a huge bruise on my back after giving birth that my mother pointed out and she saw four distinct holes where the anesthesiologist had attempted to put that giant needle. I still have pain in my spine where he performed my epidural.
Despite all that I went through, I would do it all again for my daughter. She is the biggest gift I never knew I needed.
To all you mamas who have had a traumatic birth experience, I know your pain. I know how it feels to have your baby born, and suddenly you don’t exist anymore. I know a lot of you have had it much worse than I have, and I’m sorry. Having a baby should be the most magical time of our lives. I wish it was always like that.