Wednesday, September 21, 2011

today i am

Today I am the mother of two teenagers.  TWO.  Oh my gosh.  Help me now.  Question of the day:  how many gray hairs will I have when I'm done with this batch of three?

Many bloggers write notes either to or about their children on their birthdays.  My first was just this summer - one about my oldest.  It seemed to go okay so I thought I'd do another for my boy who just entered teenage wasteland.

I want to start this post with the story of how he was so, so close to not reaching this milestone.  It is categorized as the worst parenting experience of my life.  It was the day he almost died.  For real.


I went back to work about three months after he was born.  I used the same childcare provider that watched my older boy as a baby.  She is loving and kind; a nice Persian woman who cooked the best food.  Her house was only two blocks from my office and she had no issues with me popping over at lunch to go nurse my sweet boys.  Sometimes she even fed me. Bonus!

My childcare provider was, however, a bit dramatic about illness.  Or maybe I was too cavalier.  Or too worried about keeping my job.  Or doing my job well.  Whatever it was, it always seemed like she was calling me telling me my child was sick and I needed to come pick him up.  My definition of sick and her definition didn't match and it was often a source of irritation with me. 

So one January day, when Danny was about four months old, she called.  She has a thick accent and was talking very quickly telling me I had to take my child to the doctor.   Slightly irritated with yet another call, I found it difficult to make sense of what she was saying.  Between her accent and English as a second language, she was talking too quickly for me to understand her.  She just kept repeating that I had to come now and take my son to the doctor.   I asked her what was wrong and she said that she had to do CPR.  That didn't make sense, or perhaps I didn't want to believe. She again repeated that she had to do CPR and I had to come right away.

My heart started racing.  From this point forward, everything is a blur.  I told her I'd be right there, hung up the phone, babbled something to someone on the way out of the office that I had to go because my childcare provider had to do CPR.  I didn't know what to think.  Clearly she must be mistaken or exaggerating.  But I flew like the wind anyway.

I ran up to her door and knocked furiously.  I will never forget the sight when that door swung open.  There, in my childcare provider's arms, was my dear sweet baby boy.  Purple hands, purple feet, purple lips.  He kept trying to pick his head up off her shoulder but it kept flopping right back down.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I grabbed him out of her arms and into mine and started asking questions.  Question number one - did you call 9-1-1?  She had not.  I think I yelled at her, asked her why not and yelled at her to do it NOW!  Call 9-1-1 NOW!  And she did.

Waiting that interminable wait for the ambulance, my sweet baby's head flopping up and down on my shoulder, only then did I see how distressed was my childcare provider.  Yet another knock that this is real.  We talked.  I got more of the story - my baby had been napping and she just felt like checking on him.  She opened the door to find him blue and unresponsive.  She did what she was trained to do and called me. 

First the fire truck arrived, then shortly thereafter the ambulance.  I could tell by how the paramedics were acting that they knew the situation was serious.  More reality check - this is real.  We went off by ambulance to the hospital - well I know he went.  I honestly cannot recall if I was in the ambulance or not.  I have no idea.

I know I called my husband at some point but he was all the way in San Francisco and it would take him some time to arrive.  I was alone and scared and then I remembered.  One of my first friends after moving to California is a trauma nurse - she works in the ER.  I inquired and she was working that day.   She came to me. She held my hand and would not leave me alone.  She gave me real information.  Information that helped me think logically.  Information that calmed me down. 

We made it past the crisis and spent the next five days in the hospital.  They ran every test imaginable with no conclusive results.  Finally the pediatrician said the only thing they would say was that if Danny had died it would be classified as a SIDS death.

There is so much more to this story - the following months, monitors, nursing gone awry, relationships with childcare providers - for now, though, this is enough.

This is enough for me to know every single day that I am so damn lucky to have Danny here.  How things could have turned out so differently if not for the happenstance check my childcare provider did at that critical moment.


He is my boy, who at the age of four, cried many nights because he didn't want to grow up. He is easy-going with a (more) quiet nature than my other two, but at times will flash with anger.  He is affectionate, loving and curious. He is so different than either of my other boys, but of course that is to be expected, I think.

I've always described him as my boy who skips through life. Happy birthday Danny.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

one long weekend

You'd think with a title like that something good will follow.  Well, that is not the case.  My husband is out of town to meet up with friends and watch a college football game back in Tennessee.  This means that I have three children and all their activities to coordinate.  It means relying on help from neighbors which I hate.  I like to be self-sufficient.

But my weekend was long not because of the endless tasks needing to be accomplished (which I did by the way!).  It was long because of the seemingly endless sadness.  I think it's a conspiracy.

Saturday, after the soccer game and crew practice, but before the birthday party, I was catching up on some blog reading and watching tweets as they popped up.  One from Kristen at Motherese caught my eye.  It was a link to a post on Listen To Your Mother.  A post for Anna See.  A beautiful post, exquisite really, about the journey of grief and the idea that no one is alone and yet there are times when we are.  I've walked the path of grief and I know this to be true. 

I've found myself to be quite emotional over the past few weeks and finally made the connection.  I am a sensitive soul.  I feel what others feel and can sense it even if they don't speak it.  All the chatter and stories about 9/11 were affecting me.  Are affecting me.  I personally knew no one affected on that terrible day but it doesn't matter for me.  Even without television in my home, just the few catches of conversations on the radio, the town sign about the remembrance on Sunday, the brief glimpses while catching up on the news on the internet - all of it was bringing back those feelings.  Feelings of uncertainty.  Feelings of insecurity.  Feelings of fear.  Feeling that something had changed forever.

Saturday when I got home from the birthday party, my teen came out to tell me that Aunt Amy called - his aunt, my husband's sister.  She called to let us know that my husband's uncle passed away that morning, suddenly from a heart attack.  This is the second uncle in less than a year.

And this evening, just as I was sitting down with my three lovely boys for dinner, my phone rang.  It was a friend and former co-worker.  In tears.  She called to let me know that another friend and former co-worker passed away yesterday morning.  He was 38 years old and went out for a run.  A cyclist found him collapsed on the side of the road, the paramedics came, but he didn't make it.  A friend, a co-worker, a husband and father to two beautiful young children.  To think about these beautiful children, children we talked about throughout the day.  Children whose pictures I saw regularly on Facebook.  Children who no longer have a dad.  It breaks my heart.

And what I am going to take from all of this is perspective.  After dinner I went into my son's room on my way to give him a bath and saw the bright blue marker all over the cream-colored carpet and it didn't matter.  It's just carpet. 

Monday, September 5, 2011


How much do you pretend?

Life is good - that's an easy out.

I pretend that tears are not streaming down my face.

I pretend that my life isn't falling apart in one piece.

I pretend that my life isn't falling apart at all.

I pretend there is nothing wrong.

I pretend life is normal.

I pretend that the the decaying and leaking gutters don't have any symbolism in my life;
nor chipped paint on the exterior of my house;
nor the drip, drip, drip of the kitchen faucet;
nor the flaky television in the bedroom;
nor the mattress that doesn't provide support;
nor the towels that are thread-bare and thin.

The symbolism is disturbing. 

I pretend.  Do you?