Letter to my Dad

Dad,

I feel like I haven’t know what to say. What do you say to someone you love when you think you might lose them?I love you, I know you know this but I love you.

I can’t begin to put your kindness into words, I can’t use any sort of measurement to describe how funny you are, I don’t know you are so wise, I think it’s a trait you’ve always had. You are a magnetic force field. People are drawn to you, whether you like it or not. You light up every room you enter and everyone feels better just having you close by, at least I know I do. There’s so much warmth in your hugs, so much sunshine in your smile, so much compassion in your eyes.

Every time in my life that I’ve made a mistake, that I’ve fallen, that I’ve felt like I have failed not only myself but everyone else you’ve always had a way of making me feel some sort of relief. I wish that was something I could do for. Lighten your load, take some of your pain, share in your own fears. You’ve helped me blossom into the woman I am. You’ve helped mold me into the person that I am. Because of you I was able to put myself back together after my terrible break up. When I was bullied you gave me advice that made me laugh but I also knew you were right. I remember sitting at the kitchen table talking about how cruel some people can be and you said “If you don’t think everyone else is fucked up then you’re fucked up.”

I know you were just trying to make us laugh but I also think there was so much truth to what you said. When mom made dinner and she asked if it was good and you said “I don’t know Freddie I am 60, do you know how many meals I’ve had in my life?” I not only love your humor but your love for the New York Giants. No matter how poorly they play, no matter how much bad press they get you never give up on them. Dad you are my New York Giants team. I am your #1 fan, I am rooting for you, I believe in you.

Remember the one of the first nights I moved home after leaving Dj?I was crying into my pillow and mom was babysitting. You came into the room and you told me that you were so happy I was home and that I would’ve made a big mistake. You told me that if I thought I was going to be ok or if I thought I wasn’t going to be ok, I was right. That I had the power to shift my perception. You told me I was not alone and that I never would be because my family was forever in my corner, no matter what happened.

When we were little we started to play soccer, you had never played before but you learned just so you could play with us in the backyard. You taught me how to throw a football and had us run plays around pine trees. You never missed a soccer game, even once I got to High School. Remember how you use to take me to my soccer tournaments? We went to Vail a couple of times just us and Glenwood Springs. Most of my friends were there with their moms but I had you. And that to me felt so special.

My cross country meets you always positioned yourself on the course so I would see you a few times and you would cheer me on. You always picked spots that no other parents were so that it was just you. I always looked forward to that, every run. My own wheres Waldo. Remember how in middle school we got up early every morning and had an egg and toast and then walked to the middle school. We would walk laps and we never talked really we just walked but the silence meant so much.

I could go on and on and it’s hard not to. But I am just wanting to say that you are my hero. You always have been. No matter what life has thrown my way you have saved me time and time again. Please fight. Please don’t give up. Because I need you. I am not ready to say goodbye. I want your grandsons to know their papa, not the sick one but the hero.

What next?

Is it just me or shouldn’t there be a cap on pain? There is a cap on so many things, like the amount of student loans you can take out, the amount of margaritas you can have at The Rio, the amount of money you can withdrawal from an atm. But some how pain squeaks on by.

I had a few rough years awhile back. I was in a very abusive relationship, mainly emotional and sometimes physical but I finally got out. I moved back in with my parents and truthfully they helped me piece myself back together. While I was there my father’s mom grew very ill, so my mom went to stay with her and I stayed with my dad. Mind you I do have four sisters but all of them had been long gone from living at home and I was on the cusp on moving out but once my mom left for Texas I knew I couldn’t leave my dad.

That time with my dad is some of the best memory’s I have of him and trust me I have SO many from my childhood but having so many siblings all of those good memory’s involved them as well. But these memory’s I was an adult, 25, and I had him to myself. My dad was definitely heart sick during this time. His sister had passed a few years before and my step grandpa had passed a couple of years before that. Besides his mom there was no one left on his side of the family.

I learned so much from my dad during this time and so much about him. He is one of those people who is easy to smile, quick to laugh and wise beyond his years, I have a feeling this trait is one he possessed at a young age. While this time with my dad is one of the most profound times of our relationships it was also heart breaking. He was devastated that he was stuck in Colorado working and my mom was the one taking care of his mom. But my parents don’t have a ton of money and he needed to work. I know my mom and meme understood but I also know it wasn’t easy for him.

My mom missed Christmas, she missed New Years and she came home briefly for her birthday in February, my meme passed in March. I will remember the day of her funeral but not for the sorrow I felt for her, but for the sorrow I felt for my dad. He isn’t a man that talks about his feelings, emotions or concerns (I am not sure many men are) but he wore his feelings on his face. And his look was beyond devastation. We all pulled through this time as a family and with my mom’s return I had left my parent’s house.

I couldn’t help but feel guilty that my dad was in so much pain just when I was starting to be so happy. During this time I met my now husband. We fell in love fast, got married even faster and after a week of wedded bliss we realized I was pregnant with my first son. We were in the process of moving to Texas oddly enough when we found out, so that my husband could attend law school. Our plan had been that I would work and he would go to school. But I ended up with HG and was terribly sick and couldn’t work. We managed to scrape by. My husband got a job the next semester when my son was born so we could make ends meet and luckily we had a nice return since we both had worked the year prior. But each semester after it got more difficult. Speed up to now (he just finished his second year) and I am pregnant again, with HG and this time it’s even worse. I am also taking care of a 14 month old (a perfect wonderful and beautiful 14 month old I would like to add) and my husband is now working two jobs this summer so we can try to make it.

Money is so tight I can’t even pay my phone bill. And here I am pregnant again. And yes I was on birth control for those of you who are thinking “hey use birth control”. But we are at least happy. Well we have been until three days ago. I found out my father has cancer. Writing it doesn’t even feel right, or real. My dad has cancer? How can that be? The last time I saw him was Christmas. I am not allowed to travel thanks to HG so going home isn’t an option, not that I can afford to at the moment but he also hasn’t been able to come here. My family made my husband tell me and well it didn’t go well. I thought he was cheating on me and he blurted out “your dad has cancer.” I guess it turns out my family wanted him to wait to tell me because they’re worried about my health and my growing baby’s health. But I was beyond shocked, I thought I was being punked.

After digesting it a bit I was able to ask questions. He said they found a lump in his esophagus and had presumed that was it but realized it was also in his stomach. I still can’t believe this is even true. I texted my mom upset that no one told me directly and she called me and talked me through it. I have mentioned my parents are doing about as well as I am financially and are trying to get their house together to sell it. There are hanging by a thread about to lose everything and now this. My mom said they are having a giant garage sale and getting rid of everything so that they can hopefully move.

I was able to process it all and do some research. I thought my dad was in an early stage and would fight this, easy. He’s strong. He’s motivated. He’s kind. He will pull through. My dad was sent to get a CT scan. He got the results and they realized the cancer is also in his liver. SO this means one of two things, he either has stage IV stomach cancer or liver cancer. Liver cancer has no cure, Stomach cancer stage IV has about a 15% success rate… I mean how can this be? How is this about my dad?

Hasn’t my family been through enough? Can’t we just have time to enjoy? I just don’t know how people get through this. HG I can get through. I even wish my husband had said he was cheating because we could get through it, we would survive it, we would fix it. But I feel so helpless.

The mom problem

This post has been a long time coming. One I have thought about for days, weeks, months and even years. When I got pregnant with my first son I immediately learned that there are many moms out there that are “perfect”. For those of us who aren’t it can sometimes feel isolating to be apart of the imperfect mothers. But I have begun to realize with my second pregnancy that my views were all wrong and they are the ones who don’t know as much as they seem. Right off the bat I will say this post is just my opinion, like all the mom advice I give, it’s what I have seen, what I have learned and that doesn’t make it right or wrong but I don’t think it makes it any less valid.

I always believed that being pregnant would be the best experience of my life. How could it not be? I was creating a life with my best friend, my partner, my lover and our family was expanding. But then HG hit. I have never been so sick in my life, having had mono I can say HG is mono’s evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine. My first pregnancy I suffered from HG until week 16, when I finally had some relief. I lost 14 pounds and was truly miserable. This pregnancy I am almost 23 weeks pregnant and I am still throwing up every single day, I lost over 20 pounds and just yesterday my blood pressure was 86/56. Thanks to having HG both pregnancies I have been given more advice than I know what to do with. The “have you tried..” rolls in daily. Anyone who hears that I am sick is so sure that if I tried ginger, ate small meals and ate saltines I would be on the mend. All of these people have good intentions but even the best intentions can hurt someone.

I would be lying if I said there aren’t times that I haven’t felt  like a failure. I have tried and tried and tried and all I have been able to do is throw up day in and day out. This advice hangs in the air, constantly lingers in my thoughts.  I have gotten lots of the “that’s morning sickness for you”, the “oh yeah I threw up in the car one time”, the “it doesn’t last forever”, and “oh the joys of pregnancy”. (Trust me there are more but these were definitely the most common ones). The one thing everyone seems to miss is that HG is not morning sickness. They are not the same thing. Morning sickness you throw up a few times a week at most. HG I throw up anywhere from 18-30 times a day. In one day I throw up more times than some women do their whole pregnancy. I have been to the ER to get fluids more times than I would like to admit. I have been in pregnancy hell, that started at four weeks and just isn’t subsiding.

My first pregnancy I was lucky and got better. But then planning for the birth came. The ever talked about birth plan. I got it from both ends, some people thought a birth plan was a waste of time and effort and some thought you shouldn’t give birth without one. But let’s be real here whether we write it down or not we all have a birth plan. You pick your ob, you go to appointments, you talk about expectations, you talk about where you will be giving birth, whether your ob (or midwife) will be delivering or if other doctors could be on call, we all have some sort of discussion that looks like a birth plan. In my own opinion I am glad we wrote out a birth plan. There were pieces of birth I hadn’t heard about and it made me better informed. But with baby two I will not be writing out a birth plan but it is something my husband and I have discussed and agreed on.

But I learned with this that yet again you get opinions on what to do and what is best. This is why I did like creating my own birth plan because I was able to learn about what I wanted and what I liked and didn’t like. Knowledge was my friend and ally and helped me prepare for what to expect and what my hopes were. I had decided NO to the epidural. I was going to do all natural, I was going to be a warrior woman. I had heard so many negative things about them that I thought how could I get one? It just didn’t feel like a choice to me. I knew I would not be getting one. But then game day came and guess what? 28 hours of labor later my amazing nurse finally said “listen I know you don’t want an epidural but you and your baby are going under major distress and if his heart rate continues to drop we will have to do a c section. An epidural does not make you less of a woman or a mother. I think you’re the right candidate for one.” I am so grateful to her for pushing me in that direction. I had the epidural and my son came four hours later. In my opinion it was well worth it. I finally relaxed and I enjoyed the end of labor, yes I said it enjoyed it.

I wish I could say my hardships stopped there but they didn’t. My beautiful son latched on the first feeding. He honestly did great and I thought wow this breastfeeding thing is no big deal. Then they realized he had jaundice. So he was given a bottle of someone else’s breast milk. To me that was one of the hardest moments I have ever had as a mother. Was watching my newborn baby suck down someone else’s milk. But they told me we were doing it for his health and we would work on breastfeeding once the jaundice began to subside. Well it did finally subside but my son never latched on again. I saw four different lactation consultants. We tried everything. But he began to lose too much weight so I started to pump my milk and give it to him in bottles. The first week my son cried a lot. And when he took the bottle of my breastmilk the crying stopped. He and I had fought for days and days, nights and nights and if I am honest I would say I was a wreck. I was mad at him for not wanting to latch and I was mad at myself for not being able to figure it out. I was failing and I felt like I didn’t know what to do to fix it.

So a pumping relationship began. I pumped for four months. And looking back I wish I hadn’t. Yep I said it, I wish I hadn’t. I missed SO much, too much. I would pump and pump and pump because I had such a low supply. I tried fenugreek, I was allergic, I tried mother’s milk, I was allergic, I am allergic to dairy and all nuts so I couldn’t look to either of those to help my supply, I kept trying and again kept failing. My son was a big boy and he needed more milk than I could make so we started supplementing. But that came with issues too. Like his mom he was also allergic to dairy, so we tried non dairy but then he ended up having a very severe corn allergy. All that was left was a brand of soy formula, yes soy, soy formula for a baby boy. And trust me I heard all about how soy is bad for baby boy’s and it wasn’t a good choice but it was the only choice our ped could come up with.

I was miserable pumping. My supply was low and I got clogs every few days. I would cry and cry in hot showers, rubbing my boobs trying to get the clogs out. I even took needles to my nipples to free out clogs. I tried. And I again felt like I was failing. My loving husband finally convinced me to stop. The first week was so hard, not just because of the pain from my boobs drying up but because I felt terrible. My son needed breast milk. It’s all I ever heard. Breast is best and pumping was at least second best. He needed my breast milk and I wasn’t giving it to him. But then something I didn’t expect happened. Our son stopped crying. He barely cried. Once he was fully on soy formula he slept for 6-8 hours, at four months old! He began smiling and cooing. He started sleeping in his crib just fine, he didn’t spit up, he didn’t throw up, he didn’t need gripe water or mylicon drops. He was actually thriving and was happy.

This crushed me. I cried and cried and cried. I felt so terrible. This whole time I thought, my baby has Gerd and there’s nothing I can do. My husband and I stayed up all night rocking him, putting him in his swinging chair, putting him in his rock n play, doing everything we could to help him and this whole time he just wasn’t doing well with my breastmilk. I had been selfish. I had been mourning the death of a relationship I hadn’t wanted so badly and in turn had ruined my relationship with my baby. I didn’t feel connected to him like I had always thought and hoped I would. I just always heard “breast is best” and even now on facebook I hear and see it daily. But I wonder if maybe “fed is best” should be the new motto. Because for my baby breast was not best, not best for him and not best for me. But him being fed was what was best.

This whole me vs. you with mom’s still continues. When he was teething I decided to give him advil and had to hear about other ways to help him. As if I hadn’t exhausted all other avenues first. I tried teething tablets, I tried hylands teething gel, I tried clove oil, I tried cold teething rings, I tried frozen wash cloths, I tried rubbing his gums. I tried it all. All I got was a baby who cried uncontrollably for 2-3 hours at a time. So I gave him advil and guess what 2o minutes later the crying stopped. And again I cried thinking that I just kept letting him suffer because I was worried about what other mothers would think.

Then came sleeping arrangements. And again I never heard the end of it. Some moms say “Let them cry it out”, “baby’s should co-sleep with their parents”, “you shouldn’t let baby’s cry”, “controlled crying is ok”, “they need a certain schedule”, and the one I got the most is “your baby sleeps too much and his schedule rules your life”. I just don’t get why there is a never ending debate of who is doing what better. I am all about getting advice and will give it if I am asked but why isn’t it more like “hey I tried this with my baby and it worked for us, just a suggestion”. Not “baby’s should do this” and “this is what;s right”. There are so many books, websites and blogs about what to do for baby’s and that’s because there is a market for this. None of us know what we are doing. And what we do know is what we have learned.

There is more that unites mother’s than separates us. Whether you gave birth at home, in water, with an epidural, without one, courtesy of a surrogate or c section the end result is we all have a newborn. Whether you gained 40 lbs, lost 14 or only gained 10 pounds or watched someone else carry your baby,  we have all experienced pregnancy. We all are or have experienced sleepless nights, messy mornings, tiring days and poopy diapers. Whether you co sleep or let your baby sleep in their crib we all have a sleeping baby who needs us. Whether you breast feed, pump, or bottle feed formula you are feeding your baby. We all are dealing with teething children, sick children, baby’s who won’t sleep, schedules or lack there of. Our struggles are the same even if the outcomes are different. I wish this is something that could be celebrated more. I wish we would unite more. I am tired of the same questions “How did you deliver him?”, “Did you breastfeed?”, “Did you co sleep?”, or “Do you have a birth plan for baby two?” My answers are “I birthed him”, “I fed him”, “He slept and still sleeps just fine”, and “Yes I plan on evicting him when it’s time.”