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Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
We all have stories to tell. Within each story, there are smaller stories, the details as we remember them and felt them. I firmly believe in the sharing of stories. Some parts of our stories we share. Some parts of our stories we keep sacred. Whatever we decide to share, the stories we tell are evidence of the moments we are blessed to live. Some moments are trying. Some moments are humbling. And some moments are ones where our hearts nearly burst with love.
Finely’s birth was all of those moments.
Below are the stories within in the story that comprise Finley’s birth. These are the moments from her birth that I hold in my heart. I’ll tell her these stories little by little, unfolding each detail, each fabric in the tapestry of her tale, when she asks me to tell her about the day she was born.
I’ll tell her how her sister awoke the day of her birth with eyes only for my belly. Instead of asking for her typical morning show, she wanted to hug my belly, smother it in kisses, and continually ask when “sissy boo” was coming. In a sweet exchange, we cuddled and talked, the three of us, unbeknownst to me, the last time “the three of us” would still mean one was in my belly. It’s as if in the language reserved only for sisters, they both knew, today was different. Today was important.
I’ll tell her how I’d planned a “pregnant lady day out.” A day that started with a routine doctor appointment and was supposed to be followed by a manicure, pedicure, and shopping. I’ll tell her how I drove away from the house that day with the bed unmade, dishes in the sink, and the vacuum out for some cleaning. I naively thought I’d be back shortly.
I’ll tell her how the nurse began with her usual check of my blood pressure and promptly noted it was too high. As I sat on the cold, thin paper of the exam table, it didn’t even register that this could be a problem. As the nurse checked and rechecked my blood pressure, leaving the room quickly, I heard the quiet whispers between doctor and nurse exchanged just outside the door.
I’ll tell her how the doctor came in and said my blood pressure would not come down and I needed to go to the hospital. I’ll tell her how I called her dad and delivered the news a bit too flippantly, certain it was only a blip in the day’s plans. He immediately began to make plans to meet me at the hospital at which I protested, again, convinced it would clear up soon.
I’ll tell her how her dad, the most caring man I know said, “but what if it doesn’t get better? I need to be there.”
I’ll tell her how the nurses in the ER were the first to use the word, “preeclampsia.” In all honesty, I didn’t know the exact harm of preeclampsia and when they replied, “seizures,” it suddenly registered that this was more than a blip in the day’s plans.
I’ll tell her how the doctor came in to confirm the preeclampsia and that while we were all healthy and only 6 days away from my due date, she wanted me to deliver that day.
I’ll tell her how the tears of worry poured from my eyes but despite that worry, her dad told me that as scared as we were, we were going to meet our beautiful baby that day.
I’ll tell her how they started me on anti-seizure medication, magnesium sulfate, and it gave me an instant headache, as if someone had placed the fuzziest of clouds around my head from which I could not surface.
I’ll tell her how they started the induction and I asked the nurses to turn down my medication because I wanted to be more present, more alert, more in the moment when she was born. They obliged.
I’ll tell her how at 6:45pm we were on the phone with Grandma, laughing, waiting, distracting, and guessing the baby would probably be born around midnight.
I’ll tell her how at 7:00pm I grimaced in intolerable pain and told her dad, “I think I want to push.”
I’ll tell her how her dad ran into the hall to find a nurse and suddenly, their hurried voices declared me ready to deliver. I remember asking the nurse, “you mean I’m ready to push?” She confirmed, but told me not to because I needed to wait for the doctor.
I’ll tell her how the next 30 minutes were the most painful and excruciating of my life as I tried not to push. I know I only survived those minutes because her dad grounded me. He looked into my soul in a way that only childbirth allows and cheered me and coached me out of a place I thought I couldn’t overcome. We were a team, more than we’ve ever been before. I needed him not only because I love him, but because I could not do it without him. His courage, his optimism, his support carried me through. And when it was over, and he tenderly kissed my forehead and told me I was incredible, I told him we were incredible.
I’ll tell her how the doctor finally came and said I could push.
I’ll tell her how she must have flow furiously from heaven because with four pushes she was placed on my chest at 7:59pm.
I’ll tell her how her dad kept saying how beautiful she was and how I kept crying because she was here, safe, healthy, and the sweetest sounds of angry first cries.
I’ll tell her how there is nothing comparable to the first moment when the baby one carried for nine months enters the world. It is a hallowed experience, a moment so rare and precious I hold it deep in my heart as one of the best moments I was blessed to live.
I’ll tell her how her dad and I cried happy tears and excitedly shared her stats as I lay IV ridden in the birthing bed.
I’ll tell her how she nursed like a veteran, a happy and welcome blessing considering the other complications I was facing.
I’ll tell her how the news spread rapidly that she was already here and family came to visit and hold her hours old bundle of sweet self.
I’ll tell her how famished I was post delivery and promptly devoured a sandwich, cheeseburger and fries, the only food still available. I’ll tell her how for the first time in history, someone likened hospital food to the nectar of the gods.
I’ll her how after all the visitors cleared, her dad gently rocked her to sleep and she looked so peaceful in his arms, ones she’d only recently met, but so clearly fallen in love with. We both tried to get some sleep but I stayed awake that night as she lay sleeping at the foot of my bed.
I’ll tell her how I stared and stared and loved her with the matchless love of a mother who just met her new babe.
I’ll tell her how my arms ached for her, but because of the preeclampsia and the sulfate, I wasn’t able to continually hold her. I cried because it wasn’t supposed to be like that and after the adrenaline of her triumphant birth, the letdown of my limitations and illness were crushing.
I’ll tell her how I cried giant, hot, frustrated tears to her dad and he listened to my disappointment, but wisely calmed me as he told me, “I can’t lose you. And neither can our girls.” He gave me perspective. I knew I needed to do what was required to get better.
I’ll tell her how in the wee hours of the morning, I asked her dad to bring her to me, and as I held her in my arms, warm and soft and tiny sounds of contentment, the light slowly, quietly brightened to morning. I snuggled her and whispered to her the dreams in my heart for her life.
I’ll tell her how that quiet moment between mother and daughter got me through many lonely and painful moments as the hospital stay, bed rest, and medications dragged on.
I’ll tell her how I was afraid that the moment I had been waiting forever for, the first meeting with her sister, being together as a family of four, would be too clouded by medication.
I’ll tell her how as drained, medicated, and swollen as I was, despite my worries, their meeting, that moment, was one of my favorite moments on earth so far. Her sister came in, a slew of questions, “Why are you in the bed mommy?” “Is that her baby?” (referring to a friend in the room), excitedly announcing, “I brought baby Finley a present!” And even though presents, the thrill of the hospital, and me being in the hospital bed competed for her attention, as I held my two girls, I felt my heart expand with love and gratitude for the two tiny souls I’d been entrusted to raise. Her big sister tenderly examined her with curiosity, declaring her eyes to be her favorite part of her new baby sister.
I’ll tell her how in a moment of blessed clarity, I felt more complete, more love as our expanded family interacted for the first time.
There are so many stories to tell Finley from that day and birth stories are some of the most important stories to tell. They encapsulate so much love.
As she ages, and perhaps as the stories get a little less clear, I hope that she remembers how we told her of the instantaneous love of her father, the curiosity and tenderness of her sister, and the humble gratitude of her mother.
I hope she remembers that we needed her that day, we needed her in that unpredictable delivery to bind us with more love and courage than we have ever known. Her calm little soul brought so much love to our family and continues to do so every day.
We deeply wanted our sweet Finley, but until she came, we didn’t know just how much we needed our Finley too.
Images: Courtesy of my friend Jana
Monday, February 11th, 2013
I’m typing one-handed as the little cherub we’ve anxiously been waiting for sleeps nestled in the crook of my arm, mouth agape, purring like a tiny cat. I just wanted to take a quick second to let everyone know that baby girl arrived fast and furious and healthy on Thursday, February 7th.
Finley Juliet Besich weighed in at 6lbs, 6oz and 19 3/4 inches.
In regards to my previous post, I thought I’d let you know, I’ve unlocked the secret to going into labor naturally. Lean in and listen close. Plan something.
I had planned a very indulgent “pregnant lady’s day out” complete with manicure/pedicure, shopping, and partaking in whatever sweet treats my heart desired. Girlfriend had none of that. She chose “pregnant lady’s day out,” to come out.
I’d like to go on record and say she is better than any treat this pregnant lady had planned to procure instead. In fact, a few hours after she was born, I told the delivery room full of family, “I can’t wait to do this again.”
And it’s true. As much as pregnancy and delivery are hard at times, there is nothing like a newborn to help remind me of all that is beautiful and hopeful about this world.
We love her deeply. She looks markedly like her big sister did, is covered in some serious newborn fuzz (who knew baby ears could be hairy?!) and for a lady, works her newborn male-pattern baldness quite well.
My cup runneth over with gratitude for a healthy baby, a devoted spouse, a loving family, and the many tender moments she has already brought into our life. I cannot stop the tears when I consider all of these blessings.
I have so much to say about this little lady. For now though, I just want to snuggle her sweetness and enjoy her as she rests perfectly in the hollow of my neck reserved for babies. I can’t get enough of her skinny little legs tucked high and tight on my chest just like they were doing in my belly only a few short days ago.
I’ll be back sometime in the next week to share her story, but for now, I just want to spend my time kissing what little hair she has on her head right off.
Image: Black and white image courtesy of my friend Jana
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
You probably won’t remember much of life before having a sister. It may be all you’ll ever know. I feel it paramount to tell you now, before life changes a bit abruptly for you, you’re going to be a great big sister. I know it. Deep in my bones.
The other night you cried out for me and as I rocked you and you drifted back to sleep, I whispered in your ear. I told you a lot of little things and I thought you asleep when I whispered, “you’re going to be the best big sister.” You surprised me with your softest, sweetest, raspiest, dreamiest reply of, “Yeah” as you nuzzled deeper into my neck. You are my girl. You are.
I know you are little. People ask me continually if you’re excited to be a sister. They ask me if you understand you’re going to be a sister. I know you’ll never quite be adequately prepared for the change of a new baby, but there is something in you that understands the importance of being a sister.
I feel this understanding comes because of the little soul that you are. The little soul that you came with.
You my girl are a feeler. A lover. An inquisitive little being who bounces through the day with excitement and tenacity. These traits make your sister lucky to have you in her life. There is so much she can learn from you.
You are continually interested in how people are feeling and are very perceptive at others’ emotions. You are gentle. You cry easily when others are unkind. The compassion you exhibit means everything in this world. I look forward to watching your tender soul with your new sister.
I wish I could impart some profound wisdom about what I’ve learned from being a sister but I realized, it’s not my wisdom to impart.
I want each of you, your sister and you, to be exactly whoever you want to be. Maybe that means you’ll be very similar. Maybe that means you’ll be completely different. But whatever, whoever you both decide to become, you’ll be uniquely wonderful and get to discover and create your sisterly relationship together.
I know that at times you’ll fight. I know at times you’ll get annoyed. I know at times you’ll say things that you regret. This is part of being a sister. Sisterhood is a lifelong class in discovering and becoming your best self as you learn to forgive, support, and love unconditionally.
I hope that she is your best friend like my sisters are to me.
As sisters, you’re bound for life. I pray that bond strengthens you and lightens you.
It’s big to become a sister, but you’re ready. We’re both as ready as we can be for this new adventure. Just know that I’ll always help you as the landscape of life changes. We’ll all grown and learn together. Let’s put on our brave wings, and fly into this new territory together.
Image: Loving on her sister aka a good foot rest
Monday, December 24th, 2012
Grief is debilitating at times and my heart aches for those feeling so much of it this Christmas.
It is difficult to reconcile the hard reality of life that people leave it so suddenly. One minute they are there, and the next they are gone. The only panacea for loss I’ve found is to feel it, live it, and talk about it.
As I was doing some Christmas shopping the other day, a memory surfaced that I haven’t recalled for a long time. The baseball hat in my hand took me back fourteen Christmases ago to the baseball hat I purchased for my dad, a cancer patient undergoing his first round of chemo. The hat was meant to cover his soon to be bald head. He never lost his hair. He never wore that hat. He died that Christmas day.
Fourteen Christmases later, that memory still stops me in my tracks. As with the death of any loved one, you never really get over it; you learn to live with it.
As another year stretches between that memory, I can’t help but think of the milestones logged in those fourteen years that were unattended by my dad. It hurts. Sometimes so much that my heart still feels as stunned and craven as the moment I first learned he was gone.
Becoming a parent made me miss my dad in a way I didn’t know I could.
Having a second child heightens the ache in my heart for him. It’s another unattended milestone. Being a parent makes me need my parents more. I wish I could ask him the hundreds of questions I didn’t know to ask him before he died.
Like any who experience loss, I will never get that chance. Instead of letting that grief, that injustice consume me, I remember what I have learned from loss. This is my one chance, my one life, to let my husband, children, family and friends know how much I love them. I never want it to be a question how much I loved them.
While I still miss my dad, the place in my heart that broke after he died feels a little less sad as I watch my daughter with my husband. Their love reminds me that losing great, means loving great.
As I watch my husband with my daughter, I freeze frame the memory to tell her later, just in case she faces the same heartache of losing her dad too soon.
I’ll tell her how they “wrastled” every night before bed as she ran at him yelling, “I’m gonna knock you down!” and leapt at him in a fit of giggles. I’ll tell her how she use to ask for “silly kisses” as he tickled her with is goatee.
He’s quick to tell her he loves her, but someday, after his passing, his voice and words will be hard to conjure, and while I’m certain she’ll know he loved her, she’ll need these memories to remind her just how much.
It is bittersweet at times to bring another life into this world when one of the people I love the most is not here to share in the joy. However, I know that no matter how robbed I feel at times, I come back to love.
His loss reminds me to say I love you more. To be kinder. To be softer. To be forgiving. To choose joy.
Everyday I tell my daughter, “I’ll keep you forever.” I know that one day we won’t always be physically together, but her memory, her heart, I’ll always carry with me. Just like I do with my dad.
One Christmas, fourteen years ago, took my dad, but it gave me the great gift of gratitude for the moments I do get with the ones I love.
To my dad whom I still miss so deeply, thank you.
During this holiday season, I pray you find peace and happiness. May your heartache, grief, or loss, be a little less as you feel the love of family and friends.
Monday, December 3rd, 2012
30 weeks/7 months
Darling baby girl,
The Christmas lights on the window were barely visible in the early morning sun and your big sister gabbed in her highchair while I fetched the bacon that had begun to pop from the pan. As we sat down for a lazy breakfast, your sister asked to tickle you. With her greasified, syrupy-covered chubby toddler hands I let her tickle “you.” We both laughed at this daily ritual and she declared, “she’s laughing.” As she paused to take another bite of french toast, she asked longingly, “when is sissy boo coming?” Her innocence, her excitement made me press my hands to my belly and reply, “soon sweetie, soon.”
I recount this moment so you know despite the fact that you’ll come into the hustle and bustle of our crazy little family, we are thrilled to be having you sweet girl. We pray for you, we dream about you, we thank God for you.
I wanted to tell you today how much I love you. I wanted to take a moment to think about you. I don’t have a chance to dream about you as often as I’d like, but I wanted to sit, feel your little life and tell you thank you for making me a mom again.
Even though you are not here yet, you’re very much a part of our everyday life. We take you to the park, we show you the Christmas lights, and read you stories. Your sister thinks I Love You Stinky Face is your favorite. I look forward to the day when I snuggle you on my chest as we cheer your sister down the slide. And one day, sooner than I realize, I anticipate the day your sister and I cheer for you on your first trip down the slide.
As Christmas approaches, I can’t help but fast forward to one year from now. I see a busy little baby rounding out our family of four as we sing carols in the twinkle of the tree lights and in probably the chaos but also the sweetness of the moment, I’ll look at you and your sister in matching pajamas, and your handsome dad, and feel my heart expand with a new kind of love for family and the little things.
We need you, baby girl. We need your little personality, your little life to teach us more about love. Soon sweetie, soon.
Dreaming of you today,