Two Years Ago, Today Would Have Been Impossible

It was a pretty ordinary day. Everyone woke up at an ordinary time. Jim took Henry, the earliest riser, to go get coffee at our local coffee shop. We had rolling breakfasts as people got hungry. We decided to go to The Huntington to celebrate the first day of fall, in 90 degree weather, but still: girls-only tea in the Tea Room with my wonderful mother-in-law, a stroll in the gardens, a romp through the play area, a spin through the gift shop. Jack and Henry both snoozed on the way home and I ran into Trader Joes for essentials, like bread, milk, white wine, a pumpkin and a fall wreath on the way home. We were home in time for family dinner, movie night, and bedtime.

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Two years ago, today would have been impossible. Frankly, I’m not even sure we could have pulled it off a year ago. In so many ways, impossible. Two years ago, we didn’t have a house that felt like a home. Our tiny place was bursting at the seams and we were lost trying to imagine a way to stay in the city and the community that we all loved. Two years ago I would have told you that a fourth baby was off the table. Two years ago I was still bitterly joking that Type 1 was our fourth child. Two years ago the very idea of tea at the Huntington with Penny would have made me feel like I might vomit. How could I? How would I guess the carbs about food I’d never seen? How would I manage the timing? What would it be to say yes repeatedly about food I hadn’t weighed, about food she hadn’t had before? What if she took a bite and decided she didn’t like it? What if?

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Today we had a home to return to, an inexplicably beautiful home, where everyone has a place to call their own, in the city that we love, surrounded by people we feel privileged to know and share a neighborhood with. There is a yard and a playroom, and Jim can still be home in time for family dinner. We came home today to place I would have insisted was impossible two years ago.

Today Jack is here. Two years ago we didn’t have Jack or even the idea of a Jack, Jack who was always meant to be here to finish off our little family, Jack, who is loved and loving, who makes sense in a way I can’t fully explain.

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Today I said yes. I gave nine units of insulin in five separate injections (more than 3X what she has for a normal meal), but I said yes. She put a sugar cube in her tea, and I said yes. She nibbled on cucumber sandwiches, cupcakes, and petit fours, and I said yes. We stuck our pinkies out and chatted with Grammie about kindergarten, another thing that I feared would be impossible two years ago. Her blood sugar broke 280 at one point and I still said yes, trusting the insulin to work to bring it down, and balancing her mental well being with her physical health. Two years ago a meal like this would have leveled me. I would have peeled the ham off the sandwiches to fill our plates, tried to hide the sugar cubes, and tried to bargain sugar-free lollipops from my hand bag for the tower of beautiful decadent mystery carbs placed on the table in front of us. It would have ended in tears, from me for certain, from Penny too, probably. It has taken nearly three years since diagnosis to feel this way, but, today, I said yes, and it was glorious.

Two years ago, I still thought I would live to see the first woman president and that it would be Hillary Rodham Clinton, but perhaps that is for another time and place. Can’t do that bit today. Today had so much good.

Whatever feels impossible today will shift, will change. Impossible is not permanent. Today, for me at least, the impossible became ordinary and what’s possible is extraordinary.













How I Lost My Mother

Well. That’s a disingenuous title. This essay won’t answer that prompt. Does that make it click bait? 

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The truth is I don’t really know what happened. I don’t think either of us does. We used to be very close. We finished each other’s sentences. She was my first phone call for news, good or bad. Looking back I can see that she manufactured some of that closeness by keeping me isolated from my peers, partly (mostly?) so that she didn’t need to confront her own social anxiety. If I had a problem with a peer, the answer was always that the girl must be jealous of me. I never had to look at my own behavior or examine the qualities I was lacking that are required to be a good friend. She grew in me a mistrust of women that it has taken me decades to chop down, branch by branch, and I still find myself clawing at the roots. That, coupled with my own social awkwardness, left me lonely, dependent on my relationship with her or, as I grew, on romantic relationships as the only ones that I could trust, fostering a deep misunderstanding that romantic love was somehow the only kind of love that mattered, the only kind of love that made me valuable. The fact that I married a kind, honest, and wonderful partner at 24, and we have a healthy and thriving marriage of over a decade today is somewhat of a miracle and a mystery considering my upbringing and history. 

The last time we spoke, I told her that the kids are growing up, and that I couldn’t pause that for her to get her head right. I told her that my friend’s mom, who lives in Chicago, has held Jack more times than she has even though she only lives twenty miles away, that Henry doesn’t even know who she is, that O and P only remember that she has a pool at her house. I told her that I was tired of chasing her, tired of waiting for her to call, to engage. I told her that I was fine, that my life is filled with people who lift me up and meet me where I am and love me in spite of and because of who I am, right now, today, people who see me. I told her that my kids are fine too, because that same community that holds me, holds them too. I told her I just didn’t want her to miss out. 

 The only photo I have of my mom with Henry. 

The only photo I have of my mom with Henry. 

She told me she was afraid of me. She told me we are just very different people, who have made very different choices. I’m not sure what any of that means. 

She told me she wasn’t sure she could be better, that she didn’t think she could change. I believe her. 

I told her she knew where to find me, if she ever changed her mind. And that I love her. 

The thrust of it is, as far as I can tell, the more emotionally healthy I became, the less she wanted to do with me. I suppose I should take her nearly complete exit from my life as a compliment, but that’s not what it feels like. In spite of all of this, or maybe, because of it, because my own dysfunction runs so deep, I miss her. 

I probably always will. Mothering without a mother is very strange thing. I always knew that she wouldn’t be the type of grandma who would watch my kids or fold my laundry, but I never anticipated this complete detachment. I reach for the phone and stop myself several times a week, save myself the pain of her not picking up or, often worse, the panic in her voice, the mad scramble of excuses as to why she has been absent from our lives this week, this month, this year, last year, and on and on. By not calling, I spare us both. 

I wish I was better at pretending that it didn’t hurt as much as it does.  I don’t regret the hurt though. It’s a sharp reminder of the kind of mother I want to be, especially as my kids enter adulthood: available, accepting, loving, supportive, and able to set my own shit aside when it stands in the way of my relationships with people I care about. 

I’m sure there is another side to this story, a side where I have wounded her in ways I don’t know or understand. I’m sure this estrangement hurts her too, even as I know the thought of the work of mending it, is more painful for her than the strategy of numb avoidance she is currently employing. 

Today, however, I am left with a family of my own making that I love, friends of my own choosing whom I adore, and a wider community of people that I value and feel valued by. As of right now, my mother isn’t included in any of those groups by her own choosing. 

When people tell you who they are, and what they are capable of, believe them.

The Lost Year

 

I can remember the timeline leading up to it with startling clarity, even if the emotional memory is a big fat blank. I can replay those few weeks between Henry’s birth and Penny’s diagnosis like I’m watching a movie, a movie about someone else, some other birth, some other family. I’m sure it’s some kind of self protection that I can’t remember how any of it feels, even the good parts. 

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I was in labour for weeks, contractions all the time, walking around 3, 4, 5cm dilated, anxious about when it would actually be time. Penny was having a tough time at night, night terrors and wetting the bed, again and again. When we finally went to the hospital, Henry was born within minutes of us leaving triage. My water broke, and a few pushes later, he was there, nine pounds and change. A few days in the hospital, some trouble with baby's low blood sugar somewhat ironically, and we were home. I vaguely remember being very distraught about having to give him formula via a supplemental system, and looking back with everything I know now, I feel pretty ridiculous about how I reacted. 

Home, with Jim on paternity leave for six weeks, was supposed to be glorious. I remember thinking about how much we would get done and how much family time we would spend together. The first afternoon we were all home together Jim and I actually talked about Penny and the far off possibility of Type 1, a vague concept to us at that point. I even got a meter I had from when I had gestational diabetes and tried to test her primarily because I was sure it would make me feel better, but she got really upset and I just gave up. I called her pediatrician instead and scheduled her 3 year well-child visit, which was several months over due.  We ended up with a two week visit for Henry in the morning and a three year visit for Penny in the afternoon of the same day. For the next two weeks we just plugged along, taking Olivia to school, up at night with a newborn, just a blurry haze of diapers, breastfeeding, packing lunches, ordering take out, tired and grateful to have the time to be together. Henry was a joy, easy and affable, even at a few days old. We had an appointment with Olivia’s psychologist and Henry, content in the stroller bassinet in the corner of the office, laughed after the adults in the room did, at only a few days old. The doctor, an expert in infant and child development remarked on how extraordinary it was for an infant that young to already be engaging socially through laughter. 

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On the day of the peds appointments, it made the most sense for me to take Henry in the morning and for Jim to take Penny in the afternoon, while I picked Olivia up from school. Henry’s appointment was a nonevent. He had surpassed his birth weight and was apparently thriving. I had no anxiety about Penny’s appointment because she was clearly fine, and any worry or concern we had was unfounded. They were going to check her urine, laugh at us for being over cautious. I remember talking to Jim on the phone as I pulled up in front of Olivia’s school. "There is something weird," he told me, "but they are going to send it to the lab, and it is probably nothing." A dear friend happened to be in front of the school at the same moment. I mentioned my concern to her briefly and she assured me it was nothing. For some reason, this part always sticks out, the worry on her face paired with her desire to comfort me in the moment.  

We met up at home. We put the kids to bed. We made rice and melted Trader Joe's frozen orange chicken. We sat on the couch. Jim got an email with Penny's lab results. Minutes later the phone rang. Time to go. Pack a bag. You'll be there a few days. I might never eat orange chicken again. 

From there I have only snapshots. Penny in a hospital bed. Needles so tiny I can hardly see them. Nurses cooing over Henry sleeping in the stroller bassinet in Penny's room. Being baffled that the hospital cafeteria would give her pancakes but not fresh fruit. Jim holding me. Me holding Jim. Both of us holding Olivia trying to explain things neither of us fully understood yet. Henry laughing. My dad and my stepmom and Jim's mom and dad showing up to fill in the gaps at a time when Jim and I were almost all gaps. Nursing Henry in our bed while Penny slept beside him, her body curled around him, her breathing slow and even.  Counting her breaths, reassuring myself. She's breathing. He's breathing. I'm breathing. We are all still alive. 

I lost his entire first year. I don't remember when Henry rolled over. I don't remember when he crawled or walked or started solids. I couldn't tell you when he cut his first tooth, how he handled his first fever, or even what his first word was. That year is another entry on the list of things Type 1 stole from me. I don't remember so much about that first year of his life. It is lost to me in a haze of panic and stress that I am still recovering from.

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I do remember his laugh. I do remember that he was alway there, in my arms, with his heart on his sleeve and his easy smile. I do remember the weight of his tiny body against mine in the middle of the night when I was sure I could not ever again take a full breath, reminding me that he was breathing. I am breathing. We are all still alive. 

 

Day 3

I hit a wall today, the day three post-paternity leave wall. I woke up intent on moving forward, keeping up with all of my lists and check marks. Empty the dishwasher. Check. Fold the laundry. Check. Finish bio and blerb for involvement with nonprofit. Check. Nurse the baby. Check. Drink more water. Check. Make the lunches, reload the dishwasher, attempt an adult conversation with Jim, empty the dishwasher, call the plumber, reload the dishwasher and on and on. Check.

 Pretty much.

Pretty much.

But instead, today, I woke up and admitted to myself that I am still sick. Six weeks after coming down with a “small cold” I am unequivocally still sick no matter how much more water I drink. I know I won’t be sick forever, but for right now I’m tired of feeling run down on top of the run down I expected to be feeling being up half the night nursing a newborn. 

And I’m sad. I’m sad because I miss Jim. Ten weeks went too fast, but even that isn’t really true because a year would have flown by because being with Jim just makes everything better. As soon as that thought flies through my brain, all I can think about is how privileged we are to have been able to take ten week to be together that way and how many families have two working parents and they are lucky if they can scrape together a way for one of them to take six weeks to be home with a new baby. And then I’m sadder. Saddest. Most sad. 

So today, after being a full ten minutes late to Olivia’s school pick up because I had left enough time for one unexpected thing but not the three unexpected things that happened: Penny’s low blood sugar, Henry’s potty miss (did I mention I’m potty training a two year old?), and Jack’s diaper blow out), I came home and gave everyone a screen. Except Jack. I gave Jack a boob, but everybody else got a screen. You get a screen. You get a screen. You get a screen. You know, like the queen of the universe Oprah. (Don't run Oprah. We don't deserve you.)

So I hit a wall. I sat down in front of it, gave it an ipad, whipped out a boob, and decided to try again tomorrow. 

Good night wall. See you tomorrow. I’m sure you’ve got a door in ya somewhere. 

Except, I’m pretty sure they are still going to expect dinner. They always expect dinner. 

Check.

Truth Telling

O: I tooted, mom, and that's a fact.

K: Well, kiddo, sometimes you just have to speak your truth.

Truth? I have been writing. I just haven't been sharing. The post below was written on May 15th. It only took me eight months to share it.  Here's to that fortifying glass of wine and more sharing in 2018. 

 Design credit: Sara Jensen

Design credit: Sara Jensen

 

I've had a hard time with writing lately. Some combination of personal circumstances and the sheer force of the injustice of the world, have left me with big, heavy thoughts, thoughts with consequences, thoughts that demand actions, and could hurt feelings, things that are hard to write down and even harder to share, especially without a courage building glass of wine before I click publish.  I try to sit down to write about how much fun first grade has been, or how much O, P, and Q have grown, or our seemingly impossible Los Angeles house hunt, but I find myself stuck, stuck on so many things.  So, I'm on the fence: remain silent, try to fake some lighthearted optimism, or speak my truth. 

I miss writing here. I miss reaching out and connecting to other people, and this space was always intended to be a glimpse into our lives, an optimistic insight into raising tiny people in a big city, but while optimism was always the goal, honesty was never intended to be the trade-off. I don't want to stop writing, but I also don't want to sweep under the rug the tremendous shift that has occurred in my world view over the past year. The problem is, at this point, I can't share insights into our day-to-day life and remain apolitical. Politics has inserted itself into our daily life in a way I never would have imagined before. I want to write about P and the challenges of diabetes. How do I do that without talking about preexisting conditions, the rising cost of insulin, and the ACA? I want to share with you about our housing search here in Los Angeles, but how do I do that without engaging in the issues of gentrification and the shifting demographics of the city that we love so much? I want to write funny, silly things about parenting tiny people, but how do I avoid touching on gender politics or how the privilege they have been born with will affect their lives in profound ways?  I think the answer is that I don't. I can't. It won't be all politics, but when politics touches our lives, as it inevitably does, I can't edit it away, or rather, I won't. So hang around, or don't, but I'm only going to edit for typos and grammar from here on out. 

One Heck of a Year

Well, It has been a year. A year, and a new house. A year, a new house, and a baby. A year, a new house, a baby and three shows. It has been a big year. 

We bought a house, a thing I wasn't sure we would ever do, in the city that we love. A special, lovely, old house in the mid city neighborhood of Los Angeles. We moved in July and occasionally Jim and I will randomly make eye contact and just sigh at each other, saying, "I love this house." We love this house. It feels like it has a soul. It feels like home. 

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We had a baby, a boy shaped human named Jack. He is very new and very yummy. Longer and leaner than any of my other babes, I have taken to calling him Shrimpy, a nickname I am sure he will love when he is sixteen and taller than I am. It seems odd to say, since he is only six weeks old, but he strikes me as the serious sort. He will round out our crazy bunch nicely. Everyone is smitten, but Penny, who called dibs on holding him first when I was only a few weeks pregnant, is over the moon. She calls him Jacky-Wacky, and begs to hold him, especially when he is sleeping or nursing or anytime that he is content to not be held. 

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I did three shows, more than I would have normally tackled in a year before we had kids. It was a lot. It was rewarding. I'm glad I did it. I probably won't do it again. Probably. 

I did not write a single usable word. Apparently, I can not write when I am pregnant, which is perfectly fine, because I plan on NEVER BEING PREGNANT AGAIN. (#finalfelton) Also, in this past year, the way I see the world has shifted. There are realities of living in America that I didn't have to confront before, things I could look away from, that are impossible to ignore now. I've been doing a lot of listening and a lot of learning in this past year. I still have a long way to go. 

All that to say, I'm back. I'm hoping to write at least once a week, to keep a record of our big little family growing and loving each other in Los Angeles, my favorite big little city. 

Still, not sure how today ends. 

No More Firsts

We've been at it for a little over a year now. The actual day came and went. There was a discussion about if we should celebrate, and if we did celebrate should it be on the anniversary of the day she was admitted to the hospital late at night or the following day, when we met with the pediatric endo and started learning about the journey our family was about to take. In the end, we all woke up on the anniversary of that second day and I told P that I was so proud of how brave she had been and how happy I was that we could celebrate a whole trip around the sun of being healthy and safe with diabetes. She just smiled at me and asked if it was show and share day at school, and if it was show and share, could she please bring her pet unicorn because she was pretty sure Sparkles the Unicorn wouldn't poop in the classroom this time, and the rest of the day passed, like the days usually do, without much fanfare. 

 First Sand Panda

First Sand Panda

It was a couple of weeks later when it hit me. We are done with the firsts. We celebrated our first Christmas, her first birthday, the first Valentine's Day, with Type 1 (can we just chill with the candy, people). We weathered her first drop off at school, and the first time she wished she didn't have it anymore, not even upset, but while blowing out the candle on her birthday cupcake. We survived our first hospital stay, our first stomach bug followed by our first frightening ER visit, the first time she went low and I wasn't there to hold her while she pounded a juice box. Even the more mundane firsts are behind us now: the first shot in public, the first restaurant meal, the first playdate, the first time we gave the wrong insulin dose. A whole year of milestones, needles, and learning, are behind us. 

 First first year endo visit. 6.3 A1c. (If you know what that means, yes, I am bragging)

First first year endo visit. 6.3 A1c. (If you know what that means, yes, I am bragging)

It turned out to be true, what everyone who had a reason to know kept telling me in those early fractured and terrifying days. It won't get any easier, but you will get better at it. I'm better at guessing. I'm better at forgiving myself when I screw up. I'm better at balancing the demands of this disease with needs of P and O and Q. I still get sad and scared, but less often, and I know the things that can help to pull me out of it. I still worry, but I have more trust that the family of people that we have chosen to surround us will be there to hold her hand when I am not, to lift us up when we can't stand, and to shine a light when things get dark. 

 First birthday for this sweet face

First birthday for this sweet face

She is only four, and I know there will be a few more Type 1 firsts that will creep up on me. I'm already scheming how we are going to put the pump on whatever she decides to wear to prom (please, let it have pockets), but for now, I'm happy to be on this side of things. We survived the first year of firsts.

 

 

Rebel, Rebel

O: Why is mommy going over there?!?! She is not supposed to go over there.

J: It's ok, O. Your mom is just a little bit of a rebel. 

P: Daddy, is rebel-ing ok?

J: It is, Pen. Sometimes, it is ok to do some rebel-ing. 

I hopped a fence. Well, that is not really fair or accurate. I shimmied through a gate, and, for context, it required virtually no actual shimming. The gate on the hip high enclosure was locked, but locked so loosely most adults could easily pass through the opening. It was left more than ajar. What would that be? Open. 

It was open. It was essentially open, but I wanted to take a picture inside the burnt-out, century-old house, so I shimmied through the gate, much to the horror of my oldest daughter. Jim, who has been at this for over a decade at this point, knew better then to be horrified and just looked on bemusedly. 

I shouted over my shoulder, "Anyone want to come do some rebel-ing with me?"

O and P, in unison, "NO!"

But, I as I turned around, I saw her, just past the gate, venturing barely past the threshold of the old stone structure, my not-so-tiny P. She skittered back quickly, but not before she stopped and touched the cool stone of the decaying structure. 

It is tough. We want our kids to follow the rules and be good citizens, while at the same time, we hope to teach them to trust their judgment, and recognize when a rule is worth breaking, either because the reward out weighs the risk or, more pressing going forward, that the governing body that is creating the rules has overstepped and requires challenge. 

Side note: I hereby, acknowledge all of the very sound research about prepubescent and pubescent humans lacking the neurological ability to adequately asses risk. Please see here.

 

Regardless, it did my rebel heart good, to see my Tiny P creep past that barrier, challenging herself to take a risk and to venture into the unknown. It is something all civic minded people are going to need to engage in going forward. Sometimes, even the rebels among us might need a little inspiration. 

 

151

It’s 151,” he said, his voice tense and perplexed. “What does that mean?”

 

I could barely hear him. I felt like I was falling down a black hole. My vision was clouding in at the edges. I couldn’t take a full breath. The bedroom was dimly lit and quiet. A large bed occupied most of the real estate, but there was a small white crib by the window and a large overstuffed white glider in the corner of the room. It would have seemed so peaceful, a mother and baby rocking quietly in the corner of a hushed room, but the reality was much harsher, a bit like the color on the walls, a yellowish beige that was a poor choice for a small room with so little natural light. A color that, finally, on the Fourth of July weekend, I painted over in a fit of insanity, stepping over piles of laundry and screaming children with old gelato containers filled with cool white paint, painting one corner, one wall, one coat at a time, while Jim looked on, smiling bemusedly, knowing to say nothing, not even to offer to help. There is no stopping me once I fixate on something. He knew that going in. 

 

That night, though, the walls were still that yellowish beige. I felt on the verge of tears, or vomit, or probably both, the weight of my sweet babe at my breast the only thing keeping me tethered to the earth. 

 

One hundred and fifty one. I had already convinced myself that she had it. She had used the bathroom six times that afternoon. She was hungry constantly. I was envisioning the drive to the hospital, the terror on her face when it was time for the first of a lifetime of shots. It was over. My life, as I knew it, was over. 

 

It was late. The girls were in bed. Jim and I had been talking in hushed whispers about our concerns, until we couldn’t bear it any longer. He crept into their room and pricked her finger while she slept without waking her, a skill we had become very adept at over the past 3 months, but instead of the bottom bunk where our sweet P slept, he reached into the top, to test O, our five year old. I was sitting in the glider, nursing a three month old Q and wondering how I could leave. Leave all of it, all of them. 

 

Being P’s pancreas had been hard and will continue to be, but with O, my willful, challenging, brilliant, sensitive six year old, it would be impossible. We already struggled to understand each other, and starting tomorrow, I imagined the six shots a day, not to mention the obsessive carb counting and blood checks, and at least a decade of being in constant struggle over what she put in her body and when, followed by a lifetime of worry and loss of control. I couldn’t do it. It was more than I could bear. 

 

“Kate,” he called to me. “Kate, what does that mean?”

 

“Nothing. It means nothing. It’s high, but not high enough to diagnose. We’ll check her fasting level in the morning. Set an alarm, so we can do it before she wakes up.” I paused. “Jim,” I said finally, “I want to run away.”

 

“I know,” he said softly. 

 

He came over and gently kissed my forehead before he headed out to walk the dog. “I’ll be right back,” he whispered. 

 

The Amex had the highest limit. There were no carseats in the black station wagon. I could finish nursing the baby to sleep, and leave the powdered formula they gave us at the hospital on the kitchen counter. He had never taken a bottle before, but he would get hungry and figure it out. I could drive. I could go north. I could go south. I could follow the coast until I felt like stopping. Jim is the better parent anyway, more patient, more empathetic, more nurturing.  I’m not really cut out for this. I'm hard and demanding. I sometimes miss the subtleties that accompany normal human emotion. I could just drive into the night, roll down the windows and crank the radio, drive until I felt like coming back, if I felt like coming back. Just walk into the night, find my flip flops by the back door, and never look back, at least, until looking back felt safe again. 

 

An insistent buzzing from my phone snapped me out of my anxiety-induced musings. P was going low. I replied quickly to a concerned text from Jim, “I’m on it.” 

 

I checked her monitor, 67 and going down. Shit. Shit. Shit. 

 

I eased the baby off my breast and down into the crib. He had been asleep for a while. My holding him was more for my comfort than his. 

 

My eyes burn in the harsh light of the kitchen, as I measure an exact half cup of milk and pour it into a cup with a straw. Back in the dark of the girls’ room, I feel my way to the lower bunk. I prop her up on my arm, her body floppy and her breath sweet. I put the straw to her lips and she drinks, almost still completely asleep, a random cup of milk in the night is her new normal. It requires no explanation.  It is certainly better than the random needle in the middle of the night that awakens her all too often. She finishes, smiles softly and cuddles into the crook of my arm and settles back into a deep sleep. O rustles in her bed above us, mumbling something about the Mariana Trench.

P begins to snore softly. I breathe her in. This is my life and I am home. 

 

The Third Time

Today, I held my baby in a hospital bed for the third time.

The first, she was so small and new and the room was filled with joy. 

The second, we were introduced to our new normal, a life we never planned for or expected, a casual, sanitized, oversimplified introduction, like high-fiving the person you are about to marry.  I wanted to put her back inside of my body, repair the parts that needed to be fixed and birth her again into that room filled with joy. Somehow, we knew this wasn't all of it. The room was filled with fear. 

The third, today, we knew was inevitable. It was the third in what will be a lifetime of hospital beds I will hold her in. I will hold her as long and as tight as she will let me. Today, this perfect creature, that I put into this imperfect world, with a body that has betrayed her, laid her head on my breast, closed her eyes and told me she wanted to go home. I couldn't take her home so I just held her and made my arms a home. It wasn't enough, but it was a beginning. The room was filled with love. 

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    I know more now than I did the first time or the second time, more about joy, more about fear, more about love, certainly more about pancreases. My priorities have shifted and shattered a thousand times since that first hospital bed. I now know that there is joy to find even in unexpected places, if you take the time to look. I know that fear is generally a place holder that knowledge and experience can start to fill. Now, I know that love can make your arms a home, even when home seems far away.