He moves in mysterious ways…

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Last night, I felt the strangest feeling in my belly. Imagine a fish blowing bubbles, that’s what it felt like. It happened quickly but I  definitely felt it. At first I thought it was gas, let’s face it, pregnancy is so glamorous eyeroll, but I didn’t feel any of the uncomfortableness after. And, then again… bubbles. I waited for an encore for what seemed like hours 30 mins, but nothing. The boy was done for the night. As I lay in bed, rubbing my tummy I felt an indescribable urge to hold my baby. I can’t wait to smell him and just soak him up into my being. In 6 short months, I’ll be able to…
As I think about my pregnancy and what I want to share on this forum, I feel somewhat conflicted. The purpose of this blog has always been to work out my inner conflicts, so writing about this feels right in line. However, I’ve decided against posting any pictures of my uterus or bump. It feels too intimate for social media. In addition to my usual ramblings, I plan to dedicate one weekly update to this babe of mine, so if you want to stay abreast, kindly subscribe to my blog. end shameless plug. More than blogging about my expanding midsection, I want to write about the choices I’ve made throughout my pregnancy in the hopes that someone out there might benefit. I’m not an expert of any kind, so let me just add a disclaimer that what worked for me might not work for you. Take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt and make an educated decision for yourself. Capiche?
Ever since I found out that I was preggers, I’ve been obsessed with reading birth stories. I want to know everything that could possibly happen during labor, but I know that is impossible. The female body is such a delicate and intricate machine that no two experiences are alike. Still, I crave it like I crave Wendy’s chicken nuggets. That’s a story for another day! I’ve learned a lot from reading these stories… For example, I had never thought of hiring a doula to help me through labor. I know what you’re thinking, you can’t believe I’m already thinking about giving birth, but hey, I’m a control-freak planner and having my ducks in row means careful research and planning over many months. Given my fiance’s work schedule, having a doula on standby might give us both some much needed peace of mind. And, from what I hear, finding a good doula is a challenge. Luckily, we have some of the best out here in NYC, so fingers crossed.
Another decision that’s weighing on me is how I want to labor. My heart tells me to go all natural, sans medication, but my mind knows that my head gets in over his head quite often. Still, when I read the birth stories of these women warriors who have braved it alone, trusting mother nature to do what she’s perfected over eons, I get goosebumps! My body is made for this! One woman wrote about her preparation like she was training for a marathon, and for some reason, it really resonated with me. I’ve never run a marathon. I’ve never had much of a stamina for long-distance running, but I have tremendous willpower and I know I can do anything, if I put my mind to it. Cue my mom’s voice here. If I want to go the natural route, then I’ve to start preparing for it… now. I’ve to channel my inner spirit through guided meditation and hypnobirthing techniques, every day. I’ve to condition my body to endure the arduous process of labor. I’ve to build a support system; find my cheerleaders. All this takes time… I’ve also learned that anything can happen and the best laid plans can be derailed by a stubborn baby trying to do things his way. Knowing us, I’m sure our baby has a few surprises in store! A big part of me knows that I’ve to stay open to whatever outcome ensues. But, that doesn’t mean that I should sit back and let things happen. Having a plan and being prepared is essential for anything in life, especially parenthood. The desire to bring this boy safely into my arms, without unnecessary interventions, is paramount. We’re interviewing a few midwives and doulas next month and I will continue to share my thoughts on this subject as they evolve.
As I write this, the boy is blowing bubbles again as if to remind me to stay in the moment. It is hard, for I feel like there is so much to learn. I can’t remember what life was like before him… Sure, there was purpose and meaning in the every day moments. But, they all seems so simple. His father and I have built a beautiful life one block at a time. We’ve had some wonderful memories together which I could never replace. But, the bubbles surpass any ideas I’ve ever had of what life or love is all about!

Worrying is just what Mamas do

image I’ve been waiting to blog about this exciting chapter for awhile and now that the secret is out, I can freely share the happenings of the last few months. I’m growing a human. The words feel surreal but one look at my growing belly and there is no mistaking it for bloat.
From the beginning, this pregnancy has felt… safe. I’ve had little to no doubts about its viability, even though the odds were stacked against me. I haven’t shared this with anyone, but 5 days before my missed period I took a pregnancy test which came back with a faint positive. I knew it then. I spent the next 5 days in NC helping set up our parent’s new home, moving boxes, lifting heavy furniture etc. I was bone tired the entire trip and took so many naps that my sister kept teasing me about being pregnant. Five days can seem like an eternity when you want to know if your life is about to change. But those five days also taught me to sit with my anxiety and not let it consume me. As soon as I came home, I took another pregnancy test which reaffirmed my conviction. I put the pee stick in a cardboard jewelry box and gave it to my fiancé as if I’d bought him a present. When he opened it, all he said was, wow! There was no screaming, jumping for joy or crying. We were at peace. We were one step closer to realizing our dream of having a family.
As excited as we were, we were also scared and worried, but mostly cautious. If you’ve been following me, then you know that my last pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 6 weeks. So, we decided to wait until I was at least 6 weeks before seeing a doctor or sharing the news. I only told a close friend for moral support. At my 6 week appointment, we sat in the waiting room, anxious… I just wanted to hear a heartbeat, I kept repeating in my head. I just want a happy, healthy baby. Whatever will be… will be. And, so it has gone on for 13 weeks! In a blink of an eye. The first trimester has been a dream. No morning sickness, no meltdowns, no big surprises…
Each day a milestone…
Every doctor’s visit a triumph…
Every worry a distant memory…
We are having a healthy little boy and he will be named Lelan, which loosely translates to “God’s mysterious ways.” What a blessing! I don’t want to take a single day for granted with him.
We are in no way out of the woods in this pregnancy. Our little boy is barely the size of a plum and we know there are many long weeks ahead of us. And, I have a sneaky suspicion that this feeling that follows me… this worrying or whatever you want to call it, will continue for as long as I’m a mother. But, I see now that this too is part of the journey… the acceptance of what I cannot change, the transcending love for my baby boy and the overwhelming urge to protect him, but most importantly the unwavering faith that let’s me sleep at night knowing that everything’s gonna be okay. Ah, ain’t love grand?!

The Road from Ruin- Let’s Fix Capitalism!

After the recent Democratic debate, I was engaged in a water cooler discussion when someone asked a question that stopped me in my tracks.

What’s wrong with Socialism?

My mind splattered thinking of various points in history… the Holocaust, the excess of the Soviet Union, the American Dream, American Individualism… but I just couldn’t come up with an answer to the question. As the day wore on, I became increasingly interested in this subject. My mind kept wandering back to a moment in my childhood when someone had given me a chocolate bar and how my mom had insisted that I share it with my 4 siblings. I, of course, being a child, did not want to share something I’d rightfully earned… but, I had no choice and somehow, this seemed like the perfect analogy to describe why so many people are so against Socialism.

Socialism- a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Socialism, like most ideals, comes from an altruistic place. The idea that people take care of those less fortunate than themselves is admirable, and I strongly endorse making sure that everybody gets their basic needs taken care of. The claim that Socialism is the antithesis to inequality, however, is just plain wrong. Socialism puts all the controls in the hands on the Government, which if run by corrupt leaders can lead to disaster. Cue in Hitler, Stalin, Chavez etc. In a true socialist society, competition is non-existent because everyone is equally responsible for everything, whether they contribute or not. Here’s the best way to illustrate this:

Socialism is like a cart that has to be drawn by ten people, and they’re equally responsible for the progress they make, but it doesn’t much matter whether they do any pulling. Many of those able and inclined to pull will finally get the picture and just stop pulling. Invariably, to get the cart going again, someone has to be empowered to make everyone work harder. Those who don’t want to pull or cannot pull because of any infirmity know that they are living in a just society, and they expect to live a comfortable life.”

Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

In capitalism, the motive for producing goods and services is to sell them for a profit, not to satisfy people’s needs. It’s based on the hope that when you let people amass great wealth, they will voluntarily share it with those who cannot take care of themselves. But, we all know how that turns out! Capitalism is not perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got, folks! Think of a world without freedom, innovation and competition. Think of a world without Google, Apple or Facebook. Think of your job or career where there is no appreciation for your hard work and no opportunity for advancement based on merit. Think of your coworker doing half as much and getting paid the same as you. That’s not for me, thank you very much. Yet, there is so much discontent & inequality. For all my hard work and productivity, I barely scrape through each month, nevermind, amassing wealth.

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What we need is for Capitalism to better spread the wealth of its productivity revolution, says Robert Reich, a professor of Economics and a former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. In his recent book, Saving Capitalism, which I’m currently reading and highly recommend, he argues that the rules of the game must be tweaked to help fight against economic inequality. “A market – any market -requires that government make and enforce the rules of the game,” Reich argues. “The critical debate for the future is not about the size of government,” he adds; “it is about who should the government serve?” In other words, why isn’t our government doing more to help fight economic inequality? Incidentally, if you haven’t seen the documentary “Inequality for All” on Netflix, you’re missing out.

The illegal immigrant across the street is not the reason why our jobs are going away. He’s just a pawn like any of us in this elaborate “free-market” lie. We’re being robbed from the top, not from the bottom and our government is a silent cohort! Our political and economic systems are rigged in favor of the 1%. You only need to look over the last two decades to see that there has been a shift to create policies and legislation that enable the rich to become richer while the middle class has practically vanished and those living in or near the poverty line have multiplied exponentially.

What can we do?

The reason why Bernie Sanders resonates with so many people is because he’s been saying all the right things about what people are feeling collectively. Many fear a populist revolt at the ballot box and that’s not hard to imagine. But, Socialism is not the answer to our fiercely individualistic society. “Collectivism and individualism cannot long share the same bed. They are political oil and water, and neither can compromise its position without eventually succumbing to the other.”

Capitalism needs to be rewired in favor of everyone, not just a few, for a strong, vibrant and growing economy. During this election cycle, I wish more politicians were talking about how to fix Capitalism instead of diverting attention away from this topic.

The fire within…

Life was going so well… her voice trailed off causing me to look up from my laptop. She was still reading her prayer book. For a moment I wondered if I’d imagined the words. But, no I had heard them clearly. What? I asked quietly. She lifted her face slowly and stared me right in the eye. Life was going so well before the accident, she repeated. I nodded and she went back to her book, leaving me in a daze. The words were heavy and yet, somehow they floated in the room between me and her. Between her and the world. I couldn’t imagine what prompted her to speak them out loud… What agony must linger behind those thoughts, I thought. But, there was a definite tinge of regret in her voice and I had heard it loud and clear.

It has been exactly 233 days since my mom’s horrific accident. The details have been exhausted over and over again. 7 months, 21 days. 33.3 weeks. A lifetime. Time is an illusion. Yet, in that amount of time, our loss has been immeasurable. My mom is confined to a wheelchair. She has very limited mobility. Just the act of moving from the bed to the wheelchair takes 30 mins. Everything has slowed down for her. She has lost her independence. She’s unable to care for herself and as a result most some of her confidence has been eroded. She’s 65 years old and facing one of the more difficult periods of her life. I don’t recognize the person who inhabits my mom’s body. She is weak and feeble. She is defeated. I can’t place her smiles, her sighs or her discomforts anymore. She’s a beautiful stranger to me and I wonder if I’ll ever see my mom again. I can feel a permanent crack forming in my chest bone, as I write this..

She has been home for exactly 27 days. Not even a month and already the pressure is getting to her. She wants to get better, I’m sure… we all do. But, her body is not in her control. Take it easy with her, I say to my dad. To my sister. To anyone who will listen. Because I can feel everyone’s frustration, including my own. We all want her to magically snap out of it. Somehow, get up and walk again. But, we don’t know what she’s been through. Sure, we see the scars but we have no idea what lies beneath them. We can’t imagine what dark thoughts plague her at night. We don’t know what hell she’s witnessed and what else awaits her. We have no freaking clue how it feels to wear a diaper, pee out of a tube, depend on someone else to do EVERY DAMN THING for you.. We are such blessed ignorant fools!

Where can we go from here? Only up says my heart. This house has good energy, she says trying to be positive. But, we both know this is not home. This place is just a shell. A temporary landing spot until the next phase presents itself. Just like her body right now… It will take a lifetime to build a home and we don’t have that kind of time anymore. But, time is an illusion, I have to remind myself, and my parents are survivors of a primitive kind. They’ve built brand new universes wherever they’ve gone and soon they will have to build a new one. And, they will roll up their sleeves and get to work. But, they won’t have to do it alone… they have an army waiting to help them!

together-28ngsg7Life must get better for my dad. His devotion to my mom is inspiring, but what gets me the most is that he doesn’t even get a thank you in return. He’s doing his duty… beautifully! He’s come a long way and I’m so proud of him. As I think of all the things I’ve lost, I’m also grateful for the many wonderful things I’ve found. I’ve found my family again, in the worst of times and in the best of times… both near and far. I’ve found love, respect, compassion, appreciation and grace… from every nook and corner. More than I deserve. I’ve found my confidence in my siblings. They’ve held me up even when I was completely wrong about everything. And some day, I believe, I will find my mom again… her sweet, smiling face radiating with light and hope, and she will tell me in her own voice… Life is good again!