Saturday, March 12, 2016

Holland's Birth Story

There's something that feels familiar and quite nice to be wide awake at 3:40 am. Holland and I usually had our best moments together every night around this time. Insomnia is a funny thing, while exhausting I am grateful to have had those sweet, quiet moments with her while she was inside me. Although my womb is now empty I can still feel her near. She graced her presence yesterday afternoon at 2:52 pm. Is it weird to say that it was one of the best days of my life? Maybe. March 11th will always be the day she passed away... But more importantly the day she lived. Sure it was only for a little over an hour however the amount of love, comfort and healing that happened during that hour was magical.

Waking up yesterday morning I didn't expect to go into natural full blown labor. Due to the weight of the extra amniotic fluid on my uterus I was used to having contractions here and there. I had been in the moment of "is this it?" for a while. It's when I felt the prompting at 9:00 am to kneel in prayer and ask for peace, comfort, guidance and if it be thy fathers will, to allow Holland to live just for a brief amount of time so that Parker and Bobby could meet and lock eyes with our sweet girl. After saying that prayer I continued to get ready for my 10:45 am Dr appt. Timing the contractions was interesting. I have never gone into labor on my own and feeling my body do what it was meant to do felt empowering. I always told Holland that I would follow her lead. I let her guide me. 10 mins apart. I was anxious to get to that appointment.

On the way to that drs appt Bobby helped time my contractions totally expecting them to die down. So did I. We talked hypothetically, "IF this is it...what's the plan...?" Parker was in school. My sister Stacey was 3 hrs away. Am I dilated? Shut up brain...this isn't it. 7 mins apart. Of course it's raining cats and dogs. I love the rain. Harry Potter weather. Perfect. While waiting in the lobby for my name to be called I felt a sense of calm yet nervousness. I think this is it. Again brain. Shut. Up. This isn't it. Denial. My dr saw how uncomfortable I was and in just the few mins that we were talking she decided to check me. "2cm." She said. (I had an appt on Monday to check with swelling in one of my legs and when she checked me then I was a tight 0) Holy crap. This is it. I feel it.  After seeing her I had another dr appt with my perinatologist at 11:30 am.  She suggested to go see him, chat, check Holland on the ultrasound machine and go from there. "Remember if this is labor it can take a while."..... I am my mothers daughter...if this was it it wouldn't be long. Cue the denial.

5 mins apart. Before the ultrasound wand hit my belly I was so nervous I'd see a still heart. This is how I found out Kennedy had passed less than a year ago. "Thump thump thump". Holland is still with us. Sigh. He told me that my placenta was in the same condition as last time. Not good. He told me to get over to labor and delivery and get checked again to see if I've progressed. Walking over to the labor and delivery building Bobby and I let out so much uncontrollable laughter. The nervous kind. He made a comment about being a little disappointed that we might miss our Friday afternoon food truck date. He knows me. I love him.

Contraction. Still 5 mins apart. Walking down the hall to be monitored was so familiar. I had done that same walk last March. This time felt different. As I started to sign in, waiting for Bobby to get his name badge and meet me in there I felt someone touch me. It was her. The incredible nurse who I had connected so strongly with after I had Kennedy. Seeing her took my breath away. She hugged me. It felt so good. I let out a laugh cry. "Do you remember what I said to you last year?"  She asked. "Yes. That if we met again it was meant to be." I'm convinced that she is one one my earthly angels. In that moment the denial washed away. Today is the day. This feels right. I let her know how often Bobby and I talked about her over the course of the year. She really is so special to us. I have never quite connected so strongly with a complete stranger like how I did with her. I told her Bobby was going to lose it when he saw her. In he walked. "No. Way." He said. Followed by laugh cries accompanied with hugs. His denial washed away in that moment as well. While waiting in the triage room she stayed with me. 5 mins apart. 12:30 pm.  "Let's get you checked by the doctor." Sounds good to me. Bobby and I decided to have him leave to go pick up Parker and grab my hospital bag at home. I texted my sister Stacey and told her to head up north just to be safe. The plan was set. Bobby left. The dr, an intern and my angel nurse were now in the triage room with me. We chatted about the years events, my journey with both Kennedy and Holland. Sometimes when I talk about them I feel like people look at me a little crazy... Or think I'm crazy. I smile. I laugh. I give my perspective. I have learned and am continuing to learn so much. Before she checks me I tell her that I tend to have quicker labors. But I've only ever been induced with pitocin. I've never gone on my own but my gut was telling me it would be faster. While checking me I see the look on her face. "I think you have great instincts. Why don't you call your husband and have him turn around. You're at a 7."

What!??!?! Oh Brooke. When will you learn to just trust your feelings. I knew waking up it would be today. Denial. I knew I should have grabbed my hospital bag and put an extra house key under the mat. Denial. Good thing I ate that protein bar on the way to my drs appt...we weren't getting our food trucks today. I call Bobby. He lets out a nervous laugh...maybe cry. I couldn't tell. They ask if I want an epidural. My head is screaming yes but my heart is whispering no. In my birth plan I wanted to try to do it natural for as long as I could. To feel her and work with her in making her debut. We were a team her and I. Did I want fetal monitoring? Yes. No. I don't know. Did I want to see or hear her pass away through a machine? I hate surprises. But I'm scared. Maybe not knowing with help motivate me to get through labor. We decided to check on an ultrasound machine how she was holding up. Bobby walked in the room just in time. Before looking at the screen I prepared myself again to see a still heart. "Thump thump thump". She's still with us. My heart smiled. That's all I needed to go on. Even if she passed during labor I knew I would be okay. This was farther than anyone had expected her to live.

In writing our birth plan we included a few different scenarios. The one where she lived through labor and the one where she passed before she could take her first breath. We always hoped and prayed to hear a cry. Our ultimate dream goal was to get Parker in the room fast enough to meet his sister. However we knew the chances were extremely slim so we planned for another still birth. We knew how that one worked. We had done it less than a year ago. In that exact same hospital room. Knowing I was already at a 7 I squeezed my legs shut and prayed just for a little more time. I needed to get a few things in order.

1. Find someone to get Parker.
2. Let family know.
3. We need a camera. (Ours was conveniently packed in my hospital bag at home. 20 mins away.)
4. Call someone from church. (I wanted her to receive a name and a blessing if she was born alive. If not I wanted/needed a blessing.)
5. Pray with Bobby.

1. Check. 2. Check. 3. Our new nurse Kathy let us know that ironically she had a camera with her because earlier that day she took retirement pictures for her friend. Check.
4. Check.

Contractions. 3-4 mins apart. Parker was here. He walked in and my heart about jumped out of my chest. He looked around the room and said, "I remember this." A part of me wishes he didn't have such a vivid memory like me. Something that I have learned is both a gift and curse. But he seemed ok. A little confused as to why we were in that room again so I asked. "Do you know why we are here today?" He looked at me and cautiously answered, " see Holland on the machine again?" I knew he knew why I was there but I could tell he didn't want to say the words so I did it for him. "We did see her. And guess what. Her heart is ok right now. And you get to meet her in just a little bit." He smiled. Bobby and I laugh cried. (You probably have noticed that we do that a lot.) Parker has always been curious enough to want to know what's going on but knows when to check out mentally if it gets to be overwhelming. I asked him if he wanted to say a prayer together before he went back out to the waiting room. He nodded. Bobby, Parker and I sat close to each other on my hospital bed. It felt so good to have my little family together in that room. I felt Kennedy close as well. She was preparing to greet her little sister and guide her home. Parker said the prayer. It was such a sweet prayer. His are always the best. He talks to our Father in Heaven with such confidence and comfort. Something that took me way more than 8 years to master. He prayed that I would be ok. That Holland would be born alive but it was okay if she wasn't. That he knew she would go to heaven with Kennedy and they would be together. My contractions were about 2 mins apart now. I gave Parker a big hug and told him how much I loved him. He walked out of the room smiling. Bobby and I needed to see that smile. While Bobby walked Parker to the waiting room to sit with one of our good friends the doctor came in to check me. "She's fully dilated." I heard. I knew it...I had known it for awhile but was resisting to do anything until I checked each thing off my list. 5.Check. Ok. I'm ready now.

It was about 2:30 pm. While the room was being quickly prepped I was talking out my feelings (shocker) and getting my mind ready to do this. Natural. The panic started to creep in. Can I do this? This is going to hurt. A lot. Accept it. You've gone this far. Don't doubt your strength. It's just you and her. A team remember? I asked Bobby to put some music on. I hate silence. Pushing while everyone stares at you is my form of torture. I need noise. Silence is too loud. Silence is deafening. He asks what I want to hear. "James Vincent McMorrow." I said. He looked at me with satisfied eyes. I listened to him while delivering Kennedy last year. I wanted something peaceful and familiar. Watching everyone suit up for battle was so synchronized. Like a dance. Each nurse had a job. These were my people. They made me feel safe. Before starting to push I let them know that we weren't going to let sadness take us over no matter the outcome. Not to feel awkward around us and that we were so grateful that they were able to be here with us today. I may have also apologized for any noises and messes my body made. They all laughed. But Bobby laughed hardest. He knew me. It's something he knew I was serious about. I was happy that there was humor in the room. Humor has always helped me sort out my feelings. It's allowed me to give everyone around me a clue that I was okay. I had accepted Hollands journey months ago. Grief doesn't own me. Sorrow can't swallow you if you learn to accept the now and learn to live in that new normal. I also knew my Heavenly Father knows me very very well. He knew when to make my heart feel light. And that's exactly what he was doing.

Legs in stir ups. "On the next contraction. Push." The doctor said. "You can do this." I heard. 1. 2. 3. Go.

No. No. No. My brain was screaming. Why did I want to do this natural again?! "You're doing so good. Breathe through the contraction. Hold it. Push." Holland. Holland. Oh my gosh. I am going to meet her in the matter of minutes. But this hurts so bad. Fight or flight. "I can't do this." I said in between a contraction. "Brooke you can." Said Bobby. There was so much pressure.

***before telling this next part I have to say I debated on whether or not to include it but this is her birth story and one of the more significant moments I'll want to remember***

I can't quite describe the sound that came next. I remember watching an episode of Bill Nye the science guy when I was in 5th grade. A few kids were throwing things off a building and calculating their speed and velocity. An egg, a feather, a pencil and a GIANT water balloon. The sound I'm trying to describe sounded like a mix of that giant water balloon hitting the cement with the sound Shamu the whale at sea world makes when he jumps in the air and splashes the audience. My water didn't just EXPLODED. Everywhere. "It hit the back of the room!" Someone yelled out. I opened my eyes. Everyone was DRENCHED. Dripping. They were in the splash zone. "Can you just wipe it off my neck and face shield?" The doctor asked a nurse. We all looked at each other and laughed so hard we almost forgot what we were doing in that room. "Remember my apology before we started pushing?" I said. "I double that apology!" Still laughing I thanked my Heavenly Father for that moment of comic relief. I told you he knew me. During the let down of the laughter and clean up I felt another contraction. Let's meet our girl. Pressure. Push. Push. I felt her. This was it. I didn't even contemplate what she was going to look like or if I'd ever hear that cry. I just wanted to hold my girl. Breathe. Push! Pause. "She's here Brooke!" Whispered a nurse. I closed my eyes. They placed her on my stomach. "She isn't breathing yet." She said. "It's okay. It's okay." I replied. I could hear Bobby crying. I still couldn't look. They took her over to the table. Bobby went to be with her. I saw flashes of light. Pictures. Good. I heard a faint squeak. She's breathing. She's alive!? SHES ALIVE. I asked Bobby "How's our girl?" "She's so cute. She's breathing." His eyes were filled with tears. Happy tears. "Do you want to hold her?" Asked a nurse. "Yes. Please." Get Parker. My brain said. The doctor covered my legs up and the nurses quickly cleaned up any visible mess so Parker could come in. I watched as they swaddled Holland. When the nurse handed her to me I lost myself in her. "You're still here with us baby girl. You're such a fighter. I can't wait for Parker to meet you." I told her. Her eyes started to open as I talked. She knew me. She knows me. Her eyes were like dark blue sea glass. She was curious I could tell. They handed me some oxygen to place under her nose for comfort. Parker walked in. I cried.

The one thing Bobby and I had only dreamed about was about to happen. I watch him walk to the side of my bed. He wasn't afraid. He wasn't worried about the mass of people in the room. He was on a mission to meet his sister. He locked eyes with her. It was over. My heart couldn't grow any larger. Bobby and I looked at each other and felt the same thing. Joy. "Oh my gosh. She's so cute! Can I touch her?" He wanted her. As he spoke she opened her eyes wide and searched for him. "Hi Holland. It's me Parker. I'm your brother and you have a sister Kennedy too!" How can this be happening!? I thought. She wanted to see her brother. I can't even explain in the right words what their connection looked like. But you could feel it. Everyone could. This moment helped heal the loss we felt last year with Kennedy. All my Parker has ever wanted was to feel what it was like to be a big brother. Holland allowed him to feel that. Holland gave Bobby and I the opportunity to witness it. Our hearts were being mended. Carefully stitched back together. We knew our moments with her were brief. I let Parker and Holland guide the way. He sang "I Lava You." (From the Disney Pixar short) He told her about heaven and that Kennedy was there. He told her that he was going to be sad when she left but that she was going to be an angel. He kissed her. "Mom she loves me!" He said. She will always love him and we will always love her. I felt her slowly slipping and knew I didn't want Parker to witness her last breath. I wasn't sure I was even ready for it. He said his goodbyes and kissed her hand. It was a sweet sweet moment. It didn't feel like a forever goodbye. Because it wasn't.

In between the time I delivered and Parker was bonding with his sister. She was able to receive a name and a blessing. Something all baby's receive in my church after they are born. Technically she didn't "need" it because she wasn't going to be a "member" but I wanted to do something special for her. To memorialize that fact that she was alive. A couple men from my church placed their hands on her and during the prayer a rush of peace fell over me. This was a moment I didn't think would ever be possible for Holland. Just another reminder of how loving and sweet our Father in Heaven is. I listened to every word. Every syllable in the prayer. "I bless you Holland that you and your sister will make an impact on this earth." They already have. And I plan to do everything I can to help them. If it be as simple as helping others, writing, speaking or sharing. Anything to use their memory for good. I am so grateful to have experienced that moment. It's something I can look back on and feel the love my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ have for my girls.

As soon as we got Parker settled and out of the room you could see Holland slow down her fight. Her purpose was met. She gained a body and met her family.  I looked at Bobby and said "...your turn." He was nervous. I handed her off to him and he took her over to a chair near the window. I noticed it wasn't raining anymore and the clouds seemed to break up. The sun was shining through the window, hitting Bobby and Holland so perfectly. I asked a nurse to take a few photos of them. I wanted to remember how he looked at her. She stared at him. They were connecting. I cried quietly. I knew how important this moment was for him. A Mom is able to bond with her baby while in utero. We feels kicks, hiccups and movement. Heck I could tell you both Holland and Kennedy's personality as if I had raised them to adulthood. Fathers don't get that luxury. Sure they get to feel the kicks but it they're from the outside. Disconnected. It's when they lock eyes with their baby that their souls connect. This was healing Bobby. He didn't seem as clenched up as he was last year. Like his insides were being eaten by battery acid. There was an ease to his face. Acceptance. Grief. Loss. But to accept is to move forward. He was letting feelings he had been so afraid to acknowledge wash over him. A moment I had prayed months and months for. I don't think I could fully explain how much I love this man. The boy I fell in love with when we were 16, naive and clueless. But I'll save those feelings for another time.

The nurses asked us if we wanted to get her cleaned up and weighed. My sister Stacey was almost at the hospital so we thought that now would be a good time. Bobby never left Hollands side. He walked over to the warming table and observed the nurses working on our girl. Stacey walked in just as they were finishing up their charts. She was there last year with Kennedy. She walked in the same way and it felt like déjà vu. For a moment I couldn't look at her because I felt that familiar sadness. She walked over to Holland and smiled. "She's so cute!" She said. "Can I hold her?" The nurse swaddled Holland back up and handed her to her Aunt Stacey. Someone she was named after. I've named all of my kids after my siblings. Parker James (My brother Kenny) Kennedy Ryan (my brother Ryan) and now Holland Frances (my sister Stacey). Don't worry Lauren and Jenni I'll make sure to have two more kids somehow, someway and keep up with the tradition. I love my siblings so much and it only feels right to include them in naming our children.

Bobby left to go get our camera and my hospital bag. He knew I was ok and he so desperately wanted to get pictures of her. Special pictures. Ones with the camera we purchased after Kennedy passed away last year. Our first lesson on how important memories really are. Stacey sat in a chair and said "I think she's almost gone." A nurse came over and checked her heart rate. "She has a heart rate but she isn't breathing much. It's almost time." I felt ready. Stacey handed her to me and I kissed her face. I opened her blanket and peeked at her chest. A faint heartbeat. I love you. I love you. She looked so peaceful. I once again I let her guide me. A few minutes later I asked the nurse to check her again. She was gone. "You have good instincts." I was told yet again. "She is gone." I took a deep breath. My eyes filled with tears. I was almost happy Bobby wasn't there to witness her last moments. He didn't need to focus on that part of her. In his memory she needed to still feel alive.

We were able to get the room set up to bathe and dress her. Bobby walked in. I looked at him and he knew. He came over to her and said "She is so so cute." I loved hearing people say that because my mind was repeating it over and over. I was able to get up and help prep her for a bath. It felt good to move. The upside to delivering natural is that you can get up and feel mobile. Something I'm still so proud of. Opening her blanket and examining each body part felt like a gift. She was perfect. Ten fingers. Ten toes. Yup! She had ten toes. Not 12 like we had anticipated. To be honest Parker was a little disappointed about that part. He was really looking forward to seeing those extra toes. She was everything we were told she wouldn't be. I was able to photograph Bobby washing her face, arms, legs and feet. He was so gentle. So loving. It felt so special to be able to love her in this way. I handed the camera to Stacey. Bobby and I were able to bathe her together. A moment I'll never forget. Something we wish we would have been able to do with Kennedy. But I guess that's the positive side to experiencing loss again. After losing Kennedy last year we had a list of things we wished we could have done with her. We were able to remember those things and do them with Holland. We had a little outfit the hospital provided that we were able to dress her in. She looked like the most perfect little doll. For the next 30-45 mins we tried to capture every moment.

Stacey said her goodbyes to us and Holland. We found out that I was able to be discharged that night rather than having to stay until the next morning. Again, another upside to delivering natural. I wanted to be with Parker, in our home, in my bed. After Stacey left Bobby and I said a prayer. Each. Separately. Something we did with Kennedy last year. It was our way of saying goodbye to her. To feel thankful for the tender moments we experienced that day. Having some time together just the three of us felt so good. Her coloring was starting to change very quickly and we wanted to be able to hold onto the memory of Holland while she still looked like ....Holland. Those quiet moments with just us felt the most peaceful. We talked. Laughed. Hugged. Kissed. They were perfect.

One thing that Bobby and I most regretted with Kennedy was that we didn't wheel her to the morgue ourselves. Instead we watched her little bed be wheeled out of the hospital room alone. It never felt like a proper goodbye. So we asked if we could wheel Holland to the morgue after we were discharged. The nurse said she had never heard a request like that before. Well today has been full of firsts for a lot of us. I thought. I just knew we needed to do it. Together. As we prepped to go home we collected items we could remember her by. The blanket she was swaddled in, the beanie she wore, her outfit, hospital bracelet, hand and foot prints. Etc. The weight of our too soon goodbyes was starting to fill my mind. Still holding her I made sure to photograph each of her features with my mind. I kept kissing her and telling her how proud of her I was. Just like the grinch, my heart grew 3 sizes that day. Which made me feel a bit of anxiety. How was it going to feel driving away from the hospital? Bobby loaded up our things in the car. Were we really going home? Parker. I smiled just thinking about hugging that boy. As I sat in the wheel chair and we walked out of that very sentimental hospital room, the one that helped create so many memories. I felt gratitude. Gratitude for the staff of nurses and doctors who were so warm and kind to us. They never made us feel like our girls were just a number. They felt like family. Gratitude for the visitors who stopped by to bring food, gifts, love and support. Gratitude for the peaceful spirit that filled up that room. So much comfort was felt in a place some people might want to run from. That room was love. Goodbye room.

I held Holland while we were being wheeled down to the morgue. Our departure destination. This felt okay. This felt right. When we got to the double doors of the restricted area I knew this was it. I told her how much I loved her and kissed her face one last time. Handing her to Bobby was so. So. Hard. He walked her over to her little bed and laid her down. We stood there for a second and froze. I don't think either one of us was ready for that empty walk to the car. We let out a brief cry and I blew a kiss. Even though it was difficult to say goodbye to our daughter it felt like the perfect way to end the journey together. On our way to the elevator I told Bobby " know that moment. The one where the new mom gets to hold her baby in the wheel chair out to their car. This felt like that moment. I am so happy to have felt that."

Our arms are empty but our hearts are so full. Even though our time with Holland was brief we couldn't have planned her birth any better way. I feel the love of our girls and I know they are near. Their memories will never be forgotten and I will do my absolute best to honor them. How grateful I am to be given the opportunity to love and be the mother to those perfect little spirits. I will miss them every day until we are again reunited but I will not let time, distance or grief waste their purpose.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meeting Holland


          When her face flashed across the monitor I gasped. "She is beautiful", I thought. The fear I had before walking into the 3d/4d ultrasound appointment was overwhelming. Why was I so afraid to see her? To meet my daughter through a machine. I felt a sense of shame because she is nothing short of magnificent. During the appointment I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Every movement was so important to witness. Last week our doctor told us she didn't have much longer. He said she maybe had 1-3 weeks left. My placenta is breaking down which means her only lifeline is failing her. So I needed to soak it all in. After our session was over I didn't want to say goodbye. I kept asking the ultrasound tech questions I already knew answers to trying to postpone the wand from being taken off of my belly. This might be the last time I watch her hands brush across her face. I wanted to reach into the screen, grab her and run away. Now that I've seen her I don't know how I will ever let her go. She's real, when before she was only a black and white image. That session brought us closer as a family. We all walked away with our hearts so full of love for her. That night we gave Parker a stuffed bunny with the sound of Holland's heartbeat inside. He named her "Hope". When we asked him why he said, "because I have a lot of hope". He couldn't have picked a better name.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Road to Holland


As I lay here at 1 am trying to convince myself to sleep I find myself continuing to reach for my phone and research more about Trisomy 18. The hours I've spent reading articles, blogs, and support group websites seem to be endless. I want to be prepared and know everything I can about our little girl. My mind doesn't settle at night when most people are off in dreamland. I go over ideas to memorialize her, connect with her, plan for her birth. Time is my worst enemy and best friend right now. I value the time I have with her but it's also emotionally and mentally exhausting. When Kennedy passed away last year it was sudden and we didn't have time to plan. Her heart suddenly stopped and it was go time to deliver and meet our daughter. This time having months to plan for this little lady's death feels like a prison sentence. Torture. On one hand I am so grateful to have this time with her and on the other hand it's leaving us stuck in this grey area. No one wants to be stuck in the grey. Will she be born without a heartbeat? Will she be born alive ? For how long? Will she pass away in my arms? Is she in pain? My brain won't stop throwing questions at me like an impatient and curious 3 year old. I'm a planner so the whole "we will have to wait and see" idea is my worst nightmare. Mind you, I do all of this internally. Bobby and I talk about it. We discuss the possible outcomes but the spin cycle of anxiety is all in my own head. He doesn't need to hear it. We are all grieving in our own way and the best that we can. Parker makes comments here and there but doesn't like asking questions. He is still convinced that maybe just maybe she will live forever. I'm secretly riding that dream out too. Bobby thinks about it when he goes on his daily runs with Rosie (our golden retriever). I think exercising allows the vulnerability to sneak in. He is so supportive of me and even though he is also going through this he always makes sure that my needs are met first. He makes it very easy to love him.

You know, I don't know what's going to happen in the next few hours, days or months. So I'm trying to make an effort to focus on right now. Each moment we have with our girl. Even though it might be a different plan then we had originally hoped for... This is our road to Holland. And I'm going to try to capture as much as I can until she gets here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Your awesomeness.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to spend the entire day in honor of myself for my birthday. 26 years old.  Such a surreal number. This means I have made it this far! This means even in my toughest moments I didn't give up. What an accomplishment. I am proud to be here today writing this little blog post. Because, if I am being 100% honest, there have been MANY moments in my life where I didn't think I would make it another day. So in spite of all of those trials, today I'd like to honor myself in a different way. Today I become even better. Today I push for more excellence. Today I forgive more of my mistakes & embrace my all of my strengths. 

I think as days come & go we forget to tell ourselves how AWESOME we are. To remind yourself of your worth & commend your perseverance on this downright difficult journey is important. Around this time last year I was probably at one of the lowest points in my entire life. I was overwhelmed with the choices & mistakes I had made in my past. I was hurting from wounds that hadn't completely healed. I was confused & felt absolutely, completely alone. My thoughts became obsessive & jumbled like misplaced puzzle pieces. Without the support & love from my family I KNOW I wouldn't be sitting here typing this today. My dad offered me tons of advice, phone call after phone call. My sister Lauren held me when I needed to be consoled & let me cry all of my tears onto her lap.  In my moments of fear or loneliness I learned to pray. I begged my Heavenly Father to hold me up when I didn't feel I could stand, ease my mind & help me find strength. It wasn't until the silence when I began to grow. I started each day with a routine.

1. I would pray.
2. I would write goals I wanted to accomplish in my journal.
3. I would walk to a near by park & call my dad for guidance. 
4. I would try my absolute hardest to think positively.
5. I would surround myself with people who unconditionally loved me. 
6. I would write in my journal again, talk about the goals I accomplished & write a list of things I was grateful for that day.
7. I would end my day in another prayer.

This routine created a positive foundation beneath my quaky feet. All of the sudden, in the middle of the day for no reason at all, I burst out into laughter. Then I started laughing harder because I didn't know why I was laughing. That's when the tears came. I was happy. I was feeling joy. Immense joy, SO much joy that for a second I was worried my heart was going to rupture. I started asking myself why was this happening? I was sitting in the car alone... no one was making me laugh. And that's when it hit me. I didn't start that new routine for a boy, for my son, or anyone. I decided to change something for MYSELF. I didn't NEED other people to lean on to gain happiness. I was feeling it right now. In that moment. By myself. For MYSELF.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I.  FELT.  FREE

The cliches work. Like my Dad always told us as kids. "If you do GOOD, you get GOOD, if you do BAD, you get BAD & if you do NOTHING, you get NOTHING." I was doing good. I was feeling good & I was believing in myself. For the very first time in my adult life.

Since that day I have stuck with the cliches. My days aren't perfect but that isn't the point. I get to be happy because I CHOOSE to be happy. I get to be here because I CHOOSE to be here. And as long as I keep CHOOSING positive things. My days seem pretty dang awesome. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Beauty. What does that word mean to you? When do you see beauty? When do you feel beautiful? Often, we look at our reflection in the mirror and decide if it's considered "beautiful"or not.

When I was a teenager I struggled with my self esteem and lack of self worth. Every time I looked at myself I would only see a very flawed human being. In my eyes nothing was ever good enough, I would never be good enough. That lead me to a serious eating disorder. Day after day I was putting my mind, body and spirit through hell. Why?! Because I was focusing on the wrong beauty. After years of therapy & a billion prayers, one day I woke up & CLICK I got it! I immediately opened up my journal & made a list of things I considered beautiful. 

1.) The feeling I get in my heart when I sincerely help someone in need.
2.) My mom's hands. They remind me how hard she works for my siblings and I every day.
3.) The sound of an innocent giggle.
4.) A newly discovered piece of art.
5.) Lyrics to a song that perfectly fits a moment in your life. 
6.) The sound of a fire crackling.
7.) The moon. He was my first friend. Something I could count on seeing every night. And even when he isn't visible I know he is there, protecting my secrets.
8.) The smell of freshly wet cement after a summer rainstorm.
9.) Watching the excitement in someone's eyes when they experience something for the first time.
10.) The silent moments on Christmas morning when you can only hear and feel its magic. 

When I stopped focusing on my outward beauty & really noticed the real beauty around me, I began to really love myself. Flaws & all. It changed my entire perspective on its meaning. I get dressed & do my make up because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. However, I have to continually work on my mind, body & spirit too keep that perspective alive & healthy. Stop letting others define your beauty. Take charge & define it yourself, your way. 

YOU. Define. Beauty. 

I want to hear what YOU think beauty is! Send me your definition/list & I will feature you on my blog.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What or who is yours?

Today I am feeling very small and insignificant. Maybe it is the dark cloud that seems to be lurking over my head or maybe it’s simply just a hard day. When I am feeling down, I write.  Granted, most of the time it is my typical babbling gibberish but today is different.  I need to focus on something or someone other than myself.  So, without further ado, let me tell you how I came to acquire a robot.  

When I was a little girl I used to play house with my sisters almost daily. I couldn’t wait to be a wife and a mother. My husband was always a cross between Jonathon Taylor Thomas and Uncle Jesse from Full House.  I always pictured having four kids, so no one would sit alone on a ride at Disneyland of course.  I would describe my life in full detail, up to the color curtains I’d hang in my library. (Because it is so practical to have a library in your house) I was a true dreamer. So it made sense when I surprised my parents at 18 and told them I was getting married to my up and down high school sweetheart. Granted, he looked nothing like Jonathan Taylor Thomas or Uncle Jesse but I could compromise with his Colin Farrell good looks. After a year of marriage and not knowing what the heck I was doing, I found out I was pregnant! Mother’s intuition kicked in and I knew I was having a girl. I didn’t need to pick out a name because I had been saving the perfect girls name since I was 11. I daydreamed about her future ballet recitals and what her voice would sound like when she told me she loved me. My childhood make-believe was really coming true. Here’s the funny thing about mothers intuition, about 9 times out of 10 we are right. On June 12th 2007 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Parker was 6 months old when I noticed something was different about him.  There wasn’t anything alarming or obvious that made me question his “normalcy”, it was just a feeling.  Maybe it was that intuition playing tricks on me again. One day I was folding laundry while Parker was taking a nap and I got a strange feeling to bang pots and pans in his room. Let me be frank, I felt crazy for even listening to that idea. I brushed it aside immediately and continued folding clothes. That strange thought wouldn’t leave my mind! So out of frustration and maybe a bit of “worried mom insanity”, I walked into the kitchen grabbed a pot and pan then headed to Parker’s room. When I walked inside I felt so silly, I stood next to his crib, closed my eyes and banged away. The noise was wretched. “What was I doing?!  Now he is going to wake up and I am going to have a cranky, inconsolable baby.” I thought. Much to my surprise, when I opened my eyes I saw a peaceful sleeping baby.

“He’s deaf!” I said out loud.

I yelled out for my husband and showed him my new discovery.  My mother’s intuition didn’t fail me this time. I remember sitting near the crib and replaying what just happened over and over. “He’s deaf, he’s deaf, Parker is deaf.” I kept saying it out loud. It took me all of 3 minutes to get over the shock. From that point on I studied and learned as much as I could about the deaf community. I wanted to be informed and knowledgeable so I could make the right decisions for my son. After many Audiologist appointments and parents from a great foundation called, “We Hear You!”, Parker’s dad and I looked into Cochlear Implants. Fast forward a year and a half, my baby boy heard sound for the first time. That day is the day I brought home my very own robot.
Robots are a bit tricky at first. You have to get used to new routines, weird noises, magnetic heads, plastic rechargeable ears & the fact that you now own a ROBOT! Next, it’s time to introduce him to our extremely noisy world. The first step is for him to LEARN to listen. It doesn’t come naturally. Every minute of every day we hear noises. I hear the keys clicking on the keyboard as I write this. I hear the fan next to me.  I hear Bobby talking on the phone in the other room, the neighbor’s lawn mower, a car just drove by. All of these noises mean nothing unless you can identify what they are and where they are coming from. We focused on that concept for the first year after Parker received his Implants. We would go on “listening walks”, point out every noise we heard over and over and over. The key is repetition. After he learns to listen, the next step is speech development. I had been dying to hear this little robot speak since the day I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to hear him call out my name or tell me what he wanted to do that day. It wasn’t until October 2011 when I heard “Mom!” , come out of his little robot mouth for the first time. And he hasn’t shut up since.

 “Mom. Mom? MOM?! MOMMM!!! Come here right now!!!! Please.” I hear that phrase about 1000 times a day. And as much as it annoys me, I smile every time. If you told me 2 years ago that Parker would be a chatter box today, I’d call you Pee Wee Herman and slap you silly. But folks, it is true. My robot is a nonstop babbler just like his mom. He wakes up each morning on a mission to tell me the days events.  “Mom! First we watch Popeye, then school, then we play Mario, then eat food, then bath time, then story time, then sleep. Ok? Ok Mom?” Crazy right?! The robot speaks!

                When I became a Mom I knew I was going to love my child unconditionally, eternally.  I would be his advocate, his eyes and ears in this world no matter the journey.   Little did I know that I would be entrusted to raise a robot.  For that, I thank him. He has taught me patience. He has shown me unconditional love in my scariest moments. He has allowed me to be his mom without losing myself. And by far he has given me a reason to wake up every morning and live for someone other than myself.

Isn’t that how we got to this post? A day that felt ruined because I was feeling sorry for myself?  Look at how it came full circle. I was down and feeling a little fearful when I started to tell a story about a 3’8”robot that makes me smile.

Funny how that happens. Maybe the key to happiness is to remind yourself what or who you are living for to begin with.

Find that purpose.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Human Experience.

For the past few weeks I have asked myself a series of questions...

Who is Brooke?
What makes Brooke, Brooke?
What does Brooke live for?
What does Brooke love?
How does Brooke treat others?
How does Brooke treat herself?
How does Brooke show her love for others?

All of these questions made me think about things we so often push aside.
We can't expect ourselves to look at our life through a magnifying glass every second of every day.
Some days I am too busy to get through all my emails let alone pick my life apart. We have to make a conscious effort to give ourselves a check up. How often is completely up to you.

So. I stop.

In this standstill I explore the questions to my human experience. In searching for the answers, I soon realize that I don't have them. At least not the kind I want.

I want this life of mine to be full of purpose and meaning. Staying in tune with my inner self will help me improve each day.

This is where a project comes on...

The Human Experience is a project in which I am going to explore these parts of me. Fervently. 
Each week I am going to focus on one question and hopefully by the end of the 7 weeks, I will have grown as a person.

To make a difference, I have to be the difference. 

If not for me, for him...