Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1 Year Later....

I still remember it vividly, the night before my life changed forever. 


My father had ditched our regular Halloween tradition of spaghetti and scary movies to go party with his girlfriend, so I stayed home, munched on some veggies with ranch dressing and passed out candy to the trick-or-treaters.  I was actually not too bummed about spending Halloween by myself, because I had already become engrossed in the True Blood marathon playing on HBO.  Lost in the world of Sookie Stackhouse and her endless supernatural admirers, I barely noticed when my father arrived home at about 1:30am.  He stood behind the couch and we chit-chatted for a few moments about the trick-or-treating traffic that had come to the house that night (a lot more children than in past years, odd!) before he planted a kiss on the top of my head and mumbled something about going to bed.  I nodded and turned back to the television, but just then, a sharp, piercing pain ripped through my lower abdomen.  I shut my eyes tightly and moaned as the spasm continued.  "What's wrong?"  my dad asked.  "I think I'm just having a Braxton-Hicks contraction, you know, like, false labor.  I'll be all right," I muttered, as the pain subsided.  "Oh. Okay," he replied, and started back up the stairs.


Convinced that it was merely a "false alarm," I went back to my show and almost forgot about the false labor cramp I'd just experienced when, less than 15 minutes later, I experienced another one, every bit as excruciating as the first.  "No way," I thought to myself, "I'm not due for another 3 weeks....could it be....?"  But I quickly dismissed the thought and diverted my attention back to the television set.  Over the course of the next two hours, my contractions continued, and as I timed them, I realized that they had become exceedingly more fervent in duration and intensity.  At around 4:00am, I finally broke down and called the Kaiser Advice Nurse.  Already in a foul mood from the pain I was experiencing, the Advice Nurse's bedside manner certainly did nothing to mitigate my irritation.  After detailing my symptoms, she confirmed that I was probably in the stages of early labor, and then advised me to do something which, at the time, I thought was rather odd.  She said, "Drink two BIG glasses of ice water, and then take a cold shower.  That will help with the pain."  So, like a woman who had been lost in the desert for 40 days, I gulped down as much icy cold water as I could stomach, and (since I had just finished my True Blood marathon) hobbled up the stairs to my bathroom, stripped off my clothes and crawled into the shower. 


I remained prostrate on the shower floor, clutching my belly and gasping with each cervical undulation.  I endured the arctic-cold water on my body for about 15 minutes, dragged myself out of the shower (and no, I did not dry off, nor did I comb my hair), slipped on my pink terrycloth house dress and laid down on my bed, in a futile attempt to will the contractions away.   No such luck.  A powerful wave of blood-red pain washed over me and quite literally made me sick.  I vomited into my wastebasket and realized, Oh shit, this is really happening.  I am in fucking labor.  So I lowered myself off the bed and crawled on hands and knees down the hallway towards my dad's room and stopped midway.  The pain was too great.  I started pounding my fists on the carpet and began screaming, "DAD!  DAD!  COME HERE!  DAD!  I NEED HELP!"  After about 5 minutes of continuous shrieking and pounding (yeah, my dad is very deep sleeper),  he finally jumped up, ran into the hallway and asked, "What's wrong?"  I told him that I was in labor and that I would need him to take me to the hospital.  To his credit, he moved pretty quickly after that.  He helped me to his bed and tried to get me to rest while he changed his clothes, but the pain overwhelmed me with such force that I ended up vomiting into the wastebasket once again. 


I barked orders at him while he helped me down the stairs, "Don't forget to get my bags -- the red one and the black one -- they're underneath the staircase.  Make sure to come back and put food in Neo's and Mona's food bowl.  I need my purse, get my purse."  We called the Labor and Delivery department when we got on the road, and they advised us to enter the hospital through the Emergency Room, and I would then be whisked up to the 5th floor.  For some reason, my dad chose that day to take his sweet fucking time and stop -- instead of gunning it -- at every yellow light and drive 60 miles per hour on the freeway.  I yelled at him to hurry up, and he gave it enough gas to bring it up to 63 mph.  Arrggghhhhh.


We arrived at the hospital at about 5:30am, and the ER nurse made sure to take her precious time as she called up to the Labor and Delivery Department to request permission for me to be taken up there.  Finally, she turned and informed me that someone would be arriving to bring me up.  The wait, which was maybe only 15-20 minutes felt more like 15-20 hours.  Keep in mind that at this time, my contractions were only about 5 minutes apart.  Every five minutes, I kept asking, "FUUUCK!  Where the hell ARE they?  What the hell is going on?!?"  Finally, the orderly appeared and I cried out, "HURRY!"  He wheeled me to the elevator, through all of the double doors and into a labor room. 


I had to quickly change my clothes, hop onto the hospital bed and endure the humiliation of a public inquest regarding my sexual history in front of my father.  When the bitchy nurse made a move to perform the cervical exam, I locked my knees together and demanded that they let my father at least move to the other side of the curtain first.  It turned out that I was already at almost 6 centimeters.  "Wow, you're almost ready to give birth!" she exclaimed.  "When did your water break?"  "I don't know, I never noticed when my water broke," I panted.  I told her that I'd called the Advice Nurse about two hours previously, and she had advised me to take the cold shower and drink the two big glasses of ice water.  "You know, that probably helped accelerate your labor," she murmured.  "Whatever, all I know is that she was a fucking bitch to me," I snapped back angrily.  "Give me my fucking drugs!  I want an epidural RIGHT NOW!"  "Stop -- you must breathe slowly.  Otherwise, you're going to hyperventilate.  Oh no, you're too far along for an epidural.  We can't give you one anymore."  "WHAT THE FUCK?"  I howled.  "NO!  THIS IS NOT PART OF MY BIRTH PLAN!  I AM IN FUCKING EXCRUCIATING PAIN.  I WANT DRUGS NOW!"  Thankfully, another nurse -- the nurse-midwife who actually ended up delivering my son -- took pity on me (or perhaps it was just that she didn't want to hear my bitching anymore) and tapped an analgesic line into my IV.  That was about as helpful as putting a Band-Aid on a gaping chest wound.  But at least it was something.


After I was all "prepped" and the decision was made that I was about to pop any minute (no fucking duh, people), the bitchy nurse returned and informed me that I would have to walk across the hall to the delivery room.  "WHAT?"  I bellowed again.  "Unh-unh.  No fucking way!  I can't!  Can you just wheel me over there?  I am in fucking pain."  She squared her shoulders, pursed her lips in that haughty line and told me matter-of-factly, "You have to.  We cannot wheel you over to the delivery room -- you have to walk.  Come on, get up.  You can do it."  I swear, I had never hated anyone more than that woman at that moment.  So, caught in the midst of unrelenting, 2-minutes-apart contractions, I grudgingly staggered the 30-or-so steps from that hospital bed to the delivery room.


Now, even though I was on the brink of delivering, I was still very self-conscious about my body, and about who saw what.  I allowed my father to remain in the delivery room with me, but only upon the strict stipulation that he could not step anywhere past my shoulders, and that my gown could not be pushed past my knees, nor would I require the use of a mirror.  Whenever the delivery nurse tried to push the gown up, I would always quickly grab the gown and tug it back down.  There was no way I was going to let my dad see my cooter!


As I settled into the delivery bed and put my feet up on those paddles, the actual delivery part progressed rather quickly.  I remember grasping my father's hand with Herculean strength as each burgeoning contraction ripped through my abdomen, and screeching, "OH MY FUCKING GOD!  SHIT!  THAT FUCKING HURTS!"  when the baby started crowning.  I remember feeling irritated with the nurse-midwife because after each concerted effort, she would promise that "the baby's almost out, we only need two more pushes," and I would snap at her, "You just said that!  I thought that was it?  Arrrggghhh!"


At long last, I gave one final and powerful push, and in that instance, it was like the world stood still.  It was the oddest sensation, because in the twinkling of an eye, the inexorable agony had transmogrified into relief, euphoria and wonderment all rolled into one singular, fleeting moment.  The stranger who had occupied my body for about 8 1/4 months had made his grand entrance, and I would, from that point forward, be forever known as Mama.

******************************************************

My memories of giving birth to my son and our first 24 hours together are both vivid and hazy...is that even possible?  There are certain glimpses which I remember so clearly, such as when the nurse-midwife guided his passage out, and -- it was so funny, even then -- she kind of tossed this bloody newborn being onto my lower abdomen.  I remember leaning forward and peering at him and thinking, "Whoa.  She just tossed him into my lap, like he was a football.  Am I supposed to pick him up now?"


They cleaned him off, took his Apgar scores and vitals, gave both of us matching security bracelets and placed him in my arms so we could have skin-to-skin contact, and so I could make an attempt at breastfeeding.  I stared at my baby and marveled at his oddly-shaped head, pink, wrinkly skin, tousled hair and humungous hands and feet.  I wondered who he would eventually look like, and if he knew that I was his mother. 


Twelve hours later, after all our visitors and well-wishers had gone, it was just little Holden James and me alone in the room.  Then, it hit me.  I didn't have a lot of experience with babies, my sister always took care of our baby cousins when they were younger.  She had always been the "pretend mommy," I was always content being the "pretend auntie."  I had no idea how to take care of a newborn, and I was scared shitless that I would do something wrong and end up hurting or worse yet, killing my newborn son.  All sorts of freaky and unmentionable thoughts floated around in my head.  I found myself praying to God and asking my mother's spirit to help guide me, because I had no idea what to do.  At what was supposed to be the most joyous time of my life, I had never felt more frightened or alone.

******************************************************

A little more than 12 months have passed since that fateful Saturday morning.  I admit that I have stumbled myriad times along the way, but I have also learned much about myself and what it takes to be a good parent.  Twelve months ago, I agonized over whether I would be able to provide for all of my son's needs, and give him everything he needs to feel happy, loved and secure.  I worried about whether he would be "missing out" by not having his father in his life.  Today, however, all I have to do is look into my son's sparkling eyes and see the wide, jubilant grin spread across his face, feel the strength of his skinny arms around my neck, and any concerns or fears I may have simply melt away. 


I chose to be without Holden's father for all the right reasons, than to stay with him for all the wrong ones.


And I know -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- that the choice I made was the right one for Holden and me. 
 



November 1, 2008




November 1, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Potty training= Super woman

So I officially trained Damien on using the potty. It took blood, sweat, and tears...and none of them came from Damien :) But in the end, we did it. My little boy can now use the potty. Thank G-O-D!

Sometimes I still get sad thinking about how much Damien's dad misses out on. I wonder how he could just not care about him and not call for days or only call to harass ME. It hurts and sometimes I still get sad but then I stop and think...would he really care even if he were still here?

My therapist (yes I go to one and no I dont care if you call me crazy) says to always stop and think about the reality of things. She told me "Do you really think Nate would be as happy as you are about potty training Damien? Do you think he could even do it alone like you did?" The answer is a big FUCK NO! Nate was never really into things like that and really didn't get the same joy out of things that I did. So why do I care really?

The answer is...I'm delusional lol. Nate would NEVER be able to do half the shit I do or did with Damien. He can barely take care of himself let alone another kid. So when I get sad about Nate missing out I always think that I am Superwoman. I am able to bathe, dress, feed, potty train, heal, and "make-it-all better" all on my own. Nate doesn't even have the ability to bathe himself let alone another child.

So yea. I am Superwoman and I'm damn proud that I potty trained my kid alone. I'm the shit and Damien will understand that one day...all on his own like his momma :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Funny FAQs

Hello Sisters! 

I wanted to clear the air regarding some funny "Frequently Asked Questions" that have been broached to me or one of our Assistant Organizers.  When I first heard these questions, I thought it was funny that one of you would ask, but then, as more and more people began to ask the same questions, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, perhaps I should say something, so the Sisters don't get the wrong impression about our group..."

So here they are...and please, if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to shout them out to me or one of our Assistant Organizers.  Don't hesitate -- communicate!



Q:  Are the members of your group man-haters?

A:  *chuckles*  No, we are not man-haters.  If you've been to one of our meetups, you'd know that we LOVE men! *wink wink*  Seriously, though, during certain conversations, we may relate to one another our own painful or troubled experiences with the fathers of our children, but it is only our way of processing what we've been through...as you know, women are not only the fairer sex, but also the more emotionally vocal, and it is therapeutic for us to be able to talk about our experiences with each other ("talk therapy," if you will).  Some of us may have lingering feelings of pain, regret or ill will towards the fathers of our children, but deep down, we know that ALL men are not created equal -- that there are good men out there.   


Q:  So why don't you allow men at your meetups?


The only males we allow at our meetups (with the exception of Mommies Only Nights -- only Sisters and female "framily" members are allowed at those events) are the male children of our Sisters.  We're called Sisters In Arms, not Brothers and Sisters In Arms for a reason -- because the focus of our group is on Sisterhood, fostering female friendships and empowering women to be strong and independent single moms.  As stated previously, during our meetups, we offer our fellow Sisters the opportunity to talk about everything and anything that's on their minds -- sex, love, marriage, sex, divorce, dating, sex, weight gain, work, and oh, did I mention sex?  We talk about myriad different topics as it relates to our lives, and many of the Sisters might feel uncomfortable with an adult male presence (whether boyfriend, cousin, friend, father or significant other) lingering in our midst. 

I will give you a personal example -- I do not bring my father (who, for all intents and purposes, is the "father figure" in my son's life) because I realize that some of the Sisters in our group don't have any friends or family members who can be a male "father figure" type in their childrens' lives, and it would be insensitive of me to bring that kind of uncomfortable vibe into the group.


Q:  Are the members of our group allowed to date/have boyfriends?

A:  Sisters, you have no idea how hard -- or loud -- I laughed when I heard this question for the first time.  And then another person asked me the same question.  And then another.  I said to myself, "Geez, people, we're not a CULT!"  Sisters, while we do not allow adult males in our group or at our meetups, I wholeheartedly encourage you -- when and if you are ready -- to go out, date, and find love again.  I know all too well that it's getting damn cold at nights and hell, even I want a tall, handsome man to snuggle with at night.  We are still warm-blooded women with needs, aren't we?  That didn't change after we became moms! 

Sisters, the group is here for you so that you can make kindred connections with some really great women, who also happen to be single moms.  Whatever you do outside of the group and meetups is up to you.  You will not be removed for having a life or relationship outside of the group, in fact, it is my hope that each and every one of you finds true and lasting happiness -- with or without a man in your life.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sisters In Arms September Newsletter

Hello, my Sisters!

HAPPY 6-MONTH ANNIVERSARY!

As of September 5th, 2009, Sisters In Arms – Single Moms Meetup Group celebrated our 6th month since creation! I know, I can hardly believe it myself!

Only six short months ago, I was sitting at my computer, feeling kind of sad about my situation, isolated and REALLY alone, like I was the ONLY single mom on earth, surrounded by a sea of married couples and fun-loving, childless single people. It was like I was in limbo – trapped between two worlds, and I didn’t fit into either (anymore). So I cast out a lifeline (by way of my computer and meetup.com), and hoped that by creating this group, I would be able to meet other single moms who perhaps felt and were looking for some of the same things I was…

And boy did I ever!

Over the past six months, I have had the distinct privilege of meeting you, some of the most incredible women I have ever met in my life. Each one of you whom I have met and had the honor of meeting and interacting with has reinforced my belief that Single Moms = Super Women! Thank you, Sisters, for becoming an integral part of our community. With your active participation, we are truly building a community for US AND OUR CHILDREN.

Today, those feelings I had of isolation and loneliness are a thing of the past. Now, I wake up every morning knowing that on my journey of single motherhood, I am united with other extraordinary, single mothers who have truly become my Sisters!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


~ Welcome Additions ~

Our community of Sisters continues to grow! We have added several new Sisters (and kids) to our little family since August, so please join me in welcoming our newest additions to our group:

Kim, with Athena (9) and Charlotte (4)
Kat, with Josiah (almost 3)
Moni, Expectant Mommy (due Jan 2010) – congratulations, Moni!
Lubov, with Natalia (28), Evgeniy (27) and Daniil (10)
Vanessa, with Zinnia (9 months)
Lara, with David (18 months)
Lydia, with Andrew (8)
Marina, with Anthi (2)
Ada, with Cameron (10) and Amanda (7)
Dina, with Will (4) and Vinny (3)
Tricia, with Romeo (8), Mella (4) and Farah (1)
Cathy, with Melanie (1 year on Sept 26th)
Tina, with Trenton (17), Nicole (15) and Aiyana (21 months)
Trang, with Rachel (3) and Jasmine (1 ½)
Beth Ann, Expectant Mommy (due Jan 2010) – congratulations, Beth Ann!
Susan, with Isabel (4)
Michelle, with Mikenna (6)
Anne, with Lukas, (10)

Welcome, Sisters! We are happy to have you as part of such a dynamic group of moms and kids! If you haven’t already done so, please read our About Us page to learn more about our group, and don’t forget to check out our active Message Board and Group Calendar for upcoming activities.

We know that sometimes, meeting new people can be a little nerve-wracking, but I assure you that you will only encounter positivity and support with us, your Sisters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


~ News & Notables ~

Birth Announcement – Our first pregnant Sister in the group, Sonia, gave birth to Londyn Malia Jones on August 11th at 12:38pm. She was 21 inches long and weighed 6 lbs 14 oz (and is just as cute as can be)! Please join me in congratulating Sonia on her new bundle of joy – our first baby girl born in the group!

Sisters In Arms Blog (http://sisters-in-arms-single-moms.blogspot.com/) – Can’t get enough of our Sisterhood? Join me in our official Sisters In Arms Blog! Your Assistant Organizers and I will be posting our own personal stories, commentaries and other pertinent information on our blog. Do you have a lot to say about being a single mom but have difficulty saying it out loud, and prefer to say it in cyberspace instead? Then become a Sisters In Arms blogger! All that we ask is that you contribute regularly to our blog. Please keep in mind that while our blog is open only to the members of our group, all registered readers and followers will be able to read and comment on your posts. If you would like to volunteer to be an official “blog writer,” please email me and we can get you signed up.

Sponsorship Opportunities – We are looking for sponsors! As our group continues to grow, so do our event expenses! Thus, we are reaching out to businesses and business owners who are interested in sponsoring our group. We accept sponsorship in the form of monetary donations (to help pay for meetup.com subscription fees and activity supplies), product and ticket discounts, and whatever other promotions our sponsors would like to offer to our members. If you know of someone who might be interested in sponsoring our group, please email me.

Our current sponsor, BornFree, is hosting a contest for a BornFree Gift Set. Simply email me with the answer to this question: [b]How does the BornFree™ venting system help eliminate colic symptoms?[/b] (Hint: You can find the answer by going to http://www.newbornfree.com/) The first person to email me with the correct answer to this question will receive a BornFree Gift set (valued at $45).

If you would like to purchase BornFree products from their website, they are also offering our members a 10% discount off ALL their products with the following promo code: 329451

Happy shopping!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ Upcoming Meetups ~

- September 19th (Saturday) @ 11am – Mommies & Kids Luncheon (San Jose)
- September 19th (Saturday) @ 2pm – Disco Dancing with the Kids! (Santa Clara)
- September 20th (Sunday) @ 10am – Mariachi Day at the Discovery Museum (San Jose)
- September 26th (Saturday) @ 7pm – Mommies Only Event - Girls' Night In (San Jose)
- September 27th (Sunday) @ 11am – Feria del Mariachi (San Jose Mariachi Festival) (San Jose)
- October 3rd (Saturday) @ 11am - Emma Prusch Farm Park Harvest Fair & Exposition (San Jose)
- October 4th (Sunday) @ 10am - **Monterey Bay Aquarium Outing – Kids Under 12 FREE ADMISSION** (Monterey)
- October 10th (Saturday) @ 11am – Uesugi Farms Pumpkin Patch (Morgan Hill)


When RSVPing for Meetups, please remember to include your child(ren) and any female friend or family member whom you will be bringing with you. As always, “framily” members are welcome to our Meetups, just please, no men!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


~ A Gentle Reminder ~

Rest assured, Sisters, that your Assistant Organizers and I are always hard at work, thinking, planning and coordinating upcoming events for you to participate in. Our goal is to ensure that you and your children have a FUN and MEMBORABLE time at all of our meetups, and hopefully, make some new friends in the process.

All that we ask of you is to stay true to your “Yes” RSVPs. We always give you the option of responding “Yes,” “Maybe” and “No” to a meetup, so please only RSVP “Yes” if you are certain that you will be able to attend. If you are unsure or think perhaps you MIGHT be able to, then feel free to RSVP “Maybe” or “No,” and if your plans change and you are able to make it, please know that you are always welcome to attend. However, if you RSVP “Yes” and then fail to show up without so much as an email, phone call or text message letting the event organizer know of your change in plans, then your “no show” will be recorded in your stats, and after 3 “no shows,” you will be removed from the group.

Finally, Sisters, there is the matter of membership dues. In an ideal world, I would be a gazillionaire, and I wouldn’t dare ask anyone – especially a fellow single mom – for membership dues, because I know how hard we work at making every dollar count. Unfortunately, Sisters, I am no gazillionaire (yet). Thus, I cannot afford to pay for the meetup.com subscription fees (which are $144 annually), or all of the food and event supplies for our meetups on my own. The $12 (annual) membership fees that I request from you are more than just dues – they are an investment into our community. Your membership fee is an investment into these friendships that you and your children are making with other single moms and kids. Isn’t that worth at least $1 per month?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If there are any event ideas that you would like to share, please feel free to email me. If you’d like to know more about me and some of my random thoughts regarding single motherhood (and life in general) please visit our Sisters In Arms Blog!





All my best to you and yours…


Jill :o)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Welcome to our blog!

This is our first "official" post on our brand new, live Sisters In Arms - Single Moms Blog.

Please check back for more posts from myself and our Assistant Organizers regarding news, stories and updates about our Sisterhood community!

Jill :~D