The Birth of Happiness

I don’t claim to be an expert about much, but I do know a thing or two about being pregnant. There was a period of time where I was just straight up pregnant 24/7. Love your baby? Here! Here’s another one! And so on and so on.

I’m exhausted even thinking about it.¬†

I’m not one of those glowing, amazing pregnant ladies. When I’m pregnant I turn into a 5″5, 180 lb, hormonal monster from hell.

I throw fits. I cry. I eat a lot.

It occured to me that many of the symptoms I experience during pregnancy have A LOT of similarities with early sobriety. I hit the 9 month mark of sobriety, and I can’t help but to reflect…

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First Month of Pregnancy: Oh, my GOD. I can’t believe this! There’s a tiny life growing inside of me! The future is so bright! I want to tell everyone! I’m scared, but excited. I wish I could have a beer right now.

First Month of Sobriety: Oh, my GOD. I’m changing my life forever. I’m scared but excited about my future as a sober person. There is a hope growing in me that I can have a better life…but if you offered me a drink right now, I’m not sure I could say no.

Second Month of Pregnancy: Yo. WTF just happened? WHY AM I SO BLOATED? WHY AM I CRYING AND THEN LAUGHING AND THEN CRYING AGAIN? WHY CAN”T I STOP PUKING? WAS THIS A HORRIBLE DECISION? Of, course not. It’s the best decision I”ve ever made. I love this baby so, so much. WHY AM I SMELLING MY HUSBANDS FEET FROM UPSTAIRS WHEN I’M DOWNSTAIRS? I HATE PEOPLE! And chicken. I HATE CHICKEN. I’ll never eat chicken ever again.

Second Month of Sobriety: My body hates me. I took away the one thing that made it happy. I’m bloated and gross, because I have replaced alcohol with double stuffed oreos. My ass is fat. I can’t stop crying. I can’t stop smiling. I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. I can hear my husband chewing three feet away from me. EVERYTHING ANNOYS ME, SO STOP CHEWING SO CLOSE TO MY GODDAMNED EARS! I think I deserve an entire bag of twizzlers right now.

Third Month of Pregnancy: How long does this whole pregnancy last? Because, I’m over it. I feel like shit. I hate everyone. I miss my jeans. I miss sleep. I KEEP FARTING.

Third month of Sobriety- YAAAAS! 90 days! I worked so hard for this. Can I relax now? I’m tired. How long do I have to continue going to meetings everyday? Can’t I just stay home and watch Netflix? Look at me. I’m doing it! I didn’t think I could go one day without wine, let alone three months.

IMG_9071Fourth Month of Pregnancy: Am I showing? I’m showing right? That’s not just a food baby, is it? How much weight am I going to gain? My dr said I need to slow down, because I’m eating too many donuts.

Fourth Month in Sobriety: DID YOU HEAR I’M SOBER? BIG NEWS! I’M SOBER. CAN’T YOU TELL? Can you overdose on sugar? Sugar is my main food group. No, I’m not pregnant. No, that’s not a beer belly. That’s my sobriety stomach. Full of brownines and happiness. IMG_7283

Fifth Month of Pregnancy: I think I felt the baby move. I’m tired. I’m excited. I want to buy every single baby thing that ever existed. Are there any other movies about pregnancy and birth on Netflix? I watched ” The Business of Being Born” ten times. I want a natural birth. No drugs. I’m so strong. I’m going to be a mother. Shit, I cant sleep at all. Too much to think about.

Fifth Month of Sobriety: I’m reaching out to others. I want to stay sober and help others stay sober. I”ve watched every documentary on addiction that the internet has to offer. No drinking. No drugs. Every day is a blessing. Ok, not everyday, but I know that I have the ability to make it a good day if I work my steps, reach out to my peeps, focus on myself so I can be the best version of me for my family.

Sixth month of Pregnancy: I had three slushies today from Sonic. Go ahead. Judge me. I dare you. There’s no way I am prepared to be a mother. I don’t think I can do this. I’m not strong enough. I just want to nap and eat chips all day long. What if the baby hates me? I’ve already washed all of her clothes and set up her room 18,000 times. I’m still farting like a champ.

Sixth Month of Sobriety: SIX MONTHS? ARE YOU SERIOUS? WHOAH. That’s a long ass time. I feel alive. Finally. I”m scared. What if I’m not strong enough to do this forever though? I have replaced alcohol with red bull and it makes me gassy. Fart, fart, fart.IMG_7198

Seventh Month of Pregnancy: I’m almost done! I’m almost done! I’m almost…FUCK. I thought I was at 30 weeks. I”m only at 29. I”M GOING TO BE PREGNANT FOREVER. I can’t shave my legs. I can’t see anything past this massive belly. I bought sneakers that you can slip on, because I can’t tie my own shoes anymore. I”m tired dude.

Seventh Month of Sobriety: I’m almost to a year, right? It’s just around the corner! Oh. Wait. I have a few months to go. I shouldn’t be focused on the days or years, because this is my reality for the rest of my life. Not just one year. Not two years. Not just a decade. This is forever. I bought myself new shoes, because I’ve been working so hard at being present and sober, I deserve a treat!

Eighth Month of Pregnancy: Whatever.

Eighth Month of Sobriety: One day at a time.

Ninth Month of Pregnancy: Can I do this? Was I crazy thinking I was qualified to be a mother to someone? What if I screw her up? I can’t do this. Honestly, I don’t care if I have to take tons of drugs or zero drugs during delivery-I just want this damn thing out of me. It could happen today! I could go into labor today. Am I prepared? WHAT AM I DOING? This is terrifying. And exhilerating. I think I’ll eat a cheeseburger. I can’t wait until I can drink champagne again.

Ninth Month of Sobriety: I’m sober. I’m going through a lot right now, but I find strength in my sobriety. I know I’m not alone. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know that I’m on the right path. Nine months is nothing compared to a lifetime, but it’s still worth celebrating. Every day sober is a day worthy of celebration. I celebrate life, happiness, sobriety, my family, and my friends with copious amounts of carbs and caffeinated beverages. Strangely enough, I don’t want champagne.

 

The miracle of life. The miracle of sobriety. J3TsK%dTSVSS+ljHoOiEvg

Money makes the world go ’round…

I’m lucky. I grew up with four parents (my parents divorced, and soon after I was given two more parents, whom I love) who made sure I had everything I needed. Clothes, food, roof over our head, Dr appointments, tutition for dance and music classes…anything I needed. I was raised in two homes and the overall theme was that family, friends, love, and the fact that money doesn’t make you happy.

But, everything I saw on tv or heard on the radio led me to believe that differently. If I didn’t have those se7ven jeans I wouldn’t fit it in. If my makeup came from CVS it meant I was cheap. Cool kids bought make up stuff at Sephora. I needed to have UGGS, because everyone had UGGS.

See that guy in that jewlery commercial? He bought the woman in his life a ring, and now they’ll have eternal happiness. How about those women in the bra commercials? You will never achieve great joy in your life if your bra doesn’t have sparkles and padding for a push up.

How the hell do I go about raising my kids to know that the size of your bank account doesn’t determine your happiness?

 

Commercial after commercial, all the same,

” My new Barbie has a tutu that changes colors, and she sings too!”

” This fluffy pillow is ALSO a big stuffed animal. You’ll have someone to snuggle with all night long!”

” You’ll have so much fun doing this 3,000 piece lego set!”

 

I remember Easter with my dads side of my family. We  would go to brunch at a beautiful restaurant, right on the long island sound. We would gather together and spend time on the beach, my cousins chasing each other near the waves. Seagulls would fly past, and we would worry that they might poop on our heads. We dug our toes in the cool April sand as we watched the waves crash. I remember the smell of the sea.

I didn’t buy that experience. I lived it.

I remember years and years of Thanksgiving dinners where we all held hands and sang a prayer over our food. After everyone was done eating, we would gather in my Aunt and Uncles living room and proceed to put on our annual family talent show. We would sing, dance, tell blonde jokes and laugh our asses off.

I didn’t write a check for those memories. I was there.

 

When I was in my early twenties, I spend night after night going to auditions in Chicago. I would sing, dance, get call backs (once in awhile…) and eventually get cast in a show. A show that I believed in. I didn’t audition or become a member of the cast looking for a big pay day. I did it because it brings me joy. Performing on stage was my passion, and it didn’t matter if I made any money off of it.

You can’t put a price on that.

 

I remember the first time I held my baby sister and my baby brother. I’m twelve years older than them, and the love that was oozing out of me was priceless. It was love at first sight with the both of them. They looked so little and squishy, wrapped up in their newborn blankets.

 

Priceless.

 

I remember dancing to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album at my mom and stepdads house. I would pop the cd in and spend hours twirling and leaping throughout the living room. Dancing like a fool did the trick. Instant happiness.

Happiness can’t be bought.

 

Standing in line with my mother waiting to audition for American Idol, season two. We had such an adventure. We waited in line until the middle of the morning for our wrist bands, we were brought to room after room and told how the process would go. I was scared shitless, but I had my mom by my side. We laughed at the craziness of it all, and even though I got cut, the memories made with my mom will last for the rest of my life.

 

BAM. Cash can’t replicate that experience.

 

Basically, what I”m trying to say is… none of my memories throughout my life were happy memories, because they weren’t bought. They were in the moment, blissful contentment.

 

When I was pregnant with my first kid, I spent hours online looking up expensive strollers. My child would only have the best of the best. So what if the stroller at $900? MY CHILD WILL LOVE IT.

My child was an infant who could give two shits about what kind of stroller she was being pushed around in. We would take walks around the block and her giggle warmed my heart. She would ” oooh” and “aahhh” over the flowers, trees, the kids at the playground. I didn’t get that $900 stroller. We still had a great time.

 

I can’t keep up with the Joneses. I don’t want to. I don’t have an expensive car, I don’t buy my kids expensive crap that they’ll toss tomorrow. I want my kids to remember playing with each other in the basement. I want them to remember sliding down the slide, while screaming with glee. I want them to take in all of the nature at our local nature center, while we enjoy hiking together.

The more time I spend sitting at my computer, the more I realize I have instant access to almost everything, with the click of the ” purchase” button. If I want it, I want it right now. It will make me so happy to have it sooner rather than later. I demand prompt delivery for my new *whatever it is*.

I’m not stupid. I know money makes the world go ’round, but I will fight for my children, my family, to know grow with the knowledge that happiness starts here, with us, with our life experiences.

Happiness comes from spilling chocolate milk and giggling while it dribbles down the table. Happiness comes from watching my children run in circles, chasing each other with glee and determination. Happiness comes from sitting by my husband while enjoying a bonfire in our back yard.

 

Can’t buy me that kind of love.

 

 

Here’s a little treat…

 

There were three in the bed and the mother said, “Get your dirty butt off of my face right now, before I send you back to your room. In the dark. Alone.”

Ah, co-sleeping with your babies. What a special, treasured time. I read book after book about breastfeeding and co-sleeping, and how those two things were crucial to having a close, bonding relationship with my child. So, of course, with baby #1, that’s exactly what I did.

Never mind the fact that I had just had a traumatic emergency C-section. Never mind, that my body was all discombobulated and I was dripping milk like a cow. I HAD TO CO SLEEP OR I WOULD HAVE FAILED AS A PARENT. We gave it a shot. She slept like an angel. She breastfed like a champ. I, on the other hand, got zero sleep, my boobs were exploding and I was terrified if I put her in the rock & play that she would surely grow up hating me and probably have a lower IQ.

First time parents are a real hoot.

Then we brought home baby #2. Her first night home was when my brain and body dove head first into the wonderful world of postpartum anxiety and OCD. I was terrified to put her down. I was terrified to smoosh her. I was terrified to breastfeed her. I felt guilt that my eldest had to share me now, and blah blah blah.

So, I put that kid in the rock & play and said, ” You’re going to have to just figure this out. I’ll feed you and all that, but seriously, you’re just going to need to figure out how to put yourself to sleep. I was losing my mind and I need at least four hours per night here, kid.”

Onto baby #3…hahaha. She came out independent, and she also was put in the rock & play at a few days old, while I selfishly grabbed some sleep on my own.

 

So, all my kids did the whole sleeping thing differently. Here’s the thing…they are my heart. We are all so very, very connected. We love each other and I spend many afternoons wondering where these beautiful children came from. They’re all kind of smart…I think…

They’re all healthy. My second and third kids started sleeping through the night WAY earlier than my first.

 

My first child that STILL finds her way into my bed, but now we have mommy cuddles and it’s a snuggle fest every night.

It’s taken me literally this long to finally tell myself that my younger two are going to turn out just fine even though I said F THAT to co-sleeping and exclusively breastfeeding. They’re alive, healthy and happy. That’s my job and I’m doing a damn good job.

 

I’m mad that I put all that pressure on myself to be this perfect, attached parent.

 

Now my version of being the perfect attached parent, is when I have two kids in the shopping cart, and one dangling out of the Ergo as I check the expiration dates on milk at the grocery store.

 

I’ve also been considering putting a tent in the back yard and tell them they can go camping every night… but it’s the middle of winter. That might be a little cruel.

 

Raise your hands up warrior moms, raise your hands up. Co-sleeping or not, we are some bomb ass mothers plowing through this crazy thing called parenthood.

 

(But I swear to God, if a stinky butt makes its way to my face in the middle of the night tonight, I’m leaving.)

Bear.

My dear, beautiful Bear,

 

How can I even begin to sum up the joy that you have brought to my life, before you were even outside of my womb? You were the first. Just like me, just like your dad. The excitement surrounding your impending arrival into this world was something I had never experienced, nor did I know possible. It was magical. It was mysterious.  I laid awake at night wishing and hoping you’d kick, so I wouldn’t feel less alone. Your daddy had to work a lot, so it mostly just you and I trying to make Michigan our home. I washed your clothes in that stupid Dreft stuff. (Still wondering why that shit is so expensive.)

970698_10200673199305871_672312130_n*You were about ready to come out right about here*

Every singe breath I took while doing yoga, was no longer a  breath for me, it was a breath for us. I put my hand on my belly and said, ” Hi baby, I’m your mama”. I always cried. Literally, even single class. It was almost embarrassing.

You were the only child we decided to find out the gender for. I had spent years in Chicago as an actress at night, and days to a few families full of boys. I could play baseball all the time. (GO CUBBIES GO… well, until next year.) I could score some sweet soccer moves…ok. No, I couldn’t . I suck at sports. I liked to impress them by telling them that my uncle was a Major League Soccer Coach for the Columbus Crew and I had the opportunity to sing the national anthem at Crew Stadium when I was a freshman in college for the MLS playoffs.   Their response would be, ” Yeah, but can you TRY THIS TIME actually kick the ball into the goal?” I loved to build fortresses in the sand box at the park. I loved to line up their race cars and see which one went the fastest.

I also babysat for an incredible family with two daughters. They have now become part of our family. I spent countless hours writing plays, wearing tutus, watching ” Jessie” on the Disney channel,  making weird magic potions in their kitchen. We would watch every Disney movie, make popcorn, and snuggle while I sang them to sleep for a decade.

 

(Side note: FUCK JESSIE. I hate that stupid show with every fiber in my being and I hate that I even decided to mention it, because that stupid, stupid, STUPID DUMB THEME SONG IS IN MY HEAD. So, Fiona, if you want to make Mama happy- DO NOT WATCH IT. I’ll throw the TV right out. UGH.)

 

I also had the privilege to spend time with my two beautiful cousins. My aunt and uncle were one of the main reasons I decided to move to Chicago. I loved babysitting for them and watching my brave, smart, opinionated, special cousins as often as I could.

 

What I”m trying to say here is that I had plenty of experience with kids. I started getting a little cocky around 16 weeks pregnant. I was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CERTAIN THAT YOU WERE A BOY. I thought boys were easy. I would let you outside, let you run around in the mud, and call it a day. You’d love trains and cars. None of that princess shit.  I will admit though, I was absolutely terrified to change you diaper if it had a penis in it. Just keepin’ it real over here.

I laid on the table as your daddy held my hand while the technician put cold gel on my barely there bump. She started showing us the various organs and I was thinking, ” Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever… WHAT IS IT?”

 

A girl.

” I’m sorry, can you repeat that?”

A girl.

” How accurate are these ultrasounds?”

 

I watched Daddy’s face go white. I saw his mind spinning. He was mentally making a checklist for any boy or girl that ever would want to date you. I didn’t even realize how HUGE the smile on my face was. Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified. I”m still terrified, but a daughter. My daughter. I thought you would look like me, have the same interests as me and together as a mommy-daughter team, we could take over the world.

IMG_5136*sometimes, we bake…*

Haha. HAHAHA. First time moms are so cute. 

Originally we were going to name you Aoife, which is Ava in Gaelic, but my family begged us not to torture you  with that. What kindergarten teach is going to know how to say that in Detroit, Michigan. None. The answer is none.

So, I let your Daddy pick your name. Lots of people think we named you after Fiona Apple, because I”m basically obsessed with her. That had nothing to do with it. Daddy wanted you to be his Fiona, and I chose your middle name, Margaret, to honor the life of my precious grandmother.

So, now you’re four and you make me late for literally everything. I can’t remember the last time we were on time for anything at all. But, you did make your grand entrance ON YOUR DUE DATE.

They said it couldn’t be done. I said, ” Fuck off, I”m having this baby today.” Granted, you came out a little more dramatic than I would have preferred, but you were finally here. Finally in my arms. I could almost physically feel my heart grow, explode, grow some more, explode some more. I didn’t want anyoene else to hold you. I placed you on my breast and it was a beautiful moment. ( HAHAHAHA. No it wasn’t. It sucked, literally and figuratively. You were trying to kill me with your inability to latch. Big shout out to all of the Lactation Consultants out there, you saved my life.) I couldn’t stop looking at your tiny fingers and long legs. Other than that, you didn’t look a thing like me. You are your fathers twin. Your blonde hair (what little of it you had) was beautiful. Your gummy smile warmed my soul over and over again.

You made me a mommy, Fiona Margaret.

947360_10200701796300778_1687657825_n*This is Us*

Before you I was selfish. Before you I didn’t care what happened to my body or my mind. I wanted to spend my life numb. I put on a huge act for everyone, so that no one would worry. Something about becoming your mother changed that. I’m not saying this, because I want you to feel the pressure of aways keeping me happy in life, but your birth was a turning point for me. How can I even begin to thank you for that? You showed me the mystery of life. You showed me the wonder of birth. I realized I had to take care of myself for the rest of my life, because you needed me.

20799783_10102187734644517_868879360969540009_n*stop growing up!*

You will always need me. I could have sat and wallowed in my postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, and you know what? Sometimes, I do. More than I wish I did. But, I look at you when you ask me to come play, and my heart melts. I let you sleep in my bed still, because cuddling you at night is still the most powerful moment of the day and night.

11074155_10101113310558997_4325101330229421730_n*Enjoying the view at GGB’s house*

The time is going to fast. I remember the day you sat up on your own for the first time. My next thought was, ” Well, shit, pretty soon she’ll be asking for the car keys to go meet up with her friends.” When you were itty bitty we did yoga together, I didn’t realize you were even paying attention. Now, at four years old you and I practice yoga or workout together in the basement so that we can be healthy and strong.

 

You amaze me. Every day. Even when I’m screaming at you, like today when I said, ” IF YOU DON’T STOP BOTHERING MAEVE RIGHT NOW I AM STOPPING THE CAR AND KICKING YOU OUT.” I”m such a great mom.

1234172_10100726410335147_756170434_n*seemed like a good idea at the time*

You love school, you love the outdoors, you love your cousins and family all across the country. You love to giggle with Maeve and you love to hold your baby sister Lucie. You’re still growing, and I watch you with happiness and also a twing of sadness. It won’t always be like this. There’s going to come a day where you will think you won’t need me anymore.

I speak from experience. You will always need me, and I will always answer your call.

I call you Bear, because there’s no efficient nick name for Fiona. Fi? Eh. Fi Fi? I think that sounds like a dog name, although I do let two of your grandparents call you that. I decided we would call you Nona Bear, until someone pointed out to me that Nona means grandmother in Italian… so Bear it was!

 

You are my bear. You give me nose kisses to wake me up in the morning. You give me big bear bear hugs. You let me hold you as if you were still my little baby when you know I’m having a tough day. You are wise beyond your years.

 

It is an honor being your mother, Bear.

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