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In 2013, after a series of hard times had rendered me depressed, sad and seriously embarking on a torrid and destructive love affair with CHEESETOS my husband decided to cheer me up with a week away in midcoast Maine. Although he was born in Southern Maine and we were fond of the Portland area, he had heard great buzz about this place further up the coast called Rockland. It was artsy, had shops and a burgeoning foodie scene. It had a scenic boardwalk that overlooked the ocean. Did I mention it had a world famous lobster BLT?! It sounded like heaven- so we went.

For me, it was love at first sight.

Almost immediately, I felt the tension leave my body as I lost myself in the peaceful surroundings. We walked the boardwalk daily and took in the natural beauty surrounding us. I embraced the quaint downtown with the great shops especially the homemade jewelry shop and seagull cottage which offered the coolest coastal trinkets. We visited nearby Camden and explored that mainstreet and lost ourselves in the art of the farnsworth musuem. To say, I loved ALL of it was a vast understatement. I was full fledged crazy about all things Rockland and the midcoast. A week seemed far too short a time and when our trip ended I cried like a school girl. I begged my husband to let me stay there.

I cried because I was in love with this new place which had made me forget, for a moment, the past years hardships and had put a much needed smile on my face for the first time in far too long.

When we left, my husband promised me that we would be back. I clung to this and already was planning a repeat trip in my mind as we drove away and home. I purchased Maine Magazine and Downeast magazine and embraced any connection to Maine to make me feel more connected to the area when I was away.

Truth be told, The last years had been brutal ones. I was standing on the edge of 38 facing a very unknown future. In the last three years, I had suffered not one but three pregnancy losses. I felt like my entire life was a maze of ovulation kits, pregnancy tests and the inevitable bad news I was bound to receive after one failed pregnancy turned into two then three. I was physically and mentally exhausted and unsure of how we would afford either adoption or IVF or both. I couldn’t imagine another way to grow our family after my losses had stolen my optimism and time was ticking away.

Rockland, truth be told, was the first place that made me feel myself again. I was able to be carefree. I lost myself in the cool ocean breeze, the sea glass, the mom and pop stores and art galleries and in the shiny stamp of newness that encased the town. In Rockland, I too was new and shiny and not the exhausted and saddened version of myself that stared back at me when I looked in the mirror.

In Rockland I was not the girl who In 2011 had an early loss and found out it was a boy nor was I the girl who in 2012 was faced with the later devastating loss of a girl. In Rockland, I wasn’t the girl who had spent parts of 2013, undergoing various tests and procedures indicated there was nothing wrong with me besides my typical 38 year old eggs. In Rockland, I could block out the time spent on pregnancy three, injecting myself in my stomach, having weekly blood tests and painful exams to get pregnant only to lose that pregnancy too.

I was 38, hopeless and angry at everyone, most of all MYSELF for failing so epically at something other people did so easily without a care or effort in the world.

But then there was Rockland- a newfound distraction and happy place. So if my first trip there was the falling in Love stage the second was a full fledged committed relationship where I decided if I wasn’t going to be able to live in this peaceful haven I sure as hell was going to somehow spend as much time there as humanely possible.

Thus, began the story of Seashell Cottage.

Our neighbor Roger is fond of telling us, the story that while everyone else walked into our South End home and quickly walked out he wondered about us when our visit seemed to linger longer than most. Despite the green shag carpet and the unending brown wooden panels ( not to mention the bright orange paint on the walls!) I immediately saw that potential that laid behind its rougher exterior. Seashell cottage, much the same as me, was in need of some much needed TLC.

So for the first time, in like ever, my husband and I did something utterly and completely impractical. Some would say we had lost our minds and maybe we had-We bought a second home without owning a first! We took all our savings and invested it into our downpayment. What had happened to “Oh so practical”, Mat and “worry -wart”, Susan?! Who were these risk taking daredevil imposters who has infiltrated our minds and spirits?!

I will absolutely never forget the first night we had spent in the house. It was a cold and dark and snowy day in the midcoast. January of 2014 and we had absolutely NO furniture but for a bed that we had purchased right after our closing so we would at least have someplace to sit! I recall us huddled together in said bed, watching a DVD of the show Six Feet Under and wondering out loud to one another- WHAT the hell had we done. Had we lost our actual minds? In the darkness of a Maine winter, we questioned absolutely everything and wondered what the future held both for us and our beloved fixer upper.

Thankfully, apart from that first anxiety ridden night I am proud to say, years now later, that buying this house is up there in the top three things I’ve done in my life. Marrying my husband and having my kids ( yes you heard right!) and buying our house affectionally called SeaShell Cottage.

When we closed on the house in Rockland, I was three months pregnant with my rainbow daughter Arabella. It was a time of worry and fear as I feared another loss daily but just like the purchase of Seashell cottage, the stars aligned and it was meant to be. My very healthy Arabella was born in July 2014, just months after the purchase of our Rockland home. She’s is now a chatty, inquisitive three year old. She has been to Rockland almost 30 Times in her young life her first trip being when she was only two months old. On our many trips here, you will find us with her at the beach down our street where she’s enamored of throwing rocks into the water and playing with seaweed. In short, she’s a Rockland fan just like her mom and Dad.

And because life is nothing but completely unpredictable, ( and at times damn magical to boot) we have a new member of the Rockland fan club in the form of five month old Nicholas. Yes, this girl who had three losses at the age of 36, 37 and 38 respectively managed to somehow with the grace of god conceive and deliver two incredibly healthy ( not to mention beautiful) children at 39 and 42 yeas of age. Go figure.

As I type this, my girl is sleeping next to me and her brother is sleeping in our travel crib, right by our bed. We are now a family of four. It’s been years now since Mat and I were huddled here ruminating about whether or not we had decided right in taking such a risk in buying this home and wondering what the future held for us. So much has changed since that fateful night, I am now a very busy mom of two and that’s my entire life. My story of loss, while part of my past is still something that has changed me and the trajectory of my life in almost every way possible. The only thing that hasn’t changed is our continued love affair with this wonderful place called Rockland. Just ask baby Nicholas. He’s five months young, and this is already his third trip here.

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A few nights ago, I was reading the Little Engine That Could, to my three year old. At the end of the story I asked her what was story was about.

“Trains. Mommy,” she said all smiles and sweetness.

“That’s right my smart girl. It’s also about never giving up. Knowing that you can do absolutely anything you put your mind too.”

She smiled, laughed and told me for the 100th time that day about the new toy she wanted for her summer birthday and all was forgotten.

To be three again.

As I read the story of that persistent little underdog train, I couldn’t help but observe the similarities in our stories. It was nothing but sheer persistence, blind hope and the refusal to give up that blessed me with these two children. It’s my story, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t reflect upon it. With every inch of my being I am a loss mom whose now the mom to a rainbow girl and a miracle son. I’ll never forget what it took to get here.

Being a SAHM to a three year old and a three month old is filled with constant chaos. It’s the hardest but best job I’ve ever been so lucky to have. I know this, because I almost wasn’t here. As easily, as I sit here now at 42 the mom of two, I could have just as easily been sitting here in a completely different scenario of a childless life with only my three pregnancy losses.

For years, I lived in the land of loss. Three years, three losses. Hope was a commodity I couldn’t really afford. I had lost hope when I got pregnant with my Arabella two months after my third loss. It was the hardest experience,my pregnancy with her, because I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The bad news to come. I was always waiting for the dark cloud to come down on me again and I lived each day just waiting for it. Despite my negativity and my intense fear, my girl was born healthy pink and screaming.’ She was and is my little rainbow daughter. Her birth showed me that good things can happen after a whole lot of bad.

During my pregnancy with her I wore a necklace every day. It said “HOPE.”‘I needed that reminder. I needed to know that when there was nothing else, when the fear was as much a part of my being as my brown hair that I could look in the mirror and those simple letters could give me some surge of positivity.

Hope. Sometimes it’s all you have.

I don’t know if it was HOPE alone that got me where I am. Sheer stubborn determination and a refusal to bow down to the pain of my losses. I decided that this wasn’t how my story was going to end. Somehow I forged ahead through layers of sadness, grief and almost paralyzing fear.

Somehow I brushed myself off and tried again and again and again.So I am in many ways that little train chugging steadily but nervously over the hill that looks insurmountable. I wouldn’t give up. I didn’t give up. “I think I can I think I can,” and I did. When my son was born I cried hysterically the minute the doctor told me he was here. He was my last baby and yes that’s emotional but even more than that I couldn’t believe I made it. Six years. Three losses. Two live born children. My son was here. My family was complete. I did it. I couldn’t believe it but somehow I found myself at that illusive “other side.” The place I had fantasized about when I was in the thick of my losses. The place I didn’t ever think I would find. The place that seemed unattainable when I was timing ovulation, doing IUI, injecting myself, conceiving and losing babies and going through all the worry of being pregnant at an advanced maternal age. I was finally here and I was done and for the first time in six years I was able to exhale.

On the hard days. The long days. The days when Arabella is having her 10th tantrum and the baby is spitting up for umpteenth time and teething and fussing when I don’t think I can do this. When I doubt myself and my ability to mother them and wonder if I am ever doing a good enough job, I remember this familiar phase.

“I think I can I think I can.”

On the even harder days. The bone tired days. The nights when the baby is up at three am and Arabella is awakened by his cries and still needs me to tuck her back in, hold her hand and reassure her. The days where there needs to be two of me to fulfill all their needs. When I feel besides myself with wondering how I am going to do it all, I remind myself of my power. How I got here. I remind myself of how lucky I am to be in the thick of this “messy hair, no makeup, I can’t even goto the bathroom alone,”mother hood.

“I think I can, I think I can.”

It’s wonderful. It’s hard. It’s overwhelming I never feel like I’m doing it well enough. I worry every day. I love my kids beyond words. I never thought I would get the chance to mother two perfect children and yet here I am, chugging along, day by day with steadfast determination.

In the blink of an eye, you will never again wear dinosaurs on your small baby feet.

In the blink of an eye, You will no longer light up when I walk into the room, because my mere presence alone brings you such pure joy.

In the blink of an eye, I will no longer see your soon to be four month old baby legs kicking excitedly in your basinette. Kicking with reckless abandon, the biggest smile on your face, because you know it’s bedtime but you just can’t help yourself. Just the same way, I can’t help but to laugh along with you. Taking it all in. Because like everything else in life, this is but another fleeting moment. In this moment, I am here with you and my heart could burst. The sight of my baby and his smile.

In the blink of an eye, there will come a day when you sleep through the night. Feed less frequently, and need me less. When you are no longer helpless, but a man and not the small baby whose feet and belly I kissed to make him laugh. The baby I bounced around the house all hours of the night to settle him down for sleep. The little guy I burped, and changed ten times a day and fed around the clock.

So for now, I relish in these small moments. Because you are my last baby. If your sister was the baby at 39 (and after three losses) I thought I would never have, you were absolutely the baby I KNEW I never would have at 42. Yet here I am. Almost four crazy months into the chaos, sleeplessness and overpowering love that is new mother hood. With every ounce of my being, I never imagined I would have a second child after all I had been through, but yet you are here my perfect smiling sweet Nicholas. Every time I see you my heart can burst from the wonder of it all.

 

 

Rainbow, Take 2

Here we go again. 
When I first started this blog I was 36, clueless and pregnant. I had no idea, then, that my road to a healthy take home child would be filled with such heartache and complications.

That said, there are no words to explain how very thrilled I am that my cherished daughter is going to be a big sister. I never thought it could or would happen and yet here I am, again. 42 and cautious yet optimistic. Hopeful yet scared. Eastic and in disbelief and just plain thrilled. 

Hug Me

No- not really.

But those same words adorn a pair of my daughters footed pajamas. They are size three to six months and I can recall putting them on her for the first time and they would bag because she was so small. Now she fills them out completely and we are days away from her outgrowing them completely. They are amongst my favorites not because they look particularly fancy or because they are  super easy to get on and off (which they actually are) but more because of what they represent

you see they were amongst the first items of clothes I purchased for her when she was still growing inside of me

For me, that was a huge and scary gigantic leap of faith

For thirty nine weeks as I grew her inside of me, I was unable to separate the terrors of my last pregnancies from the reality of my present pregnancy with her.

I worried

I googled

I thought at any time she would die inside of me.

Anytime any milestone passed, I was unable to appreciate it for long. I was still waiting for the proverbial dark cloud to rain on me,  hard, again making a fool of me and my silent pressing hope that somehow this time would be different.

Mainly I hid and worried. Boy did I worry. I didn’t have a day of peace. I was pregnant in body only- my mind was always mentally preparing myself for another loss. As if preparation would ever make the devastation easier.

Then one day I was out of work early and I ventured over to chipotle for a chicken burrito lunch. There in immediate proximity was the flashing blue sign of BABY GAP. The first time I had gone there was to purchase a gift for my newborn niece and I loved many of the adorable dresses they sold. So I went in and browsed. I became increasingly anxious and could feel the sweat gathering all over my body and my pulse quicken. Anxiety, my ever present nemesis. I  felt as if I couldn’t breathe and immediately walked outside to breathe in the cold, March air.

Epic fail. But I would not be deterred. Determination and collasol stubbornness is what made me try again to have a baby after three previous losses.

So I tried again next week and the week after. Slowly but surely and certainly at a snails pace, I purchased those pajamas, and the white dress that was way too big, but that I made her wear leaving the hospital. And the blue sundress. I took pictures of these new clothes. I texted them to my mother and my aunt. I let them be excited for me at a time when I couldn’t allow myself to feel the excitement without also feeling the fear. In those days, I would let those new pretty clothes and the reactions of others- carry me towards bliss if even for an hour or two.

baby steps you would call it

Now when I see her, my lovely girl, in those pajamas the emotion is so real. I can’t believe she is here wearing those pajamas that I picked out for her when I was still so afraid. I can’t believe I am so lucky that this rosy cheeked bright eyed princess is mine.

 

Today I am thankful

This was written the night before Thanksgiving 2014-

Today I am thankful
That after three years and a lot of heartache- my girl is here with me.

That after a pregnancy filled with fear and anxiety and a birth that was all that and more- she came out healthy and happy.

As I type this, she is sitting in her bouncer
chair screaming and screeching away- yes she has found her voice- again. I say again because she is ever changing and every day she brings a new talent to the table. Screeching was first on the table a month ago soon replaced by hand sucking, feet obsession and now once again- screeching!!!

I have a lot of great things in my life. An amazing husband, great parents, two cute dogs and a vacation home that has brought me a lot of peace. That said, Arabella Juliet is my biggest blessing this holiday season.

For 39 years she wasn’t in my life and sometimes I look at her and wonder how I got by without her.

She is a true blessing in every sense of the word.

I’m thankful for her screeching screams in her attempt to talk to me

The way she throws a fit when her bottle is done- my girl is not afraid to speak her mind! I would have it no other way!

The way she farts when she eats reminds me of her daddy! ( couldn’t resist that one!)

The way I say “rock it” and she flails her arms and legs accordingly!

The way she holds my hand when I feed her.

And laughs loudly when I call her feet “her stinkers!”

The way I’m positioning her for a picture and she flops over to her side just in the moment that I’m snapping away!

The way she wakes up, most days and smiles and laughs when I kiss her good morning.

The way she will tolerate me dressing her until a headband or a coat is put on- then total meltdown.

The way last night me and Mat were kissing her cheeks and her stinkers and she got so excited she just laughed and laughed. We both looked at each other in awe. Her laughter is literally like the finest song ever sung. It warms my heart like nothing else. Corny, but oh so true.

What a miracle she is. I still can’t believe she is here and she is mine.

So today I am thankful. For this very first thanksgiving with her. There were years of loss and sadness and those days will never leave me- they are always there too. Now there is blessings and first everything’s and the joy of seeing life through her perfect brown eyes.

My daughter has already taught me so much in her four months, two weeks on this planet. Before her, I lived in a ME ME ME world. Now my days and nights are spent caring for her. Cleaning her. Dressing her. Doing whatever is in my power to make her happy.

Motherhood- it’s a game changer.

Life before her was perpetual rush. I didn’t have time to see the stars much less appreciate them. I was going, doing working, spinning on this perpetual life roller coaster.

When A was barely a month old I read about this cool baby gadget that lights up a room with the stars and the moon in varying colors. I purchased it and that first night I lay there in amazement of how darn cool this toy was. Despite my enthusiasm, Arabella was not impressed. She was lying there in her sleeper more interested in brown, bland teddy then how the ceiling was lit up in all the colors of the rainbow.

Fast forward and my tiny girl is growing by the minute. Blink and I may miss it. I have to soak her in daily because tomorrow or the day after will bring more changes. Subtle changes, yes, but I don’t want to miss a thing.

So tonight I got out our old friend the ladybug who brings the constellations to our bedroom. This time a more alert and interested Arabella laid there with me and soaked it in. She kicked her legs enthusiastically and watched in amazement as the stars changed colors before her four month year old eyes. She was in awe. I lie there too and took it all in, as well. The moon and the stars- sure but my main focus was and is- this tiny little miracle who has changed my life forever.

My girl is ever changing. The moon and the stars? Well they are great but they have nothing on her.