along life’s path


Look at those rocks over there, Mom. It’s like walking in life.

My son said that during our Sunday afternoon walk this week.

I know!

Nothing surprises me, challenges me, inspires me more than the way my kids see the world. I may not always see it in the same way but that is really okay because, after all, we all see from different angles. So we stop and regard this rocky road to the left of our route. Daniel sees the smooth path in between the giant rocks. I, on the other hand, see the giant rocks…the obstacles blocking the way. I point that out to him and he is quick to reply, “Yeah, but you just have to go around them.

Exactly.

He should know. Perhaps better than most.

light and fluffy


Although Hazel has absolutely no patience while sitting in a very slow drive thru line at our friendly, neighborhood Starbucks with her Mima, she did discover this week that her hot chocolate is even more delicious with one pump raspberry syrup.

Inspired by The Lego Movie, which he has managed to see twice already, Daniel handled the assault to his senses during the dance preview creating this awesomeness with his Legos.

Meanwhile I found myself identifying with Tresa Edmunds here about living with our “magical burdens”.

Yes…blah, blah, blah…and laughing until I cried.

In other news, I sent off my submission to audition for Listen To Your Mother because dear Kizz encouraged me to try again because she thinks I have plenty of stories to tell.

Meanwhile this girl attended her first Stockton Thunder hockey game.

Truth be told, it actually was not her first hockey game. But this time she was not a sleeping, swaddled infant. No, she was right there cheering and yelling and people watching with her family. She probably liked it best because she could yell like crazy.

My daughter, Hollie Austa, is a pretty awesome person. One thing most parents wish and hope for is that their kids are better people than they are/were. Yes, she is a great mother. I’ve already talked about that. Today she just confirmed what I already knew about her (and her sisters and brother). She has a very kind heart. Not everybody would have come alongside someone to offer the kind of patience, kindness and help that she did for someone we know today. But my kid did. Proud of you Hollie!

And lastly, right now this is one of my favorite songs on my running playlists for so many reasons.

I don’t always listen to Gangsta Rap when I run.

car rides, spicy foods and serious conversations


I shared this on Facebook a couple of days ago because, wow, I had to! Daniel’s caregivers at Good Samaritan Hospital’s NICU, my colleagues, know too well how his story began so I had to share with them all…and everyone else. This child of mine, my son, is so amazing. Truly I am one blessed mama!

I love the chauffeuring of my clowns that is part of this juggling act of mine. No really, I do. If only because I get the added bonus of some of the best conversations with them. There is something about the being confined in the mom-car, staring out the window that makes it a safe place to talk about anything…really anything….OMG!…yes, anything and everything. Just the other day there was such a conversation between Daniel and me.

I really like super spicy food, don’t I?

Yes, you do.

I love Sriracha so much…and jalapeños…and lemons…and pesto…and…I just love spicy and sour food so much. Is that weird?

No, I don’t think so. You’re a man with very selective tastes.

Mrs. B. tells me most kids don’t like super spicy or sour foods. But it’s not weird that I do? Really?

Not weird at all.

But other kids don’t like foods like that?

Well, you are not other kids…

I go on to explain just a little about the years he was learning how to eat and his sensory processing issues. Oddly enough, I learned that someone with oral defensiveness like he had as a g-tube fed infant, toddler and preschooler is they learn to need foods with strong tastes and smells. The stronger the taste, the easier it seemed to be for them to put them in their mouth, chew and swallow. Lucky for him his mama loves to serve spicy, savory, tasty food.

The conversation flows through the explanation of how his need for strong tastes and dislike of loud noises and bright lights comes from his extreme premature birth. We talk about his five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, sound are processed through his brain and how because he was born 4 months too soon, his brain really was not ready to process all the touches, tastes, sights, smells and sounds.

He interrupts me telling me that it was hard for him to be born much too soon but before I can answer he continues telling me that it was good that his Dad and I adopted him because he doesn’t think that his biological parents could love him the way that he is.

Oh if he only knew…maybe he does…even if we have never spoke of this part of his story with him or around him.

Daniel, you know I am pretty certain that your biological mother and father did love you very much before you were born.

Yeah?…

Oh yes. I imagine they were so happy knowing that you were going to be born and were very happy waiting for that day.

But you and Dad adopted me…

Yes we did. Daniel, when you were born you were so, so very tiny and honestly the doctors weren’t even sure that you would live. The doctors told me that they, your bio parents, were so afraid and they didn’t know if they could do what you needed for them to do to help you.

You have to be brave when your baby is tiny, huh?

Oh yes. Yes you do. The mommies and daddies I know at work in the NICU have to be fearlessly brave and strong for their baby in the NICU and after they leave the NICU. And they are.

Like you and Dad?

Yes. Just like that…

Well that’s why you and Dad are my mom and dad.

Yeah?…

Yeah! I’m glad you are my mom and dad!

Oh!

Right?!

Truth be told this is the first serious, lengthy conversation we have had about his adoption. The last time was maybe 3 or 4 years ago when he told me that he had to be born early to meet me, his mommy. Then he asked what was his bio mother’s name. Irina, I answered. He then declared that that was a pretty name and hugged me before he ran off to play. Daniel has always known that he is adopted and that I met him the night he was born as his nurse and while Bill and I had always resolved to be honest about our beginnings as a family, we also knew that it would be a very hard conversation to have. Truly his perception of it all could have gone any way. What we wish for, hope and pray for is that he will always know that he has always, always been cherished, wanted and loved today and every single day of his amazing, miraculous life. Meanwhile I am overwhelmed with the wisdom and the insight of this boy, my son. Oh, and I am thankful opportunity for another mom-car conversation…especially because it was in the car…while I was driving.

adolescence eve


Today, my beautiful boy, you are TWELVE YEARS OLD!!! Of course, being the pre-pubescent child that you are, you are absolutely mortified that I am shouty as I pronounce again, “OH MY GLOB!! YOU ARE TWELVE YEARS OLD!!!” Still you have become accustomed to your mom becoming emotional and teary and nothing but feelings every January 11. You are coming into an age where you are beginning to realize and appreciate just how remarkable each and every birthday of yours is.

That day, twelve years ago, when I met you for the very first time, I was changed forever, for good. I couldn’t possibly imagine what was in store for us all that day I regarded you, your tiny frame that fit perfectly into my hand from head to rump. As a NICU nurse, the NICU nurse who admitted you that early morning I could easily imagine the possible outcome that would be your future as a barely viable micropreemie. Still I could not imagine you breaking down, going over and under and around and through each and every obstacle and barrier laid out before you, a child born four months too soon who scarcely weighed one pound, without me…and your daddy and your sisters…right there by your side.

Still you are twelve today. You are a pre-teen. You are annoyed with your mom’s emotions today. You are an absolutely, completely normal twelve year old boy.

I’m sorry, son. Yes, I’m getting teary all over again.

Deal with it!

Happy, happy birthday my darling, miraculous, most-amazing boy!

play it again: the most massive character


I have come to believe that our scars reveal just how strong that we are…how amazing we are…how wonderful we are. I have my son and every single scar on his body to remind me of this truth. Again I am in awe of every single tiny, mighty micropreemie I have been privileged to know and care for thanks to my own.

Originally published September 9, 2013

Daniel came to me the other day and lifting his t-shirt pointed to a circular, pale, silvery scar on his belly just below his old gastrostomy scar.

What is this?”, he asks me.

It’s an old scar from when you were in the NICU, when you were a tiny baby.

But what is it from?“, he presses.

From a transcutaneous monitor. It was used to measure the oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body so the doctor could adjust the machine helping you breathe when you were very tiny and wasn’t big enough or strong enough to breathe on your own. Your skin was very sensitive so they had to move the probe around often or it would leave a mark that was shaped like a circle. That is a mark left behind by the monitor.

He thoughtfully traces the silvery circle-shaped scar on his belly. I can tell he is still wondering about it.

Do you want to see what it looked like on your body? I have a picture.

Oh yes!

So I pull out the little photo journal I have that documents his NICU life in pictures and in words.

He regards the picture, carefully tracing the TCM probe on his back just above the tiny diaper that he wore.

Do I have a scar like that on my back too?

No. The one on your belly is the only one.

He shrugs and then begins to read out loud the words I copied from the nurse who took that picture.

I have a lot of scars, don’t I?

You do. Every single scar shows just how strong you are. How amazing you are. How wonderful you are. I love every single scar that is yours.

He smiles and hugs me tight. “I kind of like my scars too!

Out of suffering has emerged the strongest souls; the most massive of characters are seared with scars.

~Khalil Gibran