Monday, January 27, 2014

Our First Born

On Sunday, January 26, 1969, our first born child came into this world.  And although it took me ten hours of intense labor before I actually laid eyes on her, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Yesterday she celebrated her 45th birthday.  Hard to believe! Yet we as a family have done a lot of living in the past 45 years!   Many gloriously happy times.  A number of average days.  And, of course, a few sad ones that occur in everyone's life experience.

So today I find myself reflecting on her birth.  In 1969, my hubby wasn't permitted in the delivery room. He was relegated to the waiting room with nobody there to support him. I was wheeled into a cold, sterile place surrounded by a bunch of masked people. Since the doctor administered a spinal injection, the labor pains subsided leaving me with very strong abdominal pressure.

Next I was transferred to what seemed to be a cement slab and had my feet wedged into stirrups.  I felt like I was in a precarious position and if I moved ever so slightly I would go crashing to the floor.

After pushing for a little while, the doctor extracted the newborn from my body without a hitch.  The abdominal pressure instantly disappeared.  He held up my baby girl, said happy birthday to her, and placed her on my tummy. A nurse wrote down the time of birth, 10:17a.m. and asked what we would be naming her.  But since we thought she would be a he, I said we hadn't decided yet. In those days, there was no such thing as knowing the baby's sex beforehand.

Everything happened so fast I barely got a peek.  I remember what worried me was that she didn't make a sound.  I'd been told to wait for that first cry.

After cutting the cord, a nurse picked my baby up,placed her in a hospital cart and took her away. I went to recovery until a room was readied.

Once they got me settled, since I elected to have a spinal, I was instructed to lay flat, not raise my head, and could not get up even to go to the bathroom for the next 10 hours.  That meant I couldn't hold my baby, not even see her until the time constraints were lifted.

A while later Barry came in with flowers and candy.  He kissed me and told me about his interaction with the doctor upon delivery.  When the doctor said, "you have a baby girl," my hubby's knee-jerk reply was, "what the hell am I going to do with a girl!"  But, in the next breath, he said that she was the most beautiful baby in the world and that he wasn't just saying that because she was ours.  When he got his first look at her, others were standing in front of the nursery window and expressed what a beauty the baby in the second crib was. Of course, he proudly announced to the group that the baby in the second crib was his daughter.

My mom and Aunt Eleanor arrived, congratulated us, and stayed for about an hour.  I was hurting from having to lay flat and the dozens of hemorrhoids protruding from my derriere. I really wasn't up for visitors.
Shortly after they left, I told Barry to go home and get a good rest.  I needed to sleep for a while, too.

That "while" lasted until about eight o'clock in the evening.  As I opened my eyes, a very large nurse was standing at my bedside.  I thought maybe it was time to be checked or moved.  But she just stood there with the biggest smile on her face and presented me with our bundle of joy.  She cranked up my bed and said I was now free to move about the "cabin"  Once I had my baby in my arms securely, I was given a bottle and told to try and feed her.  The nurse left the room.

As I gazed down at my tiny babe with her peachy complexion, perfectly-formed features, and the face of an angel, I realized she'd literally taken my breath away.  My heart was beating rapidly and at first I couldn't grasp the true meaning of this moment.  I was holding our first born child for the first time.  All I could do was stare at her as tears rolled down my cheeks.  I had never loved anyone more in my life.

I don't know how long she was with me, but when the nurse returned and saw I hadn't even begun feeding, she took her out of my arms and returned to the nursery.  I felt such a great sense of loss at that moment. She was my daughter; I was her mother. Nobody had the right to take her from me. I know that was an irrational thought, but that's how I felt.

Yesterday, at around 10:17a.m. I closed my eyes and brought back all the feeling and emotions I'd experienced 45 years ago.  She was my daughter; I was her mother and I had never loved anyone more in my life.

We named our first born child, Mary Joy.

Monday, January 20, 2014

For Better Or Worse in PA

I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and love it, at least most of the time.  Spring is a glorious season of soft rains, green grass, and sprouting daffodils.  It's when I get excited about my gardening projects of the new year.  I map out what veggies are going to be planted in a certain area, which flowers are going to be included to draw useful insects for pollination, and what fencing repairs are needed before anything can be done. I test the soil for pH balance and add whatever is lacking. I aerate the ground by digging it up and sprinkling it with peat moss. I research seed catalogues and the local greenhouses to find the best hybrid selections that resist harmful insects and disease. I choose wisely, and finally, I plant my choices and wait.  All the above describes what's better about PA in the Spring.

Now for what's worse. As soon as the new plants poke their heads out of the ground, the deer arrive as if I'd sent them invitations. They stick their heads over the fence and nibble everything to a nub. Their cohorts, the groundhogs defy the fencing by coming in via the underground tunnels they've constructed.  Between the two, plus the usual aphid infestation and mold proliferation, I'm lucky if I harvest at least half of what could have been!

PA in the summer is awesome! In Pittsburgh, Point State Park where the three rivers come together, is just one of the places families always enjoy. The annual Arts Festival is a special attraction that draws people from all over the country. The beautiful creations, the food, the music, and the crowd gatherings are certainly worthwhile. What could be better?

But, what's worse is that during this two week plus event, it usually rains at least 8-10 days, and sometimes the storms can be so strong they send vendor tents flying.

Autumn is perhaps the most wonderful season of all in PA.  The weather is still warm, but the best part is the changing of the leaves.  If you've never seen its beauty, take the time to ride through the hills of PA in mid-October.  The marvelous plethora of color will LEAVE you breathless.  No pun intended. The fruit stands along the way are filled with freshly-picked apples, cider, and homemade apple pies.  I can smell them even now.  For me, Autumn is the BEST of PA, surpassing better by a long shot.

The worst thing about Autumn in PA is that it goes by too fast leaving the door wide open for Old Man Winter.

Now, don't get me wrong, winter in PA certainly has its good points, too.  I love to take a brisk walk around the neighborhood dressed in hat, coat and gloves.  I eagerly anticipate the first snowfall. Looking out my window at night and seeing the white flakes silently falling can actually be a spiritual experience.  My grandchildren living in Charlotte call me quite often to find out if we have snow. They lament the fact that they hardly if ever get snow at their house and want to know when they can visit. And when they do come up, we sled ride, build snow people, and have snowball wars with gusto.  They'd stay here till Spring if they could.  Oh dear, what a scary thought!

The worse part of winter in PA is that the snow keeps coming, and coming, and coming.  Which means we keep shoveling, and shoveling, and shoveling.  As you can image, it gets old after a while.
Or maybe, its that we are getting older and shoveling just isn't our thing anymore.

So there you have it. The good and the not so good of Pennsylvania.  But folks, we were born, raised, and will live here until we kick the bucket, for BETTER OR WORSE!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Please Be Kind

I'm an author.  To some, my work is endearing and to some perhaps not so much.  But try to remember that no matter what you may think of my writing, I work hard at my craft.  I spend a great deal of time to ideate, create, develop, and produce something that has never been done before.

I seek out illustrators that will produce images that enliven my words.  Then, together we continue the process of drawing, refining, and revising each page until some degree of satisfaction has been achieved.

And let's not forget the monetary investment.  Even for picture books, in order to present proper word and grammatical usage, an editor is necessary. This service is not free.  Additionally, when self-publishing, a person to format the work correctly must be paid.   And finally, the illustrator receives compensation for the amazing images he or she creates.

I'm not asking that anybody give kudos to something they find below par or simply not worth their time and money.  Returning the book for a refund is certainly your rightful prerogative. On occasion I have done so myself.

But, if you choose to review my work, please be kind.  I'm not asking that you say things that you don't believe to be true.  Of course, constructive criticism is very important and I take it to heart.

However, if possible, don't just go off on a tirade for the sake of tearing my pages to shreds.

If you can, please consider the time and effort I've invested into the books I write.  I'm not asking that you spare my feelings, but I would appreciate it if you could just let me down a little easier.

Remember that I am somebody's wife, mother, and grammy. 

Please Be Kind!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Smartest, Bestest Person In The Whole Wide World!

My daughter called in a panic last night.  As she and her hubby and their three boys were eating dinner, the oldest, Liam, asked what that stuff was that God got when He came to Earth.  "Something like frankin-something, I forget," he said. 

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Liam.  Do you mean Frankenstein?" she offered.

"No, Mommy, you know that stuff they gave God when he was born."

"Let's call, Papap, he'll know.  He knows everything about religion," my daughter assured him.

The phone rang, and rang, and rang before my husband finally answered it.  "Ah-huh, huh?" he said.
"I don't know.  Here, Grammy, it's for you."

"Hello, what's up?  What?  I think he means 'frankincense.'  Remember, the three kings who brought frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the Baby Jesus?"

But before my daughter could even reply, I heard Liam in the background yell, "Yeah, frankincense, that's what I'm talkin' about!"

"I don't have a clue about anything called frankincense," reiterated my befuddled daughter.

Then I heard Liam again. "Mommy, I told you Grammy was the smartest, smartest, bestest, person in the whole wide world.  She knows everything!  Why would you ask Papap when it's Grammy who knows everything. Even I know that," was his final comment. 

Smart boy, that Liam.  On his way to becoming the second smartest person in the whole wide world!
And certainly, the BESTEST!