September 29, 2016

All Falls Down: A Mom Of a Preemie Reflects

Last weekend, I was finally able to cash in on the spa gift certificate my husband gave me for Valentine's Day. Yes, I realize it is damn near Halloween.... but I've been quite busy with adjusting to a new baby and my job. And just trying to wrap my mind out around life.

We had an nice brunch at the Katz's -style deli here in Atlanta, laughing and talking like old times over bagles, lox  and "smear".... Old times plus a giggling little one who would coo and laugh. And had the waitresses wrapped around her finger. She is very well behaved in public and just likes to observe her new surroundings.


My massage was an hour and a half. In the time, my husband decided he'd take the baby for a little walk around the shopping center in her stroller and maybe pick up a few things from the market. As he did that, I settled into the comfy chair of the Spa. I was called back rather quickly and I received an amazing deep tissue massage and aromatherapy. It was heaven. And much needed. I felt re-energized.

After the message, my little family was waiting for me.My husband was holding my now dozing baby girl. The spa concierges had commented how sweet and quiet she was. And how beautiful she was. I smiled. Most moms think their baby is the most gorgeous thing in the world. It is only natural.

While at the spa, my husband ran into a former employee of his. She was with her partner and they too had just had a relaxing massage. I exchanged pleasantries and she had to peek her head into the stroller to see the baby. By now, my daughter was drifting off and wasn't really here for much interaction. The woman wiggled Gogo's toes... but she was over it. LOL. That's just her personality.


Fast forward to yesterday, we are on our ride home and my husband gets a call. He takes it via his Bluetooth so that he can talk hands free. The call comes through our car speakers. It is another former employee of his, who wanted to chat. The coworker goes on to say... "Yes, "Spa Girl" (for anonymity sake) told me she saw the baby. When I asked how the baby was... She goes "Oh.. not well.... I mean.. She didn't even respond to me when I touched her toes and was playing with her". I sat silent and looked over at my husband who had a look of shock and puzzlement on his face. He quickly said "She was asleep! She's fine". The coworker goes"Oh I am sure she was... Spa Girl is crazy anyway".. and continued talking about something else.

At first I was silent. And then I was furious. I was visibly shaking and my husband saw and grabbed my hand. Once he ended his call I lost it! I cried so hard.. This woman spoke about my child as if she was defective. To insinuate that she was not well..... that is how vicious rumors start...

It all came crashing down hard on me.

This stranger.. who only has seen my child in photos... she has no idea what my baby is going through. How I see her struggle to do things.  I already feel this guilt everyday regarding her progress and why she isn't meeting all her milestones. I compare her to other kids her actual age and I cry and it hurts. So for someone to make up a lie like she's gravely ill (and the girl has never even had a cold!) makes me violent! This is why I'm very hesitant to upload a pic or take her out on public. I don't need this type of agitation. People assuming she is younger because of her size. People wanting to speculate and scrutinize.  People like this bitch that had no clue....NO CLUE the extent of what I felt or went through.

I had my daughter 10 weeks early via c-section on Jay 26. It was traumatic and while I felt relieved, I mostly felt like a failure. I couldn't hold on to her inside for just a little while longer. She needed to get bigger. She needed to get stronger. She needed to know I was strong and sacrificing so much for her. I know logically it wasn't my fault but I felt that pain inside. And now a stranger bitch of a woman was seemingly pointing out that failure...because she presumed something was wrong with a sleepy baby.

The tears I felt were not only anger but also guilt. Guilt that my body failed and didn't allowed her to develop. Guilty I had some abnormal placenta that didn't feed her enough.And because of that guilt.. I often lied about her age to avoid the questions of her  being premature which isn't something to be ashamed of.  In the aftermath, it seemed I was surrounded by pregnant friends or fairly new mothers. More than 5 or 6 of them. I'd hear my pregnant friends complain endlessly about things I hadn't experienced (or had) and under my breath I wanted to just call them"ungrateful."  You're normal. Your baby is fine. Mine is not.  My baby is behind. My body failed. Your pregnancies are going rather smoothly. Mine did not. You won't spend a day in the NICU (God willing) and I have lost count of the sleep and hours I missed from either pumping around the clock or going to see baby in the early morning. I still wake up in the middle of the night to make sure she is breathing.. and sometimes I catch her with eyes open and wide, gummy smile. That's when I can relax...

The tears I cried in the car had been building up for weeks. It took that once incident to make me snap. To make me realize that postpartum depression doesn't end as quickly as some folks think. And mothers of preemies are especially prone to spells of deep depression due to the trauma we've experienced via birth. And due to the ongoing things we may have to deal with regarding our small babies.

My husband, God bless his sweet soul, asked if I wanted him to pull over. He asked if I wanted to get a drink or walk around. He asked if I was OK. After all the tears, I told him I was fine. And we proceeded home.

I opened my garage door and waiting for me was my daughter. My sister-in-law was over to visit and she was at the top of the steps holding her and enthusastically saying "There's mummy!!" And all I saw was little feet kicking, and a big gummy grin... 

And I forgot about some speculating, troll bitch.
And I forgot about my short-comings
And I forgot about my tears
And I forgot about being so hard on myself.

And I remember how perfect my daughter is....perfectly imperfect

And I forgave myself.

And all was right.


September 21, 2016

King Cotton: Musings On Our Second Anniversary

We've been married 2 years today.....

(Photo by Made you Look Photo, Atlanta)


The traditional second wedding anniversary gift is cotton.

For someone black, that may be a bit of a difficult gift to give

Cotton.

Something that black bodies toiled, sweated over, were beaten and bloodied over ... sold and auctioned and ripped from families over... financed universities..... all in the name of King Cotton. Black hands that picked in sweltering heat. Not measured for their humanity but by the pound. All while we wore burlap sacks and rags. This same cotton, sent up North to be made into pretty things for Missy and Massa.... to celebrate their weddings. And we couldn't celebrate ours.

Cotton.

Today cotton is grown here and elsewhere... sent to China, Bangladesh and etc to be made into all kinds of things. Even traditional wedding gifts. 2000 thread count sheets of Egyptian cotton. Cotton handkerchiefs that wipe tears.

King Cotton.

Often times tied in a noose around our necks as we hang as strange fruit.

So today, I give cotton to my husband. In honor of us. In honor of the ancestors whose marriages and unions paved the way for us who weren't given the common decency to wed legally. They say "cotton is the fabric of our lives". That is an understatement for someone black. Cotton is in our DNA. Under our nails. Embedded between our dermis and epidermis. Entwined in our naps and kinks. Flowing in our blood are the buds that pricked tiny hands as young as 5 in the fields.

White. Fluffy. Soft. Angry. Pain-Staking, payment-free Work. Much like Marriage.

Cotton

2 Years. On our anniversary.

 Symbolically celebrated with cotton.


A sobering reminder

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