Four Year Anniversary

A time to remember what I will never forget.

It’s been four years since my sister Natalie passed away.

Of course I’ve been listening to her music and going through photos… Yesterday I watched an episode of American Idol. Not on purpose, the t.v. remote was lost and it’s just what came on.

I watched the first three people audition before I broke down. All the talent, the potential and determination… she had all that too.

I’d gotten to a point where I almost forgot that she was real. The past four years she existed only in pictures, videos, old post cards and memories. I felt more like a crazed music fan. Then when talking to a friend, I talked about how I loved dolls growing up. It wasn’t Natalie’s thing. She loved the plush monster toy. The action figures. In the Disney movies, she rooted for the Queen of Hearts and Captain Hook. And then it hit me.

I knew those things about her because she was real. Because we shared a bedroom as little kids. We built forts under the dining room table where we’d watch vhs tapes with our fancy New York Seltzer waters and popcorn. We got into trouble together. She was my maid of honor and I was hers. When my first baby was born premature and my husband had to go back to work, it was Natalie who made sure I got to the hospital every day to be with my baby. She was my sister. She was my friend.

The other day I thought I would go to the cemetery and visit her until I realized she isn’t buried anywhere. I used to be anger about that. Now I’m glad. She wasn’t real good about staying in one place anyway. She was a mover and a shaker. It wouldn’t have been fair to put her in one place.

And I deal with that. The fact that she is everywhere and nowhere.

It’s harder this year. This quarantine is making me crazy not being able to hug my mom. Not knowing when that will even be a possibility.

So, I cry. And cry. And I try to wait until everyone is gone or at least asleep because I’m tired of people comforting me. I know they mean well… I just want to be sad, angry, gutted. I feel the need when someone sits with me or wrap their arms around me that I need to stop crying or at least slow down. Be quiet. Show them that yes, they are helping me feel better.

I will never feel better. Not when it comes to this.

I wish I could end this post on a more positive note but I wrote this post to honor her and now I’m going to honor my grief and sit with my sadness.

I love you, Nat.

Nat

Natalie – Asilos Magdalena

Later, “G”!

Today, Olivia was scheduled to have her G-tube swapped out (something that’s done every 3 months).

The doctor asked how things have been going and I told him “Wonderful! We haven’t used the tube at all since January 3rd, and weren’t totally dependent on it half way through December.”

He warned us that if Olivia got very sick and needed fluids and wasn’t taking them, they would have to do another surgery to replace the tube. And… since we are low risk for getting the flu (everyone at home has had the flu shot, we don’t go out very much with her, are homebodies, strongly discourage people from coughing directly in her face…) that he would take the tube out.

And he did. It took 2 seconds. Olivia didn’t even flinch.

I asked if the “button” was hazardous material and they had to dispose of it or if I could keep it. As soon as it was out of my mouth, I felt embarrassed. Was that weird to ask to keep it? I don’t know… it was a means to an end. Her ticket out of the the NICU, after 90, we were able to feed her enough for her to thrive. Hell yeah I want to keep that.

Holding her afterwards… it was incredible. I was like I was holding her for the first time. I didn’t have to worry about pressure or positioning, question whether or not tummy time hurt, if she was going to get angry enough to pull it out herself…

It was a healing cuddle.

They popped it out and bandaged her up, the bandage is ridiculously large. It covers nearly half of her belly!

As we approach the second half of her first year, I’m looking back with gratitude and forward to smoother path.

 

Favorite Prompt

One of my writing teachers’ favorite prompts is “Since I saw you last”.

There is too much to write about. I’m going to get back to writing. I am writing, just not blogging. I want to change that. Baby steps. I was going to title this post “Here’s my little toe” but I didn’t want people to think it was a foot fetish story…

I’ll start with last week.

I’m pretty sure I had a mild case of food poisoning (self-diagnosed) after dipping fries in ketchup that had been upstairs in my kid’s room for nearly two months. Good times.

I slipped and fell on the ice. Not on my butt. I did the splits, until I couldn’t and then crashed down on my knee. I skinned it pretty good in addition to it swelling and bruising. Then I did fall on my butt and had to drive from Eden Prairie to Burnsville wet. On the bright side, my bff was waiting for me with a brand new, full body (not kidding) unicorn fuzzy… outfit? Pj’s? I don’t know, they were DRY, warm, cute and fit perfectly!

Husband and I celebrated our 17 year anniversary last Saturday. We went to the MOA and had dinner at one of my favorite spots. The waitstaff was enchanted by Olivia. How well behaved, how alert and how beautiful she is. We were also stopped several times strolling through the mall. After supper, we got some Cold Stone Creamery treats and Liv had her first taste of ice cream!

I met with my Endocrinologist about the amount of insulin I’m still taking (it shot up quite a bit with pregnancy) and sugars not coming down. After making sure the insulin was not expired, I hadn’t made any drastic changes to my diet, etc. he asked when the baby was due. Dude, I used to like you. “She was due 3 months ago but was born almost 6 months ago”. I didn’t really take offense. I saw the wheels turning (wheels? Still? For a doctor?) in his head as he tried to figure out what could be causing my elevated sugars. I told him they haven’t come down since I gave birth. He then wanted my thyroid checked because Graves Disease can rev up after delivery and that would explain it. He also prescribed Victoza, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Last week also marked one month that Olivia has not needed her g-tube for a feeding! We see the surgeon on Tuesday to figure out if/when they will remove her “button”.

I think that’s all for now… maybe next post I’ll dip in more than just a toe! ūüôā

For Her, For Me, For All of Us

In an attempt to get Tayla to be more social, I thought I’d look into some volunteer opportunities she might be interested in… That didn’t pan out but I did find something I was interested in!

The Crisis Text Line.

I’m not sure what it was about their ad in the volunteer section that made me think of Natalie, only that I did and I couldn’t stop.

She had so many friends and so much family that loved her, yet, I’m sure she felt alone- or at least like she didn’t have anyone she could confide in, without feeling like she was disappointing them.

Ironic isn’t it? How many people feel alone?

Sometimes people find it easier to talk with someone they don’t know. They can be completely open and honest because they’ll never have to meet or even speak to the crisis counselor again. And if one conversation can help a person, even a little bit… help them to feel a little stronger or more capable or even less alone… I wanted to do it.

I signed up, I went through training and started my first shift on June 19th.

The 19th. I wondered if it was a nod from Natalie, a thumbs up kinda thing.

I didn’t have to wonder long.

My first text was a transfer from… Natalie. The young texter was feeling down because she’d lost her grandma and to relax, she played the ukulele.

After my shift, the song “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. played followed by “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Two songs I associate with my sister.

Maybe I couldn’t help her, but I know I can help someone.

 

That Was Huge…

I’m sorry for inviting you all (Facebook) to my Improv showcase and then uninviting all of you (in my head).

Here’s what happened.

Back in April, I started taking an improv class at Huge Improv Theater. (Improv 101, taught by Will Roberts, awesome guy). I didn’t know what to expect… He/she/they (everyone at Huge Theater) was super cool and very helpful, even with the uncomfortable stuff… We actually played a game called “Loserball”.

We did some, ok, a lot of things that were outside my comfort zone! Most of them were fun, some of them… not so much but they all served a purpose and help me to grow and develop.

It was 10 weeks, two hours a week and at the end of our last class, we had a showcase! I was excited and made an announcement on Facebook with very little information. The closer the day came, the more unsure I was that I would actually be able to perform…

It’s so much different than stand-up. At Acme, I’m prepared. I know the material and what I’ll talk about and say. I’ve been able to practice. I’m confident in the material I’ve written.

There’s no such thing with improv. Not only do I not know what I’m going to do, I don’t know what anybody else is going to do… and neither do they! No forethought, no plan, suggestions from the audience?!?!

No, I figured I’d just better keep this under wraps.

So I just didn’t mention it again.

Well, the big day came. I did perform. I had a great time, and I’m super glad no one I knew saw me!

I do plan on continuing with the improv but after Olivia is born. The next session doesn’t start until right around her due date.

Now that I’ve had some¬†experience, you can be sure you’ll all be invited to the Improv 201 showcase!

 

Two Years & 20 Weeks Today

“I’m so tired, I can’t even think straight. I don’t know what to do…”

“Just go lie down, we can figure it out when you wake up.”

Wake up.

Wake Up!

WAKE UP! I scream into her eternally sleeping face.

Two years ago today, my beautiful and talented sister died from an opioid overdose. Every day since has been a nightmare.

This is a nightmare. A fucking nightmare.

For me, for our family, for our friends…

but of course, not for her.

She sees the complete picture.

She knows we are not separated.

She can see, hear, feel, touch and taste beyond the physical

She is the one who is awake

and I am the one who is sleepwalking amongst the dead.

Today is also the 20-week mark.

I am five months pregnant today, Olivia is “viable” today.

What about Olivia?

Is she asleep or awake?

Maybe we only fall asleep once we are born into this life, our mission, to rediscover our purpose and bring each other closer together…

Can she still feel God?

Does she remember Heaven?

Is her spirit still there, getting ready for the life that awaits her here?

Is Natalie teaching her, does she know the aunt that will never get to hold her?

Perhaps she is holding her now.

Holding her for me, until I can.

I am trying to balance the two, I did honor Natalie today by doing what she would want me to do (write) and I had a Dairy Queen Blizzard in her name. I also honored my pain and cried the same as I did two years ago. I ached and hurt and got angry…

For Olivia, I played some of Natalie’s music, headphones on my belly. I told her how much I love her and how I can’t wait to meet her.

Until then, goodnight, Natalie. I love you.

Natalie Nicole Allen

9/11/79 – 5/19/16 ‚̧ԳŹ

Honestly… Pregnancy Update and an Explantion for Why It’s Been So Long.

Wow. It’s been a few months… I’d wanted to blog along with my pregnancy, but something held me back. Fear, mostly. And feelings, not mine.

Here’s the deal. Very early on in my pregnancy (5 weeks, I think) I was told by the doctor that my baby was not a baby. There had been a “fetal pole” visible on a previous scan¬†that was not visible¬†now. It was a blighted ovum.¬†A blighted ovum or anembryonic gestation (anembryonic pregnancy) is a pregnancy in which the embryo never develops or develops and is reabsorbed. It typically results in a miscarriage.

I was devastated and asked emotionally if there was a chance the ultrasound tech was wrong. “Well, I suppose so. Why don’t you come back in a week and we’ll reexamine you?”

The wait was nearly unbearable. I prayed every day that they were wrong.

I even went to see a psychic medium, a woman I respect and trust, to help reassure me that everything was going to be alright.

Two minutes after we started talking, I wanted to bolt. It never occurred to me that she would give me bad news.

I can’t find the recording now, so I don’t remember how it was phrased but essentially, she told me that the baby was a boy and wouldn’t make it. Oddly enough, she mentioned seeing me with a baby but it was more likely through a volunteer program (I’d looked into volunteering at the local NICU -Newborn Intensive Care Unit to help hold babies that are born addicted to drugs and going through withdrawal).

I left feeling defeated. I still had a day or two before my next ultrasound and I wanted to just crawl into bed and stay there, indefinitely.

Of course, I didn’t. I got up and went to my appointment where not only did they find Baby, they saw the heartbeat!

After confirming that there was an (at this point) a viable pregnancy, I was scheduled for a slew of appointments. I met with Endocrinology, Nephrology, Rheumatology, Cardiology, all the “-ologies”, Internal Medicine and General Surgery (there was a concern of a hernia but it turned out to be nothing). They took 11 vials of blood and a 24-hour urine collection. They ordered a stress test (like this schedule wasn’t enough of one!) and also wanted me to be seen by their Perinatologist, asap.

All of this on top of my regular therapy session, group session, psychiatry session, and work. Wait, I take that back. She wanted me to quit working because of my blood pressure. It was already too high.

I did it all, gladly. Whatever was going to be the best for me and Baby.

The place where I got hung up, strangely enough, was trying to schedule the Perinatologist appointment. They had an appointment set for April 12th. It was March 8th.

“The nurse I met with said she wanted me seen this week or next at the latest” I explained.

“There is no point in being seen before then. There is nothing they will be able to do for you until you reach 18 weeks,” she told me.

I was in tears. Tears of frustration, of fear and of anger.

I called my insurance company and found out where else I could go.

I ended up at a wonderful clinic with fantastic people although our first meeting was a difficult one.

“With all of your health conditions, this pregnancy may have an adverse effect on you. You may need to terminate the pregnancy, for your health.”

They got me in with the U of M’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine clinic. After an approximately 3 hour consultation and another echocardiogram, I was given the all clear.

Also during that time, I found out via genetic testing that I am having a girl.

After so many appointments in such a short amount of time, there has been a let down, of sorts. Boredom is setting in and there is more time for me to worry and wonder…

Since all of my appointments, I have made to big changes. My blood sugars or A1C went from 8.4% in February to 5.7% last week. My blood pressure has gone from around 155/90 to about 122/75. I’m sleeping between 7-12 hours a night and getting in some exercise. I recently even went back to work, since the blood pressure had improved so much.

As much as I loved the people at the OB clinic, they felt it would be better for me to continue my care with the U of M since they are more equipped for anything that may come up and I am more than fine with that as this clinic and these people are so wonderful.

I really feel like I am being well taken care of.

As for the psychic, I’m still a little worried about my last reading though much less so knowing that I am having a girl and that I am now well into my second trimester. I don’t doubt her abilities or her gift, everyone gets mixed messages or can misread signals, it’s just given me a lot of opportunities to listen to my own intuition, trust my own instinct, and be my own guide.