I was nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely mum, Rebecca of Cheering on Charlie! She is someone I met through the preemie parent community and have gotten to know her better: playdate coming this Friday! Truly!
Now what the heck is a Liebster Award? I had to look it up, too.
It’s a bunch of questions Rebecca had for me and two other bloggers: Hand Picked Miracle and My Amazing Ella. In turn, I will choose three bloggers I enjoy and we’ll all get to know each other better! I’ll pick my three after I answer these questions, though…and playing is optional (no pressure, y’all!).
1) Who is your favorite musician(s)? Have you seen them live?
This is a very difficult question because I’m one of those people that feeds on music of all sorts. Some days I must hear The Psychedelic Furs, others Deee-Lite. Eminem (yeah). Tiffany (like, totally). Pour me into a pool of new wave and I’ll come up dancing and happy – so that is definitely my favorite genre since always. My first 45 was Words by Missing Persons and I still belt it out almost daily. Nouvelle Vague is a French new wave cover band so I heart them to dust…and, yeah, I’ve seen them and WISH they’d come back soon.
However if we’re talking lifetime favorite status the awards go to Guns n Roses and Tori Amos.
I saw GnR on St Paddy’s Day in ’92 at Boston Garden. My BFF and I were given seats behind the stage in a great row but…behind the stage! It turned out those seats weren’t meant to be sold and so some guy came along and told us to go to the box office. We were given FRONT ROW SEATS – like, in FRONT! not behind! I swear to this day that Slash smirked at me but I would have given anything for it to have been Duff McKagan. Three songs in someone chucked a bottle at Axl Rose’s head and they left. I thought I’d die with only three songs to keep me warm for an eternity but! they came back and finished. It was the most amazing show ever and I had their program framed in my apartment until the day it all burned down. That still smarts. We didn’t have digital cameras then and film wasn’t allowed in – but it’ll always live in my brain.
In stark contrast (perhaps) there is Tori Amos. When I started listening to her at the end of ’91 you’d find connections in the most unlikely people. I remember working at this little dive scoop shop and restaurant in Concord and our headbanger dishwasher would turn her on and we’d all pull up a milk crate and slip into our own Really Deep Thoughts.
Have I seen her live? I’m what she referred to as Ears With Feet once upon a time ago – and so that is what we became known as – the ones who followed as many concerts as we could jotting down set lists and the stories she’d share between songs so that we could recount every little detail to our mailing list (Really Deep Thoughts – SN: TheWaitress). I don’t know how many times I’ve seen her but it’s a lot. I’d go to the meet and greets and was only brave enough to speak to her once. We both had glittery blue jelly shoes on and I gave her a picture I’d drawn of a Mr Zebra dream I’d had. She later signed the picture and gave me the greater gift of sending me a letter of support when she heard about my rape. She’d sing Me and a Gun at every show…and hear so many stories. Eventually she founded RAINN.
2) What is your favorite memory so far on your preemie journey?
I’m pleased to be able to say that I consider my preemie journey at an end. I have written it out of my system, though it still rears it’s sensitive head from time to time.
The very best moment, though, was one day when we’d been in NICU for at least six weeks and our bay didn’t have many babes in it. I’d grown comfortable with my primary nurse and asked if I could bring in his baby books to do hand/foot prints? She was like, let’s do it! The next day I came in and she brought out the smeary, washable black ink and we dipped his hands and feet into the muck and stamped them onto the paper. They’re completely imperfect. They look like raccoon prints. Tristan was covered in inky smudge and beeping because his cords were falling off and more alert than I’d ever seen him. It was so funny that I BURST into laughter. Real joyous laughter. My nurse was laughing, too, and saying Oh no! I’m so sorry they’re smudged! It’s so hard to get clear prints.
But they were PERFECT. It was everything, but mostly the moment itself. I had never laughed with my baby before then. Six weeks and nothing but smiles with my heart either leaping or skipping beats (as would his and he’d turn colors and go limp). That day was the best gift of all and I have thanked her many times. It was a small thing. Something she probably wouldn’t remember if I didn’t tell her. Sometimes the smallest acts have the biggest impact. She really laughed with me and didn’t care that he was inking up everything around him. She lived in the moment and let me have it. Remembering the feeling still draws tears to my eyes. Nurse, you know who you are.
3) Why do you blog?
Writing is as essential as breathing to me. or dancing. It is letting my thoughts flow out through my dancing fingers. Breath. Life that floats around me. I can’t remember a time I didn’t keep a journal and I have been blogging since 1998.
While I hope people will enjoy what I have to say and find some things relateable, helpful, comforting…I write for myself.
4) In your opinion, what is the best benefit you’ve received from blogging?
Friends. When you blog you’re writing about life (usually) and pouring your heart and soul out. People connect with that and share in return. I belonged to LiveJournal for a long time (…and might still) and that was a precious network. I’m an introverted dork who connects through interwebz and ramblings. I also spend a lot of time on Instagram which is a blog in photographs. I love it dearly.
5) What do you want others to know as a preemie mom?
I don’t like to say things like, it will go faster than you think or somesuch typical veteran comment like that because at the time every second was agony. While I have moved on I will not forget. If I do I have mountains of words written by myself to remind me.
My advice: connect with other preemie moms online who are close in age to your own little one. Even if you don’t say anything, read. Lurk. You might want to one day. The preemie mom community is a club of sorts which I have written about before. Once you’re in you are surrounded by support. It doesn’t matter how different you are or how life may not have ever brought you together as friends…you have one thing in common. Your babies. They are the ONLY ones who will be able to relate to you. All moms need that. When you hear about how so-and-so can’t sleep because the baby is moving so much you’ll want to have friends you can turn to and say: I hate that I didn’t have that! and then lean on them until the aches pass.
I also want to point out that PTSD is very common for premature births so please, reach out. You aren’t alone. If you’re reading this and still haven’t connected to anyone write to me. I will always listen.
Our babies are all unique and have their own struggles but at the end of the day we’re all walking home with empty wombs and broken hearts.
6) What do you wish you knew while your baby was in the NICU?
I wish I’d known sooner that I could take care of him. I didn’t take his temperature once: nurse job. Nobody offered and I wouldn’t think to ask, of course. I didn’t give him a bath until nearly the end of his stay. I could change his bedding with one arm like the best of nurses, though. I loved laundry. I loved sleeping with his used blankets, smelling him, washing it all, and then sleeping with it all again so I could give him a piece of me in return.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that not everything you encounter with your child will be related to their prematurity. We get so used to doing that (because it is the root problem at first) but we don’t know what would have come across our paths as full term parents.
When Tristan was discharged from NICU he was automatically enrolled in Early Intervention. We made the decision after several months to leave the program because at the time he was meeting all this adjusted milestones. If we had stayed I have no doubt he would have been labeled with a speech delay early on – whereas full term babies aren’t already in a program our babes are watched over closely. This can be great and horrible. Preemie moms are already paranoid so if you’re told (like me) oh no he isn’t reaching for a toy – he is delayed! You will probably freak out. Now, in our case that speech delay would have been real. When the time came and went for him to even be on the slower end of his actual age I called for help and restored services.
So my advice is don’t jump the gun, don’t hang onto every label given at an evaluation, and remember that full term babies don’t have magical full-baked powers.
7) What is your favorite food?
Fresh pineapple and birthday cake. Also, cotton candy. and quinoa…with lime and coconut milk.
8) Do you have any pets? What kind? Why or why not?
My premature labor was triggered by a housefire in which both my cats died. I couldn’t touch a cat for over a year and still look at photos of found cats (their bodies were found during demolition, though). I am still working through PTSD from that…it was hard to tell where one trauma flowed into another…but in the end fire burns brighter and took more from me.
Last summer we decided to adopt an abandoned kitten someone found. I asked my husband to give her a dragon’s name because dragons are fireproof. He chose Stormborn. If you watch Game of Thrones or read A Song of Ice and Fire the name needs no introduction. She and Tristan belong to one another so I’m very happy she found her way to us.
Coincidentally she was underweight for her age – only 8 ounces at about a month old. I guess I have a calling? She is strong and fierce now; a true dragon kitten.
9) What other hobbies/interests do you have?
10) What are your top three favorite websites?
Probably Amazon, Netflix, and Etsy…but to add a little more intrigue I’ll confess that I spend quite a bit of time on Tower of the Hand and listening to the history of Westeros. I support indie nail polishes and gaze at their sites frequently. Glitter bombs rule and I am particularly enchanted by Franken Frosting and Creme n Sugar Shop (who is on hiatus but I’ll update the link when she’s back).
Now that we’ve reached the end of my get-to-know-me-better saga I’d like to nominate a couple blogs to carry on the love:
- What makes your babies’ stories unique?
- What would you like people to learn from them?
- Do they have any special needs now as toddlers?
- What hobbies do you have?
- What is your secret shame song? You know, the one you blast and belt out? For example, mine might be some Wilson Phillips.
- How do you spend your down time?
- What’s your earliest childhood memory?
- What is your favorite book?
- What was your last purchase?
- Tell me something quirky about yourself! I love hearing about others’ quirks!