To My Girl

To my girl,

Soon you’ll be a big sister. Not the only kid in the house anymore. Soon you’ll see lots of changes in your life. My heart aches knowing it won’t just be us anymore, but my heart also tingles knowing you’ll have a buddy and lifelong companion.

☀️

I want you to know you’ll always be my sunshine. You’ll always be the one who taught me how to be a mama. I suspect you’ll be good at this big sister thing. You’re a leader. You know what you want and aren’t afraid to express that. You’ve humbled me to my core and you’ve shown me beautiful parts of myself I didn’t know were even there. Thank you for teaching me new things every day, and for reminding me of how this life is one big miracle. I’ll love you forever and ever with every part of my heart.

☀️

Love,

Mom

Challenges and Beauty

It’s a challenging time.

I’m 37 weeks pregnant with lots emotions and physical pains. Meanwhile I’m caring for a three year with all of her emotions and processing about getting a new addition to our family. My husband’s working hard to support our family while also offering lots of support at home. Our dog Romeo seems to be responding to all the changes too! He’s been more destructive when we’re out so I’ve had to keep him in my bedroom when we leave.

We are all doing our best, but it’s hard!

I’m not looking for sympathy or advice. I just think people don’t talk about these hardships enough, which why I am sharing now.

Honestly, sometimes my best doesn’t look so great. Like yesterday when I was losing my patience trying to get Emmy and me out the door. I was surprised when Emmy responded to me by talking me through taking a balloon breath, something I do with her when she’s feeling big emotions.

“Mama, are you frustrated?” Emmy asked me.

“Yes I am. I’m very frustrated. I just want you to get on your coat and shoes so we can leave.” I told her.

“Don’t worry, mama. You just need to calm your body. Fill up your balloon. What color is it?”

I’m kind of taken aback. “Hm. It’s purple.”

“I’m sorry I don’t have a purple balloon but here’s a red one.” She grabs a pretend balloon and places her hands on my belly. We take a deep breath together and let it out slowly like a balloon slowly releasing air.

“Thank you Emmy. I feel better now.” I really do actually.

We hug for a while. I tell her thank you. Then we get on her shoes and coat and are out the door.

There are lots and lots of chaotic moments. Loud moments. Frustrating ones. Ones I’m not proud of. Mixed messily within them are moments like this one. Where my three year old circles back and teaches me what I’m forgetting. And it’s during those moments that I remember again that it’s all worth it. It’s all beautiful. It’s motherhood.

Mom-ing 36 Weeks Pregnant

I am almost 36 weeks pregnant with my second baby and am home full time with my intelligent, persistent, vivacious, no-nonsense three year old, Emmy. I’ve never been so tired in my life.

Today I asked the babysitter to come over for a couple hours so I could lay down, and I passed out within 5 minutes. Now the sitter magically got Emmy to take a nap (something I have not done in over two weeks) and I find myself with a moment to myself. I haven’t written in a while and told myself I’m going to be interrupted shortly so why even bother? But then I remembered, real life is not perfect, manufactured and filtered like so many social media pages. Real life is messy and many things all at the same time. So I write, freely, without editing and cutting and pasting. I write what I feel.

I need to remind myself daily it’s okay to feel exactly what I’m feeling. I can be as tired as I’ve ever been and be as grateful as I’ve ever been. I can love my daughter so much that it hurts, and I can get so angry at her that I want to punch a wall. I can be excited to meet my baby boy and be terrified at the thought of raising a newborn and a toddler. I can be proud of what my body can do and also be put-off by the massiveness of my belly and the roundness of my current double chin. I can be happy and sad and angry and fulfilled and lonely and grateful all at the same time.

Just as I encourage my daughter to be unapologetically herself, I can be unapologetically me. So that’s what I do. Because I’m 36 weeks pregnant with a toddler, and there’s really no room for bullshitting. I just haven’t got the energy.

So despite my bone-deep exhaustion and many aches and pains. Despite a belly that feels it may burst and hormones that cause me to cry every day, it’s back to mom-ing I go.

I’ve never been so tired, and there’s no where I’d rather be then here- with my huge belly and double chin, glancing at my daughter as she sleeps so peacefully.

Miscarriage and Rainbow Babies

Prenatal Yoga Center in NYC has been monumental with my journey into and through motherhood. So, I was truly honored to be a guest on PYC owner Debra Flashenberg’s podcast Yoga Birth Babies.

In this podcast, Deb and I talked honestly about our experiences with miscarriage- something so many women go through. When I lost my twins in April I promised myself that I would always tell their story as a way of honoring them. I remember sobbing in the shower when I was in the depths of my grief and hearing the words “someday my pain will be something else.” This is the something else.

Listen here: https://prenatalyogacenter.com/blog/rainbow-babies-with-jessica-mougis/?fbclid=IwAR1SKHTe5GAR0-MxH1shmQPIMvJjDX-cfWDTJH0HOTRC6oDj1-9tTHRURlM

Medication & Meditation

August of last year I reached a crossroads. I was tired of struggling with depression and knew I had to make an active change. At the suggestion of my therapist at the time, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist to learn more about how medication may help rid me of the dark cloud that I couldn’t seem to escape out of on my own.

It just so happened that at this time I learned about Vedic meditation from Arden Martin. She described it as a simple meditation technique that required no effort and it sounded very appealing to me. I read up on the benefits of this Vedic meditation and got curious. Could it help me? So, the same week I met with the psychiatrist I also took a Vedic meditation course.

From the psychiatrist, I learned a lot about my options with medication. I felt comforted to know that I now had a doctor who knew my needs and whom I could contact if that was the route I wanted take. The following evening during my first Vedic meditation, I got in touch with an unfamiliar place inside myself that I can only describe as a nice warm hug.

I decided to experiment with daily meditation for a while and see where it went before pursuing medication. It has now been over a year and I can honestly say my meditation practice has changed my life.

I have risen out of the hole of depression and found a whole new perspective. On a (mostly) daily basis I dive into meditation and find that nice warm hug again and again. Not every meditation is blissful and some feel as if they go on forever, but if miss a day I crave it and always return back.

I don’t know what the future brings and I’m still open to the idea of medication if I need it. There’s no need to suffer and I think medication is a savior for so many people struggling with their mental health as I did. Today though, I reflect in gratitude about the meditation practice that changed my life.

Today I meditated in the chapel at my daughter’s school and these words came flooding through me. I share this all not to prove anything or preach anything but just to say, it IS possible to find light when you’re in the dark.  And who knows, you may find that light right inside of you.

🌟

Raisins Saved My Dog’s Life

A few weeks ago I brought my dog Romeo for his routine wellness visit. Besides the vet informing me he could switch to “senior” dog food now that he was seven years old (what? My baby isn’t a senior!) it seemed uneventful. They did test a small cyst in his backside but I wasn’t worried

However, a few days later I received a call that the cyst came back as mast cell cancer. We would need to do a chest x-ray to check if any other tumors had developed and bloodwork to be sure he was healthy enough to undergo surgery to remove the cyst. Thankfully, all came back clear so he had surgery. A few days later we received the good news that they were able to remove all the cancer and he was bound to live a long and healthy life. Relief.

Less than a week after his surgery, I left to go pick up my two year old daughter Emmy from school. Even though I almost always remember to close the kitchen gate-to prevent Romeo from stealing food off the counter- for some reason I forgot to close the gate that day. I came back from getting my daughter to see an empty 16 oz bag of raisins empty and shredded on the floor.

Shit! Raisins are poisonous for dogs.

I called his vet immediately and they said to bring him in so they an induce vomiting. I thought that would be it, but they informed me they would have to keep him overnight on an IV to flush out his kidneys. They would do bloodwork in the morning to check his liver levels to be sure he was okay. I cried right then and there. Again? We had to leave our first baby out of our care where he was scared? My husband, Steve, and I were both very upset.

The following morning we decided to get out of the city and distract ourselves. Steve had been on the lookout for a new bigger car for our growing family and he found a good one in New Jersey. We made the drive out and test drove the car. We really liked it and decided to move forward buying it.

While waiting at the dealership I got a call from the vet informing me that Romeo was doing well. He ate a bit and went for a few walks. She suggested they keep him one more night as they wanted to monitor him for 36 hours. Another night? Well, that sucked but I wanted to be sure he would be okay so I agreed.

About two hours had passed since we arrived at the dealership and Emmy was getting antsy. Steve and I decided I would take her home, and he would stay at the dealership to finish up all the paperwork.

We had a birthday party to get to later that afternoon so my plan was the find a parking spot near our apartment, hang out at home for an hour or so, and then head over to Westchester for the party. When we arrived back in the city there were no spots to be found even after I circled for about twenty minutes. I double parked in front of our building and ran upstairs to grab the presents for the birthday girl, Emilia. We would just drive over to Westchester early and maybe stop for lunch.

In the meantime, I warned Steve my phone was dying. I’d charge it when I got to the party.

About twenty minutes into my drive with 10% battery left on my phone and no charger, I got another call from the vet.

“We have some alarming news. We ran bloodwork and while Romeo’s liver levels look normal, his red blood cells came back extremely low. We did an abdominal ultrasound and found a mass in his stomach has ruptured and he’s internally bleeding. He needs to be transported to another hospital as soon as possible for surgery.”

What???

I made a quick exit off the parkway. At this point Emmy was screaming in the back seat. “I want to go to Emilia’s party!” I have no idea where I am and I get lost. I call Steve to tell him what’s happening as my phone battery dwindles to less and less power.

My mind immediately starts racing. I have 8% battery.

I need to get directions to get home first. Then I need to figure out which hospital to bring Romeo to and where it is. I have to coordinate with Steve who is stuck without a car at the dealership while all the paperwork goes through.

I call my dad who lives in the city. I tell him what’s happening and say we need help. I’ll need help with Emmy when we get to the hospital. He’s away for the weekend but says he will call my stepmom Leslie.

5% battery.

I get the name of the hospital. I call my dad to tell him. I call Steve to tell him. Emmy is screaming, guttural screams. No doubt reacting to my high anxiety and stress. She’s confused. “I want to go Emilia’s party! NOW! I want to go NOW!”

My dad calls. “Are they bringing Romeo to the hospital or are do you have to.” I begin to say “I need to pick him up and…”

My phone dies.

Now we are on our own.

I’m on track getting back into the city. At this point Emmy is completely unhinged and trying to climb out of her car seat. I try to get her back in from the front seat but have to keep driving.

In a state of complete anxiety and panic we eventually make it to the vet. I double park in front and grab Emmy out of her seat. She has ripped of her socks and shoes. “I need hugs mama. I need hugs.” she says. My sweet girl is confused and scared. I am

too. I’m trying to breathe. I walk into the vet panicked with a thirty pound shoeless toddler in my arms.

Did I mention I’m also 18 weeks pregnant?

I manage to calm Emmy down with hugs, explanation and swaying. I get the address of the hospital from the front desk worker and within a few minutes Romeo is brought down to us. We give him huge hugs and kisses and I tell him it’s time to get in the car and go to the hospital. I tell him he’s going to be okay.

In the back of the car I have the birthday present for Emilia, who is Emmy’s age. To get Emmy back into the car I tell her she can open the presents and we can play with them at the vet. This is probably one of the biggest blessings in the shit storm we are in. Thank God for those much needed distractions at that time.

We get to the animal hospital and my stepmom Leslie is standing right at the front desk. “Is this Romeo?” the man at the desk asks. I tell him yes and within seconds they are bringing him downstairs to take a look at him. I hug Leslie. Seeing her there waiting brings me the first feeling of comfort I’ve felt since I got the call. Leslie sits with Emmy, opens the presents and they play.

The vet comes up to speak with me. “Romeo has a large mass on his spleen. It is most likely a very aggressive form of cancer. We are taking a look right now to determine the next steps. This kind of cancer typically leaves dogs 6 months to live.”

Shock. What??

Steve walks into the door minutes later. I tell him what’s happening.

We go to talk privately in another room and are in total shock. We are devastated.

The vet comes back.

“We took a look and it indeed a large tumor on his spleen. In 2/3 of cases a tumor of this size is an aggressive cancer. He could maybe have a month to live. We suggest going straight into surgery to remove it as he is bleeding internally. We will write up an estimate and bring it up as soon as possible.”

While she delivered this news with the utmost warmth and compassion it was a horrible horrible shock.

We asked the vet what she would do if it were her dog. “In this case, I would go forward with the surgery. I wish it weren’t this expensive but it is. I totally understand having a family and if this isn’t an option for you I would understand why you’d want to euthanize.”

We just bought a car. We just paid for another surgery but if there’s a chance he could survive this and we get more time, we had to move forward. We signed the paperwork. Do the surgery.

We eventually head home and wait for word that he’s prepped for surgery. He goes under and surgery goes forward. I get a call that he’s stable and awake, though very out of it.

The next day is the NYC Marathon. My sister in law is running in it. I want to see her at the finish line. Meanwhile we wait for word on Romeo. Can we pick him up?

We finally hear in the late afternoon after a brutal day of waiting that we can pick him up. The hospital is near the finish line of the marathon and there’s tons of traffic. I don’t care. I’m going to get my boy.

As I sit in traffic I track my sister in law on the NYC marathon app on my phone. She’s crossing the finish line as I park my car to pick up Romeo. I’ve got tears in my eyes of pride for her and fear for my boy.

He comes out with a huge cone on his head. Obviously confused and out of it but calm as always.

The first night and day home are the hardest. He’s in pain. He won’t eat. He won’t move. He lets our little whimpers every now and then. I feel so helpless watching him suffer.

With each day he improves a bit more until we see the normal Romeo again. The one who is within inches of you every time you have a snack. The one who quietly follows you around so he’s always unassumingly close by. Our sweet sweet boy.

It takes a few days, and a scare where his incision opens up a bit and bleeds bringing ANOTHER visit to the vet, but we eventually get back the results.

Romeo has beat the odds and his SOFTBALL

sized tumor has come back benign.

He is part of the 1/3 who survive this kind of thing. He is going to be okay.

After the emotional roller coaster of it all, we are left now digesting this traumatic and scary incident.

As I write this I wonder how the hell raisins managed to save his life. Had he not eaten those, his tumor would have eventually quietly burst inside of him and we would have never known. It would have been too late once we realized he was sick. We would have lost him.

I’ve not much more to say besides God works in mysterious mysterious ways. And what can look like an utter shitty and hopeless series of events can lead to a saved dog, a grateful family, and a whole lot of appreciation for this precious, fragile life.

There are so many of us.

In March, I learned I was pregnant, and at my first scan I learned it was with twins.

In April, I lost the babies.

Now I sit in my grief. Each day is a surprise. Sometimes I feel totally fine, and others I slip into despair. I wrote the following a few weeks after my D&C and wanted to share it here.

“I’ll never understand why they came to me to begin with- why they appeared as a possibility and the left, stopped.

I’ll never understand why I had to be alone that day when I learned it.

I’ll never understand why for only ten days, I had the privilege of feeling chosen. Being chosen to be a mommy to two souls born together.

Why the taste and then taking away?

Why the pain?

Why the loss?

Why the suffering?

I don’t know.

A comforting thought for me is that God isn’t a puppeteer who orchestrated this all. God cried first. Before I even knew.”

For anyone out there who has suffered a miscarriage, I sit in my grief with you. Please remember- you are NOT alone. There are so many of us.