writing

My Jonah’s Journey: A True Overcoming

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Meet Jonah. He appears to be your average, sweet, curious, hungry, loves to poop his diaper 11 month old, right?

Would you believe that, on the day he was born, March 12, 2013 – this was Jonah:

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Jonah Anthony is my son. This sweet, precious boy came into the lives of my husband and I by surprise.

I thought I had the flu. I struggled for days wondering why I kept getting sick – and then there’s this little clock inside your mind that only women understand that goes “ding” – and the light bulb brightens. You take that walk through the drug store aisles almost hiding your face thinking so many different racing thoughts. You see, I already had two children. I was divorced then re-married. My husband already has 3 children. We weren’t planning it – but after that little walk through the CVS I came home and I waited. Then it happened.

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So of course. It began over again – pregnancy ,the cravings, the weight gain, the constant need to barf while sitting at my work desk because somebody decided to microwave fish for lunch (I curse you! I curse you!)

We finally saw his little heartbeat. My belly grew. We found out he was a boy. We named him almost right away. We saw him in 3-D.  We waited for our due date: April 5, 2013.

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Out of the blue after months of anticipation – growing into the idea of being a mommy again, feeling his kicks, wondering about him – what would he be like, falling in love with the way he would roll around and cause me heartburn – wake me up at midnight before he was even born – something we did not see coming – happened.

On March 12, 2013 I went into labor on my own after long day at work. When I went to the hospital I felt for sure they would send me home. Within an hour – I was told it was time to go. Heading for C-section. It was his time, 4 weeks early.

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Jonah was born on March 12, 2013 at 8:15 PM. He weighed 7 LBS even. I heard his first cry and I began to sob. I could see his red hair from the operating table. His sweet, tiny legs were kicking…

Then I noticed something different than what happened with my other two.

Jonah stopped crying.

I immediately knew something was wrong – I got to see him for about 5 seconds. I gave him a kiss. I cried at how beautiful he was – he looked just like his father but with my mouth. It was happiness – yet anxiety. I waited for word while in recovery.

My husband came in about 2 hours later. Jonah was not breathing well. He had been taken to the NICU. He had Respiratory Distress Syndrome due to being premature. His lungs were not ready to be born yet.

It was not until the next day at noon that I was allowed to see Jonah. I was taken by wheel chair to the NICU where I went to be by his side. I only had one picture of him since he had been born – this one:

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I immediately broke into tears when I got to his side. The picture I had seen was not what I saw when I first came into real contact with my son. This is what I saw:

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My beautiful boy – the one that had been kicking me, that I had wanted so bad to meet, that innocent little being – was covered in tubes, wires, monitors that kept blaring. I sat by his side and I sobbed like I have never sobbed before. The nurse came up to my husband and said “that is a normal reaction from mothers”…

What mother would not sob at the sight of her son in a tiny box – his eyes barely open, his skin pale, his hands penetrated with IV needles.

I started to wonder if it was something that I did wrong. Why did I go into labor so early? Was it because of the pneumonia and flu I had two months prior? Was it the medication I had taken? Was I not healthy enough to hold him inside?

Now this wonderful creation of ours – was suffering. I was not allowed to hold him immediately. I was, however, allowed to stick my hand inside his incubator and touch him. His skin felt so soft to mine. My heart was alive with love – yet petrified. A terror I cannot describe.

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Jonah had to undergo a procedure where a breathing tube was inserted and lung suffactant was entered into his lungs artificially to help him learn to breathe on his own. It was 4 AM – on March 14, 2013. We waited and waited – my husband sleeping on the couch, my mother sleeping on a cot at my feet. The doctor finally knocked on the door – Jonah was doing well. He had taken great to the procedure and was learning to breathe. I could finally hold him.

Our first moments were full of blaring monitors and difficult wires – meandering around his heart leeds in order to get him to my chest. Yet it was beautiful. He raised his head. He recognized my voice. I immediately began to cry.

I was to be released a few days later. We were informed Jonah would not come home with us. He was losing weight, he was still unable to breathe room air without the help of Oxygen. He also became jaundiced.

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Days passed. We would often come by the NICU in the middle of the night. We simply could not sleep wondering about our little boy. If we happened to time it right – we were able to stick our hands in and actually feed him ourselves.

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Slowly, at least it felt to us, better updates were coming in. At first his blood oxygen level was only 40%. He was coming into the 70’s. His oxygen eventually made it into the 90’s. Whenever it would lower, the monitors would go off, and naturally, we would jump and wonder why. Each day meant, if progress was made, another wire would come off. I remember that I could start to see his actual features – he had been so covered, I could not see his mouth, nose, or cheeks.

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Then there was the beautiful moment his father held him for the first time. I cried watching. He cried and smiled and laughed.

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I left the hospital on March 16, 2013. I left on the elevator with no baby carrier – just my luggage, my husband, and a heart drowning in pain and an ill feeling in my stomach. I was leaving him behind. How could I? There was no space at the hospital for me to stay – so we would journey up each day to see him and be with him for hours upon hours until we knew our little boy could come home. I could not wait to introduce him to his siblings.

My hands were cracked and bleeding from washing with hospital grade soap each time I even wanted to merely brush my skin with his.

Then on March 20, 2013, we walked into the NICU and found this:

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He was breathing on his own. He was free of monitors, tubes, leeds. His sweet face was so clear to us now. We could hold him at will, take his temperature, change his diaper, feed him, rock him, sing sweet nothings to him.

Lullaby…and goodnight…go to sleep little Jonah …

Our little trooper never gave up. From the moment he cried when he came out of me – to the moment he stopped crying because he could not breathe – through each moment we reached through a tiny hole just to touch our baby – grasping at a tiny bottle hoping he would eat even 10 little mls – this little boy fought to survive.

Jonah came home with us on March 21, 2013 – 9 days after he was born. In thinking of what we had been through – which we never expected – we were so blessed. Some wait months, some do not come home at all. We prayed and prayed. We said so many thank you’s, took so many crying breaths just wanting our son home in our arms.

And he came.

The Lord blessed us with this sweet surprise. From that moment that I saw the two pink lines (so not the flu)  to today – Jonah is such an inspiration. Our sweet, beautiful boy is thriving. He is high functioning – and registers on a full term scale – not a premature scale of development. He is trying to take steps. He says Mama with his face bright as he reaches for me in the mornings.

He plays peek a boo with dada.

These are the moments that for days we thought – we may never see. Somehow through it all, God blessed our lives with this sweet boy that was able to fight almost the impossible – when he had just been born. Our hearts hurt for other families that never get to take their babies home. After going through this and seeing my boy through glass and wires – I pray nightly for others in the same position. We are so thankful to the amazing doctors whose knowledge, compassion, and care brought our son back to mommy and daddy’s arms.

In just 9 short days, Jonah will be 1. We are celebrating with a whale themed party for Jonah and the Whale. We joked I looked like one when I was pregnant with him. He will have cake. He will have love. He will be hugged, and kissed, and cherished. For this is the boy that came into the world and fought to live. This is the boy that to this day – inspires me to be a better person, mother, friend. This is the boy that has taught me to cherish ALL of life’s moments – big and small.

This is our Jonah. Our miracle. Our overcomer.

Happy Birthday, Baby. We love you.

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Halfway Haiku: A New Challenge

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I was inspired today while searching through Twitter. I saw somebody that I follow trending #haiku and asking people to submit their own, to have fun with it, to be creative. This sparked my own creative flow and I decided: why not try something different?

Here’s a new challenge I’m presenting myself with – I would love participants. Even if I end up with no participants – at least I can show a different side of my writing and take this challenge to a new level with myself. I have always been a poet but this blog has been mostly rantings, stories, writings, musings – long, novel thoughts. I have used it as an outlet from one battle to another.

From now on, every Wednesday, I am going to do what’s called the Halfway Haiku Challenge – I am going to come up with a new haiku poem, or poems,  just to think outside the box. It can be about anything – whatever comes to mind.

The start date is today – Wednesday, February 26, 2014. Each week I will post again on that Wednesday – you can link to the post or you can post within the comments.

For those not familiar with haikus – here’s a definition.

To start, here are a few I wrote this morning with regards to responding to the ones on Twitter.

Let the thinking outside of my box and comfort zone begin 🙂 Here are several examples.

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(FOR MY HUSBAND)

Gravity of love

Floating on the bliss of you

Wrapped in my shadow.

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(WITH REGARDS TO ALMOST DYING ON 2/17/14)

So close to dying

Lights surround my breathing soul

Yet still I survive.

___________________________

Winter stars smile bright

Asking me to wish on them

I whisper my prayers.

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(FOR MY GHOST ADVENTURES IDOL ZAK BAGANS)

Spirits dwell within.

Voices heard he lets speak out.

Giving life to death.

___________________________

I hope I can get a few people on board to take the challenge. I would love to read your poetry – and see it spread from one eye and soul to another. That’s one great way to draw inspiration – and to be inspired.

Listen Up: A Song I Wrote (and I’m PROUD!)

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Back in January – I wrote a post entitled “Memory That Moves Me: Co-Writing a Song.”

It just so happens that today’s prompt is asking me – have I ever written music or been part of a band?

I should mention, and sometimes I laugh about it, I was once the bane of my choir teacher’s experience. She knew I couldn’t sing – heck I knew I couldn’t sing. I would often lipsynch during performances – every once in a while a note would come out of my mouth and you would hear somebody in the alto section yell “SOMEONE IS SINGING SOPRANO!!”.

Yep. That was me. The tone deaf one who simply wanted to find her way somehow into the music world – but I could not sing. I could play the piano. I was also a poet – but a singing voice?

Uh, no. If I showed up at an American Idol audition – I would likely shatter a window or Ryan Seacrest’s make up.

Music does not fit me well. This is where having a dream – and believing in it – is powerful and important.

My favorite artist is a rock star out of Brooklyn, Ariel Aparicio. I learned about his music on Twitter – and I was hooked from the beginning.

We developed a friendship via Twitter and e-mail and I found myself helping him promote his music by showing up at his performances or by working on his website and promotion materials. One day I got the guts to ask – would you perhaps entertain a dream of mine – writing a song together? Color me excited when he immediately said yes.

I wrote the lyrics. He wrote the music. He presented me with the recording for my birthday back in 2010. I will never forget the moment I heard it. For today’s prompt I share with you the only involvement I’ve ever had with a band or with writing music. The song is entitled “I Need You” – and the brilliance behind it still brings tears to my eyes to this day.

I took that wish my heart held true for so many years – and found a way to make it happen. With the wonderful, generous personality of the oh so talented Ariel, and the poetic side of me – we came up with this wonderful rendition of what I will forever call “my song” – because I helped write it.

Introducing the dream I never gave up on – “I Need You.”

I Need You (Lyrics by Jennifer Stephens, Music and Vocals by Ariel Aparicio)

This lonely heart, it cried alone.

These tears, they dried – dried to stone.

This bed it, it felt no soul – of my – my very own.

 So lonely. It tore my life apart.

 

In truth I never knew

My life and then came you.

These scars are fading.

These scars are fading.

 

My scars are fading.

 I need you.

 

I spent so many days waiting

For a hand to take my soul sayin’

You’re not alone in your corners prayin’

I will take your – your pain away

 

In truth I never knew

About peace and then came you.

These scars are fading.

These scars are fading.

 

My scars are fading.

 I need you.

 

Lesson learned by knowing you

The way your words they teach me truth

I can’t go on, I can’t be new

These lessons learned by knowing you

 You only can mend my broken heart

 

In truth I never knew

About peace and then came you.

 These scars are fading.

My scars are fading.

 

In truth I never knew

My life and then came you

 These scars are fading

These scars are fading

My scars are fading….

 

I need you.

I need you.

I need you.

I need you.

I am An MD: Master of Determination

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Very soon I will be guest blogging for Dancing with Fireflies. This blog is very dear to my heart as I appreciate the writing, topics, and challenges that come along with it. Having been sick the past few weeks I’ve been missing her Weekly Writing Challenge. Today, I am partaking. The question: what is your expertise?

I would love to be able to have an actual MD. The truth of the matter is I actually have a Masters degree in Counseling.

But I love to give myself credit as being an MD: Master of Determination.

My expertise is in never giving up. Life can hand me the most unusual, difficult, and emotionally draining situations and it’s my strength, persistence, faith, and determination that help get me through these plights.

It would take me an entire novel or memoir, pages and pages of blogging to explain every life event that I have gotten through and learned from. It would take me years, I suppose, to explain each of the ways I have gained strength from not giving in to the worst of experiences. I have not only become a wiser person – my ability, or should I say expertise, as a person who persists to believe in miracles, second chances, in the idea that failing at something does not make you a failure: it is a lesson learned to benefit from. Failing never makes a person weak. Failure is an opportunity to become stronger – to overcome (thus the purpose of my blog – to empower myself and others to never give up or not allow the curveballs that life throws at us to become strike outs – yet home runs).

So, my friends, in response to this challenge I give you a new bumper sticker idea…

(Sidebar for new followers: I love to come up with bumper stickers – I find the humor and creativity almost inspiring in itself.)

Imagine the back of my Prius with the following:

“I’ll be Back: I am the Determinator.”

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Liebster Award: My First Nomination!

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Well blow me down!

WOW! I have been doing this blog for a two weeks and one day. I was excited yesterday to celebrate two weeks with over 1,000 views and 70 followers.

This afternoon after a great trip to Target and fun times watching the weather (go home Mother Nature, you’re drunk, 60 degrees with a Winter Storm Watch, GAH) – I found a comment waiting for me: You’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award (blog with under 200 followers).

My head just blew up with excitement! This is beyond an honor. First and foremost, I want to thank the person who nominated me: Incidents of a Dysfunctional Spraffer  and for her kind words with regards to my blog.

Here’s the rules for this awesome honor:

1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Here are the 10 Questions from IDS (I’m only using initials because I always spell dysfunctional wrong (<— and yes, I’m a writer) … Questions are in BOLD. Answers in ITALICS!

  1. What motivates you most in life? Is it your family, your friends, your own will, the weather – I look forward to your answer! My biggest motivations are my husband and my children. When I’m at my deepest, most profound moments of sadness, it’s them that brings me forward into new life. Having children in itself is a blessing – but mine, they are the world. I see them – and I see these sweet three faces and souls that need me. They need my touch. They need to hear my voice and snuggle in my arms. My husband never gives up on me. Please read my original post that started it all if you yet do not know my journey – but he has pulled me through an element that I never once gave myself enough credit to think I could brave it – and not give up. They are powerful forces in my life. My inner spirit also motivates me – while sometimes lost in the catacombs of an often aching soul that suffers with Panic and Social Anxiety Disorder as well as Depression, my faith and willpower and my knowledge that I know I can do anything I set my mind to – grabs me back and brings me home.photo copy 5photo copy 4
  2. What the next big thing that you know is going to happen in your life? How are you approaching it? The next big thing I know is going to happen is that I am going to take my ability to write, my experiences, and seek a publisher to write a book. I have always been striving for this goal and life seemed to get in the way – but I have so much faith I can do this and so many places to go. It will be non-fiction, a chronicle of sorts, and will depict my efforts as a human and my spirit: how I have overcome obstacles – some that I have not yet even revealed on this blog. I am truly excited.
  3. Home or abroad? Why? Home. My heart is always home. I am very picky about foods, having my own bed, and my private space. I suppose I could never be a famous person – I am just way too private. My home is my abode. It’s been my life since I was born, it’s what I know. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been abroad. I think it’s wonderful to see other cultures and give myself a taste of other lifestyles. I just prefer to be home – it brings me comfort – much needed comfort for this southern daddy’s girl who loves his cooking – and my parent’s home (which is right down the street).
  4. What do you fear the most? Why do you fear it? I define fear as the side effect of hidden truths. I have always feared things because deep inside, I know there’s as true reason why. This goes for my fear of snakes (I’m afraid I will be in a ninja like war with one and it will eat me) – but when it comes down to it, my biggest fear is fear itself. Fear symbolizes to me that I’m hiding something from myself – whether it be a consequence I know I will face for my actions that I’m afraid of, or if it’s something I just cannot muster up the energy or willpower to bring to the open so I can face it. Sure, I fear things like sharks, snakes, and yes (insert laughter like an old 80’s sitcom), flushing the toilet (the truth behind this is the movie Ghoulies scared me as a child). I fear not facing what I need to in order to overcome something – because I’m anxious about what the results will be. I often address this in my blogs and how I overcame addiction.
  5. What’s the memory you cherish the most? Why? Christmas at my parents’ house when I was young. Everything from the lights, to the tree, to putting the presents under – cookies for Santa, the anticipation of Christmas morning and seeing what joys awaited. I loved when my parents would video tape us coming down the steps (my brother and I) to see that world of wonder we had been thinking of all year. It was my own Winter Wonderland – if even I live in an often flake deficient city. I remember Christmas Eve at my grandparents before they passed away – so warm in my heart. I still watch those old videos – and I cry inside. I miss it. I miss them.
  6. Do you like where you live? What are the best/worst things about it? After living my entire life, until age 18, in Midlothian, Virginia – I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia to attend Virginia Tech. I then moved after 7 years to Maryland, before moving 2 years later to Ashburn, VA where I remained in Northern Virginia until September 2013. After a divorce, a new marriage, and the birth of my third child – I was so emotional and overcome with chronic pain that I just wanted to go home. I am now home in Midlothian, Virginia again where I started – and I love it. The best thing: my mommy and daddy right down the street, family functions without a huge production of beating traffic and packing the car, the smell of the Central Virginia air in the fall full of burning leaves and carving pumpkins … the worst thing: it’s flake deficient. We live in a snow hole – IT NEVER SNOWS! I’m a snow lover!
  7. Do you learn best through doing, listening or seeing? Why do you think that is? I am a very visual person. I have to see something first and then do it myself. I hardly ever listen. I’m sorry, this sounds like the problem of a four year old, but unless I put my hands on it, look at it, I won’t learn it. I’m usually self taught in things. I’ve self taught myself to be a Chef, to write, to do anything to the extreme: like paranormal investigation. I also taught myself how to build websites and do HTML coding. Too bad I’m using the free version of WordPress or I could have a hay day 🙂
  8. Who is the most important person in your life? What makes them so special? I cannot pick one of my children from the other – so let’s say they’re all three top notch – but as a single person, my husband is most important. My husband brings me so much joy. He has taught me that after divorce – when I felt I failed at everything – that true love exists still, that I can feel it so immensely like I could never have imagined. He forgives me, he’s patient, he’s kind, he holds my hand in my deepest moments of physical and mental illness. He never hesitates to make me feel beautiful – which is difficult for a person with body image and inner beauty image issues. He is my rock, my other half, one of the biggest reasons I’m able to overcome so much. I love him more than anything.
  9. What’s your idea of a great night? Short and simple: my husband in my arms, watching Ghost Adventures (my favorite show) on the big TV screen, with a glass of wine, and some great home made street tacos. Nothing beats it – unless you count blogging and live tweeting American Idol. It’s a close second!
  10. How would you describe yourself in ten words? Passionate, kind, spiritual, poetic, genuine, eccentric, prolific, forgiving, soulful, inspiring.

Now that I’ve answered the questions – here are the 10 blogs I nominate for the award:

At Home in New Hampshire:  She uses amazing imagery and writing. I love her quotes, and I also love how she uses her blog for so many different reasons that I find informative and inspiring.

The Convoluted Menagerie:  It’s just what it speaks: so many different thoughts in one place. I’m shocked he has under 200 followers – his thoughts and stories are mind blowing.

Schizo Incognito: His depictions of life events are unbelievable – and I really related to him. He has worked really hard on getting his blog together – and it’s amazing. He is very personable – and speaks from the heart.

Misadventures: Daring Escape: Just go read. I really get a kick out of this blog! It’s awesome!

Orthodox Mom: brilliant writing, amazing ideas, fascinating outlook.

Life A Better Life: because it is just what it says – hope, inspiration, and motivation.

Aiming for Simplicity: such intricate writing, graphics, everything comes together. Mega like!

Lisa’s Kansa Muse: Fairly certain she’s already nominated – but this blog is insanely amazing – and so well put together. Kudos! You are inspiring!

Sebastien Grobelny Photography: Brilliance in words and pictures – and read The Dark Knight Batman daily prompt, that was awesome!

A Journal of Impossible Things: interesting musings, and I love the takes on inspiration – it goes in the direction of my own blog and I draw inspiration from it.

Now come my 10 questions I would love for these nominees to answer:

1. If one movie could describe your life – what is it? What are the elements of this movie that remind you of yourself?

2. What are your biggest pet peeves and how do you react when faced with them?

3. What is your favorite day of the year and why? What do you do on that day that makes it special?

4. What is your biggest dream you are still striving for?

5. If you could travel back in time – what era would you want to live in or experience? Why?

6. Who is it that inspires you the most – famous, or close, anybody – and what is your message for them?

7. What would you do if you came face to face with a person you’ve always wanted to meet – living or passed? Who is that person and what would you say?

8. Describe your motivations in blogging and how they have changed – if at all.

9. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? What makes you so?

10. What’s your favorite weather condition?

Once again, thank you os much to IDS for nominating me. I will be informing the above bloggers very soon – but I’m late for a date at one dollar taco night at the local mexican restaurant. After I’ve stuffed my face and enjoyed some time alone in the restroom for a few hours regretting it, I will certainly let everyone know.

I am so honored. Thank you again – and even if I do not end up “winning” or “getting” this award – you have no idea what it means to be thought of at all. I feel very emotional , motivated, and happy!