Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mastering sleep

Sleep is an acquired skill, they say. And we have been coddling our daughter too long, rocking her, consoling her, sleeping by her side just so she goes to sleep and stays asleep. But has this helped? She remains a poor sleeper who wakes up multiple times a night moaning or crying, demanding one of her parents help her fall back asleep.

Well, with the new baby coming in the next few weeks, we have decided to take the leap of finally letting her learn to sleep on her own. Our doula gave us the book, The Sleepeasy Solution, which I have heard about.

Last night was the first night we tried the method. I made a stick figure book describing what our sleep routine is and how it would change now. We read the book several times before starting bedtime. When it was finally time to turn off the lights, Anisa protested. She sounded like the devils in hell were forcing her to walk across a sea of sharp blades. I could see her dad's stomach come up to his throat. But guess what. Her torchure somehow magically stopped after twelve minutes of hysterics. And then it was quiet. She fell asleep on the floor of her room. Yes, she woke up multiple times at night, but only "needed" us to check in with her twice. She actually slept better than her parents.

Now we're trying the same for her nap. She cried for a total of one minute. Not bad at all.

After she quieted down last night, Anisa's dad and I were able to sit in the living room together and talk like two grownups without our time being monopolized by kids. My son and I even had a chance, for the first time in a long while, to play a board game, one of my favorite pastimes ever, without his sister getting her little grabby hands on the pieces.

I am feeling hopeful


My son draws cats everywhere, on everything. He is obsessed with cats. At his dad's house, he has an orange cat named Conan who sleeps with him. We used to have cats. They all died. He still remembers them, talks about them and keeps a photo of all three of them by his bed.

One day recently he was bragging about having exceptionally good night vision. He said it must be because he is probably related to cats.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Queen of feist

 Our 20-month-old has entered her Terrible Twos a bit early, it seems. She goes through mood swings like there is no tomorrow, from screaming mad to lovey dovey within seconds.... fifty times a day. That girl will not take a no for an answer. A no will make her yell, kick and scream till it shakes the house. We're learning to respond in a variety of ways that don't exacerbate the deal. Our girl just likes to keep us on our toes and make sure her opinion is heard by all... including those who live blocks away.

By the way, this is the first fortune she had ever received. I don't doubt it's true.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Remembering her

Today, my daughter Amalia who died several days after being born because of complications associated with a breech birth, would be turning seven.

Over the years, I have made peace with this. As much peace as anyone who has lost a child can make. I only knew her for eight days--the eight days that she lived--which means I never got to know her. She struggled to breathe that entire time. My sister and I sang to her in the hopes of bringing her back or at least softening the cold, impersonal hospital environment. From the beginning I told Amalia that I am okay with whatever her spirit decides. I would love for her to stay here on Earth, but if she needs to go, I need to be okay with that.

The hard part now is being asked how many kids I have or which one my current pregnancy is in order. I loathe that question. It reminds me that in this society there really is no tolerance for ambiguity, no accounting for stories of death, loss and tragedy in everyday discourse. My son always counts his first baby sister when people ask him how many siblings he has. He also counts his step-sisters and their siblings. He makes it sound like our family is huge!

I don't talk about Amalia much these days, but she is always with me. When her dad and I buried her ashes in a river next to which we got married, we noticed it was full of heart-shaped stones. After losing her, I used to see hearts everywhere-- in the sand by the ocean, on the pavement, carved into tree trunks. I still see hearts, though less frequently now. To me, the hearts are little messages from Amalia.

Here is a poem I wrote about my brief encounter with her:

Each thought of her
an invitation
to cross
the bridge over the river,
an arch over an abyss,
a concrete thread over
the ashes of my daughter: ivory
and turquoise, glistening in the stream,
swaying against
heart-shaped rocks,
inching their way slowly
towards the Columbia, the Pacific.

My girl in the river.
Her dust swallowed up among the fish,
the moss, the grasses, and sticks,
the water insects, when close up, bigger
than the valley hem made of jagged mountain peaks.

My girl in the river and the sky.
The river's name, the Seeker.
Her name, Hard Work.
Hard work to stay alive.

We sang to lure her back,
--mama a teta, two sister-mermaids--
songs to bring her home,
summoning the onion sellers, the shepherds,
the dove, the cat, the dog
to help whisk her
away from machines that beeped,
strangers in scrubs, tubes penetrating wrists.
Home to a wash of chamomile,
warm cotton,
skin on skin.

Grief mutes,
but I speak to her
greeting her there on that bridge
as fast as one breath in and out
over the water-filled wound in the earth,
warm vapor rising.

Amalia: deep down in the water,
burnt bones. Such beautiful burnt bones. 

Originally posted here where I blogged about Amalia before.