Thursday, December 8, 2011

Florida Memories

Harper and I just returned from a week long vacation to Southwest Florida to visit family.  It was Harper's first time on an airplane and she did amazingly well on all four flights, no melt downs or freak outs whatsoever.  She did actually poop on every single flight, I don't know if has to do with the pressure, but by the third flight, I was just cracking up.

Harper got to finally meet her Aunt Katie and cousin Sienna (who is nine months older than her).  It was extremely important to me that Katie and Harper got some bonding time and we also did a cute photo shoot with both girls together on the beach in Santa hat's and diapers.  

We had a great week visiting with family and trying to relax.  I think I was able to relax as much as possible with a seven month old baby, but it was awesome for Harper to meet her Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Great Grandpa.  I got to spend some time with Cathy and Marnie, my Aunt Leah's Mom and Wife, which was so important to me.  Leah Fields has been the best friend to my Aunt Meghan since I can remember, and for many years her and I have shared a really special connection.  I am not really sure why, but being around her softens my spirit and she is so full of love.  I was glad to have the opportunity to stay with and get to know Marnie and Cathy better at Leah's house.  Her son Hollis is  1, so the house was fully baby proof and accessible for Harper and I.   

I got to also celebrate my Aunt Meghan's 30th birthday weekend with her and her family.  Aunt Meg is Mom's youngest sister and she is also one of the most thoughtful people I know.  My daughter was obsessed with Meghan's daughter Meah, who has the magic baby touch of her Mom and Harper cracking up all week.  We had a really nice dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse with all of the friends and family there on the night I arrived.   My sister is going through a rough patch, and it was nice to see that the family is really supportive of her and that she has them to lean on. 

My Grandpa Mulvenna is one of my favorite people on Earth.  Grandpa always finds a way to make me roar with laughter and almost tear up because he cares about his family so much.  His eyes have always been honest and he actually listens to you.  For him to meet Harper was extremely important to me, as I don't have any memories whatsoever with my Great Grandparents and since I don't have a Dad or Great Grandparents for her on my Dad's side, it's important for her to know my Mom's parents.  Now Harper has met and engaged with both sets of her maternal Great Grandparent's, and Grandpa Mulvenna.  She will get to meet her Great Gramma and Grampa Decker this upcoming summer.  I want to do a photo collage for her with each Great Grandparent once she does. 

Perhaps the best part of the week was seeing Harper engage with other children.  She hasn't really been around other kids that much here, and she LOVED being around the kids and having them play with her.  I was a bit nervous, because anytime a kid cries at the pediatricians office or somewhere in public, Harper would start crying too.  But around her cousins, she was OK and just moved on to the kid that wasn't crying and continued playing.  I hope she is able to get into some kind of play school or something like that in a year or so, that way she has a day or two a week to interact with more kids her age.  

Today, I've got a laundry list of things to do before going back to work tomorrow.  I have to finish this stupid driving school from a ticket I got a few months back, get groceries, start looking into new places for us to move, and move down the notches on Harper's crib to the next setting.  My beautiful girl is growing so fast.  Last night Brinn called me into the bedroom, and there she stood pulled up on her arms trying to stand up inside of her crib.  She is also full blown crawling and moving around a rapid speed.  She is very active.  My Florida family was surprised at how little she sleeps during the day.  All of the little cousins nap for 1-2+ hours at a time, whereas Harper only naps twice or three times a day for 20-30 minutes.  She has never really been a big day sleeper at all.  She is also starting to find her voice, screaming and making cute repetitive noises.  It's hard to even fathom how fast she is growing, just the differences between 6 and 7 months are astounding!  And I know it only get's faster from here. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Changes

I've got a mad case of the Monday's.

I just returned home from such an amazing weekend in Las Vegas with my best pals from Chicago.  Vegas is so much fun, and it was great to cut lose, gamble, drink, and party it up the entire weekend.  One of the highlights was seeing The Lion King in it's final year on the Strip.  It was incredible!  Oh and The Amazing Race Slot Machine, and The Ghost Busters Slot Machine, and the Craps tables, and the Dance Clubs, and Mimosa's for breakfast, and beers for lunch, and Vodka for dinner...it was a wild time. 

Being away from my baby for almost a week was really hard.  I don't ever want to be away from her for that long again.  She is growing so fast right now and missing a week at this age is just way too much.  It felt so good just to snuggle with her and whisper to her cute self how much I love her tonight.  I know everyone says that you can't describe a love you have for your child until you become a parent, but it's so true. 

Harper is five months old today! She loves her solid foods (she even had some peas tonight!), is nearly crawling (pulling herself up onto her forearms), and loves sticking her tongue out.  She is still sleeping through the night, which is absolutely amazing!  After working in a baby store and seeing some parent's who literally look like they got run over by a bulldozer, I thank God every single day for my little angel. She lights up every day, her laugh is infectious, and she brings more joy to my life than I've ever known.

Wow, have things changed in five short months.  Today I had to make a painstaking decision that I've been avoiding for most of the summer.  After my marriage fell apart, I escaped to Chicago for the winter, and came back in time for Harper's birth.  I started making repayments on my house as I continued to work with the bank on the payments I missed.  I found out about 6 weeks ago that the bank did not want to work with me, but continued to pay on time in hopes that we would work out something.  Today, after doing a lot of research and consulting with some experts, I have decided to let this house go.  Trying to get current will destroy my credit even worse than just simply walking away from the house, and continuing to pay is getting me absolutely nowhere.  I've been really tormented by this decision, as I loved this house from the moment I saw it.  On the flip side, it's an older home that needs a lot of work and it holds so many memories for me of my past.  While I will be so sad to see this home go, I look forward to a fresh start in a fresh home that is not tied to my ex-wife or ex-life.  And renting for a few years will give me the ability to save up some money, rebuild my credit, and hopefully move on to more happiness before Harper is ever old enough to even know that her Dad was so reckless and irrational during this stage of her life when it came to finances.  So October marks my farewell to my marriage (our divorce will be final in the next few weeks) and my beautiful home, but 2012 will be a much needed fresh start and I am very excited for that. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A love letter

Dear Harper,
You are four months old today and every single day with you is a gift. As I look into those big beautiful eyes, I can't help but think how lucky I am to be your Daddy. Before you were born, I thought I knew what life was about but in four months you've completely changed that for me. Your smile is infectious, your laugh melts my heart, and when you look at me I know you can see how proud of you I am.

A lot of times, letters in baby books from parents are apologies for future events. Parents apologize for not having enough money, or for the broken family the child will endure, or various other things. For you, my sweet baby I don't want to apologize because it is my intention that you will never need to hear those apologies. I vow to do my very best and ensure that you have everything you need out of this life, but that you also have a deep appreciation for those things and compassion for those who do not. What I want most is for you to feel empowered to be whatever you want in this life and an appreciation for everyone else. I've learned some tough lessons in my life, but they have made me a stronger person. When the going gets tough, I want you to know you can count on me. As sure as there will be bumps in the road, mistakes we both will make, my love and support for you will never waver. I will always be your rock, and the soft place to land when the going gets rough.

You are being brought into this world at a strange time. Tomorrow marks the ten year anniversary of one of the greatest trajedies our country ever experienced with the attacks of 9/11/01. We are still at war ten years later, our economy is suffering, and it seems that everything is very shaky. I want to be the first to tell you that despite all of those circumstances, you have a rock solid foundation underneath you. I've worked tirelessly to make sure that no matter what is going on outside of these four walls of your house, that you know that you will never have anything to worry about. So many times, people get so caught up with what's happening around them that they lose their footing on control of their own life. My dear, I want you to know that when you can put blinders on to the negativity and focus on your mission anything and everything is possible. Harper, you are capable of doing this. When someone ever tells you that you can't do something, prove them wrong by doing it. Don't do it to spite them, but to prove to yourself that you are capable. Remember you are a Fernandez and you can do anything you set your mind to.

While most people are good, there are some that aren't. Inevitably you will be mistreated, made to feel less than, or underappreciated. A lover will break your heart, a friend will turn their back, a family member will make a nasty remark. The more that you can let this roll off your back and keep moving forward, the faster you will recover. I wish I could save you the heartache, but I can't so my only other advice is revenge will get you nowhere, forgiveness is key, and always remember that what goes around comes around tenfold.

You are already magnificent and I can't wait to watch you grow up. You are my everything and complete my life. I love you more than words could ever convey.

Love,
Daddy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

At 3 months

Harper is more vibrant than ever, and like everything else in my life, things have completely changed once again.

I am sitting here in my house with a sleeping baby next to me (don't judge, I cant bring myself to let her sleep in her crib yet), and I found a few moments to stop staring at her long enough to dust off the old computer and update to my blog. I am so enthralled by every movement, every cute sound, every first.  And Harper has grown so much!

Forgive my three month absence, I've been enthralled with the most amazing little person (I know all parent's say this, but she definitely is). If I haven't responded to your messages, emails, etc it's not for any other reason than I have been too busy and too focused on being Daddy to worry about anything else.

Two weeks after her birth, I accepted a new job with another company, interestingly enough a baby store!  I have literally been traveling ever since and just completed a two and a half month training process where I have spent a total of of the last 65 of 75 nights in a hotel room stretched between Phoenix, San Jose, and East San Francisco. I still have another three weeks until my store here in Sacramento opens.  But I am home, for good this time and it feels surreal. And wonderful.  And daunting. And strange.  And awesome.

I am so used to having full control.  Over my life and every aspect of it.  The past three months, and Harper in particular, have taught me to start to shed that part of myself.  Being a Dad, a working road warrior, and having to deal with a divorce, new baby, and new job all at the same time has forced me to rethink everything I thought I knew or thought I wanted for my life. I haven't mastered it, but every day I am starting to let go a little more. 

I wish I could update all of you on everything, but there's been so many changes that it would take me an entire night to update it all.  And truthfully, it's all irrelevant anyway.  The three months has crawled on and flown by at the same time.  I had a wonderful visit with some of my very best friends four weekends ago, Aunt Crystal and Harper's cousins Rilynn and MeKaty at the beginning of summer, and Grandma Maureen last weekend.  Harper's Mom moved out of the house about a month ago, and once again lives with her boyfriend and friends in their community in Sacramento.  Harper gets passed from house to house, and Aunt Brinn still lives here and helps me when I have her at her home. Grandma and Grandpa O'Brien live close by and here to help too. Everyone is trying to figure out how this all works and looks, but truth be told I know that as soon as we do, it will all change again.  So instead I try to focus on the good things.  A solid job, this beautiful house to raise my daughter in, and many friends and family here to support and encourage when they can.  Has it been easy?  No. Am I starting to find that place of happiness that was taken away from me?  Absolutely.  And every day with Harper reminds me why I was put on this Earth.  To be her Daddy.  To teach her right from wrong, morals, integrity, and also to learn from her too.  I hope when Harper looks back on this journal some day, she still feels like no matter what happened in life, that I always had her back and was there to encourage her, guide her, advise her, listen to her, and be her biggest fan.  I have softened in so many ways because of her.  I've hardened in others.  When it comes to her protection, upbringing, and safety I will never falter.  When it comes to loving more fully, being more connected to those that I love, and being present I am so much better than I ever was before.  I slow down when I need to, I speed up when I need to.  Like Harper, I am learning to master the art of self soothing. 

faux hawks just like their Dad's. Once fall comes and her hair gets longer, I think it will be more apparent.  Many of you have wondered, and I realized that it was quite the taboo question to ask, but she is definitely my child.  Paternity test shows that she shares more genetic markers with me than with her own Mom (2 more, but I say three just because one of them is sex and she is a female).  She fake coughs and cries for attention, but immediately grins when she knows that she "got you."  She has everyone that meets her wrapped around her finger.  She goes where ever, and is such an easy baby.  She goes with the flow, doesn't require adjusting your own schedule to cater to her.  If she is tired, she just goes to sleep.  No fighting or whining whatsoever. She loves her Bumbo, bouncing Exersaucer, and door swing.  She likes to swim (most of the time and if the water is warm).  She goes in her little boat that her Grandpa bought for her.  She likes bath time with Daddy, but only in the mornings.  She is my everything and I love her more than words can say. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Harper's Arrival

It seems like eternity since I posted here, but after the last 36 hours, my life has been changed forever and I thought it was a great time to start back up where I left off.

I promised Shea I wouldn't embellish, supersize, or James Frey up our birthing story that welcomed our beautiful Harper Avenn Fernandez to this world (and yes, Avenn is spelt with two N's...Aunt Mariah found out that A.V.E.N. was a ridiculous acronym for a well known ASexual Self Help Organization) this morning at 1:38 am on May 5th, 2011, but this tale was told so well that for once I don't even need to add any Fernandez flare to make it more interesting.

After a tumultuous winter, I arrived back in California from Chicago in early April ready to welcome our precious daughter to this world.  Everyone, herself included, thought my ex-wife-to-be-who-was-pregnant-with-my-daughter would go early based on ultrasound monitoring and other factors.  She was already huge so I figured we had a few days at most before we welcomed our little girl home.  My sister in law Brinn moved in and together with Shea, Grandma O'Brien, and many other helpers we created Harper's House in a hurry ready for baby to come any second.  Same structure, but everything else is new.  The layout, the furniture, the atmosphere, the energy has completely shifted to make it the best possible home for this special little girl.

One week went by, then two, then three, than four, than five. Doctors appointments and checkups every single week signified she was coming at any second, and Mommy (and Daddy) were hoping for an all natural experience with very little intervention.

At last weeks appointment, with dilation only increasing by 1 cm each week, Dr. Trifero decided to make the call that Shea would be induced on her birthday morning, May 9th at 10 am at UC Davis Health Center in Sacramento.  We all cringed, nothing about induction was ever part of our birth plan.  We went to a few non-stress tests that Harper passed with flying colors, and after last Friday's check up, Mommy was having some serious doubts about going in for induction at all.  But low and behold, Mother's Day came, and Shea made the decision that we would indeed go and make our appointment on Monday morning, and Dr. Trifero's morning call to her came with a strong warning of advisement to come in before she went even further past due.

We ended up going for Shea's birthday breakfast at the Pancake House and geared up for what we knew would be a long day.  When we arrived at UC Davis Health Center at 10 am, the hospital wasn't expecting us since Shea was hesitant on Friday, but they quickly checked us in and got us the birthing suite that ended up being AMAZING.  Very large room and the best news of all, that we would be able to labor and post pardum without moving in a room with a tub, dining room table, and plenty of space for this big welcome to the world.

Shea was still on the fence about Pitocin, a synthetic hormone that is now used in over 85% of US Hospital births to speed up the process.  The very sweet doctors and nurses seemed amused by Shea's plan of pain free meds and our hyno-birthing.  They went along with it, but as soon as they left the room you were sure to hear chuckles and if you could read into their text messages you would probably find messages about, "the crazies in suite 3772 who think they are delivering all natural."  Connie, our main nurse took down notes and Grandma O'Brien got to work with Mom on setting the scene with soothing music, dimming the lights.  I was just trying to BREATHE, I had tears rolling down my face and was freaked out that today was the day our little girl would make her debut.

At first the doctors allowed Shea to try some natural inducement techniques while they got her hooked in, put in her IV and ports, and other check in formalities.  Finally at around 1pm, one of the many MANY doctors we would see (because this is a teaching hospital) made the decision to begin "whiffing" the pitocin in at a very slow rate to see what happened.  Aunt Brinn arrived and things were moving very slowly for the next three hours, but the surges (we don't call them contractions in hynobirthing) were intensifying slowly.  At 4:30, another doctor made the decision to finally break Shea's water, and about thirty minutes later with the water broken mixed with pitocin, Shea was finally in active labor!  Contractions coming on stronger and stronger and spaced about 5 minutes apart.  We began the actual hynobirthing, with no lights (other than the monitors), the low soothing music, and allowed Shea to breathe the baby down with each contraction (also no "pushing" in hynobirth, we call it birthing the baby down or breathing the baby down).  At 6:30 Dr. Trifero and the night crew came on, and we got Cheryl assigned as our room nurse (each laboring Mom gets her own RN).  Cheryl was amazing and had done a hynobirth a few weeks earlier.  Everyone was brought up to speed and it looked like Harper would share the same birthday with her Mom.

From 6:30 to 8:30 surges intensified and at 8:30 Kim made the call to have the troops rally.  Grandpa O'Brien, Uncle Logan, Aunt Shannee, Aunt Mariah were all called in and arrived within thirty minutes.  When they arrived, we were in SERIOUSLY ACTIVE LABOR.  Everyone worked in shifts, Mariah would crawl into the bed and massage Shea's lower back, Kim would stay at her face and cool it with towels, Brinn would massage her feet, I would make sure the towels were staying cool and changing them out, Shannee would help our nurse Cheryl move Shea from position to position.  It was a team atmosphere and everyone was working hard.

I tried, up to this point, to stay back.  Since I wasn't involved with the hynobirthing classes, I wasn't really sure what to do or say and there was something magical about watching the women tend Shea.  They worked silently, switching from station to station.  Shea felt like she was ready to push around 10:00 pm, but Dr. Trifero came in and said she was only at 8 cm and it looked like another hour to hour and half.  This is when the hynobirthing started to slightly slip away.  Shea was having intense contractions, very closely together, and thought she was ready to push.  This delay caused her to second guess whether she could take any pain medication, but unfortunately (or fortunately) it was too late and I think Shea only asked because she knew that.  It was the only time in almost 15 total hours of labor that I saw her waver and it was only for a split second.  As soon as she said it and realized that Harper would be here very soon she went back to the deep breathing and laboring.

At 11:15pm, Shea knew it was time to push and she paged for another exam.  Dr. Trifero was in a Cesarian, so Cheryl the nurse checked her and sure enough she was at a 9.5 cm.  With a few adjustments to her position, it was time to push.

This is the time when the labor actually BEGAN for me.  I think in my mind, as well as Shea's, we thought this next step was about 30 minutes or so.  Since she had been preparing for so many hours and it was time to push, we all already began eyeballing eachother and seeing that Brinn had likely won the bet of a May 9th Birthday at 11:45.  Little did we know that Harper and Shea's body would have other plans.

Shea was pushing really hard.  As soon as she went up into the stirrups, I think the intensity of seeing her daughter in this kind of pain caught up with Kim, so she allowed Mariah, Shannee, Brinn, and me to take over while she cooled off.  She would come in and check on the situation, but this was the time when the four of us huddled around and held hands with Shea as we saw her push.  About ten minutes in we could see Harper's head, but with every breath out the head would show up and then with every inhale it would pop back in.  This continued for over an hour.  We had missed the chance for Harper to have a chance to share her birthday with Mommy and Shea was beginning to get beyond exhausted.  She had been pushing for and hour and fifteen minutes and the same thing was happening over and over; head shows up with breath out, baby disappears with breath in.  There was a LOT of blood.  Apparently this is normal, but I wasn't expecting it.  Towels, pillows, blankets, and other items were thrown everywhere and it began to look more like a crime scene the a birthing suite.  Dr. Trifero finished his Cesarian and came in to the room.  He told Shea she was doing good, told her to keep going, and left the room.  While he was visiting, he noticed that with every exhale, Harper's heartbeat would drop significantly and told Cheryl to watch it.  I had already noticed this trend, as had Kim and we knew we were close so we tried to ignore it.  When Dr. Trifero returned, the heartrate was getting lower between contractions and he immediately called in for reinforcements.

Within a matter of seconds, two other doctors and three nurses came into the room.  Mixed with our nine guests, the room was filling fast.  The other doctors were unaware of our plan and just began turning on lights, speaking loudly, and the Chief Resident said page the Attending OB Immediately.  Shea began to freak, and my heart was pounding.  She had come this far and there was no way in hell we were going to be rushed off to the operating room with Harper's head literally within reach.  When the Chief Resident said she had to figure out the babies position, she inserted both arms up to her elbows into Shea and around Harper and Shea completely lost it.  There was now squirting blood, a few extra nurses stampeded the room, and they were saying things like the baby was in distress, that she needed to be moved, one even undid the breaks on the bed preparing to move us.

Some place I have never gone to before just kicked in.  I got right at Shea's face and just talked her through the next two contractions.  She had bursted a blood vessel in her eye with the jolting scream of that doctor inserting both of her arms inside of her, and she was on the verge of completely losing it.  Brinn and I sat at her face and told her just to keep pushing.  We knew that if we could get one huge push in before they could move her or come up with an alternate decision that they would pull Harper the rest of the way out and not resort to alternative treatment.  Shea pushed through the next two contractions like a superhero rockstar.  She was calm and collected, and on the end of the second contraction, Dr. Trifero literally grabbed Harper by the hair and pulled her out.  As soon as she came out, everyone shouted LOOK AT HOW FREAKING BIG SHE IS.

The rest of the night was so personal and intimate that I feel like it should be kept for our closest friends and families to hear in private.  Shea, as you can imagine, had very VERY extensive tearing and other problems because of the size of Harper matched with the doctors reaching in to grab out the baby and feel around her while she was in the birth canal.  It was all hazey, but in the backround our beautiful wide eyed girl was crying and ready to take on the world, as happy as could be that her Mom chose her health over comfort.  While Shea was still being stitched up, Harper latched right on and began breast feeding.  Our nearly ten pound baby (9 lbs 11.6 oz to be exact) miracle was here, healthy, and so was Mommy and Daddy and an entire family to support and care for her.

I was priveledged to watch it, I was honored to go through the experience, and I also know I dont think my heart or brain could ever endure that type of pressure again.  I made some quick calls and then just collapsed in the hallway, sobbing out of joy and release of the insane journey we had just gone on together.

Today we had a chance to spend the whole day with our beautiful baby who still rarely closes her eyes, is so alert, eating regularly, and perfectly happy and completely healthy.  I am so grateful that God chose me to be Harper Avenn Fernandez's Daddy and so proud of Shea O'Brien for handling birth of our daughter with such care and determination.  It was one experience I could never ever forget and am priveledged to have gone through.   

Monday, April 4, 2011

California

Well, it's official.  I am home!  It feels so weird to write that.  You know when you have traveled between time zones and everything seems a little foggy?  You can't quite get things into focus, and you are trying to adjust?  That's how I feel right now.  I know I am happy to be here, but I am also out-of-sorts a bit.

I arrived to sunshine and so much GREEN!  I seriously feel like I landed in Ireland or something.  I know I am suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency so the sunshine and near 80 degree temperatures today are SO WELCOMED!

When I got here, I came in and my house had already been set up with all new beautiful things, and it felt good.  This a re-start and I know this chapter will look so much differently than any others.  My mother-in-law took my tax return and was able to refurnish the entire house with creative finds from Craigslist and Garage Sales.  It came together so nicely and I am beyond appreciative of her hard work to get it together before I came home.  There is a whole room of STUFF for the nursery, so that will be so fun to put together with Shea in the coming days.  And my Aunt Mary (visit her site www.agreatimpression.com) sent me a few preview shots of Harper's custom made bedding which looks absolutely BEAUTIFUL (and I've only seen the quilt)! 

There is a still A LOT to do.  It amazing how much work goes into home ownership.  I need a whole day for the inside and another for the outside, and  a third for the pool. Plus a fourth for the nursery set up with Shea. I mean, everything is fine, but as you all may know I am perfectionist and I want everything to look and be perfect before Harper's big arrival in less than three weeks!

Speaking of arrivals, my niece Eleanor was born on Saturday morning!  She waited until the very last second to meet her Uncle AJ, but she made it out just in time.  I got to snuggle with her and visit with her Mommy and Daddy in the hospital.  She is absolutely perfect and Carey was a rockstar during her delivery.  I told Carey to take care of Harper's BFF until I get to see her again and introduce our girls to one another.  Harper is going to be blessed with several wonderful girlfriend cousins.  It will be so fun to watch Rilynn, Mekaty, Sienna, Ellie, and Harper all grow up together.  I can already picture many rounds of Red Rover, double dutch, and I want them to all be pen pals for eachother.  Eeek, so cute!

Today I am headed to San Francisco to meet with Urban California people and spend the day with my father in law.  Tonight I hope to visit with my pals and get started on setting up the house.  

Oh, in case you were wondering, we hit In-N-Out immediately after landing!  It was SOOO good, I got real chills when we drove in and I could smell it.  Yum.... 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Perspective

My sister Crystal is here visiting from Idaho this week.  I always love to showcase this city to others, and it puts my life into perspective for me.  My sister, a stage four cancer fighter is facing her own impeding divorce right now.  I never had a brother, so I've had the benefit of many slumber parties with my sisters, where we sit up and have "girl talk" and those only get more fun and the topics more interesting the older we get.  With two divorces, a lot of beautiful little girls that bring us joy, failed relationships, joyous relationships, crazy families, approaching thirty (her sooner than me), parents approaching 50, babies, breast feeding, travel and health, you can imagine that the conversations have stretched far into the last few mornings and had us near tears, or laughing until we cried.  What I appreciate most about my big sister is that she has always listened to me.  She hears what I have to say and takes my opinion seriously.  She shares openly.  She doesn't hold back the truth, but doesn't deliver it harshly either.

A few revelations I've had all revolve around one common theme.  I am giving up control of all of the situations I could never manage, but always tried to for my entire life.  I am done parenting, worrying, and trying to hold everything together for everyone in my circle (because they don't need me to).  I am putting Harper first, and me second and everyone else has to get in line behind that.  I don't know why it's taken me so long to realize this.  It will be harder on me than any of them.  In fact, I think it will be easier on them.  I have always been a self pleaser, and I thought if I harped long enough on how so-and-so should budget their money better, quit drinking or smoking, and do this-and-that more like I do that they would somehow be happier.  I like to be the boss.  I like to get my way.  I like to be right.  And somehow, that has prohibited me from just being present or just listening.  I have felt this change coming on for quite some time, but I am glad it came to me now so I can make a change before I push people away or force un-needed barriers between me and those that I love.

We went and saw the show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind last night at the Neo Futurist's theater here in Chicago and its a collection of 30 short plays done in 60 minutes.  Many of the themes were political, controversial, and inspiring, but one that has stuck in my head is play number 27.  In it, the actors come into the audience after doing a monologue after closing the theater doors and asking what we would all do if we got locked in the theater and had to live out the rest of our lives as just the 130 of us.  Who would become friends, enemies, and lovers?  What would we create together?  What would we fight about?  What would we talk about?  The moral of the story was that you only have who you are with at this very moment.  They said, "think about that and put down the damn texting device, look up and engage with those that are around you!"  I had goosebumps.  And I looked at all of those faces in the theater, as they scanned me and for a split second we all just got it.  We are all human.  We all want the same things.  We want family, relationship, love, understanding, and respect.  We are all the same. 

It made me realize that I didn't say that final I love you to those that I care about.  And if you are reading this post, than it's intended for you too.  I am thankful for family, friends, and my sister Crystal for being a constant reminder of the love and beauty I have been blessed with.  Cheers to all of you and to St. Patricks Day too.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ten Weeks

What a difference a week can make. A week ago today I was wheels down in California which turned out to be a much needed trip for clarity on a bajillion things.

I now know two things for sure.

1) I absolutely can not wait to move back to California. The Golden State was created for me. The weather, the people, everything just fit back together. I was somewhat angry at myself for ever feeling so alone or deserted there because when I looked around all I saw was love for me, in leaps and bounds. And not the fake California movie scripted kind of love, but genuinely concerned friends and family members who were concerned about me and are excited to welcome me back.

2) I am severly under-prepared for our baby girl to come in (clears throat) 10 weeks or less. While my other expecting friends are hanging mobiles and making final touches on their nurseries, I don't even have a couch. Literally, I don't have a thing.

I got to attend Harper's ultrasound with my ex, and got to see all of her organs, her spine, and yes her part that makes her officially a GIRL! When I think about her, mainly because of the really frightening face shot you get in those ancient ultrasounds, I keep calling her Daddy's little panda bear! She has the Fernandez circles already! And she has hair...apparently they can tell that in the ultrasound!

Since I got back to Antartica...oops I meant Chicago...my mind is constantly wandering and my stomach in knots. Ten weeks, ten freaking weeks until Baby Harper arrives! Let the countdown begin.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The update

I had such a magical weekend with my Mom, sister, and niece Sienna. They arrived on Thursday night and it was non stop until they left on Monday. We shopped up and down Michigan Avenue, had a wonderful meal cooked by Logan at Stephen's apartment, and Carey's baby shower was a nice, relaxing culmination to the weekend. Katie and I got to cut loose and dance it up with Nick one night, it's so much more fun being adult siblings. You actually WANT to be around your siblings instead of having to be separated constantly for fighting when you're kiddos. I am so proud of my sister. The old Busha would have snapped off or had a nervous breakdown with a crying overtired baby and self, whereas adult Mama Katie taught me a few things about being Zen. My Mom always makes me smile, and I am so blessed to have been raised by such an open/accepting human being who has never cut someone down based on anything other than poor character. She also trekked Chicago like a local and I believe went away with the understanding that Illinois is a wonderful place to visit, but an awful place to actually live. They made it both out safely before Snoprah Winfrey...the great Blizzard of 2011 hit so I was thankful for that. 

Many of you have asked for an update from me on what's happening in my life. When I first came to Chicago I had this grand dream of starting over as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City leaving behind California and all of the horrible things that happened to me while I was there. I thought about, even posted to Facebook, that as soon as I got away from the madness that I could finally breath again. My Mom even wrote how she would move here and we both spooled up this idea that I would have an amicable split from Shea, start my career over here, and Mom would help me with the baby when I had joint custody of her. I would take long walks through the streets of Chicago with my best friend and our daughters would grow up hand in hand playing patty cake together. My best friends would be an active part of Harper's life and everyone would live happily ever after. It was a great dream, actually an incredibly amazing one. There was only one major problem, it was a complete falacy and about 48 hours after I landed, reality smacked me in the face. My friends, while they love and adore me, had their own lives and partners that actually loved and respected them and who, understandably so, get to use up all of their spare time outside of 50-60 hour work weeks. They had also experienced 4-6 Chicago winters and were all nearing Chicago retirement. My Mom didn't hear anything about a job transfer and I realized that if and when it ever happened that she too has a husband and full time job so the likelihood of her being able to babysit was slim for atleast the next 15-20 years that she is a full time worker. And I fell into the deepest darkest time of my life.  I slept for 12-15 hours at a time, and only could pull myself out of bed in enough time to throw on some clothes and show up to work.  I lost even more weight than I had in California, and my mental and physical state was deteriorating with every passing second. 

And then I started thinking about California and how much I loved living there. How I told people every single day that Roseville was the most wonderful place I had ever lived. The weather, shopping, accessibily to San Francisco, the Ocean, Tahoe were all spectacular. And my home, with the pool and yellow lawn furniture was something I dreamt of and worked tirelessly to be able to have. I was ruining my credit and financial future for my baby, and I had worked too hard and too long to give it all up. Sure, Shea was the reason I went there initially, but did she deserve the right to take everything away from me that I loved? Hell no! Should her family have to suffer because of her absolutely horrendous mistakes? No. Did she hold the weight to ruin other aspects of my life, like my credit, well being, and newfound deep friendships I had formed there? Absolutely not. So around Thanksgiving I had already started considering moving back to California. It was becoming apparent that Shea was not sorry for what she had done or was continuing to do, and I was missing my unborn baby more than I could ever put into words. How could I simply concede to allowing Shea to pass on any of her new ideaology to my baby, when I knew that it was so wrong and fundamentally against everything I knew was right in this world? And I was just supposed to start over, and rebuild everything I had worked so hard for?  I simply couldn't do it...

But then I thought, what will everyone else think and how will they react?  I could already picture my Mom's response, and I cringed at the thought of ever having to tell her I was "going back into the fire."  I knew she prayed every single day for me to get the hell out there and how could I admit that I wanted to go back.  Also, my work had just told me that I was going to start interviewing for jobs at our home office, a dream of mine with a more than comfortable salary, regular 8-5 Monday-Friday schedule, and with a company that I loved.  Only problem is that the dream job with the dream company was in Philadelphia!  I was already hating Chicago and missing California, how could I ever consider going even further away from my child just to make myself happy. 

And on Christmas Eve it just clicked for me.  I remember something my old boss would say, "life is about the journey, not the destination."  I got an email from someone who loves me very much begging me to consider coming back and giving it another go.  She wrote, "it won't ever look the same, but it doesn't mean you have to give it all up." And just like that, I knew.  I knew that I had to tell Urban Outfitters to no longer consider me for the promotions, I bucked up and explained it to Mom and my closest friends (and got a lot of apprehensive looks and chats, understandly so) and made the final decision that California and Harper were not just calling me home, they were screaming for me to get back.

So yes, I will say farewell to Chicago in April and head back to California for good before my daughter is born.  I am so thankful for the time I got to spend here.  I was able to see my best friend through her pregnancy (and meet her baby in person before I go) and reconnect with my closest friends on this Earth and make new friends as well.  But as I wrote above, home is calling.  I will be in California this upcoming week for a few days to start the process of transitioning back permanently in eight weeks or so.  I am attending a prenatal visit with Shea, finalizing all of the paperwork with an attorney, and figuring out how life will be (as much as you can pre-plan, and everyone knows I am a planner) when I go back.  Where will I live, how will I get around, how will being a full time Dad and full time employee actually work?  There are so many questions, but I am so certain of my decision and know that God will guide me through the rest of these dilemmas.  And if I ever needed a tip on the iceberg to validate my decision (which I really didn't) Snoprah Winfrey took care of that for me.  40 hours couped up in an apartment while 23 inches of snow falls will make anyone wish to be ANYWHERE but here.  Golden State, I am coming home...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baby you are a FIREWORK!

When I was with my sister Katie in Florida right at the beginning of this journey, she made me watch the video for Katy Perry's "Firework."  I loved it from the second I heard it, and throughout the nearly three months I have been in Chicago, she still texts me every once in a awhile with a quick lyric from the song.  It's my anthem.  Really, if you haven't listened to every single word, you should YouTube it right now and listen with your eye's closed.  I promise if you don't smile when you listen than you didn't hear it right. 

"Maybe a reason all the doors are closed is so you could open one that leads to the perfect road."  This week, I have put myself out there in ways I never expected.  I just am starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, Katy is right.  After a hurricane, comes a rainbow!  Now I am not expecting for things to turn around overnight and I am still right in the middle of the hurricane, but I am starting to believe that the rainbow is out there.  And that is the first time since my world crashed in on me that I am starting to believe that. 

My Mother in Law wrote to me yesterday about a dream she had about me.  She is really intuitive sometimes.  She said I was a bit older and beefier (don't know how I feel about that!), still sitting with my knees pulled into my chest (as I do) and smiling.  She said it was the best she's slept in a long time.  It made me smile.

The last two days have been so nice.  I spent a lot of time with Stephen.  He really is such a reliable friend.  He and I haven't had much time together since I got here because of work (he works for Urban Outfitters too) because of Holiday, Inventory, and our corporate visits this week.  It was nice to just be in the same space and talk endlessly about nothing.  He is funny, witty, and such a "sturdy" friend.  I am so thankful for him and so happy to see life returning the favor by delivering him happiness in leaps and bounds as well.   He deserves every good thing he gets because he gives joy to those around him while never expecting anything in return.  I want to be like him when I grow up.

Tonight we had a small dinner gathering at Carey's.  There was no occasion or holiday, just Logan, Carey, Nathan, Stephen, and I all around the table eating pasta and pie.  We chatted for hours about everything under the sun.  I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom twice to wipe my eyes and express my gratitude to God for these people.  They are so much more than friends or family.  They have literally saved my life and I have to pinch myself for having these kinds of people in my life. 

This week my mommy and sister and niece are coming!  I am like a giddy school girl.  I can't wait to show them the city and just sit around and laugh and cry and have fun with them.  There hasn't been a single time in 11 years where it's been just the three of us.  They get me without having to say a word.  I am so blessed.  And baby, I am a firework! 

Friday, January 14, 2011

A lot on the Horizon...

I have a lot to look forward to in the coming days and weeks.

For starters, I have this WHOLE weekend off.  Yep, that means a Saturday and Sunday off for me.  I love when that happens.

Tomorrow I am meeting with a long lost friend for lunch and then going to finally see Black Swan with Carey before the award show season.  After the fiasco at Country Strong we got free passes from the manager so we are going to use them.  Carey's also been eager to try Five Guys, a big time Burger Joint so we're going to hit that up too.

On Sunday, my friend Emily is back in Chicago from New York and I am going to meet up with her. 

Then, in less than two weeks Mom, Katie, and Sienna will be here.  While I am nervous of how we will all fit comfortably into my little studio apartment, I already know it's going to be an amazing weekend.  I am so looking forward to connecting with them and showing them the city.  And Sienna, sigh, I can't wait to pinch those cute little cheeks again.  I love my neices'...they are all so special to me. 

And then the week after, I am headed back to Sunny CA for a week.  I will be so excited to escape the Chicago winter, if only for a few days.   It will be a chance for me to attend a prenatal visit with Shea and get some of the affairs in order that I have been prolonging and trying to escape since I have been here.  I am nervous to go back "into the fire" but know it's a very important step for me too.  Plus, I get to pig out on In N Out too!  Funny how the places I have lived are DEFINED by my favorite restaurants there too.  When I was in CA I would obsess over Potbelly.  Now, I am Potbellied out and craving In N Out.  Hehe, the grass is always greener I suppose...

Inventory is officially done at work, and while we have a big visit this Thursday, Inventory is when we finally check off the end of the holiday season.  Man, it flew by and drug on at the same time, if that makes any sense whatsoever. 

Well, it's late and I am off to bed. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Next Generation

Tonight my friends and I realized that we are no longer the next generation, we are officially grown ups.  As we settled into our seats to see "Country Strong" tonight, a group of 6-8 13-16 year old boys came in and sat behind us.  About five minutes into the film they began talking and being so annoying and I turned around and said, "Shut the hell up."  They did for a few minutes and then started again.  Next Carey spoke up, "I don't know if your Mama's paid for your tickets, but I paid for my own and you all need to shut up."  A few minutes later, Stephen finally had it and told them to Shut the fu*& up and when they still continued to talk (now about an hour into the movie) I finally got up and went to get the manager.  He came in and warned them, but as soon as he left they began with farting noises and belches.  We finally had it and I read them their rights after the movie ended, Carey was tempted to throw her Coke on them, and Stephen chased them downstairs and right into the manager who offered us free passes and apologized for all of the disruptions.  Still, what is happening with this next generation?  I get the whole "kids will be kids thing" but I know that if my friends and I were ever even able to go see a rated R movie at that age and were corrected by an adult we would have shat ourselves and not even moved to take another bite of popcorn for fear of getting in trouble. We had respect for our elders and we knew that if we ever got in real trouble in public we would be in twice as much trouble at home.  I reminded my friends about the time I had a fit in an Olive Garden (around 8 years old) and my Dad took me into the bathroom, dropped my pants, took off his belt, beat my ass, and then made me go out and apologize to the table and waitress and other patrons for the disturbance I caused them.  I never, ever acted up again in a restaurant.   

Earlier this week, a 5 year old boy was throwing a full blown tantrum on the El Train system on my way home from work.  He was crying, striking his mother on her leg, and screaming bloody murder for about three minutes straight.  Meanwhile, the mother continued texting on her phone and did absolutely nothing to correct the child.

So at Chili's after the movie that we only got to half watch because of those damn pip-squeeks we began asking what has happened to the youth in America?  We have teenagers who literally pass up getting their drivers license on their sixteenth birthdays because they have instant access to everything they need on their cell phones and laptops.  Why would they ever need to drive when they can connect instantaneously with their friends through their Wii's?  I was waiting at the DMV on my sixtienth birthday at 9 am to be the first in line to apply for my drivers license, as was every single other person in my class.  We have kids addicted to television, video games, and the Internet and wonder why Autism and social disorders are increasing by the double digits every single day.  And there is absolutely no fear of consequences for bad behavior because so what if you get grounded to your room, you spend all of your time there anyway video chatting with your virtual friends? 

I think this generation of parents (the thirty somethings) just got sideswiped by the Internet age, but I also think we are going to see digressing with the next generation.  I feel sorry for mine and Carey's children, because while their friends are connecting with the new IConnect or whichever new product is on the market, they will be forced to get off their asses and go roll around in the mud.  There will be very limited time constraints on technology, television, and video games.  And they will be required to be in the house for dinner every night before the street lights come on and eat together as a family.  I know so many twenty somethings entering into parenthood that share these same ideals.  We see our younger siblings, cousins, and friends lost in this world of non-reality and it's distressing. 

I wanted to beat the crap out of those little bastards tonight, but really who I wanted to beat the crap out of was their parents.  Why do you not know where your children are?  Why are they not in fear of a manager coming in and asking them to shut up?  Why is that mother ignoring a tantrum from her child?  Grrrr!  Sorry, I really needed to release this tonight.

It was a great night and great conversation with friends, but man oh man were we pissed.  When did we get to be old folks?

I want to blog

I just don't know what to write about and I don't want to force anything.  However, I watched Private Practice last night and got excited about Violet's book that was getting published!  I mean, I know its a character on a television show, but over the last few weeks I've been thinking a lot about my future.  And I know that I am in need of a desperate change in direction.  And I love writing.  So maybe if I had a theme to write about, I would be able to turn that into a memoir which I have always dreamed about writing?  Can you really write a memoir at 27?  I'm not sure...

My emotions have been all over the place lately.  Going through Christmas and New Years was difficult and fun at the same time.  I am so excited to see my Mom and Sis at the end of the month.