Category: Gratitude

Mother’s Day Week deluge of happy news

I’ll be studying here this summer!

I’ve heard people say that overnight success takes years in the making. These past few weeks I had an a torrent of good news that left me reeling for breath. How I love that word, reeling! Since I started writing seriously, I had the goal of finding a literary agent that would love my work so much, they’d be passionate to share it with the world. I queried two books. The first one I queried a few years ago wasn’t ready to go into the world. I had a great reception for the query and the first chapter (I even won the First Chapter Contest at Storymakers!), but ultimately, I didn’t find representation. I kept writing, and learning, and attending conferences, and getting up at 4 in the morning to get some quiet writing time, and submitting, and critiquing, and receiving critiques, and  writing some more. Writing and reading every day, all the time. Last year I started querying THE REEL WISH, my Latina Irish dancer novel. I had a great request rate too. I had dozens of full manuscripts being considered by agents. A wonderful agent even called me and suggested that

I earn the silver medal for the Honor! Isn’t it
a gorgeous design?

I revise and resubmit. I did. I wrote a different book: ON THESE MAGIC SHORES. I submitted that book to Lee and Low’s New Vision Award. I started my MFA program at VCFA. I found out I was a finalist for the New Visions. I received two offers of representation in the same week! And then another one. I sent a crazy query to a new agent that felt like a perfect match. Twenty-four hours later she offered representation. I found out I won the New Vision Award Honor. I found out I was accepted to the summer residency in Bath Spa. I could finally announce that I’m now represented by Linda Camacho from the Prospect Agency!
Again, I’m reeling with happiness and gratitude! And then on Tuesday, Barcelona won 3-0 against Bayern Munich, and Messi did this!

Isn’t it a work of art? And then I found some audio from Polanco, one of my favorite ESPN commentators. Even if you don’t understand the language, the emotion with which he talks about this goal reflects how I feel about signing with an agent, winning the Honor, and making it into Bath Spa!

My dear friends, my cup runneth over. I’m so humbled by all the words of support during these years trying to achieve these goals! I expect many trials ahead. My road in this writing career is just starting! I’m so excited to keep working and writing books and sharing my stories with the world. I only have a tiny Mother’s Day wish: to be able to call my mom and tell her my wonderful news. I can’t do that anymore. I just hope that she’s smiling in Heaven, celebrating these goals that are also hers. Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful women who make this world a wonderful place and who made these dreams of mine come true!

Magical year

I’ve been thinking about this blogpost all year. There are so many things I want to share, so many ways I’ve phrased the words. The main feeling that keeps coming upfront though is gratitude. Since warm happy weather to me equals Christmas and celebrations (my biological calendar is still set on Southern hemisphere after all these years), I think it’s only natural to feel this bittersweet emotion I always feel at Christmas time.

Last year, on July 1st, I went into the hospital to be induced three whole weeks before my due date. Nothing in the pregnancy had gone as I had expected. For the first time, I had nausea pretty much the whole time. The dreaded cholestasis showed up in the first trimester, which led to my midwife “suggesting” we change plans from homebirth to hospital, complete with high risk doctor and three times a week checkups. I learned that the non-stress test is the worst named test in the history of forever. Stressed? Me? I was delirious with fear for my baby’s life. Each non-stress was supposed to be 15 minutes. I was always there for a couple of hours because his heart-rate wouldn’t accelerate when it had to. I remember looking at the heart monitor printout, trying to guess if the dips and the highs meant the baby was okay or why the nurse looked nervous and always ended up asking the doctor’s opinion.

I went in on July 1st, and Valentino was born on the 3rd, just past midnight. We wouldn’t leave the hospital until the 10th though. The first moment the cholestasis symptoms started, I had a feeling that something would happen that I hadn’t experienced before. I tried to keep my thoughts positive. I listened to my hypnobabies tracks, I visualized happy things, I tried to imagine a bubble of wellness around me. But Valentino wasn’t ready to be born, and he ended up spending a week in the NICU. I know some kids spend weeks, months, years in the hospital. I don’t know how parents can endure it. By the time Valen was released, I practically ran from the hospital as if I were stealing my baby from the nurses, although they’d been so nice to us, so good to him. I hate hospitals, and even now, when I go down to Provo library, I make sure I don’t drive by the it.

The thought that kept me going during those days was that in a year’s time, we’d be celebrating the baby’s birthday and all that painful stuff would be in the past. So tonight, I’m celebrating. The past is past, but it’s also part of me. So I’m thanking God for life, for the miracle of holding a sleeping baby, my sleeping baby. For first smiles and first words. For how wonderful it is when they play with the siblings and try to walk. Tomorrow my baby will be officially a child. I’m grateful for this year in which I got to appreciate each of my children even more than I did before. They’re all so different and wonderful and such a puzzle. Sometimes they’ll say something, or do something, and I wonder who these people are and how I got so lucky to be their mother.

This year, I’m grateful for science, but also for motherly instinct that told me to relax more, to trust more. I’m grateful for life, my life and my children’s and for how from hardship came such a blessing. Not a day goes by without a prayer of thanks for one more day to be a mom, to fight over messy rooms, to cheer at futbol games and dance competitions that take forever. Because forever is such a short time sometimes. And in the end, all that’s left is the feeling and the memories.

Happy birthday, Valentino! You’re so, so loved!

Finally the fantastic five!

The bili-lights at home. Harder than I ever imagined! Good thing our doctor said we didn’t need them after the second day

So tired, but so happy!

Valen on his last night as a baby/first night as a toddler

Happy first birthday Valen!!!!

Preparedness makes me so nervous

Last Friday the kids had a Safety Drill at school. For me, it only meant that instead of picking the kids up at the bus stop, I actually had to go get them at the school. Parents needed to learn the protocol if “something” happened one day.
The night before we had my nephew’s wedding, and on Friday I slept in. That day I let the three younger kids stay home, but my Gorgeous Boy had a test and couldn’t miss it. He went to school, not too happily though.

During breakfast, my Princess Peach told me what they do during her kindergarten class Safety Drill. If there’s a threat, the teacher leads the kids to the bathroom, where they file in in complete silence. They have to stay away from the sink because it has a motion sensor, and if there’s a noise, the bad guy will know they’re there. The teacher turns off the light, but she has a flashlight. If it’s lunch time, the teacher has an emergency snack bucket.

While she was telling me all this, my hair was standing on end. I have a very vivid imagination. The images her whispering voice conjured gave me nightmares for nights. They still do.
In the afternoon, I picked up my son. It was my turn to practice the drill. All the parents parked by the basketball courts, following the directions of traffic helpers. All the school stuff wore reflective vests, and somehow, seeing all of them wearing those and a whistle around their neck, I felt this soberness in the air. This was something important.

I checked in at middle school desk that was set up outside. A person with a walkie-talkie called inside the school to ask if my son was still inside. There was a crackling of static. My heart pounded imagining that they would say, “No, he isn’t here.”

After a while they answered he was there, of course, and then I picked him up at a different table.
We walked away, hand in hand. He didn’t try to shake it away, but he wanted to. Some girls were looking at him. We walked past a father who was patiently listening to his three daughters complain of how terrible it was they had to wait in the dark for hours, the whole sixth grade class.

As I drove away, I muttered a prayer of gratitude that this was just a drill, a practice in case something bad happens. A nightmare. A horror so terrible I can’t even imagine. I hate that kids (and parents) have to do this. But boy am I grateful my kids will know what to do (hopefully) in case of an emergency!

As for me, I’d love to fly to a distant island, safe from tsunamis and hurricanes, and live away from monsters. And then I think of The Village, and I’m left with just a prayer of protection for my children, and every children. That’s all I can do.

My Gorgeous Son teaching school in Ghana

The New Wildthing in My Life

Many of you know that I was expecting a baby this summer, and even though I had planned on keeping the blog current to link to all kinds of awesome articles and sources for new moms, I let my blog go. Again. I had several reasons though. One of them is that I discovered that it’s a completely different experience being pregnant for the first time, or while parenting toddlers, to being pregnant when all four of my kids had busier schedules than I ever did. I was exhausted. All the time! I hardly had time to write, but I made myself work on three different projects until the very end of the pregnancy. I read ferociously. I immersed myself in words to distract my mind from the atrocious itching I always get as a result of suffering from Intrahepatic Cholastasis of Pregnancy, also known as ICP or OC. I had it with all my kids, but when before symptoms didn’t start until the third trimester, this time, they showed at 11 weeks.

If the itching weren’t bad enough, the exhaustion and weakness (also a result of ICP) exacerbated the fear of losing this kid. You see, the main risk of ICP is a high incidence of stillbirth during the three last weeks of pregnancy. Needless to say, I was pretty much maniacal at the end.

My due date was yesterday, July 22nd, but my baby was born three weeks early. His birth was nothing like that of the other kids. I went from two idyllic homebirths to the NICU.

He spent a whole week in the NICU. A week that really made me understand the meaning of time stopping when things are bad. That week seemed like a lifetime. Looking back on it, I don’t even know how I made it through it all, other than the fact that I felt myself and my fears and worries lifted by angels, heavenly and those here on Earth. 

I understood the real meaning of envy. Hot, acidic, pervading envy when another baby went home and mine didn’t. I never knew that feeling existed. I hated it.

But I also felt gratitude and joy like never before. Freedom. Going back home with my baby felt like I had been set free.

I’m writing again. Yesterday I read a chapter I wrote weeks ago, and guess what? It wasn’t horrible. In fact, I liked it so much, this morning I woke up looking forward to updating the blog. And writing. And new stories. I think I’m back to almost normal. Almost.