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Friday, June 14

Living Doll

Prologue
I wrote this story in 2009 when my daughter turned 2-years-old, using a Facebook Note. I know this is a categorized weight loss blog, but it is my story and my journey and every piece of me makes up the puzzle of my life. This was my last pregnancy and my last baby and set in motion a spiral of events that have led to this very moment, including my decision to get a lap band. When I delivered my daughter, I was the same starting weight as when I got my band. I was able to lose 80 lbs on my own using Weight Watchers and it took me two years to take off the weight. After that and some other post-partum baggage I was dealing with I put on that same weight again in about nine months. So if it's true, that life has no regrets, that all the stepping stones of your life lead you to the present, then I'm glad all that has happened because without that experience I would never have had the courage to have weight loss surgery. A baby is a blessing, but there is always more than meets the eye. The time of Carmen's birth was the most stressful of my life so far, but I kept swimming kicking as hard as I could and here we are now. Happy Birthday to my baby girl. 


Story of my Second

The day Carmen Rose arrived was both predictable and routine, two attributes I had found comfort in during a stormy Spring of 2007 of problems with Brad’s job. I had June 14th marked on my calendar for months by that point. It would be the day I went in for my scheduled c-section and came home four days later with our little girl. A girl we had named Carmen after the opera by Georges Bizet. She would be independent and strong, just like I always hoped to be. 
The decision to do a repeat c-section was what was natural for me at the time. I had just had a c-section 24 months before with my son due to his defiance in the womb and refusal to present in order to come out properly, so it was familiar to me. Never being one for surprises, I told the nurse at my very first appointment to never ask me again if I wanted a VBAC, although she said I could change my mind at any time. 
Brad had been home an entire month before the baby was born which was less of a blessing than cumbersome. Instead of the joy of having him to help me with my final preparations, I was flooded with emotion, worry and doom about the bad luck this baby had brought me. A baby I wanted and planned for, and the proof that even the most well-thought out plan can create a drift in karma. So home we sat while I ate everything in creation, rolling from here to there after my toddler, and finding rest only in the family room recliner at night. 
Two days before my big day, Brad heard news of a new job. This was it; it was what I had been praying for. The baby, so quiet in my belly had unfortunately been somewhat neglected from my thoughts, a pregnancy not entirely filled with joy but more of a situation, and on that day I sobbed for her and said a tenfold of prayers to make up for what I had missed. But we had work and security, and I was ready to be a mom once again.
When the day had finally arrived I walked into the hospital after a well calculated morning, and said very calmly, “I’m here to have a baby.” It was surreal. There would be no labor, no wheelchairs, and no natural delivery, something I would never experience. No cavewoman pushing and screaming for me, just control and routine.
Strapped down like Jesus Christ on the operating table, I heard the doctors talk about their summer plans. It was as if they were making dinner together, talking and laughing, while I lay there with tears in my eyes. I did what a good Italian Mama does and said an “Our Father” followed by a “Hail Mary.” What was different this time around was that I was not fatigued from 18 hours of labor as with my last child. I was wide awake, just laying there strapped down…observing. 
During surgery, Brad stroked my arm which was pinned down with straps and tried to tell me play-by-play what was going on. After I puked twice and was told to just “turn my head” each time, which incidentally was the only part of my body I had physical control over, it was finally time to see the baby.
“HOLY COW!” the doctor exclaimed. What the hell did that mean?
“Does she look normal?” was my only question. It was also the very first thing I said when my son was born. 
“Yes! And she’s…wow…she’s got to be ten pounds!” She was 9.11 to be exact. 
When they brought her to the side of my head, I craned my neck as far as it would go to see her. I had no words to describe her at all. She was the largest baby I had ever seen with a face as round and full as a melon. “Now you stay with her Brad, leave me here.” I had said. Dutifully he went and the doctors went on to put my insides back together and stitch me up. As they laughed and told more stories, I lay there, numb. 
In the recovery room I really got a good look at my baby. She was huge. Her lips were red and her eyes were closed, her face and body still swollen from being in a bag of water for 9 months.
Once we got to my room everything became familiar to me. Because this was my second baby, the nurses let me be and didn’t ask me a million questions. Likewise, I didn’t ask a million questions either because I knew what to do; I had been practicing already for two years. 
When Vinny came to see the baby he had a very monotone reaction. “Oh, that’s Carmen,” he had said, “Can I have my McDonald’s now?”
On day 5 Carmen did something that I had been waiting for. She finally opened her eyes. We had just gotten home and I laughed as I looked at her complete face for the first time. She looked like Brad, a face I fell in love with years before that I could fall in love with again, this time in the face of my new baby girl, and it was then I loved her. 
We settled into a routine and the sleep deprivation nearly killed me this time around. My toddler was up from 8am until 8pm with no nap while I still had to get up four times a night for feedings. I was a zombie, and depressed, talking to no one unless they asked me a question. 
Caring for the baby was robotic. I just went through motions all day and night without feeling. Feed baby, dress baby, entertain baby in some sort of containment device while I clean and take care of other child, put baby down to nap, repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually things got better. It took just over a year for me to begin to enjoy my new baby, I just never seemed to have the time. 
Carmen was always unique. Just as it had taken her 5 days to finally open her eyes and face the world, she would always be just as cautious with everything else she did in her life. She would sit in the laps of my family members like a China Doll, quiet and content, and observing. People would ask half-sensitively and half-alarmingly, “What does your baby do??” to which I would reply, “Nothing, she just watches.” 
When she was 11 months old she crawled for the first time, and shortly after her first birthday she stood up on her own one day and walked. She always knew how to do it, she just hadn’t been ready yet. While my son is always running from me, Carmen is always running toward me. Carmen does her own thing when it’s best for her, she is easy going, mild, and the sweetest little girl I have met so far. I can’t wait to get to know her even better as the years go by. She brings such sunshine to my life.
Happy Birthday Carmen, June 14, you are my last baby, and the perfect addition to our family.
I love you.

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