Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Against all odds

I held the stick in my hand and scrutinized it with one eye shut. Was there a second line? Man, I couldn't tell! I opened both eyes and looked again. Still couldn't tell. I looked again with one. Cripes, was I pregnant or not?

I was twenty and not even through my first year of marriage. I wasn't even old enough to drink yet here I was taking a pregnancy test. I was so scared, yet excited, too.

I'd always thought about how I wanted to surprise the father of my children when I told him I was pregnant, but honestly, how could I do that when I couldn't even tell for sure if I was? These tests were so hard to make out in the early weeks.

Reluctantly, I had him look at the stick. He looked at me with a slight smile and nodded his head.

We were going to be parents.

That pregnancy was miserable, for the most part. I was sick from the first month all the way through my fifth. Then, just when my stomach settled down, my heart took over and started kicking my butt. My health deteriorated in the second trimester and by the time I hit the third trimester, I was on bed rest for high blood pressure and then hospitalized for what I finally learned was pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was high, I was losing protein in my urine, I had retained 45lbs in water weight and my skin was so tight it felt like it could split any minute.

The morning I delivered, my blood pressure was 190/110 and I'd gained three pounds overnight. The doctors had to get this baby out before we both died. I was transported to a neighboring hospital who was better equipped to handle the delivery of a 29-wk old fetus. They couldn't even call it a baby yet.

I remember hearing a nurse in the delivery room say "Bless his heart" and hoping my son was okay. I remember the warmth of his tiny head against my lips before the doctors whisked him off to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and then being left alone when my husband followed the baby. The doctors knocked me out at that point and I don't remember anything clearly until the next day. Even those memories are sketchy.

But I remember the fear our son's young life left in our hearts as we wondered if he'd make it through the night. He'd been put on a ventilator and given a very small chance of survival. Then we were told if he did survive, the chances that he wouldn't have permanent, on-going disabilities were almost none. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night two days after he was born to be told his lungs had collapsed, he'd been given a chest tube and put on a high-frequency ventilator. 

I was still bed-ridden with high blood pressure that was supposed to have come down the day I delivered, so I couldn't even see my baby, much less hold him and tell him he'd be okay. It was several days before I was finally able to be wheeled into the nursery to touch him and almost two weeks before I could actually hold him.

I went from being a kid to feeling forty overnight. I learned medical terminology, how the respiratory system worked, what all the monitors were for and what it meant when they beeped. I learned that I could survive on very little sleep if it meant getting to be at the nursery all the time with my son. The nurses took notes every time they did anything to him, any time we visited or called and what the doctor said when he came in. That binder was three inches thick during the ten weeks he was in the NICU. He survived collapsed lungs, respiratory issues and developmental setbacks.

To say this child was a miracle is the biggest understatement ever. He has defied odds, outsmarted science and shown the world he's a force to be reckoned with. Today, that baby turns eighteen.

My baby is now a man and I couldn't be prouder to be his mom. I love you, son.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My heart's in Boston.

I grew up being a fan of Boston sports teams. In my house, you cheered for the Red Sox and the Celtics and that was it. So, long before New Kids on the Block came into my life, I had a connection to Boston.

As a teenager, I always wanted to visit Boston, but never made it there. It wasn't until last year that I set foot on the ground our pilgrims walked almost 400 years prior. But it took me less than a minute to fall in love with the city.

I'd been to New York numerous times and loved the chaos and craziness of big cities, but people warned me that Boston was different. "They don't like outsiders." "They're not friendly." "If you get lost, you're screwed 'cuz they don't give directions." But I didn't believe them. In fact, shortly before my trip to Boston in 2012, I added "Hug a stranger in Boston" to my Bucket List to prove all the naysayers wrong. 

And I did just that. On Commonwealth Avenue, just a few blocks over from Boylston Street, where yesterday's blasts happened, I saw a kind-looking stranger who didn't seem to be in a hurry and I told him what my goal was. Without hesitation, that man hugged me and didn't let go. I don't know his name. Don't know what he does for a living. Couldn't even tell you where he was headed, but for a minute, he took time out of his day and gave some stranger in a Celtics sweatshirt the best hug she'd ever gotten.

I knew then Boston wasn't the unfriendly place my followers had said it was on Twitter.

And, as I hear more stories about yesterday, the more firm I am in my beliefs. Boston isn't a city of thugs, rude people, snobs or selfish citizens. It's a city with heart and it took a piece of mine when I left last year.

My thoughts are with those directly affected by yesterday's attacks and also with those, like myself, who have left a small piece of themselves in that beautiful city.

Pray for Boston.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coming soon!

My first novel, Distance and Time, is coming your way this summer!

Carlene Cooper was your average teenager. Average, that is, except for her relationship with Josh McCarthy, member of teen mega-group, South Station Boyz. Young love blossomed at a chance meeting when Carly was a senior in high school and Josh was just discovering what stardom really meant. Despite their chemistry, it was no surprise to anyone when their very different lives took very different paths a few months down the road.

Years later, their paths cross again and they must decide if the spark they felt back then is strong enough to rekindle. Josh has built a name for himself in show business, but Carly, too, has planted roots as a journalist in New York City. Will they be able to successfully merge their lives and overcome the obstacles that drove them apart a decade earlier?

Just as she comes to the decision that will change their lives one way or the other, Detective Trey Foster enters her life unexpectedly and Carly is faced with another choice. Will she choose the man she's spent her whole life loving or will she push it aside for a chance at happiness out of the spotlight?

Distance and Time is the first book in the Time After Time series. It will be introduced in e-book format and later be published in paperback. This book is something I've spent years getting juuuuust right before sharing with you all. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

Stay tuned for the Publication Day announcement!