23 Weeks!

23 Weeks!  It’s been a pretty awesome few weeks.  This pregnancy has really been good to me and I am really enjoying it.

How I’m Feeling this Week: This week has been pretty great.  I had a lot of stuff going on and finding out the babies gender last Friday was a lot more exciting than I thought it would be.  Now I feel more connected to Biscuit, trying out names and seeing how we feel about them.  Still feel excited about having seen Biscuit on the scan (the sonographer was horrible but at least we gout one decent [???] picture). And the profile looks similar to Levi!

BISCUIT AT 22W1D

BISCUIT AT 22W1D

How Big is Biscuit: Biscuit is about the size of a Spaghetti Squash!  Those things are pretty huge, but the way this baby feels, and all the movement, I really swear it’s bigger then that!  Also, the size of a football, which is great because, well, football season!  LET’s GO GIANTS!

Baby Bump News?:  The bump is huge, my friends! I have to say, I have never, in my life, have felt as sexy as I have being pregnant.  Which is weird, because I thought it would be the complete opposite.  I think it might be how much Callie touches me, or the attention I have been getting because you know, maternity has brought out the femme in me, which i didn’t expect.  We have loads of movement, enough that when Callie and I lay in bed, she has actually felt the kicking.  It’s so awesome to be on the other end now and see how excited she gets, because I remember that, so vividly.  Also, hiccups!  Lots of Biscuit hiccups!

23 WEEKS AND REALLY REALLY SHOWING

23 WEEKS AND REALLY REALLY SHOWING

Sleep:  I’ve been a little more uncomfortable when it comes to sleep.  It takes me a little longer than usual to go to sleep (I’m one of those people that knocks out the second my head hits the pillow!), but once I do, I’m out for the count!

Food Loves/Hates:  Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches! So damn delicious!  But that’s about the only thing I’ve been eating because nothing is really appealing lately.  Nothing has been like, “oh yes!  I HAVE to eat that!”  Everything has just been, well, blah.

Symptoms:  I have been getting lots of numbness in my right leg.  I will be walking or sitting and suddenly, the right side of my thigh, from the butt to the knee will go completely numb.  Still waiting for my doctor to email me back, so we’ll see, but every woman who has ever been pregnant that I have spoken to seems to think it’s my sciatic nerve.  Makes sense, except the only symptom is numbness and no real pain (not that I’m complaining!).

Next Scan:  We have an appt on 11/19 for another glucose tolerance test and BP check.  Lat appointment my BP was down from 142/91 to 134/80, so I’m really happy about that.  I have been doing my best to try and watch what I’m eating, eliminating salt from my diet, and drinking loads and loads of water.  The doctor and the perinatologist seemed pretty please, and that paired with a great result on my glucose test made ME happy!  Next scan is 12/4 just to measure baby but another peek at Biscuit will be great!  MIght actually splurge and spend the $150 to go to one of those 4D places in 2 weeks.

Sex:  If we are talking about the babies gender, well, we definitely know now, and we’ll be sharing once we tell our friends and families this weekend.  But if we’re talking about actual, mind blowing, earth shattering, boundary pushing, physical sex, yeah, we’re having that.  A lot.  Every night all this past week.  Some switch inside me just went off, and I can’t get enough of it.  Callie has been more than accommodating.  Switching “roles’ and everything…it’s been fun and interesting, to say the least.

Overall Feelings:  This experience so far has been better than I ever imagined it could have been.  I’m really, really enjoying this journey.

Something I Didn’t Expect:  Seriously, all joking aside, I didn’t expect to feel so sexy and free.  I thought pregnancy would restrict me, make me feel gross or unattractive, but it has done the complete opposite.  I has really been a positive experience for me, and I hope that it continues to be that way until the end.


LIFE THIS PAST WEEK AND A HALF

SO we bought a minivan, and moved up to being real soccer moms.  Mary LOVES the new car, and has not stopped talking about all the features.  It’s got automatic doors and trunk, leather interior, lots of space, 2 TV’s, middle section of chairs swivel and face the back and you can place a table in the middle where they can play games when we road trip, navigation, rear camera, and an awesome center console with loads of compartments for all kinds of crap.  It’s a road-tripping family’s dream!  Callie never thought she would like a minivan, but she loves it!  She loves it so much she should marry it!  New Car

THE BOYS ENJOYED DRIVING THE CAR AT THE DEALERSHIP

THE BOYS ENJOYED DRIVING THE CAR AT THE DEALERSHIP

levicarWe also went to my nephews 3rd birthday party last weekend, and the kids got to show off how freaking adorable they look in their costumes!

WE'RE OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD!

WE’RE OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD!

Sunday we spent the day at the NY Hall Of Science Museum before heading home and watching our beloved Giant’s spank those cowboys!  I knew they would have loads of cool stuff for Mary and my niece to enjoy, but I didn’t expect them to have nursery/toddler area where little babies could explore science too. Noah, Levi, and my little niece Jezenia, really enjoyed playing with scarves, climbing in the foam mats, and playing the drums.  They LOVED those drums!

MY MUSICAL BABIES

MY MUSICAL BABIES

MY MUSICAL BABIES

MY MUSICAL BABIES

It’s been a couple of really great days!

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Biological “Father” – Part 3

As I dialed the numbers, my hands trembled.  Not that I was afraid to talk to him like it was the first time we spoke, but I wasn’t sure what to expect now that he was a free man, with free will, and with the ability to make his own choices that weren’t necessarily dictated by the solitude that incarceration brings.  Would this phone call be the beginning of the end now that he didn’t need to stay connected to someone in order to have cash flow into his commissary, or would it simply be a new beginning now that he had the ability to communicate with my brother and I as much as he wanted?  I hear a weird beep on the other end.  Phones ring differently when you call different countries.  I didn’t know that.

Beep………Beep……….Beep……….

“Ah-lo?”

“Si, soy yo, Samantha” – It’s me, Samantha..

“Quien? No se hoye bien…” – Who?  I can’t hear you well…

It’s your daughter, Sammie!!!

“HOLA HIJA!!!!  How are you!  How is everything!  I’m finally free! Free to do so many things!  Tell me, how is everything?!”

Our conversation began.  He asked about the kids and how they were doing because the last time we had spoken they weren’t born yet.  I told him that they were getting big and that they were beautiful and smart and funny, and one had red hair and blue eyes like my wife and one had brown hair and brown eyes just like me.  I was so excited to brag and share about them.  I also told him about Mary and how we would possibly be adopting her and how she is such a special part of our lives and our family.  He seemed happy to hear that we were doing something so important, taking on someone else’s kid and the responsibility it took to keep her safe.  The irony in that statement.  He asked me about my partner, and I had to correct him several times and say that she was my wife, but he still doesn’t seem to get it. He asked when my brother and I, and our families would be coming to the Dominican Republic to see him.  I told him that it would be difficult to go this year because 1) I am pregnant to which he literally cried! 2) Mary can’t leave the country without a passport, and although her mother is OK with signing all of the required paperwork, her father’s parental rights are still completely intact, and finding him to sign said paperwork has been impossible (we had a trip to Canada planned with my parents and siblings that ended up canceled at the last minute thanks to having no passport!) and 3) Passports are not cheap.  With Callie’s name change, the boys BOTH needing passports and at about $100 each, not including airfare, hotel and car rental, it would cost us well over $4,000 for a week, and that’s just not the type of money we have lying around.  That’s not even including spending money, because with our father not having a job…well, you see where this is going.  I told him it would be a while before we visited, but that worst-case, my brother and I would decide if just the two of us would go, and at some later point in time, we would take our families out there to meet him.  I don’t think I’m ready for that anyway.  For my kids to meet him.

We talked about how difficult it is for him to readjust to life outside of prison.  After almost 10 years of being locked, he wasn’t sure what to make of the world around him. It’s one of the first things I noticed talking to him.  I noticed that all that time locked up created a pretty foreign world for him.  I asked him if he had a smart phone so that we could Facetime or Skype or Tango.  He had no clue what I was talking about.  Luckily, the cousin that told me that he was being released would be arriving in DR the next day and would be able to use her iPad (provided they had wifi) to Facetime with him.  Unfortunately, that whole week she was there was no good for me.  The timing was off basically every day, and the one day that I was actually able to FT, I fell asleep on the couch after a stressful day at work. I wanted to help him reintegrate to this “new foreign” world around him.  I asked her to take him to a phone store, find out how much an iPhone would cost, and what a service plan would look like, being that he was gifted a Blackberry with a prepaid sim card.  The grand total for a refurbished iPhone4S with a monthly plan? $150.00 for the phone and $35 for unlimited talk and text.  Data would be an additional $25/month for 4GB of data.  The phone is easy enough to afford, especially if my brother would be on board for splitting the cost, but there is NO WAY with us both struggling to make ends meet, that we would be willing to pay the monthly charges for the phone and add another bill to our already bill-ridden lives.  I sadly had to tell my father that it wasn’t something that I could afford right now.  We spoke for a bit longer, and although as awkward and piecemeal as the conversation was, it was nice to be able to talk to him in “person” and hear his voice.

His brother downloaded WhatsApp for him onto his Blackberry, and since then, he has been texting me almost daily, seeing how I’m doing, asking for pictures of the kids, and of myself.  Wanting to know how my pregnancy is going, and always asking about Callie and making sure that I am taking care of her, because he’s old school and happy wife means a happy life.  He told me that he found a job thanks to a friend of his, installing solar panels at hotels and schools and government buildings.  He told me how difficult it has been getting to and from work without a car.  He asked if we would help him buy one, and that he found one for $3000.  At this point I’m feeling frustrated.  If i already told you that I can’t afford an extra $60 a month, what in the world would make you think that I could afford $3000?!?!  I sent a screen shot of the conversation to my brother.  He laughed and said to deduct it from the $100k that he owes for our child support and now only owes us $97,000 instead.  I had to chuckle at that.  My father has made several comments like this in the past few weeks.  How he has to buy clothes and how he has to buy shoes both for work and play, and that he needs a new car, and a haircut, and do I have freaking Bank of America written on my damn forehead!?  I try not to let it taint the relationship that I have with him, or to blemish this idea I have of potentially one day having this “daddy’s little girl” relationship with him that I never had with my step-dad.  I want things to be the way they were supposed to be, but there is just too much built up.  Too many emotions tied to this one person.  Too much bitterness, and despite how hard I try to work passed some of it, it’s really tough some days.

So far, I gather that he is a really nice man, that made some drastically terrible mistakes, paid for them, and is now really doing his best to acquire everything that he lost.  I’m not gonna make it harder for him to do that, but I’m also not going to put myself out there and have my heart broken, or my kids hearts broken over shattered promises.  My number one job now is to protect them like I should have been protected.  In some of the letters that we wrote, he talked about the day that my brother and I visit him at his home, where he’ll cook dinner for us “so you know that your father knows how to throw down in the kitchen!”, and then we’ll drive to the beach, where we’ll walk across the sand, hand in hand like it should have happened decades ago, watching the sun set over a Caribbean horizon, and laugh and spend our first full day together ending in God’s light and pray for more days. Just. Like. That.  On days where I struggle with the relationship (or lack there of) with my father, I hold that image in my mind. I treasure it, I long for it, I cry over it, and hope that those words that he wrote will one day come true.  I truly, more than anything, hope they do.

father1 father2

Breast Pump Question…

Hey There Pumping Moms,

So I have a question!  I am looking into a new breast pump as we already have a Medela, a Dr. Brown’s, and an Avent.  The only one that we really like and has given us ANY kind of output (myself included and my 5 little drops over the course of 6 months, but I’m not even gonna GO there!) is the Medela, but Callie finds it quite uncomfortable, so we are looking for a new pump (she will be trying her best to relactate so that she can feed this new baby [and maybe even the boys] while I am at work, in the event that I don’t produce enough milk).  I’m curious to know how people feel about the Spectra.  It’s covered by my insurance, and it looks like it is the #1 Breast Pump for 2014-15, followed closely by the Medela.  They are seriously a fraction of a point apart.  Just trying to figure out if I should get another Medela In Style Advance (one for work and one for home) or the Spectra S1 Hospital Strength.  Any advice?!

-Non-belly Mamá

medelaOR

spectra

Silly Boys

Callie sent me a video today of the boys playing while she put their hoodies on so that we could go to a Hispanic Heritage Festival.  Levi thought that Noah’s bear eared hoodie was the funniest thing ever. Take a look for yourself!

Biological “Father” – Part 2

6am and I’m getting my sneakers on with a heart that is simultaneously heavy and aflutter.  I didn’t even know that was possible until the morning of June 20th, 2009, one day before my 26th birthday, one day before Father’s Day.  I made my way back to the Bronx to my Aunt’s house, where I was meeting her and my brother for the hour+ road trip up to Fishkill to visit (and meet) my father for the first time, that I could actively remember.  I was wracked with nerves, but I knew that I wanted to do this.  I knew that I NEEDED to do this.  So we piled into my Aunt’s minivan, but not before my brother asked me if I wanted to share an “herbal remedy” with him to help calm the nerves a bit.  A few minutes later, we were on our way, our spirits lifted.

MY BROTHER AND I...TOTALLY TWINNING

MY BROTHER AND I…TOTALLY TWINNING

As we got on the highway, my brother and I began talking.  He told me some things about his life, and I shared some about mine.  Some of the struggles, some of the joys, some of our accomplishments.  He told me that he had known about me his whole life.  That his mother always mentioned me, and that she shared pictures with him of the few times that we had spent together when he was just a toddler.  How he actually had had a relationship with our father.  My father lived with them for a while before he was arrested and fled the country.  How he and his mother had even considered calling radio stations in our area asking them to broadcast my name so that I knew that they cared and that they were looking for me, hoping that somehow that would reconnect us after all those years.  I’m sitting there listening to him, and thinking, “And I just assumed you existed.  I never really KNEW!”  He told me how my father used to call him almost every day, and then over time the calls started dwindling, until ultimately birthday and holidays were spent with him sitting by the phone waiting for a phone call that would never come.  I didn’t know what was worse. Knowing that you had a father out there that didn’t care anymore, or knowing that you had a father out there that never cared in the first place.  We still haven’t compared notes on that.  Too painful.

We pulled off the highway, stopped at the ATM and made change for small bills at the gas station, and drove the mile and half to the correctional facility.  We left all of our stuff in lockers, passed through security, gave them the DIN (Department Identification Number for inmates in NYS correctional facilities) and made our way through a series of checkpoints before we were all escorted into what looked like a huge dining hall with small square tables.  There were 4 chairs at each table.  3 blue, 1 brown.  All the brown chairs were on the same side of the tables, facing the correction officer seated at the front and looking like a judge.  We were asked to sit in blue chairs and wait.  One by one, inmates starting filing into the room.  Every time I looked at one of them, I wondered, “Is that him!?!”, but immediately knew that it wasn’t. About 8 or so inmates walked in until finally, I looked up, and saw him.  He had sensitive eyes like mine and my brothers.  He had a nose that I recognize from my own face and my brothers face, but no one else’s.  Every one knew I was his daughter because of my nose.  The forehead, the cheekbones, the same ears.  It was wild seeing yet another reflection of me.  My brother and I stood up, tears instantly in our eyes, and my father began to walk quickly to us, and we moved even quicker towards him, and we all got scolded by the officers for moving to fast, and then there we were, in his clutch, grasping at missed years suddenly tangible between us, all crying and sobbing for the luck of finding each other, finally, after so much time, and all tearful in the anticipation that life after this moment would feel more…more whole.

“OK inmate.  Enough contact”

What a way to burst our bubble of bliss.  We had been reunited after all this time, and we couldn’t even enjoy it.  It became suddenly very real that this was not the ideal way to meet your father for the first time that you can remember, but we did the best we could with whatever limitations we had.  We talked for the next 5 hours about what life was like for each of us over a few bags of chips and lukewarm soda.  How my brother and I grew up.  The memories that I thought were dreams, and my father confirming that they did in fact happen.  All of them.  We talked about how things went down, why he denied me and left my mother, how he realized that he had made a mistake a few months in and tried to go back and reconcile.  He told me that he loved my mother but that he was scared.  He said that the day that I was born, he showed up at the hospital ready to be a father with gifts and flowers and cards for my mother and for me, having gotten a new apartment and a new job, and my grandfather (who was a total gangster at the time and was no one to be messed with) threatened his life and told him he was never to contact my mother or me ever again or “he would see his life flash before his eyes”.  There was a machete involved.  At 21 years old, he was petrified of the reputation that preceded my grandfather and didn’t bother to come back around.  He told me that he waited for some time for things to smooth out and allowed the dust to settle before he tried to contact my mother again.  My uncle kept him in the loop and gave him several pictures of me during the next few months.  And finally, at 9 months old, my 19 year old mother contacted him and told him that if he wanted to see me,  he would have to do it in the next hour while my grandparents were out running some errands.  He tells this story as if it is one of his most treasured memories, and the feeling I get when he tells it, lets me know that it really is.

He shows up in the evening, and my mother puts me in his arms.  He recognizes my face as his own, and cuddles me, feeds me a bottle and sings me a song.  I fall asleep on his chest and he stares at my eyelashes for the next several minutes.  He said one of his tears landed near my eye and it made it look like I was crying, and that it broke his heart. And as he tells the story, tears well up in his eyes and I know that he is sad that he missed so much time.  I know that he regrets the choices he has made in his life.  I know that he is hurting now as much as we hurt all those days without him there.  And I feel sorry for him.  Even though I know that it was no ones fault but his own, I feel so, so sorry for him.  And for my brother.  And for myself.  And we all hold hands and cry and realize that our time is winding down and that we don’t know when the next time will be that we see each other.  So we hug, and we kiss goodbye, and this ache in my heart is bigger than it was before I got here, because now that the wounds have been stitched up and are healing, the shock has worn off and the adrenaline dwindles and now all you have left is pain.  Searing pain.

THE VISIT TO THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY ON 6/20/2009

THE VISIT TO THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY ON 6/20/2009


I wanted to believe everything my father said that day, but I couldn’t.  I had to call people and confirm.  My uncles told me it was all true.  My grandfather told me it was all true.  I still haven’t asked my mother. I feel that it’s too personal for her.  She’s a secret keeper, that woman.  My grandfather threatening him being confirmed was all I needed.  I would have feared him too.  So I wrote to my father.  Monthly for almost 2 years.  Each time, I told him something about my childhood that I thought would interest him.  I told him how I loved to sing, was good at it and would often have roles in school musicals.  I told him how I was an athlete and had awards and trophies and different colored karate belts.  I told him how I was in a relationship and how I was happy.  I told him about my family and the trips we took.  I mentioned my depression and my hospital stays and subsequent healing. I told him everything I thought was important so that he could get a real glimpse of who I am.  And every time, within 3 days, I had a letter in my hand telling me how proud he was of me of what I had accomplished and how terribly devastated he was that he had missed so much.  I asked him the pressing questions that I needed to know so badly, and he answered them, always honestly and delicately, even when it was things that he thought I didn’t want to hear.  “Now that I have you back in my life, I don’t want to lose you over dishonesty and omission.  I want a clean slate, a fresh start, a father-daughter relationship like we should have been afforded so long ago.”

Over time, the letters dwindled, mostly my fault.  I don’t think anyone has any idea unless they are in this situation, how incredibly difficult it is to foster a relationship with someone who is confined behind 4 walls, who has their mail screened, who has their visits and all interactions monitored.  It had been a year since I had written him, and it wasn’t until Callie had gotten pregnant that I finally decided to write.  It was a difficult letter to write.  Not because I wasn’t beyond excited that we were expecting 2 amazing little boys, but because I didn’t want him to get excited about being a grandfather, when really, in my eyes,  he wasn’t.  I wrote the letter anyway, and completely avoided the term “grandfather” altogether.  He wrote back and told me that he was going before the parole board and that he would more than likely be release on good behavior.  That his release would be scheduled for September of 2015, and that despite all of the good news in our lives, the bad news was that our reunion would yet again be cut short because as soon as he got paroled, he would be boarding a plane and would be deported back to the Dominican Republic since he is not a citizen of the United States.

Over the next few months I sent him pictures of ultrasounds, pictures of Callie, pictures of the day we got married and told him how things were going.  He seemed excited and always called himself “abuelo” although I still wasn’t confortable with him donning the title.  How can you be an abuelo that they count on and trust when you didn’t have the capacity to be that kind of father?  I justified it by saying that “abuelo” was formal like “Padre” which is what I call him, and not informal like “Wito” and “Papi” which is what I call my dad.  I started noticing that maybe I wasn’t over the abandonment that I felt, even after the 6 years of hearing all of the stories and the reasons, and understanding the way things turned out, and feeling at peace with it.  It’s something I think I’ll always have to sort through, always have to feel a certain way about.  Something I’ll let go of and hold on to for dear life, all at the same time.

September 16th, 2015 I get a Facebook message from a paternal cousin telling me that my father was released, was being transported to Buffalo, NY, and that he would be in the Dominican Republic as of 10/1/015, a phone number to reach him and a plea to please, please, please reach out to him.  On 10/2/15, I picked up my phone, and dialed the 10 digit number that would connect me with my father…

(TO BE CONTINUED…)

Biological “Father” – Part 1

Growing up, I didn’t even know that my biological father existed.  I mean, intellectually I knew that he was a real person, but something inside of me refused to let me connect with the possibility that this “father” person was someone that was real and that was out there in the world somewhere.  I never really had the courage to ask questions and talk about it with my mother, because it seemed that every time I brought it up, she became…not angry, but something like angry, and really wasn’t interested in talking about it.  The thing is, I had really vivid memories of days that I could have sworn I spent with my father.  Days that I spent with a little boy.  Days that were spent with relatives.  All of their faces were faces that I couldn’t see, black mist in my dreams and thoughts, but their presence, their energy, and my connection to them was felt.  My step-dad took me in when I was just under two, and that’s really the only father I ever remember, but I knew I wasn’t HIS, and I needed to know more.  Who DID I belong to?

When I was 16, I was getting my application ready for work at a specialty grocery store near my parents house, and I had asked my mom for by Social Security card and my birth certificate so that my dad could drive me to the library that evening and we could make copies to attach to my paperwork.  My mom was busy making dinner and told me to go into her “paperwork” drawer, and get the documents that I needed. She told me exactly where they would be located (my mom is THAT person) and sure enough, when I went into my parents bedroom, it was right there where she said it would be.  What she didn’t mention was the letter from Child Support that was sitting with my documents, all rubberbanded together.  It was a document claiming that my biological father wanted to start contributing money ($1/month!!!).  I was very confused because in the 16 years of my life, I never even had any idea what my biological father’s name was!  To see it there, written, in bold isolated print, with what could have potentially been my last name had life played out differently, was very surreal.  I didn’t know what to do.  My heart races a mile a minute, and I knew, that if I ever wanted answers, that if I ever wanted to know anything about this man, about the other half of my genetic makeup, then I HAD to ask.  So, I gathered up all of the courage that I could muster, and walked what seemed like forever to the kitchen, and faced my mother with envelope in hand, and said something along the lines of, “Umm, I don’t know, but I found this, and it had my name, and it had his name, and I just, I don’t know.  I mean, I don’t know!”  And for a second, I kind of expected a slap in the face, or a scolding for snooping, or an attempt at avoiding the conversation, but none of those ever came.  My mom calmly turned to me and said, “Well, your father wants to give you $1 a month.  After 16 years, $1 a month!  You never needed him before and you definitely don’t need him now!  But if there is anything pressing that you need to know, then go ahead and ask.”

I choked.  I didn’t know what to feel.  Here was this door that for years I was hoping to bust wide open, suddenly left ajar for me to walk through and find an infinite amount of answers to my incessant questions, and I couldn’t assemble anything more then, ” Nah, not really.”.  That night, I went to the library, made my copies, kissed my parents goodnight, and cried myself to sleep.  How could I not ask?!  How could I want to know so many things so desperately for so long, and given the opportunity, I absolutely choked?!  But that day, my mom left the door cracked and over the next couple of years I had a few things answered, but there were so many things that didn’t add up.  There were questions that I asked about holidays and county fair and cars and strollers and snowstorms that my mom told me were not real.  That they never happened, but at a later point in my life, I was told that they were true.


I was 19 when my uncles wife called me to tell me that she had some news about my bio-father.  She used to run a step aerobics class and 2 of the women in the class, unbeknownst to her, where relatives of mine.  As fate would have it, my uncle picked up his wife, and realized his cousins were in the class, began a conversation and lo and behold, one of the women had a cousin who was a friend of the woman that by bio-father was dating (or something like that).  Somehow, after a few weeks of digging, my uncles wife was able to get me a phone number to contact my bio-father.  I had that number written on a florescent pink Post-It for over 6 months before I decided to actually use it.  The call that I had been waiting a lifetime for, seemed like it was another lifetime away, but I finally got rid of the resentment for all of those years, and picked up the phone…

Hello?  Harry?

Yes.  Who is calling?

It’s me, Samantha.  Your…daughter…

Oh my god!  Oh my goodness!  My prayers have been answered!  Daughter!  How are you?!

I’m fine, thank you.  How are you?

I am just so surprised, and feeling blessed.  The Lord is so good! (mumbles a small prayer to himself)  Tell me, how is life? How is everything?  I have waited so long to hear your voice and to know about you.

Well, life is good.  I graduated high school.  I’m working.  I live with my girlfriend and it’s good.  Really good. (throwing daggers at how great my life was without him)

Me allegro! I’m happy!  Your girlfriend, eh?  How’s your mother?!

Everyone is good.  My mom was just diagnosed with cancer, but she’s doing well, and my dad…I mean, my step-father he’s good.  My brothers and sisters are all…..

CALL DROPS!

I didn’t know what to expect or why he had hung up on me.  “He’ll call me back!”, I though, but he never did, and that resentment filled me again.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the technology in the Dominican Republic was not as advanced as it was here in the states, and that even if he DID have a caller ID, chances are, our private number wouldn’t have showed up.  All of that anger and resentment for nothing!

Fast forward to 2009, drinking a 40 with my old best friend in her apartment in Astoria, Queens, listening to depressing music and playing a game of “Sequence” when my phone rings.  It was a NYC number that I didn’t recognize.  I had my friend answer my phone as we usually did with an unfamiliar, unstored number.

“Sammie’s phone!  How can I help you!?!”

“Si, eng, I lookeh fo Samantttta.  Chee tah-king plee? I her Tia frong her fadder, Harry Luis Leyva”

“Hold on please… (covers receiver) Uh, swipply, some lady saying she’s your aunt from your father Harry…”

Cue heart palpitations.  After a few minutes, it was decided that I was going to be meeting with my biological fathers side of the family in 3 short days. It was the Friday evening 2 days before Father’s Day.  The irony in that.  So I geared up, channeled my bravest self, steeled myself to be prepared for anything that could happen, and promised myself that no matter what, I wouldn’t cry.  I wouldn’t show weakness and I wouldn’t allow these people to penetrate my heart.  That all went out the window the second that I was driving to their home in the Bronx. I spent the whole 30 minute drive basically in tears.  Was this really happening? I found a parking spot, did my best to calm my nerves, walked up the apartment building and rang the bell.  I made my way through the hall, and noticed a door partially open, with plenty of noise coming from inside.  I just knew that was them! I knocked timidly, and a woman who’s face resembled mine, opened the door wide, greeted me with smile even wider, and took me in with a full embrace.  The tears of joy, anguish, relief, lost time, and hope for a new future filled our eyes and sobs escaped our mouths, and here I was, in the arms of an Aunt that until yesterday I had no idea existed, and somehow, I felt…at home and welcome and wanted.  It took a good 30 minutes to embrace every family member that was there. 2 uncles, 3 aunts, their spouses, a whole slew of cousins.  Suddenly, a knock on the door.  Everyone freezes.  Some smile.  My cousin gets up and answers the door.  At the threshold, a young man, same face as me, same nose, same hair, same eyes, same spritz of freckles on the bridge of our nose, and I knew, immediately, he was my brother.  A little boy that I had last seen in some distant memory when I was 4 years old, holding onto his red stroller, at a fair, petting animals and eating rainbow popcorn and cotton candy.  I remembered.  My aunt confirmed.  It really happened, that day.  It was real. Mom told me it was a lie but I FELT it! I wasn’t crazy! We embraced each other, touched each other’s faces, cried, laughed, “You look just like me!” “I KNOW!!!!” That moment, suddenly, it felt like I was complete, having gained something I never knew I was missing. That night, we talked, we shared stories, our likes and dislikes all so similar.  How he can’t have milk early in the morning, just like me. How he’s very mechanically inclined like me.  How he’s so smart but so lazy, like me!

We made plans that day to see our father, who we had just found out was in a state prison for having jumped bail, boarding a plane to the Domincan Republic for 20+ years and trying to get back into the country to find us and reconnect.  The details of his arrest aren’t really inportant, but the fact that he married a woman that he loves, that can’t have children had him thinking that God punished him for not taking care of the two children that he already had.  So he made his way back to the US using his legal documentation and was arrested immediately after getting off of his flight.

My brother and I made plans to visit him the next day, a day shy of Father’s Day.

(To be continued…..)


9 Months Old!

So Noah and Levi turned 9 months last Sunday, and boy are those kids something else!  They really are coming into their personalities and becoming their own little people.  Sometimes it’s hysterical to watch, and other times, I am kind of in fear of what the future holds!  The boys are smart, loving, cuddly, and most of all, mama’s boys!

NOAH

MY LITTLE HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN

MY LITTLE HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN

PERFECTING THE WAVE

PERFECTING THE WAVE

There are so many things that I can say about Noah, but nothing would suffice to capture how LARGE his personality is.  He is totally going to be my little linebacker.  There is nothing he loves more that crawling all over his brother and tackling him to the ground.  We practice with a little sensory football that we bought at a tag sale, and he loves when I throw it and he gets to “catch” it, and then “throws” (hands) it back to me, and gets so excited when I yell, ” MUY BIEN NENE!!!!”

He is also perfecting how to wave, and can be seen waving to pretty much anyone, except my father and Callie’s father.  I don’t have any idea why he won’t wave to them.  The best is when I get home from work, and I walk in to them eating dinner in their high chairs and Noah’s face lights up and he waves to me!  It’s totally the awesomest!

He is more and more mobile every day and has been figuring out how to use all of the furniture to get him where he needs to go.  He crawls at the speed of light, and has started to use my fishing bucket as his main means of “transportation”.  He’s strong and stubborn.  If you tell him “no” or say “uh uh!”, he will promptly throw whatever is in his hands, or toss his body backwards and cry his fake cry (you now the one!) until he is finally over it, and will go back to doing something he probably shouldn’t be doing.  He is experimenting with different sounds, but still has no words and sounds like a baby zombie (as you’ll hear in the video below). This kid. I love him to pieces.

LEVI

MY BRIGHT LITTLE JACK-O-LANTERN

MY BRIGHT LITTLE JACK-O-LANTERN

THIS LITTLE GQ BABY

THIS LITTLE GQ BABY

Levi is my sensitive little soul.  If you want to cuddle and squish all day?  He’s your guy!  He loves to pull his brothers hair (especially after getting crawled on) but then will rub his brothers head while Noah plays with toys.  He is still our pacifier baby, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  Levi LOVES music and can be found “singing”, off key (mostly) and mouthing the words and trying to make the sounds.  Itsy Bitsy Spider is hands-down, the GREATEST song in the world to him. He is quite the mimicking baby at 9 months old.

He is very verbal.  He tries to say “leche” but it sounds more like, “nene” which is what we call his brother, but it’s fair to say that “leche” is his first word, which doesn’t surprise me because this kid can EAT! Basically, don’t go anywhere near him if you have food in our hands and you don’t intend to share!  I don’t think he ever gets full,  and still no teeth in sight either! I have no idea how he gums all his food to death!

He finally started crawling about 2-3 weeks ago, but we were a little worried because it was always with one side of his body only, dragging his little belly across the floor and one leg behind him, but in the past week he has learned to move both legs (kinda, sorta, occasionally) and has started darting across the apartment.  He is learning to stand himself up on lots of the furniture, toys, and in his crib, but he still hasn’t learned how to get down, so he’ll stand there and cry until someone comes over and helps him down.  He is truly scared, almost petrified to fall.  My little cautious baby.   Still very observant and still has a lot of trepidation about movement and trusting his body.  He’ll learn, just at his own pace.

Noah and Levi have really started to form a special bond and have started to look for each other.  Lots of times the can be found sharing some morsel of food that one of them found, swapping sippy cups, or holding hands in their high chairs.  They have started to communicate more (whatever that means) and have been found having conversations using grunting noises with each other when they should be going down for the night.  And weekend mornings I find their room a mess, after they tag team and throw all of the stuffed animals off of the dresser that separates their cribs, and then LAUGHING about it!

HAPPY SATURDAY!

HAPPY SATURDAY! (note the mess on the floor!)

These two have really become 2 peas in a pod and look for each other when the other one isn’t in the room.  They use those grunts like echolocation! I kid you not!  But watching them grow has been pretty awesome.  These little 9 month old guys have stolen my heart!

Turtles grilled cheese my kids

Half Way There!!!

Thats right friends! 20 weeks! Half way there and I still can’t believe it! This baby and this Mamá are both growing and growing!

I don’t have much time but I couldn’t miss chronicling this important milestone in our lives.  Yesterday we went for our 20 weeks scan, and despite deciding with Callie to find out the gender, this tiny human refused to cooperate so we don’t have a SINGLE scan picture to share! Not even a crappy profile shot! So frustrating! BUT we did get to see that Biscuit is doing just fine and that s/he is growing on target measuring 20w3d according to most of the parts that they COULD actually measure.  So we go back in 2 weeks for another scan.  The doctor was really nice about saying that they didn’t get good scans because I’n fat! He said, “Ultrasounds work based on sound waves. So being closer to an object will give you better sound quality, better waves.  Being further away gives you less sound, worse waves.  It’s like whispering next to someone or whispering to someone from acros the room.  Women that are, well, heavier, it’s like whispering from across the room”.  Doc, spare me! I’m a big girl! I get it! At least didn’t say, “it’s hard to penetrate your fat, fat girl! So lose some weight and we’ll see what we can do!”  So when baby is a little bigger, in two weeks, they’ll be able to get a better scan.  

So for now, half way, healthy baby, AND another scan! I’m cool with that! Excited to be at the halfway point and finally starting to show!

   
 

19 Week

19 weeks!  It’s just crazy!  Time has gone way to quickly!

How I’m Feeling this Week: It’s been a tough week for me, relationship wise.  Callie and I had a tough go this week, mainly based around finances (her being offered a job making REALLY good money and deciding against it, although I completely understand why, but doesn’t mean I’m happy about her decision! No matter what I support her and we’ll figure it out).  In regards to pregnancy though, it’s been pretty great!

How Big is Biscuit: Biscuit is the size of a MANGO!  Yummmm!  I remember my first month of pregnancy and all I wanted was to eat mangoes all day and night, and now our baby is the size of one, and growing rapidly from here, which is what i understand.  Something about a growth spurt these next 2-3 weeks.  Also, for you like minded folks who find these fruit comparisons have too many variables, Biscuit is the size of a softball.  Imagine?! 

Baby Bump News?:  I’ve noticed that I am definitely looking more pregnant and all of my button down shirts have started to to struggle with the buttons a bit.  Otherwise, this baby is growing. Also, MOVEMENT!!!!  I wasn’t convinced at first, but now i KNOW this baby is moving around.  I’m still not used to feeling it, so most of the time it totally catches me off guard.  Callie can’t wait to be able to feel it, and I remember being in her shoes not even a year ago.  It’ super exciting to actually start feeling what pregnancy feels like.

GROWING BELLY!

GROWING BELLY!

Sleep:  No issues with sleep at all…yet…not even having to pee in the middle of the night!

Food Loves/Hates:  Cheese sandwiches!!!  YUMMY!  And still don’t really want salad…it’s weird because I LOVE salad!

Symptoms:  Nothing at all actually…not even a headache in the past week.  Actually, I take that back.  I think I may be experiencing some slight round ligament pain.  I think that’s happening…

Next Scan:  My next appointment is scheduled for October 8th, for the anatomy scan.  Still can’t decide if we want to find out, but I’m leaning more towards yes…kinda…maybe…

Sex:  Because of the crappy week Callie and I had, we barely cuddled so it’s fair to say sex was non-existent this week.  Also baby sex/gender area, still no idea, but I’m dead set that it’s a girl  Haven’t even looked at any boys names at all…

Overall Feelings:  I’m excited about actually looking pregnant, so that’s making me feel really happy.  Also, being almost half way, and also a few weeks away from viability makes everyone feel awesome, or is that just me?!

Something I Didn’t Expect:  I wasn’t expecting what it feels like to have a baby moving around inside of me.  I always thought it would be just, I dunno, very exact and obvious, but it wasn’t.  It’s weird, but also really comforting.  I’ve been using the doppler less, because with all the blood pressure stuff I was freaking out thinking that this baby was not ok, but with the movement, I didn’t expect to suddenly just feel relief.  I don’t have that overwhelming feeling that things are gonna get all screwed up and something terrible is gonna happen.  I didn’t expect that almost half way through, I would be embracing this pregnancy and really starting to live it.

And as usual, no post would be complete without these guys!playing Turtlesfacetime raincoat1 raincoat2