I am aware that the days and memories I get to have with my children is not something that women here in the US and those around the world get a chance to have with a preeclampsia diagnosis. This is my own story and I am forever grateful for my medical team and my family. I fully embrace all my preeclampsia survivors and the families that they left behind. You will always be in my thoughts and the reason I keep sharing.
With news of preeclampsia being in the forefront lately (links below)- and for which I am so grateful and ecstatic over - the word in and of itself takes me back to a place I use to not want to acknowledge. Preeclampsia was my nightmare world. It was this fear that gnawed at me every time I looked at my daughter. During my second pregnancy, I felt like a ticking time bomb and knew that I would eventually (and I did) implode.
It has been 7 years since I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia. 7 years since I prayfully, frustratingly bargained my soul and body for a chance to have a healthy preeclampsia-free pregnancy. 7 years since I went on numbingly into the emergency room knowing the end goal: another preeclampsia diagnosis, another premature baby, another NICU stay. This was a fate I was destined to have. Mine and my children's canon event.
I was fearful of preeclampsia that the anxiety of it almost crushed me. Even though I was diagnosed at 26 weeks in my first pregnancy, I celebrated each week that we passed. It wasn't until my second pregnancy, that I knew the bomb was ticking and set to go off.
And boy, the implosion was nowhere near what I imagined it to be. The intensity and magnitude of it, I will save that story for another day.
Suffice it to say that for a long time, I wrestled with my childbirth experiences. I was burdened with guilt about giving my children this legacy. And it took a while to talk about it. It still hurts. Even if I don't remember all the big things, the specifics......my body remembers, and I can feel myself curling inward, tensing and ready for that inevitable weight that'll come and crush me.
I am amazed at how far my premmies have come.
I am humbled at my journey to here.
I am grateful that I had help and support to pick up the pieces of debris left behind.
I know I'm not 100 % whole. There is and will be the before and after version of myself and the bridge to the past isn't as simple as looking backwards or through a looking glass. There are parts of myself that will never be put back. And that's okay.
And our story isn't pretty or perfect.
But it's our story - mine and my children.
I will be forever grateful for anyone who listens to my story. The story of us.
Olympic athlete Tori Bowie died of complications from childbirth : NPR
Blood test can identify risk for preeclampsia, the leading cause of maternal death | PBS NewsHour
To hear my story and a chance to listen to several others, please go to Hear her Texas/DSHS Texas: Hear Her Texas | Texas DSHS
Thankful to have this poem, "this is what I know" added to Lannang Articles' project on culture, identity and language. I had written this poem this past Spring when I attended a session with fellow Pinoy creatives. It was the first time I had been surrounded by poets of diaspora. I didn't even have to explain the meanings of this poem as we took a few minutes after a prompt on language. They knew. They understood what memories and phrases that come to the surface and pop like bubbles meant. Fleeting and magical and for a moment, a crystal clear remembrance of knowing of the native tongue.
I haven't been able to join in other sessions, but it did my soul good seeing Pinoy poets and listening to their stories and poems. I need more of that, please.
Anyway, here it is below:
Here’s what I know:
Usa lang ako. I am one.
I am alone.
Sayap. I am sorry. Words escape me,
And my mother tongue gets duller as I age.
For more of 'Here's what I know, go here: https://www.lannangarchives.org/post/here-s-what-i-know
So thankful for the team at Agape Review, their kind words and their acceptance on my poem, "One Day,"
my cries will sound like hallelujahs,
And this ache and burden I have been carrying
will feel weightless
I will stop bargaining over sickness
and rejoice in the health of the now.
I will train my eyes upward and follow
the path set before me, instead of wondering
if someone else’s journey is better than mine.
More, click here: agapereview.com/2021/09/03/oneday/
So thankful that my poem, "early start" was accepted for Issue 2 of Querencia Magazine. This one was a journey, written during my training as a Patient Family Partner Certification for Momma's voices. There was a point in the training, were we had to do a 2 minute storytelling pitch. I was reliving memories and the guilt and anger washed over me. I had to remind myself that my kiddos are healthy. She is indeed fierce and NINE. Having a traumatic birth cannot let me just remember all the good....my body only remembers the tears, the closing in of itself, the endless bargaining.
Anyway, here it is, 'early start'
This was not how I planned the start
of motherhood. But here she is, encased in glass,
tubes and wires surrounding her and a machine that
voices her heartbeat. And there I am,
sitting beside her, bargaining to a god that I’ve
believed in all my life that this isn’t how its’
supposed to be and how could we both fail at the thing
we were supposed to be good at? ...
more over here: hiccups (page 32)
My poem "someone who looks like me" published in Marias at Sampaguitas Mahal issue (July 2021)! Join us for open mic night tonight!!
Feel free do download the pdf below OR follow here for issue two.
Years ago, I answered a call to submit a sweet, clean Christian novella. I wrote Letters to Lenora in a month. It would have been my second attempt at a novel but falling short - by thousands of words. I had just finished writing Storm of Hope and was in the midst of my postpartum depression healing. I don't know what I was aiming to write about exactly, but I like stories that have realistic endings and I've always gravitated towards the faithful.
I remember thinking about this girl who were on the cusps of leaving the nest and suddenly being given the chance to get to know her mother.
My own story bleed into the pages. In the storm of pregnancy anxiety and ptsd, I had, at the time, written 'goodbye' letters to my sweet girl. I was that afraid of Preeclampsia, and while the fear would spiral into something else later, I truly believed (and to a certain extent) that if lightning missed you the first time, it would not miss the second.
I remember wrestling with the what-ifs. And then of course, we were living in our nightmare. A second preeclampsia that hit me suddenly. Another stint at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a mama writer unable to discern her jumbled thoughts.
What if my girl found my letters years later? What would she think of me? Of these words that is supposed to bring comfort, but instead brings more heartache. While I get to wrap my arms around my babies, Lenora has to settle on words written by a mother who was afraid...who was in pain and in fear.....
So this novella, Letters to Lenora, was indeed published in this anthology. I forget since its' been a while, but the general consensus was that after 6 months of publication, we collectively unpublished this anthology.
And friends, let me tell you, I had forgotten all about this particular story. I went on to write poetry, 'not your token,' and began submitting to different literature magazines and presses.
The other day, I was cleaning up my google drive (as one does on a Wednesday) and happened upon this story. I read it. I cried. I remembered the pain and fear.
But I loved the hug and hope it brought me. I loved reading about Lenora's mom and her faith. I loved reading about Lenora's outlook on her future. If I could glimpse into my children's futures, I would hope they follow the path they forged and hope that they leave a trail of kindness and goodness in their wake.
Anyway, this is my book news! Letters to Lenora will be published very soon. I'm hoping for an early/mid June release!! I'm waiting on my cover, currently, and will be doing a cover real soon!!
For her 18th birthday, Lenora Grace Williams is given a box. Aside from trinkets and photographs, there are three handwritten letters from her mother, written before she died. While reading the letters, Lenora wrestles with finding her faith, following her heart, and forgiving the secrets and heartache her mother left behind.
I sometimes wonder why I keep hitting the send button to these press/lit mags when I know that rejections are more common than acceptances. But such is life, I suppose.
After months of rejections, it was wonderful to get a 'yes.' I submitted a poem that Marias at Sampaguitas were holding for National Poetry Month and my once rejected poem, "this is how I'm surviving," came in 3rd place!
Claustrophobia comes at me in moments between
dusk and nightfall. The world closes in, and when the last light goes,
so too, does mine; ... for more, click here.
Excited to announce my poem, "Echo," was accepted in Undivided Magazine.
"There is an echo of a shadow that follows me everywhere I go.
I catch her in glimpses; she’s bent over like a child,
a still statue on the floor." Click here for more.
So excited to announce that my book, Love, Defined, is now part of a romance collection! You get 1 price for 5 books to get your romance reading on.
When it comes to romance, trust and love go hand in hand…
Get ready to fall in love with these 5 full-length romance novels!
~ TOUCH ME NOT by Apryl Baker ~
A past tragedy has left Lily Holmes burdened with a devastating secret. Since the death of her twin sister, Lily can’t bear to be touched.
Enter Nikoli Kinkaid, the campus manwhore.
In an intricate dance of control and surrender, a reluctant friendship becomes something more.
Lily begins to crave things she never believed she could, and Nikoli realizes there is more at stake than his reputation.
~ TRUTH OR DARE by Aimee McNeil ~
Sophie Rogers has left her demons in the past and finally has her life under control. Until Ashton King saunters back into her life as a nude model for her art class…
Ashton’s body is made for sin, and his icy blue eyes scorch her with feelings too intense for a heart as scarred as Sophie’s to bear. Glimpses of another side of Ashton give her a flash of hope, but his deceptions run much deeper than she ever dreamed.
~ UNPREDICTABLE by CA Harms ~
Jett Jameson was the distraction Quinn needed, even if it was just for one night. A void-filler and a chance for a moment to allow herself to feel something other than emptiness.
He wasn’t what she expected, though. He was gentle. But her life didn’t have room for a man like Jett.
And now, it was too late. There was no turning back.
Nothing would ever be the same…
~ LEARNING TO TRUST by Cynthia P. O’Neill ~
When Garrett Andrews finds something that catches his eye, he goes after it, letting nothing stand in the way of what he wants to possess.
Laurel Hart was a swimming champion until a frightful event and unknown health issues derailed her career.
Once Garrett finds out about Laurel’s past, all rules are changed. He attempts to calm her nightmares and gain her trust so he can show her who he really is and the relationship he desires from her. Will they be able to overcome the damage their hearts have encountered?
~ LOVE DEFINED by Leila Tualla ~
In their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends expect an uncomplicated transition to adulthood…but learn they all still have some growing up to do.
As the summer unfolds, three young women learn love and faith go hand in hand, not everything is black and white, and sometimes in a fast-paced world you have to slow down, breathe a little, and find your own definition of love.
I am fully embracing living and sharing my story - whether that means that I get to retell the same thing over and over again like a broken record; or figuring out how to navigate this fire and put it into words.
I am pumped. I'm excited to do something MORE.
I started finding opportunities that I know I can handle and commit to and among them was to speak to someone from ACOG (Am College of Obs and Gyn) about my preeclampsia and postpartum depression story. We spoke for over an hour about how we absolutely adore the new life (infant) while simultaneously forgetting about the one that made it (mom). We pass her over. We don't see mom. We see the most adorable cherub that we can't wait to cuddle and hold. We look past mom's sometimes harried appearance and go straight for the questions that sting: "how's breastfeeding going?" - I can't tell you how many moms dread this question. Breastfeeding is hard and the picture we have are these lovely breastfeeding moments, bonding moments, and not the crying, cracked bleeding nipples of the before or the surrender of not measuring up.
"are you excited to no longer be pregnant?"
"how long is your maternity leave?" followed by, "too bad, you can't stay home," or "you're so lucky you get to stay home."
We are measured by how much we can handle.
And then guilted into believing that super moms exist and we are far far from holding our own.
The things that continue to strike me are the tears that find its way down my face, the way my voice breaks or changes in octave. I had hoped that almost four years later, my courage takes hold over me. I had prayed that I can look back in awe at my own strength and bravery.....instead of reminding myself of past fears. In order words, I had really hoped to be over all of it by now, but time hasn't softened or healed my wounds of having 2 traumatic births. I may not recall every small detail but my broken heart finds its way to paint my nightmare.
So I told her that I am in the midst of the "after." There was life before NICU, before preeclampsia, before anxiety......but I am no longer welcomed there. Life in the "after NICU, after preeclampsia, after postpartum depression," is slow and measured. My movements calculated to avoid potential triggers. Life in the "after" consists of giving daily thanks and hugs and a quick reminder that we are all here. All three of us, my daughter, my son and myself. We're present and not figments of my imagination.
what happens next?
What happens now is laying down the foundation of helping mamas feel less alone after their storms. If all I ever write about is poetry on motherhood, preeclampsia, postpartum depression...... then I am thankful for those moments and use those lived in experiences to tell my story. It's not over yet.
I'm told it's easier to break this list down.
1.) Read 2-3 books
(Currently listening to I am Malala and Handmaid's Tale is our book club pick for January).
2.) Visit 2 museums
(already met when we went to Lone Star Flight Museum and Play Street Museum)
3.) Submit to 2 - 3 different publications.
(As of now, I've printed out 2 lit magazines submission guidelines).
4.) Walk 20 miles this month!
5.) 1 thing that scares me: ask this moms' group if I can share my testimony.....I'll let you know how that goes!!
What are your goals this year? Do you break it down to a more manageable list?
Happy reading and writing, friends!
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.
Hi there! Here's a quick bio