Chapter 2

Cocaine Cowboys

What is it like to live with the madness, the constant go, go, go, like it’s never ever going to stop. The ups and downs that you have, literally, little to {none} control over. What is it like when madness is constantly around the corner, waiting to creep into the front of your mind and project herself out into the world.

Up and Down.

Round and Round. 

Forever on the Merry-Go-Round.


I met her and my world changed, BAM! just like that in a split second. My life altered its course and down the rabbit hole, I began to fall. Those four simple words “want to be friends?” forever changed who I was as an individual, a young girl, and later as an adult. She was everything to me, and my world began to spin around her. She was the sun and I was only within her orbit.

My first best friend and my greatest love. Still to this day, after everything we’ve been through, I miss her. I miss her like the lost love of my youth.

We met when we were five, we built the beginnings of our great friendship at eight, and for fifteen years we would be inseparable. We made plans that would last us a lifetime, envisioning ourselves as two craggy old birds talking shit with each other. I was going to follow her to the grave.

fifteen years.

As we began to grow into young adulthood our needs shifted and grew, but were always parallel to what the other needed. We experienced the wild days of our youth in dances, clubs, and bars. High school brought about the beginnings of alcohol, weed, and cocaine. And the faces…  the faces which continuously went through a revolving door of promiscuity. The door showing the exit and entrance for countless more faces which just become a blur. Each night a new high and a new man, and faces that still to this day I don’t remember. We were unstoppable, at the height of our beauty, and literally a force to be reckoned with when together. In public we were girlfriends, but in private the men rotated endlessly, searching for something which we would never find. Not in these anonymous faces, and not in these drug-induced nights.

They don’t exist.

If I can’t remember them, then they can’t exist.

I’m not that person.


The madness is a sweeping feeling once it takes over. It’s like a tsunami crashing onshore dragging the helpless in its wake. You can sink and drown in its power, or you can ride the wave like a high that will never end. Its strength is enough to tear down the sturdiest of houses, brick by brick. Battering at its walls until nothing but the shell is left. A hollow of the beauty she used to be.

But the cocaine can make you ride the tsunami, surfing her swell and absorbing her power. You are unstoppable, you are the power, and nothing can bring you down. The problem with this? The farther up you climb on that high, the harder your fall is going to be when you hit rock bottom.

I rode that tsunami so many times. Still to this day I miss the feeling of the high, and the distinct sting as the white fluff goes up the nasal cavity, and the unstoppable power you feel as it begins to course through your every nerve.

But rock bottom is always there, always waiting for you, and sheesh we’ve hit rock bottom on more than one occasion. If I’m being honest, more times than I care to count. And somehow it’s always the support group that pulls me out. The people who are tied to my life through the blood sweat and tears we shed together in these dark moments. By the people who have shared in each joy and each pain. The people that are still here, still to this day.

Now as an adult? I’ve noticed one face was always eerily missing, or silent when my life was at rock bottom.

fifteen years of friendship

But I can’t remember being pulled from the wreckage by her face, not once. Not ever.

Only by the Mother. The one person who forgives all, and sees the courage in failing. The Mother is not only benevolent and kind, but she is also understanding. Why? She’s been at rock bottom too.


She’s seen what the misery looks like in this deep dark hole that you come crashing into. She knows the work it takes not only for the individual suffering in the madness, but from the entire support group, as they begin to pry me from my hole. They know the work, because they do it with us.

The work? What work?

The work of putting that animal back into her cage, which is locked in the deep dark corners of my brain. She stays locked in the shadows, as I hope endlessly that she never escapes.

But somehow, at one point, she always does.

Illustrations by Alexis Bringas

been gone for a minute, now I’m back

Gosh so much has changed in the year (or more!) that I’ve been ghostly quiet.

Cue crickets chirping here

Ian Grey
December 7 2020

You have no idea how much I wanted you.
How much I suffered for you.

I wanted you so bad, I begged for the chance to have you for months, going against the better wishes of every single individual I knew. Going against every excuse for no.

But what I didn’t know was how I would suffer endlessly both physically and mentally for nine straight months. I didn’t know I would vomit nearly 50 pounds of my body weight, and I didn’t know that I would spend the entire nine months with nonstop hospital visits, endless rounds of depression, and quite possibly the deepest, darkest, blackest hole I have ever been in.

H Y P E R E M I S I S    G R A V I D A R U M 

It affects about 2% of pregnant women. 
And it basically means that I am a walking talking vomiting machine. 

I suffered through nine months of hyperemisis, while also being off my bipolar medicines, and navigating some of the deepest personal struggles I have ever worked through in my life. 

And for you my sweet boy, for that perfect smile and face?

I wouldn’t trade an ounce of my suffering. You are pure love, and my soul has never felt so content and complete knowing you are in our family.

..content sigh here..

In 2020 I conquered being pregnant during a global pandemic. This meant for the first time ever I had to suffer alone during endless ER visits without my forever hospital buddy. In my first 18 weeks (during the months of March to May) I would have daily (and sometimes twice daily) ER visits due to the severe painful and violent vomiting. They would stick and prod me with all kinds of needles, narcotics, and medication.

I’m not talking about a little bit of nausea or a little bit of bile in the morning. I’m talking about full-blown exorcism style, body seizing up and cramping in a “I am in full-blown hysterics” vomiting fit with fresh vomit coming out about 15 to 20 minutes every hour on the hour. I couldn’t even keep water in my system long enough, before I was vomiting fresh cold liquids.

This also meant that sometimes they would discharge me from the ER, and I wouldn’t even make it through the night or back home before I was heading right back. There was no amount of liquids, Zofran nor Reglan which would make the vomiting stop.

Each time I was admitted it would take a minimum of 3 days before they could get the vomiting to just stop. Eventually, between my hysterics and continuous vomiting, I would need to be on a psychiatric dose of Phenergan, to knock me out.

Being alone in the hospital for me meant there was no one there who understood my mental state and how to keep me calm. No one from my support system to help me through the sheer panic and terror. No one to explain to these strangers why I look like a crazy psychotic bit*% just let loose from the asylum, leaving vomit trails behind her.

I was alone and I was scared. Unmedicated and terrified. She was in control, and at the time I couldn’t even see the glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel.

All this during the “height” of COVID fears. So for the first time in my life (E V E R) I was dropped at the door of the ER with no one allowed inside with me.

Being pregnant, unmedicated, and experiencing around the clock vomiting meant that my mental state had completely deteriorated.

As in I was a total crazy bitch that if you said “try to relax” one more time my eyes were going to laser you down, or if I heard the words “this is all in your head” 😳 one. more. fucking. time.

No shit this is in my head, it’s a mental fucking disorder you dumb fucking bitch

Each time I arrived at that ER I was in full blown hyperventilation panicking hysterics and could not control my panic attacks. In those moments I thought for sure I was going to die. Cause of death: extreme vomiting.

I was in pain, I was dizzy, my stomach hurt like if I tried to get abs like the rock overnight. I was literally cry/yelling ” just make it stop, please”

J U S T M A K E I T S T O P

And all they could say was “ma’am you need to calm down”

I was not even half way through my pregnancy at this point. I was admitted 3x for 6 nights each stay during these first 3 months.

After week 18 my vomiting fits would take me to the OB L&D floor

And can I just say, bless you universe for OB nurses

Here I would meet and come to know some o the nicest nurses I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Some who would come to know me personally as I continuously showed up vomiting. they referred to me as the VIP patient. Once I was coming through the doors, my girls, and Juan, were there to lift me up from the floor and bring me back to life.  

But, there was no one like Juan
Juan, the mid40s male OB nurse, who was previously married to a psychiatrist in Columbia.
Juan was the one who knew what to say, how to handle my outbursts, and how to soothe my demons.
If ever there was a gift from the universe to women pregnant while navigating mental health disorders, it’s name would be Juan. 

And I was not an easy patient when I came in my friends. I was H O R R I B L E at times.

Over those last 22 weeks, I was COVID tested up my nose (both nostrils 5 seconds each, they count it out for you) a total of 9x for my 9 hospital admissions.

Over the course of 39 weeks I had endless amounts of fluids pumped into, I was poked with countless needles as each time my veins would blow, always due to my severe dehydration. In October I spent 22 days admitted trying to control the vomiting.

But, also during these times my depression too was beginning to get blacker, and I was tumbling too far down the rabbit hole. My bipolar mind was starting to shed her shackles and I knew what was coming.

and I was scared

At the end of October, about week 32 of my pregnancy, my husband admitted me to L&D because I confessed to suicidal ideations. I wanted to die. It was way preferable to how I was feeling on the daily. So, I now had a round the clock sitter for the remainder of my pregnancy. Both in the hospital and out. I was not allowed to be alone with my kids, and I lost all vestiges of my privacy.



The only silver lining here?
The only upside to this?

My baby was perfectly healthy, and growing exceptionally well considering how much I was vomiting.

On December 7th, at 4am, my water broke. By 7am we were on our way the hospital (I spent three hours in denial).
At 1pm already being 4.5cm I received an epidural, and shortly after they began Petocin to speed my dilation.
Lucky me, my epidural was done incorrectly and I was now very much feeling my 8cm contractions.

HOLY FUCKING MOTHER

Those are no joke my friend. WOW. 
They took my epidural out, and readministered higher up the spine (so fun!)
and then… B A M….. 5 minutes later: OK TIME TO PUSH!
Excuse me? I can’t even feel my body right now? Push what? Push where? How?

So I tried to push, lolol apparently I was doing nothing, at all, just holding my breath.

Andddddd then all of the sudden we’re all running down the hall way, because my little tiny baby’s heart rate had fallen down to 43bpm.
Before I knew it I was having an emergency C-section, being cut vertically as my little tiny baby was also already almost out (all I needed was literally one good push). My incision runs about 7” down below my navel.
They would later reopen this same incision 8 weeks after I was completely healed for my tubal ligation… superrrrr fun!
But totally fucking necessary!

No way am I ever having another baby.

Ever
Never

I will say this, if Evan had been a C-section, Evan would be the only one. That shit is no joke. No fucking way would I like to feel the recovery of abdominal surgery ever again.

N E V E R E V E R A G A I N

The night Ian came out, my magical antipsychotic pill went right back in, and thanks to the incredible help of my magical husband and my amazing support system I began the road to recovering my mental health. But doing so has not been easy, and I’m still no where near back to my “regular self”, whatever that might actually be. I struggle everyday with just trying to put back the pieces I blew apart in 2020. My life literally imploded, and I’m searching through tiny pieces of dust and debris trying to piece this mess together.

But as a mom, my only option is to show up and do the work so I can keep giving these kids the love they need.

And honestly, it’s what keeps me going, putting one foot in front of the other.
Every single day, I just keep living and healing for them.
They deserve for me to be whole.
They deserve a happy mom.


I’m on this train called life.
You know the bullet express with no stops?
It just keeps going, and going.
Never. Stopping.

JG

Speech Therapy Re-Evaluation

Wow! It’s been six months already! Six months that we’ve been working with Nicole in speech therapy, and the immense progress we have seen in these short six months is nothing short of incredible!

When we first started speech therapy,  I didn’t think Logan needed it?! He was about 11 months, and I thought it was perfectly normal that he only used two vowel sounds. But then again I just have a very biased opening on how perfect he is. {shoulder shrug here} But he wasn’t interested in books, he couldn’t use anticipation, and communicating with us was nearly impossible.

we had oooooo’s aaaaa’s galore tho

But apparently, speech therapy is sooo much more than just learning how to speak correctly! Now? Now Logan understands that certain words have certain meanings. He loves to read books, and can successfully turn the pages. There’s comprehension, anticipation, and repetition involved in each session. He’s learning that not everything is just useless sounds garbled together. When I say “up” he’ll now throw his arms in the air for me to carry him. When he wants something he’ll signal “gimme”, or when he wants to open something he’ll knock on its surface. All the skills we’ve learned in speech therapy.

And that’s just the beginning! With the careful tutelage between Patty and Nicole, Logan can now use certain hand signs to communicate what he wants and needs. We can successfully wave “bye-bye”, sign “gimme” and “open”, and signal to himself as “me”. And with each new sign that he learns to master, the tears and weeps for joy are contagious across the floor as we all celebrate in his triumph. I love this little dude so much, and watching his communication skills grow over the last six months has been nothing short of extra-ordinary.

I still have a few goals that I’m hoping will stick to this little man’s brain. I’m hoping to get him to clap (on command! dance, monkey dance!), to recognize his momma and poppa (whether in a photo or by pointing), and to finally make those vowel-consonant sounds. But honestly, with the progress he has made? I feel like these might be short-term goals because he’s been crushing them all!

 

You got this Little Dude. ♥

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and yes I realize this post is about 17 days past due. But life gets crazy, and that’s what its been like around here, just pure fu@#&*g chaos. But it’s here now, so please read, enjoy and then share, so others can enjoy it too!

So anywhooo..

We have several fun things going on, which, please feel free to get involved in. We love having new friends and old friends, and sometimes friends contact us and say hi.

Actually, we just like having friends in general.

 

 

We’re currently putting a massive amount of our free time into fundraising for the Down Syndrome Association of Miami, in hopes of reaching our goal to donate $2,000 to the Miracle Walk happening in Coral Gables, FL on November 3rd. Our link for more information is listed below.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/downsyndromeawarenessfundraiser

 

 

We’re also inviting local members of our community, family, and friends to sign up for the Miracle Walk and to join our team. Logan’s Loud Loonies! You can sign up directly on the DSAOM website and choose our team.

OR!

You can buy tickets on our Eventbrite page, linked through our Facebook. Join our team, and the day of the walk you receive an official team t-shirt (as well as the official walk t-shirt), and the chance to add to our donation goal. Our link for more information is listed below.

https://www.facebook.com/events/336893087097040/

 

Anddddd Finally…

the bake sale!

In an extra attempt to really reach our donation goal we will be selling mom’s home-baked, with real love and real ingredients cakes and cheesecakes.

The proceeds of each cake will be put towards our GoFundMe goals!

Current favorite flavors:

Golden Oreo Funfetti cheesecake with homemade whipped topping
Dulce de Leche topped brown sugar cheesecake with Oreo crust
Jack Daniels Tennesee Honey with a buttery graham cracker crust
White Chocolate Raspberry with homemade whipped topping and a buttery graham cracker crust
Plain cheesecake with homemade strawberry topping and a buttery graham cracker crust

We are also accepting custom flavor requests, and offer size variations in: 4″, 6″, or 11″ options!

Simply Text (305) 490-9461 or email us jroque810@gmail.com

with your name and cake request for more information!

Don’t be shy about asking for details on how to get involved, and don’t pass on the chance of meeting this beautiful soul, and getting involved in our beautiful community.

Join us, and lets spread kindness around like confetti….

 

♥JG

Starting Feeding Therapy

Starting Feeding Therapy

Sooo.. let’s talk about how much fun we have been having in feeding therapy. I mean, I knew Logan was going to like it because duhhhh.. FAT GUY loves everything! But oh.em.gee my friends: logan in feeding therapy, discovering food, is the most magical thing my momma heart has ever seen.

Through Cindy’s (linked here @talk.eat.play ) careful tutelage we’ve discovered so many new types of food! Plus we have experimented with so many new textures, messes, and flavors. And you wanna know what the best part of this is?

He likes to eat my cooking

You have no idea how much that satisfies my momma soul.

Considering how little (to practically nothing) Evan eats, the fact that Logan LOVES to eat every soft steamed whatever I put in front of him is amazing! And what’s more… you best believe its flavorful, and full of spices and seasoning! Because the kitchen is my happy place. I love that he loves what I love. You know?

And honestly, Cindy is amazing in how she encourages both me and Logan to discover new things in the kitchen and in our diets. The other day… I cooked with vegetables (ugh! it disgusts me just to say the word!) made them into a soup, pureed that sh*t, and BAM! guess who ate pureed broccoli and cheddar cheese soup.

This momma and son duo.

Dude, it had onions, carrots, broccoli, and potatoes. Things I would never eat! Never in a million years.. but within 30 or so minutes we were both three bowls deep. And loving every veggie-filled bite. 

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

So. Much. Fun.

 

-JG♥

When I Met You…

When I Met You…

When I first met you, I had no idea the impact you would have on my life. I mean we were literally babies. We don’t even look, speak, nor act like the individuals we used to be. We both turned 31 years this year (being as we’re only 2 weeks apart) and we met when we were about 15 years old.

After the math?

I’ve known you for more than half my short life.

img_4652.jpg

Sheesus! Who are these people?!

The only thing I can say is that if I knew then, what I know now… I would have done sooo many things differently. And yet, I still feel like maybe I wouldn’t change a thing. We’ve been through so much over the last sixteen years.

But let’s start at the beginning:

We met at the PetShop (and it’s pronounced just like that, all in one word). If you know the Roque girls, and you also know the PetShop, you my friend know of some hella crazy times.

So… boy gets arrested, boy does community service with the policemen. Policeman sees he’s a good kid and just needs a little guidance, offers him a job at the PetShop.

Yep, that policeman was my dad. So yeah, I guess you could say my dad introduced us. Although, I don’t think any of us understood the impact of those small events until now, years later. So he got a job at the Petshop, and it just so happens that where we spent the majority of our time. With our mom, playing with the pets and stealing the money out the cash box to spend at the dollar store or salon down in the same shopping center. We are girls, and we were bored.

Over the years we’ve cultivated a friendship that would surpass anything. We’ve been through extreme highs and extreme lows — when we were nothing but friends. I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that my best friend (now my husband) has saved my ass. From being belligerently drunk, and from the brinks of suicide, from cocaine highs that lasted weeks at a time, and depression lows that would keep buried for weeks. He’s sat with me through hyperventilating panic attacks as my parents rushed me to the ER, and held my hand every second we welcomed our two sons into the world.

 

He knows me better than I know me.

He knows that I can be funny, cute and charming — but put one toe out of line and I’ll cut your jugular motherf*cker.

And don’t think that I won’t.

He knows each of the me’s I have created over the years, and now? When I’m just simple me, we can laugh at all of my previous antics. And we don’t just get to reminisce on small moments, we can reminisce on everything because he has been there for me through it all. 

And now? I can’t picture doing this crazy thing called parenthood with anyone else.

He’s my person.

 

 

Sorry for our absence…

Sorry for our absence…

Things have been like super hella crazy around here, and thus our site has been eerily silent. I don’t even know where to begin to describe what our life has been like for the past two months. Sooooo much has happened that it’s impossible to think of just where to start. We hit milestones, we went through extreme lows, and then we came out the other end better people.

The biggest milestone?

Logan turned One.

Over the last few months, he’s grown and learned so much, and yet I still feel like with him time stands still, and he’s going to be my baby forever. The way he crawls all over the house makes me so proud, I laugh when my mom calls him “una cucaracha mala”. He can now come up to a tall knee position and is crushing every obstacle course Diana builds for him. We’ve discovered how to bang maracas together, and honestly,  it is the most magical thing I’ve ever seen.

Over the last few months, we’ve also discovered so many new things such as bathtubs, the beach, and plenty of new public outings like aquariums and brunches. We’ve learned how to say da da da, to hold our own bottle, we’ve made so many new friends, and we’re beginning to experiment with soft solids.

Making huge progress.

In so many ways I feel like each day is the same and we are getting nowhere. Still no clapping, still no waving, still no walking. But then I think of how far he has come, how he can now respond to simple words such as “up” and “come”, how he loves playing with his brother, how he can successfully bang items together… and don’t even get me started on his feeding accomplishments!

The more days go by, the prouder I become of my little wolverine. He’s accomplished so much, and likewise given me so much to learn and grow from. He’s quite possibly the best decision I have ever made, and the most fun I have ever had.

Mom

Speech Therapy Evaluation

Speech Therapy Evaluation

I feel like lately, it’s just one doctor, and one evaluation, and another doctor, and another evaluation… referrals, prescriptions, and doctor visits. Round and round we go. I’m drowning in them. But that’s what this stage of my life is going to be like, right? I knew to expect this and I knew that at this stage, I would be dedicating myself to this sole purpose. For his betterment, because at the end of the day, when you’re a mom, everything you do is for your kids, and to put them forward.

Speech therapy, but my kid doesn’t even speak? I didn’t get it? I didn’t understand how he could already have a delay in an area I didn’t even know to begin practicing. But then I think back to Evan, and what that was like. How he communicated with me at this stage, and the radical difference I see in the development of both my sons.

Logan turns 1 at the end of this month, and there are many areas within his communication skills that he’s falling behind on. There was so much information I absorbed in the 60 minutes that Logan was evaluated.

At first, came the usual onslaught of questions about Logan, from pre-birth to birth, to first months… and so on until where we are today. We’ve been working hard with Logan’s ITDS to have him combine consonant syllable sounds repeatedly, for months, and so far we have no success.

And yes, we know how to tell what Logan wants when he wants it because we know how to distinguish his cry, but that’s about it. Otherwise, his communication skills with us are very minimal or like nil to none.

But I didn’t think anything of this. Why? Sometimes, I forget Logan is turning one because his milestones are telling me my baby is 6 or 7mo. old. He’s just learned to crawl, were just beginning to explore solids, and we can finally sit unassisted on our own. But we still have a long way to go in terms of keeping up with the delay.

He has begun to have exploratory skills in the 6-9mo. levels. However, in his own range, he scored very minimal scattered skills. There are certain areas and skills where he does have full competency, like in the 0-3mo. range.

Well, thank god!

But ask me if Logan can point out his momma?

-Nope.

Or does he understand simple words?

-Nope.

He also has difficulty bringing his arms together repeatedly at mid-line. In other words, no matter how hard we practice, he still doesn’t clap. And listen, I practice that clap…. every. day.

Every. Damn. Day.

We continue to practice all kinds of skills daily, as we incorporate books, photos, and images to help him start recognizing the language. We encourage hand signals like “up” and “bye-bye”, and what’s most important is that we continue to work as a unit, making sure Logan gets the daily stimulation he needs.

But, hey, were working on it! And eventually, as with all things, he will get there.

And that’s the most important thing that I have to keep reminding myself, and telling myself… repeatedly.

He will get there.

All things in life are a phase, and this too shall pass.

After our evaluation, the therapist is suggesting we go full steam ahead and do 30 minute sessions, 3x a week.

We are currently doing PT & OT for a combined total of 3 hours a week, with our latest recommendations for feeding and speech, we’ll be doubling that number to 6 hours a week.

But this is for him, his betterment, and his benefit, and really there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be.

 

-JG

 

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Learning the Art of Togetherness 

It seems as though my entire life has just been one giant fucking complication. This might sound like if I’m complaining to you, but I can honestly say it’s just the facts. You could say that from the moment of my conception, through my birth and early years, and especially in the years as I transitioned into an adult (if you could even call me that) my life has always been complicated. And, you know it’s not just my life that is complicated, it’s me. I myself am complicated. Furthermore, I complicate every situation around me to no end. What can I say? If there were a special course to teach people how to complicate their lives, I would be the professor. Never can I have just one simple day or moment. Decisions are long and drawn out because the indecisiveness of my mind is vast and never-ending.  The multitude of “what-if” situations never ceases to play like a movie reel in my mind. The possibilities of what can happen to me are endless, and therefore my mind is always on the defensive, and I strive for ways in which I can avoid the unavoidable. My cup is always half empty and I strive for the bare minimum of effort possible. I am lethargic, defensive and aggressive. You would think growing up with a bunch of do-gooders I would have come out striving to achieve the best of the best. Quite the opposite really, I’m content to relax and let others do the hard work, me? I’d rather sit back and eat a whole box of donuts (Munchies! They get me every time!). This wasn’t always the case; I wasn’t always so tired and content to let my life pass me by.

In our home growing up, and still to this day, there has been a Mom who is madly and irrevocably (against her better wishes) in love with the Dad, who feels quite the same about mom. And so Mom and Dad had Four Daughters. One Lawyer, Two Teachers, and Me. This is the small circle that consists of my childhood family. Together we have everything we need in this world to be happy, with our collection of animals and kids. Over the years our small family has grown to include three more, as dad got the sons he never wanted. Some have come and gone over the years, but only a few have been permanent. Add to that how we’ve been multiplying through procreation, and we’re a big unit now.

Growing up, I was that kid on the playground making all the rules. The one who ran the block and made the decisions in her group. If you couldn’t keep up, you weren’t good enough or smart enough to hang with me and my kids. My conniving scheming days started in first grade Christian School when I attempted to write my own excuse letter for not having done my homework, or when I was reprimanded in second grade for attempting to cheat on my math test. Our personal favorite was when the decrepit old Crane threatened to paddle me in third grade for writing a bad food critique about the cafeteria food — utilizing only cuss words. In personal education, I was the girl who was excused for her “serious” heart condition (not that serious), and the one who always got to sit out during the mile run. Still, to this day I cannot run a mile under fifteen minutes. Pathetic, I know. I had more growing up than just street creds on the playground, I also had three other sisters to come home to at night, and we would spend countless hours doing those things that only girls know how to do. Barbie villages would overtake the biggest of our rooms and we would set up shop. There would be dream houses, beach houses, grocery stores, and malls. Convertibles parked in each lot, and shoes, clothes, and accessories strewn throughout the hallways. Whole camping sites, airports and communities would be constructed within hours. By the time we were done bringing it all out, we just wanted to play outside. So out we would run to chase after the ice cream man, who coincidentally would allow me to run a tab with him. Endless days of ice cream, candies, and games out on the pavement led to the wild days of my youth as we ran through the neighborhoods on our bikes, threw ourselves high into the air from the trampoline, or watched the sunrise as we played endlessly into the night on our Super Nintendo, Nintendo64, and so on and so forth. You name it, we had it.

It was in these early years of strict Christian teaching that my love for books was born. I was the nerdy one who was years ahead of her reading level, the girl who treasured her library card, and who would strive to read all the books in the class, and then some. In third grade reading books would no longer satisfy my craving for the mixture of words into a story. I began to crave to make my own output. I needed an outlet for my creativity as the more stories I read, the more I wanted to create some of my own. My earliest creations were crude and rudimentary at best considering I was only 6 years old and could write at a 5th-grade reading level. In those early years, my life was so consumed by words that I was soon running out of appropriate reading material, to the point that my teachers, to keep me complacent, would feed my mind with encyclopedias and dictionaries. In those early years of the ’90s, my book bag would weigh like a ton of bricks because of books, now the Kindle has changed my life. Still, to this day my favorite smartphone app is dictionary.com and others, which test knowledge and terminology.

It seems logical that I would eventually work towards a degree in English Literature as this was the one set of coursework which I generally enjoyed. I spent many years wandering in and out of classrooms, lost in a haze of confusion as I thought about the future and what it would hold for me. In the years after graduating high school, I lost myself, and because of this, my school has suffered. I spent many years growing anxious over what would become of me if I did not decide on a profession and start working as an animal towards it. I thought only of money, greed and how to get to the top as fast as possible. I crashed and ten years later I finally have a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. However, I still seek knowledge, and it is my ultimate goal to reach the top of my field. It’s a goal I never give up on and always come back to. I gave up on the forced corporate lifestyle my life had taken. I felt the need to be free to create my own words and allow the world to hear my message. I needed to give my creative outlet its chance to shine, and the Bipolar Mind has been demanding an audience.

As I discovered the open courses of English Literature, I discovered exactly what my soul had been yearning for. The professors I encountered and the coursework I was introduced to have changed many of my perceptions on life, and have altered many of my ideologies. I can no longer see the world in the strict black and white I was taught to look with. I see the bright colors of both sides to the story and see the compassion of learning to live with the experiences of another. By enrolling in a variety of literature classes my mind’s eyes have grown and my soul has traveled the world. I discovered a place in which words hold true meaning and can be used to sway nations and spark change. I discovered my niche.

 


 

Growing up, I lived at home with my three closest best friends, who also just so happened to be my sisters, and there was no need for me to look elsewhere for love and commitment. I had what I needed at home. The four infamous sisters were also blessed with a fifth honorary sister, who still to this day knows me better than I know myself, being that we are separated by six short months, and raised together for the last thirty years.

Each of these ladies over the years has influenced me for the better, and over the years of growing traditions and expanding families, we have mastered the essence of just what “togetherness” means, and have adopted it as a family mantra.  At the end of the day, if we are together, we are happy. As a whole, we are women who can accomplish anything with our combined forces, and we have been known to move theoretical mountains. I’ve actually seen them do it. These women have accomplished what I would have considered impossible and pulled me from the brink of my madness, from the brink of life, and made me wish to keep living. Each of them has given me a purpose in this life, and for them, I hope to do the same. But it leaves you wondering, what is this “togetherness”?

First and foremostly we do everything together, as a whole. No matter where you are, or who you are with, or how far apart we are; you must always find a way of filtering the information between us all so that we are all “in the know”. This is how the women in our family function, and the more we know, the more shit we talk. Plain and simple. We love to talk shit, about everything and everyone. Put us all in a room together and it would be difficult to get a word in. Hell! We even talk shit about each other. We are systematic, ruthless, and operate as a pack of lions; each one of us taking care of the others in the pack. There are no strangers allowed, and if we don’t like you, we will take you down. At the end of the day, we are family and we love each other. It is because we have this emotion for each other without judgments or malice that we are able to function as such a unique whole operating unit. Each of us brings something to the table, and we all share each other’s burdens.

From early on there have been signs of the mania that would eventually throw my life off course. The speed in which I would race through life since early on, as well the fast thought processes and rapid speech were all indicators of demons lying dormant, waiting for their chance to rise above the surface and show their prickly horns. Since young my inhibitions have always been low, and I have always loved to move faster and faster, stuck on Alice’s teacup whirling until my surroundings were blurred, and life beside me became unrecognizable. As a young child, you would pass these signs off as naturally being high-strung, and simply full of energy. However, in the later stages of my teenage years, these same systemic symptoms would shred the pieces of my life apart, and not for many years would I be able to rebuild it.

It takes a woman in possession of great wisdom, patience, and back steel to deal with my Demons on a daily basis. At the end of the day, all roads lead back to Mom, as she is the one with the answers and provides all the love and nurturing our souls could ever need. She gives and gives unselfishly until the love bleeds from her heart and leaves her body wracked with exhaustion. During the high stages of my mania, she provides the anchor to pull me back down, and during the bare bottom of my depression, she provides the reinforcements to pull me from my cave. She is the mother, and her love exceeds everything that is horrible and brings everything that is beautiful. It is because of Mom that Togetherness was born; to her, we are forever grateful.

Many traditions have been curated over the years. Such as sitting and eating dinner as a family each night, full table setting and all (Rule: plastic for us, glass for Dad). Family vacations were taken on a yearly basis, and memories were created to last us a lifetime. Still, to this day we treasure these moments that were given to us at these stages in our lives. Because of the values of love and family that were instilled in us at these young ages, we have continued to develop lasting relations among each other, and continue to rely on each other heavily. These relations will later become the base of the support system built to help rehabilitate my life in later years.  Essentially, in the battle against the Bipolar Mind, the Support System is pivotal.

Shockingly enough I was pretty shy throughout the beginning stages of my life. I would normally stick to the handful of friends and family that I knew, and would not venture out much further than that. However, as I began to grow and was moved from the strict rules of Christian School to the free for all experiences in Public School, it was as though the shackles had been let free and I was given the space I needed to grow.

On my first day of third grade, in a new school, surrounded by an all-new environment there would be a line of words strung together that would change my life forever, “Hi! I’m new here too, want to be best friends?” and we would be, for the next eighteen years…

Illustrations by: Alexis Bringas

Feeding Therapy Evaluation

Feeding Therapy Evaluation

I like to joke that you would never guess Logan ate from a feeding tube for the first 5 days of his life. He’s a chunky monkey that likes to eat everything and anything you put in front of him. And if you’re eating something, you best believe, that yep you’re going to learn to share! So naturally, when feeding therapy was suggested, I was a little confused?

 

This fat guy?

He’s a champ at taking down his bottles lightning fast, which has come to require that we cut open the nipples (old Cuban traditions) — so that he can huff down the liquid mud we make his formula into. He’s basically drinking his oatmeal out of a bottle.

We even, maybe occasionally put his compota’s in there as well.

Cuban traditions die hard.

He also eats a whole bowl of Abuela Milly’s homemade purees, which contains all kinds of delicious goodness. Beans, meat, chicken, potatoes, rice, vegetables, spinach… you name it, he eats it.

Apparently, cutting the nipples is frowned upon by health professionals, and it’s time I let Logan learn to play with his food. Yes, it’s great that he eats well, and is of a healthy weight. But no, there are certain milestones he should be meeting which he is not. Primarily, we need to build the strength of the muscles within his jaw and cheeks, to give him the correct stamina he needs to chew. Right now, he’s a bit lax in that department.

Ask me if Logan can hold his bottle?

-Nope.

Can he chew soft solids?

-Nope.

Does he chew on puff cereal or children’s teething cookies?

-Nope.

-Can he drink thin liquids from a bottle?

-Again, nope.

These were things which were worrisome, but I didn’t think too much on. After his Feeding Therapy Evaluation, though, there are a few changes we’ll need to start making to his eating routine. Starting with new bottles, {eye roll here}. Ask me how many times I’ve heard this schpeel lol

The recommendation: we’ll be doing feeding therapy 2x for 45 minutes sessions.

 

Follow along to get updates on how he does!