Watermelon Roses

A collection of random thoughts, commentaries, and journaling. There is a lot to explore here, including links to other sites of mine. These are mostly for my own benefit, but guests are welcome to browse and explore as much or as little as they like.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Telogen Effluvium

This might sound like a spell that Harry Potter would use, but it's not.

No matter how many times I go through it, the large numbers of hairs that I shed after pregnancy never cease to alarm me. Handfuls in the shower and plenty throughout the day, helped along by the clutching fists of my infant and the running of my fingers through my hair. Even though I know this happens every time I have a baby, I was still on the verge of going to the doctor to complain about hair loss until I came to my senses enough to find reassurance through internet research.

This temporary shedding is a condition known as telogen effluvium, and though it can be caused by several things, in my case it is brought on by pregnancy and childbirth. The hormonal changes of pregnancy cause more than the usual 10% of hairs to go into a resting phase, and when new hair growth begins a few months after childbirth, the old hairs are pushed out. Women who have been through this and didn't know why may be interested in reading more here (more detailed) or here (easier to understand.) As for the rest of you, I won't bore you with any more details. Suffice it to say my husband thinks I have hairballs and I'm contemplating cutting my hair short again.

Every time I get my hair cut short, I have some regrets and wish it would hurry and grow back. Although I get some compliments, my brutally honest teenager always tells me I should never do it again. Maybe everyone else is just trying to be nice. I know I'll regret it, but I tend to do it anyway from time to time. I'm not sure why, other than that I just get tired of fussing with it. Not that I fuss with it much ... I don't even own a hair dryer or curling iron. At the moment I'm just tired of seeing handfuls at a time when I wash it or put any type of styling mousse or cream in it. I'll let you know if I go through with it.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Layla at 1.

When Layla was born, we lived in Queens, New York. My mom likes to tell that story. She had come to New york to keep Mina while Layla was being born. When I finally went into labor, K and I walked a few blocks to the bus stop, waving at Mina who was crying at the kitchen window, transferred to another bus which took us to the subway, rode the subway into Manhattan, and walked another 5 blocks or so (carrying all our gear for the hospital, of course) to the Mount Sinai Hospital, across the street from Central Park. Mina and I had such a hard time being separated that I petitioned the doctor to let me go home less than 24 hours after Layla was born. We took a taxi for the return trip! The next day, we were on the bus again as we went shopping for a rocking chair. If I wasn't exhausted already, I was by the time we got home. I've since learned to take full advantage of the time I'm allowed to stay in the hospital for childbirth!

Layla at 2.

Layla was our cuddler. When she was tired, her two middle fingers would go in her mouth while she would hold an ear (preferably the ear of someone cuddling her, but her own would do) with her other hand. Mina was a mama's girl, but Layla was anyone's girl.

Layla at 3.

Layla loved Powerpuff Girls and Hamtaro. She loved to play with her horses. She would line them up the way Layth now lines up his cars. Although she would play with Mina, she was happy playing by herself. Mina would seek out a playmate, but Layla was happy to amuse herself in a quiet corner. She drew beautiful pictures. The puppies she drew were very childlike, but she made great use of color that took up the whole page. My favorite picture of hers is of a rainbow. I was asking her about the picture and what all the components were. There was the rainbow, of course, and rain, and a rock. There was a little triangle near the rock that seemed out of place. I asked her what it was, and she thought for a moment before informing me that it was a piece of pizza that someone dropped.

Layla at 4.

Layla preferred being at home with me to going to school, and though we tried preschool for several months, we finally gave in and let her stay home. She had a little dance she would do when she was happy. I called it her "happy dance." I'm very creative when naming things like that. We have a cat we call "Cat," Maya's bunny is "Bunny," and Layth's puppy is "Puppy." See? Creativity at its best. Layla's happy dance was much like Snoopy's dance. Nose up in the air, a happy look on her face, and her little feet just dancing away. I loved her Hamtaro dance, too. She'd dance along with Hamtaro at the end of each episode.

Layla had a special bond with her Daada (K's father.) On their last visit together, she asked him if it was necessary to cry every time they said goodbye. She told him to please not cry, because she would see him again. Although I can't quite imagine that anyone could miss my daughters more than I do, I think he just might. She has comforted me in several dreams (see Flights of Fancy,) and came to her Daada when he was near death a few months after we lost her. He's doing better now, but I know he can't wait to be reunited with them again. I have so much to live for now that I can wait a little longer than I first thought, but I sure look forward to that reunion, too.

When you lose a young child, it's easy to forget that they were ever any trouble and to just remember how perfect they were. I never want to give my young children the idea that they could never live up to the memories of Mina and Layla, so I ground myself from time to time by making myself remember just how much trouble they could get into! I remember threatening (not seriously, but still) to send Layla to military school because she was such a troublemaker, although I can't for the life of me remember now what she did that was so bad. I do remember her slipping away from us at a mall one time ... twice! The first time we found her hiding in a clothing rack in a nearby store. The second time, someone saw us looking frantically around and pointed us toward a shoe store, where she was hiding under a bench, gleefully watching the shopkeepers glower at us for being such bad parents. I remember a lot of coloring on walls and furniture. I remember her being too busy playing to bother with going to the bathroom, which resulted in a lot of extra laundry for me to wash. I also remember lovely cuddles in both her bed and ours and the joy of watching her dance. I remember how gentle she was with the cat and how much she loved baby Layth. I remember the night she was a hero. Mina had let Cinnamon the hamster get away from her, and he scurried into a cranny under the kitchen cabinets. We couldn't get him to come out and didn't know what to do. Hours later, Layla spotted the hamster out in the open, scooped him up, and offered him to Mina, singing, "Mina, I have a present for you!"

I guess I also remember that she wasn't very good at listening to us or responding to "no," which is why she was so far out in the lake to begin with, but I can't dwell on that. Layth and I scattered roses on the graves today and sang "Happy Birthday" to Layla. I can't believe that I've celebrated as many of her birthdays without her now as I had with her, that she would be eight and in second grade. I know life isn't fair, but it hasn't stopped me from thinking "it's not fair" all day long today. I bought windchimes for her birthday today and hung them on the balcony. Layth and I have been enjoying their soothing sound all evening. K isn't a big fan of windchimes, so isn't as enamored of them as we are. They're pretty loud ... I wonder if they'll always ring this much or if it's just particularly windy tonight. They might even start to be too much for me if they're this melodious all the time.

I miss you so much, my little Layla, and I'll love you always. Happy birthday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rayan Revisited

Mmm ... toes!

Many thanks to fellow blogger Rayan from Saudi Arabia who taught us the correct way to pronounce our son's name. I had gotten to the point where people would ask me how to pronounce his name and I would shrug and look embarrassed. How sad is that!? The best way to write it phonetically is "ra-YANN." I also met a woman fluent in Arabic recently who was familiar with the name and said it beautifully. The name sounds even better when the "r" is rolled. I explained that it was difficult for Americans to roll their "r's" (I can do it, though!) and she explained that where she came from, it was difficult to UNroll them. I thought that was cute!

So ... Rayan = ra-YANN, with or without the rolled "r." He'll be 5 months old on Layla's birthday this Friday, and we think he's probably the smiliest baby we've had. Maya liked to just stare blankly at people and make them feel silly, and Layth would frown at people. Rayan rewards most attempts at interaction with lovely baby smiles. He's discovered his toes, as you can see in the photo, and has started singing gurgly baby songs to me while chewing on his fists. I can't seem to stop kissing him. It's as though he's my outlet for all the kisses I haven't been able to give Mina and Layla. My other children get them too, of course, but they run away. Baby Rayan is at my mercy! Fortunately he doesn't seem to mind being smothered with mama kisses.

We went to our Compassionate Friends meeting tonight. It's such a comfort to have other people who understand our grief to talk to. When the girls come up in conversation with most people, I usually feel as though I'm making them sad (my family,) making them feel guilty for asking about my children (new acquaintances,) or making them uncomfortable (anyone else who just doesn't know what to say.) At Compassionate Friends, we know that everyone there knows exactly how we are feeling. Those who are farther along in the healing process offer hope and encouragement, and we offer the same to those who are new to their grief. It helps so much in the beginning to see that there are people who actually survive it. It's nice to be able to speak freely about them!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Lack of Sheep

If I had sheep, perhaps I could count them and sleep like a normal person. I'm sheepless, however, and mostly sleepless, too. This leads to wacky posts in the middle of the night. Sorry.

On the bright side, my house is mostly tidy though there are still plenty of boxes in the garage to go through. The Grand Prairie house is officially on the market. We've put a couple of pots of flowers out front, but we're holding off on landscaping a little longer just to see if it might sell without it. We may have to give a carpet allowance, since even after cleaning, it looks somewhat worn. Otherwise, it looks great.

My most recent time-wasters in the wee hours of the night are Yahoo spades and pyramids, and MySpace. K ever-so-gently (not) points out that I'm too old for MySpace, but my teenager is there, and what better way to keep up with him and his girlfriend than to join him there? Even my mother has joined in now. Of course, reading the teen pages of MySpace is scary and confusing at times, but I do at least get a general idea of what they're up to. So, since I have to have a MySpace account, I might as well look up all my old friends, customize my backgrounds and music, and fill out my profile. And once I find my old friends, I have to read everything they've written. This is why I'm still awake at the time that some unfortunate souls (poor Mom) are already getting up to start their day.

Every day I instruct myself to be more reasonable about bedtime, and I occasionally listen, but once I've listened and caught up on sleep, the crazy wakefulness comes back. I have such great plans for my schedule once I can start sleeping regularly. I wonder when that will be? Now to tiptoe off to bed before K's alarm goes off and he starts lecturing me ...