Friday, September 30, 2011

This Time Around

Yep, I'm pregnant. Again. I know, you aren't surprised and I'm sure you had your suspicions. And in case you're wondering, I am scared out of my ever loving mind. My body has now been pregnant 3 times in my nearly 29 years of life and all within about a 6-month timeslot. My body seems to handle the whole conception part pretty swimmingly; it's after that when all hell breaks loose. At least from my track record.

Third time, you ask? I only knew about Andrew. Well, yeah.

See, right around the 6-month mark of Andrew's birth, I was about 7 weeks pregnant with #2 after about three months of trying. It turned out, however, that #2 never developed past the implantation stage and was considered a blighted ovum. I was set to miscarry after ultrasound confirmation #2. And 12 hours later, my body kicked into high gear and expelled the sac and whatever residual "pregnancy matter" that existed. That was the medical term they used. I'm not even sure if I'd consider that a child since it never developed at all, but that's a debate for another time and place. I followed that with a D&C the next day to make sure my ute was all clean and tidy. It was probably totally unnecessary, but after two losses in 6 months, I just wanted to end the battle and press on. I didn't want to bleed for another month like I did after giving birth. I was defeated. Sad. Frustrated. The why-me game started all over again and  I was in pretty rough shape. Four days after my miscarriage, I wrote this. Perhaps you can see the relapse in the words I wrote.

Even better, the same doctor who delivered Andrew (that I thought was cold-hearted and inconsiderate) had to be the one to "tell us" (though obviously we're not idiots) that I was about to miscarry. Her words: "Why do I always have to be the one to deliver you with bad news?" Really, I pitied her. She delivered my stillborn son and exited my life without muttering a condolence until the day she had to tell me I was losing my second pregnancy. I can assure you, seeing her face and hearing her voice again was far too soon. Losing my babies is the most devastating thing in my world and she treated it like the weather. There are words I can use to describe this doctor that I almost never think of when talking about another human being.

My favorite OB and the one who visited me in the hospital twice post-birth is the one I remain loyal to. While in the same practice as the witch doctor, she still came in and cried with me, offered her condolences, offered emotional support and guidance, and didn't waste any time talking about the future and gloating about all her fabulous resources and studies in the field of pregnancy post stillbirth. I just can't believe she shares an office with the woman who is so inconvenienced by having to deal with a couple experiencing the single worst thing of their lives. Make that twice. Because I wasn't "lucky" enough to experience just one loss. Some of you were probably doing the math and figuring out that I got pregnant pretty stinking fast after my miscarriage. That's because, despite what all the medical professionals advise (though mine didn't formally object), I didn't wait for a period. I waited for my hcg levels to drop below 5 and tested for ovulation. It was all methodical and planned. I didn't care if it would be harder for them to "date" the pregnancy. And I surely wasn't waiting around to give myself more time to mourn the loss of another baby. If I'm being ultra honest, I wish I hadn't waited the three months after Andrew's birth to try again either. I'll be an emotional basketcase about Andrew dying for the rest of my life. All I wanted was to get pregnant and I knew that waiting after the miscarriage would just cause me more anxiety. So I didn't. Three weeks later, I was knocked up for the third time. Ultrasound at 6ish weeks determined I was measuring 2 days ahead of my own predictions with a heartbeat. It also revealed a subchorionic hematoma. What are the Vegas odds on my pregnancy issues? Anyone? At the 8-week appt., the hematoma shrunk ever-so-slightly but was still there. But baby had a heartbeat. At my 12-week appt., the hematoma was gone and we still had a heartbeat along with fingers and toes. The little one was also measuring 4 days ahead of schedule. In addition, I also had five OB appointments and one with an MFM who I didn't really fancy all that much. Let's just say there is a plan in place having to do with extra checkups, more monitoring, more ultrasounds, and a swift delivery by induction when deemed safe. This girl isn't taking any chances and she sure isn't holding her breath.

Anyway, I'm 4 months. I waited this long to tell for so many reasons. These same reasons apply for why I decided not to announce my miscarriage formally on the blog.
  • I announced my pregnancy at 14.5 weeks on the blog with Andrew. I wasn't planning to share anytime before that.
  • I wanted this time to handle my first trimester post loss(es) as a family and as a couple. It's not top-secret information, per se, but it is information that I no longer would consider flippant to blurt out in conversation. It's too sacred.
  • I'm constantly surprised by the number of folks who read this blog. This was not started as a baby loss blog and my readers are from a variety of places. The majority of my readers are not baby loss moms. While many are still supportive and kind, there are a good number who are {likely} reading so they can put a happy ending to my story. A couple loses a child and gets pregnant again (and again). Yippee! The world is whole again. I can't wait to call her to ask what she's craving and when she wants to schedule a Babies r' Us date. Hooray for everything. Not-so-fast. I'm not fixed. I'm just as broken but I do know that having Andrew made us want children that much more. When you lose something you love so much, it makes you a fighter. At least that's what losing Andrew has made us. I refuse to accept this idea that I'm fixed. Let's not forget that my pregnancy with Andrew was textbook perfect until the end when it wasn't. So if you think I'll be comfortable at any moment to put my guard down and assume expecting = live baby in the end, I won't listen. I'll be as hopeful as I have to be, but I know reality comes in many shades. Not all of those shades are in happy colors. Anyway, all that babbling to say that if this blog were written solely with a BLM audience, I'd have announced immediately. It's not. I need to keep some of my life private from everyone I've ever met and their mothers, otherwise I'd go insane. And if it weren't for the support of my BLM following, I wouldn't even announce it on the blog. I'd continue on with my journaling offline. But I need you ladies. You have gotten me through the last (nearly) 10 months and I need you now. This pregnancy post-loss business is no joke.
  • I don't want to be treated like pregnancy is some new thing for me. I've been there before. Recently. We all know that. I've experienced this all before and would prefer to be treated like I have some expertise in the matter. Most parents don't blog as much about their second/third... pregnancies as they did with their first. Usually they're juggling pregnancy with a toddler. Obviously that's not my situation, but it feels a bit like déjà vu if you ask me. While this pregnancy is proving to be different than my previous two, I'm still pregnant and very aware of what is going on within my body and to my body. I gladly surrender to the little grower.
  • I'm scared. Being the bearer of bad news on repeat occasions has to be the most depressing thing. I'm tired of being that poor couple and didn't want to give another reason for my blog to end up as water cooler discussion. Hey, did you hear that the couple who lost their baby in December is pregnant again? Cringe. Most of what is written here is strictly for my own therapy, my family to be updated, and for friends to understand the life of a bereaved mom. And it's helped me connect with an incredible group of moms who will also live their entire lives mourning the loss of their babies. It's a heavy reality but I'm so thankful for this group of ladies.
Also, I apologize if this post sounds defensive-- because I truly am thankful for another chance. I just really don't know how to handle pregnancy under a microscope. When I wrote about my pregnancy with Andrew, I only had about 30 regular readers and I didn't know what it was like to feel the failure of losing a child yet. I'm sure many people I know have been watching every last blog post I write lately just looking for a belly photo or hint that I might be expecting since it has been nearly 10 months. She should be pregnant by now after all... since she has hinted that they've been trying. I won't be posting belly pictures or doing weekly updates like I did with Andrew. I am keeping a side journal of daily feelings/symptoms, but that won't be going public. Reading back on Andrew's pregnancy posts make me both sad and thankful. I am happy that I wrote them out so I'd have a documentation of such a wonderful time in our lives and the growth of our little boy. But this time around is filled with doubt and trepidation... something I'm not dealing with lightly. I'll share information here or there, but don't expect this to be a repeated edition of pregnancy #1. It's not. I acknowledge and firmly believe all life should be celebrated. And I celebrate this one. But it's like celebrating next to the emergency exit. In case something goes awry, I need to find a way to deal. No pregnancy tickers or cute little bouncing babies. For your sake and mine. I'm not interested in the triggers and I'm sure my ttc friends aren't either. I'll mostly blog about my anxieties and such dealing with pregnancy after loss. But in true form, I will also be blogging about what I do best-- missing my son, and all the vacations and fun things we do as a married couple, because that is the reason I started this blog. Because even though I'm still waiting to hold a live baby in my arms, I'm still living and married to a pretty fantastic guy that I will celebrate. This baby is also part of our story. It is good news and I'm just trying to wrap my head around how to react in the midst of it all.

Here's to hoping Andrew will be a "big" brother at some point in 2012.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fall Schmall.

Fall is here my friends. I used to adore this season. Pumpkin smells, fun traditions, hot cider, cinnamon, apple pies, apple picking, light sweaters, new TV shows... who doesn't love fall?

 Take that, pumpkin spice lattes!
I'm dreading the seasons changing this year. I couldn't wait to get out of winter last year. It seemed to last longer than normal-- perhaps because it was our first Chicago winter or because it was the season my son died. There's no surprise that I wanted it to pass immediately. I find myself already wanting to decline (unsent, but expected) evites about visiting the pumpkin patches/farms like we did last year. I can't. My son should/would/could be sitting up on a stupid pumpkin and I should be trying my damndest to convince him that "mommy" was where he should be looking for a good shot through my fancy DSLR that has sat in the closet unused since we purchased it in November. I can't decline these invites forever, but I hope that next year I'll be visiting with kid in tow. I don't have a whole lot of control over those dreams, though.

I'm wondering what to do about Halloween. I had my baby shower on Halloween last year and arrived home mid-afternoon to a bunch of children lined up at our door for candy! I gladly handed out the chocolates and rubbed my enormous belly as I met neighbors and pridefully acknowledged that we were expecting our son in December. I had assumed we'd have a little squirrel or something all dressed up this year sitting in our foyer as I handed out candy to neighborhood children. Luckily I hadn't picked out an outfit in my mind yet. What now? Do I buy the candy and leave a bowl on the porch and allow those questionably too old teenagers steal it all? Just subject my wonderful husband to the madness? Go out for an early dinner so we're not home at all? Making plans to avoid other plans/events can be really exhausting.

I already addressed my boycott for the rest of the holidays this year. How the heck will I avoid the music? THE MUSIC. I can barely go there in my mind and yet, in about one month, we'll be seeing garland and twinkling lights strewn all over the stores. I might have to close our blinds for the entire months of November-February. Our neighbors left their lights and wreaths on their house until MARCH this year. Perhaps a friendly PSA will be helpful to remind them of their negligence.

Fall TV hasn't let me down yet, but I'm definitely dropping the X-Factor from the list. We're also enjoying some college football and watching the Bears games. We've lived here 1.5 years. It's time we start paying attention to their beloved Bears. We've managed to watch the first two of the season and will have to indulge in the Packers v. Bears game tomorrow. Also, since the husband is a USAFA grad, we're going to be driving to South Bend for a Notre Dame v. Air Force game in two weeks! I can guarantee we'll be dressed in Air Force paraphernalia and be the absolute minorities in that stadium.

And since we'll be in South Bend, I may or may not be requiring that we eat at one of my favorite fast food joints from LA for both lunch and dinner. Oh, and I might bring some home to eat later as well. Sometimes it's a wonder my husband doesn't realize how lucky he is to be married to a cheapskate like me. Hahah. There are no Del Tacos in Illinois. Or Baja Fresh. Or Fatburger. At one point they all existed here but were booted by the locals. Boo.
I also found a new love on our Whole Foods trip this morning. New record: 7 items for $23.55! I know, be impressed. I guess I'll also have to confess that I bought the Living Social deal $10 for $20 worth to spend. When you make Whole Foods half price, it all of a sudden becomes normal. Otherwise, it breaks the bank. I'm not a huge soft cheese fan, but do love Brie, mozzarella, and chihuahua cheeses. I thought this was delicious! Very exciting, new find! I know it's not new, but new to me!
Back to college football and the to-do list. I'm airing out the house, cleaning all the bedding, mending some loose buttons, and attempting to clean. I've been sick the last week and totally unmotivated. I finally have some energy back and will be putting that to good use. Then, date night with the husband. Totally overdue. Also, I have to mention something awesome. I love Born shoes, but the last two pair of loafers I purchased cracked at the sole in the same spot! Since it was defective and I really hate my $100 shoes breaking on me unexpectedly, I wrote the company an email about the manufacturing issue since it's happened twice to the same style of shoes. They asked me to send them the defective shoes and they'd replace them with a new pair of my choice for free! Well, the cost of shipping the old pair back to them... so around $10. It appears they no longer carry loafers, so I had to choose more Mary Jane-style shoes so I can wear them to work with respectable khakis, etc. I had to provide them with 3 options, so I did... I threw in the $200 pair of boots at the end just in case they happen to be out of the other two, knowing full well that they won't be. A girl can dream.

Safe, trusty, rubber sole.

 Ray commented how these are a bit granola. Um, yeah. Who do you think you married, buddy? ;)
Okay, let the fall cleaning resume!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I saw this on another blog recently and thought I'd participate.
  • If I were to get pregnant again, I'd be super thankful and totally scared out of my ever loving mind.
  • If I could have any job in the world, I would be a technology training specialist for teachers. I'd ideally model lessons part-time in classrooms and spend the rest of my time training teachers on how to integrate technology into teaching.
  • If I had a day to myself, I'd do whatever I want because that's what I always do. Don't be jealous. It's the pits. And NO, I will never regret writing that. Mark. my. words.
  • If I could get married all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.
  • If I could live anywhere in the U.S., I'd live in the Pacific Northwest. There are gorgeous mountains, beautiful coasts, and so many more vegetarians! Also, there's Tillamook
  • If I were to have more children, I would have no problem naming them. We've already chosen those! 
  • If I could have any talent in the world, I would like to speak another language fluently (and easily).
  • If you met me in real life (as many of you have), you'd probably think I make a lot of facial expressions. At least that's what my family tells me!
  • If I went back to school, I'd choose an Ed.D in Education Policy & Leadership or Ed. Tech.
  • If money were not an object, I'd drive an Audi Allroad, shop exclusively at Whole Foods, vacation in Europe at least once a year, and eat out a lot more.
  • If I could meet one celebrity, I'd like to meet no one. I really don't care to meet any celebrities. There are a few dead people I would be interested in meeting, but that's about all.
  • If I could shop at only one store for the rest of my life, I'd choose Nordstrom for clothes and Whole Foods for... well... food.
  • If I could choose an animal/pet, I wouldn't. I just can't deal with the cleanup.
  • If I could go on a trip right now, I'd go to Hawaii and hike a bunch between frosty drinks on the beach and fresh ahi poke.
  • If I had to choose between a house cleaner and personal chef, I'd choose a house cleaner-- only because I'd find it weird having someone in my house cooking while I'm home. But if they just dropped off the food (I'm seriously antisocial, huh?), I'd consider the chef. I sort of like cooking, but I sort of like cleaning, too.
  • If I had the option to get plastic surgery, I'd choose only cosmetic lasering and microdermabrasion. I'm not a fan of voluntary cutting and slicing unless absolutely necessary. I'm married. He loves me. He'll get old. I'll get old. Our bodies will change. Such is life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall TV Lineup!

Two posts in one day? What? I know, I know. I'm actually home with the flu/cold. I was running a mild fever yesterday and just assumed that this massive headache and overall dreary feeling meant I should just take a day off from the little germies.

With that said, I'm bored as heck. I have plenty of things to read and all that, but I'd prefer to get excited about this week's premiere shows! While I hate that the weather is turning more dreary (meaning December is just around the corner), I do love these shows!

Tonight we have "Charlie"-- that's what we call it in our house, but the Charlie character is no longer! So now it's just Charlie without Charlie.
Then there's The Big Bang Theory premiering on Thursday that we're big fans of...

Sunday will mean the beginning of a long-time favorite...

There are also a few newbies I am intrigued by...

Then there's a few I won't be a regular watcher of, but that I would likely let chill in the background while I'm putting a frozen pizza into the oven making dinner.

And one I will definitely turn off if it finds its way to my TV screen...

And honorable mention going to this show that I think will be canceled immediately. But I think she's pretty darn funny:

Watching anything fun this fall to take your mind off of things, my friends?

The Well is Dry

Confession: I don't cry when I read extremely sad stories about baby loss.

I haven't cried for a really long time. Part of me is totally jaded by the reality that babies die and are still dying. I recently came up on a few newbie blogs to the baby loss world. It totally made my stomach churn as I felt the anxiety of earlier days. I read blogs from fellow moms about their struggles or explaining the story etched in their memory of when they lost their babies and yet, I don't shed a tear. For this reason, I've stopped reading Faces of Loss posts because I can no longer handle the sadness properly. I feel like I should be crying. When did babies dying become acceptable to me in such a way that I don't show physical emotion? It's not that I don't welcome these women into my arms with my entire heart, but because I felt it was causing me to become numb and void of sorrow. I felt sorrowful while reading their sad stories, but I was easily able to click away, because to me, that reality is normal. It's everyday. It's something I also live with.

I cry when talking about Andrew and especially when talking about him with people who haven't been down this road. But when talking with friends who are also mourning the loss of their babies, I don't cry. I am free to use sarcasm and dark humor and ask them dark questions about specific details pertaining to the deaths of their children. In some universe, we almost pretend like they're alive by talking about them. We keep their memories alive this way and it doesn't feel sad or upsetting to us.

I think back to January when I returned to work and two women approached me with their stories of stillbirth. They told me their detailed stories and shed no tears. They weren't even really interested in hugging me. They weren't uncomfortable and they weren't afraid to ask questions.

I've never been much of a crier in general. Baby loss definitely changed that. In some ways, though, my well has run dry. At least for this leg of the journey. Maybe this is part of the process of grief-- that I'm not sure. Emotion still fills my blood and soul, but the tears aren't fighting to escape nearly as easily.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Childbirth Was Easier Than This

I just finished watching Bachelor Pad. Yes, I know. It's trashy television and I might have lost brain cells. Whatevs. Y'all, I need this getaway from my real life sometimes. In the last episode, one of the competitors was talking about how scared she was to walk against a vertical wall while suspended on cables. Her quote was, "This is the scariest thing I've ever done. Childbirth was easier than this."

And then the BLM in me busts out.

Childbirth is not hard. Relative to other life experiences like losing a child and actually having to physically birth your child within hours of finding out they would never, ever be going home with you and instead is currently turning progressively more purple inside of you-- now that's hard. I remember my own mother and my MIL telling me that you forget the pain of childbirth because of how rich in love the experience is. Bringing a child into the world erases all the pain you endure. I'd like to say I understand that reality. I don't. Pain is, in many ways, mental. My dad always told me this as a child when he'd dare me to pinch him as hard as possible (or maybe I was daring myself and he didn't really want it? Hah) and that it didn't hurt because he didn't allow it to hurt. He was near bleeding at times when I'd dig my little, grimy nails into his palm so I'd somehow end victorious in causing him pain. {What a jerk! Bah.} Some of my fellow BLM friends birthed their still babies without medication. I did not choose that route, although I was just a couple hours from pushing and already 4cm dilated when I received medication. I felt the pain. It wasn't pretty, but I'd handle that pain without a thought if. Some of my friends commented on how they wanted to feel the physical pain, as they were already in the most emotional turmoil they'd ever experienced. What does it matter, anyway?

What it all boils down to is that emotional pain outweighs physical pain. I'm sure some of my readers will disagree with this sentiment, but I can say that for me, contractions were practically painless when compared to the emotional heartbreak and endless duration of this earth-shattering reality.

Childbirth is difficult. Roofing a house, difficult. Trying to find that single sock lost on laundry day, difficult.

But birthing a child who isn't alive is impossible. It's not just difficult. I hope to God it doesn't strip away the magic of childbirth for any of our future children, but it will probably be a difficult second go around from what I can imagine right this moment.

Renel posted today about this green sign and how we're achieving the impossible. Not in a summit Mt. Everest kind of way, but a get out of bed each day and choose life kind of way.

We can't do this. But we have no choice but to do it anyway. Difficult doesn't even begin to explain it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Around the Watercooler

My job is becoming less boring. Or more productive. Basically, the principal has decided I should have more on my plate (Can I get an amen? You mean, this chick is qualified and stuff?). As usual around the ol' elementary school, I overhear conversations that strike me in one way or another that would've never even caused me to bat an eye pre-doomsday.

1. Another teacher's mom just died suddenly last Friday. At 51, they just assumed she had the flu. Her two daughters found her dead on the couch that morning. It's completely tragic. As soon as I heard the news, I felt such empathy for her and just knew that I'd give her a big hug when I saw her next. As I sat in the teacher's lounge, I listened to a few teachers question aloud what they were going to do when she returned. "How will we act around her?" they asked one another. I couldn't help but think that they must have had similar conversations about my return after losing Andrew. People want to be so deliberate of how to act, but they just don't know how in such cases. Losing Andrew did make me more aware of others and their heartbreak. I didn't once question how I would act around her, as I don't see her as an outcast. I see her as part of my posse-- bereaved, heartbroken, and pitied by others. I didn't find the comment insensitive, but more startling. They don't understand, but they want to. They care enough to want to and that is wonderful.

2. The beautiful, talented, sweet, and very pregnant art teacher finished up her job on Friday and gave birth Saturday to her little boy. Alive. DUH. And then another comment that I also found startling. "I can't believe she worked until the day before she gave birth! I could never do that!" Andrew was born on a Sunday, but I worked that Friday and only contemplated stopping because people kept voicing their surprise that I wasn't home preparing or something. Sure glad I didn't prepare too much. I would've worked that Saturday if schools were in session. I felt great and was active. But in that moment, when she voiced her opinion about the art teacher being some mother-extraordinaire, I felt forgotten. I knew that it would be too awkward to chime in with, "That was me just 9 months ago! I gave birth just 48 hours after last working, too!" Hah. Not allowed, Brandy. You have a dead baby so nobody wants to hear about your sad birthing story because they'll just make too many assumptions or disregard your participation or place on the mothership.

3. Again, setting takes place in the teacher's lounge. The woman I am long-term subbing in the place of is on leave because she's 12 weeks pregnant and uncontrollably vomiting to the point of hospitalization. Her other teacher friend is also pregnant at 14 weeks. Said pregnant chick pulled up photos of M's baby and then pulled up photos of her own baby by way of ultrasound photos. Dude, this was good times for me. I shamefully put my head down and wouldn't allow the phone to be passed to me as they all discussed awesome new technology that allows you to see so much-- as other teachers pointed out were not available to them 30 years ago. Yep, and that awesome technology was unable to detect a thing to save my child. Super-D-duper.

I'm not having a terrible time (despite boredom), but I am just sharing some of the stories that burned their way into my brain matter the last few days. Among other things, we've had a nice week over here at the Wilson residence. Ray's work picnic was on Saturday and it was fantastic. I appreciated meeting some people I hadn't met before and all of the families that make up his company. Sunday was a day with friends. I had a lovely lunch with 4 of my girlfriends and a friend of mine from LA (turned New Yorker) came to visit. In this time, we managed to squeeze in a couple hours for dessert and finally met her husband of 1.5 years! I'm looking forward to resting tonight...

I signed up to bring some items to school on Friday. I found incredible produce deals and plan to make the following: Asian Slaw, Black Bean Quinoa Salad, Broccoli Salad with vinaigrette (basically broccoli marinated in vinaigrette), a couple dips, some crackers, hummus, and some zucchini, carrot, and bell pepper strips for dipping. My teacher friend will be making dessert items. Better recipes for any of the following are welcome in the comments. ;)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Never Forgotten

I took a (stealth) trip to Los Angeles to visit my parents this week. On my Virgin America flight, I watched a Tom Brokaw {I <3 him} special on the 9/11 tragedy. It's not out of the ordinary for this time of year considering tomorrow being the 10th anniversary of such devastation.

Although I lived on the opposite coast, I will never, ever forget where I was that day when I found out. I remember something before leaving the house for class about the World Trade Center and planes, but little did I know the devastation this meant or the act of hatred that caused such attacks. It just seemed impossible. I was in college and walking to my morning class when I found out that they were canceled and we were to go home. I spent hours in the student parking lot that day just trying to connect with my mom on the phone and discuss the enormous loss that had occurred that morning.

Last night, as I sat on that airplane back home to Chicago, I was just crying as I watched these stories again. And in the wake of losing my own son to devastation and abrupt loss, I felt a tinge of understanding for those families who lost loved ones that day. Never would I have expected to ever understand even a portion of their sadness and now, 10 years later, I do. When I attempt to go to that place of self-pity and why me, I think of them. Why them? Why thousands of people? Why did their families have to suffer such enormous loss and destruction for no reason? Sometimes there just aren't answers. Sometimes bad things happen and life just sucks. Explanations wouldn't matter in cases of death, anyway, because the damage is irreparable.

We just simply have to remember. At the very least, they deserve the honor.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Not Always Beautiful Mess

Now 9 months gone from our arms, we're still left with his beautiful mess. I like to think of it that way; the hell being still so beautiful because of the love we have for Andrew.

But let's get real for a hot second here, mmkay?

In these 9 months, the following has occurred:
  • I've collectively used more Kleenex wiping up snot and buckets of tears than I have in my entire life up until December 2010.
  • I've definitely used more curse words to describe my superlative of sadness and grief and struggle with the hardships of ttc.
  • I've dropped out on lots of friendships (at least for now) because I'm a completely selfish person who can't think past her own grief to ask how the heck someone else is doing in their life.
  • I've spent days and days watching more TV than I've watched ever.
  • I've questioned God, his existence, his love for us and all things I've ever believed in before tragedy struck.
  • I've been unmotivated and drab.
  • I've all but given up on my appearance most days-- taking great effort to look presentable.
  • I've offended family members and probably friends with my rage and lunacy 
  • I've avoided phonecalls and door knocks.
  • I've lost most of my carefree personality and have definitely transformed into a downer who can't even smile when looking at the innocence of a baby-- because instead I'm oozing with jealousy. 
Thank God I'm married to my soulmate because I'm a pretty attractive beast these days and would be hard-pressed to find someone who was attracted to such ugly qualities. 

So it's not all pretty over here. It's beautiful that our son has spurred so much love inside of us that's passionate and fierce, but I was kind of hoping that passion and ferocity would be used to say, potty train him or something. Turns out all milestones are a wash and our sadness lives on through the ebbs and flows that it is. It's a brutal beast that gets the best of us. But it's out of love. How love can translate through all of this madness and ugliness is beyond my comprehension.

Loving our little boy just as much today as we ever did. Nine months little man. Can't even believe it. And I really don't want to.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What Makes a Family

I'd like to think that we're already a family. Before Andrew. Before losing him. I'd like to think that Ray and I were a family of two.

Our church is starting this series on Family Ties next week. They have a photo booth set up to photograph congregation members and regular attendees (that's us) to display in one of their excellently-crafted videos (no really, they have talent and all the Apple equipment necessary) what makes a family. The whole premise is that families come in all shapes, sizes, and formations.

But like all things related to stillbirth, I'm sure it'd make everyone uncomfortable if we sat down on that bench and held up that heart-shaped urn holding {most of} the remains of our son. What about the rest of him that sits in a container within a box typed in Courier font with his precious name picked so perfectly for our firstborn? He's a family member and will always be remembered as such. I never thought the idea of a family photo would be so numbing and painful.

When asked by a friend if we were going to have our "family" photo taken this morning, I replied with a stern, "Not a chance." He then responded with, "Not even for a church thing? I'm making the video this week and we could use your photo." I'm pretty sure they won't be missing one solitary photo in the pile. I told Ray on the drive home and he commented sarcastically and appropriately, "Sure, let's just go home and get the rest of our family." Not so simple, is it?

Most of me understands this concept. Families are made in many ways. Some are adopted families and not of blood. Some are single-parent homes. Some are same-sex partnerships. Some are inclusive of grandparents, parents, and grandchildren. Whatever it may be, there are many variations of the same. It all boils down to a group of people who have chosen one another to love and care for. It's not very complex.

Or is it? Because I can tell you right now that bringing my deceased child and displaying him in our photo would represent a very bleak and uncomfortable image of family. I'm pretty sure our Lutheran church would much easier accept a same-sex partnership (with kids!) over the image of our reality. I'm also sure no one would stop me from this photo opportunity, but it would be unlikely that we'd make the first half of the video, as to not upset people or make anyone else uncomfortable. Part of me wants to have a b-roll over my photo (which will never be taken) of me saying in my best Jack Nicholson voice, "You Can't Handle the TRUTH!"

What does the future of our family look like? Are families only comprised of those with children? Will I feel a void in every single photo we ever take as a "family" together? Will I put Andrew in my pocket for a photo-opp? My lap? Hold up an ultrasound photo or even more uncomfortable, a photo of my deceased son in my arms?

I can tell you this. I will always, always think of how wrong it is that our entire family could not "make it" in the photo. That we will never be completely whole. At the very least, I did walk away feeling okay this morning. It was baptism Sunday but we decided to go to the early service (which we never do) because we were awake and ready. It turns out our service had no baptisms but all of the other services did. Thankfully so, otherwise I'd probably have to awkwardly slip out the back of the auditorium because I can't handle it. Small victory I guess. Shameful that I even give out a sigh of relief because I was "lucky" enough to avoid seeing babies and their happy parents. Their families. Their complete (maybe?) families. I'll never be too quick to assume that all families, even with small children, are ever complete because we all do have our struggles. Who would have ever thought that I'd be here. I sure didn't.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mind Vomit

I'm being lame. Like most bloggers around, I've been in a blogging rut-- that, and I've been working every day and it's really not something I've been used to since late May. So I'm tired. By the time I get home, I have no desire to make dinner, grocery shop, or blog. I'm reading most, but even my reader has more saved than read each day.

I miss my son. So much. Unspeakable amounts.

I'm working and attempting to make money that will hopefully be used to take us on vacations... like the trip we planned to D.C. in October and our escape from the frickin' holidays trip to South Padre Island, TX conveniently over Christmas. Waterfront. Seventy degrees. Pool. Relaxation. I can't wait. Texas is on the list of states I've never visited and I'm excited to spend time in the warm weather during Chicago's coldest time of year. Can anyone help me figure out how to cancel the entire months of November-January please? Because they're coming and I'm so not ready. I may be lucky enough to meet my good blogger friend Brooke around Thanksgiving as we both attempt to pass the holidays like they aren't even happening around us. The -er months have started, folks. Holy. Holy. Crap. I'm not ready.

Kind of freaks me out to think we're 3/4 of a year back around the circle to the worst day of my life. I've been thinking about how to celebrate Andrew's life, but parties aren't really my thing. Well, for my live 1-year old they'd probably be, but I'd still be subdued since early ages need nothing more than a cake face celebration. But celebrating the life of a now dead child. My child? We'll probably go out to dinner and eat dessert. Because it's a birthday and we're celebrating. It's what we do for our own birthdays, so why not Andrew's? I guess it's not so toddler-like, but my baby is practically a teenager in my mind now since I've never experienced a day as his mama. He's living in heaven and probably so wise. And he'd probably choose crab cakes over corndogs just like his mama. So we celebrate in style.

My mind is a million places. And most of those thoughts are on repeat. I miss him. I love him. I want him here.