Thursday, February 24, 2011

YMCA Encounters

{Sorry about the facebook rant, but it's just really hard to feel so isolated. The irony is that I have over 200 "friends" on that social networking site and I can count on one hand how many really understand the pain of losing a child. Or at least that is about how many have reached out with empathy. There may be hidden mourners out there...}

On to the reason for this post...
I just got back home from Zumba. There's a story involved...

As I was waiting for the instructor to set up the music, I saw a woman struggling to get her (about 3-year-old) son to put his jacket on. He was rolling around on the floor and wouldn't budge. He didn't want to leave the gym and she wasn't able to move him herself because she was holding a baby-- perhaps 6 months old. I walked over and offered to help with putting her son's coat on out of instinct.

But then... then... the stranger asked if I could just hold her (baby) daughter while she worked on getting her little boy to cooperate.

Without thinking, I grabbed the little girl and held her in my arms while the mother put on the boy's coat (unsuccessfully) and grabbed her daughter's coat. I put the beautiful white coat on her little body as she stared, wide-eyed and completely at peace into my eyes.

It felt so natural. I crave. I crave.

Dear Facebook

When I hide the posts about newborn babies, people who post incessant belly pictures and pictures of their newborns, do what I ask, okay?

I heard a news story this week that you cause depression by displaying all of the things we don't have that others seem to have plenty of (i.e. great jobs, significant others, houses, babies) making us ultra aware of these deficiencies in our own lives. Yep. I agree with the study. How depressing that everyone else seems to have healthy babies with few complications. I should really quit your stupid site but part of me doesn't feel like I should have to lose out on one more thing in my life. Ugh.

p.s. I hate you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Image of 3

I was just writing an email to a fellow BLM and thought about something that I still have a hard time with. Actually it's a wonderful thought, but one that makes me sad knowing we'll never experience that again with our little guy.

When they handed Andrew to me in the hospital, I could not believe that I was physically holding my child. While I "carried" him and was holding him for the previous 9.5 months inside of me, I had not held him in my arms. It's a much different feeling. My baby had weight, mass, volume, everything. He existed and it felt so surreal to be holding something that was both my husband and I in my hands.

He was so light to me, though a normal newborn size of 7lb.6oz. at that stage of gestation (being 9 days early). I dreamt of holding him in my arms for so long. That image is so vivid and so surreal.

For those who commented, I did email someone from NILMDTS about Andrew's photos. I guess I'd just love to see photos of my precious gift again. That single moment of us being together as a family of 3 will never leave my mind (or heart). People who work for that organization are saints. They are such brave and selfless souls to walk into a hospital room, meet with bereaved parents (at times we feel like we have a plague or something because of our new badge of sadness), and photograph deceased babies. It's not exactly an uplifting and happy experience and it's one that is sure to bring sadness to all those around. But as parents to these babies, we are forever grateful for their love and gift of photography. Pictures and memories are truly all we'll have to remember these children we love so much. Our photographer came at 1 a.m. and photographed our baby for free. He donated his time and resources to people he'd never met and will never see again. I am humbled by that blessing.

Missing you today my little love.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Things I'm Lovin' Lately

In no particular order, these are some things that have been making me smile lately:

1. Tillamook Cheddar Baby Loaf. The Wilsons love cheese and we're sort of snobs about it. We like the good stuff. Baby loaf is such a treat and we've got one in the fridge right now. My absolute favorite is the Tillamook Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar-- it's pretty exclusive and comes in black packaging.
2. Working out with my girlfriends. I love to sweat and I love great music! Tonight five of us girls met together at the Y for our 3rd (well, my 3rd) Zumba session! This instructor was all about the legs. Feel the burn!
3. My new Gap workout shirts. My friend Alli is basically obsessed with Gap. There isn't a week that goes by she isn't telling me about the latest deal she scored there. When Groupon had that amazing $25 for $50 at Gap deal, I scored so many great things from clearance. One was an awesome workout shirt from Gap Fit and I bought another one of a different style a few days ago. I paid $5 for one, and $8 for the other-- gotta catch Gap deals + coupon it up! Check out their whole line of Gap Fit here. I really think they're giving Lululemon a run for their money-- not to mention they are at least 50% cheaper on every item!

4. Target clearance. I bought a few pieces of clothing today for super cheap. We're talking a $4 super cute black ruffle shirt, a $3 turtleneck, and even a navy blue short peacoat for just under $13!

5. Middle schoolers. Those crazy, awkward kids make me smile. They are crazy and can be obnoxious, but they're so personable. I like them a whole lot better than those booger-picking 1st graders who tattle {realized I've never typed that word before} on one another all. day. long.

6. Trader Joes bananas. I need me some fruit. They sell their bananas for $.19 each. So that means I buy the largest, most ridiculous bananas I can find. During a cold winter, fruit is a necessity to get me through it. While I'm mentioning Trader Joes, did I ever mention that I literally google-mapped the distances from TJs to each house while we were house hunting? I love it that much. That was a deciding factor. In case you're interested, we purchased a house exactly 2.6 miles from the nearest TJs. Hey, I have my priorities.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sanity Update

To be honest, the last few days have been really hard. Saturday I had the biggest breakdown since Andrew was born. You just never know the grief train is coming until wham-- it hits you like a brick.

I spent probably a good 3 hours just sobbing on Saturday and my husband was there to witness it all. I looked at pictures of Andrew (I've only done this about 3-4 times since he died) and it made me feel better. I don't know why his pictures don't make me cry. Maybe it's just comforting to see his beautiful face even if I can't touch it. In a way it gives me proof that my grief is purposeful and I deserve to feel like a mom missing her child. We haven't received the photos from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep {professional photos taken by a non profit in the hospital for families of deceased babies/infants} and that makes me a little sad. I guess there is no real purpose of urgency when supplying photos of him, but I want them. I wish someone would call me or send them. I feel strange chasing down pictures of my dead child. And, I don't really even know who I'd call.

I'm really looking forward to our cruise on Friday. I desperately need to get out of the cold. It's not because I dislike the cold, but because I need a new season. I don't want to live in the same season (still winter) I lost my son and feel the same bitter chill I've had the past few months in missing him. I desperately need the newness of spring. I need a change of scenery and time to spend with my husband outside of our house.

On a happier note, Zumba classes start tonight at our local YMCA! I'm pretty excited because I'm taking the class over the next 6 weeks with some of my girlfriends. It's all about being silly and sweating it out. I'm also pretty proud of myself-- I'm down within 1 pound of my pre-pregnancy weight and fitting into more of my clothes. Some of my clothes are lost forever (that's okay), but at least I'm starting to feel better about my body. I've been eating oatmeal every morning, a lean lunch & dinner, and very few sweets/fatty snacks. It's a good feeling.

Hopefully I'll get out of this slump...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Membership Revoked

That's honestly what I feel like on most days. I sat at a baby shower for a friend last weekend (I know, super brave... did not happen without self pep-talks, my supportive friend Liz, and plenty of crying later and with every ounce of my being holding back emotion) and had so many thoughts rushing in my head:
  • I'm no longer relate-able with moms. I'm back to square one. No babies, not even pregnant.
  • As she opened presents, other moms in the room said, "{baby item} is so great. You're going to use it so much when the baby comes." No, no I didn't use any of it when my baby came. Not even a diaper.
  • Somehow I went from an expectant mother with full rights, privileges and similar interests to completely kicked out of the club with no warning. 
  • All that baby magazine/book reading, internet researching for safe products, are all null and void of purpose.
  • Instead of the mom club, I joined the dead baby club. With a massive pay cut.
  • I have no expertise to offer on baby products, services, or caregiving.
  • I have a bunch of unused baby products locked away in a room collecting dust.
  • I just got behind in the race. Okay, I know it's not a race (except against me and my biological clock), but if you didn't lose a baby, you plain just don't understand. Jealousy is there. It's there because I should be at the same point in "line" as my friends who have a child. I should have my own. I shouldn't be concerned about having another baby so soon after giving birth and all the agony that goes with that (Yes, agony. Pregnancy is no longer blissful.). I feel like I lost the race. Not only lost, but was disqualified.
  • I gave birth in the same year as my best friend but there's no lasting proof of my efforts. Our sons will never be friends like we hoped. No proof except for that stupid linea negra that is still adorning my abdomen. And someday that will be gone too.
  • I have no idea what it's like to strap my child into a carseat.
  • I have no idea which breastpump works better or even how to use one.
  • When she received the same car mirror I had purchased for Andrew, I wondered what it would've felt like to look in my rear view mirror and see my child sleeping (or even better, looking at me!) through their own mirror. That must feel so amazing.
While I was in the teacher's lounge yesterday sitting across from a very pregnant woman, I thought to myself how she'll be a mom before me. She'll get to experience all those firsts I never got to experience before me and I used to be so much further ahead. Then conversation started as it always does, but this time I was just a bystander:

teacher #1: {hands cookies to pregnant woman. Tries to get her attention.} Hey Mama.
teacher #2: She isn't used to hearing that since she's never been called Mama before {says her name}.
pregnant woman: Huh? Oh, no thanks.
teacher #2: You've never been called Mama before, I was just telling her {points to teacher #1}.
pregnant woman: No, not yet! {smiling ear-to-ear with hopeful anticipation}

Add hearing "mama" to one more thing that I'll never get to experience (with Andrew) and something I'll have to wait a lot longer to hear (from any child) than all those friends who I was pregnant with in 2010. You know, all 10 of them I know who gave birth in that month alone... that very cold, very harsh, very sad December 2010.

Back to the starting line hoping I get my chance next year and my membership isn't revoked anymore.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pretend Happiness

I've read similar thoughts all over the internet.

Act like you're happy and it will happen.
Fake it until you make it.

That's exactly what we're trying over here at the Wilson residence. While it's a hair easier than it was December 5, 6, 7, 8th... it's still the pits. It's still the pits that we're sad and will always be jaded by something that is supposed to be so natural and beautiful. We both admit that although we're smiling at others, laughing, and engaging like somewhat normal beings post tragedy, we're still broken inside. Our glasses are half empty. Some days I feel like they're pretty close to empty actually.

This isn't something a simple bandaid can fix or even another child can mend. We lost some of ourselves, our identities and what we perceived life to be about {joy, love, experience} on that very cold December day.

We lost the innocence that new parents have.
We lost the pureness of what would have been.
We lost the freshness of morning {as we'll always have a small dark cloud in our sky}.
We lost the beauty of childbirth {now riddled with guilt, concern, and trepidation}
We lost the newness {we've already experienced our first childbirth and it was tragic, disturbing, devastating}.
We lost our firstborn son.

But still we carry on. Smiling as though we aren't cautiously walking with one foot in front of the other, nervous of the hole we might fall in if we aren't careful. Laughing as though we're carefree. Carrying forward because there is simply no other option.

I'm smiling for a few reasons:
  • I'm tired of others looking at me with those grief eyes. I hate them (the eyes, not the people).
  • I know that if I do, my outlook will change, at least for brief moments.
  • I'll attract happiness. Those who frown, complain, become frustrated tend to attract that behavior in others. I don't need another reason to frown and I don't need help feeling sad.
  • The psychological fakeout. I believe I read somewhere about how smiling signals your brain to be happy. Fake or not, it's worth a shot.
We understand just as I posted here that though we have been dealt something unbearable, we must make the decision of how to handle the circumstances. Only the strong will survive and the meek will fail. For all that is whole and sane, and in honor of Andrew, we are pretending happiness.

Why isn't "pretending" quite like what it was as a child? Playing "house" or "school" seemed without hurt or suffering. No one died when you pretended to be a mom. Babies didn't die before they were born or die before reaching adulthood. Shoot. While playing house, no one ever died.

Though we're able to find some goodness in life, I'm not sure I totally believe my once favorite clothing line motto, "Life is Good"-- because sometimes it's just not. Perhaps I can scratch out my hat and pieces of clothing into "Life is Sometimes Good" instead of wearing a lie. And to be honest, my days have been better, but I don't know about good. As good as I'd be if my son were here, impossible. They will never be 100% good again. I'm hoping to increase the percentages as we carry forward, but it's been really tough to hit a passing score. Sometimes we just have to pretend.

And spoken from our favorite elephant from Horton Hears a Who, "A person's a person, no matter how small." {taken from a fellow BLM blog}

That little person I think of everyday and fake it just to make it is our little Andrew. No matter how small or how long he lived, he still holds a special place in our hearts.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fondness vs. Sadness

I spent my day in kindergarten knowing full well that there was a little boy named Andrew in that class. He's quite fair skinned (just like our Andrew), too. I knew that I'd be asking him to complete things, etc. That meant I actually had to speak my son's name and hear it come out of my mouth. That's the downfall of selecting a common boy name.

So... I spent the morning saying the name Andrew out loud and having that Andrew react, hear, look, and respond.

= sadness.

In the afternoon class, there's a happy little girl who saw me and immediately said, "Hey, I saw you before. You used to have a fat belly."

Those were such hopeful times and I loved having my fat baby Andrew belly.

= fondness.

I can't wait to experience that same fondness again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's Time to Cut the Crap.

I'm talking about my consumption habits of course.

There are a few goals I'm making as of March 1.

Why not today? Well... because we're going on a cruise before then, so I surely couldn't eliminate the possibility of eating a whole lotta crap on that trip... so March 1 it is.

The reasons for my purge:
  • I had a baby. I'm sad he isn't here. It's a distraction and control thing. Change is needed.
  • My body looks like I had a baby. 
  • I eat too much crap without thinking about what goes into my body.
  • We want to try for baby #2 soon and don't want my poor eating habits to affect that process.
  • I don't feel good about myself when I eat/drink crap. 
  • I feel my best when eating foods that are good for me.
  • I am not pleased with how my pants are fitting post pregnancy.
Here's what I'm committing to for at least three solid months {March 1 - June 1}:

1. No soda. I hate drinking my calories. I used to be a Diet Coke addict, but gave up before Andrew was conceived and haven't looked back since. I imagine I've consumed enough aspartame and phenylalanine at this point in my life. I sure do miss a good fountain DC with those little crunchy ice balls, though.
2. No elective sugar/sweets. Naturally occurring in foods/fruits = fine. No cookies, cakes, brownies, dessert. That means no chocolate. I should really be committing to cutting fried things and crackers/chips also, but baby steps people. Maybe that will be the following 3 months.
3. No alcohol. I don't really want it anyway like I thought I did when I was pregnant with Andrew. It's a bunch of unnecessary calories and a depressive. As if I need another reason to be sad.
4. Exercise. I make no major commitments on the frequency of this, but I did just sign up for a Zumba class with my girlfriends! Once it is a consistent 40 degrees outside, I may step it up to walking everyday + adding wii Zumba and real Zumba classes to the regiment. While I'd love to take up running again, I'm nervous how that will affect future pregnancies should I become pregnant in the next 3 months. I ran up until week 27 with Andrew and he's not here now. Of course I doubt that my running habits had anything to do with his demise, but I see my next chance being different in many ways. The things I control (like running... or not running) are included in these changes.

This is not a forever change because I don't believe in stripping myself from ice cream and chocolate for eternity. I've learned all too well that life is too short to cut out all the indulgences. I just want to spend a few months somewhat cleansing my body from processed junk and excess sugar. And... I'll be just in time for ice cream and fair weather in June.

But first, cruise to the Bahamas! Twelve days from today... can't wait!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bravery Is...

{for a bereaved mom}

... getting out of bed every morning without crying

... putting on mascara {not the waterproof kind either} and embracing the day

... checking facebook even though she's sure to find pictures of infants, uterus', and random updates about how happy {or even worse, unhappy} their friends/acquaintances are in pregnancy

... going to baby showers and congratulating friends on their new babies

... checking the mail despite the heavy amounts of baby paraphernalia

... checking email with the likelihood of developmental update ones where "your baby" is at this point in their life.

... going to Target and walking past the baby aisles

... looking in the mirror to see that "mom body" she longed for but now loathes as a reminder of what she is missing

... watching television and seeing the tunnel vision of babies everywhere you look

... going to church and praising God in the greatest storm of your life

... going to Costco on the weekend. Is it me, or is every single family and child in that place on Sat./Sun.?

... becoming pregnant again {no, not me} with all the anxiety that comes with subsequent pregnancies after a loss

... walking into the OB/GYN and not hyperventilating upon seeing all the pregnant women and infants

...standing up to those jerks people who attempt to "console" you by offering reasons why your baby had to die. Medical or not, they aren't ever helpful.
... laughing, smiling, and seeing the beautiful sunshine that is new every morning despite our struggles and sadness

... explaining to a stranger that your child has passed and for once not making the effort to console them

{these obviously aren't all true of me... but I find these acts to be courageous}

Can you think of any I missed, BLMs?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Without a Cause

I got a call back from my doctor last night at 6:30 all to tell me that the results received from the Mayo Clinic from the autopsy {makes me sick typing this} on our sweet boy were completely normal. There is simply no answer for why he passed away. No chromosomal defects or abnormalities (occurs in about 20% of stillbirths). No disease/sickness/virus/illness/clotting. No birth defects.

While I was hospitalized during labor, before, and after Andrew's birth, I had blood drawn by what felt like the gallon. They needed it to test for all the issues that may have complicated things. My biggest concern was blood clots as I mentioned in my former post. Since I was pregnant when they extracted the blood and still had the pregnancy hormones within my body, the tests weren't expected to be completely accurate... but the big red flags would tell if something very serious was wrong and needed to be attended to for my own health.

The first batch of blood test results came back and all were normal except two parts: antithrombin III and protein s. These blood clotting disorders are extremely rare and unlikely considering the others I did not have that were more common. My doctor explained that since I tested negative for certain other ones, having a deficiency or excess would contradict those results-- so they weren't expecting me to come back positive from the second batch of testing anyway. It was all done as a precautionary and rule-out method.

I received my bloodwork back from my second batch of testing and I am clear of all blood clotting disorders. I'm relieved. That means not only great things for our future children (complications + passing on that gene), but it means I don't have to take/inject a blood thinner for the rest of my life to preserve my own health. Sometimes the presence of a blood clot around/near/in a baby is what saves the lives of the mother with such disorders by making them aware-- but we don't have that concern. Our Andrew lost his life for no known cause at all. The truth is, a large number of stillbirths have no known cause. That's us.

As long as we've done everything we could to assure our next attempt at children will not be catastrophic by our negligence or lack of testing, we're pleased. Sometimes this just happens {sadly 1 in every 160 babies}... and we have to accept that we had something horrible happen without answers. But before we carry forward, we needed to know that there were no preventative measures we were neglecting.

Will we be a complete mental and emotional wreck for subsequent pregnancies, of course. Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hi. We're the Wilsons and We're FUN.

This is just a post of fun.We have fun. We are capable and willing to enjoy life. We must move forward. {a little mantra I must tell myself on bad days}

Last month I got together with some girlfriends for wine tasting at a local wine shop. I had been there before with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law and it was a lot of fun going back.

Standing with my friend Liz and random butler statue.
With Kristi...
In the back of Liz's car leaving the wine bar. I was basically butt-to-the-window and we were all completely illegal... for a whole... 2 blocks. Then Alli (next to me) and I got out of the car. She went into her house, I hopped in my car.
We bought a groupon (seriously, who isn't grouponing? It's amazzzzing!) for a local ski hill and decided to check it out. What you're looking at is the entire ski hill area. That's 2 "runs", one "bunny", and an expert/trick run. Despite it being super chill, I still managed to fall. Twice. I was able to make it up the hill about 12 times before my arms no longer could function.
The tow rope. There's no J bar, so it's more like a hold-on-for-dear-life rope all the way to the top. That was by far the most challenging thing about the day.

That's one good looking husband right there.
The ski hill sign. It's exactly 2.4 miles from our front door. No joke.
After we were exhausted from holding that tow rope and basically gave up trying, we headed to Costco for a sweet sled and then found ourselves a sled hill in our town as well... about 1 mile farther than the ski hill. It had a more intense slope as well! Let's just say we wouldn't let a child under the age of 10 down this hill... it was that intense!
Here's Ray about to descend on the hill of death. For a trained eye, you might be able to make out the inappropriateness that is written on the frozen lake in the top right background of this photo. Classy folks, I tell ya.
That's Ray in the center. It may not look scary, but we both admit it was pretty terrifying!
So there you have it. Proof we are actually out enjoying life. I can only see the excitement growing from here.

One more groupon plug before ending. If you aren't, you really should. Here is a breakdown of deals we've scored on groupon in the last few months alone. I'm sure there are more, but I can't remember them all:
  • $10 for $20 worth of Geno's East Pizza
  • $15 for $35 worth of Mexican food at a local joint
  • $55 for 30 minutes of Whirlyball (that's half off! We paid full price in the summer before grouponing)
  • $15 for $30 of food at Stir Crazy Mongolian BBQ
  • $10 for $20 of merchandise at (same as = awesome website!)
  • $25 for $50 at Nordstrom Rack
  • $20 for $40 at The Body Shop
  • $25 for $50 at The Gap (best one yet because we could use it on sale items!)
  • $3 for hot dog, fries, and drink at a Chicago hot dog place (obviously my husband took part, not me)
  • $30 for Bon Jovi/Kid Rock tickets at Soldier Field (we bought two and saw them last summer!)
  • $20 for lift tickets (haha. or tow rope tickets) + ski rentals at Four Lakes 
So seriously people, if you aren't grouponing... you're missing out!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Middle School Hodgepodge

I love middle school. It's a wonder to me why I never thought to teach it before. Subbing frequently in the same middle school has opened my eyes to a whole world of kids that I just love being around. Maybe it's their awkwardness. I don't know... but I adore them.

Today was the first day back to the middle school.

Aside from having no lesson plans, the day went well. I started out at the elementary school and drove a few blocks to the middle school at lunch. This particular teacher splits her days between each school. I was familiar with her position and students she had in her classroom.

I started out with lunch duty. Basically, watch all the eighth graders cut in line and pretend like you don't see them doing it. Proceed to send them to the back of the line and make sure they aren't throwing food. Pretty basic. A bunch of those eighth graders knew me. I heard one kid say, "You had your baby" but I ignored and didn't make eye contact. A boy tells me he remembers me because I'm the one who issued him a detention. Really? Gosh, can't remember. Then another group of girls. This time, more awkward.

girl: Did you have your baby?
me: Yep.
girl: What was his name again?
me: Andrew.
girl: Oh yeah, that's right. I remember that day in science when you wouldn't tell us as we tried really hard to guess....

No need to insert the "but he's dead" in there.

I managed to get through one class without anyone asking and then 8th period came. New group of kids:

girl: Oh, you had your baby! Did you bring pictures? I want to see them!
boy: Oh yeah. That's right. You were going to have a baby.
me: Yeah, but I don't have pictures to show you.
girl: Why not?
me: My baby was sick.
girl: Well, is he getting better?
boy: Is he getting better? Is he going to live?
me: Well, no.
boy: So he's going to die?
me: He already died.
girl: That happened to my cousin. Her baby died too.
boy: When did he die?
me: He was not born alive.
boy: He died inside of you?
girl: Oh, so you had a miscarriage?
me: Well, no---
girl: Let's stop talking about this. It's probably making you sad. I'm sorry.
me: Bad things happen and I'm really sad he died, too. But we have to move forward. Good things will happen again even though I am sad about this. {...hands out sheet on area/perimeter and proceeds to teach}

Love that girl. I was actually pretty comfortable talking about him with them.

Around 2 p.m., the students had an assembly done by this woman. I am still not sure what to make of her personally, but the advice she gave to students about bullying was pretty great. Her stories seemed a bit over the top, but I hope it impacted some kids and gave them a voice. Even if she exaggerated her story a bit like this blogger suggests, I hope it hit home to some students that they don't deserve to be treated poorly by anyone.

The reason I mention... during her talk she asked the entire audience to close their eyes and to "think back to the worst day of your life." Well, then she went on to talk about bullying and the time you were bullied being the worst day of your life. All I needed to hear was "worst day of your life" and my mind was off on its own journey. Of course we all know where my mind went-- straight back to that triage room in the hospital on December 5. The time where my doctor told me she was sorry and my son did not have a heartbeat. I had to hold the tears in but managed to divert my attention to a time when I was bullied after a brief "going there" moment.

I have three distinct memories from my childhood of bullying. Ironically, they all happened when I was in elementary/middle school-- not high school.

Memory 1: being forcefully dunked underwater at Monsoon Lagoon-- a small water park that is no longer open in Redondo Beach, CA. One of the adult supervisors was the one dunking me! Little did he know how that affected me emotionally. To this day I still have a fear of water.

Memory 2: sitting in Mrs. Goldstein's 6th grade social studies classroom and hearing the voices of my classmates after finding out I just started my period (tmi, sorry) yell... "Brandy, what period is it?", "What period is after social studies, Brandy?" I was mortified. I felt so embarrassed that my body was turning into a woman's body. I'm so thankful for that gift now... because that is what allows me the opportunity to bear children, God willing.

Memory 3: standing on the playground with my two "friends" Angeline and Sara in 6th grade-- both wore makeup at this point and I did not. They made fun of me for not wearing mascara. It doesn't sound all that traumatic now... not sure why I was even hurt by that. It does go to show that to children, no matter how big or small we think the issue is, it might matter a whole lot to them. We should never discount their feelings.

So, there you have it. My hodgepodge. Quite the writeup of randomness, but it's what was streaming through my brain today.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Present Day Prophet

Do you believe in prophecy?

I cannot say whether or not I do. Though I have a relationship with God and know that prophecy is meant to be a "gift" to some, I simply have a hard time believing it. Aside from the Bible, I've never seen/heard of a prophecy "coming true", but I also don't know of much being prophesied. 

Recently my mom encountered a prophet (while she was walking her dog) who spoke information to her of the future. One of my friends also had a complete stranger (just as my mom did) confront her on an airplane once about something that is meant to happen to her daughter in the future. Another friend was approached by her friend who dreamt something (true) of her, though no one had any idea.

I just find such experiences bizarre. Not in a negative way, but the whole idea just perplexes me. I've never had anyone approach me with any information about my life, history, or future, so it makes it even more convoluted to me. Maybe I'm too skeptical. 

Have you ever experienced an interaction with a prophet? 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Life is What You Make of It

I don't believe a whole lot of those cliche terms, but I believe this one. Our lives are based on a string of events {good & bad} that occur and we can choose how to handle such situations. I also believe that life is based on experiences and those paired with relationships are the only two things my life is based on having. Relationships and experiences with others, including my Creator.

Today marks 2 months since Andrew's birth. December 5, 2010. January 5, 2011. February 5, 2011.

I have been telling myself the last few weeks that although we are sad, we have a future. I can choose to allow my sadness to overcome me everyday and never see the sun when it shines, or I can allow it to take me for just moments and enjoy the sunshine. I will allow myself to be "taken" for moments as I believe this is good for my grieving process and the chance to remember my son. It's a fine line from where we are now. Some days it's easy to say that I'm getting by and seeing the beauty each day brings. And some days I let my mind "go there" rather than live to the fullest. My son never escapes my mind. He'll always be with me in spirit, but I know that my life here is not over because we had to say goodbye. I know my life was enriched by him-- I was allowed to experience the miracle of life, praise God in his wonder, and love so deeply it hurts. I need to see the positive in those experiences rather than get hung up on logistics of his death and my sadness of that.

I've taken a new turn, I think, because my mind is focusing more on the future of children than the "why me?" I've sort of felt these last two months. We are talking about children and our minds are preparing for the possibility of becoming pregnant again. I think that's an important and healthy step in moving forward and although I'm obviously scared about complications in our second pregnancy, I must take the risk in order to have a chance at the amazing reward it will be to raise children.

This is a bit personal... but it's my blog and I hope all those who do read understand that my stream of thoughts are sometimes difficult to manage. Last night Ray played volleyball with friends at a city league tournament and I came as a spectator (as I did through my pregnancy). He played weekly until December 3rd when he decided to stop due to the upcoming birth of Andrew. We didn't know that two days later he would arrive. Well, Ray played again last night and it was a bit challenging for me. I was back to where we started just a couple days before Andrew was born, nearly 10 months pregnant. It made me sad. I wanted to feel pregnant again at that moment.

After, we headed out with our friends to a sports bar where I ordered a beer. It's still uncomfortable ordering alcohol. I just feel like I shouldn't {because of the baby} but I know there is no baby and I can do whatever I want. To add insult to injury, the waitress was pregnant-- I'd target her at about 7 months. Now, I'm not jealous of all pregnant women, it was just my feeling last night as I was reliving the experience of December 3rd and thinking back to what that day meant to me-- being pregnant, volleyball, friends afterward. It was a bit of a groundhog day moment that had a different ending-- an ending I didn't like because Andrew wasn't there with me. When the waitress brought me the beer {I didn't really want but ordered anyway}, her belly rubbed against my shoulder as she set it down on the table. I know that sounds creepy and random, but it was strange. It was the first pregnant belly I physically touched since Andrew was born and I felt really uncomfortable. Of course it wasn't elective touching by any means. On some days I actually crave pregnancy. Because Andrew was alive and thriving during most of my pregnancy, I felt my most beautiful and happy during those times.

Anyhow, all that to say... I am making due with my life right now and trying to find the good in each day. Some moments (like the one above) overtake me. I'm trying to redirect and not allow those moments to become whole days. I am blessed beyond belief with a wonderful family, husband, and friends. I know there is a future in sight that involves children. I just hope my anxiety and impatience won't hinder me from seeing the joy each day brings. I want this time to be an Awakening rather than the Dark Ages. I know that just as I am my worst critic and enemy, I'm hoping I'll also allow myself to also choose life and happiness {at least on most days}.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Snowpocalypse. Snowmageddon. Blizzard of 2011. Whatever you want to call it, Chicagoland is going crazy over this storm. It's rare that Chicago gets this much snow. Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan are the areas usually tanked by snow. Chicago, not so much. Except for this year.

Schools have been closed for 2-3 days and that's the first time Chicago public schools have experienced a snow day in 12 years! You would think the world was ending (hence the Armageddon reference) because the news has covered only one thing in the past 3 days. It's not only news but it's "breaking news" even though there hasn't been a single snowflake in well over 24 hours at this point. I'm sure everyone has seen the news and saw all the buried cars on Lakeshore Drive in downtown Chicago. I say... Why on Earth would you be driving on Lakeshore Drive (there are alternate routes) when we all knew this storm was coming?

We experienced snow like this in Germany last year, so it's not my first experience... but it is my first experience with a reaaaally long driveway and pathway to the front door! That equals lots of shoveling. While all the kids were out of school and just about everyone was off work, Ray shoveled himself out of our driveway and drove to work in record time-- even arriving 10 minutes early! Not a single person was there. At all. That's completely unheard of for a company that runs 3 shifts. I will admit that it was fun seeing all the kids playing outside in the snow on their first snowday ever and watching our neighbors dig through their driveways for 3+ hours yesterday. I watched people cross country ski down our street and walk snowblowers and shovels up and down our street to help out neighbors. Like I said, pretty rare ocurrance around these parts. We get snow, but it's a few inches here and there... and then it just sits there for months because it's so darn cold here and never has a chance to melt.

It starts... photo taken around 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.
That's my husband-- all geared up in snow pants, jacket, goggles, gloves, turtle fur, and a hat!
Spying on our neighbor just as he began the big digout.
Sometimes... we're not smart. Why didn't we notice before the crazy blizzard that we had a package at our front door? We never enter our front door because we have an attached garage... so this usually slips our mind. It's never a problem until we have a crazy storm like this! I had the lovely opportunity of scraping ice off the interior of our glass door. Bummer.
That would be our package. In case you're interested... it's this.

Just about done with the digout.
 You know, just our mailbox.
And for kicks... a fun photo of my husband getting his Zumba on. He reads this, but not often. He'll probably notice in say... 2 days. Haha. :)  See that terrible popcorn ceiling and wallpaper? That's our next project to tackle. We had the "popcorn" tested for asbestos and it has none! When everything seems to be working against us lately, at least we don't have to deal with that potential safety hazard. Now that we have the results, we can pay someone attempt to scrape and strip the room down. Which reminds me that I still haven't posted photos of our laundry room. Partly because we won't be putting on a new door until the spring and partly because we still have a whiteboard to buy/hang that will complete the room. Until then, it's still "under construction" but on a temporary hiatus.

On the Email Offense

In my inbox today: "You and Your Baby -- Month 2" from Gerber. How nice of them.

Here's what I do to get rid of them (instead of sending them to the junk mail or deleting them... they're likely to return):

1. Open the email.
2. Scroll down to the bottom of it.
3. Click unsubscribe.
4. When they ask for an explanation and provide a comments section, write something like this: "Because I don't have a 2-month old child. My child died. I find these emails hurtful and offensive. Please take me off your list immediately."

There. That should do the trick. They never thought about that, did they? What if the baby doesn't make it and moms and dads are left with their painful emails?

I never even subscribed to their emails... but lucky for all us BLMs, they managed to buy our information from someone else in the baby industry.

As for the rest of my day (since I just had breakfast and read emails), I'm going to shovel my way out of our front door which is covered in 2 feet of snow. Our entire front yard is level with 2 feet of snow and you can't even tell we have a front porch! I'm wearing my snow gear because I just checked the temps and it's -11 outside (not including wind chill!). After I plan to Zumba, do some laundry/clean, and watch the Bachelor from Monday night. Sounds like a good day to me! :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Okay

Actually, no it's not okay. It's not okay that babies die.

I was talking on the phone with someone who was apologizing for our situation ("Oh, I'm so sorry...") and I replied, "It's okay." But I didn't really mean it. Because honestly, it's not okay. It is okay that she is being sweet and showing concern and love through her words, however. She understood it wasn't okay either and replied back, "Well, no it's not and you don't have to tell me you are okay." Thank goodness for that woman.

When people ask me how I am doing, I always reply with a deliberate, "I'm alright." And I never ask them how they are doing in reply. I'm pretty sure the answer will be, "A lot better than you", although no one would ever be cruel enough to speak those words. 

And you know what else I'm not okay with? Dead baby bills.

I know it's our job as health patients to pay for our healthcare. I'm no socialist. I understand the need to pay for services rendered. But gosh... can it be more painful to look at dates from hospital bills, pathology reports, etc.?


I get it. My baby died on 12/05/2010. And I get it that because he died, I have to stare at bloodwork bills no one else who has a successful living baby has to pay or endure. I don't get why the doctors or insurance can't come to an agreement of how much these pathology reports are worth, so therefore lay the burden on the patient and try to shiest the money out of us vulnerable people instead-- only to find out they are liable for their share no matter the cost doctors place on the medical care. Of course they are just seeing if we'll pay it first before they are willing to pay their share. Great. Try and pull one past the poor bereaved couple who had to endure countless ultrasounds, full labor/childbirth, stitches, ridiculous amounts of blood drawn, and oh yeah... a dead baby as the reward for all the bills. I don't understand why blood thinners I might be taking in the future have to cost so dang much or why my friends going through IVF (as though that's not painful enough!) have to pay ridiculous amounts just to be able to bring a blessing into the world. I do understand, however, that life's great rewards {i.e. babies} don't come without taking risks and those are well worth taking in my opinion. I just wish insurance companies and doctors were more understanding about the process and wouldn't try to be so deceptive about ways to get their money at the expense of those they serve. Have a freaking heart.

Changing gears...

I've read two books in the last {nearly} two months since Andrew left us: Tear Soup and When Bad Things Happen to Good People. While I have a pile of books to read which I may never get to {since I don't want to}, these are the ones I chose based on their broader tones. They aren't dead baby books.

Tear Soup is a 10-15 minute read and it's incredible. It's about grief of all kinds and is not specific to any one feeling. Both Ray and I loved it and recommend it to anyone who has/will endure any type of struggle or loss.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a recent read and it deals a lot with God's role in the whole suffering process is. Many people blame God after a loss because there is just no one else to point the finger at. I have already admitted to struggling with my connection to Him lately. I guess it's hard to worship and be thankful when you feel all of your hopes and dreams of your future have halted. Anyhow, the book is not about death or anything in particular. It's about "bad things" as the title states and is written by a Rabbi. I appreciate his points of view that shut out all those stupid comments I've heard from others about God's role in my suffering.

On another note, I'm feeling more positive today lately---though you probably wouldn't have guessed that's where I was going considering the ranting above. Lucky for me, I have plenty of excuses for my rants and behavior and I don't have to make sense. Maybe it's the fresh snow that has just dropped from our crazy Chicago blizzard piled 2 feet high on our deck that's making me feel upbeat. Maybe it's because I'm back to subbing again and actually enjoying being around kids (without having breakdowns). Maybe it's because we bought Zumba for the wii or finally reached world 3 in Super Mario Bros. Maybe it's because my body is finally feeling like it is mine again (aside from the extra lbs that although I am trying to lose by healthy eating + Zumba, is still there and making me want to throw away all my clothes). Maybe it's because I cooked 2 new meals recently (homemade BBQ chicken pizza, Chicken Tortilla Soup) and felt great about the results. Maybe it's realizing again and again that I have such a loyal, compassionate, and loving husband. Or maybe it's because it's February and we're drawing closer to our Bahamas cruise and March surprise trip!

Whatever it is... I'm thankful. I know five minutes from now tomorrow could bring sadness and I'm allowed to feel grief, but I'm thankful for pockets of happiness in my days that get me through the mud I'm walking in.