Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

This is where we spent our Memorial Day... at the "beach" in Chicago.
 Oh, and we also saw these people.
You're welcome. 

Haven't forgotten about those who lost their lives in serving our country. God bless those families who lost a fallen hero. We understand the pain of losing a loved one. We hung our flag today proudly in their honor.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's a Love Story, Baby Just Say Yes.

I'm talking about us. The husband and I. We have officially been dating/together for 5 whole years. I know most of you out there in internet-land probably think that's chump change.

But unfortunately, I didn't meet prince charming right away and we didn't go to high school or college together. Our story is pretty entertaining, however. I shall tell it.

There once was a naive boy and sassy girl who were dating separate people. We both attended the same small group (though small being about 100 peeps) at a church in the area. It's a Baptist church. Neither of us claim to be Baptists.

Back it up even further. I lived in this apartment complex, Peppertree, about 5 blocks from the water in Hermosa Beach, Cali. I'd consider it equivalent to Melrose Place. It was standard to leave your door wide open if you were home and weren't sleeping... and sometimes if you were sleeping but taking a nap. I had a Scottish roommate who (is still) a rocket scientist.

Here she is and that is me dressed as Joe Dirt. It was Halloween. I'm not a regular cross-dresser.
I often walked through the complex to get to the pool or head west to the beach. A guy saw me walking one Sunday afternoon in the complex and asked if I wanted to visit this church group with him. I said I'd check it out the following Sunday with him. And so we did.

I continued going and he ended up moving. I met some incredible people at this group. One is still a really good friend of ours and stood in our wedding.

This girl, Jen.

I met another aerospace engineer and we started dating. (In this part of LA, you're likely in aerospace or in the Air Force). We dated for awhile but knew things would end eventually as he was moving to France for grad school.

At the same time but unbeknownst to me, Ray began dating some other girl in our group who I had been casual friends with. Ray and I had not met yet, but my boyfriend at the time often brought him up in conversation. He liked Ray. We were both dating two conservative Baptists. Ray's girlfriend was more conservative than my boyfriend, but nonetheless, divisions were evident. Here's where it all starts to get interesting.

Said boyfriend and I walk into Fatburger for some lunch one day. They make a mean grilled cheese in case you wanted to question my interest to eat at a burger joint. As we walked in, I was introduced to Ray by my current boyfriend.

I thought he was kind of a jerk. He seemed arrogant. Cute. Pompous. Attractive.

After he asked me a few questions about myself (in front of my boyfriend), I asked him what on earth he was wearing on his feet. These:
To which he replied, "They're my birth control shoes. I wear them to keep the girls away."

Okay, so the jerk was pretty funny, too. And he had some nerve saying that to a girl who goes to a Baptist church.

Fast forward to a March Madness game at a friend's house. Many people were invited but only four showed up. The host, our mutual friend Jen, Ray, and myself. That was it. We ended up flirting quite a bit, but I knew he was taken. He was still dating that girl and I was sort of still dating that guy. I definitely had interest at this point. I still remember how nervous I was around him.

After the basketball game, the four of us called more people and headed to a bar in Manhattan Beach, Patti O's. I sang Bon Jovi on stage and drank too much. We danced a lot as a group and his girlfriend showed up. Major buzzkill.

Shortly after, I sent a very important email to my friend Jen about Ray. I wanted to have a reason to get in touch with him beyond face-to-face. I asked her to ask him about this recipe he made for sweet corn cakes. Lame, I know. But it worked! {and what's really funny is that he doesn't even cook! He made that from a package and has yet to make anything happen in the kitchen ever since.) She forwarded the email and from then on, email "game" continued. We wrote back and forth a few times/week and sometimes a few per day. He went on business trips (while in the Air Force) and would continue to write. My relationship with the boyfriend fizzled. His relationship with the girlfriend was going no where. It was on the verge of ending.

Out of interest to see him, I helped volunteer at a party he and Jen were throwing for their Young Life students. They worked with inner-city high school youth in LA and were throwing an 80's party. I bought Ray a pair of 80's Hammer pants to wear for the event. I searched high and low for those pants.

Those pants.
They were expensive and my frugal self didn't care. I offered to come over and help with the party in an effort to spend more time with him. I told my friend Jen that I had a crush on him but that he was obviously already taken... and she said to me, "Brandy, you really never know. Anything's possible."

We all headed back to Ray's house that night after stopping off for some mojito mixers (dressed in 80's gear) and drank the night away. Somewhere mixed in there we all decided that taking a dip in the ocean at midnight and after quite a few minty, adult beverages, was a good idea. Ray threw me in the water... probably not so smart now that he knows I'm a terrible swimmer. Add that to the amounts of rum I consumed, and it makes for a bad situation. Luckily no one was hurt in this experiment.

Le hair crimp. I wrote about that here, too.
 Post freeeezing Pacific Ocean adventure.
He let me borrow a pair of his sweat pants to take home after our shenanigans. And I wore them everysingleday until I had to return them-- but no problem to me... just another reason to see him!

These sweatpants.

Back to the emails and business trips. I was teaching, he was traveling. I showed up to events and he was often there with girlfriend. I was teaching by day and working at a restaurant by night. One evening I finished work and ran back to my car-- but since the restaurant was located ON the water, I had to park far away. Since it was dark out, I always ran to my car so I would not run the risk of anything bad happening to me. On this particular evening, Ray, girlfriend, and some of her friends were walking by on the pier as I ran by them! Haha. I was quite embarrassed.

Somewhere in the mix I expressed interest. I told him that I was interested. But, he told me that he was currently pursuing someone else-- girlfriend. I was shot down.We call that a FAIL.

 He went to Spain a few weeks later (though emails never ceased) and brought back some Manchego cheese and wine. Manchego is still a favorite of ours. It's delicious and has such fun memories attached. We threw a cheese/wine/crazy pants party since we had recently learned that we both owned linen pants--stupid, but again...whatever it took!

At said party.
We invited a few other people and also went dancing that night at Patti O's again! This time, I lost my credit card before even making it through the door. We walked back to Ray's house (solo) and I had to deal with this credit card situation. Finally, it was all figured out and we headed back to the bar. We (each) secretly didn't mind the detour and I surely didn't mind the card inconvenience as it gave us more time to hang out.

At this point, the girlfriend was out of the picture and the boyfriend was too. We held hands back to his place and I went home. Mother, don't worry. This story is PG. I then received a text message that night when I got home and it read: "You will be mine."  Like I said, arrogant. It followed with a date request for the following night.

The next evening, I was picked up for our first date. In true gentleman style and class, he pulled into the driveway and called me when he was out front. In his defense, I lived on PCH and there was no parking within blocks. I let that one slide. But then, then he told me that he didn't have any reservations or plans for our date. Oh, and he was wearing flip flops. I was wearing heels.He left me the decision as to where we ate. There was some excuse about me living there my whole life and knowing the best places to eat. We ended up at this restaurant:

(Post engagement, we chose the same restaurant to introduce our families at!)

I had a martini and was in better shape. I was on a date with a guy I had been talking to via email for months! After our dinner, I made him take me back to my house to change into flip flops. We then headed to a party that Ray wanted to visit since some of his Air Force friends were throwing it. We showed up and not a soul was there. I think that calls for another one of these:
Plan B, my turn. Again. We headed to a serious dive bar called Pats II.

Big nights at this place. It's one of the biggest holes on earth, but I celebrated my graduation from college there, my best friend met her husband there as we were drinking Coors Lights at the bar one night, and we went there on our first date. My bff and her boyfriend were there. She was wearing a formal dress and I don't remember why. Like to-the-ground, full length, prom-style. In a dive bar. We played darts and awkwardly made conversation in the smoke-filled room.

The night ended but our relationship never did. I'm sad the emails weren't saved. Those were some seriously fantastic emails of banter over the course of 3-4 months!

But that night, on the night of our first date, I wrote this and saved it in a wooden keepsake box.

It was true. It is true. It will forever be true. Because if anything is going to break you, it's going to be something monumental. We've had some of those game changers recently and the boat hasn't even been rocked an inch.

Five years means...
  • dating for 1 glorious year
  • engaged for 13 months
  • married for almost 3 years
  • a rockin' wedding and even better honeymoon
  • a month-long road trip across the US and Canada
  • moving to Germany
  • traveling the world
  • moving to the Midwest
  • buying a home together
  • new jobs
  • becoming pregnant
  • losing our first baby
  • and CELEBRATING all that we have in one another. 
If anything was going to break us, it would've been losing our son. Instead, I love my husband more fiercely and cannot foresee the future without him in every single moment with me.

Tonight, we CELEBRATE. Holding with tradition, we're having dinner at a local Asian-fusion restaurant just like W's China Bistro... if it can't be the real thing, pretend. Since the real thing is a couple thousand miles away, we improvise.

So excited to spend forever with this man.
Lacrosse game at the LA Riptide stadium. Ray played Division 1 Lacrosse for the Air Force Academy. This was my first real experience with the game.
Second date, June 2006.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Randoms

Quite the mixture for the ol' blog today. My husband will be happy I'm not posting something depressing today.

I've been cleaning like a mad woman since we're finally (okay about 98%) finished with our family room. There's something about home renovation that causes you to track millions of white, dusty footprints all-over-the-house-on-all-the-wood-floors! I have mopped at least 5 times. I'm so over it.

The walls were an absolute nightmare. It would've been another month if we decided to do more wall touch-ups, but we threw in the towel. That's a HUGE deal for the Wilsons. We're both manic perfectionists that don't like to complete a job unless it's going to be perfect. However, we also realize that they are just walls. And now they're painted and have some imperfections. Life is still going to carry on.

Photos to come. I'd like all the furniture back in and everything hung which is likely going to be finished completely this weekend.

On to more exciting things. We live across the street from a middle school and since we're creeping up on the end of the school year, the marching band has decided to, well, march up and down our block playing their loud instruments. I can't say I'm that keen on marching bands or loud instruments being paraded down my block every single day. But at the same time, I don't really care either. At least they're blaring their horns at a decent hour. Here are my creeper photos:

 We live on the corner. Today, however, they took the other route along the front of our house.

I saw a headline today that said, "Why Minivans Will Never Go Out of Style" and laughed. Not trying to trash your ride choice (okay, maybe I am), but they have never been in style and I will never own one. I know they're easier. I know you think I'm just saying that since I don't have any living children right now Mr.don'tshakeyourheadatthecomputerscreenbecauseI'mrightandyou'renot. Not sexy. Station wagon, sure. SUV, maybe. But minivan, I think not. Though this video may have sold me:

I still very much am in love with this and use it often. 

 Don't judge me for my current record of 6 days without washing my hair. At least I don't leave it for 6 days and still look like a grease monkey.My husband is one. lucky. man.

Found this gem as I was cleaning out my car today. 

I was pregnant in this photo... maybe 10 weeks? Our church asked for some models for a series called Designer Freedom last spring--you know, back when I was happy. I was sporting some really cute maternity jeans from my bff in Cali since wearing regular jeans during any week in pregnancy is far overrated. Bella band is nonsense. Alison has way better taste in clothes than me, though I did purchase those cute Target sandals all by my lonesome. They have them again this year but they are super cheap looking. These at least have some class. Not sure the brand but there's a small owl on them where the brand is normally printed at the heel.

And there you have it, friends. Friday randoms.

p.s. T-5 days until I will eat this since it's already in my freezer waiting!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What About Your Friends?

Will they stand their ground
Will they let you down again
What about your friends are they gonna be low down
Will they ever be around or will they turn their backs on you

Remember this TLC song?
You may remember it, but I performed it. Ah, the 90's. In 5th grade, the "trio" dressed in overalls with one strap un-done, midrift tops underneath and performed this lovely number. What I wouldn't do for a photo of that about now.

I feel like I need to elaborate more on that last post about words unspoken. While I don't feel it necessary for friends to bring up Andrew, I also love it when they do. And there is a part of real, solid friendships that requires we "deal" with the struggles and misfortunes of our friends. These friendships aren't great in number, but there are likely a handful of these people in all of our lives. We need them because, well...

Friends have a very specific job: they need to listen and not offer suggestions on how to fix us.

Husbands aren't so good at this sort of thing. Parents either. They're all fixers. It drives them crazy that they can't offer suggestions on how to help us because they just really want us to find a better spot.

But really, what about your {few, solid, core} friends?

I know that for me, some of them have just plain let me down. I received cards from most of those solid friends and a lot more acquaintances, but that's about it. Before I sound like I'm contradicting myself from the last post, there are a specific set of friends that should just step in the mud with me us sometimes. I'm not talking about new friends, acquaintances, or general friends. I'm talking about that set of core friends who you've known your entire life or cried and laughed with all through college about everything. They have had been there for you at your breaking points in the past before you knew what a breaking point really was. And now they are missing. It doesn't matter if it's uncomfortable for them to "deal" with supporting you. It's their freaking job. Most of mine are pretty fantastic, but there are a couple who missed the mark. Lucky for them, there's always a new, or general, or even an acquaintance who steps in to carry that burden. I have plenty of those wonderful people in my life. Many I've never even met.

I have a friend who calls me all the time. I rarely answer, but she still calls. She leaves messages just saying that she misses me. That matters. A lot. Even if I am the worst friend on the planet right now. Grief is debilitating and selfish. I'm stuck thinking about my own pit of sadness and can't deal with smalltalk or the stress of worrying about how others are feeling. It's much easier just to talk with women who have been there and understand this crazy sadness. A fellow BLM who I greatly respect wrote about this recently.

Maybe I've just made all my thoughts crazy and convoluted, but I'll try to summarize pretty quickly:
  • Regular friends, work colleagues and acquaintances need not bring up our babies all the time, but they are welcome to do so. We love talking about our babies and feeling as though we carry expertise in this baby department, because we do. But, I don't need constant acknowledgment just for the sake of it. Be natural, feel natural. We can read awkwardness all over you, but appreciate the effort.
  • Those few core friends should be more concerned with how we're handling this baby grief. They should be asking how we're surviving and be on the other line of the phone just to listen. Listen. That's all we need sometimes. And they sort of have an expected requirement to acknowledge we are mothers and that our babies are important. Maybe not everyday and every time we talk, but it's nice every now and again. If it's hard, suck it up. You're a core friend for a reason.
Don't have a clever closing... but since I love that song so much, here's another I recently pulled out of the archives... and to make it even better, it's a clip from All That, you know, when Nickelodeon used to play shows that teenagers actually wanted to watch.:

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    The Pain of Words Unspoken

    My thoroughly engaging and enthralling {current} job gives me a lot of time to, well, read. That, and write emails. Recently I read a book during my planning periods about hope. Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie talks mostly about the book of Job in relation to suffering and how we might see his example as one to follow in our lives. The guy had a perfect life and it was completely ruined. All of his kids died, he developed lesions and basically lost everything. The book was loaned to me by a woman who also lost her daughter and she said it got her through that tough time.

    I tend to write post-it notes while reading something that I want to remember, share, or blog about. One note stuck out most during my reading. The author expressed that they were not hurt by those who spoke the wrong words (i.e. "it was meant to be", "there must have been something wrong with the baby", "my cat died, so I understand a similar sadness"-- yes that was an example from the book. Helllllo ignorance.), but by words that were left unspoken (by others) in the time beyond their daughter's passing. She speaks of her husband at work and being treated as though he did not just encounter trauma in his life through the death of his only daughter. An aside, those words are offensive to me. But we're all different.

    In my personal experience with the loss of our son and the grief that ensued (though I should write ensuing as it is ongoing forevermore), I don't know if I feel the same way. We all handle grief differently. I love that people acknowledge and speak about my son by name-- a child they've never seen and never had a chance to hold or meet. My husband and I alone share that special bond. It makes me proud to be a mother. It makes me feel worthy of my grief. I think it's so important our babies be acknowledged rather than forgotten.

    But in the same breath, I can also say that I am not offended or hurt when someone does not bring up my son in everyday conversation. I am only offended if they pretend like he never existed and I didn't experience something traumatic. Every month there is a 5th. I have some friends who remember and most who do not. I don't think twice about it. I have absolutely no emotion. While it is nice that people remember my son, it is not something I expect people to do every month for the rest of my life-- send me a note about how much they are thinking of me. For the rest of my life, December 5th will always be an important date to us. For quite sometime, every single 5th will likely be poignant. At some point in the lives of parents with living children, they stop counting months of life. They stick with the yearly birthday. I hardly think my parents think about the 10th of every month being that important in the grand scheme of my life. But the 5th, {Andrew being half of me and born on the half of 10. Okay... too much math weirdness.} will always be an Andrew day. But since I cannot count anything other than his death, I count months. I imagine that over a year from now and beyond, I may attach less to every 5th, but stick mostly with his December birthday.

    I prefer that people acknowledge my place as a mother and the fact that I went through the entire pregnancy than send notes every month. I don't mind being asked about my pregnancy when pregnancy topics arise. It was normal. That was not a sad time for me. It was actually glorious and hopeful and amazing. A living child was growing inside of my body! I had ultrasounds and heard heartbeats and purchased baby crap and painted a nursery and prepared just like the rest of the expectant parents out there. I'm not foreign to pregnancy, birthing a baby, or experiencing love for a baby. I belong in the mother category despite having no idea which diapers work best. So don't ask me questions about that because that would buy you a ticket to my wrath.

    Back to the topic of unspoken condolences. People are more than welcome to ask questions about Andrew or how we are feeling, but if I am not speaking about him, I feel no need for others to, either. Doing it out of pity doesn't really matter to me. If you're uncomfortable doing it, don't ask. I don't have some unwritten/unspoken desire or need for people to speak his name for the sake of trying to do what they are supposed to. We love knowing you acknowledge our babies. Because they'll never win an award, get invited to sleepovers, or receive a college diploma. Their names will rarely be printed in this world and thanks to all our loving family and friends, they do have their names printed {in cards, emails, letters}. It is meaningful and wonderful, but not required.

    My understanding of why some people might not speak about our babies and avoid the topic as mentioned in the book, is simply because they want to avoid the awkwardness. I used to do the same thing. Since I didn't know what to say and knew any word I would mutter would not provide an answer to the grief, I just remained silent. I'm a problem solver and since I couldn't offer a solution, I kept my mouth shut. Not only did I remain silent, but I avoided the topic altogether. I figured that making someone sad or causing them to relive something sad in their lives wasn't a nice thing to do-- but honestly, I was being selfish. I just didn't want to deal with someone else's emotions. I'm not good with that sort of thing. {Hah! Joke's on me, isn't it?} It's fine to be uncomfortable. It's fine to tell someone you just don't know what to say but that you're sorry. But here's to hoping people don't avoid talking about our babies because they feel like it makes us sad. Because our babies don't make us sad. Not having them anymore is what makes us sad. We think about them non-stop anyway. Sometimes the tears come from someone actually acknowledging them by name. That makes us proud. Not sad.

    I love my son and don't mind talking about him. I am thankful (yet sad) to receive your notes on the 5th of every month. I am happy to speak of my son when you ask. I read and love all of your sweet words and yet hate them all at the same time. I just wish such words were not needed.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    I've Got Nothing

    No new material, people. But I do have this.

    Google seems to provide me with endless laughs on command. Thanks, G.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011


    Is anyone else just plain tired? Not physically tired, but emotionally drained. That's how I've been feeling for the past couple days. Of course that doesn't mean the well has dried, because I still sob often enough.

    I was watching Oprah last night before bed (we have re-runs near midnight in Chicago) and Oprah was reminiscing of her favorite guests over the years as her 25-year run comes to a close. This little boy, Mattie Stepanek, was on there:
    My mom bought me the book his mother wrote, Messenger, but I haven't read it yet. Sometimes I just can't deal with reading about more babies and children dying. And sometimes reading about these misfortunes is the only thing that gets me through my own darkness.

    Back to this little boy. What an incredible inspiration. He and his 3 siblings were all born with muscular dystrophy. His mom was the carrier and passed it on to all four children without knowing it. She buried four babies who lived and died. He lived the longest, until age 13. I can't even come close to giving justice to how wonderfully courageous this little boy was-- I was crying just knowing that someone so wonderful and inspirational would be taken at such a young age.

    When I Die (Part II) 
    Excerpt of original poem written by Mattie

    When I die, I want to be
    A child in Heaven.
    I want to be
    A ten-year-old cherub.
    I want to be
    A hero in Heaven,
    And a peacemaker,
    Just like my goal on earth.

    For knowing you're going to die, he has such a positive outlook on life and death at such a young age. I only wish I had half the wisdom this boy of (well under) half my age had. It's such an honor to know Andrew is in heaven with someone like him.

    Okay, sobbing again. Tired.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Dark Humor

    I'm sarcastic, sometimes cynical, and most recently, I enjoy dark humor.

    Because when something this earth-shattering and tragic happens to you, there are only so many tears you can cry on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong; I cry all-the-time as any woman with a dead baby would do. But I also laugh. I laugh about the circumstances of this being my life and not just some other lady in that sad book or in that TV show. I laugh because if I don't, I might go clinically insane. I laugh because sometimes I want to forget that my life and all its "perfection" has now, essentially, ended and started anew without seeds or the newness we associate with something positive. It just plain started in the middle of someone else's sad, dreary existence.

    Lucky for me (and unlucky for them), I've met some other people out in technology land who I can converse snidely with about our dead babies. It's not in the least bit funny, but we still laugh. {which then reminds me of that song from Brad Paisley, Online}

    I finished reading Elizabeth McCracken's memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination and noticed she's pretty snide and cynical herself. An aside, I was emailing with a fellow BLM and referred to McCracken's book as "An Exact Figment" instead of "An Exact Replica" and then realized that "An Exact Figment" would just be the title of my stupid, unwritten memoir. {please laugh}

    In An Exact Replica, McCracken relives the life and death of her son to stillbirth, and then her subsequent pregnancy. In speaking of her subsequent pregnancy, she writes...

    "All the while, all I could think was: Dead baby dead baby dead baby."

    "I wanted a separate waiting room for people like me with different magazines. No  Parenting or Wondertime or Pregnancy, no ads with pink or tawny or pearly smiling infants. I wanted Hold Your Horses Magazine. Don't Count Your Chickens for Women. Pregnant for a Time Being Monthly... I wanted scrawled across my chart in shaky physician's cursive: NOTE: do not blow sunshine up patient's ---."

    I tend to avoid the books that are soft, sweet, and gentle to mothers of dead babies. I just don't want to hear another person utter soft condolences and heartfelt suggestions about journaling my feelings or finding my inner chi.

    In an email today with a few of my BLM friends, I said something to the extent of, "Ray is going to die when I tell him that." I was talking about something really funny and used that figure of speech that I wouldn't have batted an eye at pre-December. But now, I typed it but also added a disclaimer. My other friend commented about saying, "I'm gonna kill myself" as a figure of speech in the hospital. After losing your baby, health professionals are (justly) worried about such things as suicide. But really, we've been stripped of the ability to use these figures of speech-- though they are pretty rotten, aren't they? My other friend commented on how she's become more careful because though superstitions are potentially false, there's always a chance. After all, there was less than a 1% chance our babies would die and they all did. Percentages are just numbers. They mean nothing to someone who has lost a baby.

    So maybe I will be re-thinking this whole system of middle-school hyperboles we learn and mutter so nonchalantly. But not because I don't want stares from people when I talk about death, but because I just can't begin to imagine if muttering that stupid phrase would dig me deeper into griefdom.

    Griefdom, a new location. Hm. Do you think anyone would want to book their next vacation there? Kind of like Disneyworld, but not at all. Maybe it'll be a Groupon someday for half-price. Who's buying?

    p.s. Ohhh. I used "utter" and "mutter" in this post. Gold star.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Taboo Clothing

    I have quite a few pieces of clothing in my closet that have sort of been off-limits since Andrew died. I was able to wear lots of non-pregnancy shirts until the cooler months rolled around. I can vividly remember places I wore many of these shirts and the gorgeous baby belly that protruded in front of me as I walked proudly. Now that all is in vain, I have been having a hard time even putting them on. It's almost like I've associated them as strictly pregnancy gear. Not only pregnancy, but Andrew. They're sacred, much like his photos.

    I try them on and just don't feel right about them. And like a song takes you back to a place and time in your life, clothes also act as a memory stamp. I wore a shirt today I hadn't worn since before Andrew was conceived/died. That means it's been well over a year since I wore that shirt. I thought about it all day. That shirt was worn for a few years before Andrew-- all blissful years of my existence. Now, it hugs my belly just a little more. As we all know, the mom belly may go down, but it never officially goes away. I'm pleased with how I've slimmed down, but learning the new anatomy of the mom body, just after eating a meal, the belly makes itself known with a bit more prominence than the pre-Andrew body allowed. Speaking of belly... that linea nigra is sticking around.

    Although some clothes send me into another {life} time, others are just fine. The yoga pants I wore to deliver Andrew are worn at least a few times weekly and I have no problem or real association with them. As a matter of fact, I hadn't even thought about that until the moment I wrote this.

    While I'm on the topic of time... here's something that just came to mind. I would often look at date stamps of food expirations or "sell by" dates and compare them to Andrew's gestational age before tragedy struck:

    "This box of brownies will be around when Andrew gets here because it doesn't expire until (insert post December 2010 date)!"

    A friend of mine left some baby food in my cupboard when she came to visit with her 7-month old while I was about 8 months pregnant. We both realized the food would still be good by the time Andrew was just starting to eat solids! Yeah, he would have been introduced to solids by now. Baby food made in our incredible blender (on the list of my top favorite things we own, for sure).

    Now when I see December 2010 dates stamped on items or in places, I just cringe. I was sub teaching in third grade the other day and was looking back into their journal entries. I saw entries from November and quickly shot back in time to being so happy. Then, I saw journal entries from December after we had Andrew. Those pages almost turned to gray right before my eyes. That's sort of how life has been ever since.

    Much like we all remember where we were when serious tragedies like September 11 occurred. I'll never forget those dates as long as I live. Now when I see dates in places that run close to our very own D-Day, I can't help but re-live those images in my head.

    It's like there are two lives I've lived. Pre-Andrew, and post-Andrew. While most parents would say the same, I'd argue that we can't quite compare notes on this one. Their lives were likely (in relation to bearing children) blissful before and after, but with variations of happiness. Hope was still alive. My life before and after are two completely different realms, like entering the closet in The Magician's Nephew. But only, this isn't fantasy land and this isn't a children's fiction novel. It's my real life with all the glamour. Hah.

    I hope I can get over this clothing aversion, though. It's really cramping my ability to plan outfits with a closet-full of clothes that I feel should be framed rather than worn.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Oh, Snap!

    Someone's BUSTED! 
    This would be my husband's car. I drove it to work the other day and found this...
    Do you see what I see? Perhaps you all don't know who he is married to. I'm a completely neurotic, totally obsessive, clean freak. But this man. Oh, this man was being a deliberate messy maker. Did you notice the TWENTY-TWO granola bar wrappers perfectly folded to fit inside the door console of his car?

    If you didn't notice, check out this close-up.
    Yeah. It seems like just throwing them away would be easier, no? Love that man, even if he is trying to set a world record for the number of granola bar wrappers one can fit into a car door.

    One of my friends blogged about her husband's obsession with stealing their forks. Quite entertaining.

    Joining Forces

    I tested out Google ads once. You may have noticed... but since they paid pennies and I didn't see an alternate justification for running their ads, I axed them.

    Honestly speaking, I'm not blogging to make money. I blog because I'm a writer. I have always loved to write and even made it my entire undergraduate goal to become a journalist. Then I realized that journalists are required to move to the middle-o-nowhere, get paid terrible wages, and work cuh-razy hours.

    Also, I wanted a family and children. Well, got pretty lucky with those two things, almost. Instead, I pursued my second passion (...I don't want to hear any of that BS about teaching being a fallback career because I love it. Too bad my heart just isn't in it right now. Can't imagine why.). I knew that the life of a journalist wasn't going to work out for me because although it had the thrill I love about going out to get a story, interviewing, and editing under a time crunch, it didn't have city suburb living/family/husband/vacation anywhere in the same realm. We all have to make concessions... so I guess 25 miles to the big city isn't so bad.

    With that said, I love this space. You all know I used to write for family--including myself-- as an online journal. I'm sooo not a scrapbooker, but I love the idea of a chronology of our lives. And if I can connect with other great people and learn a little something and possibly educate others at times, I'm all about the blogosphere. Another reason why this blog isn't private-- I have a degree in Ed. Tech. During my MA program, I met some fantastic people and had some incredible professors that instilled in me this interest to be a part of the collective knowledge we create here on the web. If I can't share my knowledge/thoughts/experiences, I am not contributing to this great body we call the world wide web. I'd like to think of our blogs as an enrichment to the lives of others in addition to our own. I'm a blogger and I read many blogs from all genres. People are so vulnerable and so passionate in their writing-- that's contagious and attractive.

    I've decided to join forces. I applied to be part of BlogHer's network of female bloggers. I read a number of blogs from amazing women who are part of the BlogHer network. Be careful, they're incredible... so you may soon find yourself following them, too!

    Pioneer Woman -- need I say more? I love this woman and her amazing recipes. She's also an amazing photographer and posts pictures of her cowboy husband's behind sometimes. ;)

    Picky Palate --  Not low-fat by any means, but this woman has some incredible baking ideas!

    In This Wonderful Life -- Megan lost her firstborn son to a heart disorder. She's now pregnant with boy/girl twins! She's the kind of inspiration I need...

    Newlyweds Next Door -- Another wonderful blogger friend who also lost her baby to a heart disorder at nearly 20 weeks. They live right near my parents in Cali. We have many similarities and it's fun watching their story unfold...

    There are plenty more, of course, but these are a few of my absolute favorites. These women are all part of the BlogHer network. I'm a bit of a feminist, too, if you hadn't figured that out by my writing style and incessant need to slyly insult my wonderful husband. Here's BlogHer's vision:

    Since 2005, BlogHer's mission has been to create opportunities for women who blog to gain exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.

    I love the idea of gaining exposure about stillbirth. No one should be alone in dealing with the grief of losing a baby. No one. I'd like to think I can be a part of that exposure and education to the public and others who may find this blog in the future as they are trudging down the same dreary path. I love the idea of community and the body of knowledge we create collectively--especially as women of loss. I don't think I'm defined much by economic empowerment, but being in the network means I may have a chance to review products and I will be running an ad. A little extra pocket change is nice, but not required. I just love being amongst some of my favorite bloggers and joining forces with such a cool group of chicks. About 2,500 female bloggers and I'm one of them.

    Just me, behind my computer... blogging about baby loss, food, friends, traveling, and my fantastic husband, as usual.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    The Most Wonderful Gift

    I'd like to think I showed progress today, but it's probably just the grief train going easy on me right now, in this very moment. I'm not counting my chickens, however, because we all know it changes like the wind.

    Today our NILMDTS photos arrived in our brand new mailbox. {My husband is quite handy.}


    My heart was beating out of my chest as I clicked the CD into my laptop this afternoon. I propped the Kleenex right next to me knowing that at any moment I might burst into hysterics. But you know what?

    I didn't. I was just in awe of what incredible beauty he was. He is. For the first time since he was born, I was proud. Up until now I've been ashamed, frustrated, angry, embarrassed. But today, seeing those photos made me incredibly proud to be the mother of that little boy.

    These photos are 5 months, 4 days old, and the same age our Andrew would be if he were here with us today. I have been on pins and needles hoping to receive them since at least January. Finally, they're here. He looks nothing like a dead baby-- but a newborn (as he was). The photographer did an incredible job capturing his gorgeous features. They look no different than a photo shoot of a living child. Perhaps a discerning eye could tell, but to me, they're perfect.

    I guess my only sadness is knowing that this is it. There are no more special Andrew photos making their appearance any time, ever again. This is all we've got. About 5 of our own images, roughly 30 printed copies of poor quality from the hospital, and 17 from the professional photographer. Just about 50 photos of my child. I have more photos of him inside my body than I do on the outside and there is no turning back. No more photos are there to take. No body present to be photographed. I suppose those photos are even more precious as all of them were taken when he had life in his body. He was breathing. He was growing. Those are my happy memories.

    I hesitate to share these. I don't believe this is the forum, though I know others might disagree. Because he is our only child and only 3 people besides the hospital staff and our photographer have seen any photos of Andrew at all, it feels sacred. He is sacred to me. His body, his photos. While I would be willing to share with people, I don't feel it belongs broadcast on the blog. I want to have the opportunity to share them with people I know, love, and respect. I know, love, and respect many of you who read, but there are many people I don't know that in cases of stillbirth, (still) do not fully understand how important it is for our children to be treated as something beautiful rather than diseased. I refuse to allow a single scoff at the sight of my child. I can't control that via the internet. My son deserves protection from his mother and I'm proud to protect him.

    Maternal instinct kicking in? I guess. I'm still not sure what that's like if I'm being really honest.

    But this boy... he's beautiful. Downright gorgeous. I hope Andrew's future brothers/sisters have some of his features. I'd love a piece of him carried on through our family in the flesh.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Tru Dat

    Mother's Day is a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back ~ Erma Bombeck

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    I think I found my first gray hair today.

    I blame it on baby loss. I've never been more stressed out and anxious in my life. Nothing has ever come close and I doubt anything could ever beat it, either.

    So what's a girl to do, huh?

    I mentioned having acupuncture done and I've been going the past 3 weeks now. I like it. I don't love it, but I obviously like it enough to fork out the $20 each time and go 4 times.

    Here's what I like:
    • It's relaxing. I sit on a heated massage table or in a nice La-Z-Boy recliner for about 30 minutes with nothing else going on around me.
    • They play nice, relaxing music that also gives me the sensation of wanting to urinate sometimes. When has water dripping ever been relaxing?
    • I might be a masochist. I actually quite like the needles being pierced into my skin. 
    • I fall asleep-- the true test of relaxation.
    • It's fairly cheap.
    Here's what I don't like:
    • I'm not convinced it's not a load of BS. Does it really work, or is it just a mind game?
    • It costs $20 each time. I know. It's not a lot of money. But it's $20 and I'm cheap.
    • I have to drive there and drive back home. Sounds stupid, but driving in traffic and being stopped at traffic lights with people cutting you off (read: Chicagoland drivers are terrible) does not relax me. As soon as I leave, I automatically tense up behind the wheel. That, and since I'm obviously good at being a statistic of bad, rare news, I also fear getting into car accidents.
    So there you have it. I've done 4 treatments and the acupuncturist asked me how I think it's been going and if I'd like to continue. He said there are 3 categories:
    1. I hate it and never come back.
    2. My "issues" are resolved and I don't come back-- at least not until the symptoms return.
    3. I continue coming back but less regularly, like 2x/monthly.
    I laughed when he said #2 because honestly, will my "issues" or "symptoms" of stress and anxiety ever go away? They'll obviously, hopefully decrease over time, but disappear? Hardly. I've always been a Type-A worrier with a schedule and a plan. Anxiety = me.

    Here are some fancy photos I took before I started relaxing, but post needle injection:

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Letters to Andrew {2}

    Dear Andrew,

    Today marks another sad day for me. Your dad and I miss you very much. You'd be 5 whole months today. I'm sure you'd be growing like a weed and I'd be writing obnoxiously wonderful things like, "Andrew's getting so big--he's already grown out of his 6 month clothes and he's only 5 months old!" Instead, I just speak of you in past tense because I have no new stories of you to type.

    I was walking downstairs this morning to grab some breakfast before work and saw the greatest beam of light shining through the crack of your nursery door. It made me sad and comforted all at the same time. It's amazing how that happens.

    This exact day last year was our very first doctor's appointment. I already knew it, but we were having a baby and that baby was you! We walked into the OB's office quite smugly that we managed to become pregnant so quickly and efficiently. We wanted you more than anything else in the world and still very much want you.

    In three days, it's Mother's Day. I can't even begin to imagine all the wonderful things we could've done together on that day. I picture walks in the park, wearing you in the Baby Bjorn, strolling along the riverwalk, having brunch at a quaint restaurant, and snuggling on the couch. Instead, your dad and I will be working on one of those distraction projects we started to get our minds off of the sadness we carry.

    Missing you is no simple task. Tonight, I light your candle. At 9:04, the minute you were born 5 months ago today, I light the candle that I placed in your nursery before you were born. It's now downstairs on a bookshelf and I often catch a whiff of you when I walk by. I love that smell. I thought to buy every one of those candles from Amazon so I'd never run out of smelling you. There truly isn't anything I'd rather have than you here with me right now. You'd think I'd have run out of tears by now, but it turns out there is an unending supply in one's body.

    We love you so incredibly, incredibly much.


    p.s. That word seems so foreign to type. It breaks my heart.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Blogger Entertainment

    I'm a geek when it comes to blog stats. This blog has been around for over 4 years, but I cannot honestly pinpoint the specific category of what I write about most often. I just attempted to win some freebie Shutterfly cards and they asked if I blog. Then they asked what I specifically blog about. It was multiple choice and I could only choose one category. I chose child loss since that's the latest and most relevant topic at this point in my life.

    I've written about all kinds of things in this 4 year span...
    • newlywed life
    • traveling in the U.S.
    • traveling overseas
    • recipes/food
    • pregnancy
    • exercise
    • random things we do/like
    • grief, death of a child
    I initially started blogging to update family as we moved to middle America, also known to us Wilsons as the land sans mountains. How we miss them so. Gradually it's become much more than that. I like it that way. This is a journal of my life. All the highs, all the lows, all the valleys, all the ups, all the downs. No BS.

    I try not to blog politics or religion all that much as not to alienate people with different viewpoints. Otherwise I'd go on and on about how I feel about this bin Laden coverage. I respect others of different cultures and religions and don't feel I have the right to judge those of any background. It's not my job. And I generally don't follow people on facebook or blogger who don't follow similar criteria. Poke fun at things, life circumstances, yourself, your husband (okay, maybe that's just me), but respect the beliefs of others.

    With that all said... I am always surprised by what posts are read the most on the ol' bloggeroo. My most popular post to date is about our visit to Bucharest, Romania. I guess there isn't a lot of information out there about tourism on the web for this country. That post alone has seen almost 2,200 visitors.

    Part of me is so happy that my blog has not been entirely taken over by the sad baby posts. But sure enough, coming in at the #2 spot is the unrefined, but completely raw depiction of my son's birth/death at 860 views. That's 860 very sad people and likely many, many tears. Eventually this will become the most frequently visited post, I predict, because it is so much a part of who we are now. That makes me nervous enough to want to rewrite said post, but I like that it was written with intense tears and anguish. It may not be perfect, but it's the real deal. And if that story helps just one person to understand that they, too, can speak up and out about their grief, it served a positive purpose. I know that countless friends have thanked me for expressing my pain because it gives them some frame of understanding. While I hope they never fully understand (though I hope and yet resent that concurrently) this grief, at least they're getting a glimpse into the heavy realization. Maybe they cherish their own kids a little more. Maybe they acknowledge the loss a friend has experienced. Whatever it may be, I hope those 860 people are able to take from that story a sense of understanding. Even if only in broken pieces.

    Coming in at #3 is my post about visiting Ulm & Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Hooray for travel posts still holding popularity. The best time in my life surrounding the worst experience of my life. Oh, the irony.

    Of the top most frequently visited posts, 7 are travel, 1 is pregnancy, 1 is about baby sadness, and 1 is random and is hardly the least bit entertaining. It's also the last post I wrote before giving birth to my son. People likely click on it because they wanted to see what came just before the worst tragedy in the history of my life. Written two days before everything crumbled. Actually, it wasn't the last post... but that post was deleted since it was some tribute to funny things kids say to their moms. That was a scheduled post, I remember, to take place on Andrew's birthday. Since nothing can top that date and no blog post is appropriate enough, it was erased.

    And the keywords. Oh, these are so fun. Well, most of the time. Here are some keywords people typed into Google that yielded our blog as a result (in which they also clicked on) complete with my commentary:
    • beautiful bungee jumpers  Are bungee jumpers ever beautiful? And shouldn't this be an image search?
    • picture of a meat shop We visited Spain and I'm assuming I mentioned a meat shop? Also an image search.
    • snoop dogg bratislava Okay... what? This yielded any results? And my blog was in that mix? Oh Google, don't fail us.
    • recipe sweet corn ravioli cayote cantina One of my fave restaurants in Cali, Coyote Cantina and they have amazing sweet corn ravioli of which I've obviously written about before...
    • romanian pancake I ate one of these in Romania. Nothing special, but again with the lack of Romanian posts on the www.
    • edward teach grave marker cococay bahamas Hello, random! I think someone was specifically trying to find me but couldn't think of the blog name, so they typed information they *thought* they knew about me?! I get a lot of "windy wilsons", "windy city wilsons" searches through Google. So let me break this down: Edward = hospital we had Andrew. Teach = I'm a teacher. Grave marker = no freaking idea? We have no grave marker anywhere but we do have a dead son. Coco Cay Bahamas = visited there on our cruise in February.
    • visit the dentist Then I received a comment from a dentist's office about dental visits. Thanks but no thanks. 
    • how much does a masseuse make at massage envy When did I ever talk about pricing? I guess very few bloggers write about that place!?
    • do we pray for trivial things? The answer is yes. I think so. But does it hurt, I don't think so.
    • I don't like my dentist Don't know what to tell you. They always give me bad news, too. Looking for a support group?
    • bermuda, bahama come on pretty mama Ah, Beach Boys.
    • 2010 world events and the good that came from them I surely have no clue why I would be speaking about 2010 being a year from anything good happening. It went like this for me: good, good, good, BAD. VERY BAD.
    • reasons for a 4-month old to see a dentist Wasn't that sad soul of a person mortified to see my blog and all my crappy sadness when they were innocently trying to find info about their child who likely shared a birth month with my child? Creating awareness just one unsuspecting soul at a time. Carry on with your happy life Mr. or Mrs. Googler.
    • flight turbulence April 26, 2011 I wonder if they were on my airplane?         
      Also, the U.S. leads in visitors followed by Germany, then Canada. Around 50% of you use IE (I am a Firefox supporter), and 18% of you have a Mac-- of which I'm super jealous!

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      DECO Adventures

      Since NOLA is New Orleans, LA, then Denver, Colorado would be DECO, no?

      What a week. I've been on 4 planes in less than a week and Ray has been on 8 planes this month. Yes, each leg is counted as I'm still a crazy wife who gets freaked out the entire time her husband is in-flight.

      The trip was great, but quick. It was scheduled because about 75 people, including us, were to attend a surprise birthday party at The Brown Palace Hotel downtown.

      Other than not being able to sit next to my husband for either of the legs, I did have nice seat partners. :) I'm a big fan of this stuff:
      But since airlines don't carry my favorite carbonated beverage, I must stick with the traditional club soda. If you like club soda or mineral waters with carbonation or "mit gas" (as they say in Germany... much easier than the name for carbonation = kohlensäure, so they use Germ-glish. Not a word so please don't Google it.) Anyway, my little plug about La Croix is this: It's highly overpriced for a Shasta label, delicious in all flavors but the best are grapefruit, orange, and lime, and sold at Costco in only the lime flavor. They also like to give out coupons at festivals and on facebook.

      And I digress big time. Here's what I was given when I ordered a club soda on our United Airlines flight:
      Once we arrived in Denver, I was asked where I wanted to eat for lunch. Since my husband knows me well enough, he assumed I'd want to eat here:
      He was right. Just near the University of Denver campus is this gem of a restaurant. I am maybe Chipotle's #1 fan. Not only do I love Mexican food, but I love his all-natural and sustainable practices. Who is he might you ask? Well, Steve Ells of course-- the founder of this glorious establishment! This is the location of the very first Chipotle restaurant. While we were parking and walking to the restaurant (as there are only a few parking spots in front), Ray asked me if it felt like a pilgrimage. As if I were walking to Jerusalem or Mecca or someplace. Indeed it did. Heart. Heart. Heart.
      I have NO photos of the awesome party we attended. There was dancing. There was great food. There were plenty of drinks. There were a bunch of people that feel like family and many I just met that night. During the ol' dancing part, I actually, actually let loose for a bit. We danced probably about 5 songs and one of them was Sweet Caroline. During most of the song, I was carefee. Close to the end, though, I was becoming more and more somber... as I was listening to the lyrics:

      Oh, sweet Caroline
      Good times never seemed so good
      {so good, so good, so good... complete with fist pumping}

      Honestly, things have never seemed so BAD. Well maybe if we consider what it felt like 5 months ago, then yes. Those were worse. I think.

      But for moments, I actually did enjoy myself. One of the last songs of the night was I've Got Friends in Low Places and I immediately thought of all my baby-loss-mom friends out there. Speaking of BLMs... I met a woman that night who upon introducing myself, knew exactly who I was. She immediately apologized and took my hand before sharing her own story of loss. She told me that though this pain never ever goes away, it does make the love you have for future children that much deeper and sincere.

      I had two conversations where the question came up. I'm not pleased the way I handled the situation, but defend my own honor in doing so. In any ordinary situation, I would have been blatantly honest about my son dying as the reason for me not having any children. But this situation was different. First, these relationships are business-related. Not my business, but my husband's business. While I am not ashamed nor embarrassed that people are told or learn of our loss, I do believe that some of these relationships need not experience this somber conversation upon our initial greeting. I also did not want my initial meeting with people I will grow relationships with to be founded on our first conversation being about loss. It just didn't seem right. I don't want to always be known as that girl who lost her baby. In the grand scheme of our business or personal relationships with certain people, our possession of children does not really have a lot to do with our engagement. But for future conversations with these people, I would be inclined to honesty as Molly reminded me of.

      I'm pretty bummed I didn't have photos from that night because everyone was looking so amazing, including us! I wore a gold dress I'd bought for our rehearsal dinner cruise in 2008. And I even managed to keep those dang heels on the entire night! I am not the type to wear heels very often. They are dusted off about 3 times a year.

      The next morning we headed off for Boulder since I'd never been to the city before. It was just as cute as I'd envisioned. Here's Ray in a Boulder in Boulder. Haha.

       Pretty tulips
      We noticed on a tourist map that the very first and only Celestial Seasonings plant is located in Boulder and offers free tours! We promptly made our way to check it out. We're big tea drinkers. We started in Germany and have created quite the collection for ourselves. I still think Germany has the best teas I've ever tasted, but we do enjoy variations from many different countries. Ray is standing next to the exact sewing machine that was used to make their first muslin tea bags in 1969.
      We took a tour and it was fantastic! If we're ever in Boulder again, we'll go back when the operations are active. We went on a Sunday afternoon during their low season (peak = Nov.-Feb.). Another fun fact is that they ship to 35 countries but their biggest export is done for Canucks like LJ! Drink up, friends. We like your business here in the U.S. Haha.
      We headed toward Estes Park next and stopped off at the haunted Stanley Hotel.

      We headed back to Denver to catch our flight and nearly missed it! We rented a car and if you've ever rented a car in Denver, you know that there are only 3 gas stations close to the rental car dropoff. One is located within a block of the rental car places, and the other two are next to one another nearly 10 miles away! Well, we approached the close gas station on time and the gas pumps were down. We had to make a 25-minute detour to fill up our tank! We hadn't checked in for our flights yet because we did not have printer access, so we intended to do so at the airport. That must be done 45-minutes before a flight. We made it with less than 5 minutes to spare. Once we checked in, there was security, the people mover, and finally the walk to our gate. We didn't have time to grab dinner as we'd hoped with that 25 minutes of detour gas time, so we boarded 8:15 p.m. CST with no dinner. Luckily, our flight was short because of tailwind (yay!) and we made it home before midnight.