Saturday, July 30, 2011

If only...

...I cared about crap like this.

Lucky guy he is, really. Some people have all the luck.

My prediction: That girl is going to have many babies and will not struggle from infertility or baby loss.

And it also sounds like their honeymoon is going to be a blast. She's a real peach. Or maybe that's just the color of her eyeshadow.

Hope you're all having a nice weekend. I was so intrigued by all your wonderfully thoughtful comments on my last post. I'm mulling them over and hope to respond in a couple days. This is why I love blogging. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Infertility & Baby Loss

I have a pretty fantastic friend I met in undergrad. We worked at the same hole of a restaurant together and maybe ate hundreds of these together. She graduated, then I graduated. She married, then I married. She moved and bought a house, then we moved and bought a house. It was all progressing very nicely.

Then she became pregnant. Multiple times. Each ending in miscarriage. It wasn't an easy road. She's part of the infertile crowd. She endured countless IUIs and IVFs and all the lovely injections and drugs in between, but still kept her eyes on the prize.

In the midst of still trying for years, I became pregnant. I'll admit, it was a little awkward coming out to her about the whole we got pregnant on the first try(!) business. I knew there was nothing more in the world that she wanted than what I had. In the correct order of things, she should have gone first. I cut her in line. But being the incredibly selfless friend that she is, we still talked on the phone every now and again until December. We all know what happened next.

I suppose I can now add this to our story: She endured baby loss, and I endured baby loss.

From that moment on, we talked on the phone nonstop. There's more I could insert here about what we talked about and the highs and lows we both experienced in the months that followed (and still continue), but I'll save that. It's personal. She understood what it was like to not only lose babies, but she knew what it was like to lose hope, time and time again. The process of ebb and flow that you just want to come to an abrupt halt with a live baby crying in your arms. She got me. She gets me.

There is some happiness to this story and an internal conversation that follows. She's now pregnant and awaiting the arrival of twins (boy and girl, jackpot!) in October. She deserves this. She's going to be a fantastic mom that understands that every minute is meant to be cherished and will never take one moment of that for granted. For most people/pregnancies, a process goes through my head of if they're lucky, and nothing is certain, and it's only an estimated date of delivery. But with her, I just know this is her time for happiness. Of all the struggle and want and loss and desperation, she's finally creeping toward that finish line.

Now for the internal conversation.

I read infertility blogs every now and again. We carry that common understanding of babies being an enormous gift that don't come without great sacrifice, grief, sadness, and longing. We share the understanding of seeing a BFN (big fat negative) on a pregnancy test and the massive excitement of seeing a BFP as well. We know what loss feels like, as many of those who struggle with infertility inevitably lose through miscarriage or stillbirth as well. We feel that jealously that's sharp and uncomfortable around those who never endured a struggle in starting a family.

But there are also differences. For example, I was once part of that blissfully pregnant crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy with Andrew and never really carried much concern. Of course he'd be born alive. It wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind. Those with infertility cherish every moment in pregnancy but know that the struggle it took to get there leaves them in fear during every moment. At least that's what my friend (above) tells me.

I never had to shoot myself up with medications to make myself ovulate, undergo massive amounts of ultrasounds, experience IVF or an IUI. Pregnancy is not the issue I have. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure what my issue really even is. Keeping babies alive, I guess. Not sure how that can be remedied.

But there is one major difference, I think. Once infertility is "overcome" and that baby is finally in their arms, there is likely a sense of graduation. I could be completely wrong here and wouldn't mind the comments from those who experience IF. Perhaps the way women feel after successfully fighting and beating breast cancer. With child loss, I'll never really feel like more babies will provide me that ability to graduate. Andrew is one of my babies. My first. He'll be missing in every photo I'll ever take for the rest of my life. I'll never graduate. I'll never feel accomplished or proud to overcome the struggle it took us to start a family. I'll be proud to be a mother, but I'll always feel a longing for Andrew. Bittersweet.

And don't think I'm leaving out the crowd who has endured both, child loss and struggle with infertility. It's cruel. Falling in love and longing to share that love and life with a child should be an allowance given to every responsible family. When that ability is stripped away from you, it's beyond unfair. Those babies aren't forgotten and shall never be. I personally feel lucky to have carried Andrew for those months. Those who struggle with IF and loss likely feel the same-- thankful for those moments of pregnancy or infancy they want so badly to breathe in and remember for eternity. But a graduation for them, I doubt it.

I'm hoping that sometime soon I can finish our story from above with: She had beautiful babies that lived, and I had beautiful babies that lived. And maybe throw in there a trip or two to Disney World, why not?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It Takes Two, Baby

...me and you.
7.26.08

Not only do I love this man with everything in me, but we also make really cute babies together. To a lifetime of love and {hopefully} many more {okay, at least a couple? few?} more babies.

For good measure, here was our 2nd anniversary and here was our first.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lose-Lose Situation

There's a whole laundry list of taboo comments or actions I can't handle. They get under my skin or anger me. I used to be one of the easiest people to talk to (as in, no one ever used to offend me) and now I've become the most fragile person in the room.

Maybe my hypersensitivity and constant thought processing of losing Andrew forces me to develop this assumption that all people are uncomfortable or nervous around me. They might be. They might not be. Either way, I feel like a buzzkill most of the time in social settings. I used to be fun, social, and interested in all the details. Now I feel like my interest and attention span has dropped exponentially.

Here's the tricky part. People still live their lives and, shockingly, still get pregnant and have babies after I did. After Andrew was conceived, grown, born, died. People all around me are experiencing their first pregnancies and the births of their first babies. Babies they get to keep. What a novel concept.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel people were cutting me in line. It may be juvenile, but that's exactly how it feels. I should've gone through all those firsts before them and I should be holding my almost 8-month son right now. The void is excruciating. But the truth is, no matter how many people have babies from here until my death, I'll still feel like I should've been first. Like I was slighted. And no matter how many babies I have (please?), I'll still miss my firstborn. We will never be a complete family. That's pretty hard to swallow. Family photos will be bittersweet. I'll witness milestones of future Wilson babies and wonder what if at the same time.

Once I'm finally at that place again, I still don't think I'll ever feel like being a part of those smug "mommy and me" groups because I just don't think parenting after a loss is the same as parenting without loss. The approach has to be different. The discipline. The priorities. I could be wrong, but I have no idea.

I receive emails with, "There isn't really any easy way to tell you this... but I'm pregnant" and I hate them. But I'd be offended if I didn't know ahead of time. Being caught off-guard is worse. I think. There really is no easy way.

I read this excerpt on another blog and changed it a bit... totally how I feel:

This is one of the things that I hate most about baby loss. It robs you of the ability to fully participate in someone else’s joy. You can’t control the grief when you are faced with the announcement of someone else’s pregnancy. I hate, hate, hate it. I hate how she must have been nervous to tell me.

I get invited to events but know that I won't go if there are babies present. I don't even really like being around pregnant women or other parents, honestly. I wish this wasn't the truth, but it is. I avoid appointments and parties and dinners because I know that if babies/pregnant women are present, I'll just spend the whole time in a sad void. I may be there, but I'm not really happy and I'm probably counting the minutes until I can leave and sob in the car.

It's sort of a lose-lose situation I'm in. Be antisocial, risk being a hermit crab the rest of my life-- or at least until I learn to manage this better. Be social, risk feeling sad and jealous the entire time. I've been choosing the former. I think it's what's best for me right now.

I read blogs from women further in this journey. They have subsequent children and sort of find a way to live life again and breathe a bit easier. But, they still admit that the thought of their deceased child is never far from reach. When they see a child around the same age, engage in conversation with those parents about milestones, etc. It doesn't get better, but it does get easier.

It doesn't get better, but it does get easier. I'm just wondering how long it's going to take. Because these announcements and babies and births and parties and everything are still really difficult to manage. I think they might even be harder to manage now, nearly 8 months out, than they were before. Months ago, people knew I'd be sensitive and topics were avoided. People knew that a few short months prior, I said goodbye to the very most important person to me on Earth besides my husband. They were careful. They figured I was just making excuses and accepted that. But I'm still making excuses. Because it's not better.

Maybe I should buy this.

 You think it'll work miracles?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Support Like No Other

Last month I jumped on the bandwagon of baby-loss bloggers to compose my own reflection of where I stood at 6 months, 1 day from losing our Andrew. I was angry that day. Circumstances that surrounded that day led me to feel defeated. Not that I don't still feel the rage, because everyday it comes at least for a moment. But mostly, I am surviving. I was reading over at Still Life with Circles, who started this project that yielded over 160 participants, and she posted something incredible. That's right. 160 participants mean that all 160 of those people who participated have been in the same situation as myself. They sat in a hospital feeling complete despair. They probably have a grave to visit or an urn on display. They outlived their babies, too.

A baby loss father, Jack, lost his second child in March. He read every single entry to this project and created a beautiful piece of art. It connects all of the participants with a short excerpt from each piece of writing. Even more special, he included the names of our children on the very bottom.

Funny, I know myself too well. I knew the very piece he selected from my own reflection out of all 160 excerpts included. Here is his incredible artwork (click twice to enlarge to a readable font):



And what Jack posted on his own blog about this project he created:
This piece is dedicated to the 160 babyloss parents who took part in Angie's epic Right Where I Am project as of July 18 and to all of our babies that were lost. It is also dedicated to the thousands of faceless parents around the world that lose babies every year (some 30,000 in America alone). I originally joined the project because I wanted to soak up as much as I could from everyone who has gone before us. And as I feel Margot slipping away from me as the days without her trudge on, I felt like this was a way for me to be close to her and to honor her death. So, I read and read and read, all the way up to last night, when I read and filed away the 160th post in the project.

I just want to say a huge thank-you to all of the babyloss parents who participated. Words cannot describe the gratitude I feel for each one of you, whether you are years out from your loss or just a few weeks or months. Each and every post, whether heart breaking or hopeful or a blend of the two, was so meaningful and raw and beautiful in it's own right. There is solace in this beautiful mess of a community we have formed since all of our losses. I titled this piece Right Where We Are because in some strange and mysterious way, no matter how many miles separate us, we are in this TOGETHER. There is strength in numbers and I pull from your strength every day.

If you'd like a larger view of the project, visit Jack's blog for details. It truly is a wonderful memoir for our babies.

Thanks, Jack.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Google Analytics Keywords Installment #2

I don't check it all that often, but when I do, I'm thoroughly entertained what people type into their Google searches, and even more amazed that they land on my page because of it! Here are some of the latest:
  •  anyone who want to share their noodles i'm a salad shirt
Haha... you thought Googling strangers would yield free salad for you? 
  • boyfriend cross dress halloween
I'm trying to find any parallel here... and I think I remember posting myself as Joe Dirt and explaining to you all that I am not a regular cross-dresser. Ah, but the whole boyfriend thing? 
  • comedy blog
It's usually anything but that, sadly.
  • god needed help from angels, really, i'm lmao
Eek. Don't know what else to say about this one. BLM? :(
  • hot dog cutter seen on david letterman
So I'm not the only one who found this amusing, huh?
  • husband cuts my hair
N-E-V-E-R. I may be cheap, but I am not allowing my husband near me with scissors. ;)
  • i'm 5 and i'm home alone
Pretty impressive use of contractions for being a 5yo. But still a bit weird/scary/strange. 
  • my husband decided that my hair is too long
Your husband makes decisions about when you should cut your hair? Hmm... sounds like a 50/50 relationship to me... notsomuch.
  • when were jeans worn first in new zealand
Hate to break it to them, but I'm pretty sure they don't have record of such "monumental" occasions in NZ history. But I could be wrong...
  • this is a real love baby this is the love that makes me say yes
Butchered Taylor Swift song, I do believe.

p.s. My husband loves that sugary cereal. Me, notsomuch. I'll stick with my Multigrain Cheerios, Chex, and Kix.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pink Thursday

My husband wears pink to work on Thursdays. He supports another guy and joins a number of others who unite for breast cancer awareness. One of the men who works with my husband started this in honor of his mother who had breast cancer. This is just another way to show support for fellow colleagues/workers and to add a spark to the work week. It's relational and supportive. And it doesn't hurt anyone.

We had dinner with two friends last night to support a fundraising effort and we were both sporting our pink Thursday attire. I'll admit that mine wasn't intentional, but since we were sporting matching digs, my friend Liz snapped a shot with her phone.

I think I look like my mom in this picture. What do you think, Mom?
And holy hair, husband!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hey Sister, Go Sister, Soul Sister, Go Sister...

My husband always asks me when he knows I've blogged if it was a happy post. He doesn't like to see me hurting but he knows all too well by now that it just hits you. This, my friends, is a happy post.

First of all, why did I think it would be okay to purchase this for breakfast? They're disgusting. I poured my entire bowl (sans milk because I hate milk) back into the box after eating about 3 puffs. Ick.
My beautiful SIL was in town over the weekend. She comes from Baltimore where she's a high school Spanish teacher. She's also getting her MA at Johns Hopkins. She's a pretty smart cookie. Before hitting the books again, she came out for a little brother-sister-SIL fun. Our first bit of fun was the White Sox game. Everyone, including us, questioned why she wanted to see the Sox instead of the Cubs. It turns out she wanted to see the better team... in which case that's definitely the Sox. People like the Cubs a bit more because the stadium is nostalgic, the city around is very urban and classy (whereas the Sox stadium is just urban minus the classy part), they don't have a Jumbo Tron, and it just seems more Americana. But let's be honest... the team is terrible.

We arrived after the first inning was over and the Sox had already scored 5 runs, one being a homerun. And that's where the scoring ended as the Twins proceeded to kick their butts the rest of the night.
Samantha brought us each a Sox t-shirt, but mine is currently in transit from VS. She's super thoughtful.
Some highlights of the game include:
1. Sitting next to a woman whose name was Antoinette who referred to herself multiple times by Antonette. She took all the French out of her name. We talked the majority of the game. Turns out it was her birthday. And to prove it, she whipped out her license to show me. Yep, 7-8-66. She also lives in Oak Park. I seriously don't know what possesses someone to whip out your driver's license to show a complete stranger, but apparently I don't look too threatening.
2. Someone in the rows in front of us expelled not one, but two massively disgusting burps post-hot dog consumption. People, this is no joke. I seriously thought there was a hot dog stand around me or that someone was eating a fresh hot dog. The whiffs were beyond paralyzing. I could practically taste the sauerkraut, grilled onions, and relish. We all joked that we probably inhaled at least a few calories from their burp alone. Want to vomit? It might be worse than smelling feces. I'm not kidding. And being a vegetarian made that all the more pleasant. Speaking of hot dog, I was watching David Letterman last night and they were featuring new toys/gadgets. One of the new gadgets was a hot dog slicer that turns hot dogs into little people. What. in. the. heck?
3. As we were merging onto the highway after the game, we had front row seats to witnessing a woman projectile vomit from the back seat of a car. If we had been 2 seconds closer, my car might have been sprayed with juices. I'm not kidding. It's been awhile since I've seen drunk vomit. Perhaps because I am always in bed between 10-11 each night and hardly remember what the inside of a bar looks like. Let's not forget that I was pregnant from March 2010-December and now I just loathe the freedom. But that girl... she hasn't graduated to the next stage in life yet. She still vomits on highways.

Then next day, after a stop at Steak n' Shake (per SIL request), we headed to that same waterpark I took my friend Alison a couple weeks ago. What isn't better than paying $8 to go down waterslides and lounge in a lazy river all day? My husband's burn tells me that 5 hours was too long to go without re-applying sunscreen, but otherwise it was a great day. The day ended with Chicago deep dish and 3 happily stuffed people.
There are some elements that require navigating through this particular lazy river. It's not the most relaxing because of it, but adds some excitement!
Sister and brother doing the Wilson wave.
Happy sister wearing her new Spain bathing suit. My in-laws went on a Mediterranean cruise the last two weeks and Samantha joined them in Barcelona for a few days before they departed on their trip. She lived in Madrid for a semester and is fluent in Spanish, so it was a fun experience for her. It was fun to see some of the pictures she took from places we'd visited while living in Europe.
We tried a new Mexican restaurant that I LOVED (shocker) and had ice cream from a local place after. Sam had the key lime pie and we shared the chocolate-peanut butter swirl. Delicious, but no better than Baskin Robbins... and a lot more expensive.
We also...
  • Went to church
  • Explored Ikea for something I want but couldn't find there
  • Walked Downtown Naperville
  • Barbecued steak and veggie kabobs & ate with potato salad, wild rice, and corn on the cob
  • Ate at one of my favorite Mediterranean restaurants
  • Experienced a Derecho storm and the worst power outage Chicago has ever seen! In our area alone, we saw at least 50 trees either completed pulled from the ground or split. Some people are still without power, but we didn't lose it, thankfully. We live in the red regions, of course.
It was a nice time. We managed to do a lot but felt very relaxed the whole time. And now it's almost the next weekend! Not sure about our plans, but I'm sure it will involve being indoors because Chicago is about to have a massive heat wave.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Regret

I expected to write about lighthearted nonsense in this post. But last night triggered some thoughts I can't seem to discard from my brain activity.

I have regrets. Never live with regrets, you say? Well then you must not have lost a child. While I understand that statement is meant to read, "You can't change the past so there is no use in dwelling on what could have been", I insist on regretting as I wish. I try not to dwell daily, but sometimes the regrets peek out.

And I'm not talking about ones from college or anything like that. Although I'm not discounting those. I'm just not focusing on them right now. It's funny how certain events in your life trump anything and everything else you went through that was thought to be monumental and devastating.

High school breakups? Not so devastating. My 3-year relationship to a deadbeat, barely a drop in the hat.

Losing my son, absolutely crushing. There's just not a whole lot that could personally happen to me that would top that.

My regrets are all related to things I wish I had taken the opportunity to do while my son was bodily with me in that hospital for those 3 hours. They're personal, but real. I'll always wish things were different and it breaks me thinking of such things. For better or worse, you all get to read these completely personal regrets. If you aren't a BLM, I'd appreciate if you abstained from commenting on them or bringing them up-- not because I fear a breakdown, but because they are personal pieces of myself that I'll never be able to change. And also, a breakdown would be imminent.
  • Not taking a lock of my son's hair
  • Not seeing his body naked
  • Not physically kissing him
  • Not taking his handprints
  • Not seeing his eyes
  • Not taking a photo of Ray holding his son
When in shock, the last thing you can be is rational. I couldn't see a day forward and wasn't able to logically know what I would want once we finally got home emptyhanded. Over seven months later.

I read someone's blog and read the comments about having locks of hair. It struck me in that moment that I don't have Andrew's hair and I want it. And if I did, I didn't know where it was. That spurred a trip to the nursery where I saw bags full of things that went untouched. That look identical to how they looked December 5th. It's like a time capsule in there. A great, big, baby time capsule of what could have been and what used to be my {hopeful but damned} reality. I rummaged through plastic bags of haphazardly strewn bottles and pacifiers my husband quickly emptied from shelves in our kitchen to de-baby the house before my entrance back into our lonely home.

I found the bag given to me by the hospital staff. It included pamphlets on grief, small booklets about losing a child, Andrew's footprints, crematorium paperwork, and 3 boxes of mementos. One box is from a woman who lost here baby. It was obviously her project to honor her daughter. There was a label attached to the box that read something to the effect of "Mommy to Hadley, born into heaven on March 21, 2009". In that box were various angel items. Pins, candles, etc. The next box held Andrew's little beanie hat (melt), baptism outfit, a pair of booties, pants, and a blue top that said something about heaven on it. I didn't buy the outfit. These were all supplied by the hospital clearly for dead babies. As a matter of fact, I didn't even have a hospital bag with me. It was all in the car and Ray was too afraid to leave me to go get it. And it was about 0 degrees outside. But mostly because I was an unpredictable basketcase of mess. The final box holds the blanket he was wrapped in, an envelope of the mysteriously strange (and eerie) gold ring they took photos of him with and some beads on little safety pins. One of them has a bead with the letter A for his name. I didn't understand these things, but I figured they were just standard procedure or small mementos given by other BLMs. Now that I live in the baby loss world, I am starting to piece together why we were given these items. Since Andrew was our firstborn baby, I couldn't compare normalcy to my experiences then. That was all I knew. And finally, the little card they put on those beds with the birthdate, baby's name, mother's name and all the measurements. His card was placed in the box. That probably hurts more than anything-- he wasn't a baby bed candidate and I'll never have one of those cutesy photos of him with his stats in that plastic hospital bed.

Heavy post. I've mostly stopped crying, but just couldn't let go of these thoughts and needed them documented. I'm sure as time progresses I'll add to the list of regrets. And while they will forever be regrets, I will try to live knowing that I did the very best I could in that moment of grief. I know I did. I don't dwell on it daily and I don't beat myself up over it. But it doesn't mean I can't wish circumstances were different. There hasn't been a whole lot I didn't want different in the last 7+ months actually.

Right. I'll work on that.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Aim to Please

I don't give a crap. Wearing makeup happens rarely around these parts lately. Here's the XL salad shirt picture {which btw my SIL also used and loved her salad} and the hair pictures. I'm also too lazy to blowdry or flatiron, so expect nothing but the best here, friends. You don't have to make comments because you pity me. On second thought, I wish I could turn them off. But don't know how without turning off comments on the entire blog. C'est la vie.
Looks at those gorgeous nostrils. I know, I know.

{Happy?} Weekend.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Secretly, I'm a Salad + Eavesdropping Tales

Anyone know what I'm talking about from that title? There's a restaurant, Noodles and Company here in Illinois (and many other states) that was offering a promotion today. Be one of the first 50 in line at ANY Noodles and Co. restaurant and receive a t-shirt good for 10 free salads (meant to share).

What's an unemployed teacher to do during the summer other than stand in long lines to get free things, right? I thought of my friend Jen in California and how she would've done this with me if 1. I were still living in CA 2. There were a Noodles and Co. in the South Bay, and 3. She weren't in Hawaii right now. She's a teacher with summers off and we would often attend fun, freebie events together. Alas, I went alone today.

So logically, I made sure to be there at 9:00 a.m. for their 10:30 a.m. store opening. Only, I was the only one. I parked right in front and sat for awhile in my car. The next person showed up and immediately staked out the first spot in line. I resigned to sit in my car for awhile since the first FIFTY would receive said promotion and I was wearing a skirt. Probably should've thought that one through if I planned to sit in front of a restaurant for 1.5 hours. Surprisingly, I did logically choose a location I thought would be less busy and no where near a college. Because those college kids can smell free food a mile away and are willing to camp out for it.

One lady, two more, one more and many more cars pulling up around 9:45. At about 9:50, I made it out of the car and into the line. Number five. I stood there pretending to read a book eavesdropping on the conversation going on in front of me. The first woman in line was someone who intrigued me. She was downright hilarious and had just a wealth of information to share about herself. I know where she lives, how many kids she has, the excuse she told her boss so she could sit in line at a Noodles and Co. for free salad, where her kids go to school, what they are learning today, etc., etc. She was a good sharer.

Not that I minded. I needed the entertainment (hello, pathetic loner who camps out for free lettuce) and I wanted to know more. Because, you see, she has triplet boys. Three boys all of the identical age of four. I stood there dreaming of what it would be like to have multiples (okay, so I should probably stop this whole daydreaming business considering my track record) and how it happened. You know, how it happened. No one has to tell me the process. I get that. But... there were questions. Like, why she wasn't wearing a wedding ring and why she didn't talk about a husband or partner or sperm donor the entire time she was talking. It sounded like, from the context, that these were her three babies and she wasn't sharing them. I almost wanted to chime in (mind you, I'm reading) and ask if she'd had an IUI or IVF because spontaneous triplets are just so rare. I'm a firm believer in both methods to achieve motherhood, but I just wanted to know more. Because I'm clearly obsessed with all things baby, conception, ttc and beyond. Baby fever? Sure. But I'm sure we can all agree that it's a little bit beyond just a fever at this point.

The daydreaming ended when I found myself at the cash register receiving my freebie shirt and the first of 10 free salads. I highly recommend the Very Berry Spinach Salad in case you're interested.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beer Drinkin' Par-tay, Fatty Meat Fest & Rock the VOTE!

Weekend adventures when we're almost to the next weekend. The husband had a 4-day weekend and we didn't travel! Perhaps a small miracle in itself! We did, however, enjoy two bike rides, one concert, a party with lots of beer, two times using our new Weber, and just rested.

The Wilsons threw another House Party! Nothing like 60 free beers and awesome swag for my friends just to promote a great product! After our Bud tour a few weeks ago, we were slightly underwhelmed until we had this party. It was a massive hit with 21 of our friends there to eat brats and drink beer. I went to the store and bought all these beverages the other day. I found it quite entertaining and wondered if the cashier was curious if I was thirsty. Hah.
Two friends kicking off the BBQ. Tommy looks hilarious here. There really are an endless supply of Tommy photos I could post, but I'll leave that to his wife.
Happy Husband & friends drinking Budweiser in their new coozies!
These two photos provide me nothing but laughs. Tommy took the photos and for the first one, we all just smiled.
Then Tommy said, "Okay, now the fun one!" Well, apparently I'm the only one who heard that. And also, I blinked because the camera wouldn't take the picture right away. Special Brandy. Special.
We experienced our first Ribfest here in the 'burbs. It's basically a large park covered in various carnival rides and lots of BBQ vendors interested in selling their slabs of really fatty meat. Mmm. It's festivals like these that secure my spot in vegetarian land forever.
First stop, beef brisket from Two Fat Guys. Of course I took a photo. Except... not pictured is the second chunk of animal on bread my husband consumed, pulled chicken. Also, the pizza I had from the single vendor that decided to cater to me and the cornbread we shared.
We rode our bikes to the event so we didn't have to deal with parking or traffic. And, we live exactly 3 miles from the park that Montgomery Gentry was playing at! We were about 30 feet away from the stage. Other than inhaling at least an entire pack of cigarettes, we had a great time.
After too much meat consumption, my husband always allows me to insert a few veggie-friendly meals. He feels the need for a detox and I gladly oblige. We made veggie kabobs and a lemon-parmesan pasta for the starch using my favorite pasta. Anyone else love this stuff?
 More food. But of course.

---------
And now here's for a plug. One of the first resources I found online after losing Andrew in December was a non-profit website called Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. There's a button on the right side of my blog from their site. The woman who started it is a young mom of a daughter, Stevie. Stevie was born in 2010 at 25 weeks due to blood clotting disorders. Because of this, Kristen started her own non-profit online as a place for women to be heard. Women who lost babies that they wanted so desperately to keep. Women who lost babies to stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDS, infant loss, or loss of a child in any way. It is there so others would be able to read their stories and see their faces. It is there so women won't feel so alone. It's there so women, like me, are shown to the public as normal women with devastating circumstances out of their control. We're not women who abuse drugs while pregnant or women who lack prenatal care. We're women who gave our all to these babies we carried but their fate was determined to be fatal.

Now, because FOL is a non-profit, they are trying to win a $25,000 grant from Pepsi. I love this resource. It connected me to so many women that I still talk with--some everyday. They are people who absolutely understand my loss and struggle. Because of this, I am hoping you'll vote. It won't cost you a thing and you can connect to your facebook account! Here are the deets:

To vote:
1) Follow this link: http://pep.si/kzOEpR
2) Click the button that says ‘vote for this idea’
3) You’ll be prompted to either login or sign up for a new voting account (this just takes a few minutes and a valid email address, or you can even login using your facebook account!)
4) Click VOTE after it logs you in!
5) Repeat once a day, every day!



Thanks so much! :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Letters to Andrew {3}

Dear Andrew,

Seven months my son. Seven. It seems impossible in so many ways still. This entire weekend was so bittersweet. We rode bikes, used our new grill for the first time, watched another country concert, and above all, wished you were there for every single second of it. It just doesn't get easier knowing that all my life experiences will be spent without you in my arms. You are always in my heart though. Always.

The print I ordered from Etsy arrived. It now sits amongst our family photos in the family room. Because you're family, baby. Your dad and I miss you so so so much.
Love,
Mom

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Made the Cut

My last haircut was July 26, 2010. Our wedding anniversary. It was the same day we had our 20-week anatomy scan of Andrew and found out Baby W was a BOY! And yes, that was planned accordingly. I knew it would be memorable. What a wonderful 2nd wedding anniversary it was.

I'm terrible about having my hair cut regularly. First, I hate spending the money since I have long hair that is never really styled. When I do go in, I don't visit a fancy hairstylist. I don't go to "insert name" because I just love the way she cuts my hair. I've never, to my knowledge, had a bad haircut. I stopped highlighting my hair about 6 years ago once I realized natural hair was a lot cheaper and oh yeah, I didn't really care what other people thought about me. I also loathed sitting in that chair smelling terrible toxins for over 2 hours. I've come very close to falling asleep many times. I nearly passed out once. I usually go about 3x/year for a cut to the local haircuttery. Nothing fancy. No appointments. Just walk-ins and no updated smalltalk. Lord knows I don't need another person to ask me how my baby is doing. 

Once Andrew was born still, I decided that I couldn't bear to part with my hair. It meant I was chopping away part of myself-- the part of me that was present during his life and I couldn't do that. I couldn't control his heartbeat and really have no control over anything else, but I could control my haircuts. I know, a little nutty. {Makes me wonder why I didn't consider the same for my leg hair. Insert projectile vomiting here. Yes, I went there.}

I thought that I might grow out my hair until I became pregnant again or until July 26, 2011 rolled around. I made it until July 2. Not too shabby. I give myself credit for making it to July. And obviously I've addressed that I'm not pregnant. While it sounded so wonderful to connect my babies that way, it just wasn't in the cards. Learning to let go of control in that arena because it's clear I don't have any choice.

Instead of just chopping it, I wanted to do something in Andrew's honor to help other children. Obviously many people do this everyday and my hair is only good enough to create part of a wig for a sick child, but I wanted to contribute. I couldn't see myself just throwing away my hair and since it was already so long, I needed to use it for the benefit of others. Especially if helping meant making a child smile.

So in honor of Andrew, my extremely long hair has been chopped and donated. My husband loves my long hair and wanted me to cut only the minimum-- 10 inches. I really wanted 12 inches. A foot just sounded so monumental. But, marriages mean compromising. We chose 11 inches.

And in true cheap Brandy fashion, the ceremony was done at the local Great Clips. Only a little somber for me... the lady who cut my hair on July 26, 2010 was the same woman who cut my hair today. I remember her asking last year if I had children. I told her I was about 20 weeks along with our first child... I'd learn of the gender later that day! So excited, so anxious. Today, I was so incredibly nervous she'd ask that question again... but she didn't. Perhaps having my paparazzi husband with me (sans child... tear) provided that answer.

That settles things. We will go everywhere together from now until eternity.


Cuh-lassy bra stap, Brandy. Classy.
 After four separate measurements and rubber bands, the cut begins...
 Can't see the hair, but that's only because it was like 100 degrees and oh yeah, I hate styling my hair. You can see the little ponytail sticking out from the back though!
Ready for shipment!
I love you my beautiful boy.