15 May 2012

What Do You Do When...

From a child's lips to God's ears.

Our trip to North Carolina provided us with 4 new members of our family.  Herman, Hermione, Heron and Hershey.  Lexy's little hermit crab babies.  Only they're not babies.  I think.  I'm not sure, I mean, can you really tell how old a hermit crab is?  I think they're young.  They're small.  And I think hermits get to be big.  Do they get big?  Because if they grow any bigger I can't say that I'll be picking them up on a regular basis.  Cause the bigger they are the harder they pinch.  And they pinch.  A lot.  

The hermits survived 7 hours in the car on the way home.  They survived cool nights before we could buy a heater for them, before we could buy a new terrarium for them to live in with all kinds of sand and climbing toys and coconut fiber for them to eat and climb.  But, one little hermit.  The one with the yellow shell.  The only one that Lexy picked and said that she loved and wanted.  Poor little Hermione has passed away.  And when I told my mother that little Hermione has passed away, she asked how I knew... well, I suppose when the legs fall out from the shell and land on the sand you sort of have your answer.

We had 15 minutes of sadness, no tears mind you, but the questions about why animals die, how animals die, where do they go when they die, how do you get to heaven and what is in heaven.  All perfectly valid questions, of course, but they're hard to discuss with adults, let alone with a 4 year old   How do you explain to a 4 year old that hermit crabs don't live forever, that they're hermit crabs.  They aren't supposed to live forever?

My big parenting lesson of the day?  Pull the little one into your lap (or what's left of your lap when you're 27 weeks pregnant), answer the questions to the best of your ability and with as much honesty as you can muster, and let them be sad.  And the promise them a new hermit crab.

But, Lexy summed it up herself and in the best possible way.

"And dear God, please look after Hermione and take care of her now that she's gone up to be in Heaven.  She's a good Hermit Crab.  Amen."

And, yes.  There was a funeral, complete with TAPS, for Hermione.

04 May 2012

Grace Abounds

Dear Friends -

I was uncertain the other day.  I was uncertain about writing something so personal.  Uncertain about letting such an intimate part of myself go out to everyone who wants to read about it.  Uncertain about how people would respond or even if people would respond.  I wrote about my miscarriage and the incredible sense of loss that I felt for 2 reasons.  1) I haven't recovered, never might, from losing my child.  But, I thought that writing about it might help me move forward in some ways that I haven't.  And 2) I really do think that miscarriage is not something people talk about and that it should be talked about.  It shouldn't be something that people hide or hide from, it shouldn't be something people feel ashamed of it, it shouldn't be something pushed aside.

I heard from some friends publicly in the comments section, and a few other sent me emails.  It was wonderful to receive the support that I did from the people that I did.  I just hope that what I wrote helped others in some way or will help others in the future to know that they're not alone.  I had a reminder of something that a friend told me when we were discussing miscarriage and my current pregnancy and how, while I love this person inside me, I still miss and grieve and want to know the child I won't ever see.

She told me "Carin, you'll always be the mother of 3.  I will always think of you as the mother of 3.  And when you get to heaven, you will get to meet that little baby of yours and know all the answers to your questions".  Tears.  Of course, more tears.

But, what I really want is to let you know about the greatest blessing from writing this blog, writing about my loss, that I have received following the post.  I heard from a friend who has suffered unmentionable loss, three times, in his and his families lives.  He let me know that I wasn't alone in what I had gone through.  Now I know that while I can't come close to imagining the losses that he has personally experienced he has linked my loss to his.  This is one of the most touching and generous gifts that anyone has given me.  To let me know that they feel my loss is nothing short of equal to loss that they have been through, that my emotions are not supposed to be limited.  It was an amazing email and brought me to tears.

What makes this story even more amazing is news that he shared about how things are good for him and his family.  How life has changed, morphed, evolved, and while there is still so much pain there is love and happiness and that his blessings abound.  Thank you, friend.  Your email has made this all worth while.

Love abounds, joy abounds, grace abounds.

Thank you so much, my friend, for touching my life in such an amazing way.  I celebrate your joy with you as I celebrate the joy I have inside me.  It is such a wonderful thing to share.

01 May 2012

Accepting Grace

I have decided that I am working on focus this week.  Focusing on what is the "now".  Not the maybe or the past, not the what would have been.  My focus will be "how things are for the day, what's on the schedule, what I'm doing with Lexy, how the baby is feeling for the moment".  If you read my last post, you'll know that I'm obviously still struggling with focusing on the past (but really, who isn't and who doesn't?).  Although grieving over the loss of a child, born or unborn, is not something with a timetable and definitely not something that you get over.  You just get through.  Through each breath.  Through each minute.  Through each day.  In a sense it's almost like an addict working through the steps.  Take everything moment by moment, day by day.  Easier said than done when working through any type of trauma or stress.  And I've been going through working on the miscarriage, being forced to leave my job, and the adjustment of being a full time full day mommy.

But first, an update on Baby 2.  We had a phone call from our doctor (or one of our doctors) this morning. They always like to call you during breakfast when you're trying to get your kid to eat the fruit and not just the toast and jelly.  It's like they know that you won't have time or the brain power to think of the questions you should already know to ask.  That being said, the little one is doing well.  The ultrasound said she's growing right on pace, smack in the middle of the growth chart.  Who knew average could feel so good?  Unfortunately my blood work remains the same.  There are still antigens floating around and that could be a problem.  Everything is could and maybe.  It's frustrating and makes enjoying the moment a little bit harder.  Remembering to focus on the fact that for the day I feel well, healthy, and this little person likes to push one rib in particular out of alignment, is a little hard when you're constantly carrying around the idea that it could all come to a very rapid end.  It tends to add some stress to your everyday living.  But, having a happy and hyper 4 year old will distract you from that without too much trouble.

The adjustment to the reality of SAHMommihood is another beast in and of itself.  The first week was hard because it was not expected to be my first week.  I wasn't expecting my two week notice at my office to be a "Thank you, don't let the door hit you on the way out".  I was thrown back home without a goodbye from my direct boss and spent the next few days trying to process.  There were appointments and things scheduled for that week already and it became a matter of arranging the new schedule to accommodate the things on the old schedule.  The second week was similar.  Again, appointments, anniversaries, extra ultrasounds... it wasn't what I would consider to be an average week.

And now we're moving into week three and to be honest, I've had quite a few moments where I can't remember what day of the week we're on, and this is just week 3.  I think I'm beginning to understand and feel the transition, which is a good thing.  But, I'm also missing the adult interaction that I was so used to and for that reason have been relying on my parents heavily for companionship.  I'm looking into Mommy groups online, checking into things to do at the local library... anything I can think of to organize my days.  Lexy is still adjusting to the sudden change in her routine as well, and to be honest, she misses going to my parent's home in the mornings and playing with all the different toys and books and things that she has there.  My parent's have been great and extremely flexible about the whole situation, but it is weird to not have a schedule and to know which days are for which tasks.  I've actually been considering getting a monthly calendar and planning it down to Monday is wash laundry day.  Tuesday is music class and vacuuming day.  Wednesday is go to the park day.  Something so that there is a set plan.  It feels like we're floating through right now.

Saturday I'm off for a week at the beach with just me, my kid, and my mother.  Neither husband wishes to attend, so it's a ladies only trip.  I'm looking forward to a week of doing nothing.  And a week of many many many visits to the local ice cream shop.  Maybe it will allow me to focus and breathe and accept the transition into a SAHM.  After all, it's the only thing I've ever known I wanted to do or would be doing with my life.  So, I should be able to accept it and move into it with acceptance and GRACE right?

Of course, GRACE is hard for someone who routinely walks into doors.

Tomorrow.  Lessons on GRACE from the person who seems to think washing ball point pens is good for clothes, walls are to bang into on the way out of a room, and shoes are something to trip over and not wear on your feet.


30 April 2012


When I updated my blog last week, for the first time in a year, I mentioned that it had been a long and trying year.  It was.  It has been.  It's been like just like I said that elevator ride looks like, up and down and sideways.  There have been so many things going on that it's hard to know where to start and how to discuss them with people.

In truth, I'm a very private person.  Which makes the fact that I enjoy writing a blog an interesting thing.  Although not too many people read it, and even fewer people comment on it, so that gives me a certain level of anonymity.  But I think there are times for privacy and times for commentary and times to just get something down so that it can help you heal.  And I think, for me, today is one of those days.  I don't know if writing this will help me heal, but that's what I'm hoping.

You see, over 2 years ago, Josh and I decided that we would start trying for baby number 2.  We didn't think that it would take that long to accomplish or be too difficult, after all, it wasn't that hard the first time around.  Of course, that first time around was a completely different thing.  We were younger, healthier, more energetic. This time we were older, I was scarred (unbeknownst to me), and definitely more tired.  I don't know if Josh was more tired, but I was more tired.  So, our quick turn around turned into month after month of waiting and watching and hoping and praying.

Every morning before work I would get up early, go out and walk the dog and use it as my prayer time.  I would thank God for the wonderful life that He has given me, be thankful for my blessings because there are many and ask him for what I wanted the most in the world.  Another child.  I would try and be accepting that if it didn't happen it wasn't supposed to happen.  I have a beautiful, healthy, loving, and so smart little girl.  I was trying to remember that just because I wanted another baby that I was blessed with having a child and that's something that not everyone gets.  No matter how long it was taking, I had that consolation.  I was already a mother.

This past summer I had two surgical procedures.  It seems that there may or may not have been scar tissue formed following the complications I had with Lexy's delivery.  Nothing that was done was to help me get pregnant or make me pregnant, it was more to make sure everything was working the way it was supposed to.  As I said, I've gotten older and with all those complications there was a theory that things just might not be working in the right way.

In September I had my prayers answered.  I had a positive (or three positive) pregnancy tests.  It was 3 days before my birthday.  My early birthday gift.  I know.  You're doing the math.  I'm 25 weeks pregnant now and I was pregnant in September.  The math doesn't work.  The math doesn't work because the morning of my 35th birthday I got up a tad early, settled in for a cup of coffee and had my life turn upside down.  I lost my child before I even had a chance to get to know her.  Josh sat with me and held my hand while I cried my heart out in the downstairs bathroom.  When my mother called to wish me a happy birthday and wanted to know why I sounded so down, I told her I was having a miscarriage.  She replied "I didn't even know you were pregnant".  It was so soon.  And so fast.

But it was my person.  My gift from God, my baby, my little life to grow and care for and nourish.  And somewhere in those first few days something went wrong and I lost her.  I don't know why people use that word.  Lost.  I know what happened.  She's not lost.  She went back home to heaven to be where she belongs.  After all, I know that she was just being loaned to me.  But there is that sense of loss.  That you don't know where to go or what to do or where to get support.  I told 3 or 4 of my closest friends.  Some understood, some called to check on me and some just checked out.  I don't blame anyone for not knowing what to say or do.  It wasn't as if I had a child I was able to hold in my hands drift away from me.  I didn't get to see her eye color or know if she was going to be left or right handed.  In some ways I know that it's difficult for people to understand the feelings around a miscarriage because for a lot of people those little bits of cells and DNA are just that.  Those people are not mothers.  They have never had a person grow inside them.  Never felt a baby stretch and kick.  Never had the joy of knowing that you have helped bring a new soul into the world and that God has put this soul into your hands and your hearts and has given you a level of trust that so many of us fight to return. 

It took me 2 weeks to recover physically from losing my little one.  I'm still recovering in my heart.  Some days I feel good and I know that I wouldn't have this little one that I'm working with right now if I hadn't gone through what I did.  But there are many more days that I wonder what she would have looked like.  Would she have loved to read the way her big sister does, or would she have been her daddy's tennis star.  I wonder what happened to cause it?  Was there something I could have done differently, could I have prepared my body in a better way.  I know that they're not logical but it's what I think.

And for this reason I will never as another couple when they are planning on having children.  Or if there are going to be any other children.  You never know if they want a bigger family.  If they're trying to have the first one.  If they've already had and lost someone that is precious to them in ways that it's hard for someone who has never gone through it to understand.  And if you ask them or question them about it, it causes more of a wound.  

I learned so much from my little person.  I just wish that I could know what color her eyes were going to be.  And I wish that I could let her know how much she was wanted and loved and that she will always be my second child.    

25 April 2012

Growing My Human

*clarification*  This is not my human.

I am 24 weeks in this journey of growing a person.  I don't think of this as having a baby.  I truly think of it as growing a human.  It may sound strange, but that is after all what we mothers do.  We grow humans.  It sounds a little more complex than "having a baby".  Anyone can "have a baby".  It takes a real woman to "grow a human".  Obviously, I think that growing a human is more than getting pregnant, waiting 9 months (which is really 10, but I'll get into that later) and then heading off to the hospital for drugs and surgery and wham-o, there's a baby.  Growing a human is about taking your vitamins, exercising, getting enough sleep, using lotion to prevent stretch marks (seriously, that's an important one), going to your doctors appointments, getting your testing done... it seems to go on and on.  Therefore, I say, it takes a woman to grow a human.

Yesterday was my 24 week appointment.  I'm still in that stage where you go in for your checkups every 4 weeks.  Although, with this pregnancy there have been so many extra visits and blood tests and phone calls in between these 4 week checkups that I feel like the ob office should have me on speed dial.  You see, I'm old.  I'll admit it.  I am no longer a spring chicken.  (Do people say spring chicken in relation to age because spring chickens lay more eggs and older women have a harder time growing their humans just like older chickens don't lay as many or any eggs?  Hmmm, I never really thought about that before.)  I am 35 (yipes) and have reached that magic number where everything that revolves around age and pregnancy flips me automatically into "high risk pregnancy" category.  Strike 1.  I don't feel old.  In fact, there are quite a few days where I don't feel like I have much more than the mental capacity of a 14 year old.  (I pick 14 because my mother likes to tell me that when I was 14 I was the world's worst person... and she was right.  Hormones, high school, new friends, just having parents.  It was not pretty.  Sorry, Mom).  

While I have the mental capacity of a 14 year old and sometimes feel like the comprehension skills of a 14 year old, it should be known that because Lexy was born prematurely that I am, again, automatically flipped over into that "high risk pregnancy" category again.  Strike 2.  The doctors told me that her delivery and the complications surrounding it were a one in a million type of deal.  But, when I became pregnant this go round, they were nice enough to tell me that what happened before could happen again (in 10% of the cases).  And that because I have had one premature child that there is a good chance that every child I have will be born prematurely.  Gee, thanks for telling me that before people.  I mean, if I hit the 1 in a million lottery, maybe I'll fall neatly into the 10%.

And, the kicker.  There's that whole rH negative fiasco.  I'm not sure as to all the medical interactions and terminology, but basically I have a negative blood type, Josh has a positive blood type and when the two mix, if there is any blood crossing over to the baby my body could possibly reject the baby thinking that it's a foreign entity.  Strike 3.  I have plenty of rH antigens floating around in my blood stream to make more go from high risk to, as my doctor put it, even HIGHER risk.  I had a lot of spotting early on and for about 3 months with this kid.  Blood potentially crossing over to the baby.  And there were other complications.  I mean, geez.  If this kid wasn't trying to break severely of my ribs on the right side of my body on a regular basis, I'm not sure I would be thinking that this was an actual pregnancy and not just some figment of my imagination.

So, fast forward to 24 weeks.  6 months along (which is really 5 months because you don't really count those first 4 weeks or something).  Counting the months is confusing for me.  I'm not sure how they get 9 months from a 40 week pregnancy.  This appointment seems a bit silly.  Listen for the heartbeat, see how much weight mommy has gained, chat with the doctor.  Only this time my doctor measured my growing soccer ball of a stomach.  And I'm small.  Who knew that carrying small could be a problem?  Apparently, my doctor does, which is a good thing.  But, I don't feel small.  I mean, I feel like I'm walking around with that soccer ball with that feisty Barbie stuffed into it.  But, I guess that I am actually small.  And that could mean that on top of everything else that this little person has been through, it could be underweight.  After all my exercise, watching my diet to eat healthy food and fish and not limiting my chocolate intake, resting and all the other things I'm supposed to do, my little person, the one I feel like I'm working very hard at doing a good job to grow, may be a tinier than normal tiny person.  

Tomorrow is my 9 year anniversary.  I'm off to have more tests.  An ultrasound this time, just to make sure the weight is on track and that this little soul is growing in all the right ways.  I suppose that's a good anniversary gift, getting to see your baby.  I think I'll look at it that way.  My anniversary gift is getting to see my growing human.

But, geez, can't a person get a break.   

24 April 2012

My Soccer Ball

I mentioned in my last post that Josh, Lexy and I are expecting the next addition to our family come summer.  When I was pregnant with Lexy I found a website that sends a weekly email describing the babies development and growth and how the mother's body has changed in the past week.  I've signed up again for that email with this baby, mainly because I think it's kind of neat to hear that my baby is blinking, or her toenails have grown in, or she has hair all over her body and looks like a Wookie.

This past week I read that at 24 weeks pregnant my uterus is the size of a soccer ball.  A soccer ball.  Now, I played soccer for 10 plus years growing up.  I know the size of a soccer ball.  I also know that the older and larger the person playing, the larger the ball gets... so, what I'm wondering is, which size soccer ball am I supposedly carrying a human being around in?  I actually considered finding an old soccer ball, asking Josh to cut it in half and stuffing a Barbie doll into it, just so I could have a better visual on this whole thing.  In fact, I may just do that... it does sound like an interesting way to spend an hour.  And then there would be photographic evidence of this size to body ratio.  I could talk a neighbor into stuffing it under their shirt and getting even more proof of this soccer ball phenomenon.  What would be even more interesting would be if I could get Josh to model it.

The soccer ball comparison is sort of fitting in my case.  This child likes to punch and kick.  Hard.  In fact it kicked the nurse 3 times on my last appointment while she was trying to find the heartbeat.  If anything, it's cemented the idea that this child is treating my insides as if in preparation for the upcoming summer Olympics. I have no problem with the child being a soccer player.  Josh would prefer volleyball or tennis, but for me there is no way any child of mine will be wearing the uniforms that come with that volleyball thing, and according to Lexy there is no real way to get a tennis racket inside my tummy.  Although, she does seem to think that getting books in there to entertain the kid is doable, even if she can't quite figure out how to make it happen.  Oh, and a blanket.  She thinks the baby needs a blanket just in case it's cold in there.  After all, the baby is naked and there's no way to get pajamas on it right now, either.

The funny thing is that this same email that told me about the soccer ball said that my baby is approximately the size of an ear of corn.  I will never look at corn again in the same way.  In fact, this baby has been compared to an apple, an orange, a grapefruit, and other various fruits and vegetables over the last few months.  I don't know if this is supposed to motivate me to eat healthier or to avoid these vitamin and mineral packed health foods because they remind me of a growing human.  I get that most people won't think, oh that's half a ruler or, okay, that's the size of my shoe... but really?  A grapefruit?  There's no way that a fetus is round and pockmarked.  At least I hope not.  That would be a good deterrent to unwanted pregnancy.  "Miss, did you know that at 15 weeks your child looks like a hopeless pockmarked grapefruit with enough downy hair on it to pass for a baby Wookie?"  On second thought, maybe they should stick to the food references.  

Well, my soccer ball, ear of corn and I are going to head off for some much needed rest.  We have a big day tomorrow of rearranging our attic to try and sort out some things to sell at an upcoming yard sale.  The life of a stay-at-home mom is getting more entertaining by the day.  I'll keep you posted.

22 April 2012

My Open Window

It has been a long and trying year. I haven't been writing, and frankly haven't felt like writing. There hasn't been the time, the energy, the ability... Things have been up and down, and then like being on a Willy Wonka elevator, gone sideways and spiraled up through the glass ceiling. There have been quite a few times I feel like I was about to be tossed out and have the thing land on me, but fortunately that hasn't happened. I'll start with now and work my way back, throwing things in here and there over the next few posts or maybe not. I'm choosing to look forward and remember to be positive and to breathe. Because in the end, it's all about the breathing.

My life took a dramatic turn in the last 2 weeks. One I've been watching for about 5 months, but these last two weeks were like jumping on that Willy Wonka elevator again as it plummeting straight to the basement. My job, the one that I've been at for eleven and a half years has come to an end. I'm not sure if I ever thought that I would be in the ranks of the unemployed. I live in an area of the country where things are really really really expensive. My family and I enjoy a good life... on two incomes. And even if my income switched to being only a part-time income after Lexy was born, it was a significant assistance to our daily living. But, as I've said, I've been watching my work change and morph and twist and turn for the last 5 months, and the majority of it (in my opinion) was not for the better. I watched as my employer hired younger, cheaper, unskilled employees. I watched as they cut my hours back, and then I watched as they outsourced the main section of my daily activities. And the worst part of this was the emotional humiliation that I was receiving on a daily basis, and in front of the staff I was supposed to manage. Things came to the end of the elevator ride when I had a phone call from one of my bosses and listened for an hour and a half as she described my poor attitude, my unwillingness to do anything asked of me from scrubbing the toilets to just answering the phones, and on and on. I had already been stressed to the point of not eating, not sleeping, and later that evening had that stress manifest in nosebleeds. It is something that I might have chosen to deal with, if I wasn't 23 weeks pregnant.

This brings us to the good part of the story. I think. I know. The elevator took a turn from careening into the basement and making a major crater in the ground to rising straight up and out into the open air. Josh spent the evening managing our budget and trying to arrange things with our accounts. He took the time and the initiative to see if we could manage with my staying at home, taking care of the family and the house and myself, and managing our lives instead of someone else's business. After much praying, much thinking, much talking, and much reorganizing I gave my two weeks notice at my job last Monday and attempted to transition into a Stay At Home Mom. Something that I have wanted to do for years. Something that we have never been able to swing before. Something that I want to do, but am still a little wary of doing because I don't want to let anyone down, the most of all, my daughter. Something that seems to disappoint everyone in some way because it rearranges everyone's lives in a dramatic fashion.

But it's my OPEN WINDOW. My job door was slammed in my face. And God opened a window for me to jump through into something that I've always known that I want to do. My silver lining is that the timing of this allows for us to try for my to stay home with Lexy and our second little one to come in the summer. It allows time for me to prepare the house, organize rooms and kids, it allows for me to spend more time with my parents and return all the hard work they've done for us since (and before) Lexy was born. There are so many positives to come out of this is seems silly for me to focus on any of the negatives of the situation. But, in actuality I am. I've transferred work stress to budget stress. Can we really make this work on one paycheck. I'm concerned Lexy won't (and hasn't) understood the change in her routine. I'm worried that my parent's are just as upset about this work situation and the way things happened and that isn't fair to them. I'm worried that this will put undue stress on Josh, making him the sole bread winner and I don't want to make him feel responsible for everything that means.

And then I think of being a Stay At Home Mom and how much that will mean to the health of my daughter, myself, and what that will mean to her. I think that it will benefit her in ways that she hasn't had yet. Even with her at my mother's and being at her second home, I always wondered what it would be like if she were here. And that says something for my mother and how I was raised that I want that for my children.

And it begins. My new career, my ultimate career, my most important job that I now get to focus 100% of my time and energy on. Being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a neighbor, a friend. Focusing on the important things.

Now. If only I could stop thinking of ways to reuse the aluminum foil just to save money I think I'd be all good.