Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thank the good Lord for gas (among other things)

Our first week home with Gracie has been nothing if not eventful.  The day after we got home, the incision from my c-section opened...this is disgusting, both literally and figuratively.  To make matter worse, the doctors keep saying they usually only see this happen in obese patients...does wonders for the hormonal post-partum psyche.  I will spare you any further details, but let's just say, GROSS.

Gracie is absolutely perfect in every way...but she does have a slight problem with, well, gas.  Usually just gas that hits around 11:00 pm and lasts until somewhere around 3:00 or 4:00 am and seems only to be comforted my constant movement.  I think I've probably burned off half my baby weight just walking around our living room.

And, of course, we are still adjusting to all of the normal newborn things...hundreds of diaper changes, minutes of sleep, lots of "what do we do nows?"

Last night I was around lap 60, passing the Christmas tree with screaming baby in hand.  Open incision, open shirt, nasty bathrobe, no more than an hour of sleep with no end of sight....and all I could think was "Thank You, Thank You, Thank You" .  It was all I could do not to cry with gratitude (those darn hormones again), I have a baby girl, she is healthy and happy.  We are normal, newborn parents doing normal, newborn things. 

Thank the good Lord for gas (among other things).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Grace Louise Harris Comes Home

I am soaking up every minute of a newborn Gracie, honestly I could just look at her all day.

Here are just a few pictures of our first days home, I am just so thrilled to have this little girl home and in my arms I can hardly stand it.







I know, I know, she's mine so I think she is the cutest baby in the world...but really, she might be the cutest baby in the world.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Amazing Grace






T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.


And Grace, my fears relieved.

How precious did that Grace appear

The hour I first believed.







Through many dangers, toils and snares

I have already come;

'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far

and Grace will lead me home.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Someone's Coming to Town...and it's not Santa

Well, it looks like I was right about Gracie being a bit of a party girl and wanting to join us for Christmas...the doctor called tonight and it looks like our girl will be joining the world around 12:30 tomorrow!!

My blood pressure was a little high (no surprise there), so to be on the safe side Gracie is coming a bit early.

I am so excited (and nervous and scared out of my mind), and trying to remember that this baby is and always has been an answer to a prayer.  God has his hand on this child and she has a heck of an angel boy looking out for her, too.

So, by this time tomorrow night Gracie will be here.  In the meantime, please just pray pray pray!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Words of Wisdom and One Week!!

Last night I was having one of my many moments of panic, when my mom gave me some words of wisdom that I am going to try to live by until Gracie makes her appearance...

She said, "Sometimes you just have to believe everything is going to be alright.  Believe it."

So that is my mantra from here on out, I'm just going to believe it.

The good news is that I only have to work at this piece of advice for 7 more days! Seriously, the fact that I'm having a baby girl in one week has really not sunken in yet.  "Won't I be surprised when" is probably a huge understatement!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Come Baby Come

I know it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was telling this baby to stay...and she has obeyed beautifully...but now that we are well into week 38, I am ready to get this show on the road.  I know, I know at most I have 8 days left...but honestly, at this point, you might as well tell me it's 8 years.

First and foremost, I am ready to get a healthy baby girl here who I (we) will love and adore and squeeze to pieces.

But there are a few other things I will be more than happy to be finished with, like....

Freaking out every time I don't feel the baby move for five minutes
Literally rolling out of bed and all of the sound effects that entails
Not being able to brush my teeth in the morning because my man-hands are too swollen
Wondering what the heck a contraction feels like, if I am having one and at what point I need to high-tail it to labor and delivery
Being unable to pry my boots off my big fat feet at the end of the day
Going to the doctor

So, come on Gracie, I don't blame you for wanting to stick around and enjoy a few extra days of holiday eating...but come before Christmas and I promise there will be lots and lots of presents!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Just so you know I haven't completely lost my sense of humor,  a funny thing that happened over the past week...

Parke recently got a new job and we are thrilled about it.  Last Saturday was his company holiday party/picnic.  It was the first time I was meeting everyone so I did the best I could dressing to impress at 9 months pregnant.  It's a large company, but thankfully they provided name tags to help out those (aka me) who can hardly remember their own name, much less someone's they just met.

I thought I'd done a good job of being pretty darn cute...until we got home and it was discovered that "Hi My Name is Anne Harris" was actually not stuck to my shirt where it had been placed, but had traveled down my belly and settled somewhere under the vicinity of Gracie...out of my sight but not out of the sight of others, who no doubt wondered why I thought it necessary to introduce them all to my crotch.

Since then, I've come home and discovered (on separate occasions) almost an entire candy cane and a wad of gum stuck where I can no longer see.  I think it's safe to say time is almost up on the pregnancy when you find more junk stuck to your nether regions than you would find under the basic couch cushion, don't you?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

It's been a heck of a 24 hours.  Yesterday, I had my last ultrasound with Gracie.  There was quite a language barrier between the tech and myself, and although I warned her she was dealing with a crazy woman who needed as much reassurance as possible, let's just say she did not heed my advice.

Granted, she didn't say anything was really wrong with Gracie, she just didn't tell me that there wasn't.  The session ended with her hustling me back to the waiting room, telling me the doctor would be with me shortly to go over the results.  Hysterics ensued, Parke was called and being the good husband that he is came right away, and there we sat waiting on the doctor.  Who came in and told us he didn't think we had anything to worry about.  This was more than enough for Parke, but I was beside myself. To put it mildly, I lost it yesterday.

It was one of the lowest points I've had since we lost Rip.  I was basically without faith, hope, trust...you name it, I didn't have it.  I was determined to cling to all of the scary maybes, it was and to an extent still is literally beyond me to believe that we could just be normal this time around, have a healthy baby and go home and live our lives... that is what I want more than anything in the world.

Enter my mom, and Parke, and my dad, and countless girlfriends I couldn't live without...all telling me that they believe with their whole hearts this baby is going to be fine.  Enter a 10:00 pm email from my doctor (who was not in the office yesterday), followed by a cell phone call this morning, telling me she also believes this baby is going to be just fine. What a difference a day makes.

It may be beyond me at this point to believe in the best.  But the lesson I have learned over and over again this year is that God knows when life gets to be much, and he sends just the right people to believe for you until you have the strength to drag yourself back up again.  So thankful for my people.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Last night, I attended our annual Christmas parade...it is one of my favorite holiday traditions and this year did not disappoint...lots of candy canes, colored lights and "what were they thinking" dance routines.

I could not help but remember the parade last year, it was held three weeks after Rip died.  Now, I can't imagine why we went, but I guess it was because it was what we always did and at that point normalcy was all we wanted.  It was my first "big" outing where I was going to be around kids. I made it through the night without crying. I remember calling my parents afterwards and being so proud of myself for that.

And then you fast forward 13 months.  It is almost unbelievable how much can change in so little time.  I sat there last night 9 months pregnant, after wondering last year if I would ever be able to get pregnant again.  I waved and cooed at babies when last year I couldn't even look too closely at anyone under the age to six.  I was able to talk about next year, what it would be like to come to that same parade with an almost one year old.

I know there is no need for a disclaimer here...Rip's loss and all that goes with it doesn't go away, ever.  But the ability to feel joy again when it seems like just yesterday I wondered if I would ever make it though a day without crying...to me, that is almost miraculous.

No wonder they call it the most wonderful time of the year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

She's Got...Man Hands

Lately, I'm a prime example of what Jerry Seinfeld was talking about when he referred to "man hands".

I've never had good looking hands...at best they are nondescript, if not a little on the meaty side.  But wow, nine months of pregnancy has taken them to a new level.  All of the fluid I am carrying around has turned my once under-the radar phalanges into ten big fat stuffed sausages hanging from two great slabs of beef (nice mental image, I know).  My wedding rings are a distant memory and my attempt to help matters with a manicure left everyone feeling a little squeamish.

Is having man hands for a few more weeks worth it?  Absolutely.  I feel sure all will return to normal once Gracie arrives...in the meantime, let me know if you need any shellfish cracked or hunks of meat de-boned.  Might as well put these suckers to work.


(Not my actual hand, but pretty darned close)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like baby...

Gracie's nursery is complete! Below is the finished product, I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.


Kind of hoping she gets here before Christmas to enjoy her fabulous tree!


 My mom painted the zebra and Parke's mom sewed the bedding and the shades for us...Gracie has some talented ladies to live up to!


My great-grandmother's rocking chair, can't wait to be rocking away with baby in my arms


That's probably an understatement


Poor old brown dog, senses life as he knows it is coming to an end

Monday, December 5, 2011

The truth is...

Here is the honest truth...the closer we get to "D" day, the more terrified I get.

If I were to list everything that I have worried about today...even in the last hour...someone would haul me off to the asylum.

The bottom line is that we need this baby girl.  We need her to get here safely, to be healthy...to be ours.  Love and need this great is the scariest thing in the world.

If I've learned anything this year, it is that I am not in control.  I am doing everything I can possibly do to make sure that this baby arrives safe and sound, including annoying the living daylights out of my doctors (I am sure they all have little advent-like calendars, counting down to the day they have seen and heard the last of me!).  But at the end of the day, I can't control what happens next.

So somewhere in the midst of my fear, I have to let go...the only thing I can hold on to at this point is faith, and let me tell you, I am clinging for dear life.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Priorities

Making a list of what we have versus what we need before Gracie's arrival...

Crib sheets...none
Towels...not yet
Burp Cloths...no
Diaper Cream...nada

Three pairs of faux fur boots...check, check and check!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Big Day

12-1-11 is a big day in the Harris household...

First of all, it's our anniversary! Four years married, twelve (twelve!) years together.  You know how everyone always tells you marriage is hard work and blah blah blah.  Well, they're right, and this year has brought us a whole heaping of blah blah blah.  But you know what?  I am still excited to go home and see my husband every day.  I know that not everyone is that lucky, and I am thankful.

Happy Anniversary to a great husband and dad!

Also big in our world today..it is Gracie's birth month!! When I got pregnant with her, it seemed like this day would never come.  It's been a long, sometimes really hard, road but thank the lord we have made it this far. Only three and a half weeks until her arrival, scheduled for December 27th at 8:00 am...all good thoughts and prayers are GREATLY appreciated.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stay Baby Stay!

I am officially more pregnant than I have ever been...Hallelujah! 35 weeks and counting.  And while I am quite sure I have never been this uncomfortable in my life (you name it, it hurts)...I need this baby to STAY PUT for at least another two weeks.

One of my (seemingly endless) fears during this pregnancy is that we would somehow end up back in the NICU.  While I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the doctors and nurses there, it would suit me fine not to even have to say the word for the rest of my life.

Gracie is big, and showing some signs that she may want to come a little earlier than her December 27th due date...but I feel sure she is an obedient little cuss who will listen to her mama when I say STAY BABY STAY (and then get the heck out of there).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

After After

One year ago today, I wrote the post "After"...it was the first post I wrote after we lost Rip, and it was my 30th birthday.  In it I said that I wanted to keep this blog going for a year, I wanted to see how my life changed after that devasting loss.

Some things haven't changed...there are still no words to adequately express how much we loved and love that little boy, how much his life means in our lives. There are still days when I feel very lonely, confused and so so sad.

But more days than not, I have felt hopeful and thankful.  On that day a year ago, I hoped for a year that, despite our loss, was filled with love, laughter and maybe even a baby.

I have never experienced love like I have this year.  I've learned that even in the worst situations, there can be good and the good that has come out of our situation has been the love...I never would have imagined that I could feel so loved by family, friends and total strangers.  It makes all of the difference on those lonely days.  I think I've also learned how to really love...the kind of love that comes with an open heart and will make my life worth living.

And we have laughed.  Sometimes it has been hard to find anything to laugh about, but I am lucky to have a family that can find humor when it is needed most.  That has been the other lesson I have learned from all of this, laughter is so importnant.  Life is hard, but it is going to be so much harder if you can't find something to laugh about.

As for the baby, I am so chock full of baby right now that I feel like I have one of the suction-cupped Garfields stuck to my insides, with a different appendage in every nook and cranny.  I am so so lucky to be pregnant with Gracie.  She is an answer to many prayers. 

Last night, I found Rip's blanket from the hospital.  It is the only thing I have that he touched, and I am thankful to have that piece of him.  Here in the "After After", Rip is still a part of our family.  Of all the things I worried about last year, I think I was most afraid that as time passed I would lose him completely, but I haven't (in fact, when I started this post I glanced at the clock and it was 11:11...he is very good at checking in when it's important).

So, 31 years old.  I could never have predicted how this year would go...but last year my prayer was that the good would outweigh the bad.  Today, I sit here typing with a baby squirming in my stomach and an angel I carry in my heart, somewhere in this house is a husband who has loved us through it all and right next to me is a big brown dog who had the good sense to throw up all over the bed 365 days ago and make me start my life again.  I am so glad that I did.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

I wish I had something profound to say about Thanksgiving, but I don't.  I do plan on giving thanks for many things this year, thanks for everything from my children and family to the fact that there is absolutely nothing I need from Target at 12:00 am tomorrow night.

And maybe that's what Thanksgiving is really about, all the big and the little things that you are thankful for without having to put too much thought into any of it.  

Well, that and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Last of the Firsts

Last Friday, November 18th, was the first anniversary of the day that Rip passed away.  It was kind of "the last of the firsts" for us, and there some relief in that.  Not that any holiday, birthday, or even just plain old Monday will be any easier, but now we have experienced it, and lived through that experience, at least once.

I had a much harder time on Rip's birthday, November 11th, than this past Friday.  I think there are probably many reasons for that...I can't actually remember a lot of the day he died, either the trauma of it or the drugs from the c-section have allowed me to block some of that day out, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But mostly I think the day he was born is harder from me because it is his life I miss so much, not the death.

Overall, the last week was hard...but maybe not as hard as I expected it to be.  As I've said before, I miss Rip everyday so the anticipation of these "anniversaries" is almost always worse than the actual day.  Parke and I took some time to be together, and it was nice for me to have time to really concentrate on Rip and all his little life meant and means.

So we made it through a whole year, we made it through all of the worst firsts.  My hope this Thanksgiving is that this year will be full of more firsts, but only the best kinds.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Always There

There is a quote that my parents put in my high school yearbook that keeps running though my head ...

"You can always remember the second and the third and the fourth time, but there's no time like the first.  It's always there."


Today, I am thankful that Rip will always be my first.  No matter what, in my heart, he is always there.

Friday, November 11, 2011

To You on Your Birthday

Dear Rip,

Today you are one year old! This day is a happy, happy day.

The morning you were born your Daddy and I got up very early, mainly because I wanted to take a shower, dry my hair, and put on make-up to look pretty for you (because I am your Mama, and that's just how I am).  We were so so excited to meet you.

When the doctor finally held you up, we were both crying tears of joy.  We thought you were the most beautiful thing we had ever seen, even if you looked a little like an alien at first.  Soon you were all clean and fluffed up and I knew you exactly who you were...my baby boy.

Your daddy went with you to make sure you were settled into your new surroundings okay, and when he got back he told me that you were like a perfect little present.  He was exactly right, you gave us the best gift that we could have asked for...you made us your Mama and Daddy.  That is a gift I am so thankful for today and every day.

Of course we are sad that we cannot be with you on this day, but life is full of very sad things and very good things and you can't really experience one without the other...and you, my little boy, are a Very Good Thing.

The day will come when I get to hold you in my arms again and I hope you are ready to be squeezed to pieces (because I am your Mama, and that's just how I am).

Happy Birthday, Rip Harris.  We love you more than words can say.

Love,
Your Mama

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Isn't She Lovely

Today is my sister Kit's 18th Birthday.  
Everyone should be so lucky to have such a sweet, kind, beautiful on the inside and out sister.  
We love our "Aunt Kit"...Happy Happy Birthday!!!


Isn't She Lovely?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"She's Just Not a Small Girl"

Gracie's 32 week ultrasound was today and all looked great.  The first thing the tech commented on was how much hair she has, which old wives tale or no, I think is contributing to the ridiculous amount of heartburn I've been having lately.  The second thing she noticed was that Gracie is BIG.

Rip weighed a little over 5 lbs when he was born at 35 weeks...according to the ultrasound (which I know can be off), Gracie has already surpassed him.  Overall she is in the 75th percentile, with her head being in the 90th percentile...when I asked if that was normal, my doctor said "well, she's just not a small girl".  Not what most ladies want to hear, but it was music to my ears! Maybe a little more so knowing that I will have a c-section.

It looks like all of those prayers for a big, fat healthy baby are paying off...I can't wait to get that hairy little piglet in my arms!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Saints and Miracles and all that Jazz..

I will be the first to admit, I can be pretty cynical.  It goes against my nature to act too "sweetsy" about anything, I always feel the need to follow sentimentality with a joke or sarcastic comment.  I'm not a huge fan of romantic comedies or things of that nature, I think I am the only person in the world that hated The Notebook.


Yesterday was All Saints Day at our church.  It is a day where, as my pastor told Parke and me, "we honor all of the saints, even the littlest ones".  Rip's name was the first read out loud during the service.  I would never have chosen for my child to be a saint, but hearing him commemorated in that way reminded me of how special he is.  I felt pride along with my sadness. I am so thankful for his life, for the mere fact that he was and still is remembered and loved.

Later in the day we held Gracie's baby shower.  It was a happy, happy time.  So many family and friends, all there to celebrate her life, just as we celebrated her brother's earlier in the day.

After Rip died, I had moments where I would walk into a crowded place, look at all of the people, and recognize that they were all once babies.  At that time, my thoughts were darker and I felt bitter that all of these "babies" made it when mine didn't.  I was in the frame of mind that it is a miracle that anyone makes it into this world at all.  Now I realize it is a miracle.

The lives that I celebrated yesterday are miracles...I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes or putting in a sarcastic comment here...but it's true.  This little girl that is growing inside of me is a miracle, and I am so thankful for the chance to celebrate her.  The family and friends that surround me in the good times and the bad are part of that miracle too.

So, like that good old Grinch, my heart has grown a few sizes this year.  Maybe it is the spirit of the season, but I'm not afraid to say that I believe in saints and miracles and all that jazz.  Just don't ask me to watch The Notebook, I have limits.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Redirect

I have to admit, lately I have succumbed to what my dad always calls "stinkin thinkin".  To be honest, in the last few weeks I kind of lost my way, my faith and the ability to believe.

After Rip died, my faith is a big part of what saved me.  I turned to the Bible and to prayer in ways that I never thought to do before.  I found comfort where I thought there was none to be had.  Believing that I would see my son again saved me.

I've realized that I haven't been carrying that same faith with me in the last part of this pregnancy.  I think a lot of it has to do with protecting my heart.  Subconsciously I guess I've been feeling that if I didn't trust God then I couldn't be hurt again, which of course if far from the truth.

This morning I woke up and knew that I had to make a choice, either I believe or I don't.  I chose to believe.  To believe that the same God who carried me through the weeks after Rip's death, the same God who answered my prayers for this pregnancy, the same God I know I've felt my whole life has not changed.  I am not doing Parke, Gracie, Rip or myself a favor by turning my back on Him.

There is a saying that worry is just a prayer for something to go wrong, and I've been doing too much of that lately.  I've lost sight of the goal, that despite all of the things that could go wrong the light at the end of this tunnel is a healthy baby.  That's where my head needs to be right now.

There were two quotes I read this morning that affirmed what I was feeling.  The first was the serenity prayer:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

I can't change what happened with Rip, as much as I wish I could.  I can have the courage to have faith in Gracie, as hard as it may be.  And for me, I know I don't have the strength to do either alone.

The second quote was "It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty- Goethe"

I know it was our choice to name this baby Grace, but it wasn't a name I even thought of using until I got pregnant with her.  I feel like this name was meant to be, to give me comfort and make me feel as if God's grace and the baby Grace were meant just for me in quotes like this one.

I know I may have to make the choice to believe ten times a day, to redirect my thought from dark places fifty more...but today I choose to have faith.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Raindrops on Roses

I feel I've been a little doom and gloom lately, not that it isn't warranted but I wanted to make it known that there is still a good deal of happiness going on in my life.

Here are a few of my favorite things this fall:

My wiggle worm of a baby girl...Last week at our doctor's it took them a full ten minutes to get her heartbeat because she kept kicking away the monitor.  The nurse (somewhat ominously) said, "This is when you can really start to tell their personalities".  I am sure she will keep me running in the years to come, but for now nothing makes me happier than the crazy gymnastics going on in my belly.

Russian Tea...you know, the kind with Tang in it that is literally pure sugar?  I didn't even know they still made Tang but over the weekend my mom made me a batch and it has become my morning treat.  Based on the sugar content alone, Gracie seems to like it too.

Books on CD...this is my newest obsession.  I sincerely look forward to getting in my car and driving somewhere when I know I have a good book.  I was getting a bit hormonally road-ragey there for a while, but now I actually welcome the sight of a little traffic.

A Happy Halloween...I was a little worried that Halloween this year would be hard, but I honestly enjoyed it. Last year I was in the hospital and horribly lonely.  This year, Parke, Dock the dog, Gracie and I all piled on the couch and ate hot dogs (a long standing family Halloween tradition).  We had some cute little buggers come by to trick-or-treat and gave away all of our candy...well, except for the little pile I set aside for later.  I have a growing girl to think about after all.

November...yes, parts of November are really hard.  But I have always loved this month.  Some of my favorite people have birthdays coming up, my mom, my sister...and well, me.  And now I have Rip to add to the list, and no matter what he deserves to be celebrated this month.  No child of mine would settle for anything less.  Add a fabulous Thanksgiving meal and some day after Thanksgiving shopping (with birthday money in hand) to all of this and there are some good things about November.

Nice people...we have been blessed with some of the best friends and family anyone could ask for.  This coming weekend we will have a baby shower for Gracie, something I was initially very hesitant to do because I feel that everyone has already done so much for us.  But so many people encouraged this shower, and seemed to genuinely want to celebrate this baby that I am really looking forward to it.  And I am enjoying nice people in general, being pregnant you tend to get a lot of big smiles and encouraging comments...and while they may be thinking you poor old big thing, it makes life considerably more enjoyable to be surrounded by goodwill.

So, these are just a few of my favorite things...simply remembered and now I don't feel so bad.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Shall Be Well

The thing I was least prepared for in this pregnancy is the fear.  I knew it would be hard, I knew I would be afraid but I did not expect this kind of terror.  These are moments of Horror Movie-esque, have trouble breathing, ice in the pit of your stomach, free-falling fear.  This is "what if it happens again" fear.

I don't know that there is anything I can really do about it.  Praying helps, exercise helps, distractions help...but there is one antidote to this particular fear and I won't have it until I am sitting in my house with a soft-skinned, sweet smelling baby in my arms.

Each morning I wake up and read a few pages from different books that have helped me get through this year.  The first one I read this morning had a quote attributed to Julian of Norwich, it read "All shall be well.  All shall be well.  All matter of thing shall be well." 


After a weekend when the fear had me in its grip too much of the time, these words felt meant for me.  They allowed me to close my eyes and see that moment when "all shall be well".

I am so afraid, so very afraid of losing again.  I hope that despite my fear, I am always able to see that ending and that baby in my arms with pursed lips and tufts of dark hair.  All shall be well.  All shall be well.  All matter of thing shall be well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just a Little Bit Stronger

These past couple of weeks have been harder than I expected.  Logically, it doesn't make much sense...my level of missing Rip is no different just because of the time of year, or the anniversaries coming up...I miss him every day.  But subconsciously my mind and body seem to know this is a time to grieve.
A lot of the time it's the days that I don't prepare for that are the hardest, and I've been trying to prepare for Rip's birthday and the seven days that followed since the day we lost him.  But some things are just hard no matter how much preparation you have.
It can feel like a setback, when you have had days or weeks when you feel like your old self, to then be thrown back to the vulnerable, weepy you who you don't trust to watch a Hallmark commercial.
But getting through every hard milestone seems to give me a little more strength, strength that has nothing to do with slapping a smile on my face or trying not to cry. It's strength to feel whatever I need to feel as deeply as I need to feel it, and the strength to let others do the same.
One thing that absolutely gives me strength is the upcoming arrival of Miss Gracie, two months from today! Two months still sounds too long to me, but I think I blinked and November was practically here so I have a feeling December 27th is going to get here faster than I can believe! I just can't wait to meet this little girl.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Suckiest Club in the World

Shortly after Rip died, one of my mom's friends who also lost a child mentioned that I was now a part of "The Suckiest Club in the World".

I wish that there were no members of this club, and at the very least I wish that there were no new members, but I will say the women I've met this last year who have also lost a child have given me some of the greatest gifts...they have helped me get through each minute, hour, day and week.

I say all of the time that I am so thankful most people don't know what it is like to lose a child, and I am beyond lucky to have the caring, supportive group of family and friends that I do.  But there are times when I feel very alone.

There are times when I don't feel like talking about Rip to my family and friends is the right thing to do on that day or in that moment.  You know that person that you feel like running from every time you see them coming, or their number pops up on your phone, just because you know it is going to be a gloom and doom conversation...I don't want to be that girl.

But there is no getting over the death of a child, only through it, and anyone who has lost a child knows that you are always going through it.

That's where I have received so much comfort from the other members of this sucky club.  On the days where I feel completely lost, without faith or hope, I've been able to read words that were written by others that could be taken from my own head.  Whether from a blog or a personal letter or email...I can look at these words and know that I am not alone,  that some things get better and some things don't and both are okay.  I've learned from these women that there is no emotion off-limits, no timeline and no list I need to be checking off.  On days when I have needed it most I have learned that there is also happiness in life after loss, that wonderful and surprising things are still happening in this world.

So I want to thank them, the other members of this club, for understanding.  Thank you for being weak and strong and brave and broken.  Thank you for being some of the best parents I know.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Confession

My deep, dark pregnancy confession...I like it when people touch my belly.  Let me be clear, this statement pertains to pregnancy alone, touch my tummy when there is no baby inside and I won't be held responsible for my actions.

I don't know why I don't mind, it is a total invasion of personal space and I surely would hesitate if the person reaching out was of the creepy persuasion, but for the most part any old Jane or Jill is welcome to feel this baby bump.

I should be ashamed, I am breaking the pregnant woman code by encouraging this behavior, it's just that is somehow validates everything I am feeling when someone else gets that look of wonder and excitement feeling my baby kick.  It makes her seem more real.

Poor Parke can't make it through the day without having a belly shoved in his face and frankly he finds the "watch it wiggle" jello blob that was once his wife's stomach a little creepy. Can't imagine why.

So I am left seeking the belly rubs of family, friends, and strangers...feel free to try it yourself...just don't tell anyone.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You're Gonna Miss This

I have no idea what is it with me and cheesy country songs when I am pregnant, but today I heard the Trace Adkins song You're Gonna Miss This, and this part-


You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this



left me near tears.


There have been so many times during this pregnancy I have wished away days and months.  Earlier today I was joking that I wouldn't mind sleeping through the next nine weeks and waking up with a healthy baby in my arms.  


It's true that I almost can't wait to get the baby here.  There are so many worries and fears that come up with being so close.  


But this is the only time I will ever be pregnant with Gracie.  This is the only October 20th I will ever have with her in my belly.  Today is the day that she kicked so hard I had to push my chair back from my desk.  Every day from here on out will be closer to the last day I will be pregnant with this little girl.  I will be so happy when that final day comes and I meet her face to face...but I think I'm gonna miss this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The thought process of the pregnant woman

I believe that the one thing that a man will never understand, no matter how great a man he may be, is the thought process of the pregnant woman...

Can I get pregnant?
Am I pregnant? And if so, why did I drink that bottle of wine last night?
Can this test possibly be right?
I'm pregnant, but I don't feel sick...that's a bad thing, right?
I feel so sick, this can't possibly be normal.
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
Everyone is telling me I don't look pregnant, why don't I look pregnant yet?
Stop telling me how huge I am!
If I never have to inspect a piece of toilet paper again it will be too soon.
I have a pain in my stomach, back, leg, head, eye...what does it mean?
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
I can't feel the baby kick yet.
The baby is kicking but not very much.
The baby is kicking too much, what is wrong with this baby?
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
So you are saying all of those blobs on the screen are parts of my baby?
Why does my baby look like an alien?
Should I take this test?
What do you mean I failed my test and can't have sugar, I will NOT MAKE IT without my sugar.
What do you mean "measuring big/small"?  What will I do with this enormous/peanut-sized baby?
What do you mean by pressure?
Is this a cramp...what if I am in labor?
How do I know if something is wrong with my baby?
Is this labor or gas?
No, I am not about to pop but thanks for asking.
I popped...now what???

And this is the short list.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Really Matters

Rip.  Rip's life. The fact that Rip's life changed so many lives. That's what really matters.
This month has been full of a lot of worry and doubt and grief, sometimes I need to pull myself back and think about who and what is important.
Rip obviously changed my life, Parke's life and the lives of our families. But it's more than that.
Over the last 11 months I've received letters and emails from friends, strangers, other mamas who lost their babies, nurses, doctors...all telling me how my little boy changed their lives.
People live years and years and don't have as much impact as my baby did in seven days.
Does that sound like bragging?  It is.
Someday I will get to share all of these wonderful notes and messages with Gracie and I will tell her the story of her brother.  It's a happy story.
Beneath all of the worry and sadness, there is this miracle of a little boy who changed the world for the better.
That is what really matters.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just scared, period.

The other night while we were out someone asked Parke if he was scared to have a little girl.  He replied, "I'm just scared, period."

Hearing such a simple and honest response made me realize how true that is for us right now.

I am in turns thankful, grateful, hopeful, and excited. But underneath all of that is fear.

It feels like free-falling, and every once in a while there will be something for me to hold on to...a good doctor's appointment, the baby having a very active day, a message that seems sent just for me, an hour of truly believing everything is going to be okay...but nothing has been strong enough yet to keep me from falling again.

And it's okay, it's to be expected after all we have been through, but I am not scared of X,Y or Z...

I am just scared, period.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bippity, Boppity, Boo

This has been a tough week.  I think the hardest thing in the world is to know that people you love are hurting, and it's been a week with way too much of that going on.

I want more than anything to take out my magic wand and take all of the pain away...but I know that I can't...it will take (ugh.ugh.ugh.) time.

And until that time comes the best I can do is to be there when they need me, with lots of chocolate (the closest thing to fairy dust this side of Disney).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Masking it

Right after Rip died, I felt incredibly vulnerable.  I had no idea how to face the world as this new me, this "Girl Who", who was completely unprepared to deal with my loss much less others reaction to my loss.  I literally had no idea how to interact with the outside world, I wanted to find a way to hide myself.

So, I did the only logical thing...I got a nose ring.  About a week after Rip died, my younger brother came in town with strict orders to keep an eye on me while Parke was at work.  He drove me around town, I have no idea where we went or what we did, but at some point I must have mentioned that I'd always wanted a nose ring...the next thing I knew, I was leaning head down in the back room of a dark, patchouli smelling hole in the wall with a blinking piercing sign on the front door.

From my vantage point, I couldn't see the device the "piercing specialist" was using but based on my brother's gagging/giggling reaction, my guess is it looked like something that would shove a needle through your nostril.  Still, I figured with the amount of pain I was already in, nothing could hurt me now.  Yeah, I was reeeeaaaaaallly wrong about that part.  It hurt, it hurt bad.

But it was worth it.  Turns out that nose ring was exactly what I needed.  It was like a little bit of armor, distracted outsiders, maybe even gave me a touch of "bad-ass".  I needed to feel stronger, and for whatever reason (and much to my family's horror), having a diamond sticking out of nose gave me strength.

Unfortunately for the nose ring, Parke's choice of armor for that period in our lives was to grow a big, burly beard.  Word to the wise, beards and nose rings don't mix.  Every time I leaned in for a much-needed hug, I got snagged.  Between that and the massive amount of crying I was doing without being able to properly blow my nose, my little diamond of strength only lasted until New Years.

But by then I was a little stronger, had a little more faith in myself when I stepped out of the front door. I was ready to take off the mask. My only regret now is that I didn't get any good pictures...

Parke and I in our our masks...okay, you can't see mine because it was on the other side of my face, but trust me, I was cool.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Patting myself on the back

Yesterday, I cleaned the nursery.  I put away little boy clothes and pulled out little girl clothes.  It was something I needed to do by myself, it was a time for me to cry if I wanted to cry, think about what I wanted to think about, be excited about the things I wanted to be excited about.

Putting away Rip's things was something I have been dreading, and it was just about as emotionally draining as I imagined it would be.  At the same time, it was healing...I came across some of Rip's ultrasound pictures, and he and Gracie have almost the exact same profile.  I do believe that there is another little boy in our future somewhere, and I looked forward to bringing those boxes back out when that day comes.   And I had time to talk to Rip.  I needed that.

I also washed all of Gracie's clothes (and I do mean all...girl has a wardrobe).  It was something I did not get to do for Rip, and I enjoyed it.  Smelling and folding all those little pink things and putting them in their proper place was so satisfying...I think I spent at least 30 minutes just examining my handiwork   Lining up little shoes, laying out pretty pink blankets, hanging up teeny dresses on teeny hangers...it was real for me then, there is a baby coming!

When I woke up this morning and peeped in the nursery, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  Gracie is coming, and we are getting ready for her...but in doing so, I lost nothing of Rip.  So today I am going to pat myself on the back...I did something hard and worthwhile and now I can keep moving forward.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making Heads or Tails of it...

My appointment on Friday was blissfully uneventful...hooray! I actually passed my test for gestational diabetes and to be honest, I was shocked...let's just say I haven't been denying myself much these days.  I guess all these years of eating dessert after every meal are paying off, sugar seems to do my body (and baby) good...or at least it doesn't hurt.

Only one interesting little tidbit came out of yesterday's visit...apparently Gracie is breech, which for the most part is no big deal as I will be having a c-section.  Except...I thought she was head down.  And I thought that large bulge sticking out by my belly button was her little fanny.  And I may or may not have been mashing it, patting it, and pressing on it for the last few weeks.  Soooo... sorry kiddo...I'm sure the dents will fill out over time and if not I have plenty of hairbows for you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Round and Round She Goes

One year ago today I was put in the hospital on bedrest for 6 weeks.  As I have said, there are equal parts disbelief and even fondness that goes with the memories of that time.  In some way, I really can't believe I sat in a room for 6 weeks...I also can't believe how many friends and family came by during those 6 weeks with anything and everything to keep me entertained.

Even though I am almost thankful for that time now, any anniversary like this can be rough.  My original due date with Rip was 12/19/10...and Gracie's big debut is scheduled for 12/27/11, so in a way I am reliving a lot of Rip's pregnancy.  In some ways, it is so different and I am grateful for those differences.  In other ways, those differences make me sad, that my pregnancy with Rip was not this "easy".

I guess I am bracing myself for the emotions that may come up between now and the end of November.  I know that some of these days will be hard, maybe even harder as I move forward with this pregnancy...but I know the only thing harder than reliving these days pregnant with Grace would be living them without her.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Looking for an Ace

For about five years of my life, starting when I was around nine, I was a horseback rider.  I adored horses, begged my parents to let me have lessons.  So at least once a week for those five years, I got to ride horses...and I was absolutely terrified.

The thing with horseback riding is, you are supposed to fall off... and then of course get right back on.  I never fell off...and as time went on, I got more and more afraid of falling.  There were times when I should have been thrown, or bucked, or scraped off a horse but I clung on for dear life.

The policy at the barn was that the instructor picked your horse for the week, and you would not know which horse you were riding until you looked up at the little green chalkboard outside of the office window.  Those were some tense moments.

There was Galahad who, despite the name, was no knight in shining armor.  Instead, he was the oldest horse in the barn, not only that, he wasn't even a horse...he was a "large pony" who I could have mounted standing flat footed.  Days with Galahad were safe, but boring.  Even I felt a foolish riding around on something that allowed my feet to scrape the floor.

And there was Raindrop, a spirited Appaloosa who left me pining for a Galahad day...I once watched Raindrop toss my best friend over her head smack into a barn door.  My friend suffered a broken ankle and I suffered from paralyzing fear every time I got near the beast.

But then there was Ace...just a normal old quarter horse, but big enough not to make me feel like a fool and steady enough so that I was never afraid.  I lived for the days when I saw his name beside mine on the old green board.

This Friday is my 28 week doctor's appointment with Gracie.  To this point, some of my appointment's have been Galahads...I'm thankful for them, but they are slow and leave me impatient and wanting to know more.  There have also been a couple of Raindrop's, appointment where I feel like I am clinging on for dear life and so thankful to be getting the heck out of there.  And then there have been some of Aces...big appointments that still managed to make me feel safe and comforted.

Despite my best efforts to cling on, I fell off the horse when Rip died.  My pregnancy with Gracie has been my getting back on moment...I just hope this Friday and every appointment after gives me an Ace.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My Job

I've said many times that it is hard to be mom to a child in heaven.  It's hard for all of the obvious reasons.  It's hard because while I may not know what it is like to be up all night with a crying baby, I know what it is like to be up all night wishing with every piece of my being that there was a crying baby there with me.  Hard because while I may not know how my day to day life will be completely changed when I have a baby with me, I know what it is like to have my day to day life completely changed by having a baby who is not with me.  I don't know everything that my friends know about being a mom, but I know things that I am so thankful they don't have to know.

My job as a mom to Rip is different, being a mom to Rip is the main reason I write this blog.  So that no matter how much time passes, his name will not be forgotten.  It will always be known how much he is loved and missed, how many lives he touched and changed.

My job as a mom to Gracie will also be different.  Gracie will know she has a big brother who is loved and missed, that she has an angel who looks out for her.  But my biggest goal for Gracie is for her to know just how much she is loved and wanted.  Not as a replacement, not as someone to take away the sadness, but as a little girl her parents want so much just for being her.  It's my job to make sure that Gracie grows up in a happy home, and it's one I take very seriously.

However hard it may be, I wouldn't trade my job for anything in this world.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall-ing Out

I am the most cold-natured person on earth.  I am that girl in a sweatshirt as soon as the temperature dips below 80...and yet, I am almost giddy about our first cool weather coming this weekend.

This time last year, I was only one week away from a 6 week hospital stay.  I basically missed an entire season sitting in one bed, one room for 36 days.  I kept looking outside and watching the sky get that bright fall blue, I dreamed about football games and Halloween and pumpkin spiced lattes.

I really try not to dwell on the sad, lord knows there is enough sad without me dragging things up...so here are some good things:
This weekend I am going to plant purple pansies in my front yard..heck, I might even get a pumpkin
I am going to sit on the beach in a chair (and a sweatshirt) and let the sun beat down on my face
I am going to take a walk and let cold water hit my feet, because I can
I am going to eat as much candy corn/m&m/peanut/raisin mix that I can fit into my ever-growing belly
I am going to drink apple cider, pumpkin spiced lattes and hot chocolate
I am going to buy some big old jeggings and put them on with boots
Basically, I am going to fall out over fall.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just to be heard

I believe in God.  I became a Christian when I was eleven years old.  Even after what happened with Rip, I still believe in God...and that makes it so much harder sometimes.

I've mentioned how I now write in a prayer journal.  The last few weeks it has been filled with a lot of "Thank you for this...Please this...Thank you for this...Please this"...but the words on the paper were not the words going on inside my head.  To tell you the truth, for the last few weeks I've been really angry at God.  I don't know if it is because we are getting closer to the anniversary of Rip's birth and death, or closer to Gracie's birth, probably both.  But I've been mentally crossing my arms and turning my back, feeling hurt and betrayed.

So yesterday I wrote what i was feeling.  My journal entry went something like this:

Dear God,
I made a commitment to believe in you no matter what, but I am having a really hard time believing in you.  I am having a hard time believing that you love me, that you want what is best for me.  I look at pictures of Rip and I cannot for the life of me understand how his not being here is best.  You tell me that there is a plan that I cannot understand but sometimes that answer is not good enough.  I have this child growing inside of me and have the full knowledge that Your Plan is the only thing that guarantees that she will get here safely and be healthy.  I put my trust in you and pray every day for her, but I know that her life is in Your hands as was Rip's.  And if I am honest with you, sometimes, that does not bring me much comfort.  So even as I know I have to rely on you completely, I need you to know that sometimes it feels like too much is being asked of me.  
Amen

Today I woke up and that dark cloud that was hanging over my head started to clear.  The anger and resentment I was feeling just wasn't there anymore.  I know there are people who would tell me it is not up to me to question or be mad at God...those people are right...and also those people probably haven't lost a child.  Just like with any other relationship, I needed to make myself heard.  I'm glad I did.  I feel like having this honest prayer healed me in ways that my rote "Thank you for, Please"'s have not.

I still don't have the answers, and I know that I probably never will.  But I believe that I was heard, even understood, and maybe that is what I needed all along.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's Party Time

What: Dance Party!
When: 3-5 am, Nightly
Where: My Stomach
What to Bring: The ability to hiccup, kick or punch vital organs and tickle ribs for at least two hours.  Bonus points for slowly dragging bodyparts across the bladder region.


S'long sleep...you've been good to me.  Hope to see you again sometime next year!

Friday, September 23, 2011

They Say it's Your Birthday

My doctor's office called me this afternoon to let me know that Gracie's birthday (aka my c-section date) has been moved to December 27th.  As my mom said, I think I can be available that day.

I am a little funny about the whole birthday thing with her anyway.  Because it was medically necessary for me to have a c-section with Rip (as it will be for me with Gracie), I, in the broadest sense of the word, "chose" Rip's birthday. Granted, we knew he had to come early and I think I was maybe given a choice of a Thursday or a Friday, but I picked the 11th because it was my lucky number.  And though I know (I know I know I know) that decision did not play a part in what happened after Rip was born, there are times when it weighs on me.

In the truest sense of the concept, Gracie won't get to come whenever she wants to...if she is still hanging in there two days after Christmas she is destined to be in my arms whether she likes it or not.  But I am okay with that being my doctor's call at this point.

Still, being that Gracie seems to be a bit of a party girl, I would not be surprised if she made it known that she would like to join in the festivities a few days earlier.  Either way, they say December 27th is your birthday and that is just fine with me.

Gracie's Songs

These are the lyrics to the two songs Gracie and I listen to at least once a day...and yes, I tear up in at least one of them every time.  Happy tears.

"Gracie" by Ben Folds
You can't fool me, I saw you when you came out
You got your momma's taste but you got my mouth
And you will always have a part of me
Nobody else is ever going to see
Gracie girl

With your cards to your chest walking on your toes
What you got in the box only Gracie knows
And I would never try to make you be
Anything you didn't really want to be
Gracie girl

Life flies by in seconds
You're not a baby Gracie, you're my friend
You'll be a lady soon but until then
You gotta do what I say

You nodded off in my arms watching TV
I won't move you an inch even thought my arm's asleep

One day you're gonna want to go
I hope we taught you everything you need to know
Gracie girl


And there will always be a part of me
Nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me
My little girl
My Gracie girl



"Amazing Grace" LeAnn Rimes version


Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.

’twas grace that taught my heart to feel
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

When we’ve been dead ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing god’s praise
Then when we first begun.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see. 




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Glimpse of Grace

In my former life, not only did I say that I would never pass around ultrasound pictures, I declared that I would never, ever stoop so low as to post those creepy 3-D babies.

This is why they tell you never say never.

                                            My daughter, the Trekkie

                                           Good news, it's a baby alright

"Seriously, Mama, relax...give me a little peace and quiet in here"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In the Middle of the Night

This weekend, I went home to do some nursery shopping with my mom.  It was a fun girls weekend, and we got lots of cute fabric and ideas (I am sure there will be photos when the final product is ready for presentation).

Saturday night, I woke up not feeling right.  A little chilled, headachy, the whole nine yards.  I sat there trying to decide what to do for an hour or so.  On one hand, well...I'm 30.  On the other hand, I am 30...and pregnant, and freaked out that if I had a fever it could be passed to my baby, and realizing I did not know where my parents kept the tylenol or thermometer.

That is what led me to stand over my mother at 2:00 am whispering (well, it started as a whisper)... "Mama...Mama...Mama!"

Minutes later, I found myself back in bed.  My temperature had been taken (normal), tylenol dispensed (doctor approved), and I was sipping on a fizzy drink (universal comfort drink).  While I am sure that my mother thought she was well past the days of the 30 year old waking her in the dead of night saying she felt sick, she didn't bat an eyelash.  I, in turn, was comforted enough to go back to sleep (I asked my mom if she was also able to go back to sleep...she said yes...eventually).

I started thinking about how I have always felt that way around my parents...they may not have known what to do in every situation, but their children would never have guessed.  I have grown up comforted by the fact that no matter what, I was in capable hands.  This year we have been in really tough situations.  Even in the ones they couldn't fix, the presence of my parents gave me strength I would not have had otherwise.  My biggest hope is that, whether she is 3 or 30, Gracie will be able to come to me in the middle of the night knowing no matter what the situation, her Mama (and Daddy) will help make it better.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Think it is Safe to Say...

The baby is growing just fine...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pregnancy PSA (not that anybody asked me)

Disclaimer...I have said and done all of the things I am about to say not to do, but I guess one thing you gain going through something like we've been through is perspective.

I've said before how hard it can be to know how to answer when someone asks if you have children, or now that I am showing (big time), if this is my first child.  What Parke and I went through is (fortunately) very, very rare...but I know or know of SO many people who either have trouble getting pregnant, have experienced a miscarriage, have used an alternative method to get pregnant etc. etc.. . asking just about anything on the subject of pregnancy can stir up some pretty serious emotion.

We all know better than to ask a woman when she is due. I still shudder in horror and bust out laughing when I think about a friend of mine, who upon running into another woman she thought was expecting, reached out and touched the acquaintance's belly and asked when she was due.  The woman responded that the baby was born about a month prior... so there my friend stood, WITH HER HAND ON THE WOMAN"S EMPTY (and apparently fairly swollen) STOMACH!!! What do you even do with that?

But sometimes even asking  "So, when are you going to start having kids?" can cause a crying jag.  Obsessing over "who does the baby look like?" can be a faux these days in case of in vitro or adoption.  What number child is this for you can be a tough question for some after a miscarriage or loss.  Or occasionally I will be a in a situation (shopping, eating out) where someone I will never see again asks if this is my first child.  Sometimes I don't want to get into it so I will just say yes (always whispering a little apology up above)...but if the person won't let it go ("oh! you have no idea what you are in for!" or "Aren't you lucky to be having a little girl first!") by the time we are finished talking I am exhausted, kicking myself for lying, and near tears.

So bottom line, if you come across someone and have no idea what their current situation on child bearing may be, probably best just not to bring it up at all.  If the person is either actively giving birth (or just mentioned that she was expecting), you can stick with the "Oh my gosh, you look fabulous...this child is so lucky to have such a beautiful, smart, fashion-savvy mother"...or something to that effect.  Once the child arrives you can rest assured that anything along the lines of "cutest baby you have ever seen" will thrill every mother in the universe.

It shouldn't be this hard, in a perfect world none of this tiptoeing around would be necessary.  But from
someone who knows what it feels like to brace yourself for a punch in the gut every time you meet somebody new...well, your kind and lighthearted comments will mean more than you know.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thank you, Doctor

Today, I want to acknowledge how grateful I am for the doctors who have helped me through this pregnancy.  Last Friday, I had my 24 week appointment.  When the nurse went to measure my belly (technically, my "fundal height", but that word remind me of fungus so I will stick with belly), I was measuring 2 weeks behind.  The nurse assured me that was completely normal.  While I waited for my doctor to come in, I did some hardcore praying that she would do or say something that could stop the major freak-out currently in progress.

She came in, took one look at my face,asked me what was wrong and (after assuring me again that my measurement was completely normal, and that she was not worried at all) scheduled me to have an ultrasound within the hour.  It was Friday afternoon at 4:00 and she knew nothing was wrong, she could have easily said "we'll keep an eye on it" and sent me on my way.  She could have left me to worry and stress and cry.  Instead, she told me that if there was EVER anything she could do to help my peace of mind, I just needed to ask.  Gracie looked beautiful...she is a whopping 1 lb 6ozs and right on track in the 48th percentile. My (and probably especially Parke's) weekend was saved.

And that has been what my medical care has been like with this pregnancy.  The doctor I saw for the first 12 weeks with Gracie, before I made the necessary change to my high risk practice, still checks on my ultrasounds and calls to give me extra encouragement after each one.  One of the doctor's at my high-risk practice took the time to look me in the eye and say, "we're not going to let anything bad happen to you".  I have worked with a genetic counselor who stood outside of the ultrasound room door, late to a meeting, just to make sure that my baby looked okay so that she could reassure me.

I met with my current doctor after I lost Rip and before I got pregnant with Gracie.  She told me then that 95% of this pregnancy would be mental.  She has taken the time to treat the mental right along with the physical.

I know these days doctors have to be careful about what they say, a potential lawsuit could be around any corner.  That's what makes what these doctors have done even more special...they have taken the time to do things, maybe not in their job description, but things that may have made all of the difference to the health of me and my baby.  For that, I need to say thank you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A little peace here, a little joy there

I, along with everyone else, watched a lot of 9/11 coverage this weekend.  There are plenty of people much more profound than I to write about anything specifically to do with that day, and I will leave them to it.  What struck me while watching all of the horrific and moving videos from that day now, ten years later, is how much more connected I felt.

The day the towers fell, I was alone in my college gym on the treadmill.  It was just after the first tower was hit, and I watched in disbelief as another plane hit the second tower.  That day, my twenty-year-old friends and I stayed glued to the coverage.  We were afraid, we were upset, we were sad.  But deep down it was happening to someone else.  What we were watching on TV, at least for me, was still unreal.  I went on with my life.

There is a period after a devastating loss where it is impossible to believe that anyone else has been through a loss as terrible as yours.  In a way it's true, because that loss is yours.  Last night, watching the videos of the towers fall, all that I could think about was that everyone that died that day was someone's Rip.

We attended a wedding this weekend, and while singing one of the hymns a verse stuck out to me. . ."Peace on earth and joy in heaven".  I don't think it matters who you are or where you are in life, but after you experience profound loss this statement sums it up.  I can't think of anything I want more than peace for those on earth, and to know that there is safety and joy for those in heaven. That is far from a new concept, but for me, the emotions behind it are different than they were ten years ago.  Peace on earth and joy in heaven.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In the Pink

Yesterday, someone mentioned to me that instead of always looking of the black and white, I should try to enjoy the "gray area" of my pregnancy...meaning I should try to keep it in the present instead of worrying about the past or trying to jump forward to the future.  I agree, but as I've mentioned before, the gray area of anything doesn't sound like somewhere I want to be.  So, in honor of Gracie, I will try to enjoy the "pink" of this pregnancy.

Before I got pregnant with Gracie, my doctor warned me that I would be a nervous wreck until I was home with my baby (and probably well after!) because we lost Rip after his birth...meaning there wouldn't really be a month or week that I could pass and believe everything was going to be okay.

This weekend, I will be 24 weeks.  This is a BIG milestone...it means that, although nobody would ever want this to happen, if I were to go into labor today there is a decent chance that my baby would survive.  My first instinct is to think of all of the things that could still go wrong...but the reality is, I am 24 weeks pregnant and everything is looking great.  I feel good, Gracie is (well, I am) growing daily, the weather is beautiful, and we have a fun weekend planned.  Things are pretty darn good "in the pink"...now I've just got to do my best to stay here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You'll Find That Life Is Still Worthwhile

Growing up, I had a stint as a "guppy" on my local swim team.  It was a short stint...I was very concerned about looking like a graceful swimmer, pointing my toes and keeping a smile on my face, but for some reason the coach was unimpressed when all of that grace left me a good pool length behind everyone else.  I left for hobbies where I felt my talents would be more appreciated (I'll let you know when I find them).

Anyway, even now I can hear the coach's voice in my head "KICK KICK KICK!!!!!!"

It's those words I now hear in my head when I am lying there are night, waiting on Gracie to do just that.

I got what I asked for two nights ago when my internal "KICK KICK KICK's" apparently made it into her little head.  It was 3:00 in the morning when she got the party started and it was 5:00 am by the time she finally wore herself out.  My insides felt like spaghetti...but I sat there and grinned through the whole event.

I think that smiling is both over- and under-rated.  Some people think that if you plaster a smile on your face, you will be happy.  For me, it doesn't work that way.  But if I come across something that genuinely makes me want to smile...well, that make all of the difference in the world.

Laying there that night, feeling my baby move and knowing that she was okay... life was still worthwhile.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Even after I accepted that life was going to go on without Rip, I had pretty much come to the conclusion that happiness was just no longer in the cards for me.  I could not conceive that I would actually feel true joy again after losing him.

The acceptance phase for me has something to do with learning how to fit becoming "The girl who..." (lost her baby) into my life.   I had to learn how to fit that new piece of my life into what already existed.  It is not been easy, but I have found that "The girl who" can be happy.

Because that girl has a beautiful baby boy and a beautiful baby girl on the way.  That girl has faith, friends, and family.  That girl can still get so cracked up over ridiculous things that her husband can only shake his head.

Happiness is different now...I won't say that it has more meaning (happy is just happy, not complicated ), but I need it more now than ever.  I love those gut-busting moments.  My great-grandmother said that you have to find you own happiness and it's true.  You have to look for and find those happy moments, and I am so glad that I have been able to discover them again.

So while Rip's death has changed me in so many ways, I am at the point now where I able to have comfort and I am able to have joy...and I like to think my son has his hand in that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prayers of the People

So, taking a little break from my "stages" post...right when I get to the happiest one too! I think that is part of why I am writing today (and will write an "acceptance" post at some point)...today I woke up so happy...and I freaked out.

Yesterday, I was able to get all of my paperwork back from the doctor outlining my leave when Gracie arrives.  The doctor said we would most likely be doing a c-section on December 26th...can you think of a better way to spend the day after Christmas?! Beats any day-after sale I know about.

But as we get closer, and as it gets more and more real, I get more afraid.  We are SO close, and I just want this baby so badly.  Gracie's birth can't change Rip's loss, but it will be a cause for so much joy.  And I am so afraid something is going to come along and take that joy away.

So very selfishly, today I am asking for prayers. Prayers for health, prayers for normalcy, prayers to quiet my mind, prayers to be able to just enjoy this time.  I guess I am looking for that whole "peace that passes all understanding" thing.  I know so many people have and are praying for us, but it makes me feel like I am doing something to ask for these prayers today...and for someone who likes complete control (and is starting to realize just how little I actually have), that means a lot.

And it sounds cliche, but from the bottom of my heart...thank you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Down Time

The sadness/depression stage is a complicated one.  I've found that people are very shaken by sadness.  After Rip died, I cried a lot (still do sometimes) and it would really alarm people.  My doctors kept asking if I felt depressed...well, yeah.  How else should I feel?  The thing is...my child died.  Would it not be more alarming if I wasn't sad, didn't feel depressed?

Even though I don't think I was ever unusually depressed, I do remember a time around Christmas when I was driving back from work.  A car kind of swerved into my lane and I swerved to avoid it. For some reason,  that brought me a huge sense of relief...it was kind of like, "Okay, the sense of self-preservation is still there."  I think maybe from that point forward, I realized that losing Rip wasn't going to kill me, and I better do the best I could with the life I was given.

As I've said, the sadness I feel now is pure and sometimes much needed.  I miss Rip and that is all there is to it.  But sometimes I also feel sadness for Gracie...not that I think something will happen to her, because truthfully I don't, but when you have lost one child unfortunately you always know what it would feel like to lose another.

The bottom line is that sadness does not scare me like it did in the beginning.  I know now that it will not overtake me, that while there are always times I will be sad, happiness is still right there. The truth is, I need my down time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Raw End of the Deal

The bargaining stage is one that maybe I don't understand very well.  I never did the stereotypical "I promise I'll do XYZ, if Rip can come back".

But as I said, I have definitely had moments where I wondered what I could have done differently.  Thankfully, even knowing what I know now, I have had a lot of peace that there is nothing else I would or could possibly have known then that would have changed the outcome.

I think one form of bargaining I did right after we lost Rip, and still do to some extent, is turn to books for answers.  In the first few weeks and months I read all sorts of books about pregnancy loss, stories from doctors, psychiatrists, other parents...and I think I was really just looking from some answers about why this happened to us.  As if something in one of those books could give me the reason I lost my son, why Anne lost Rip.  And maybe, on a subconscious level, if I could just figure out the why, there would be some way for me to fix it.

I do find myself doing a lot of bargaining these days on Gracie's behalf.  I have absolutely done the stereotypical if...then thing with this pregnancy.  I think I have promised everything that isn't nailed down for the healthiness of this child.

And I think she will be healthy, but I don't think it is because of any deal I make...nor do I think we lost Rip because I failed to make the right deal last time.  There is nothing I would not have given to get Rip back.  Maybe part of the healing during this stage of grief is knowing that there are some deals you just can't win.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The (not so Incredible) Hulk

I am not a confrontational person.  Right after Rip died, I just couldn't work up anger.  People were angry on my behalf, Parke was angry, my friends and family were angry...but I think of all of the stages anger is the one I have skipped the most.  Maybe the worst is yet to come, but there was never a period where all I felt was anger.

Now, don't get me wrong...there have been times of short-lived REAL anger.  There have been times that I have been furious with God, angry at the right people, angry at the wrong people...but for me, behind the anger is mostly disappointment and sadness.

Rip got an infection in the hospital after he was born...so far we have not been able to have a meeting with that hospital to explain what they think happened.  Does that make me mad...yeah, absolutely.  But it's hard to explain that anger- is what they tell me going to change the outcome...no, unfortunately not.  But maybe it would help me to know that what happened to us is not going to happen to someone else. I don't blame any one person who worked with Rip, it is more anger at a place...and where does that get me?  Again, I think it is maybe more disappointment than anger...it makes me wonder when people will ever learn how much can be gained by the words "I'm sorry".

But I guess I feel like anger isn't going to get me anywhere.  I also just can't seem to associate Rip with true anger.  He is and always will be such a good thing.

I love Rip.  I love Gracie, and I love Parke.  I love my little family.  I'm not incapable of anger, I just feel like there are more important things and people to take care of right now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Everyone deserves a break now and then

The denial or shock stage I felt right after Rip died was absolutely necessary in getting me through each day, and the kind of denial I go through now serves an equally important purpose.

For me, those first few days of denial kept me sane...it was the bubble wrap stage, where I couldn't feel anything and somewhere deep down I knew that was saving me.

Over the past months there have been moments of real denial.  Moments where I think about what could have gone differently, where a different decision could have been made, and maybe this whole thing would have never happened.  I have those fleeting moments where I think maybe I can still fix this, there has to be some way to make the outcome different.

But I know I can't.

So for the most part, denial for me now is a choice.  Not that I for one minute deny Rip.

When I was younger, and I got into a situation that scared me or made me uncomfortable, I would pretend I was in a play.  That is kind of what denial is like for me these days...it's pretending I am just a normal pregnant girl, shopping for normal pregnant girl things.  It is allowing people to exclaim over my bump and just taking a moment to be excited with them. It is allowing myself to be the me that other people, who know nothing about my situation, see for a few minutes. It's not so much running away from what has happened, it is taking a break from the bad parts.

In the beginning, I had no control over my emotions.  Now, being able to take five or ten minutes to check out from anything painful is one of the biggest ways I have been able to heal.  Denial is always talked about as such a negative thing, but I feel like everyone deserves a break now and then.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life's A Stage

Right after we lost Rip, I paid a lot attention to the "stages" of grief...denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  I kept trying to figure out what "stage" I was in, and how fast I could get to the finish line.  As months went by I was told, and learned, that you cycle back through the stages time and time again.  I'm still cycling away, but each stage feels so much different ten months later than it did in those first days, weeks, months.  I like to write how I am feeling down, it is just my way of seeing progress and figuring out all of these emotions that keep swirling around.  So anyway, that's what I am going to try to do over the next few days...but for now, I am just going to enjoy that white chocolate macadamia nut cookie that is calling my name (9:30 in the morning is an acceptable time for that, right?).

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's The Final Countdown

As I have said many, many times, patience is just NOT my strong suit.  When I am waiting on something, I almost always look for shortcuts.  For instance, if you are leaving for fabulous vacation on a Saturday, and you are currently stuck in a sucky slow Tuesday...well, you can't really count the day you are in, or the day you are leaving...therefore, you are leaving for vacation in a mere 72 hours! Which sounds SO much better than 5 long, tortuous days.

So, especially with our healthy report on Wednesday, clearly being pregnant is not torture...but sometimes it can be pretty close to a sucky slow Tuesday.  I am just so ready to have a squirming baby in my arms sometimes it feels like it will never happen.

Today, I am 20 weeks and 4 days pregnant...meaning I have 136 days until my due date.
Of course, I will be having a C-section, so I have to subtract a least 7 days..
And, vacations and holidays never count, so I pretty much have to subtract at least two weeks there (awful lot of holidays in the fall, you know)...
Then there is my birthday, which is pretty much a week-long celebration, so 7 days there...
Also, weekends are almost like holidays, so let's say roughly 20 weekends between now and January 2nd leaves me with no choice but to knock another 40 or so out of the count...
And THAT'S not even taking account days off for baby showers, nursery decorating etc. etc.

Honestly, when you really think about it, we are practically running out of time here!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Relief Doesn't Even Begin To Describe It....

Words like thankful and relief do not even begin to describe how I feel about yesterday's doctors appointment.

We heard words I have NEVER heard in either of my pregnancies, words like "perfect" and "great".  Every scary thing that has been a possibility until  now was as ruled out as it ever gets in pregnancy.  We left the appointment and I almost did not know how to feel...I am a normal pregnant person, I have never been a normal pregnant person before.

This time last year, at 20 weeks pregnant, I was not allowed to be further than a ten mile radius from a hospital...eight weeks later I was in the hospital for 6 weeks.  I was not allowed to walk around, much less walk for exercise.  I had to sit at my desk with my feet propped in the air.  I would not trade one minute of that time I was on bed rest with Rip, because it gave me time with him that I did not realize I would not have after he was born...but it was scary, and I was about as far from a normal pregnant person as you get.

Today I am wearing 4 inch leopard platform shoes.  I got up early this morning and power-walked through my neighborhood.  I am meeting a friend for dinner tonight and will keep my legs firmly on the floor.  I don't have to get into bed unless I want to.  It still feel a little unreal to me to Just. Be. Pregnant.

But I am, just a normal pregnant person, carrying a healthy (and very active...she put on quite a show yesterday) Baby Girl. Relief doesn't even begin to describe it.