Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bigger than Breakfast

I will challenge you to find a more ecstatic, overwhelmingly, off-the wall happy woman on this earth than I will be the day this baby arrives safely into my arms.  The excitement and expectation I have looking forward to that day is bigger than words can say.

Last Friday, we had an ultrasound to do some prenatal testing, and everything looked great.  Even though the tech said was too early to really tell, I persuaded her to give me an "educated guess"...she did, only after making me promise I would not go out and buy anything.  She guessed girl.

I am going to be that crazy/happy woman no matter what this baby is, but as someone who has pretty strong feelings over what I eat for breakfast in the morning, of course I am going to feel something over the sex of my child.

And I did...it actually kind of took me by surprise how much feeling I had.

On one hand, I had visions of tutus dancing in my head.  Being a girly-girl myself, and having such a close relationship with my own mother, I have always imagined myself with a little girl.  A little mini-me who will wear big bows and develop a serious passion for TJ Maxx.

On the other hand, there was a real sense of loss.  If Rip were still here, we would have our boy and our girl...the perfect combination.  Parke would have his son.  I would have that little man who loves his mama.

As I said, the day this baby arrives healthy, whether it is a he or a she will be the last thing on my mind, my joy will be that great.  It will be a little while before we find out for sure, but I think right now it is healthy to feel something either way and to be honest with myself about these feelings...after all, this is much bigger than breakfast.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Let it Be

Even when I try realllly hard not to, I can let my imagination run away with me.  Usually, my "witching hours" are between 3 and 5 am, but with this pregnancy I can spin out of control at any given moment.

This morning riding to work, my mind was going at warp speed...I think sometimes the further along I get, the more I stand to lose, and the more I worry.  I'd worked myself up but good with what-ifs and what-abouts, when the Beatles "Let it Be" came on the radio.

And I realized how unfairly my worrying is to this baby.  I haven't given her (again, just a guess...although a slightly more educated one, more on that later) a chance to "just be".  I have invented all of these worst-case scenarios in my head when absolutely nothing has gone wrong (and even though I practically have to bite my tongue off not to say "yet", I'm working on it).  If my role as a mother is to believe in my child, I am not doing a very good job of it by expecting the worst.

Yes, given my experience with Rip, it is understandable that I am going to have my fear and doubts...but I am going to try my best just to let it be.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Good Investment

I was talking to one of my best friends the other day, and she mentioned that Parke has certainly turned out to be  "a good investment".  I laughed about it at the time, I guess investing is really not the way I think of it...but she is right.

I started this blog shortly after our wedding but did not write a single post until I got pregnant with Rip.  I knew I wanted to call it "Won't I Be Surprised When...", but when I got to the About Me section, I couldn't think of a thing to say...so I said, "I am constantly surprised by what one can survive, usually pleasantly".  I look at that now and think, "You little fool, what the heck did you know about surviving?"

I went in to my marriage thinking it would last forever, who doesn't?  But if you told me then what would happen three years later, I honestly don't know that I would have done.  I married Parke because he was the best person I knew, loyal and kind and great sense of humor...a good investment.

And then we lost Rip.  I remember when my mom had to leave me to go back home, she said " I could never have left you if Parke was not who he is".  It was not because he was loyal and kind and had a great sense of humor...it was because he came and crawled in the bed with me when I could not get out of it, it was because he held my hand through the entire funeral, it was because he told me never to be afraid to talk about Rip.

So I feel I can say now, I am constantly surprised by what one can survive, usually pleasantly.  Parke and I have survived.  I am not saying it has been or from this point on it will be easy...but for a little fool, I made a darn good investment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I want to thank you

This weekend was Parke's 31st birthday and we had a few people over to celebrate.  As will happen if you are 5 or 55, the girls gathered on the porch to chat while the boys did Lord knows what as far away from us as they could.
As will also happen at this stage of life all of the girls, obviously myself included, recently had babies and that is where most of the conversation went and stayed...pregnancy stories, baby stories etc.
One of the things I found hardest after Rip died was the lack of ability to talk about my pregnancy.  It's not that I didn't want to talk about it, but I knew it made people uncomfortable only because of how it ended.
This night was different, I felt comfortable telling stories and I think my friends felt comfortable hearing them...I think pregnancy and childbirth, all the good and bad of both, is such a bonding experience for women, and it's one I've missed out on for a while now.
But I know this time, this much needed time feeling like every other mother there, was made possible because of the baby I am carrying right now.  I know that if I had not been pregnant we would have talked about anything other than babies.
And that scares me a little, the what-ifs start to creep back in...its an awful lot of pressure for someone the size of a plum.
But mostly I am thankful...thankful that I have hope that my stories won't end here...hope that when this same group of women is commiserating about their toddlers, I will be able to to join in with stories of my own. And for that, little plum, I want to thank you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Because of You

I've heard a few times that, after losing a baby, your next child often comes with mixed feelings.  The joy or having another baby mixed with the knowledge that if your first child lived, this child would never be...

But for me this baby is because our first baby was...

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it, Rip was...he was fiesty...he was a miracle...he was perfect...he was our first-born...he was the person that made us parents...he was the reason we knew we wanted 10 more just like him...his life was too short, but he was.

This baby is, because he was.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eating Worms

I will preface this post by saying I am SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL for this baby and everything that goes with him or her.
That said...
Today is just one of those days...
One of those days where my slightly swollen and green-tinged appearance was not helped by the massive scab that suddenly appeared on my chin or my faded, dingy dress I put on in sheer desperation because it was the only thing that fit.
One of those days where I got sick of looking at all of those skinny girls parading around and decided to start exercising again only to find that my running shoes are no where to be found.
One of those days I thought for sure I felt the baby move only to have every so-called expert on the internet assure me it was just gas.
One of those days that I swore I was going to start being an earth mama, eating only organic foods and wheat grass until somebody brought cupcakes to the office and I accidentally ate three.
One of those days I realized that the "moms" modeling the maternity clothes in the catalogs are actually just more skinny girls in disguise with something shoved under their shirts and that no matter what I do, that dress is NOT going to look like that on me.
Yep...its one of those days.  I'm gonna go eat (gummy) worms.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Everything's going to be alright...

The other day while watching the Today show, Ann Curry said something that stayed with me (which was surprising, she is usually a little too "mew mew mew" for my taste).  She said something to the effect of, "All any parent ever wants is for their child to be okay".

As soon as the words left her mouth I had tears streaming down my face.  It is a statement where so many of my emotions come from.

There is guilt, because even though my head knows I did everything I could to save Rip, my heart sometimes feels like I failed.

There is faith, the reason I am able to go on each day is because I believe Rip is okay and that I will see him again.  And I have faith that the baby I am carrying now is a gift, not just some random act of the universe, faith that this baby will be "okay".

There is love, that Mama Bear love is the reason I fight to keep Rip's memory alive and the reason I fight at every doctor's appointment to make sure that this baby is okay (and I am sure they all just love me).

"Okay" can mean so many things, it's different for every situation and every person...but it is true, at the end of the day, all any parent wants is for their child to be okay.

Oh Ann Curry, who knew?

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Feel Awful...Isn't It Great!

When I was pregnant with Rip, I honestly thought that women who talked about how they were so nauseous and/or tired during the first twelve weeks needed to toughen up...I mean sure, the sight of raw meat kind of made me gag and I went to bed a half an hour earlier, but what were all of these people complaining about?  Clearly they just weren't as awesome at this whole first trimester thing as I was.

And then...

I got pregnant with Baby Harris #2.  This kid pulled out all of the stops.

There are whole food groups that I am fairly sure I will never eat again.  I considered not washing my hair for a few weeks just so I would not have to smell the shampoo.  Tired? More like soul-sucking fatigue.  There have been times I would have traded my whole shoe collection just to stay in bed an extra hour.

But to be honest, I've been thankful for every minute ...well,  maybe every 55 seconds....of it.  The reassurance of knowing that a growing, living baby is the only reason I could possibly feel this bad has actually been a blessing.

So bring on the saltines and ginger ale, I feel awful...isn't it great?!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Putting the Pro (s) Back in Producing

Sometimes it is easy to get sucked down that black hole of what-ifs with this pregnancy that can easily lead to a full-fledged panic attack.

Even though I know all too well that things don't always go as planned, I am really trying to take things one day at a time (and succeeding at least 10% of the time) and enjoying all of the "pros" to being pregnant.

Not the least of which is the amazing reaction we have gotten to telling the world we are expecting another baby.  Wow, I knew we were lucky to have the support we do...but I don't think I realized how just how many people we had out there pulling for us.  I really can't put into words what that means to me.

And then there are the things I plan to take full advantage of...the smiles of people walking by when they see your belly (little do they know it is mainly made of ham and cheese and pizza, the main cravings of the month) and the free pass to lie down and take a nap (even after you just woke up).

This pregnancy brings such a mixture of fear and joy, but I really am trying hard to concentrate on the joy...after all, whats not to be joyful about when it comes to this:


I always swore I would not be that mom that posted ultrasound pictures...but really, with legs that cute how can I not show them off? Go Baby, go!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Sound of Sunshine

After Rip passed away, one of my first thoughts was how much I wanted to have children.  Sometime in those first grief-stricken weeks I circled a date on the calendar, April 21, 2011.  It was the 111th day of the year and, as you know, the number 11 is special to me because it reminds me of Rip.  I decided that was the day I would be pregnant again... and yes, I may have been slightly drugged at the time.


April 21st rolled around and I took a pregnancy test...it was negative.  An emotional day got even worse when I heard a song on the radio that reminded me of Rip.  It's kind of a cheesy Michael Franti song, but there is a line in it..."here i am, waiting for this storm to pass my by and that's the sound of sunshine coming down" that I hung on to during Rip's pregnancy.  Now it just seemed like another kick while I was down.


But then, the whole "sound of sunshine coming down" part started to stick in my head.  I came home, looked at Parke, and said "I am going to get another pregnancy test" (ever the practical one, he said, "great, grab me a Snickers").


This time a positive line started to show...and then disappeared.  I was devastated.


I felt like I literally could not take one more minute of this, it was the lowest I have felt since we lost Rip.  Not knowing what else to do, I got on my knees and prayed. I kid you not when I say a rainbow appeared shortly after I stood up.


The next day I received another positive test...this one stuck.  I am now almost 11 weeks pregnant.  To say that I am happy about it would be an understatement.


And yet...I am so scared.


Even though I truly believe this baby is a miracle, a God-given blessing, I am afraid.


So I very selfishly ask for your prayers.  Being Rip's mother has taught me so many things, not the least of which is the power of having others believe for you when you are not strong enough to do it yourself.


I am trying to enjoy every day, to be grateful every day for this little bit of "sunshine" who will be so loved by her (just guessing here...but "her" feels right) family and, I believe, has a very special angel guiding her way.
I am so thankful for my family, my friends and, most especially, my children.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Home is where the heart is?

A couple of months ago, we put out house on the market.  Our house is a home we planned to be in for a couple of years before the economy went bust and now a two year home has turned into a five year home.
Moving is something we always intended to do...but recently I've been wondering about the emotions behind this decision.
I've written a lot about how comforting it was to come home after we lost Rip, and how much being able to go into his nursery has helped me.
Even though Rip was never physically in this house, his memory is everywhere.
If we move will he still be in the new house?
On the other hand, I hope to have more children.  I left this house pregnant with Rip, thinking I was coming home with my baby...and then I didn't.  I don't know if I could leave the same house, pregnant with another baby, and truly believe that child was coming home with me.
Like everything else, there are so many mixed emotions.  My hope is that home really is where the heart is, because I know that's one place where Rip will always live.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Letting it all hang out

I got my haircut today.  The appointment was with a stylist I'd never met before, and for the first ten minutes or so we did the usual small talk, where are you from, love your shoes etc etc.

The whole time I was thinking about Rip, and about how strange it felt to be discussing such trivial things while having these deep, emotional thoughts. As she was shampooing and chatting, I was looking at the brightly lit ceiling and thinking about what I would say if she asked about kids.

And then she did.

Ever the suave one, I turned bright red and fumbled around and said no...but then I just couldn't.  So I told her about Rip and it felt like a dam breaking loose. She said how sorry she was and I said thank you and the conversation moved easily from there. I didn't feel strange anymore, it was like now that my big "secret" was out in the open, I could be myself again.

I know time may pass and that immediate need won't be there, and there will be people I won't feel right sharing with...but then there are the times when you need to let it all hang out. I know there will be moments when I won't feel right talking about him, but I needed Rip in the room with me today, it was so much easier once he got there.