Friday, May 8, 2015

This Should Have Been a Pregnancy Annoucement (But It's Not)

One morning in March, I found myself staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. Andrew and I hugged and danced around the kitchen, Owen followed us and laughed at our joy. We tried to explain that he would be a big brother and that a tiny baby was on its way to live with us. We dreamed of what this baby would look like, we planned the nursery, picked out names. We calculated our due date: November 15.

A few weeks later, I started bleeding. Just a little at first, but by the next day I knew something was very, very wrong. A trip to the emergency room confirmed my worst fears. A nurse handed me paperwork with my diagnosis at the top: spontaneous abortion. She took out my IV and told me I was free to go. And just like that it was over.

I felt numb and achingly empty. Just days before I had been literally full of life, carrying our child, the promise of our future. And suddenly that baby had slipped away, never to be held in my arms. For a few days, I could barely breathe. I curled up on the couch under a blanket, neglected the dirty dishes and the laundry, let Owen eat goldfish crackers and peanut butter M&Ms for breakfast. I bled for an agonizing week, each day a cruel reminder of what we had lost.

We had already told a handful of people that we were expecting, and in turn we had to tell them about our miscarriage. I'm so thankful we did. Our sweet friends and family poured out love and support, brought flowers and chocolate, sent cards, care packages, and messages of encouragement. Their kindness was the balm that lessened the sting of our pain. As the days and weeks went by, I adjusted to no longer being pregnant, accepted that November would come and go just like any other month in our lives, and focused on the many, many things we have to be thankful for. I chose to trust that God had already anticipated this loss and had plans to use it for His good.

We have healed and we are moving forward, but one thing that I continue to struggle with is the silence that surrounds miscarriages. In our society they are so often kept private, a guarded secret, almost as if they are something to be ashamed of. The grieving is all behind closed doors and the life and loss of the baby are barely even acknowledged.

What makes such a loss even worse is having to do without the support that is so desperately needed during such a difficult time. And so I'm choosing to stand up for all of the women who have suffered in silence and to have the life of my baby known. For the few weeks that I carried it, this baby brought us immense joy. And in the days when we knew we had lost it, immense pain.

To the mamas who have babies in heaven: you created and carried a life, no matter how briefly; that is something to celebrate. You lost a baby that you dreamed of and cared deeply for; that is something to be acknowledged. Know that you are not alone, and know that the life of your baby matters.

And to my darling baby: I will dream of you every day that I live. The promise of heaven is all the sweeter knowing you are there. All my love.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

These Days

I spent three days last week hammering out what was going to be my next blog post. Three days of rearranging thoughts and words, deleting paragraphs and starting fresh, and never being completely satisfied with how it sounded. And to be honest, the reason I was never fully happy with it was because it wasn't genuinely what I wanted to write.

Most days I don't have a whole lot of wisdom to share, at least not a whole blog post worth. When I sit down with a friend over coffee I never have a speech prepared to deliver while she sits quietly and listens to me, soaking up my words. Instead, we share what we're going through, what struggles and joys life has thrown our way since the last time we sat down together, what we're learning, what we're thankful for. I'll probably never blow you away with what I have to say, but that's okay because that's not where I'm at in life. I'm stumbling along just like most of the rest of the world, learning as I go, and realizing that I have more questions than answers.

So here's my update on life. Feel free to get some coffee and pretend we're sitting on my couch while Owen naps. Imagine me with hair that needs to be washed, freezing cold air blowing through the closed window, and a toy explosion all over the floor. (Just being honest.)

Last month, Andrew went back to school for his PhD, and I'm beyond proud of him. The program is two nights each week and will last approximately two years, plus one year for his dissertation. We're having a mostly smooth transition to our new normal, but without a doubt the hardest part is having less time together as a family. I'm doing my best to be a source of love and support instead of a source of complaining that our toddler skipped his nap for the second time this week. Some days I do a better job of that than others. Owen and I both clamor for his attention the minute he walks through the door, and try to soak up each minute that we have with him. I have to keep reminding myself not to wish away the next three years. All of my life I've wished away time, hurrying on to the next stage of my life. Looking back, I missed out on so much by not appreciating and taking advantage of each individual season for what it was. This is a crazy, busy, exhausting phase that we're in, and we will rejoice when Andrew graduates and we get him back full-time. But it's also one of the sweetest phases that I've ever known. Owen is at an absolute perfect age, learning and soaking up every last thing (time to stop cursing under my breath when he wakes up too early in the morning). We love our little old house, the city we live in, our group of friends who have become more like family. I'm determined to appreciate the bejeezus out of this time, so I can look back one day and know that I didn't miss out on what I had while I had it.

Because Owen is getting to the age where I actually have to teach him about life instead of just keeping him alive, I've been doing some reading on the subject. Currently I'm reading Boundaries with Kids, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, and the book is incredible. I'm realizing that most of what I want to teach Owen, I still need to learn and put into practice in my own life. Parenting is an incredibly humbling process, I'm endlessly thankful for those that have gone before me who are willing to share their experiences and struggles. And I'm thankful for a God who is able to redeem my shortcomings.

We've been freezing our buns off in this little corner of the world, much like everyone else. Each winter I start to become a bit of a hermit, and this might be the worst winter yet. Before I ran errands earlier today, it had been 8 days since I last left the house, it's just so cold out there. I was being a good sport about the deep freeze, filling my time by coloring and doing puzzles with Owen and watching The Bachelor (this season is SO GOOD - and can I please be best friends with Kaitlyn?), but our pipes started freezing this week and now I'm struggling to muster a positive attitude. Spring will be so welcome whenever it decides to come, and I've got high hopes for March.

Speaking of March, I am planning Owen's second birthday party and I could just fall over from disbelief. That little boy lights up our life every single day with his crazy ideas, obsession with extremely boring train videos, and bossy little voice. I might just eat him up.

And speaking of Owen, he's woken up from his nap and is currently yelling, "Mama! None!" (Which means: Mama, I'm done napping!)

Before I get him, a quick update on my last post and the resolutions:

Start & keep up with a blog: It took me almost 2 months to write my second post, but I still get to count this as a success.. right?

Become a part of our church: Our attendance isn't great, but there has been slight progress. Andrew starting school has really made lazy Sunday mornings look all the more appealing, and Owen is beyond terrified of the nursery, but those are excuses and we'll continue to work on this.

Break up with my iPhone: Utter and complete failure. I discovered Trivia Crack.

Be active: Some improvement here! My friend Michelle and I have started going to a workout class together once a week. (Okay, okay, we plan to go once a week.) And I've been working out a few days each week at home. I still drag my feet to get started but always feel great afterwards.

Read more: In January I read Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. I was expecting it to be extremely jokey and lighthearted, but it surprised me with its moments of wisdom and heartwarming sentiment. They may have been hiding out amongst the vulgarity and stories of drug use, but they were there nonetheless. This month I'm reading Boundaries with Kids, as I mentioned, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has kids.

Practice honesty: I can't say that I've had too many situations over the past two months that I've felt I needed to be more honest, but I have had plenty of moments when I've felt that I'm not enough instead of being comfortable with who I am. This will be something that I work on for the rest of my life but I'm determined to keep chipping away at it.

Foster creativity: I've been cooking up a storm over the past two months and have no intention of stopping. The more I learn and try new recipes, the more I fall in love with cooking. My backyard is piled with feet upon feet of snow, so the garden will have to wait a few more months.

Spend more time with Jesus: I certainly haven't done this perfectly, but far more frequently than in the past. It's been ingrained in me over the course of my life that I MUST read my Bible and pray in order to be a good Christian. I think those things bring me a certain level of anxiety because I've learned to tie them to my worthiness rather than freely enjoy them as God intended. But while I un-learn some of those thought processes I'm finding other ways of connecting with God, such as worship music and honest fellowship.

Writing these goals down to come back to has been so helpful and motivating to me. Even when I haven't done them perfectly, I'm encouraged by progress. Except for the Trivia Crack. It really is like crack.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolutions & Revolution

Looking back over the past year, 2014 was good to my little family. We celebrated our son's first full year of life and our first year as parents, bought and renovated a home, and shared much love and laughter. My heart spills over with gratitude.

I don't know what life will bring us in 2015. But I do know that I have a growing list of important things that have been neglected over the busyness of the past year, and what better time than a fresh, new year to write down the list and get started?

1. Start and keep up with a blog (I'm halfway there!)
This is something I've been talking about for a long time. And out of fear, that was all I did: talk about it. Worried that I wouldn't have the right words or enough wisdom, I kept putting it off. But I crave a space where I can be honest about where I am now in life, no matter how messy and imperfect. Thanks to the encouragement of many amazing people in my life, I'm going for it.

2. Become a part of our church
Over the past two years our church attendance has been spotty at best. Between nap times and illnesses, traveling and home renovations, we've had no shortage of excuses to stay home and drink coffee on the couch. The honest truth is that starting at a new church can be awkward and uncomfortable, and watching Good Morning America in stretchy pants is not. But we've felt the loss of worship and fellowship in a big way, and we need to hang up the excuses.

3. Break up with my iPhone
Without a doubt, I spend more time looking at my phone than looking at my husband's face. I have it on good authority that this is not okay. My phone is almost always within my reach, rarely does an entire hour go by without me refreshing my Instagram feed, and I fall asleep every night only after scrolling through Facebook and Twitter for an embarassingly long time. While I'm thankful for the connection it can provide to the people I love, it has become an unhealthy habit. I'm missing out on sweet moments and sweet slumber, and it's time for some separation.

4. Be active
Confession: I'm a couch potato. If given the opportunity, I could happily waste away an entire weekend watching a Karsdashians marathon. My favorite weeknight activity is to curl up on the couch next to my husband with a full DVR and some cookies hot out of the oven. Unfortunately for me, being a couch potato doesn't lend itself to a long, healthy life filled with energy and good moods. So I'm determined to be more active, to toss in a pilates DVD now and then, and to leave the house at least once a week with the intention of sweating.

5. Read
Reading is the primary way that I learn and grow now that I'm no longer in school, and something that I love to do but rarely make time for. My goal for the next year is to read at least one book each month, and to (maybe) cut back on the Kardashians.

6. Practice honesty
As a die-hard people pleaser, this one is tough for me. I like to tell people what they want to hear, and I want them to like me for it. But I'm going to start saying more things because I mean them and they are true, and try to let go of the fear of what will happen if not everyone approves.

7. Foster creativity: learn to cook & start a garden
On any given weeknight I'm busy in the kitchen whipping up some pasta or chicken, but I want to really learn to cook. To understand ingredients and how they work together, and how to properly chop an onion and sear a steak. Along with that, in the spring I'd love to start my own garden now that we have a backyard. Even if everything is dead by May, I'm going to give it my best shot.

8. Spend time with Jesus
Last, but far from least. It's hard to admit that that this is not something that is part of my daily life right now, but it's not. As far back as I can remember, I go through seasons of spending time in the Word and praying, when my faith grows and my heart is changed, and seasons where I fall away from it and become stagnant. I believe that this is true for many Christians, and that there is grace for those seasons, but I also know how much I miss out on when I'm not pressing in and seeking God.

It's easier to continue letting these things slide, to float along in life without intention or purpose. But I don't want a life that's easy and boring. Few things bring more fulfillment than seeing the results that hard work can bring, and I'm ready to dig in and work hard for a life that is full and worth living. I'll let you know how it goes!