Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Letters

Dear Marshall,

Tonight is Christmas.

This morning we slept in late. We had cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate for breakfast.
We opened presents. We talked with grandparents and aunts and uncles. We snuggled on the couch and watched cartoons in our jammies all day.

We were all sick, but we made the best of it. Lots of snuggles. Lots of tickles. Lots of giggles and slobbery smiles.

We tried to take a family picture in front of the Christmas tree. Alice and Austin wanted nothing to do with it...even though they photo bombed almost every other picture we took.

At the end of the day, we filled the bath tub with bubbles and rubber duckies. After a bath and some milk, you were quickly sound asleep on my shoulder.

When I laid you down, you never opened your eyes, but you grabbed my finger and held it tightly. You were fast asleep again, still holding me close to you.

I laid there next to you, in awe of every rise and fall of your tiny chest.

Last year, I wanted nothing to do with Christmas. Dad and I went to Oregon, and I spent Christmas weekend running down the stormy beaches of the Pacific Ocean with Austin. I was hoping to run away from all the pain and exhaustion. I was praying for a break, for a change, for a fresh start.

One year ago today, on Christmas Day, I got the best Christmas present ever: those tiny pink lines that said I got another chance.

Those pink lines meant that I got you, and well, you really are the greatest present ever. My heart still hurts for your sister and your brother before you, but you make my heart so full and happy. Your smile and excitement for everything around you keep me going.

Merry Christmas, baby boy. I love you.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


It's been well over a month since I've written on here, so I'm not even sure where to begin...or what I actually want to say. I've had some pretty nasty struggles with mastitis...and post-partum depression...bad enough that I admitted to the doc that when I'm up for a night feeding, I want to hit Bryan with a lamp because he's snoring too loud and hasn't been helping much. I'm happy to report that it's getting much better. And my lamp is still intact.

Marshall is 3 months old now.

Some nights it's still so hard to believe all this is real. That he is here. That he is mine. That he is real.

For the most part, things are going great around here. We still have our really bad days. And our sleepless nights. Bryan and I still fight. And I still have hormonal breakdowns. And sometimes I still cry for no damn reason.

But I take it all in stride. Or at least I try to. I never expected this to be perfect....or easy.

Waking up at 4 AM for work sucks. But when he wakes up with a big smile and waits patiently to be changed and fed, it doesn't matter anymore. That smile makes everything else disappear. It has easily made me a bit more of a morning person.

And bedtime. Oh, bedtime! That's my favorite part of the day.

We have a nice routine down.

Bath. Milk. Story. Bed.

We relax in the rocker recliner. He snuggles in close to drink his milk while I read him a book. And then we rock until he's falling asleep. Most nights I let him fall asleep against my chest, and I just stay there, breathing it all in. It's the one time of the day that I can shut everything else out. I try to make sure that I am fully present, fully appreciating every second, because I know that these moments don't last.

It's usually in these moments that I miss his brother and sister the most.

A few nights ago, we were reading "Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman. (Those books are my favorite!) He stopped drinking and looked across the room with huge eyes. He started smiling and nodding and making facial expressions and cooing like he was having a conversation with someone. 

"Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman

For the first time, I thought of them without missing them. I felt like they were there. I felt like I was reading to all of them. I finally felt like I was a mother of three, a mother to ALL of my babies.

For the first time, my heart felt complete...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tonight I received an email from a very dear friend. A friend of hers is 5 months pregnant. Her unborn daughter has a hole in her heart. She was also diagnosed with Trisomy 13 and 18.

I've been putting together some links and resources for my friend because she's trying to be as supportive as she can. (If you know of any good support sites specific to this diagnosis, please send them my way!)

If you pray, please keep them all in your prayers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Illuminate Week Four -- One Year From Today.

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

In 2006, T left home for the Air Force. The same night, F was killed in a horrible car accident.

In 2007, I left home for the Navy. 17 days later, Andy was killed in a horrible car accident.

In 2008, I had a job I loved and I was married to my best friend.

In 2009, I was divorced.

In 2010, I was pregnant for the first time and then my baby died.

In 2011, I was pregnant for the second time and this baby died too.

In 2012, I was pregnant for a third time and this baby actually got to come home.

I've been trying to write this for five days. Just sitting here, staring blankly at the screen. Trying to think of what a year from now might look like. One year isn't very long, so that sounds simple enough. But then I look back at where I was a year ago. And a year back from then. And then another year. The last several years have been one hell of a roller coaster, to say the least. They definitely didn't work out like I had planned...or like I could have ever imagined.

One year from today.

Marshall will be almost 14 months old. Bryan will be done with school. My time in the Navy will be done. I will be 3 years and 3 months from losing my first baby.

If I try really hard, I can picture us moving into our own place. A nice little house with an oak tree. A garden full of big hydrangeas, some butterflies, and maybe even some chickadees. A sun filled room for me to paint in. A patio to relax and enjoy a cup of tea as the sun comes up. Pictures and reminders of Lilly and Brake will fill the inside, just as they do here.

I can picture Marshall and the dog chasing each other around a big fenced backyard. Or Marshall running to his dad as he gets home from work. I can picture his dad actually playing with him...a feat that is hard to come by right now.

I can picture being back in school, finishing my nursing degree. I can picture running my own business. I can picture an outreach of sorts, with a room full of local baby loss mommas with a safe place to open their hearts. 

I can picture a healthy, happy family.

Real, true happiness. In spite of the grief, the fear, the nightmares, but probably never without them.  

But then I start thinking again. About the past. About the present. About all the things that have happened and all the things that keep going wrong.

And then I start doubting because the past has already proven that what I imagine doesn't always happen, that life sometimes has other plans, that some things just don't work out.

In reality, I don't know that any of that will happen next year, or even the year after that.

I guess all that's left is to pray and cling tightly to hope. That's what has brought me this far.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I go back to work next Friday, for the first time in several months. That's 6 days.

Marshall starts day care in 9 days.

I'm terrified.

I have honestly been dreading this day since I found out I was pregnant. I know that people send their children to day care every day, and that this shouldn't be a big deal.

But when I think about handing him over to someone else, I'm haunted by the image of myself handing Brake's lifeless body back to the funeral director. When I dream about it at night, I wake up drenched in sweat, and I have to get up to make sure that Marshall is alive, that he is real. During the day, especially while trying to figure out all the paperwork, my chest gets tight and I start crying.

Maybe it's just the end of my maternity leave becoming too overwhelming. Too many changes and adjustments all at once. Too much to do. Too many places to be. It's all just too much.

I know it will get better. I know he will be okay. But it still hurts.

Speaking of going back to work, I have to make a decision about my future in the Navy soon.

Right now I have just less than a year left. I want to get out. I want to go back to school. I want to be home with Marshall. I want to do anything that doesn't involve going back to sea duty and long deployments and leaving my son for several months at a time.

It's more than that though.

My job played a huge role in losing Brake, and I made up my mind last year that I wasn't doing this anymore. The way things happened. The way it was handled. The way I was treated. The night mares about going to work. The nervous breakdowns on the flight line. All those nights that I would rather have driven off the bridge than gone in to work.

I'm a lot better this year. But the hell I went through last year and the people in charge that either let it happen or made it worse broke me to a point that I don't want anything to do with the Navy.

I want to feel like my own person again.

I want a job that makes me happy.

I want to work without always wondering when or if that might happen again.

I never planned on making this a career. I joined because I was bored of my small hometown. I wanted to get out and have some adventures and see where they might take me. I figured by the time a family came into the picture, I'd be out and settled down somewhere. (I wasn't planning on a family quite so soon.)

Bryan wanted a career, but it didn't work out for him. So now he wants it for me because I have such great potential and it's better for us, for our family. He's pushing for a re-enlistment, for an officer package, for whatever keeps me in longer.

I understand that this really is the best place for our family, at least financially, with the steady paycheck and insurance. I understand that money is important because that's what keeps the bills paid and groceries in the house.

But if I'm really this unhappy, is it worth it?

Or am I just being selfish?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Illuminate Week 3 -- Grateful

Illuminate Week 3 -- I Am Grateful For

This has been an extremely rough month, both emotionally and physically. I'm having a hard time healing from Marshall's recent delivery, and my mind is a complete mess of rampant thoughts and emotions. Just when I thought things were finally settling down, I got mastitis. Bad, bad mastitis. I dropped to the floor and cried. Because of the excruciating pain. Because of the disappointment. Because of the feelings that as a mother I was already letting my baby down.

I cried. And cried. And cried some more. I cried until I didn't think there was a drop left in my body.

The next morning as I was feeding Marshall, I wrapped us in a quilt from Grannie Eva. I pulled a book, The Pokey Little Puppy, from the book shelf. And I tried to calm myself, rocking and reading to my baby. When Marshall had fallen back asleep, I sat there looking at him, marveling at how amazing he is.

Then I looked around at my little corner. Andy's quilt, almost like my security blanket, covered the back of my recliner. The quilt covering us was crocheted by Grannie Eva as she earnestly prayed during my entire pregnancy. The book was from my mom. It was one of my favorites as a kid, when my mom read to us every night. Brake's urn sat just out of arm's reach, next to a bouquet of some of my favorite flowers.

In that moment, I remembered my own childhood. All the hopes and dreams my parents instilled and encouraged. The love, the hugs, the bed time stories. The self-esteem and confidence built at a very early age. In that moment, I realized how far I have come. And how many wonderful people have come this far with me. They may not have walked the same agonizing steps as I did, but they were there to help me, to pray for me, to hold me, assuring that I was never completely alone for a single step of this journey.

Of all the small things that make me happy, like sweet tea and sunrises and autumn leaves, I think these realizations, these people, their unwavering love and support, mean so much more. I think grateful is probably an understatement.

For the photo assignment, my 100 steps took me down the sidewalk to what's left of a flower garden:


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Illuminate Week 2 -- Light

Lilly died in the middle of the night, in the middle of the bathroom floor. I became terrified of the night, of the dark, of the bathroom. I tried desperately to immerse myself in as much sunshine as I could. I wanted sun, bright lights, open skies. Anything but darkness. I never wanted to see the night again. And even more than that, I never wanted to go into the bathroom again.

I went home for a visit when I was on medical leave. I took flowers to my cousin and childhood best friend, F, at the local cemetery. I had dreamed of her, holding my Lilly. F is buried under a huge oak tree, which I found very fitting for her, though I'd much rather she not be in the cemetery in the first place. Oak trees are known for their strength and endurance, and they look so noble and beautiful standing tall in the sunshine. I told myself I wanted to be strong like that oak tree. I wanted to stand tall and soak up as much sunlight as I could....and I never wanted to see darkness again.

After Lilly died, I was transferred to a new duty station on the other side of the country. Within a few months of settling in, we found out we were expecting again. I was still terrified of the dark, and especially of the bathroom. Five months later, Brake died, in the dark, in the bathroom. I was spiraling downward, quickly, and I tried so hard to hold tight to the image of that huge oak tree. I wanted to hold on to that sunlight and soak it all in, but I was failing miserably and my fears of the dark were escalating.

When I returned to work, I had a hard time adjusting. I wasn't sleeping well. I couldn't concentrate. I wasn't getting along with people very well. So I was moved to a midnight shift. I left for work around 10 PM and I usually got home around 8 AM. There's something about the flight line at 2 AM. It's cold. It's almost always raining. And it's so very dark. I was stuck in what I hated the most, and it was pulling me in. Many nights the darkness felt so thick and heavy that I might suffocate just from walking into it. Even when the skies were filled with stars, there still wasn't enough light to save me.

The deeper it pulled me in, the darker everything else became. I became like a robot, a machine. Go home and sleep all day. Get up and go to work all night. Go through all the motions but never really feel anything. I never saw the sun anymore. I don't think I noticed it even when it was there. I started having nightmares during the day. I started having flashbacks at night. It drove me to the point of a nervous breakdown in the middle of the flight line....on more than one occasion. I didn't realize it, but I was slowly and painfully shutting down.

One day I decided that I wanted to start painting again. After high school, I had a scholarship for art school, so I thought maybe picking up with the creative stuff again would help work out some of the emotions. I bought an easel, some canvas, and some paints. But they just sat there, waiting.

I was late coming home from work one morning, so I was awake to see the sunrise for the first time in a long time. (Or perhaps it was just the first time I was coherent enough to notice it.) I took a picture of the sun's reflection in my side mirror, still framed with ice from the night before. I posted it to Facebook, and a friend commented how we have the most amazing sunrises up here. I sat on the front porch the entire morning, staring at the sky, at the colors and the light.

I finally found the little boost I needed to pick up the paints. I sat out on the porch every morning, regardless of the weather. A canvas, a paint brush, my Bible, and a big cup of hot tea. Sometimes I would set it all up, but I wouldn't even paint. It just felt so good to be sitting out there, to be seeing the sun again, even though it was just for an hour or so before I had to go bed for work.

This year I was pregnant again, but I was on bed rest for most of it so I couldn't paint. I slept on the couch most nights because it was more comfortable. The sunrise would wake me up as it filled our giant windows with its golden rays. I would sit up in the corner of the couch and watch the warming light melt the fog off the harbor. Tiny little chickadees filled the feeder outside the window, and bunnies grazed quietly in the yard, both hungry and ready to welcome the new day. I always woke up just in time to catch that perfect moment in the sunrise, where the light and dark meet, just long enough to be beautiful, just long enough to paint a new day, a new beginning.

I'm definitely not a morning person, but being up for the sunrise does so much for my heart. Lately though, I haven't been seeing the beauty in the meeting of the light and dark. I feel like I'm wandering through a thick fog, with neither light nor dark to pull me in either direction. I'm not sure if it's the stress of adjusting to a new baby in the house or if it's this nasty bout of post partum depression. Maybe it's just a mix of everything, both new and old.

I go back to work in a couple weeks, and I'll be driving in during sunrise every morning. I'm hoping there will be enough sunshine to pull me through again.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Part of me says I shouldn't be writing this on here. Another part of me says that I need to get this outta me, and this is the only place I can do that.

Marshall is just over 3 weeks old. During the last 3 weeks, I have had a calmness in my heart, a happiness I haven't felt in a very long time. But in all honesty, I'm hurting. I'm hurting so bad....

Adjusting to a new baby was nothing. Adjusting to being a family, well, that hasn't been so easy. It honestly doesn't even feel like a family. It feels like a man inconvenienced by a girl and her baby. I feel like we are here out of necessity, because he has nowhere else to go, rather than because we are actually wanted.

I feel like I'm dancing on the edge of a really nasty post-partum depression.

I had a natural delivery. The first our hospital had seen in quite a long time, according to some of the nurses. Bryan was supportive. My doula was amazing. I had mild pre-eclampsia and my lady parts tore pretty bad, but otherwise, it was a perfect delivery of a perfect baby. I was told I was even laughing at some point during the end of delivery.

I cut Marshall's cord, and when they laid him on my chest he latched almost immediately. I was in shock and disbelief that it was real. I couldn't stop staring at him, not because he was perfect or beautiful, but simply because he was alive. Bryan refused to hold him. He was in such a fret over the dog not going outside that he left before things were cleaned up or the baby was done with his vitals. My doula helped me move into our room.

Our son, that we waited so long for, that I prayed so hard for, that I spent so long on bed rest trying to keep alive, was not even half an hour old, and he had other things to do. He couldn't hold him. He couldn't take pictures. He had to leave. Calling it a slap in the face is a huge understatement.

The swelling and stitches kept me from being able to move around very well. I had to have help getting in and out of bed so that I could get to the bathroom. Marshall was born during finals week, and Bryan didn't talk to his teachers, so he had to leave during the day for his tests. Marshall had to stay in the bed with me most of the day because I had no way of tending to him without calling for a nurse. Since I was alone, I wasn't getting up often enough, so I lost control of my bladder for a few days.

My parents got here a couple days after I was discharged, but I still couldn't move very well. My lady parts were the size of a grapefruit, so naturally, that's gonna take a while to heal. (Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. A tangerine is probably more accurate, not that anyone cares to know.)

I wanted to rest at home with my new baby and my parents. My parents wanted to relax and help out with the baby. Bryan wanted to show them everything on the damn island. A simple trip to the grocery store had to turn into an entire family event. I cried getting into and out of the truck. I held my breath while I sat because I couldn't possibly get comfortable. I actually tore a little more because of all the moving and stretching. I wasn't able to nurse or pump for hours at a time, so I was constantly engorged and sore.

I tried to explain that breastfed babies have to eat every couple hours. I tried to explain that I have to get the milk out every couple hours, even if I have to pump. I ended up with blocked ducts that completely cut the flow on one side. Nothing would come out. Not a drop. So Bryan started pushing formula. Even if I was trying to nurse him, Bryan was still trying to push a bottle of formula at him. Even after the ducts got better.

Bryan figured out how to change a diaper. He carries the car seat and the stroller at the same time because he doesn't want to let anyone help. He shoves a bottle or a pacifier in "the kid's" face every time he whimpers. So that makes him strong and awesome. He's constantly stroking his ego with how awesome a dad he is and how he's so great at this and so great at that.

Last week he pitched a mad fit because I told him it was too cold at the beach for the baby. So he jerked the car seat out of the stroller and stomped off to the truck. He got mad because he wanted to fix a bottle of formula, and I handed him a freshly pumped bottle, with the pump still on it. He couldn't get the pump off so he threw it across the house.

I get told I'm doing this wrong and questioned about doing that. I was told that breastfeeding just wasn't for me because I was having problems. I'm up all hours of the night without help. I've tripped on the dog and landed flat on my ass almost every night for two weeks. I do laundry, I clean the house, I bathe and feed the baby. But I'm just grumpy and "fucking shitty" all the time. I'm not awesome. I'm not doing a good job. I'm apparently not even doing things right.

Bryan's dad is in town to see Marshall. He keeps joking about taking my baby. At one point, he wasn't even joking. He said that if his ex-wife was out here at the same time, he was taking the dog and the baby and leaving. And of course, once again, I'm doing this or that wrong. I'm not able to nurse on schedule. Hell, I don't even get to see my baby until night time when I'm bathing him and getting him ready for bed.

They want me to take pictures of them while he's here, of their 3 generations. It's his dad's idea, but it's the most interest he has shown since we came home. Our son is 3 weeks old, and we don't even have a picture of the three of US together. Not even at the hospital.

I'm tired of company. I'm tired of being told I'm wrong. I'm tired of being told how to take care of my baby. I'm tired of not being good enough. I'm tired of the jokes and taking over things. I'm tired of the lack of support and encouragement. I'm tired of the bullshit arguments and personality clashes and angry fits. I'm tired of feeling like I'm not wanted. I'm tired of feeling like my son isn't wanted, like he's an inconvenience. I'm tired of all of it.

I go back to work in 3 weeks, and Marshall starts daycare. I just want to rest and love on my baby while I can.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Illuminate Week One

Illuminate's Week One Assignment.....

Dear Lilly and Brake,

It's been two years and two months since you left us, Lilly, and a year and a half for Brake. Going back to work seemed to intensify the pain. I was learning a new job, the one that played a hand in your death, Brake, and I was also learning how to live after saying goodbye to a second baby. I was moved to a midnight shift because I couldn't control my temper. I ran on very little sleep because of all the nightmares. I was always on edge at work because there was always a flashback around the corner. I had the worst flashbacks on the flight line, the worst place to have a distracted mind. 

Last summer I started painting to help channel some of the pain. I lost motivation for it after a while, but I have still managed to let go of some of it. It still hurts. I still have nightmares. I still cry. I still can't even look at a ladder or use the bathroom at night without trembling. But I can talk about you with a smile because the joy that you brought during your short time really does outweigh the pain. I just wish others would be more open to remembering you. It hurts when people come into our home and get upset about seeing your pictures on the wall.

Almost three weeks ago, Mommy welcomed your little brother Marshall to the world. It hurts me to say this, but I finally feel like a real mommy. Lilly, you were my first born, my first love, and you made me a mommy. For the first time ever. But spending these last two years without you and Brake, well, I didn't feel like much of one.

When I'm taking care of Marshall, I realize how much I missed out on with both of you. It hurts to know that you never got a chance in this world. It hurts to know that Marshall will never get to be the little brother that he really is. Sometimes at night when he's nursing, I'll catch a glimpse of something in his eyes and I'll remember how much he looks like you, Brake. And I'll break down in tears every time.

I miss you two so very much. I feel like a mommy, but I don't feel like myself. Maybe it's a bit of post-partum depression in addition to missing you, but I feel more like a hollow shell lately. I got sunflowers in the hospital, and they are all dried up now. They are still somewhat recognizable, but nothing like they used to be. That's sorta how I feel. Your dad has been helpful but not very supportive, and I think that makes it feel worse.

Even though Marshall makes me feel happier, he hasn't and can't ever replace you. I will still always love you and miss you.

*I know there's supposed to be more pictures, but I'm still not getting around that well. I'll do better with next week's assignment.*

Monday, September 3, 2012

He's here. :-)

Sorry for keeping yall waiting for so long.... 

Marshall Andrew finally made his appearance last Tuesday at 2:11 pm. 
He weighed 6 pounds 5 ounces and was 19 inches long. 


He's doing great. I'm having some pretty rough post partum issues though, so it will probably be a few more days before I can get back with more pictures and possibly a birth story. 

Thanks again for all the thoughts, prayers, and encouragement over the last 9 months. I'm still in a bit of disbelief that this is real.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dear Little Guy.

Dear Little Guy,

Your dad and I spent a nice Christmas vacation at Newport Beach in Oregon. We took Austin with us, and he was so excited to run and be chased by all those waves. On Christmas morning, your dad fixed me a cup of tea while we were getting showered and ready for the day. As soon as I took my first sip, I immediately started getting sick. I had been a little weak most of the weekend, but we didn't think much of it til then. Dad said he knew exactly what was wrong, and on our way home he bought a box of pregnancy tests. Sure enough, there they were: two pink lines.

We were scared. Too scared to be excited. You see, you have a big sister and a big brother, but they are both in Heaven. We were scared that you might leave us too, and we knew our hearts couldn't handle any more pain.

One day, around 12 weeks, I found a pair of shoes that I knew would look great on you. And you would match your dad! I was afraid if I bought them, I would jinx you and you would never get to wear them. So I started crying, right there in the middle of the store. But then I realized that it didn't matter if you lived another day or another year or an entire century. You were still mine. I promised right then and there that I would love you with everything I have in me and I would make the absolute best of this pregnancy, no matter how long or short it might be and no matter how hard things got. And boy, did things ever get hard.

I was sick the entire first 6 months of pregnancy. I lost 15 pounds from being so sick. You didn't seem to like anything I ate. When we did find something, it would only last for about a week or so, and then it would make me sick too. If it wasn't for popsicles and Gatorade, I don't know how I would have survived. Eventually pancakes started staying down. And sometimes watermelon. And then scrambled eggs and toast. (Your dad and I have breakfast at the bowling alley at least once a week, and those ladies think all I eat is scrambled eggs and toast.)

Even after I started feeling better and gaining some weight, I would have lots of nightmares. Most nights when I would wake up, I would feel you wiggle around in my belly, and I'd start to feel better and fall back asleep. You're really good at doing that at just the right time. Like when Dad forgot about my birthday. I was so mad that I cried, and then I got mad that I cried. And then you wiggled and, well, it felt like you were petting me, reminding me that you were still there. That was all I needed for my birthday.

In April we found out that you were a boy. You were so proud of those boy parts that you wouldn't let the radiologist see anything else. You didn't let us see much of your face, but from what little we did see, we think you look a lot like your brother.

Every morning at work, I would have some juice and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. I only worked for a couple hours because Chief wanted to make sure you stayed safe and healthy. On the way home, if I turned the radio up a little bit, you would start wiggling and dancing. You really like music. I got you some Belly Buds, like special speakers just for you while you're in my belly, so that you could listen to music with me while I was laying down. George Strait and Radney Foster are some of your favorites. So is your Uncle Andy. I'm sad that you won't get to meet him, but I'm so happy that his voice makes you happy.

The last couple months I've been on bed rest, and it's been rough. I never knew doing nothing could be so tiring! Other than being boring and exhausting, it's actually really nice to just relax and lay around the house. Most days Dad is at school, so I just nap on the couch while you stretch around in my belly. Austin really enjoys our nap time. He usually ends up passed out right next to me, with his head on my belly. He's been very protective lately, especially when Dad gets out the vacuum cleaner. I think he's excited about you. You two will be great friends.

It's the end of August, and I can't believe it's almost that time. You should be making an appearance any day now. If you're not here before Wednesday, Doc is evicting you. That's five days! It's starting to sink in, and I'm getting scared. This parenting thing is really new for your dad and me, and it's gonna be hard. It's even harder knowing that you won't ever get to be the little brother that you really are. I know there are going to be days that we don't get things right. And I'm sure there are going to be days that I miss your brother and sister really bad and I just want to sit in the floor and cry. But I think our good days will far outweigh our bad days. So please be patient with us as we figure this out.

There are so many people that have been praying for you and waiting for your arrival. You haven't even made it out of my belly yet, and you are already so very loved by so many.

Five more days. I can't wait to meet you!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Venting and an update.

I haven't been here in a while.

I'm nursing a 3 day headache from hell, so I apologize in advance if nothing I write today makes sense.

Yesterday, at 38 weeks.

All this time on bed rest has made me realize how much I miss human interaction....and how much I absolutely hate people.

I've noticed lately that a lot of women like to compare and make a sort of competition out of pregnancy and childbirth. I don't understand it. I listened to a lot of it when I was still working, but I sorta expected that there. But having complete strangers spewing pregnancy horrors at me because it's not fair that I don't have stretch marks? Or someone telling me that it's not fair that I get more appointments because I'm a high risk pregnancy? Seriously?

I've had my share of hard times and horrors. But I don't hold them against anyone. I don't compare them to anyone else. Most of the time I don't even bring them up unless I am specifically asked about them. In the first trimester, I told myself that I would love this baby with everything I have in me and that I would make the best out of this pregnancy, no matter how hard/long/short it might be. That might not sound like much, but after two losses, that's actually pretty damn hard. And it doesn't leave much room or time for comparing what I've been blessed with to what someone else has. I just wish other people could see things like that.

I've also noticed that it's much better to not talk about my pregnancy publicly. I don't have the patience for dealing with people. If I post a REAL update, we get hysterical phone calls, even though nothing is actually wrong. If I mention getting to go somewhere, I get lectured for being out of bed, even though I was cleared of strict bed rest a few weeks ago. I know there are always risks. I'm more than aware of that. But is it really that bad for me to go get a milkshake a mile from my house?! If I mention appointments or decisions, I get lectured again about how it's all bad/wrong and we should be doing more to make a better start for our child. If you don't know anything about my medical history, how do you know what is best for me or my baby? (On that note, I just want to point out that rude, hateful lectures are definitely not the way to win over a miserable pregnant woman. Just so you know.)

The thing that really gets me is the people that have recently made attacks and ugly comments about our doctor and medical decisions that have been made. We finally got a doctor that actually takes her time with us, listening to us and answering questions. She is actually taking our issues very seriously, as well as trying to prepare us for any of the complications that could arise. We really like and trust her, and that's a really big deal for me. I came into this pregnancy with a handful of issues and complications, on top of having previous losses, so I never expected this to be an easy ride. I never expected things to go smoothly. I definitely never expected it to become such a big deal to so many people that, in the big picture, really don't matter, or that don't even know us. I shouldn't have to explain myself or our decisions to these people, or to anyone else. I know my body and its issues, and I trust my doctor....and that's all that matters.

With all that being said, I want to point out that none of it was directed toward any of you. Well, not any of you that I know personally or have talked to. Yall have been wonderful through all this. Sometimes I just need to vent.

And because you sat through all that, a real update....

I was dilated to 3 cm and started having bloody show and lost pretty much all my mucous on Friday the 10th. (I feel yucky saying that stuff to yall. haha) I've been having contractions for the last few months, but they picked up. Regular contractions about every 20 minutes. We thought this was actually happening, and I felt that neurotic oh-my-god-this-is-real panic set in. So I made Bryan drive to Walmart at 10 PM because we didn't have any baby socks. (Yes. I'm serious.) I made myself calm down and try to sleep, and the contractions stopped for a while. I've been having them every day since, but we haven't made much progress. As of our last ultrasound, Little Guy looks like he has stopped growing. He was about two weeks ahead through most of the pregnancy, and then he hit 5 pounds and stopped. I know the ultrasounds aren't always accurate, especially this late in pregnancy, but 3 of them have shown him with the same measurements. His movement and heart are still showing up perfectly though. Doc wants to induce us next week if he doesn't show up on his own over the weekend. I guess it's not our ideal birth situation, but as long as my baby is ok, I'll take it. I have structural issues with my uterus and my kidneys, my cervix is pretty much non-existent, my baby stopped growing, and there's a really great chance that I will hemorrhage during birth. I'm pretty sure at this point, there are far worse things than an induction if it gets my baby here safely.

Hopefully this time next week, I'll have some great news to share with you. And then my parents and my sister will be in town for a few weeks, so I'll be missing for a while again. :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Terry's funeral was Thursday of last week.

It still hasn't quite hit me that I won't see my friend again when I go home this fall.

I've been sleeping on the couch for the past few weeks. I don't sleep much, but when I do, it's easier to get comfortable there than in my bed. (I thought it ironic that I threw such a huge fit for that new bed set, only to stop sleeping in the bed a few days later.) 

Early this morning, I was in and out of a dream where I was talking to Andy and Terry again. I don't remember where we were or even what we talked about. As I started waking up, I knew I'd been talking to them. Even though it was a dream, I could feel they had just been in the room.

As I opened my eyes, I could see that the sun was starting to rise. Just enough to throw some pretty colors above the mountains while everything else was still dark. And my eyes were immediately drawn to a bright spot at the bottom right of the big tree in the yard. It looked like a giant smiley face, and the light shining through was glowing so much brighter than anything around it.

I've never seen that face until this morning. And I've never felt a presence that strong.

It was amazing.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Way back in the day, back when Facebook was still for college kids and Myspace was actually kinda cool, this was my profile picture. ---->

A local musician named Andy sent me a message one day, saying that he liked my boots. He invited me to come watch one of his shows. It was a good hour drive from my house in light traffic, and well, I'm lazy, so I didn't go.

He continued to message me on a regular basis. He was really funny, and it turned out that we had a lot in common. We ended up becoming really good friends.

After almost a year of texting and talking online, I finally got brave enough to go to one his shows.

It was a Wednesday. June 6. At a biker bar called Dexter's. 

When I climbed out of my truck, Andy was pulling his equipment out of his Jeep. He asked me to hold his tuner for a minute, and he wrapped me up in one of the biggest hugs ever. It instantly felt like we had been the best of friends for years.

When we walked inside, I felt a bit out of place. I was a tiny young country girl in a mini skirt and cowboy boots, and I was surrounded by bikers with leather pants and grungy beards. Andy put his stuff on stage, and then walked around to introduce me to every person in the bar. At one point, he even picked me up to make sure that people saw my "awesome boots".

It turned out that most of these rough looking bikers were mostly policemen and firemen and a few others that just liked to ride together and enjoy some cold beer. I was the only girl that had ever come to see Andy, so I was called "Andy's girlfriend" from that night forward.
Terry and Andy. I swiped this from Andy's old Myspace account.

The owner of the bar, Terry, came out to meet me. He greeted me with a smile, a big hug, and a beer. He was the only one that called me by name.

Terry had a voice much like Johnny Cash, and he loved to jump up on stage when he had a chance. This night in particular, he and Andy started belting out gospel songs, and the crowd went crazy over it.

By the end of the night, another lifelong friendship had started.

Over the next few months, I went to almost every show Andy did in the area, especially when they were at Dexter's. Every week, Terry greeted me with his big smile and even bigger hugs, and I sat at the same bar stool enjoying his fun stories. He worked with the Police Dept for 26 years before getting into the restaurant/bar business, so he always had an interesting story. (He retired from the force with high honors and also had several business and community service awards, just for the record.)

I was usually the youngest person there, and although I didn't usually drink more than one beer, Terry took it upon himself to always make sure I was safe. He made sure no one bothered me inside. He made sure no one followed me to my truck. Several nights I drove Andy home, so he made sure which way we were going, just in case anything happened.

When I left home, those late nights with those great friends were one of the hardest things to walk away from, second only to the kids that I didn't want to miss growing up. I've always been one of those people that gets along great with everyone but only has a small handful of friends, the kind that are more like family. Terry and Andy (and Randy and John, the other two that Andy always played with) were my family, and learning to live a life without spending time them made me physically hurt.

About 5 hours ago, Terry was killed while out on his motorcycle. I found out just after it happened, and I've been sitting here, wide awake, ever since. Part of me can't sleep because I'm in shock. The other part of me doesn't want to sleep because I don't want to wake up and find out this is real.

The thing that really strikes me in all of this isn't how quickly life changes or how you never know when your last day is gonna be or how you should hug the people you love a little tighter. (I've been reading a lot of those sentiments on Terry's Facebook page. The truth is I'm all too familiar with this, and that kinda stuff just irritates me any more, even though I know they all mean well.) It's the painful realization that my small circle of friends is growing smaller and smaller.

I knew that I would never be able to move back home to the same life that I left. That's to be expected. But I never expected to eventually move back to a life without my friends. Without those friends. I never expected to see so many of them die.

Terry had a huge heart, and he went out of his way to make this world a better place for so many people. He was truly one of the greatest people I've ever known. Please keep his family in your prayers this week. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Yesterday was my birthday.

I told Bryan earlier in the week that I wanted to get my progesterone shot a day early so that I didn't have to spend my birthday at the clinic. Doc said small trips were okay, as long as I took it easy, so I was looking forward to a break from the house. I wanted a pedicure and a picnic at the beach.

We had breakfast, and Bryan said he needed to get some homework done. I'd been having contractions for 2 days, so I was content with laying down and waiting. I got bored. And then restless. So I put a load of laundry in the washer and I cleaned both bathrooms. (That wasn't the best idea. My back still hurts.)

He was still doing homework and completely oblivious to anything else going on in the house. I was getting frustrated and I was in a lot of pain. I could feel the tears coming. So instead of just saying something to him, I went back to bed. Then I got pissed that I was in bed on my birthday. Being pissed off made the back pain and contractions hurt even worse.

When I finally woke up a few hours later, I was still mad, but I wasn't hurting as bad. It was too late to get a pedicure. I wasn't even in the mood for a picnic anymore. I just laid there, wondering why it was so hard to just get a small break from the house, just an hour or two.

Just about the time I was about to break down in tears again, I felt the little guy start to move. When he wakes up, he usually kicks really hard and then stretches out as far as my belly with let him. But this time, when I felt him, it was just a soft nudge. And then another and another. It felt like he was petting me, almost like he was trying to cheer me up. It was amazing. And it made me realize that I'm really gonna miss being pregnant, especially the quiet time I get with bed rest.

We're 34 weeks this week. I didn't think we would make it this far. I'm so ready to be done, but I'm not ready for this to be over.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I feel like I need to write, but my brain feels like a giant blob of goo.

Aside from learning how to navigate Photoshop a little better, I haven't really done anything productive throughout this last month of bed rest. I suppose productivity isn't the goal here, but seriously, my brain hurts from lack of use.

I want to get up and scrub my entire house, just for something more stimulating than Facebook and bad tv. (And maybe because Bryan hasn't been helping out with it much, so it's driving me crazy.)

I'll try to do a real post soon....when I can do a better job of stringing together something intelligent and interesting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dear Andy.

Dear Andy,

Two years ago today, I watched my little Lilly Grace die in my bathroom floor. I have a hard time believing it has really been that long. Sometimes I feel like the amount of time that has passed is more unbelievable than the fact that my child is no longer here. Where does all that time go?

I'll be turning 26 in a couple weeks. It's yet another year that you won't be here to celebrate with me. The last time I saw you, you had just turned 26. (And just so you know, I still want to punch you in the face, birthday boy.) That was 5 years ago.

I've been thinking about the last 5 years a lot lately. I look at pictures from that last summer with you, and I can't believe how much has changed. I miss that fiesty country girl that lived and loved with reckless abandon. I miss that loud obnoxious laugh and that huge smile. I try to find her in the mirror, but I only catch glimpses on rare occasion.

Random pictures of the girl I used to be.

When we talked about where this adventure might take me, I never dreamed life would be like this. I never imagined you would be gone. I never imagined myself being married...and especially not being divorced. I definitely never saw babies in the picture. I thought I was giving my gypsy heart room to run. Not getting ready to see it shatter to a million pieces.

I guess when we set our sights on the future, none of us ever account for falling short or changing directions or just flat out failure. It makes the adventure less inviting.


I hate that word, but I have been feeling it a lot the last 5 years. I don't remember ever feeling like such a failure as I did when I signed my divorce papers. And then I lost Lilly. And then I lost Brake. And then I fought hard, but I lost my motivation at work. I guess work is a little more than lost motivation. I loved the Navy and all the adventures I've seen so far, and I was looking forward to several more. But I lost respect for the people I worked for, I had a nervous breakdown on the flight line, and I gave up. I didn't have it left in me to keep fighting and trying so hard when my best was never enough. My failure was thrown in my face, drilled into my head, over and over again by people who didn't understand.

Failure should be my name. Or at least that's how it feels sometimes.

I've done a lot of thinking and soul searching these past couple weeks on bed rest. (Probably more thinking than is actually good for me.) I'm really anxious for this little one to get here. And terrified of what comes after his arrival. But more than anything, I'm realizing how truly unhappy I am. I'm realizing all the things that I have tried to push aside or bury instead of facing them. Deep under layers upon layers of time, dust, pain, and foolish pride.

The big things are always there, lurking in the shadows. It's the little things that are getting me. Little things that have been pushed aside so long they've become bigger things. Most of them seem to be centered around my relationship with Bryan. And my lack of close friends in this area. At first I thought it was just the hormones and stress of bed rest, but I really think it's a lot deeper than that. His negativity. His mean jokes. His I'm a man so I'm better than you in every way attitude. His entire day video game marathons.

I know that we are both different people than we were when we first started dating. Change is to be expected, especially with all that we've been through. But I think we have become too different. I can honestly say if I had met this guy that he is now, we probably wouldn't have even been friends, much less dated. I'm losing sight of what brought us together because I'm not seeing or feeling it anymore. I love him. I really do. And I try to keep reminding myself that it will get better. But he is angry and blames the entire world for the bad things that have happened to him, and I know in my heart that nothing will get better until he deals with that.

I hate this. Part of me feels like I should have seen it coming and that I should just get out while I can. The other part of me can't stand the thought of giving up...or of taking the little one away from his daddy.

I don't know what to do, Andy.

I want to make things better. For me. For him. For us. For our little one. I want to believe that things can and will get better. I want to believe in those love stories I grew up hearing from the old folks. I want to believe that I can have one of those too.

More than anything, I just want to be happy again. Whatever it takes. I just want to be happy.

I miss you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I don't feel like writing tonight, but I said I would share some pictures soon.

Most of them are of the bedroom and crib. And a couple belly shots.

I really need to put up curtains.

Close up of the new bed set. (FYI: a great way to piss off a pregnant woman is to tell her that wrinkles in the sheets don't matter. I could choke a person over wrinkles in my sheets.)

Flowers on the dresser. And Brake's urn.

Crib and book shelf.

I think this is my most favorite blanket ever. From bankiebaby..

I wanted a somewhat subtle way to incorporate some birds. I love how it turned out.  From SimpleShapes.

Close up of the collage seen in the first picture.


More books.

Bryan threw a childish fit over this damn thing and had me crying in the middle of Walmart. I hate pregnancy hormones.

There is a matching quilt for this, but it was expensive and I'm a tightwad.

Bed rest is a family event now.

I apologize for a bra shot, but I have zero motivation to wear clothes. (31 weeks, by the way.)

The slight bulge on the right is little guy's butt.

More books. Amazon and are my best friends during bed rest.

Football stuff from his Uncle Daniel.
The hydrangea bush that lasted until January is in full bloom again. (This thing is in a lot of posts.)

I'm having some maternity pictures done soon, if little guy stays put long enough. Just waiting on my dress to come in. Maybe by then I'll be out of this weird mood.