Tuesday, May 28, 2013

You are the best thing, thats ever been mine.

Warning, this will be a picture post. Because I can. Isnt the point of blogs so that you can talk as much as you want, even if people dont give a damn about what you say?

On the eve of our sixth anniversary, I feel a bit reflective tonight. Six years ago, as I sat in a rented bedroom in Arizona, there is no way I could have imagined what Id be doing today.

Six years isnt *that* big of a deal, in the long run. Anyone can be married for six years really (unless you are Kim K, but lets not set the bar too low). Heck , in six years you barely have time to figure out all the things youd like to put down in your divorce degree.

BUT, for me, six years seems like a long time. Its a long time for two kids who dove in head first. Its a long time for a girl who had no idea how to be a wife - or, anything like it really (ha, just ask most of my ex's). Its a long time for two people who have never set down roots in the time theyve been together, who have only been on a handful of real dates, and who have been apart almost as much as theyve been together.

I, admittedly, had a lot to learn about love. I didnt grow up with any real male figure in my life as I navigated my formative years. I didnt know much about how marriage or families worked. Most of what I knew came from tv - that marriage should be fairy tale, it should complete you, it should be softly lit and always go right.

Over the years, I had to learn what love really looks like. Real life love - the kind that is busy, and imperfect, and not at all what you might expect. I had to learn that romance comes in forms that no one tells you about. I had to learn that romantic movies are like porn for women - they might be nice to look at, but it doesnt happen in real life.

Sometimes romance is a guy who will find a way to crash your birthday party, just for a chance to meet you (he may or may not be intoxicated - Im not sure that was part of the plan, but it worked in the end). 

Love might be the guy who, when faced with the breakup speech, says "thats nice, lets go get married". Now, in some circles that would also be referenced as "creepy", but in this case he was good looking and wasnt on probation, so it was cute. 

Romantic could be the girl who was so excited to see the boy, that she rode 20 hours on a Grayhound bus, each way, just to see him for 13 hours.

Love could be when the girl drives for 2 days to see the boy, to have a courthouse wedding ....

... with two strangers as witnesses (they wore cutoff jeans no less) ...

... and she hurried him back to the barracks and spent her wedding night alone. 

Love is when you become a family, with no hesitation or footnotes. When you both accept that there are challenges ahead and it wont be easy - but whats his is yours, and yours is his. 

Romance is a 4 day road trip, in a VW bug, 6 months after you get married, to create yet ANOTHER new life, in the one place you really didnt want to go to. Romance is being able to laugh when your AC gives out in the middle of death valley, and you see someone throw a TV over a fence as you drive by ... lost ... again. 

Love is shacking up in a tiny apartment thats all you can afford, and all you can find, because you are in the middle of a huge new place with no idea how to navigate it, or the Army. Love is deciding you absolutely need a dog, and love is a girl standing in front of a cage at the Humane Society and MAYBE strong arming a little boy out of the way, for the perfect puppy. Love is Sammy Lou, who has been our faithful, hungry, loving companion since that day. 

Romance is a mixed family, and flying (through winter storms and heart attack landings) cross country ALL THE TIME to keep us together, and where we needed to be.

Love is when your wife just has to have this little, feral, side of the road puppy. Love is when you dont say no to that, you name him Duke, and he's the worst dog that you cant help but love.

Romance is fighting your apartment complex in such a way that they actually let you out of your lease with no penalties, so that you can move your family on post in a much better neighborhood and bigger house.

Love was this Christmas / birthday where we almost lost our poor sick Sammy, and where he drove for hours to find what we needed to save her. 

Love meant a lot (a lot!) of goodbyes. 

And it meant that in ten months, this was the one time she saw his face:

But that ended with this: 

and it REALLY ended with this.

Love is getting the post deployment surprise that you were told you never would ...

Romance is getting orders all the way across the country, buying a house before you see it in person, and moving 3000+ miles away while 20 weeks pregnant.

Romance is assuring your pregnant wife that she gets more beautiful every day (even if shes just getting fatter). 

Romance is accepting all of your wife's crazy ideas about freestanding birth centers and no medication. Romance is holding her hand through 20 hours of labor, and being the one to pull your sweet baby boy into the world. Romance is being the first one to see his face, and him take his first breath. Romance is knowing you really did bring him into this world.

Love is learning how to navigate a newborn and a teenager, both who needed more than we ever could have imagined. Love is meeting it head on, even on the days when it got tough, because we knew that the kids needed us to be stronger than their challenges. They needed us to be the rock they could build off of. 

Love is saying "see you soon", again ...

This time with just a little bit more to miss. 

Romance is appreciating to the fullest when an Army decision actually goes in our favor (had to happen once!).

And romance is also deciding that if hes going to be home, then its worth driving back to Arizona to spend the summer with him. Even if it wipes your savings, even if its with a 9 month old ... nothing is worth missing out on months of time together. 

Love is the joy on your faces the day you find out that your family is growing again!

And romance is the man who will hold your hand when you find out that your family wont be growing right now after all.

Love is the guy who will come home the day after the hospital, head in his hands, and break the news that you are moving back across the country, to the middle of the desert, in a matter of months.

Romance is when you get news that you are pregnant again. He will tell you to rest. He will clean and prep an entire house for renting. He will hold your hand as you get that first ultrasound. He will understand that you have to cry for a few minutes before the tech can even begin because you are shaking and terrified. 

He will take you to Disney (pregnant and horribly sick) to help make up for it.

Love is when he drives 2 hours to find out what your rainbow baby is. Love is when he is so excited to have a baby girl, because its a baby her. Love is a man who loves being a father so much that he cant wait to do it again, and again and again. 

In the past six years, Ive definitely learned a few things about love and romance. They are the things that are between the lines - the worry on his face when your baby is sick. The years you can look back on and say - he never left me. The way you can get mad at him because you are secure that, no matter how ridiculous you can be, hes still going to wake up tomorrow and want to be beside you.

Love is fighting, learning, growing. I see so many people now a days trade in for a "better" model. They want the grass that they are sure is greener, and maybe that works for them. Hey, Ive had to kiss a few frogs too, you know? But I am so hopeful that one day I can look back and I can see the same guy beside me that is now. That I can make 500 pages of these entries that detail all the things that you can see, and that show all the millions of things that you cant. 

So here we are. Six years, 4 duty stations, 3 (almost) kids, 2 dogs ... 1 life. Its been a hell of a ride and I cant wait to see whats next. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Countdown to Baby - Week 12 (ish). Pantry / Laundry Room

I have to admit, this is me:

Not only have I never been a clean freak (anyone who has ever been to my house knows that, while I dont qualify for Hoarders status, I definitely dont get any satisfaction out of mopping or dusting), but I also am not an organized person.

Before you judge me as a total slob, its honestly just not on my priority list. We move so much that half of our things stay in boxes, and we are a VERY busy family. There are sports played, playdates scheduled, we take trips and watch movies. Its not that I don't clean, but I dont put a huge emphasis on the cleaning - so oftentimes if you show up unannounced, I will make an excuse not to let you in. We dont live in CPS worthy filth, but the odds are there are toys everywhere and the laundry isnt done.

We laugh a lot, if thats any consolation.

There are times when I think that my laid back attitude makes motherhood easier on me. If a kid spills a drink, or colors on a wall, or leaves his room a mess for a few days in a row, meh, I dont care. In fact, my oldest knows that he can get out of cleaning by asking to go do something - play basketball, see a friend, work on a project. I truly value experiences and they trump bleaching the floor every time.

HOWEVER, sometimes that attitude makes it harder on me - usually about the time, once a week, when I realize that I have a shit load of work ahead of me so that we can all relax in a clean home. I admit that this move we sort of threw our things in, made it just livable enough, and then said forget it. That tends to happen when you move once a year :/

Anyhow, as I am realizing that Gabrielle will be here in 12ish weeks (I say ish because Lord knows that no child of mine is ever going to be on time), maybe I should make life a little easier on myself. After all, I will have one kid who will be in his first month of high school, an hour away ( thank God for the bus), I will have one almost two year old who will not understand if his routine of playdates and fun things is interrupted, and I will have one newborn, who will work on her own schedule. To round that out, I will have a husband who will jump off paternity leave and directly into rotation, which means he will either be gone 16+ hours a day or be gone for 2+ weeks completely.

So yeah. Maybe I shouldnt leave our life in total chaos while were adjusting to all of that.

However, if you give me a big huge list and tell me to get it done, I will adamantly refuse to do any of it. I get tired just looking at long lists, then I struggle to do 5 things at once, and then I give up totally and cry on Facebook.

Therefore, I created my "countdown to baby" checklist. One room a week, to be totally organized, donated, cleaned, and baby proofed. Everything should have a place, and be functional and I shouldnt have to worry about John killing himself in it (i.e., outlet covers, shelf placement, ect). Two weeks for the garage, because Im a realist, and a week to prepare freezer meals and shop for extras. The heavy stuff concludes the first week of August, in which I will focus on last minute baby prep.

I am beyond hopeful that this will hold me accountable, while not totally overwhelming me into inaction.

This week, I had the pantry / laundry room on my list. I was going to take before and after pictures, until I realized that I was actually embarrassed to do so. Our walk in pantry became a catch all for boxes, and we tended to throw food in there and close the door. The laundry room wasnt much better. Although the excess shelving and storage is my favorite part of this house, the downside is that sometimes you decide "out of sight, out of mind" and never deal with it again.

So I jumped on Pinterest (of course) and got a few ideas of how to make things more "user friendly". Were limited because we live in post housing, but there were some really helpful tips. The only money I spent was $5 at a yard sale on storage bins, $2 on labels, and $2 for new dry erase markers.

Here we are, all sorted into places that make sense. I have a place for breakfast items, lunch items, and dessert items. I have juice boxes and crackers all in one bin, and snacks sorted by category. This helps because when my oldest asks what he can have, I can direct him to where he can grab. Also there are a few things we like to keep on hand all the time, so out of their boxes I can see what needs restocking. 

Well, this side certainly doesnt look like much, but its all the things I use to make dinners in the dry area. I have the days labeled out and when I make my meal plan, I sort through what I already have. It prevents me from buying things in duplicate, which happens often when I had them all shoved in together.

Menu board - that will also have a running shopping list pinned to it. Because I cant remember a damn thing.

Laundry sorter, that I vow to actually use now. A table for my wetbag - and before you laugh, I have 7 wetbags and not a darn one of them hold up to this Trader Joes bag! We have our deep freezer all set up (freezer meals here we come!), and all the cabinets above the washer and dryer are sorted with all the cleaners - away from little hands.

The closest is perfect for the vacuum, spot bot, and steam mop. It also has all the extra blankets and sheets in bags for when we need extras, and all the board games we have (that we never use). 

Im impressed with the progress. Everything has a place and we are able to FIND everything, which is huge. I thought about filtering these pictures and making them look whimsical and like we live in a cloud of perfect, but then I realized - this is real life. Take it or leave it, this is how shit looks, all the time. 

Next up is the kitchen and dining room. This will include cabinet locks, because although we only put plastic down low, I am so tired of finding my tupperware in the toybox. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Things you learn during pregnancy insomnia:

I should footnote that title "Part One", because there will inevitably be parts 2-200 to come.

I've never really slept at night to begin with, so have a tiny break dancer taking up residence in my belly only exacerbates that condition. Its not uncommon for me to stay away until 1-2 am, doing nothing of use, for no good reason.

Lately, Ive started trolling eBay for good "deals" on things I need for myself / the baby. Generally speaking, eBay is a treasure trove of goodies. You can find actual retailers on there that sell "flawed" versions of their goods (literally, a mis-stitch or a small bleach stain) that go for a third of retail. If I were rich I would buy only perfect items. But Im not, so at any given moment youll find me in a slightly flawed ensemble. I find it just a representation of my life - generally pretty, but slightly flawed.

Last night I stumbled upon something that baffled me.

 I was searching for an alternate delivery gown. Have you heard of these? They are prettier versions of a hospital gown, that you purchase to wear during your stay there. The colors look good in pictures, and they arent covered in other peoples bodily fluids, which is well worth 30$ in my eyes. Because - ew. Anyhow, heres an example of one:

Cute, right? It has snaps in the back instead of string that refuses to be tied, and its nice and soft. And clean, did I mention not covered IN OTHER PEOPLES BODILY FLUIDS? Dont give me that bleach shit. Bleach cannot erase the things those gowns have seen.

Anyways, I dig these gowns. You can get them NIP (new in package - you need to get up on the eBay lingo) for a little cheaper from smaller sellers. Sounds great, Im in.

BUT, they apparently also sell "sexy maternity hospital gowns". They look like this:

I mean, I guess if youve got it like that, BY ALL MEANS. If you are so damn sexy that you cant bear the thought of pushing a baby out without wearing something that shows your curves, more power to you. But can I just suggest? Give yourself a break ladies. God rested on the seventh day, and its okay to  walk through the hospital with sleeves on. Its okay, for one small day, to not shake what your momma gave you.

I know some people will argue that this style is so much more freeing and comfortable. Im going to call shenanigans right now. First, halter tops are as comfortable as stilettos - and if you think stilettos are comfortable, you are a freak and you do not count in this survey. Second of all, naked is freeing and comfortable, and get used to it because by the time you crown (look that up if you dont know what it means), believe me, you will be throwing sexy outside the first window in favor of "get it out and I dont care how you have to do it".

Third, not one person is going to be focused on your top half. If youd like to be sexy and fun this might be a good time to try vajazzling. Your doctors will surely find you unforgettable then.

Stay tuned for the next chapter, which will include the appropriate response when your husband asks you why you cant just go to bed already. Hint, it includes the words "you lay down and Ill punch you repeatedly in the bladder, and you tell me how much you can sleep".

Monday, May 13, 2013


Its been a long time since I updated here. There were plenty of times that I thought about it.

Plenty of times I needed it. Plenty of times I had enough to fill the page.

In the end, I obviously never did. Putting pen to paper (or, keyboard to screen) means that you have to take a long look at whats going on ... and, it means that you have to have time, which is something that has been at a premium with a cross country move, a toddler, a teenager ...

... and a pregnancy.

I am currently almost 25 weeks PGAL, which stands for Pregnant After A Loss. I was one of the very lucky few who had to wait almost no time at all for my "rainbow baby" to come around.

There are times when I feel so blessed for it.

There are times when I feel guilty for it.

There are times when I feel terrified about it.

I was in a whirlwind of emotion after the miscarriage. I didnt have time to process what had happened before we suddenly were moving completely across the country. In a way, thats a blessing, because there was very little time to really work myself up with sadness or anger.

Not that those things didnt come. I vacillated between being completely horrified that God had let something like that happen to us, and being secure in the knowledge that the worst was over. There were moments when I was able to think - we can try again. This isnt over. And until then, we already have so much.

I immersed myself into a culture on the internet, one that most people probably havent seen. It is the loss community. There are so many ladies .... so many ... who have gone through pregnancy and infant loss. I was shocked by how many people that I knew that had been through it. I poured my heart out in message boards and read stories of women who had been through SO MUCH worse. I saw women go on, day after day, with multiple losses, with late term losses, with empty arms that still waited. Once I realized how EASY my loss was, I knew I had to keep calm and carry on (for lack of a better term). If these women could go through what they had, and still keep surviving, my pain wasnt a drop in the bucket in the sea of grief.

Allen and I wanted to try again, as soon as we could. We didnt prevent anything from happening, but both of us assumed that it would take a cycle or two to get back into the swing of things. I had a wonderful friend send me a box of supplies to help us TTC (try to conceive) again when we were ready. That box sat in wait, and I was so anxious to break it out, to try again. I felt like trying again gave me a sense of purpose - sure, the bottom had fallen out, but knowing that we had a game plan made it seem manageable.

So we waited. And we waited. And waited for a cycle that never came .... I ignored it mostly, figuring that everyone said things were out of whack after a loss. We enjoyed Thanksgiving together, with only one major breakdown on my end. I trained for and ran my first 5k, and planned a night with my girlfriends. We prepared for renting out our home and for moving. Life went on ...

Then came a series of very confusing tests, and blood tests. I was told to come back, and come back again. There was a week of limbo - but I knew. I knew that something was happening again.

And sure enough, just over a month from the end of my miscarriage, I was pregnant again. Apparently this is more common than anyone knows. They dont have a reason for it, but some theories state that the body is more "primed" for pregnancy right after a loss, and hormone levels may be higher, causing the body to retain another pregnancy. Who knows exactly what happened for us - all I know is that suddenly I was grieving a loss, prepping for a move, and pregnant with another baby.

I was cautious to tell people, as one could imagine. Still, Ive always leaned on my friends during the hard times, and this was no different. I was able to tell the ladies from my birth month board, and a few friends who were extra supportive during my loss. I told everyone with a footnote: "I had a positive test, but I dont know what will happen".

It was especially hard to tell the people that I had become close to by bonding over loss. It was hard to say that I had been given the thing that we wanted so much, especially when those people had been trying for longer, or had gone through multiple losses. The guilt can sometimes be overwhelming, because I wish I could give this gift to those who are waiting who so deserve it. I cannot wait to rejoice and praise God with those people when their time comes. I wait anxiously and pray because I know that its coming, and what a wonderful happy day that will be.

Every second of early PGAL is agony. During the first week I knew I was pregnant, I started to have awful cramping that reminded me of my miscarriage. I laid on the floor and sobbed, knowing the end was near again. I couldnt believe that in such a short time I could possibly lose so much. Of course, the baby was just burrowing in nice and tight, but no matter how many times the outcome is good, you cannot stop the all consuming, overwhelming fear that you feel every single day. The fear that its just a matter of time before you are right back in that hospital hearing the news. Its just a matter of time before this baby is taken too.

Sometimes the fear is hard for people to understand. Here you are, pregnant, just like so many people want. WHY cant you just be happy?! I dont know the answer to that. I know that I try, every day, to say "today I am pregnant and I love my baby". I try to relish every kick, every roll, every night of heartburn and leg cramps. I try to know that its okay to prepare for baby. Its okay to think about the future. IF the worst were to happen again, I know that no amount of worry causes it, and no amount of worry prevents it. Shit just happens sometimes and then you have to work through it. As hard as that is, its the thing that helped me deal with one thing at a time in early pregnancy. And, even know, at 25 weeks, I still use that motto.

Our baby is a girl. She is due in August. She will have two wonderful big brothers, and a daddy who adores her. Some days, often, I think about the baby we lost. I feel like I dont have a right to feel sad, because it was early and it was quick. I know mommas who have lost so much more. What I went through just doesnt compare. But, every once and again, I think "we should have found out the sex" or "we should be 8 months pregnant". On Mothers Day I thought of the baby, and how I would have been HUGE by now. Im convinced it was a boy, though I guess that doesnt really matter. I know that baby only knew a tiny bit of life before s/he was taken to heaven, to a beautiful place. And so maybe thats something to remember, if it ever gets hard.

Its also hard to say, I wish we could have kept that baby. Because if we had, then we wouldnt have this one. Can you really choose one over the other? Can you say, I wish things had been different? Because if not for this, then we wouldnt have that ..... I guess thats a rabbit hole no one really needs to fall down. No sense in driving yourself crazy over something that doesnt make sense anyways.

We will name her Gabrielle, which is a feminine of Gabriel. Gabriel was a messenger from God, and in a way maybe our little girl is too. She sends the message that with every storm comes peace, and no matter how much rain falls, sometimes you get a rainbow too.