Saturday, December 7, 2013

new life

We found out in a Walmart bathroom in the middle of Iowa. 

There had been months of ovulation tests, then only one line. Frustration that things just wouldn't get back to normal. And then suddenly, the two lines (and a digital test thrown in for confirmation) we'd been praying for since January.

9/17/13, Four weeks 1 day
"Less than 5 percent of women have two consecutive miscarriages (Mayo Clinic).

This is the statistic I am clinging to with an anxious heart.

I can't remember what it was like to go into this pregnancy thing with blind faith. Worrying about how many cloth diapers I would need, which crib was safest and which birthing method was best for my baby. Instead I am tiptoeing through the fear of losing another baby and navigating that ocean of grief. I'm trying to do the normal things like look up pregnancy announcements, the milestone dates we'll reach but really all I am doing is praying the days, weeks and months go fast. I have zero fear of another rapid birth, or if this baby will scream for five hours a night. I just want that sweet, healthy baby."

The next two weeks were the longest. Waiting for the point when a heartbeat could be detected. I took no less than 20 pregnancy tests, just confirmation that indeed the lines were getting darker. It was too early for symptoms but their absence made me sick with worry.

10/2/13, 6 weeks 3 days - Heartbeat appointment
"I cried when I climbed on the table. Cried harder when she showed me the flickering light of life. We did a transvaginal and could see it even better. The sac looks great, and baby was measuring a day ahead of what I thought. Heartbeat was 130/beats per min which is strong. She turned on the ultrasound wand for a second so I could hear five strong beats booming in the room. It was a miracle when I heard it with Henry but I can't tell you how much more of a miracle it seems this time, knowing how vulnerable life really is."

We've had three ultrasounds, each one as perfect as the last. Shea got me a fetal doppler at home to ease my anxiety. My midwife held my hand, answering every crazy question and indulging in my need for reassurance.

At 16 weeks now, I worry less about baby's health and more about the fact I am packing on the pounds and wearing maternity clothes six to eight weeks earlier than I had to with Henry. But the awe of a healthy pregnancy is not lost in our house.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

four years

"Love in this second sense - love as distinct from 'being in love' - is not merely a feeling.  It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.  They can have this love for each other even at moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself.  They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be 'in love' with someone else. 'Being in love' first moved them to promise fidelity:  this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it."

There was a day two years ago when I sat on the floor of Henry's room, him just weeks old. All three of us were crying. Exhausted, with nothing more to give. Shea talked about how he wasn't happy. I talked about how on that day, I didn't like him very much at all. It was an awful day we still talk about.

Perhaps a weird way of starting out an anniversary post. But it makes me remember that C.S. Lewis quote that was read at our wedding ceremony. When we got married we hadn't dealt with much except challenging family situations and lots of work travel. Four years later, I've learned that flowers, long talks of affirmation and fancy dinners are great but not the love that holds a marriage together when your newborn is screaming five hours every night.

Instead, that "quieter love" that runs the engine of this marriage is about:

moving to a new state when you have lived in the same area your entire life.

moving the entire contents of your house four times in four years to get
more space, more security, a garage.

making dinner several times a week even if it's always tacos, spaghetti or turkey burgers.

driving in a straight panic to the hospital with a screaming woman in your passenger seat who is pleading with you to give her drugs and turn on your flashers, for goodness sake.

holding your newborn son in awe as your wife is being equipped with an oxygen mask.

running around the house in circles when your baby will NOT stop crying
so your wife can take a shower.

posing with pumpkins, in front of peach trees, Thomas the train and lots of large trucks.

making dinner, doing the dishes and taking care of a toddler when your wife has a migraine.

attempting to iron your own pants.

working hard so your wife has the option of staying home part-time to play with trains.

sitting in a hospital waiting room, holding your wife's hand,
when she's about to lose her second baby.

making oatmeal for everyone every single morning and
sitting at a table to eat it together.

cleaning the litter pans every week.

always, always being on my side no matter what the topic or the people involved.

Love you, Ginn. Thank you for loving me in the ways that make this marriage thing work.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

prayers for a miracle

It's so easy to take it all for granted.

Our healthy bodies. A son that has been lucky to be so healthy an antibiotic hasn't passed his lips.

It's easy to feel superior about it, to think it's because we're doing something right. Or to not even think about it at all because health isn't a factor in our daily lives.

This week I have been brought to my knees by the stories of strangers. Stories of how life can be turned upside down in a matter of hours. Stories that make me cling to my family with fear and sadness.

My heart is so very heavy with the weight of the burdens these mothers (and fathers) must bear.

Friends, I ask that you join me in fervently praying for two families that need the kindness of strangers, the love of an all-powerful God and a miracle.

Grayson Irwin, turning 1 this week, was diagnosed with acute leukemia. His family is from Topeka, Kan. now living in Florida. In just a few days, friends have raised more than $13,000 to help this sweet family who has relocated two hours away from home where their little son will receive treatment. I heard their story through a friend and have been continuously praying since. Read their story here.

Diana Stone, blogger at Hormonal Imbalances, went through a very public loss of her twins last year at 20 weeks. She just gave birth to a son, Kaden, who is now in need of a heart transplant. If there is anyone that deserves a happy ending more, it is this family. They, too are having to move their family to another city to be close to the hospital for the best care.

I don't know if it's the faces of these sweet little boys that remind me of my Henry, or why it is that I have felt so shaken by these stories of perfect strangers.

I know money will help. I also know positive thoughts, good juju and heartfelt prayer are just as powerful.

I'm praying for strength for weary family members, wisdom for doctors, comfort for two little boys and for miracles.

God is bigger.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Dear Henry,

Every single age, I've thought: "This is my favorite, don't let him grow too fast." But you do grow, and then the next stage becomes my favorite. Two has been magical.

You repeat everything we say, even when we don't know you're listening. We can apply logical reasoning to get you to go to sleep, and you clearly state your preferences on what to wear, eat or play with.

Your ability to remember things is one of my favorite parts about this age. As we pull into the church parking lot you start yelling the names of your friends, Piper and Hudson. You know two names that make up a couple like your friends Todd and Laura or Nonnie and Grandpa. You once tried on one of Daddy's t-shirts, and now every time he wears it, you yell out "my shirt!" When daddy comes home with his workout bag, you point to it and yell "Daddy RUN!"

Plotting big things with mixing bowls.

You love playing with your choo-choos, your kitchen and grill and anything to do with outside. Your stuffed animals talk to each other and you serve them food and then tuck them in for night-night. When we run in the jogging stroller, you yell at me to run every time I start walking, like a free personal trainer.

This summer we've been at the library several times a week picking out books or attending family fun nights with puppet shows or drum concerts. You picked peaches, admired the model trains at Union Station, waded in the pool, went on evening "runs" and went on a big weekend trip to St. Louis to see the zoo, Grant's Farm and a Cardinals game.

Hugs for friends.
We celebrated your second birthday Lowly Worm style, and for the first time, you really understood opening presents and the greatness of cake.

You have a goofy personality and love teasing with Daddy and yelling "watch" followed by a silly action. You have a very kind heart, constantly taking care of your family, human and stuffed alike. You hug, kiss and give high-fives frequently.

When you fall asleep, we still collapse on the couch with a sigh. You are super exhausting and challenging but even more than that you are funny, surprising, sweet and the light of our lives.

We love you so much Henry.

Mama and Daddy

Monday, July 29, 2013

sedan love

Last week Shea called me while driving a minivan.

"It's beautiful. So ridiculously cool! It has a center console where you can set things."

Then he came home two days later, still swooning about this beautiful ride while I rolled my eyes so hard I thought they'd fall out.

The minivan turned 30 this year.  I'll admit, the van-car style come along away since the 1984 Dodge Caravan (half car half van, get it?) with its boxy design and and fake wood paneling.

It's not that I don't want a van. I mean, I guess the leg room would be nice. Changing diapers without hunching over would definitely be an improvement. A door that opened on its own would probably change my grocery store with toddler stress mess.

But, then I look at my backseat and see the chaos of cracker crumbs and trains. Imagine when we actually had more room to spread out and get comfortable. Do car detailing shops have monthly memberships?

Plus it's just so big. I can barely fit my car in the garage now between all the storage, sand toys, lawn mower and Christmas decorations. And the horrid gas mileage.

We fit in our cars. Henry is still in his infant carrier seat at 2 years old. We're small, mighty and suited for sedans.

And guess what? They even have consoles where we can set things with built-in cup holders!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

new blogging adventures

Photo shoot - Riverside, Mo.

Last night I got to meet the ladies of the Kansas City Mom's Blog, where I will be a regular contributor starting July 29.

The blog is a part of a national network of moms blogging about the cities where they are raising kids and helping to connect moms both online and offline. For a great example of what we'll be doing, visit the flagship - Scottsdale Moms Blog.

If you are in Kansas City and want to offer a giveaway, become a sponsor or have a mom review your product, let me know!

I'm excited about this new adventure - getting to know other moms, keeping up on my writing and exploring even more about KC.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and be sure to check out the blog after July 29!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

for your dairy needs

We switched to Shatto Milk for our dairy needs a few months ago, which means much tastier milk that also makes me feel good about buying locally (and in glass bottles, eee!). It also means I shop for milk three times a week and have to drop off bottles for deposit every two weeks.

But seriously worth it.

Saturday we got to touch the cows our milk comes from at Family Day on the Farm. We drove forever through Missouri backroads and arrived at a very unassuming farm with a small cluster of cows.

We got to see the milking process up close, pet baby calves, shop in the general store and taste flavored milk. My favorite is definitely limited edition cookies and cream and root beer milk. Oh, and cotton candy. I don't even like cotton candy but in milk form, yum.

Today, I stopped by after work to get the new limited edition apple pie milk. Nothing says 'Merica like an iconic dessert in milk form.

Most grocery stores in the KC area offer Shatto products, but to be sure, check out this list.

Monday, July 1, 2013

so long, google reader

In case you haven't heard, Google Reader is no more. Mass hysteria!

I have switched all my blog accounts to Feedly, which allows you to easily bring in your Google Reader subscriptions. But you only have today to do it.

This switch, however, is really encouraging me to thin out my reading list. Gone are the quarter life crisis blogs (past that), the chic nursery blogs (the first thing you're going to see is trains and cars anyway), and anyone that just is giving away more free junk that I will have to haul to Goodwill next year.

But really, if you want to keep finding your favorite blogs (like this one) and haven't memorized the URLs, make your move today!

Here's some tips for Lifehacker on how to survive the shutdown.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

picture update

First haircut

Four generations at the zoo - Sunset Zoo

First ride on a real train at Day Out with Thomas - Baldwin City, Kan.

Cousin concert time

Monday, June 3, 2013

the paper trail

Today I am the proud owner of a mortgage I've already been paying for a condo I don't want that's more than $70,000 upside down.


We closed on our refinance today for our Minnesota condo (Shea bought pre-Sarah), locking in a super low rate (thank you, recession) for a 15-year loan. We haven't been able to do this previously because the condo is the victim of the housing crash, and we didn't qualify for the special programs because it's not our primary residence. But, the programs got less ridiculous, and we got a HARP loan. It only cost us $6,000 in fees and $600 for an appraisal. A steal, people...

The good part is this fits into our master financial plan, which we are quite proud of.  Even though our mortgage payment will almost triple once the closing is processed.

The even better news is we don't  have to deal with processors, underwriters or really anyone at a bank except the teller at the drive thru for another couple of years.

Seriously. We had to provide more documentation than I even knew we had including a written statement that the $1,000 check deposit on our bank statement was not a gift. Because that matters when you owe six figures. In case you're wondering, it's not a gift but ironically, our renter's payment.

We also learned that some of my parents' credit shows up on my report including a Bergner's credit card that was opened in the 1970s. Before my birth and my social security number even existed. Also their home equity loan for remodeling which fortunately they have paid off. It only helps my score until you have an underwriter asking questions about why I am remodeling a house I don't own. Fixing that hot mess is on my summer projects list.

I'm a first-time homeowner! I don't know whether to cry or celebrate.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

graduation, v3

I started my master's degree four years ago.

In that time:

I got engaged,

planned a wedding,

learned how to be married,

moved to another state,

applied to finish my degree at a new university,

became a landlord,

lived at four different addresses,

worked full time,

had a husband also in grad school,

got pregnant,

had a baby,

pumped on class breaks,

learned to be a parent to a toddler,

found a new part-time job and two freelance jobs working more hours than before,

got pregnant again,

had a miscarriage,


I am officially done with attending night classes, cramming in reading and paper-writing during nap time and trying to convince myself that it's all worth it. That's at least 10-12 hours of my life back each week.

There was a semester when Shea and I met in the parking lot to switch baby duty between my class and his. The semester Henry was born I had an iron infusion in the afternoon and a class in the evening. This last semester was a blur of juggling Shea's travel and babysitters.

I will use my degree eventually I'm sure.

For me, though, the skills of juggling real adult life and attending class in person is what made me tear up as we processed across campus behind bagpipes.

But now I am done. DONE!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

a peaceful mother's day to you

I am a mother of two.

One I have the privilege of holding, and one I had to give back.

I am a mother to both of them, all the same.

For Henry, I am grateful I get to hear his laughter, watch him play with trucks, snuggle into my arms before bed and even smile as he once again shakes his head and says "No, Mommy." I get to touch his curly hair, tickle his little toes and kiss his soft cheeks.

For Avery, who I never got to hold, I pray for her soul. I imagine the reunion we will have someday. I guess the color of her hair, her eyes and the tone of her laughter.

I love them both fiercely.

Mother's Day is a great day to celebrate the things moms do whether they are changing diapers, paying for college tuition or spoiling grandchildren.

But for many women, it's a reminder of empty arms no matter if they have other children to hold or not. No matter if it's infertility, miscarriage or death, it's a bittersweet day filled with reminders of loss.

1 in 8 women suffer infertility.

1 in 4 women suffer a miscarriage or infant loss

As I celebrate my motherhood this weekend and spend time with my favorite boys, my heart is also with the women who have or are still hurting today. For my friend who is finally pregnant after 55 tries. For my friends who desperately want to be mothers and can't. For my friends who are mothers to babies they never got to hold.

May you have peace today.

"This may seems like a strange Mother's day column, on a day when joy and life abound for millions of mothers throughout the country. But it's also a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no other mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back." - Erma Bombeck

Monday, April 29, 2013

six weeks later

Since writing about miscarriage I've been connected with a lot of people who I know personally or only in blog world who have gone through the same loss. Some who found the blog after searching in the midst of going through it. For those who are traveling through the darkest time, I've assured them that the days do get less suffocating just like any loss or disappointment in life.

Today I am six weeks post D&C. Most days I feel like my normal busy, emotionally in control self. I feel light and hopeful. Content with my non-pregnant, almost graduating self.

But, there are still days when it swallows me whole.

Like this weekend when I realized a friend who is due the end of October was announcing her pregnancy because she was in her second trimester. And then I realized I should be in my second trimester, already public with the happy news. So I turned on my sad songs (here and here and here) and cried in between playing with trucks. And then again while Henry was in the stroller, safe from his mama's sad eyes.

Or the days when a well-meaning someone says "Oh, you should have another baby soon while Henry is young."

But most days are good. I feel richer in friendships because of shared sorrow. I feel stronger after being vulnerable and open about my pain. The nights of talking and eating popcorn til midnight help. So do the happy hours on warm patios, the random coffee dates and long walks ending in frozen yogurt. And the heartfelt cards from friends I haven't hung out with in years. But so does indulging every so often in tears and chocolate milk.

I feel blessed. There are things in my life I wouldn't have right now if I didn't also have the sadness.

I know hope begins in places like this. I am counting on it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

20 months

Dear Henry,

You are 20 months old. I cannot believe it. We are amazed at how social, smart and curious you are. Your good-natured attitude and excitement everyday keeps us hopping.

You eat everything somedays and absolutely nothing other days. Your favorites are still Mexican food especially chips and salsa. You drink milk all day long and have recently developed a love of blueberries, apple slices, guacamole and scrambled eggs.

Every morning you sit at your kid table in front of the window and point out the trucks, cars, buses and bikes that drive by. You love to play with your blocks and dump truck, your trains, and Elmo phone. You color, catch bubbles we blow and read books, sometimes to yourself. Lately I have to bribe you with snacks to come inside because you'd much prefer to run around in the backyard.

Staying home part-time has been the best thing for our family. We can get ready slowly, attend playgroups and on Fridays we go to music class where your favorite is still the scarves and shaker eggs.

You loooove to give kisses with "mm-aww" sounds and hugs. You recently learned to say thank you at the appropriate times, without prompting. Before we eat, you always put your hands together to say a prayer and enthusiastically scream "Aaaaa mennnn."

I can't count your words anymore but your most clear words are truck, bus, choo-choo, milk, kitty, moo, meow, thank you, nana (banana), grandpa, mama, daddy, night-night, no, eat, Elmo, Ernie, bike, ball, baseball, mindy, mae, go, apple, Mac, Pica, Ink, shoes, teeth and plane. We're starting to understand your language and you understand a good majority of what we ask you to do. You're starting to show your independence though and love the word NO!, throwing your food across the room on occasion and crying when we don't let you run with your fork in hand. Seriously, we know best.

You sleep from 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. You love getting in your crib and listening to your music as you fall asleep. I can't believe how short of a time ago we were dreading bedtime.

I have always felt lucky to be your mother but after the last month, I never have appreciated my job more. 

We love you so much!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

rule no. 1: comfort in, dump out
Talking about the miscarriage has meant opening myself up for comment. Ninety-five percent of it has been comforting, even sometimes helpful. Talking about it and not suffering in silence has opened up the door for burden sharing in the form of flower deliveries, sympathy cards, hugs, milkshakes, cups of coffee, encouraging texts and emails. Sharing the intimate details allowed others to share their intimate details in moments of solidarity. I don't regret sharing about such an oddly taboo topic.

When I read this article in the LA Times sent to me by a friend who suffered from infertility for years, I found myself nodding emphatically. "When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you're going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, don't say it."

Oh sister, preach it. Like I said, 95 percent of the comments and actions we've received are comforting, such as:
  • "I am sad with you."
  • "What can I do?"
  • "Here's some dinner for your fridge because I know you don't feel like cooking right now and a home cooked meal is going to sustain your body when your heart is hurting."
  • "We'll babysit so you two can have time together to grieve."
  • "Let me bring you junk food and sit and listen to you talk about how life is unfair."
  • Calling our baby by its name. Or even just acknowledging he or she is a baby.
  •  Listening. Holding. Hugging. Wiping tears away. Crying with me.
  • Texting two weeks later to let us know you haven't forgotten. Because we sure haven't.
  • Deliveries of flowers. Cards. Chocolate Milk.
The other five percent, I try to give grace knowing that it's hard to know what to say when others are grieving.  Especially for things like miscarriage. I've also found that when using the ring theory, my expectations are higher of those I place in the more center rings. When the outer ring people do more than I would ever have expected, the lack of support from the inner ring is more apparent and hurtful. That might be unfair. I am doing my very best to use these experiences to educate and show grace, rather than breed anger.

If you find yourself in any ring for someone going through a miscarriage, here is what was not helpful, at least to me:
  • "This reminds me of my pain/stress/grief when..."
  • "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle." Or similarly, "this was God's plan." This actually doesn't jive with my theology. I do think God knew this would happen and had the power to change it, and didn't. But I also don't think he brought my baby into this world to teach me a lesson or as part of some bigger plan. I think He can see the past, present and future and will use it for His glory.
  • "I know exactly how you feel."
  •  Not talking to me at all, like I have become the miscarriage. I also work, have a son, husband that I will be happy to talk about if you don't know what to say about the elephant in the room.
  • Looking for a reason why this happened. *Unless you have access to my medical chart.
Like the article said, I get it if my miscarriage makes you nervous about your pregnancy or makes you sad again about someone you've lost in the past. That's a totally normal response. 

Just dump it out, not in.

Monday, April 8, 2013

needing a reason

I know it's not my fault.

That's what everyone keeps reminding me. My midwife. The surgeon. My mom. Every single medical website I Google.

There is this list in my head. The one that details everything I might have done wrong, the what-ifs.

I took Tylenol more than half a dozen times.

I missed a prenatal vitamin.

I took hot showers.

I drank eight ounces of coffee every morning to ward off migraines.

I definitely did not get enough sleep.

I did the laundry, which was next to the litter box, which hypothetically could have gotten cat germs on my hands that I probably did not wash.

I got a 24-hour stomach bug that could have created an unsafe environment in my body.

I didn't come close to eight glasses of water each day. Seriously, not even close.

I pumped gas.

I shoveled our driveway. Twice.

I ran 18 miles a month before I conceived.

I was too stressed about keeping all the balls in the air.

I didn't always use natural cleaners.

I ate non-organic fruit. And even then, not enough fruit.

Sometimes I twirl the ring on my finger that holds the birthstone of this baby and say an apology. For doing all those things wrong. For caring more about my cup of coffee and a hot shower than my teeny tiny baby.

I know it's not rational. I know it's not really my fault. I know there are babies born to mothers who do far worse things during pregnancy and their babies survive.

But that means the questions are much bigger. And harder. And most likely unanswerable.

The reasoning my cup of coffee brings might be wrong but somedays it's easier to understand.

Monday, March 25, 2013

a story of loss

I wasn't sure how to start this post.

Does the story start when we found out we were pregnant eight days post conception? Does it start the day we didn't hear the heartbeat? Or is it when my little baby was surgically removed from the womb?

It's a story with no beginning and certainly no end. In the gap there were 64 days of prenatal vitamins. A dozen positive pregnancy tests. Morning sickness. Lots of apples and ginger candy. Half cups of coffee. Preparation for a fun pregnancy announcement along with some actual announcements. Prayers of safety and healing.

Images of a baby. A baby without a heartbeat. Tears of despair. The telling and the untelling. Shock. Hope. Pain. Fear. Soul-swallowing grief.

3/11 - Today the cashier at the grocery store asked if I was having a good day. All I wanted to do was scream. "NO! My baby is dead inside of me. I am not anywhere near OK." Instead I said I was fine and swiped my credit card. The bag boy packaged my groceries as if the world was just continuing to go on. I got into my car and sobbed with my whole body.

It's a chapter in many women's stories. But I never thought I'd get my name picked. That happened to other people. Until I became one of the 25 percent. Who feel the grief no one else seems to understand. Who have the joy of pregnancy ripped away. Who look at family pictures years later and always look for that missing face. Who wonder about a life that could have been.

3/11 - Henry pointed to my belly and said baby today. Crying, I told him yes, the baby was still there. Because it is. That's his brother or sister in there. We just may not get to meet this side of heaven.

I know it's not my fault. They say it was the baby. It just wasn't knit together in the ways that allowed it to live on earth. Instead, it will go to live with a God that can love it even more than its own mother.

3/12 - People at work keep asking if I feel better. They think I was just sick. I say I am OK. I am not OK. I feel like I weigh 600 pounds and there is a bowling ball in  my chest. I have to remind myself to breathe. But I still have to smile in the hallway and do work like it matters.

We waited a week from the initial ultrasound. There were prayers for a miracle. For some sort of mistake. The longest, worst week of my life. With a husband who was out of town. And morning sickness, exhaustion and all the signs of a healthy pregnancy.

3/14 - Today is the day we get confirmation. I feel nothing. We walked to our appointment. Through the busy Plaza of Big 12 tournament fans and shoppers. They smiled as they passed. They had no idea the destination we were walking to. The things we were about to be told. The way our world is being shaken as they bought new lipstick.

We got the confirmation. Not of a miracle but of a baby without a beating heart. With a sac that measured where it should be and a baby measuring less than it did a week before. And my body that was showing no signs of letting it go.

3/15 - We went to the zoo today. God didn't give me my baby but he did give me an 80-degree day. It felt calming to eat ice cream, look at polar bears swimming in circles, feel the sun on my skin, watch Henry's face light up. His world is so innocent. He doesn't notice all the pregnant moms with alive babies in their bellies. He doesn't immediately think of the ultrasound picture of his baby brother or sister. The baby that's still there. Sucking the oxygen out of every room.

On Monday, that baby left my body, the place that's supposed to be safest. Our baby left in a way I care not to think about and thanks to anesthesia I will never remember.

3/18 - I had to sign a paper releasing the remains of my baby to the hospital. Incineration they called it. The little body, which had fingers and toes, out with the other "medical waste."  

The medical appointments are done. Physically I feel unpregnant. I had 48 hours where my body still miscarried the rest of the tissue and blood. Rhythmic contractions, two minutes apart. Pain that left my knuckles white while gripping the steering wheel.

But now, there is little to remind me any of this even happened. Like maybe the last three weeks were just a fog.

Instead, nothingness. With no clear next step. Except attending class. Going to the store. Giving Henry a bath. Making dinner. Smiling at church. Vacuuming up cat hair. Doing laundry.

Like it all never happened.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

that's a lot of zeros

This is my go to FREEEDOM picture. Circa 2009.

I will never be one of those crazies on the Dave Ramsey radio show who call in for the sole purpose of screaming at the top of their lungs about paying off debt. But, I am constantly amazed how sticking to a budget and debt payoff plan works.

In April, we paid off our second mortgage. We'd already been living without my entire paycheck so we decided to keep on living without it. Surprise, surprise it paid off.

Today we'll pay off the hubs' $28,000 student loan, something we accomplished in 10 months. And for kicks, we paid off another $7,000 student loan by pulling from our savings.

Add the $28,000 second mortgage, a $8,500 car loan and a $2,000 credit card (I made $25K after college. A girl has to eat.) paid off since 2010.

That's a lot of money, yo.

But all that allows me to work part time without having to contract for other jobs and actually spend time building trains and swinging at the park. It means we can refinance the condo to lock in a low interest rate and pay that sucker off in 15 years. Or sell it before then, which is now my candle-blowing-out wish.

We can start funding Shea's retirement and save for a house.

Plus, I finally got my MacBook. So I think it's all worth it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

reducing chaos

The last six weeks have been all about reducing chaos in this house, which also meant using the time before grad classes started again to accomplish the chaos reduction rather than blogging, Facebooking and all sorts of time wasting fun.

So if you recall, one of the Happiness Project rules I adopted was no one else should have to participate in my project and I would only focus on the things that I could actually control. The first project was getting rid of those things that had the ability to turn a good day bad.

First I unsubscribed from email lists. Opening my email inbox every morning to 40 emails of sales, deals and quotes for my day sucked up time and added annoyance. Especially when I never actually take advantage of the sales.

Next I moved stuff in the house where it made sense. We had Henry's bibs stored in his dresser on the other side of the house from the dining room. Now they are in our hutch steps away from his highchair.  I reorganized the kitchen with the same idea in mind, moving the double boiler I only use at Christmas time to a high shelf and cleared a place next to our plates for Henry's rather than stacking the on top of each other and having to move the whole tower each time.

I got rid of excess clothes taking a car load to Goodwill, threw away the old toiletries that had expired and recycled old magazines. Our Tupperware situation was dire and I had been wanting to switch away from plastic anyway, so we spent the money to get nice glass and stainless steel containers.

I bought Rubbermaid totes to replace our cardboard boxes for Christmas decorations. I got a new phone charger so I was no longer propping the cord up with books so it'd be at the right angle to actually charge. Serious happiness roadblock.

It's all the things I wanted to do but never actually got on the list. It's definitely taught me to take the extra five minutes to think more logically through my organization and be comfortable with spending money when it makes the small things easier.

When the small things are easier, the big things seem to feel less big.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

finding more happiness

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons, user: tanaise

It's not that I am not happy. I am. But I could be happier.

There are things I let into my life that chip away at the happy I could be. Whether it's little things like when I want Tupperware I have to dig for 10 minutes looking for the corresponding lid or big things like a a bad attitude about my traveling husband, they affect me.

Over the holidays, I read "Happier at Home" by Gretchen Rubin, the Happiness Project guru. (Random sidebar: Rubin grew up three blocks from where we live right now. See? Destiny.) She addresses everything from the decor of her home, celebrating holidays, her attitude about her husband never telling her good job and the "mean face" she gives when her kids interrupt her.  I was super inspired to start my own home happiness project because I have a mean face that I am pretty sure can rival hers.

I've divided out my happiness focus into months but reserving the right to change topics as life changes.I also had to set some ground rules, mostly adopted from Rubin's book but also a few of my own.

The Rules
1. My happiness tasks cannot rely on anyone else but me.
I'd be happier if the hubs cleaned the litter pans twice a week, but I can't really control the success of that task so it's not on the list.

2. The tasks should not turn into a really long to-do list that makes me stressed.
It has to contribute to long-term happiness, not the short-term happiness of having my floors clean. Getting rid of our flea infestation would definitely make me happier for the rest of my life so it counts.

3.  I will give myself grace.
If I vow to not give the mean face, and I do - I'll try harder tomorrow. The happiness project should not send me to a therapist for a guilt complex.

First up in January: Reducing the Chaos!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Oh, hello there

In an effort to be more in the moment, I've neglected this blog, my cell phone charger (leading to much scolding from my husband and mother) and washing my floors.

The last month has thrown me for a loop.

I've battled my stress fracture with happy avoidance leading to unhappy pain. My new year resolutions won't include running a marathon this month, but just figuring out a way to use my crutches so my darned foot will heal. 

I've been haunted, as most of us are, by the events in Newtown. I've been fearful, deeply saddened and motivated to not take my days with H for granted.

I read Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin and have resolved to spend some time at a coffee shop this month mapping out my own happiness project. I'm really motivated about her simple approach.

In fact, I really need to spend more time writing at coffee shops.

I'll be back. But first, there is a little boy who has never played in the snow waiting for me.