Friday, June 19, 2015

One month.

A lot has changed in a month. I want to remember and I don't want to remember, but I guess the desire to get all the thoughts out of my head wins. One month ago I decided to pick up the cheapest pregnancy test they sell at Walmart. I was so sure it would be negative that I didn't want to splurge on the fancy digital test. I almost fell in the toilet when I realized the first line meant I was reallyreallyreally pregnant.

I reacted as I always have in the past with a, "Thank You, Jesus," only this time I also threw in an, "Oh, shit." That's just me being honest. Judge away if you must, but this baby took us by surprise. Big, big surprise.

I told everybody. I can't keep a secret. However, I had no replies for, "How far along are you?" Not one clue.

As far as pregnancies go, this one was the easiest so far. Not even a hint of morning sickness. I was a hungry, hungry hippo, already starting to puff out in the baby pouch eliciting cheers of, "Twins!" Turns out, it was just one baby and I'm fat.

Everything seemed fine, we were all getting used to the idea. I bought a few baby outfits while we were in South Carolina. Sean and I jokingly looked at passenger vans-don't knock it til you've priced it. I had names picked out. We were sketching out plans to add a bedroom. Every day brought conversation of the new baby. As much of a circus as I knew it would be, I was thrilled. I'm a sucker for babies, what can I say?

Sunday morning, we decided to play hooky from church and head for the beach. I wanted to run into Whole Foods before we came home. I visited the restroom before I started shopping and it was the first hint that something was wrong. I did what every other American does: I googled. I found much reassurance on message boards. I kept telling myself it wasn't that much blood and it was normal. I told myself that right up until Monday afternoon. Sean was at work and his coworker said I should probably go to the ER, "just in case."

I got in pretty quickly. A Radiology tech did a very thorough ultrasound, but didn't have the sound on, wouldn't let me see the screen, and gave nothing away in his expression. At that point I started to feel a bit foolish. I thought maybe they would think I was overreacting and just wanted an ultrasound. "Can you tell how far along I am?" I asked, trying to get something out of him. "The doctor will go over all that with you once he gets a chance to look at the ultrasound."

Once again I found myself in the waiting room with my family. All was normal. I was a bit antsy, but I was sure everything would be fine. They called me back, I chatted it up with the nurse, and settled in for a long wait. I was horrified to hear the lady in the next triage room had a hole in her bladder received via c-section. "Geez, maybe I don't want to continue with this OB group," I thought.

Finally, an ER Doc came in. "So, you had an ultrasound," he said. "Yep, can you tell how far along I am?" I asked. "It doesn't look good," he said, patting my leg, getting right to the point. My heart dropped, "It doesn't?"

How could it not? This doesn't happen to me. He was supposed to say, "Everything looks good. Baby is fine. You're not as far along as you thought, that's just implantation bleeding. See you at your next appointment." But he didn't say that. He said they couldn't find a heartbeat. He implied that it was just a sack, no baby. They ran some tests, we came home thinking I was more than likely having a miscarriage. They did speak of highly unlikely circumstances that gave us the tiniest iota of hope.

Sean had left the ER a little bit ahead of me to get the boys fed and home. As I walked out of the ER alone, I noticed a child standing where Sean and the boys had waited for me earlier. I noticed, but it didn't hit me until she turned around. She had the brightest, reddest, curliest afro that I've ever seen on a child. She had these super thick glasses that seemed to make her giant eyeballs peer right into my soul. She was absolutely the cutest kid ever. So cute that I couldn't help but smile. And then sob as I passed her by. I did have a, "Why, God?" moment at that. Of alllllllllll the people in the world, why was she the one standing in my path in the ER on Langley AFB at 8:45 pm on June 15, 2015?

The next morning a nurse called and reiterated that I was more than likely having a miscarriage. She gave me a list of grief counselors and an appt for that afternoon. Sean had already cut out of work the day before for my ER visit, so I was scared to call him out early again. Thankfully, his coworkers picked up the pieces and sent him to me. We met with the one OB doctor he did not want me having. Despite the doctor's terrible bedside manner, he at least let me watch the ultrasound screen.

By God's grace, we got to see our little baby. The Doctor the day before apparently had seen a baby, he just didn't convey that message very clearly. She was perfectly formed. Her head and body and, yep, girl parts, were perfectly clear. I'm pretty amazed by how clear the ultrasound was for a baby so very tiny. Other than the fact that her heart was not beating, she was perfect.

This doctor also confirmed that I was "more than likely having a miscarriage." I'm not entirely sure why not one person would say, "You're definitely having a miscarriage." He gave me a list of options and told me the pros and cons of each. I opted to let my body do what it's designed to do as we had the luxury of time and that the baby was small enough that my body would be able to...I don't know the word...handle? Process? Deliver? Either way, I didn't want surgery and I didn't want the side effects of the meds. Doc said my body seemed to be doing what it needed to do.

WARNING: TMI ahead. Read at your own caution. 

The next morning, Wednesday, I couldn't sleep. I got up with Sean and got him off to work around 5am. The bleeding had picked up a little, but was manageable. I had been warned to get to the ER if I was soaking a pad and hour. I laid down with Jude and drifted back to sleep. Within minutes, I was up. I had two quick, sharp pains and a gush that didn't stop for a couple of hours. I immediately called my dad and got my mom en route. I called my brother at work to come get me. I gave kids warnings of what to do if I passed out. I called Sean at work.

I wasn't soaking a pad an hour, I was soaking bath towels instantaneously. I was soaking everything. It was the first time I thought about me instead of the baby. It was the first time I thought, "Women bleed to death during childbirth. Is this the same thing?"

My brother made a 45 minute drive in 20 minutes. I don't exactly know how fast he was going, but he got here. I actually thought the bleeding had let up a little by then, but by the time we got to the ER, I had bled through all of my clothes(with the typical female blood barriers of epic proportions) and a towel. Jim had the forethought to tell Simon to walk with me into the ER while he parked and got the rest of the troops rallied. Silly me, I picked the entrance of the hospital that is on the exact opposite side from the ER. No welcome desk, no staff, no wheelchairs...The one time I was not happy to see a Starbucks. I had no options. I left a trail of blood the entire way through the hospital. I finally found a family bathroom and got to it as quickly as I could. It looked like a freakin' crime scene by the time I was done with it. As I headed for the ER once again, someone finally noticed the trail(not drops...a river) of blood. "OMG! Is that...blood?" You'd think they'd never seen blood in a hospital before.

The ER staff was awesome. Apparently if you say, "I'm bleeding like crazy," you get to skip the paperwork, the waiting room, and the vital signs station. The ER Doc I saw the second time was a tad annoying. At first. He kept referring to my dead baby as "matter of conception" as I sobbed my way through the exam. I had a tech come in to draw blood, "I'm such and such James." Of course. Of course your name is James. "That's what we were going to name the baby if he was a boy," I said. "Oh, I'm sorry. Have you been trying long?" I had to laugh, "We actually already have four."

Within an hour or two of getting to the ER, the bleeding had lessened significantly. The doctor confirmed that I'd probably lost the baby at home during the first wave of hemorrhaging. He became more human at that point.

"Do people think you're crazy for having four kids?" he asked. "I have four and I kinda like most of 'em." He then went on the explain that his wife had had three miscarriages. We talked, he explained some things about chromosomal abnormalities. "I hate to put it this way, but 1 in 6 pregnancies end in miscarriage, so it was kind of your turn." The discharge paperwork put the statistics as high as 1 in 5.

I didn't understand miscarriage before. Maybe in theory, but the reality is very different from what I thought. I definitely think this would be much harder to work through or get beyond or whatever the correct term may be if I didn't already have four kids. I have found that no one knows what to say. I have found that even in the hospital, where they surely deal with this on a regular basis, people don't know what to say. And, really, there isn't anything to say. I want to forget, I don't want to forget. I keep having moments of, "Last time I wore this shirt, I was pregnant. Last time I spoke to so and so, I was pregnant. Last Monday, I was pregnant. Last Tuesday, I was pregnant."

I do know that my baby was not insignificant. We had plans and dreams and a whole future in mind that revolved around this little one joining our family.

That said, I completely trust the Giver of Life. He gave us this baby and if, in His wisdom, she wasn't part of a longer story, I have to be okay with it. I am so thankful that we were able to see the true life pros and cons of adding to our family. I am not implying that a human life ever has cons, but sometimes the circumstances of adding to an already large family can create cons. Such as: not having enough bedrooms, not having enough seats in the car, grocery shopping with five kids, deployments, etc etc etc.

I am thankful that we were able to see the baby. Five minutes with her little body up on the screen solidified that she was not just an idea, she was a real life human being.

I am thankful that I miscarried early, rather than late. I'm thankful that I did not have to experience a still birth. I am thankful that Sean was by my side every step of the way, except when I thought I was bleeding to death, but that wasn't his fault. :)

It's shocking how many people have been through this. Just in my little circle more have had a miscarriage than have not. I met a lady yesterday that had lost three babies. Sean has to ask when he's dealing with an OB patient and he said more patients have had miscarriages than have not. I said at one point, trying to lighten myself up, "It's happened to a lot of people." Sean shot back, "That just means there's a lot of sad people out there."

Every pregnancy, I've avoided stories like this one. As if miscarriage is contagious. It is a bit odd that three people in my circle who all found out we're pregnant within days of each other, all miscarried within days of each other.

I am okay, most of the time. The kids are handling it okay. Sean is okay. We're just okay. Not good, not terrible. Sean told me I have to process what happened. I told him I'm okay as long as I'm distracted. He said that's not processing it. That's not dealing with it. I don't like calling it...it. I don't know what else to call it.

Yesterday I broke down because my stomach was twitching uncontrollably. Like kicks from a baby. Only my baby isn't there anymore.

The day before I broke down when Jude patted my belly and said, "Baby."

This morning I broke down when I saw a dad playing peekaboo with his daughter in a restaurant.

Two days ago, I broke down when the nurse asked if I was having pain anywhere. Just in my heart.

Yesterday I broke down when Felix said, "I hope the doctors were wrong."

The day before I broke down when Titus said, "Can I show Grandma the picture? The one with the baby whose heart won't beat."

Thankfully, the little break downs don't last long. I assume this is something that will get better with time. I know there are a lot of people who have lost babies. I know there are people who have had experiences worse than mine. But it doesn't diminish my experience. It doesn't diminish my pain. I'm going to own this piece of our history. My baby's life will not be forgotten.

I guess that means as much as I don't want to remember, I can't choose that option. I won't choose that option, because even when things don't turn out how we want them to or how we hope they will, the details still deserve a place in our story.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I kinda like him...

These are from way back on our anniversary. Simon caught a few good ones. 







It was a good day. 
It was the day we found out baby number five is on his or her way. 
Ironically, it's the day I sold my last cloth diaper on eBay. 

I don't have a breast pump anymore. 
I gave away all of my baby clothes, even the favorites I had held onto for years. 
I sold all of my maternity clothes. 

This is the second time I've done such a thing. 
Only this time I really meant it. 

Such is life. 
Such is love.

I have not a clue how far along I am. 
No idea when I'm due. 
I could be twelve weeks, I could be four weeks. 
My gut looks about sixteen weeks. 
I honestly can't figure it out. 

A funny Sean moment: "How could you not know your dates? If I was bleeding from my <use your imagination> I would know the day. I'd have a plaque made. I'd bronze a pair of shoes. SOMETHING to remember the date." 

Well, obviously. But for a woman, it's a regular thing. I should've had some app tracker. I had a ton of visitors, a ton of weeks in a row. I have a ton of kids. We went a ton of places. We have a ton of...fun.  I don't have room in my brain for dates. I don't get distracted much by my "dates." They come and go, y'know? 

So, yeah, I'm pregnant. 
I'm gonna have a baby!
It doesn't feel real and I've known for three weeks. 
Since May 19. Our 14th anniversary. 
Apparently I can remember some dates.  

Video details(posted on FB): I planned to tell him while romantically strolling the beach, but it was too hot. I stuck the test down in a fishing pole hook package that said QTY:5. Ignore the southernness in my voice. I am NOT that country in real life. Maybe only when I'm excited? Anyway, it makes me laugh. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fourteen

Fourteen years. It feels huge and, on the flip side, somewhat insignificant when compared to twenty or thirty or sixty years. As marriages crumble all around us, it seems pretty awesome to have stuck it out. Believe you me, there have been days over the last fourteen years that have not been altogether happily ever after. The trend has definitely been upward though. We have learned and relearned patience. We have forgotten to focus on each other in the sea of children. We have gotten lazy and lax at times. We have moved and moved and moved and moved and moved(and moved), sometimes by choice, mostly not. We have done richer and poorer. We have done sickness and health. We have done better and worse. And we'll do it all again as time moves on. 

I hear people bust on young marriages from time to time. People change, they say. Young adults can't know their mind. Marriage at that age is a stupid decision and people shouldn't be held hostage to a choice they made at whatever age is convenient to their argument

If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have changed a thing. 
2001-2005: South Carolina
2006-2007: Phoenix/Seattle/Phoenix

2008-2009: Charlotte, North Carolina

2010: Deployed
 2011: San Antonio, Texas
2012: Rockville, Maryland

2013-2014: Dayton, Ohio

 2015: Virginia
 {insert photoS here. He has promised to take pictures....we'll see.}

We don't have this thing figured out. We don't have any upper hands. We're just two stubborn, sinful people who refuse to give up on each other. "I have found the one whom my soul loves," is the verse I put on our wedding invitations. My soul sometimes wants to punch his soul in the face, but when I get right, when I see clearly, when I put aside my own self...I see him. The guy I want in my corner, always. It's not about him and it's not about me, it's about something much bigger than ourselves. We're leaving a legacy. 

Our kids will not always see a perfect marriage. We may not always model what we hope for them. We fail every single day. We squabble. We disrespect each other from time to time. Our boys see what true life looks like. They see us argue, they see us make up. They see butt pinches, but probably not enough smooches. They hear a few slips of the tongue, but they see godly character that sometimes needs a bit of sanding and polishing. They don't always experience the humble, submissive wife, but they'll learn to navigate the minefield of a bullheaded woman. Above all else, I hope they see integrity, hope, faith. I pray they see that marriage is not what Hollywood has made it out to be. I want them to know that romance may fade, but true, lasting love can be rekindled day after day. With it will come the romance, perhaps sporadically. I want them to notice the times they play second fiddle to our relationship. I need them to understand that sometimes even they have to sacrifice for ole ma and pa. Perhaps they won't always get 100% of what their little hearts desire because that investment needs to go to a greater cause: Mom and Dad's marriage. 

I want them to see that there are times we could give it all up. Bicker away a covenant. Burn down the house that love built. I want them to see that the world gives us options, but given a choice, we choose each other. We choose them. We choose our family. We love them enough to give them a mother and a father. We choose to honor a word, our word, given before God and everybody. 

Reading over that again, I hope I don't make marriage sound like prison. Sean cracks me up. He's a nut. He's stubborn as a freakin' mule, but he gives in when it's important. He keeps me accountable. He loves me. He really, really loves me. And I know it, even when he sucks at showing it. He busts his tail for this family. He stresses out over things that I don't even think about. He is my perfect compliment and I'm so glad I didn't pick a pansy or a lazy man or a religious man. I'm so glad I didn't pick someone that I could change, because he's perfectly imperfect, and I would've screwed him up if I could've made him into who I wanted him to be. 

Sean has integrity. He is loyal. He gives 100% to a uniform he doesn't love because he's working for a greater cause than himself or even his country. He is a student of life and is constantly trying to make himself better, better our family. He is selfless and constant and the biggest fan of our unit. 

I only hope that he thinks as highly of me as I think of him. I respect him as much as I love him. I am proud to be his wife. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Focus

"That was probably ten or fifteen years ago," she said.
"More like twenty five or thirty," he corrected.
"Oh yeah," she laughed, with a faraway look on her face.

.....

"This is the best time of your life. I know sometimes it might not seem like it, but it really, really is," said as she looked on at Jude struggling to get down and bolt in the antique store.

.....

While noticing how easily Simon's feet rest on the ground when he's sitting upright in a chair...
While talking to my sister about my nephew's upcoming graduation from high school...
While cooking dinner the other night and wondering what it will be like to cook when all my chickens have flown the coop...
While praying for their future...
While talking to anybody who has run the race of raising kids...

.....

It's been hitting me a lot lately. Constant reminders that my boys are growing up. Quickly. Maybe it's that we've spent the last few years hurrying time up. Wishing we could be on the other side of school, or a move, or another move. And now we're here. Done. Settled(sorta). Maybe it's knowing there won't be any more babies. Maybe it's seeing a horrible situation from the outside and wondering, "What will their life look like next year and five years from now and twenty years from now?"

I try to focus on the here and now. Sometimes it's tough when the now is all repetitive, seemingly pointless tasks. A dumped cup of cereal. A poop diaper. Reviewing World War 1 facts. Again again again. They eat as a state of being. It never stops. Someone always wants food.

I get frustrated by the little stuff that has absolutely no significance. Today, it was that the asparagus fries I bought from the frozen section at Trader Joe's looked nothing like the picture on the front. I don't buy frozen food much, perhaps this is normal. I was so ticked.

I was frustrated because every yard appliance we've bought lately has turned out to be a Made in China piece of crap that falls apart with one use. Today is was the big shop vac. We upgraded from the small piece of crap to the large piece of crap. It has three more extensions, a longer hose, wheels and cost $40 more to do nothing. It wouldn't suck the beach sand out of my floor mats. So freaking frustrating.

And then Jude will walk up and stick his finger in my belly button...
Or Felix and Titus will accidentally get along for a second...
Or Simon will ask me if there's anything he can do to help me...
Or they'll remember some really significant thing that I've taught them...
Or Felix will ask a question about God that I can't answer, causing me to seek...

This matters. This daily, insignificant activity is so, so significant. When the end comes, this is what matters. When trouble hits our household, this is the glue that will hold us together. We can weather the storms of life because of the little. The stuff comes and goes. Things break. So what? Kids poop, kids eat, kids dump stuff. Who cares? Sand in the car is evidence of an awesome day. Frozen food saved time and didn't taste that bad, despite the false advertising of the package.

I have a husband that's at stubborn as me, who lets me get away with nothing.
I have four healthy boys, what do I have to complain about?
I got hit on by a pizza deliver guy recently, I mean, I am a lucky girl. ;) Just had to slip that in there. True story. He may have been driving a moped, but he clearly has good taste in women and decent pick up lines.

In all seriousness, these really are the days and I'm hoping I can let the trivial stuff go and focus.



Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day(with way too many pictures)

Hallmark holidays...when they're about me, we celebrate. The entire weekend if possible. ;)
 Saturday, this guy went on a farmer's market run with me. I thought they'd have breakfasts stuffs at the healthy market. Turns out, no. We did score some extremely expensive, local fish and tomato plants though. 

We went to our favorite go-to breakfast place only to find they don't open until 10:30. On a Saturday morning. In a small town. Hmm...their bakery part was open, so they could serve cinnamon rolls and cupcakes only. 

Of course we stayed. 
And then hit the chicken swap on the way home. Yup, I live in a town with a chicken swap. 
 Once home, I led with, "We need chickens." Suddenly, camping didn't seem so far fetched and the man agreed. 

We take appliances camping with us. I understand this does not fall under the definition of camping. Again, I'm okay with that. When y'all get tired of sweating and swatting, come on in to my air conditioned house on wheels. 
 This guy was super pumped about our camping trip. 






 We went to a fam-camp at a local military base. A friend told us about this little strip of beach along the river. It's a steep cliff to get down, but the shells are worth it. We let the big two go. 

The picture is deceptive. It's probably a fifty foot cliff, straight down. 
He was so mad that we wouldn't let him go down. I had no problem with him getting down, it was getting him back up that worried me. 


 And then fishing was a must. We left our bait at home and bought worms at the bait shop. Turns out, York River fish are snobby and don't like worms. There was one family fishing not too far from us that were reeling them in left and right. 

Once we gave up and I went to retrieve two of my children from said fishing party(they'd given up on us losers), I found out their secret. 

1. They were fishing with shrimp. 
2. They had about fifteen poles in the water between three people. 
3. They'd been there a solid twelve hours. 
4. They were completely drunk. 

 Sean and Simon stayed and got disappointed, the rest of the boys and I went to the less dangerous beach for more shells since T didn't get to go down the super steep cliff.




 And then we ate hot dogs and smores. Felix and Titus made a friend at the campground and hunted frogs until bedtime. 
 We woke up early Sunday morn and stuffed ourselves with leftover vitamin M & packed up. 
 Why yes, yes I am lucky. 
 Once home, we did wagon rides while Sean cooked dinner of aforementioned super expensive, local fish. It was amazing.
 Just like him. 


 This guy went into fish coma and Simon wanted to watch A-Team with no brotherly interruptions. 
 So the two middles and I went for ice cream. 

And I told Sean this morning that it was the best Mother's Day ever. 

I love these boys.