Friday, November 22, 2013

belly up

because i spent the first part of my pregnancy paranoid about something going wrong, and because i spent the second part of my pregnancy paranoid that my face looked swollen, i didn't do maternity photos or really any documentation of my growing belly. except for a handful of photos that my co-worker katie forced me to pose for while we were at the office, which is why the majority of photos of me as a pregnant person are against a cubicle wall.

but, it's better than nothing, right?

maybe it's because baby b came early so i didn't have time to get sick of being pregnant, or maybe because my pregnancy was relatively easy, or maybe because my memory has already become artificially rose-colored, but i actually sort of liked being pregnant.

yes, i was swollen and exhausted and my back hurt and i had heartburn for the first time in my life. but i also got bigger boobs. (holla!) and people are nice to you when you are pregnant and everyone wants to take care of you and it's amazing to know that you are growing a life in there. i liked all of that.

so i am glad i have these few reminders at least. especially because it already feels like a long, long time ago.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

before baby

while my mom was still here she graciously offered to watch baby b while AWD and i had a few last dates. like to dinner and a movie for our anniversary. or to costco. every time we came home we just sat in the car for a few minutes thinking about how, in the good old days, we would have just walked into the house and done whatever we wanted. like go to bed and sleep in. but now when we walked into the house there was a baby and that baby needed a lot of time and attention and not a lot of consecutive sleep.

more on this later, but those first days and weeks (ok, a month at least) after you bring a new baby home are hard. like, majorly hard.

luckily, even though i was tired and increasingly swollen and huge and even though humid summer in d.c. is not the greatest for pregnant ladies or anyone else, we did manage to squeeze in some decent pre-baby fun which i will recount here. for posterity.

fourth of july barbecue at willards (still not as good as austin, tx barbecue, but good) and patriotic desserts.

a kennedy center date with dinner on the roof and the world's greatest performance of anything goes.

a movie theater with reclining seats! (this was actually a date with EH while AWD was out of town. still counts.)


a nats game.

a soccer game.

and a blue crabs game.

and then, almost just as summer ended, so did our pre-baby life. at least we went out with a bang.

Friday, November 8, 2013

try, try again

the second time i got pregnant it was on purpose. but i would say our reaction was less giddiness and more cautious optimism. we didn't tell anyone and we hardly talked about it even between the two of us. wait and see. that's really all we said. i didn't think i could bear another miscarriage and thinking about it would make me break down, so i tried to just put the whole thing out of my mind until we could be more sure.

wait and see.

the first time i heard that little baby's heartbeat i started to cry i was so happy and relieved. i could have listened to that sound all day. even after i had seen the baby on an ultrasound, even after i could feel her  kick and hiccup and move all around, even after we passed that magical point where she could be born and survive and there really wasn't anything to be worried about anymore (not that that stopped me), i lived to hear that heartbeat. it reassured me more than anything else. and every time we listened the doctor would say, it sounds perfect. clear and strong.

when my baby is old enough to understand these kinds of things, that is the first thing i will tell her.

you have a strong heart.

Monday, November 4, 2013

if at once you don't succeed

the first time i got pregnant it was an accident. though not the i'm-16-and-my-boyfriend-is-a-loser-and-my-parents-are-going-to-kill-me kind of accident. more of the huh-we-thought-modern-birth-control-was-a-little-more-reliable kind of accident. so, maybe it's better to say that the first time i got pregnant it was a surprise.

and not an unwelcome one either, but certainly not a planned one (is there even such a thing as a planned surprise?) so we definitely had to process the shock. there were lots of things we had been planning to talk about "at some point" that we suddenly needed to figure out right now.

did we need to move into a bigger house? buy a house? what would i do about work? what kind of budget were we looking at? did we need to cancel travel plans?

then there were the larger issues. what kind of care and birth experience did we want? doctor or midwife? hospital or something else? and what kind of parents did we want to be? spanking or no spanking? strict bedtimes or not? pay for college or help our kids support themselves? sports or music lessons or all of the above?

and finally there was a suddenly expedited process of mentally and emotionally accepting and preparing for something that came before we had expected it. it was irreversible. our lives would never be the same first there was shock. then terror. then a lot of nausea and misery and panic. i felt so incredibly unprepared for what was coming, but i also felt like there wasn't much i could do to prepare for it anyway. i felt like i should be doing-- or should have done-- something, but i had no idea what that something was.

but next came total excitement. we told our families and they were thrilled. we made a list of names. we started looking at baby furniture online and following our baby's development week by week. the thought of a little human coming to join our family made us happy, and it brought us closer. it was our biggest, most exciting partnership yet and we were so looking forward to all the things ahead.

it was with all that hope and excitement and the thrill of the first-ness of it all that we went in for my first ultrasound, around nine weeks. i am sure time has shaded my memory a little bit, but in my memory we were almost giddy. AWD took a picture of me lying on the exam table. we could not wait to see our baby.

if we had known more, we would have known right away that something was wrong. the ultrasound tech didn't turn the screen around to show us the image of our healthy, happy baby. i had to ask to see anything. we didn't know that the image on the screen should be moving, that if everything was all right the tech would be pointing things out and printing out pictures. when i asked if we could get pictures-- our baby's first picture!-- she handed me a piece of paper with a number to call. then she told me to get dressed and asked us to wait in the lobby.

in the lobby, i started to feel like something wasn't right. we were waiting for a phone call from our doctor. but why would we need to talk to our doctor if everything was as it should be? AWD said he was sure everything was fine. this just must be the way they do things. how were we to know any better?

someone came out and told us to go ahead to my doctor's office, just a few floors up in the same building. that seemed like a certain bad sign. but, i am always looking for bad signs, always expecting the worst and i made a conscious effort in that moment to trust that nothing was wrong. that everything was fine.

up we went. to the waiting room. then the exam room. then there was the doctor asking questions like, did i have any bleeding? had i felt any cramps? and then the words "abnormal results" and "no heartbeat."

no heartbeat.

no heartbeat.

i cried. and cried.

i knew it, i sobbed. i was afraid something would go wrong and i was right.

no heartbeat.

i knew it.

we were shocked all over.


it seemed impossible to know what to do next.

we had two options. wait for my body to take care of itself, or go in for a surgical procedure. i am terrified of needles and i had never had a surgery in a hospital before, but just waiting around for my pregnancy to end on its own seemed way too scary and sad and lonely. so i opted for a d&c and we scheduled it for the end of that week.

we checked into the hospital in the morning, we were home by that afternoon and just like that it was over. it felt like it was over before it even began.

what i remember about waking up from the surgery is that i was hysterical and i wanted AWD.  i felt disoriented and a little empty. there is something depressingly final about a miscarriage. when i woke up in the morning i was pregnant and by the time the day was over i wasn't.

to put it simply, i was so so sad.

the ultrasound image of our lifeless, heartbeat-less baby haunted me. i found myself wishing i had never looked at that screen in the first place, frustrated that i had been so naive, angry that i had forced myself to believe that everything was fine even though it felt wrong.

i also had the feeling that i had started something that i didn't get to finish and it left me feeling disorganized and a little bereft. there was nothing to do but file away the list of baby names and pack up the blanket and onesie my mom had already sent. nothing to do but go back to work, go out with friends, and get back to our routine and stop talking about what exciting thing was going to come next.

almost as soon as we had managed to wrap our heads around the idea of having a baby, the baby was gone. that might have been the hardest part.

the first baby shower i went to after my miscarriage was a nightmare. every time i heard someone was having a baby i felt so happy for them and so sad for myself. sometimes i would go to the grocery store and see a pregnant woman and i'd have to leave my cart right where it was and run out to my car and sit there and cry.

i did a lot of crying.

but here is something amazing. everything was fine. even when it didn't feel like it-- even when i didn't feel fine-- it was. i was.

for one thing, we quickly learned we were not the only ones. we had friends and family all come forward to share their own stories and grieve with us. though i didn't-- and still don't-- understand why heavenly father would give us a baby we weren't planning for only to take that baby away, i did have a distinct impression that the loss of that pregnancy was not my fault and there was nothing we could have, or i suppose should have, done to change the outcome. this kind of thing can make you feel like a failure, but i was blessed to put those thoughts quickly and permanently out of my mind. i also never felt like that was our one chance and now we would never have children. i never worried about getting pregnant again, which i know so many people do. that was another blessing i do not take for granted.

and gradually, i came to understand that we hadn't even lost a person. that the lifeless, motionless shell i saw on the ultrasound screen was just that. not a spirit, not a person. not alive at all. we had never heard a heartbeat, we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl. it was over before it started and that was a comfort as well as a disappointment. our slate was clean and we still had all the same things to look forward to. just later. as my mom described it, we were back to plan a. and i felt like we were moving forward with a new strength and empathy to our marriage, a new understanding and vision of each other, a shared loss and shared experience of overcoming it that added new depth to our relationship and a new gratitude for each other and the blessing of enduring together instead of alone.

i've written before about the big lesson i took away from this experience, but i'll say it again with even more time and perspective under the bridge. bad and hard things are nothing to be afraid of. they will come, we will survive them and worrying about them before they happen or dwelling on them afterwards only robs us of whatever joy we could be experiencing in that moment. even if that moment is hard.

i feel like there's a lot of talk about whether or not our experiences should define us, and i guess i am not totally sure where i come down on that issue. but i do believe we are made up of the collection of our experiences and our reactions to them and this experience will always be a part of me and how i see myself and the world.

and i think now, on this day at this time, i can say with all honesty that i wouldn't give it back even if i could.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

the stork has landed

our baby girl is here! she arrived on september 3 (10 days early and so officially not taking after her mama on the timeliness (or lack thereof) front), weighing 5 pounds 12 ounces (she's a small one) and measuring 18.5 inches long.

yesterday she turned seven weeks old, which seems impossible both because it seems too short and too long a time. days and nights and weeks all sort of run into each other and the only really certain thing is that life is a whole different ballgame now. (example: it is almost 10:30 and i am still in my robe. and my robe is covered with spit up.)

that's all i'm going to say for now, because i want to give the story and experience the attention and recounting it deserves, for you and for me and most especially for our baby girl. so, more to come. but suffice it to say, we are awed and  thrilled that baby b is here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

showering love

one of the greatest fortunes of my life has been that, wherever i've been, at whatever time in my life, i have been blessed with kind and loyal and good good friends. some of them were friends for a particular time and season when i needed them most, and some have turned into my oldest, longest friends but they have all brought me so much goodness and learning and joy.

and so, even though showers can be a little bit of an awkward thing because you're basically inviting people to a party so they can give you presents, i sure do love gathering with my favorite people to celebrate life's happiest things. and that is exactly what my baby shower was.

miss angela and sarita bonita threw a gorgeous bash, and i just looked around and thought how lucky and happy i felt to have all those stunning people in my life, and how even luckier and happier i felt that  our little baby will have them looking out for her and cheering her on. they will love and protect her like they have loved and protected me, and i can't think of a better gift in the whole world.

in addition to defending my celebrity baby name game title (undefeated!), we all wrote down our wishes for baby girl. if all of those wishes come true, she will be the most successful, imaginative, confident, forgiving, disciplined, loving person who ever lived.

and i hope she is.

here are my wishes for her.

i hope you learn how to be gracious and forgiving
i hope you have confidence, but not conceit
i hope you never forget how much we love you
i hope you create safe spaces for yourself and others
i hope you respect yourself and your talents
i hope you become happy

love, mom 

Friday, July 26, 2013

sail away

yesterday was the kind of day that just sort of wears you out with its rotten-ness. 

but then, after all the work and drama was over, i picked up matt and ABK and headed to the marina. kathryn was waiting for us (dinner group complete!) and off we went on a little sail.

the weather was divine, cool with light air and gorgeous sunshine, kathryn made a feast and we spent a blissful two hours on the water.

and, as a bonus, ABK agreed to teach my children how to sail.

no bad day can survive an evening like that.