Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding Peace

There are too many things in this life outside our control. 

Things that we are powerless to change.

Things we can refuse to find peace with, for a little while at least.

Things we have no choice but to accept eventually.

Sometimes they are things we don't want to accept. 

And sometimes, like I witnessed yesterday, it is only with the help of someone else that we can come to the place of acceptance.

Even if that someone is the very person you wouldn't expect to be helping anyone else find peace.

The one who should be needing the help, giving it instead.  Telling others that it will be okay.

Still taking care of everyone else, he is.

Some things never change.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


There are only so many relationships that create a love that can fully be described as unconditional.  The kind, that no matter what happens, never fades.

No matter the arguments.

No matter the struggles.

No matter the pain.

No matter the sacrifices.

Through the good, the bad and the ugly, it weathers.

The love always shiny and new and perfect. 

Unblemished by whatever life throws at it.

The love of a parent for a child is always the example used.

Goes both ways though.

Goes both ways.

I love you, Daddy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oh, The Places You Will Go

I look back and think of all the things I never thought I would have to do.  And have done.

It's a long and ever growing list.

The things I never in my wildest dreams imagined happening.

The things I hoped I'd never have to do.

The places I never saw myself.

Like here, now.

To some degree, there is an inevitability about life.  At some point, it all has to come to an end.  That's just how it works.  It's the how and the when and the why that happen to shift.

And it's those pesky little details that we don't get to be in control of.  That I am not in control of.

There are many people who have walked a similar path to the one I am on now. 

Even knowing that the path will be laid before you, even knowing it is coming, even being prepared.  It's still hard.

Then, one night you find yourself doing things you never thought you'd need to do.

Like I did last night.

Oh, the places you will go.

Friday, January 28, 2011


A few months ago, my doctor decided to take me off my blood pressure medications.  I'm borderline hypertensive, and he seemed to think that with diet, exercise and stress reduction, I could control it just fine.

I told him that was a monumentally bad idea.

This, of course, was the same day that he ignored everything I'd said about how those things hadn't worked in the past and that my life was more stressful right now than it ever had been. 

His solution, reduce the stress in my life.

Like that is even remotely possible.

I tried to describe to him the things happening in my world and he just replied that I would be okay.

And I will, I know that.

But knowing that I will be okay does nothing to reduce stress.  Nothing at all.

Stress can do some terrible things to my body anyway, it always has.  Back when I was planning my wedding, I had it show up in two forms.  Full body hives that came and went for months and IBS.  Ah, those were good times.  My poor roommate used to laugh at me perched on the couch in odd grasshopper-like positions trying to scratch the itches that covered me then.

Law school brought TMJ and carpal tunnel.  Also fun, I must say.

All these bizarre physical reactions eventually disappeared of course.  Once the stress had passed, I went back to my normal self.  Whatever normal is. 

And now the most stress I've ever dealt with surrounds me.  I put myself back on my blood pressure medication last month when I knew I needed it.  Regardless of what my doctor thinks is possible.

The hives are back too, but now I can't chance taking the medication that would help with the itching.  It knocks me out for four hours at a time. 

We meet again, grasshopper.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Walking on a Tightrope

I feel like I am constantly walking on a tightrope.  Like I am out there, miles above the ground, always a second from leaning a little too far to one side.   I can feel the wind rising up from beneath me.

I didn't write this morning because I was busy helping the person I am here to help more than anyone. 

I hope that I am. 

Seems like everything I do right now comes with a price.  A risk.

There are so many facets of my life these days that involve give and take.  Trial and error.  Wait and see. 

So many things that require a constant balancing act. 

My legs are weary, my pole seems like it isn't long enough to sustain this act.

But I will do what I am supposed to.  I will walk out onto that rope, I will grasp that pole in my hands, I will say silent prayers that I make it to the other side, and I will do it all with a smile.

Why?  Because I need to.

I am a performer.

Welcome to my circus.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Take That, Kindle

I have written here a few times about my general resistance to technology.  Which is ironic, I know, given the fact that this is a blog after all.  You'd think that I of all people would be all about making things more instantly accessible, more transportable, more user friendly, all that.

In some ways I am.  But in others I am not.  At all.

I was chatting with a friend, another bookworm like me, earlier this week.  She texted me that I was going to be disappointed in her.  She'd broken down and bought a Nook reader for ebooks.  I consoled her that she had a legitimate excuse...she is in school and many of her professors are requiring ebooks.  She needed it.  And it's not like she bought it for fun.

If ever I needed more reason to be as peculiar as I am about this particular subject, I got it this week. And no one will understand this more than my friend.

A few nights ago, Dad was resting in his chair.  My brother and sister in law having left for the night.  Mom told me she had something for me, something she wanted me to see.

Upstairs, tucked away in a drawer, was a book..

This book.

It isn't just a book.  This is a piece of my family history.

In the late 1940's in Pittsburgh, a young man fresh from the service met a feisty girl at a dance hall.  They fell in love almost immediately. 

In the short months that were their courtship, the days between that first meeting and the morning they became man and wife, there was this book.

They would take it to North Park, on the outskirts of the city, lay a blanket beneath the tree they had declared theirs and read chapters from this book to each other.

The cover is yellowed, some pages are torn.  The binding of the book so clearly from an earlier time.  The pages are delicate.  I found a blade of grass between two of them yesterday, presumably from North Park in the 1940's. It feels like history.

When I've had downtime these past few days, I've taken this book.  I've sat on the patio of my childhood and read chapters in my head, imagining the two of them.

No piece of technology can ever compare with that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Of Course I am the Bacon

Here I am, in the middle of the proverbial sandwich.  Officially a member of the sandwich generation.

About 10 years ahead of schedule.

I certainly didn't think I would be here yet, at least I hoped not.  I thought that things would be different.  That I'd be able to get my babies raised up a little bit more before I found myself helping in two different directions. 

So much for that.

As Dad says, life decided to toss us all a curve ball.

Just a little earlier in the game than we planned for.

So, I'm settling in here between my pieces of bread.  Between my parents and my children.  Trying to do what I can for them both, knowing I'll never be able to do it all.

Lucky for me, I've got a lot of company in the sandwich.  The people that make the distance between the pieces of bread not seem so far away.

If I'm gonna be a sandwich, I have to be a BLT.  Because bacon is almost as awesome as I am.

You can't have a BLT without the mayo, the lettuce and tomato, though. 

Profound gratitude to all my condiments.  Without you, I'd just be a piece of bacon slipping between a few pieces of toast.

I'll let you all guess who the pickle is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Once a doula....

Always a doula.

I was told this by the woman who trained me all those years ago, and now I can see what she meant.

You see, being a doula isn't about medical terminology.  It isn't about interventions or the avoidance of them.  It isn't about due dates and inductions.  It isn't about techniques and training.  It isn't even about babies and their mothers necessarily.

It isn't about any of those things.

It is about helping someone on a journey to a place they haven't been. 

Calming their fears.

Making them comfortable.

Protecting their wishes.

Helping them own their experience.

Being there when sometimes no one else is.

Holding their hand.

It all makes sense now.

This is why I became a doula.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Desperate Times

They call for desperate measures, they do.

Or so they say anyway.

I was up really late last night, then up through the night. 

Then I was up early.  For no particular reason.

Insomnia, not uncommon in my life.   Currently with a reason.

I was up early enough to see the sun rise this morning. 

Four other people in the house sleeping, even if not soundly.

I didn't want to wake anyone earlier than they needed to be.  Sleep around here needs to happen whenever and however, and I'm not about to interfere with that.

But, having said that, I needed coffee.  I didn't just want coffee.

I needed coffee.

I walked into the kitchen, emptied the old coffee from the day before and went to grab a new filter out of the cabinet.  No filters.

I looked and looked and couldn't find one.  I didn't want to go rifling through the cabinets too much, didn't want to make any noise.  But I needed coffee and I wasn't going to wait until someone else got up.

So I did what I had to do. 

Grabbed the used filter full of coffee grounds out of the trash.  Dumped out the grounds.  And washed it.

Made and drank a pot of coffee before anyone else even opened an eye.

Oh yes I did.
You read that right.

I can deal with sleep deprivation, but only if I get my coffee.


Have you seen the new line of Allstate commercials?  The hilarious ones with a guy pretending to be an in car navigation system, barking instructions at drivers?

Genius marketing, I have to say. 

I laugh every time I see them, even now.  Even where I am right now, even what is happening around me. 

Ironic humor, I suppose. 

My life has been a journey in recalculation.

Sudden momentous changes, harsh and unexpected.  They happen. 

They are happening.

Yet I still find a way to laugh.  I have to.

I sit here alone in the dark again, in the place where I was not all that long ago.  I opened an email from one of my dearest friends, in it a gift. 

And I laughed and I cried.  All at the same time. 

I love you guys. 

I needed that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Going Home

I'm going home for the last time.

The last time that it will ever truly be home anyway.

I'm on a quest, hoping to find some things while I'm there. 

More than that, I hope that others do.

Comfort. Calm.  Peace.

I'll be around occasionally, when I can be.  When someone else doesn't need me more.

I've been told by more than a few people that someday I will look back and be amazed at my strength.  That with time and distance, I will see it.  So I've been told.

All I see now is the strength of someone else.

And that is all that matters.

My sincerest thanks to all those making this last trip possible.  I love you all so very much.

I am blessed. 

I am so very blessed.

I am going home.


I've got a lot to do, so I might not be around here as much as I normally am.  I have to put a whole lot of ducks in a row, before I can go.

It's going to be a rough road ahead.

For today, I ask for your understanding.  I ask for your thoughts.  I ask for your prayers.

I ask that you heed this advice: never take any moment for granted.

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say
~ John Mayer
Watch the video here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


We all have a point at which we break.

Where you just can't keep it all in anymore.

Where the tears you've been holding back for what seems like an eternity start to fall.

When the inevitable starts to come.

Turns out that knowing what to expect doesn't help at all.

Nothing makes it easier. 

Nothing makes it okay.


Over and Under

The thing with having a blog is that it inevitably leads to over sharing.  You all know more about me than you probably should.  Or maybe even want to. 

This platform is simultaneously open and protective.  I can write whatever I am feeling, then put it out there for the world to see, but hide in my shell and not deal with the aftermath directly.  Spout my opinions, but avoid the aftermath. 

So to speak.

And sometimes I do.  Sometimes I probably over share.

Or at least some of you may think so. 

How often do I really write what I want to, say what I mean, type the words that fully describe how I am feeling? 

Not as often as you all would think.  That's for damn sure.

As I've written before, this isn't a diary.  This isn't my private journal.  I've opened it up for the world to see, invited you in. 

By doing so, I have forced myself to often resort to censorship.

I don't write what I want.  I protect people.  I lie.  I fluff. 

I understate everything anymore it seems.

Over and under, all at once. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today I Cleaned My Floor With a Paper Towel

It didn't start out that way.  I was wiping the counter and looked down.  I saw a spot that needed wiped up and so I got to it. 

Then, while I was down there, I looked at my floor.

Really looked at it.

It's worn and it's old.  The lacquer completely worn off in areas.  Dents and dings and scratches.  It desperately needs stripped and refinished.

Right now, it's pretty dirty too.

I realized I hadn't mopped since before we left. 

Guess I haven't been thinking about doing things like mopping my floor lately.  I sweep it just about every day, sure.  But no mopping. 

It needs a good scrubbing.  The hand and knees and bucket and washcloth kind of scrubbing. 

But I'm far from being in the mood for that kind of nonsense right now.

So I cleaned it with a paper towel instead.

One spot turned into at least 20.   One paper towel, one somewhat cleaner floor.

For now, that will have to do.

Faking It

I can't tell you how many people have asked me how I manage to keep it together lately. 

My answer is always the same.  I don't really know.  I guess that in large part, it's just a maternal autopilot sensor on me that hasn't yet ceased working.

Sure, there are times that I want to withdraw from everything, curl up in a ball and cry all day.  But I can't. 

My kids are keeping me here.  My kids are making me go through the motions of all the pieces of my life that would have long been discarded without them.  My kids make me fake it.

Do I really care about 99% of the things I should right now?  Nope.

But I'll fake it. 

I'll fake it for them.

And when they are gone off at school and in dreamland during nap time, I will curl up in a ball and cry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Holding On

I'm holding on now because that is all I can do.

Holding on to my children.

Holding on to my past.

Holding on to memories of the way things used to be.

Holding on to love.

Holding on to the irrational.

Holding on to what I can feel fading away. 

It's like trying to stop the rain from falling.  I try and try, but I can feel the water slipping though my fingers. 

Doomed to failure.  Attempting the impossible.  Knowing it won't work.

And yet I find myself doing it anyway.

I have to hold on to hope. 

Hope is all you have when there is nothing else left.

I wish there was something more to reach for. 

There isn't.

For now, I will keep holding on.

It's all I can do.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Close doesn't count, except in horseshoes and hand grenades. 
I'm not sure who said that first, but I know that it's one of the things my father repeated to me over and over again throughout my childhood. 

Trying is great, the effort worthwhile, but if you miss your mark even just by a little, sometimes you still lose. 

And today he is close.  But close isn't good enough.

I am frustrated.  Frustrated because I have too much background in medical research.  I am too aware of margins of error and confidence intervals.  I know about things like sensitivity and specificity.  I know that tests aren't always accurate. 

And I know that cutoffs are arbitrary. 

He's close to needing a transfusion, but not close enough.  The cutoff?  Below 10.0.  His current red blood cell count?  10.0.  One tenth of a point and he'd be eligible.

I am frustrated.

And he is sick.  But not sick enough.

I loathe the fact that we live in a country of reactive medicine.  We wait until there is a big giant problem before we admit that there is one at all.  God forbid we head anything off at the pass.

Stay strong, Daddy. 

I love you.

I have a dream

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning, the kids woke up like any other Monday morning.  Rather than spend the day at school, they are home.  A day off. 

Today we celebrate the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I find it eye opening that children, at least my children, seem to fully be able to comprehend the importance of his work, especially given that so many adults can't seem to understand it.

Children have an innate sense of fairness and equality. 

They can see that the proper treatment of other human beings isn't something that exists on a scale of acceptability.  There is right and there is wrong.  There isn't a gray area in the middle, it's one or the other.

They aren't old enough to be selfishly concerned about their own livelihoods and the perceived threats made upon it by other people. 

They haven't yet labored under the false assumption that they are better than anyone else, more deserving than anyone else.

They are young, they are ideal.  They see the world as it should be, not as it is.

They haven't become cynical and jaded.  They hold no grudges. 

They have no fear of that which is different.  Instead, they are intrigued and want to learn more.

They aren't afraid of change.  They see the value in striving for better.

We could all learn a lot from children.

We should all try, at least for today, to see the world as they do.  As this man hoped that someday we all would.

Like Mr. King, I have a dream too. 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

May that dream someday be a reality.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Real Reason Men Have Children

People have children for all kinds of reasons. 

To have something to love.

To have something that needs you.

For companionship.

For a sense of purpose.

Because society says they are supposed to.

Because their family wants them to.

On purpose.

On accident.

The reasons are as many as there are children in the world. 

I would venture a guess as to one of the main reasons that men have children, and I can guarantee it isn't one that is even on the list for most women.

It has nothing to do with creation. 

Nothing to do with a legacy.

Nothing to do with love and trust.

It has to do with things like this. 

Remote Control Helicopters
And kids give men a perfectly legitimate excuse to play with them.

Men want to have arcade style basketball hoops in their family rooms.  

Men want to ride skateboards and scooters.

Men want to squish play dough through their fingers.

Men want to win video game tournaments.

They want to construct forts.

They want to throw snowballs and water balloons.

Kids give men a reason to do all those things. 

And that is the real reason why men have them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How to keep kids in their own beds, and other uses for duct tape

It would work have to admit that much.

I wish that this was a topic I have perfected, but it isn't.  I was asked for advice about this one this week, and I'm not certain that I am really fully qualified to give it. 

Only one kid was in my bed this week, and it's been the 2 year old.  Which, for us, is huge progress.

We've had to use different strategies with all the kids when it comes to keeping them in their own beds at night.  

How you handle it is going to depend on a lot of factors.  Namely, the age of the child, the pattern of their behavior, their reason for coming into your room in the first place and your ability to think rationally at 2am.

From the time all our kids were newborns, they were put to sleep in their own beds awake as often as possible.  They got used to laying there awake and were taught from birth to go to sleep without being rocked or nursed.  Assuming your kids are no longer newborns, you can't exactly go back in time and start over, so this piece of advice is only helpful to parents who aren't done having kids yet.

Also from the time our kids were newborns, we were wimps.  Though they would start out the night in their beds, they would end up in ours by morning.  It was just easier to have them sleep with us when they were little.  Whenever Tom (and yes, I said Tom....he was always the parent on nighttime retrieval duty) would go get them, they just got to sleep with us for the rest of the night. 

I don't believe in letting a baby cry it out.  I just don't.  A toddler, maybe.  But not a baby.  They need to know you are there for them when they cry.

Since we've always let the kids sleep at least part of the night with us, we knew that we'd eventually have to break them of that habit.  While we've never been full co-sleepers, we have to admit to a modified version of it at a minimum.

Aidan was my easy one.  Once Ashley was born, we told him that he was more than welcome to come into our room at night if he felt like he needed to, but he had to sleep on the floor.  Two nights of that, and he was content to stay in his bed. 

Ally was easy too.  Up until about a year ago, she'd still occasionally come into our room at night, but she likes to sleep way too much for a crowd.  She never really needed much motivation to stay in her bed either. 

The other two....well....

AJ still gets in our bed every night, but he is officially going to bed in his room now, which is a huge milestone.  He got a new firetruck bed from Grandma and Papa, which helped.  It has higher sides and he feels more confined in there without actually being confined.   For his naps, I will sit in his room until he is asleep.  At night, we peek in on him until he is asleep.  He stays there until he wakes up in the middle of the night, then comes in.  At this point, we are grateful he is sleeping at least part of the night in his own room and will savor that victory a while.  At some point we will work on him staying in his room all night, but not right now. 

Ashley has been my challenge.  Shocker, I know.  She goes through phases.  She will be fine in her room for a while, then all of a sudden need to sleep with us for weeks at a time.  There is usually something that triggers her cycles, and it's about being aware of them.  She is an anxiety ridden child and cannot be reasoned with in the middle of the night at all.  Once she is up, she is just sleeping with us....or everyone in the house will be woken up.  And I'm not interested in that at all.

For a long time, we'd try to walk her back to her room, and she would just cry.  This sometimes happened 3 or 4 times a night.  Then we tried the sleep on the floor thing like we did with Aidan. Abysmal failure.  She screamed.  

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have no patience at 2am and cannot listen to screaming children in the middle of the night. 

What we have done with her, which is thus far working (knock on wood) is this.  We bought her some LED lights that mount on her bed.  She is afraid of the dark and can turn them on or off whenever she wants.  Her bed doesn't sit snug up against the wall, and she doesn't like the feeling of the gap being there, so she crams it with books, stuffed animals and extra pillows.  Finally, we resorted to bribery.  I told her that if she stays in her own bed all night for a week, I will take her out for a special treat.  Let's just say she is highly motivated by that since it seems to be working. 

We can only try and talk to her about it during the day.  Once it's dark and she is scared, it's not anything that can be reasoned with. 

Ultimately, I look at it this way.   If you sleep fine with the kids in your bed, why fight it?  They are only little once, and it won't last forever.  There will come a day that you will miss snuggling with them, promise.  If you truly can't sleep with them there, then you have to be willing to try options to get them out of your room.  Realize that anytime something happens in their lives, they may come wandering back into your room at night again.  If they are afraid of something, that fear is legitimate and needs to be addressed.

As parents, we can really only ever sleep as well as our children do.  I don't claim to be an expert in this department, but I know what has worked for us. 

In summary:

- If possible in your case, start good sleep habits at birth.
- Talk to them about it during the day, not at night.
- Make their rooms feel safe and comfortable for them.
- Look for alternatives to sleeping in your bed (like the floor).
- Age appropriateness in expectations.
- Acknowledge that there will be times they still need you at night, no matter how old they are.
- Address fears.
- Don't be afraid to use bribery when desperate.
- No, you can't actually use duct tape.

Good luck to you all!

Pregnancy Loss - The Longest Goodbye

This is a post I've been thinking about writing about for a while now.  It's a tough one for me, and it's something that I am sure will resonate with at least a few of my readers.  I've been asked to write about this subject by more than one of them.

This is about how the loss of a baby alters every future pregnancy.  How you never get to go back to the person you were before.  How it stays with you forever.

I write to communicate my personal experience with it, and how it irreversibly altered the way I would experience all future pregnancies.  I write to let other women know that they aren't alone.  I write to explain our hesitations, our fears.

Why sometimes what should be the happiest time in our lives isn't.

Before I had all my babies, there was another.  I had a miscarriage.  I was just a few days shy of 12 weeks when the doctor informed me that my baby had died. 

In those 12 weeks, I made plans.  In my head, I designed a nursery and planned birthday parties.  I imagined what she would look like, who she would grow up to be.  I saw her entire future laid out before me.  I knew what she would smell like, how soft her skin would be.  I dreamt about all the adventures we would have.  I knew how much I already loved her. 

I became a mother in my heart the second I found out I was pregnant.  I was bonded with that baby immediately, our lives forever intertwined.  She was a part of me, and I of her.

I never saw her face.  I never got to hold her.  I never knew who she would be.

I mourned the loss of that baby for a long time.  I still do.  Today is the anniversary.  11 years ago I was sitting in a dark exam room crying, wondering why. 

A miscarriage doesn't just ruin one pregnancy. 

To some degree, it ruins them all.

Having a loss, however it happens, changes things. 

I know that for me, when I was pregnant the first time, I was aware of the chance of miscarriage, but it was peripheral at best.  Yes, it was there, I knew it could happen, but I never imagined that it would happen to me.  I was happy to be pregnant.  I was joyful.  I was optimistic.  I looked forward to the future. 

I was excited to start wearing some maternity clothes.  I started picking up baby things at the store.  Everyone knew I was pregnant.  I couldn't wait to share my news. 

My husband was happy, thrilled even.  In our case, we'd had a very short window of opportunity to try.  And, by some miracle, it worked.  Knowing that it could be our only chance to conceive a child without help made it even more a miracle. 

Then, one day, I found myself sitting in a dark exam room staring at a screen that wasn't flickering.

It took a while, a long while, for me to get pregnant again.  We knew it might never happen without assistance because of the radiation treatments.  It wasn't until a few weeks after being told we couldn't have children that I got pregnant.  So much for scientific accuracy.

Again, I got pregnant against the odds.  Another miracle.

It was different this time.  I was different. 

Sure, I was happy, but it was a guarded joy.  I spent half the day being excited, the other half convinced something was wrong.  I didn't want to get attached, just in case.  I tried to disassociate myself from the pregnancy.

I didn't tell people.  When I finally did, I asked that they not share the news yet.  The excitement was gone.  I didn't want to have to untell anyone ever again.

I cried and cried and cried the day of my first ultrasound.  Before the appointment in nervous anticipation, and after in relief. 

Every month was a roller coaster.  I'd be okay for a couple weeks after a check-up, then the panic would slowly start to creep in.  I'd count days until the next appointment, the next chance to hear that heartbeat again. 

The times it took more than a second to get the heartbeat to register on the Doppler were agonizing.  In my mind, I just knew there was a problem.  It wasn't that the baby was active and hard to locate, there was something wrong. 

I'd worry if I didn't feel sick.

Once I could feel the baby move, I obsessed about it.  If more than a few minutes went by with nothing, I'd poke and prod myself trying to get a response.  I'd wake up afraid more nights than not. 

I wish I could say that it got better as I got further into the pregnancy, but it never did. 

And it didn't ever go away.  Each pregnancy, filled with the same fears.  Even with AJ, I was still nervous. 

The naive joy I felt the first time around never came back.  That innocent happiness, gone.  I could never just enjoy being pregnant.  I knew better.

The sad truth is that a miscarriage isn't something that just happens.  It changes you.  You never really get over a loss. You move on, but it stays with you forever.

People who haven't experienced it don't really understand, even if they try to.

11 years ago today, my experience with pregnancy was forever skewed.  I lost a baby but gained an angel.   I became acutely aware of how precious life is by learning also how fragile it is. 

I've never been the same since.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love & Affection

Most people who know me well know that I am not a touchy feely person.  I'm not mushy and gushy.  I am not a hugger. 

There are few things I am less comfortable with than talking about my feelings.  I keep them to myself whenever possible.

I tell my kids I love them.  I hug and kiss on them, sure.  But other people?  Not so much.

I have lived most of my life being just fine that way.  Far more likely to show people my love with teasing and sarcasm, I was.  Fortunately, most of the people I know were okay with that.  I never had anyone force me to open up more than I was comfortable with.  Which was perfectly okay with me.

Until recently. 

I met a few people who crossed boundaries all the time.  Who hugged me, like, on purpose.  All the time.  They hugged to share joy, to comfort, to celebrate, to support.  Huggers. 

Hug. Hug. Hug.

There are a couple of them who habitually touch people inappropriately.  You know who you are. ;)

A few of them were the type to say those three little words.  I love you.  And they said it.  To me, even. 

Comfortable with loving people.  Something I wasn't very good at.

Between this handful of people coming into my life and the events of the last few years, I have softened a bit.  I've learned that it is okay to hug people.  I've learned that comfort comes often in the form of touch.  And that sometimes you really need to hear the words that someone loves you, and say it to someone else.

Over the years, I became a hugger, even if it was a bit reluctantly.  I have actually found myself hugging people I'd never have imagined hugging a few years ago.  People I know only casually, the friend of the friend and so on.  I hug them all now.

I even, gasp, tell people I love them.  Even people other than my immediately family and husband.

I tell them because I love them.  I have always loved them.  I just didn't use the words all the much before, and I have learned to see the value in them every time they are spoken.

Maybe I am just mellowing in my old age.

I think we all need to know someone loves us.  And we all need someone to love. 

I'm lucky to have a lot of someones.

What about you all?  Have you become more or less likely to show love and affection as you have gotten older?  Why have you changed?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I'm lucky to have this lady in my life.  Some of you might know her.  ;)

I met her for the first time over 16 years ago.  (Seriously, it just cannot have been that long ago!)

I walked into the tiny little room I'd be sharing my freshman year of college and she was there.

Smiling from ear to ear. 

She had an infectious laugh and the most adorable parents in the known world.

We would stay up late at night talking.  All.the.time.

She can have fun easier than anyone I've ever known.

She has her own trademarked smile for when she is silently telling someone off. 

She could out-eat anyone in the dorms.  Guys included.  She used potatoes in a way that famous artists have worked in other mediums.  It was a sight to behold.

She and I shared a living space for most of college. 

She is still one of the only people I know that would brave some of the menu items at Chano's.  Tongue burritos?  Really?

She was in my wedding.

She was one of the first people to race down to see us when Tom was sick.

She always has time to see us, even when she probably doesn't.  Always.

She found an amazing guy and fell in love.

She got married the Fall we moved, and I still regret the fact that I couldn't be there.

She finished a marathon.

She managed to stay pregnant with twins longer than I ever have been able to with one baby.  She rocks.

And today, far away from me, she is becoming a mother.

Two little boys are about to be lucky enough to be hers.

It only makes sense for them to have a lucky birthday.

Congratulations Kim!!!!  I love you!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011


I got up early this morning, even bypassed the coffee.  I grabbed my boots and gloves and headed out to the garage.  Put on my boots and grabbed a shovel.  I knew there was about 5 inches of snow on the driveway, plus whatever was still there because my dear husband neglected to shovel 2/3 of it last week.

I pushed the garage door button and walked out.

Then I yelled.  Dammit!

Right on top of all that freshly fallen snow, a set of tire tracks.  All the way up the driveway to the garage door. 

Someone felt compelled to pull all the way up my driveway on top of the snow.


Now, for those of you spoiled by warm weather climates, this won't mean anything to you.  You won't understand why I was cursing the mystery driver. 

Shoveling a driveway the size of mine is hard enough as it is, but when someone drives over the top of the snow and compacts said snow into ice, it's a much more challenging chore. 

I was out there almost an hour. 

Then my dear husband, you know...the one who only shoveled part of the driveway last week, came out.  And offered to help.  Um, I'm pretty much done.  I'm good.

It's okay though.  I am strange.  I love to shovel snow.  It's quiet and peaceful.  It's a great workout.  And it's a fabulous way to take out my frustrations in a productive way.

I could have done without the ice tracks though.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Babies, My Flower & My Rock

After the accident I was shaken to say the least. 

I have this eerie calm about me under pressure.  I didn't freak out, I didn't lose it. I didn't cry, I didn't panic, even if I may have wanted to.  Plus, my husband was trying really hard to make sure I didn't lose it.  I love that guy.

Sitting in the middle of the interstate in the freezing night wasn't what I had planned to be doing just then. 

After we got dropped off by the tow truck I had to get the kids out of the car and head to the hotel to wait.  I had to grab what I could.

My husband did most of the heavy lifting, he always does.  He made the trips back and forth.  He carried everything across the snow filled parking lot. 

Before I left the van, not sure that I'd ever be seeing it again, I took the things I knew couldn't be replaced.

I took the beautiful foam flower that two of the kids made for me in a mommy and me preschool program right after we moved to Colorado.  It sits above my rear view mirror.

I took a small rock, with the word hope on it.  Tom got it in a gift bag for his participation in the survivor's lap in the Relay for Life last year.  He isn't a sentimental guy, and he asked me if I wanted it.  He already knew.  He didn't need to ask.  I've carried that rock with me ever since.  It sits in the driver's side door, where I can see it as many times a day as I need to.  Anytime I need to feel closer to my dad, it's there.

I took my babies.  All of them.  The four living breathing ones, and the beaded ones that hang on a necklace around my rear view mirror. 

It's funny, because my daughter was worried about my babies.  She wanted to make sure that I had them, that they didn't get left in the car. 

I suppose I should explain.  A few of you already know what my babies are.  Each bead represents one of the babies I have helped into this world through my work as a doula.  I was given the heart and the cording by my doula trainer all those years ago.  She told me that the most important tool a doula could ever have was her heart.  Her heart would bring her babies.  And mine has. 

Every single one of them, and their parents, has taught me something.  Each of them, a miracle.  Each of them, forever a part of me.  Each of them has a matching bead. 

I probably should have a lot more babies on that necklace than I do.  Being a doula isn't just about the physical support, and I have helped many more families in other ways.  I can't tell you how many of my closest friends have called me with questions from thousands of miles away.  I've answered their questions as best I could, cried with them when they were scared, wished them luck, reassured them.  I hope that I helped them too, even if it wasn't in person.

The kids often quiz me about the beads, to see if I can still remember them all.  Which one belongs to who, how old they are now.  And I do.

I hope that for however long I am able to work as a doula that I will remember. 

When we got the car back yesterday, the first thing I did, before I did anything else was put my babies back in the car.  First the living, breathing ones, then the beaded ones.  Then I put my flower back. 

Finally, I held my rock, closed my eyes and said a silent prayer.  Then I put it right back where it belongs.

Only then could I continue my trip home.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.  A true journey in chaos if ever there was such a thing.  All of it, every single piece of it, it all happened for a reason.

I love you, Dad.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I'm home.  Even though I just left.

I've been told recently that I am a human dichotomy.  I want to be here when I am there, I want to be there when I am here.  I don't know that it will ever change.

The trip back ended up taking three days. It was exhausting in so many ways, but it's done.

Leaving was hard.  It always is.  But this time was the worst. 

I did my best to remind myself of the blessing we were given with the extra time there, did my best not to cry when the kids would see, did my best to smile.

I now know that when your heart breaks, really breaks, there is a true physical pain involved.  I didn't know that before this week.

Flagstaff was somewhat kinder to us on the return trip.  There were no head wounds, no major accidents.  We spent more time there than we would have liked to though.

At some point yesterday morning, I had to remind my increasingly frustrated husband that we clearly weren't in control of what was happening.  And that if we couldn't all just go with the flow, we'd go crazy.

And that was even before we spent over an hour at Best Buy.  The worst Best Buy ever, incidentally.  Not a single one of their displays was working right, none of the video games were functioning.  How the hell did they expect me to occupy four five children for the entire morning while we were waiting for the van? 

The van that was supposed to be ready the afternoon prior, but still wasn't after we'd stayed overnight and already checked out of our hotel. 

We finally headed back to the body shop and parked out front, all new and shiny, was the van.  I giggled a little at the bumper.  You see, when the van was brand spanking new, I hit a truck in a parking lot.  Relax, I didn't hurt the truck...I must have checked about a million times.  It's wheels were cranked all the way over and I underestimated how far out the front bumper stuck out (and you can't see it from the driver's seat) and hit the tire.  Literally bounced off the tire, but the new bumper was caved in.  We popped it out and touched up the paint, but it wasn't perfect anymore.  Six years later it's fixed, even if it was the hard way. 

Tom threw all the stuff that was in the truck into the van.  When I say threw, I mean it quite literally.  There was no rhyme or reason. He just tossed it in there and closed the doors.  By then, a few hours past the point at which I reminded him we weren't in control, we waved goodbye to Flagstaff.

Some point near the Arizona/New Mexico border, we noticed the window washer fluid jet wasn't working.  It's attached to the hood.  The new one.  Awesome.

By the time we hit Santa Fe, we were hungry.  And tired.  It was later than it was supposed to be, and we still had over 6 hours left to drive.  We decided to stay.  Got a room, then headed to eat.  We went to Olive Garden, which is apparently a very popular place to eat at 7pm on  a Friday night.  Who'd have thought? 

As we got out of the restaurant, we noticed the hood of the van.  Cockeyed and crooked, not laying flat.  At first I thought maybe it just hadn't been shut completely.  Nope.  It's messed up.

Double awesome. 

The drive back today was fairly uneventful, which was a welcome relief.  We did have an emergency stop in a Walgreen's parking lot so the little one could get out and walk around.  I laughed at Tom, asked him if AJ was a dog that he was taking out to potty.  Essentially, yes.  I can't say I blame the kid.  I wouldn't want to try to poop strapped in a car seat either.

I managed not to cry when I pulled into the driveway.  Mostly because I was looking at my husband and questioning him.  Really?????  He had shoveled 1/3 of the driveway and flew back to California hoping that it would warm up enough to melt the snow on the rest of the driveway.  In Colorado.  In January.

The kids got to open the rest of their Christmas presents finally, and my house looks like a wrapping paper bomb exploded on it.  Most of the luggage is still in the car, and there it will stay until morning. 

I looked outside to watch the sky fill with clouds in my backyard, only to see remnants of some kind of bird scattered all over the yard.  The dog's way of saying this: Welcome home.  I missed you.  Here's some feathers.

I've got to get the kids situated for school, put away the decorations, unpack everything, call the shop about the hood and a whole bunch of other stuff.  But not now.

I've got a beer, football is on TV, and the kids are playing with new toys.  I get to sleep in my own bed tonight. 

I'm home.

Even if I just left.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


How do you go home when you're already there?

How do you smile through the tears?

How do you tell yourself that it will all be okay?

How do you convince anyone else of that?

I've been torn about where my place is for years, and that rip, it keeps getting deeper.

I will do what I must, but still try to do what I can.

I will stand on my porch in the blinding snow if I must, just to share a sky with someone.

When I get home, I will cry.

I will cry.


I've been watching a lot more daytime TV than I normally do.

Well, really, I've been watching a lot more TV than normal.

But the daytime TV sticks out more in my mind because I so rarely ever see any of it.  I don't tend to turn on the magic box much during the day to anything other than kids shows.

One of the morning programs is running a competition for an advice guru to be on the show.  I was intrigued. 

The finalists did brief videos telling everyone what their general philosophy is, then answering the same set of hypothetical questions that someone might ask for advice about. 

One of the questions involved finding time, finding who you are, finding what you want in life.

Made me laugh a little. 

I guess it made me laugh because I've been around the block a few times now.  I've known what I wanted, at least what I thought I wanted.  I've known who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do.  I've known all those things a few times. 

Then life showed up and told me that I really didn't know anything.

Maybe I just have had more run ins with fate.  Or chance.  Catastrophe or tragedy.  Whatever you want to call it. 

I look at where I am in my life right now, and I have to laugh at the idea than anyone holds on to that they are actually fully in control. 

So many things in this world that people ask my advice on, and my answer is often the same one, a simple one.  Whether it's parenthood or career choices or life in general, a lot of it boils down to surrendering.  Hang on, you're just along for the ride. 

Our successes in life aren't so much measured by the things we experience, but by how we handle them and how we emerge.  By our resilience.

Sometimes in order to survive, you have to surrender.

You have to wave the white flag, throw your hands up in the air, and go along for the ride.

Monday, January 3, 2011


You ever feel like some days you are giving it all you have just to hold it together?

Where it feels like at any given moment you could just completely lose it?

Where you're being pulled in so many different directions that it feels like you can't find your center anymore?

I know that there are reasons I moved to Colorado, and I know that there are reasons I am here now. 

I do.

For today, though, I'm just hoping the glue holds.

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