The Weekend In-Between

We woke up on Friday as people who were barely human, lacking sleep, puffy eyes, blank expressions, and still numb. Thankfully with a dog who didn’t understand bad days but still needed to be fed, be let outside and demanded we take her new monster toy and play with her.

We also had decisions to make.  We had a few hours before we had to pick up Rebecca and we were suppose to go back to my parent’s for the weekend.  What did we want to do?  We decided sitting around for the weekend was going to get us no where.  Monday would come one way or another and I couldn’t stare at a wall till then. We might as well go back, make it easier on Rebecca and then I could drink with my sister.  The Husband and I could say the words out loud to someone else besides one another.  We could say those words to my sister without her flinching or judging.

We didn’t want to deal with the world but we couldn’t make ourselves crazy.  We needed a bit of normal.

A few hours later we picked up Rebecca and put on our best “everything is normal faces” even though I looked like hell.  Absolute hell.  We started down the highway for our long drive and she told me all about her over night field trip.  I could tell she stayed up late with her friends talking, telling the stories you tell when you are 12 and staying in a cabin.  In a world before you have to be an adult.

I was twisted around in the front seat to make eye contact with her in the back while she talked.  Finally she said, “I forget how many weeks the baby is today?”

This was it.

This kid and I, we have had a lot of life happen in trucks, driving down the highway, miles going by and I was going to add to it.

I explained that the baby died and how the ultrasound went and that on Monday I would have surgery.  She nodded and asked a few questions and the truck grew silent.  I didn’t want to push her and I knew she was thinking.

Later that weekend she would ask if the baby was still just dead, in me, and she would touch my belly.  She would ask how the doctor would get it out and where the baby’s body would go, if it’s soul was already in heaven like the movie Heaven is for Real?  Because in that movie the lady had a miscarriage and that was Rebecca’s first time hearing about such things.  I answered as best I could, we have always been open and honest with her, no lies, and no half truths.

We joined my family that weekend and tried to keep it normal.  We invited my maid of honor over with her boyfriend and started a large fire outside.  We sat, we talked about it, we talked about life, we talked about normal things, we joked, we drank, the kids ran and played with the dog and glow sticks, and under the blanket on the swing I would occasionally squeeze my Husband’s hand, knowing where our minds truly were.

For the weekend we could take a step back, regroup, talk more logically about decisions to be made, and take a few deep breaths before Monday.  Texts and emails trickled in from friends with kind words that meant more than we would have ever say.  We vented to my sister, said words out loud that some don’t want to think.  We ignored other obligations and just did what we needed to do.

We drove back on Sunday night with a better frame of mind.  Not perfect.  Life wasn’t normal, life wasn’t fixed, I couldn’t sleep through the nights and I was a bit snappy, I lacked compassion for anyone else but us.  I need to be selfish.  But we were better than we had been on Thursday. One step forward, we were going to make it through this one way or another.

Telling our Families

While we have told a few people about our impending arrival, we were holding off on telling our parents, and for good reason.  To start with, my family lives two hours away and I don’t see them often.  Two, both mother’s have big mouths.  The concept of waiting to tell their friends the news was just not going to sink in.

We started with my Mom, Dad, and sister the day I hit 9 weeks.  We went back home and poor Rebecca had been busting to spread the news.  She has some self-control, unlike my Mother.  Both Fenway and Rebecca had “big sister” shirts we put on after we arrived.  The problem was Fenway’s said “big sister” on the belly and on the back it said, “I have a secret, rub my belly to find out.”  My Mom assumed we were pulling some sort of weird joke on her and it took my sister (she had figured it out) to convince my Mom to just look at poor Fenway’s belly.  She yelled “Are you serious!?” at least 1500 times.  It was all very humorous and obviously very exciting.  My sister immediately produced onsies she had been slowly stashing away and my Dad, with his Alzheimer’s, still has no idea we were even there for the weekend.  We eventually followed up with telling my brother and his wife.  She cried, he nodded a “cool” and went about his business.  Very him.

Onto the next set of parents.  It was my MIL’s birthday and we joined her for lunch.  Both of my in-laws are deaf (I can’t sign, my Husband can) so we opted for a card that basically stated we are going to quit calling you Mom and move on to calling you Grandma.  This elicited a lot of smiles and clapping from his mother and his Dad gave a nod of approval.  After that it was lunch as normal.

I have another ultrasound at 12 weeks and from there we will Facebook announce and call extended family and Grandparents.  My Mother, on the other hand, is having no idea how to keep her trap shut.  She lives in a world where nothing bad will happen and she just thinks we should tell everyone.  I live in a world called reality and still fear the worst case scenarios.  While those scary thoughts are fading as each week passes, they are still there.

The number one reason I am so glad we kept this close to us for a while was to give ourselves time to get used to the idea.  Everyone has opinions, advice and a million questions.  Just learning you are pregnant is overwhelming enough, let alone feeling the need to make sure you appease everyone else.  The Husband and I were able to adjust to this new norm.  We were able to think about how we wanted to handle this pregnancy without outside influences.  I was able to alleviate some pressure keeping it a secret and how often can you and your Husband share something like that? It has actually brought us closer and strengthen our marriage in a new way.

As far as the Mother’s go-the mayhem has begun.

Happy 12th Birthday

Rebecca-

Happy 12th birthday!  For some reason I am really excited about you turning 12 this year.  Perhaps it is the fact that this past year you have really started to become more of a teenager.  Not that I am trying to make you grow up any faster but I am starting to learn how to love this new phase of life for you instead of being scared to death of it.  A few weeks ago you sat on your bedroom floor and played with your Barbies and the next day you offered to help me fold laundry.  The funny thing is, you don’t “help” with laundry like you did when you were little.  You can now fold towels to perfection and you put them away in the right spot.  It may seem minor to you but these are the little things that make me realize it is full speed ahead.

This was the first year your relationships have really changed with some of your boy friends.  You used to love to play with the boys and have slumber parties with them while building forts. (The downside of all my friends having boys.) I find you sticking to my side more when we are out with them and you look at them like they are noise covered in dirt.  The age gap is becoming more apparent and  your patience with them is thinning.  You look at it more as babysitting them than hanging out with them.

This past year you have also struggled with girls your age.  I think this is just something about this age level in general.  The claws come out and general meanness is something you are learning to deal with.  You have struggled with the fact that not everyone wants to simply get along and unfortunately I have had a lot of conversations with you that this is only the beginning.  There have been many talks about sticking up for yourself, dealing with bullies, not being a bully, walking away from situations, avoiding negative people and being a positive person.  I cannot tell you how many times I have to tell myself to take my own advice because we all struggle with this and I think kids are dealing with this at a younger and younger age.  And when you walk into school I pray that we have done everything right and given you the tools to handle situations.

Speaking of a million talks.  We have also started having more grown up talks about becoming a young lady in general.  I try to squeeze them in whenever possible and you are going to read this years from now and roll your eyes but you don’t roll your eyes now.  We talk about hormones and when girls start that time of the month.  You have announced that you are sure one of your friends at school gets her period because one day she is mean and the next she is nice.  So, we have a bit more talking on the difference between PMS, hormones and what an actual period is but we are getting there:)

Onto better things, this was the year we moved into our new home.  It took you some time and I know you still miss the apartment but you love this house.  You love having a yard, Fenway and your own bathroom.  You love sitting on the back deck with us and talking late at night.  We have slowly been decorating your room and you have made it into a rather cool tween room.  All blues and beach themed, it is pretty laid back and non obnoxious after a few compromises.  I know the hardest part about moving into this house was the fact that this house doesn’t have memories of your Dad and I in it.  One night when I went in to check on you before I went to bed, you were sound asleep and were curled up with two framed pictures.  One was of you and your Dad after one of his baseball games and the other was a picture of the three of us when you were about 18 months old.  You offered up a reason to me one day saying it fills the new room with Dad, like the apartment had.  You feel safer with that picture when you sleep and I’m not going to tell you no.

This past year you have also literally grown so much.  You have wanted nothing more than to be as tall as me and you officially are.  All giraffe arms and legs.  For a split second you wore the same shoe size as me but then those kept growing.  We have officially left the kids section and are now having to dig through some juniors stuff at the store.  There are even a few things in my closet that you can fit into.  I am totally fine with this right now because it is so much cheaper! It is also fun to see you get more of your own grown up style.  Gone are the days of little dresses and tiny shoes for sure!

You have spent a lot of time back at the farm this past year and your uncle and my Hubby have been teaching you about guns every time.  Normally you always sat on the sidelines but not anymore.  You are a pretty good aim with a 22 gauge at a beer can.  They also got you your first pink BB gun that you keep under your bed.  I have a feeling that BB gun isn’t going to satisfy you for too long as you have been eyeing a pink rifle at the store.  I’m sure a few more pleads and your uncle will buy that for you too.  You just aren’t to sure about actually hunting with him yet.  You are quite the well-rounded country girl.

In the past few months I’ve noticed how much more you are in to conversation.  You offer up much more than 2 word answers in response to questions or general conversation. You actually ask how my day went, remember details and follow up later.  You are also cracking us up with your quick remarks back at us.  It is just more and more of a personality coming out.

Part of a parents job is looking like we know what we are doing when half the time we have no clue.  We are winging this together most days and I think things are turning out okay.  I’m so proud of the young lady you have become and can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.

We love you.  Happy Birthday.

 

 

Outside the Box: Definition of a Mother

It was your chubby hands that I was running my fingers over.  Not the chubby hands that most Mom’s remember of their infant, it was your 3, almost 4-year-old, hands.  I was trying to memorize them, the feel, the contour.  The right one I held, the left one was clutching a red balloon you got at the restaurant we just left.  There are moments that happen in our lives that are the most basic and mundane and for some reason my gut was telling me this was anything but ordinary.

From the outside we may have looked like a normal family, we weren’t.  Going down the familiar highway, I sat next to your car seat in the back seat of the truck.  My stomach turning, in knots.  Fighting back tears and losing the battle as some would fall down my face.  Your Dad driving, sunglasses hiding his own eyes, glancing my way in the rearview mirror.  We were silent as we drove.  I look back at those moments and wonder how we went through all that and yet couldn’t manage to keep our marriage together. The toughest times were yet to come to us and we were only 23 and 24 years old ourselves, thrown on a ride we didn’t ask for with no exit.

We knew our world was going to change that night and it did.  What was about to happen, well, if I knew, I would have had him pull over so we could stop it all but unfortunately time stops for no one and the future was coming straight at us.  We held you for the first time when you were 6 weeks old and life just happened from there.  You gave us sleepless nights, you took your first steps towards us, you gave us your first words and stretched those arms for us when you needed soothing.  You were ours and we were yours.

I prayed in the back seat of the truck that night that I would see you again.  I prayed to God for strength, for hope, for this to all go away.  I prayed that if He just kept you with us, made this okay, that I wouldn’t ask for another child.  All I needed was you.  I just needed this not to be the last time I held those chubby hands.  I had never been so scared but we were going to drop you off with your biological Mother.  We had done it before and we knew what would happen but this night was different.  We had called upon lawyers and drawn up papers.  We had to give you up to get you back and prayed you would be okay.

It went how we thought.  There were tears, screaming, arms reaching for us, and legs kicking.  You hardly knew her and acted out every time you were with her.  My Grandparents stood in the same room and the line was drawn in the sand.  They weren’t the Grandparents of my childhood.  They were making me and your Dad out to be the enemy.  Turning my back and walking out that night was one of the hardest moments of my life.  We both lost it in the truck.  I have no idea how we safely drove home that night, into the darkness, further away from those chubby hands.

To this day, when your 11-year-old hand reaches for mine, I think of that ride in the backseat of the truck.  I don’t take any day or moment with you for granted and send up a prayer, thanking God, for keeping you in my life.  When I see you hug your Dad, I thank God for putting that man in both of out lives.  Without him, I wouldn’t have made it through those years of court or nights of emptiness.  I am grateful that too much time didn’t pass with my Grandparents and we were able to find peace.  Through every negative pregnancy test I have taken in the past 19 months, I thank God I still have you and I wonder if the deal I made with Him that night in the truck is payment he took and you are the only baby I’ll have.

There are many definitions of a mother these days but I feel like many are left out and they deserve that recognition.  There are many fathers out there who are the mothers for their kids.  There are some out there who have outlived their children.  There are many that never got to hold their own child but heard their beating heart.  Some were able to hold their child but for a very short time.  There are some who feel they should be mothers in their hearts but are never able to.  There are some that may not be able to be with their child everyday but their thoughts are. These mothers come in different forms and have to bear difference circumstances.  For these mothers, this mother’s day, I applaud you.  I understand you.  My heart goes out to you.  May you see the joy of what was, is and can be in your own circumstance.

To my little girl, from chubby hands to a young lady, you taught me how to fight for what was right, no matter the circumstances.  You made me a person that can stand up to fear and fight it with faith, hope and passion.  You made me what no one else has, you made me a Mom in our own definition.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

 

Not Just a Dog

Over Easter weekend a good friend of ours lost his dog because it was hit by a car.  Obviously, him and his wife are devastated.  There are a lot of tears shed and it will understandably take a lot of time to be able to move forward.  Him and I have been best friends since we were 14 and have shared a lot of ups and downs.  He was one of those people who didn’t get people who thought of the pets as kids and then it happened.  The nutty fuzzball comes home and you can’t imagine your life without them.  Soon you are becoming that person who declines an invite to your friends’ cat’s birthday party because your dog is getting married that day.  Doesn’t everyone understand that?

Well, no.  But that is okay, I don’t judge them.

We got our furry lab, Fenway, after a year of trying to get pregnant.  There were a ton of reasons why we wanted a dog (Mainly I just wanted one) but there were reasons I didn’t realize in the beginning like I do now.  My husband is gone a lot.  Rebecca is not with us on a regular basis.  I struggle with this, a lot.  It gets damn lonely, a lot.

Enter this furry ball of energy who needs fed, walked and my constant attention.  Fenway gives me a reason to go home at night and not have the silence bounce off the walls.  She is someone who acts like she understands what I’m saying when I’m talking through a new recipe.  She is someone who dances around the kitchen with me to Kenny Chesney.  She is my shadow, my fitness pal, a listener and warm pillow to watch TV with.  In the past 18 months she has been my extra support, in this trying to get pregnant battle, that I never knew I needed.  She is someone who patiently sits next to me on the bathroom floor when I’m crying over that millionth damn negative pregnancy test.

Pets are a funny thing.  You think they need you but really you need them.  And then when they are gone, especially suddenly, everything changes.  So for everyone who has lost their side kick, I am deeply sorry.  For everyone who has theirs sitting next to them, give them an extra scratch and treat today.  They deserve it.

What have your pets done for you?

 

Spontaneity

I would love to claim to be a spontaneous person but I just am not.  I love to make lists, plan, organize and I just can’t help it sometimes.  This is something I have been working on though.  I don’t want someone to throw out an idea and my answer is always “no” just because my brain isn’t ready to mentally handle the fly by the seat of your pants idea.

This past weekend we finally saw Spring in a big way.  In the way that meant warm nights, 80 degree days and a sun that lasted later in the evening.  I had a weekend with no plans for once and a kid ready to fully enjoy the warmth upon us.  Instead of breakfast and coffee in front of the TV, that has become customary this cold Winter, we woke early to hang out on the back deck.  It was bliss, the whole day ahead of us.  Rebecca threw out an idea to go catch a Spring football game and I couldn’t think of a reason to say no.  Spring cleaning could wait and why not really?

Normally a trip like this would have made me need to plan well in advance.  Instead we called a friend to join us, made quick work of getting dressed, packed to-go lunches and jumped in the truck.  An hour later we were on our way, windows down, kids laughing in the backseat and a full day ahead of us in the sun.

The day went by with no problems and it didn’t matter that nothing was planned.  It just all flowed.  There was a random stop for ice cream that we didn’t eat on the go but sat and enjoyed in the fresh air.  We played late into the evening in the backyard, we dyed Easter eggs, we went out for dinner and lingered outside the restaurant talking to friends we ran into. I let go of my Type A and let the whole day and evening just happen.

Part of being able to let go.  Part of just living in the moment.  You know what I saw?  I saw the day from my daughter’s eyes.  The pure perfection of what kids can teach you if you just stop and listen to them more often.  They really do have some of the answers to the world.  Here is to being able to say yes more often than no.

Falling More in Love with Your Spouse

There was the beautiful bride in a princess dress, her groom standing next to her while candles lit the fireplace in front of them.  Behind them sat 250 people and in front of them the minister began to speak the words that would start them in their marriage.  There were some funny stories, a prayer or two and then the minister started to get a bit heavy into what he thought marriage was.  This part, was where many people in the room began to shift a lot in their chairs, while catching their spouses eye, wondering where this guy was going with this speech. We were all with him till he said the following words to the couple:

“How much you love one another, right now, in this moment, is it.  You will never fall more in love with one another because marriage is hard.”

He continued for another, very long, 20 minutes about how hard marriage is and how tough things are going to get and on and on and on.  Hey, I know, it is tough and you don’t have to sugar coat everything but woah.  Just woah.  I can tell you what people were talking about after the ceremony was over and it wasn’t about how pretty the bride was.  It was about how apparently none of us will fall more in love with our spouse but we sure as hell will start hating them more. I don’t know where this man got his license to marry anyone or what his marriage is like (he was fairly young) but I don’t think he could have been more wrong.

I can tell you I fall more and more in love with my husband.  Some days more than others but I can honestly say that I love him now more than the day we were married.  I can’t imagine standing there on our wedding day and someone saying what that minister said.  It was more than rude, it was appalling to those who were married in the room.  Your wedding day should be the one day that you and your new spouse can look with rose-colored glasses into your future and dream of perfection instead of hell.

How would you feel if that was your wedding day speech from the minister?  Or do you agree with him?