Saturday, December 21, 2013

don't disturb the rototiller

I went to lunch today at a frou-frou pizza place near the office with a bunch of coworkers who wanted to go out before the holiday. We had made the reservation for 10 people at 11:30 a.m. under our company name, which also happens to be a man's first name (for our purposes, let's say it is BillyBob).

My cubicle-neighbor and I got there right at 11:30 and there was no one in the foyer. The hostess said they were setting up our table, and we could sit down when it was ready, even though the rest of our party had yet to arrive. I was relieved because most of us had 1 p.m. meetings, one of which was with the Director. Cube-neighbor and I were talking about how nice Lutherans are, when we looked up and there were 60 people surrounding us in the foyer. But our party was straggling in. We looked at our watches and each other and then heard a different host-person call out, "Party of ten for 'BillyBob!" As we struggled to make our way to the front, I saw some jackwagon say, "That's us!" parade his group over, and proceed to take our table.

Cube-neighbor and I just looked at each other. Our party wasn't even all there yet, so really what was the point in complaining? But then suddenly, there they all were. The girl who had made the reservation demanded to know why we hadn't been seated, and the manager tried to pull some word trickery about how they were waiting for our entire party to show up. My coworker gave him an earful and the six of us sat down. It was after noon.

***

Two of the people in our lunch party have 14-year-old sons. Over frou-frou pizza they were saying (and those with older kids agreed) that 14-year-olds are the worst. My mother has always said that I have been a wonderful child my entire life, "Oh except when you were 14. That year you were kind of a brat."

One of the girls with the 14-year-old was really teed off at her kid because he had made a plan that involved walking somewhere after finals, but that didn't work out so he and his little friends were stranded outside a locked building in the freezing rain with no plan because they didn't think ahead and they weren't being very considerate. She was frantically trying to call him to figure out how to have him picked up out of the freezing rain, but he did not answer any of her seven phone calls in a row, nor did he respond to her text messages. When he finally answered, she discovered that someone had walked by and they had been talking. And apparently this former teacher was more important than repeated, and increasingly urgent, calls from his mother.

She very sternly but not-yellingly told him that she was angry now and just because he didn't make a plan doesn't mean she was going to be irresponsible at work and drop everything to pick him up. There was a lot more said, but I was in awe of how clearly she expressed her disappointment yet kept her voice even and conversational. But firm. Had I been in her position, I would have been screaming like a rototiller, probably to the point where the kid couldn't make out the words. At the end, she was like, "Do you understand what you need to do right now? Ok, then I will pick you up from so-and-so's house and then we will discuss this."

***

Our Christmas cards and Christmas gifts are going to be late. This had been stressing me out, as I took a day off to try and get everything done but overscheduled myself and didn't get ANYthing done. I have now returned more gifts than I have in my possession to give, and it is T-minus five days to the main event. This week I've come home from work at or after 9 p.m. every day because SHOPPING.

***

It has been three and a half months of living in this house and I still don't feel comfortable here. I wake up, get ready and go to work, come home (usually late), eat something quick and get in bed. Any free time is spent picking up or cleaning. I keep wondering when we will go back to that one-bedroom apartment that seemed cozy from the first week we were there. Or if I won't feel at home until we move to a different house.

***

Jon and I are pilers. Take any surface in our abode; we will inevitably stack things on top of it. Sometimes they will be in really neat piles, but still. I do not enjoy that about us. Both of us are trying to create a designated place for everything, but this process pains me. I am pushing through it.

***

I am just like my mom, and I am also just like my dad--yet they are not the same as each other, if that makes any sense--in the way that little things annoy them, irritate them and poke them in the ribs until one day when someone goes to a friend's house without calling to say they'll be four hours late instead of dead somewhere in a ditch or a book of stamps clearly has been stolen but really has just fallen behind the drawer. Suddenly there is a rototiller going off and making a prolonged ruckus all over the place.

The problem with this habit the three of us have, is that the sometimes-not-so-innocent bystander thinks that we are so high-strung, oversensitive or ridiculous that such a small thing will make us blow up. What the bystanders always miss is that pile of misdeeds underneath it all that had been steadily growing for some time.

***

I have learned:

1) 14-year-olds are the worst. Mainly because they are self-absorbed and inconsiderate.
2) I surround myself with assertive, strong ladies because I find that to be lacking in myself.
3) Stressors are piling up to exacerbate the ulcer I developed when I took too much Motrin after the Baby.
4) Frou-frou pizza is overrated.
5) People who are not 14 years old can be the worst when they are self-absorbed and inconsiderate.
6) Something needs to be done to make me feel at home.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

and they also sell lawn grass

The woman who used to live in this house continues to receive approximately 10 catalogs in the mail every day. They are eclectic, ranging from Pecans and Fancy Nuts to Gifts from the Audobon Society. 

At first it was kind of amusing, and I was leafing through them for Christmas gift ideas, but it's getting a little ridiculous now. I was telling cc about it the other day. I sent her this photo of the selections of the day:

 That's FootSmart, Uncommon Goods and King Ranch.


"What exactly does King Ranch sell?"

"Stuff from 'the heart of Texas.' " [flips to a random page in the catalog and text messages a cellphone photo of camo-patterned gun cases]

"OMG, I just looked up King Ranch, look what's in there" [texts a link to the SAME EXACT camo-patterned gun cases.]

 I guess you had to be there, but seriously there are days when it's clear that cc and I share a brain.


Thank you all for your love and support. Your love, messages and good wishes mean so much.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

it doesn't happen on tv, so that means it doesn't happen, right?

Basically I'm pregnant. They didn't find a heartbeat at the first ultrasound last week and the baby measured six weeks when I was supposed to be further along. We went in today (seven days later), no heartbeat identified and measurement is still six weeks, so apparently this classifies as a "missed miscarriage" because my body has not yet recognized that the baby stopped progressing and continues to make me vomit and feel sore and gross. I am scheduled for a D&C on Friday.

This really sucks. But it's nowhere near as bad as what happened in May, when I had to naturally deliver a perfectly healthy baby knowing she wasn't developed enough to be saved.

What really ticks me off is that there is a 15-25% chance that ANY pregnancy will result in miscarriage. That seems like an awfully high percentage for something we hear so little about. I get that people need privacy, and I respect that. But the less we talk about this stuff and how it hurts and how it isn't the fault of the mother, the father or the heavenly ghost, the worse it is for those who have to go through it thinking no one else understands how they feel. And it's more people than you think.

So hug a friend today. There is a good chance that they or someone they are close to have lost a pregnancy. Maybe even more than one.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Stitch Fix: My first box


It's no secret that I hate shopping for myself. Particularly for clothes. I feel I must look at every item in the store to make sure I don't miss anything. Then I'm wracked with indecision if I sort of like something. And let's face it, it's going to have to be one heck of an awesome piece to even consider taking my pants off to try it on. Half the time I talk myself out of a purchase for that reason alone. These factors combine to make shopping a giant, time-consuming pain.

So when my pal Kaiya recommended this lovely shopping service called Stitch Fix, it seemed tailor-made for me:


a) You fill out a profile with your sizes, style preferences and price ranges.
b) You indicate what you're looking for (in my case work-clothes are out of date and I have a few pieces from high school that probably need to go).
c) You pay $20 for a "stylist fee."
d) They send you a box with five items in it they think you'll like.
e) You try everything on, and buy the ones you like (the 20$ goes toward that). If you don't like anything you send it back and just lose the stylist fee.
f) You tell them what you liked and didn't, and schedule another box to come on a specific date.

I am superlame and worked too much this week, so I didn't have time to properly photograph myself trying everything on for my first "Fix." So you will just have to imagine me wearing these items. I promise to do better next time.

I looked at this and thought "I would never choose this for myself." Jon thought it looked like something I totally would pick out. I put it on and it was great. The sleeves were a more knitty type of material and the pattern was silkier. The drawback was that it's snug around the extra weight I am still trying to get rid of from the baby, so I would always be self-conscious about that. I sent this one back.

This blouse is sheer and has pretty little birdies on it. I really liked it, but it is FREEZING at work and I'd have to wear something over it until next year. Plus I have a top that is very similar. Sent back.

This infinity scarf has an nice triangle pattern and a very tight knit that would have taken forty years to make myself. And it's warm without making me feel like I'm choking. Awesome for the office, and neutral! I kept it.

I really liked this jacket, but it was light and fitted so I would not be able to wear it comfortably over a sweater, so I'd probably just wear it when it was pretty warm because I'm cold regardless. One thing I LOVED was the bound seaming (the seams were covered in a cute floral fabric that was also used for the pocket lining). I wish I had taken a photo of them. Those kinds of details get me every time. Reluctantly sent back.

As a tip to the stylist, on Pinterest I had posted a photo of my fall coat, which has an off-center zipper. I love that it's different. So she sent me this hoodie that I pretty much wore right out of the box. It is also kind of snug in the post-baby area, but I'm hoping the stripes distract from that. This looks better on me than lying on the carpet.


I will definitely be scheduling another box. I tend to binge shop when the mood actually does strike me, so having a box of five things sent to me every once in awhile saves me time and gives me the peace of mind that the thing that I might like isn't off trend/crazylooking, AND I don't have to sort through everything at the store. That saved time can go toward doing something worthwhile to me. You know, like watching Cosby reruns or knitting booties. 

If you're interested in giving Stitch Fix a whirl, here is my referral link.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

the day i lost my magic touch

This is going to sound ridiculously absurd, but the first time that I waited until the last minute and was UNABLE to complete a task was in October 2011, when I was 33.

It's pretty damn impressive if you think about every single math assignment I completed on the bus, five-paragraph essay I wrote during lunch and entire textbook I would read in the 12 hours before the examination. The number of all-nighters is off the charts. Trust me when I say I pushed it to the VERY EDGE. And, pretty much every single time, I pulled it off.

That is, until I needed to complete the quilt I was making for my friend/realtor's baby, who was born the day before our wedding. Jon helped me choose the perfect fabrics and I started piecing it together, taking my sweet time. I made plans to visit the baby and her mom one day after work, so I had the first thing that I always need to know about any project: the deadline.

The night before my visit approached and I hadn't yet quilted the layers together or put on the edging. No big deal, right? I thought, I can conceptualize each remaining step of this process so it shouldn't take me more than a couple of hours (this is a lifelong problem that also translates to me thinking any place I know the route to will take me "about 15 minutes" to get to).

I ran into some issues and had to re-pin several times, and as the birds started chirping, the sun came up and the alarm for work went off it started to dawn on me that I WASN'T going to finish. This was an earth-shattering revelation. I have always believed that if I work hard enough I will accomplish my goal. And I have done that (usually due to lack of pre-planning/inspiration). But not finishing? Not making deadline? WHAT? Had I lost my mojo? Was I going crazy? Am I a failure now? Resounding yes, all around.

I took a little outfit I had bought as a backup to my friend, whose daughter is gorgeous. They actually had sofa throw pillows in a very similar pattern to one of the fabrics I chose for the quilt so it was extra disappointing that I didn't have the handmade gift ready. I mailed it to her a couple of weeks later.

I still think about that morning. It was like an end of an era. The pseudo-invincibility I had cultivated all those years of pushing the limit and coming up with something good from all that pressure sort of deflated like a balloon you let go of before tying the knot. I think of it every time I want to put something off till later.

But then I put it off anyway.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

pie! in the mail!

Hey, do you know my friend Shalini, author of readingandchickens and the new book, "Lost & Found"?

SHE SENT ME A PIE! IN THE MAIL! FROM SEATTLE!!!

Cranberry Walnut (in the style of a pecan pie) and it is delicious!


 AND they threw in some very good-looking Manchego cheese from Spain. :)

Apparently, the US Postal Service gave her a hard time sending me one of her delicious pies, so she had to send one from a "Bakehouse." I'm imagining it's as good as hers (it's really good).


Thank you, Shalini!!!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

nothing like nature to spoil organic plans

When I lived at my parents'/a high-rise condo/apartment, I didn't have my own yard, so I sort of co-opted my the one at my parents' house. And I had a lot of ideas.

My dad's favorite thing to tell me was, "when you have your OWN house, you can do whatever you want." But they did let us do a lot of stuff.

There was that time Jon and I made a pretty sweet new garden for my mom's vegetables. 

And the time I made composters in my parents' yard with their leaves. I was so excited when I actually got some compost out of it. My dad tolerated it for about two years.

But now we do have our own yard. Because he loves me, before we even closed on the house Jon bought me a fancy spinning composter. And we've spent the last few weekends raking/shredding almost a dozen bags of leaves. I'm getting all the used coffee grounds from work, and throwing kitchen scraps in with handfuls of leaves at a time. The leaves from our house should last awhile, but I doubt they'll make it until next fall.

I had big plans this week to get the rest of the leaves and shred them up for my stash. Then we were going to rototill the backyard to even it out and spread seed for actual grass. 

Unfortunately, Mother Nature put a halt to all that by throwing a bunch of snow all over the place.

Friday, November 08, 2013

at least i have a window

This is where I spend most of my time. Other than hitting the snooze button from the warm cocoon of my bed. This is also what I blame for why my NaBloPoMo is not up to par this year. I'm sorry.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

the marketing department for the city was on vacation

On my way back from Los Angeles, I had a layover.


Approximately 4 feet away from this sign in the airport was a stand of tshirts that said, "I've tried polygamy!"

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

i am so proud of Illinois today


Everyone, everywhere, deserves the opportunity to celebrate love like Jon and I did.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

back when i had style

I queued up this not-very-good Janeane Garofalo movie from Netflix--which has probably been on my list since 2004--and I had to rewind one miniscule scene, where two ladies walked in front of a souvenir shop for 1.5 seconds, about three times.



I owned this EXACT SAME COAT in eighth grade. You know which one I'm talking about. One of these days, I will dig out a photograph.

And I rocked that sh-t.

Monday, November 04, 2013

timber

"I think I've found my new favorite song."

"Please tell me it's by Ke$ha."

"No...It's by Pitbull FEATURING Ke$ha. And it's about square dancing."

"Um, you grew up in California. I'm pretty sure you don't have the first clue about square dancing."


Sunday, November 03, 2013

necklace

When we were in San Diego, having a wonderful time watching our nephew take some of his first, wobbly steps, Jon's sister A gave me a little box. It was from all his sisters. My sisters.

 
 It's emerald green--the birthstone for May. It is perfect. 

I may not be able to wear it every single day, but I will cherish it forever.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

the view

We told everyone we were taking a quick trip to California to see family, hopefully see the Dodgers play in the World Series of baseball (they were eliminated), and to just get away for the weekend before Jon's birthday on the 31st.

But the November 1 due date has been looming large over us since the day we found out we were expecting. And we knew this birthday was going to be excruciating for Jon, who had been looking forward to it for the first time in decades. We had separated the ashes in half, knowing exactly where we'd like to lay one part in California: At the top of a hill in Jon's hometown, overlooking the downtown area and the ocean. It's one of his favorite places in the world, and the first place he brought me to see when I came out to visit him for the first time in 2005. It's become one of my favorite places, too.

When we arrived, Los Angeles was foggy. San Diego was cloudy. His hometown was misty. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, threats of rain. I was having second thoughts about letting her go, but I reminded myself that we had a small portion of the ashes at home. So Tuesday morning--before we had to leave for the airport--we got up very early and drove up to the cross.

After all that gloom, it was an absolutely glorious morning. It felt right.

 We carefully chose a spot with the best view. You can see out for miles.


 And there were other little white piles peeking out from underneath bushes. She will not be alone up there. That made me feel better.


We felt at peace. Still, it was hard to say goodbye.



Friday, November 01, 2013

Today was our baby's due date.



I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel
 
Remembering you standing quiet in the rain
As I ran to your heart to be near
And we kissed as the sky fell in, holding you close
How I always held close in your fear
 
Remembering you running soft through the night
You were bigger, brighter and whiter than snow
Screamed at the make believe, screamed at the sky
And you finally found all your courage to let it all go
 
Remembering you fallen into my arms
Crying for the death of your heart
You were stone white, so delicate lost in the cold
You were always so lost in the dark
 
Remembering you, how you used to be
Slow drowned you were angels, so much more than everything
Hold for the last time then slip away quietly
Open my eyes but I never see anything
 
If only I'd thought of the right words
I could have held on to your heart
If only I'd thought of the right words
I wouldn't be breaking apart all my pictures of you
 
Looking so long at these pictures of you
And never hold on to your heart
Looking so long for the words to be true
And always just breaking apart, my pictures of you
 
There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart, my pictures of you





Oh, and for the eighth year, I'll be doing NaBloPoMo this month.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

OH the PLUMBING

The house gave us a present when my SIL m and her husband, Joe, came to visit from Ohio. All we did to deserve it was take four showers in a row.

The drain in the garage backed up with some sort of dark sludge. The plumber described it as, "Yep. That's Number 2." 

AWESOME.

The thing about living in a beautiful neighborhood with old trees is that the roots of those old trees can find their way into your pipes. And when the people who live in your house hadn't done anything about it--say, for a decade or more--the roots form a tangled net that can't let a lot of water (or solids) through to the main drain. It makes for a lovely surprise on a Sunday afternoon when you have out-of-town guests. Especially when you've only been living in the house for less than a month.

The plumber put a cutter into our pipes and "rodded" out a three-inch-diameter hole through the roots in the service line until he hit something inpenetrable at about 60 feet. Three days later, the pipes backed up again. 

The second plumber put a cutter into our pipes and rodded out a three-inch-diameter hole through the roots in the service line. He, too, hit some sort of impasse. They suggested we call for a camera, because the clay (yes, in the '60s Midwest, they used CLAY) pipe could be broken or there could be a gigantic ball of roots at that 60-foot mark.

The camera guy had a lot to show. The roots looked like that scene in Disney's Snow White where Snow is running through the forest and the tree branches look to be so thick and menacing that kids in the '20s who saw it in the theater peed on their seats. But I digress. No broken pipe, just a maddening amount of roots. 

The plumbers were accessing our service line through the corner of our garage where the cast-iron pipe is only four inches wide. In the yard, the clay pipe is six inches wide. They said it would be much better to dig a 5.5-foot-deep hole in the yard, cut out a section of the clay pipe and put in an access so they can forevermore get directly to the six-inch pipe and not have to come through the house. 

They did that. But still couldn't get through the massive root ball 60 feet from the house (and a lot closer to the main), so we have to call another plumber with a more powerful cutter. In the meantime, we just have to time our water usage and make sure nothing offensive (I'm talking two-ply toilet paper), gets into the pipes and hope for the best. 

After all this is done, we need to sanitize the garage, the downstairs bathroom and the laundry room, as well as the brand-new carpet and padding in the downstairs. We estimate the entire endeavor will cost a cool five thousand dollars.


Here are some things I learned from this experience:
  • Don't flush anything down the toilet but the thinnest of TP. If any product says "flushable," it'll likely go down the drain, but if you have anything (like our roots) in your pipes, it will get stuck. Tampons are even worse with their stringy parts that can get tangled.
  • You do NOT want a backup--the sewage could ruin your walls, floor, furniture and anything else you might have near the drain.
  • If you don't have an existing clean-out access in the yard, the plumber will be happy to put one in for you--6 feet underground using an excavator machine.
  • You don't have to disclose roots in pipes when you sell a house in Illinois (per my realtor). The plumber said there is no way the previous owners did not know about this. 
  • However, the plumber can record the video of the insides of your pipes and put it on a flash drive in case you want to try and take somebody to court. The footage will look like a very disturbing colonoscopy.
  • There's a homeowners' insurance policy that includes backup coverage--only 50$ a year! Your homeowner insurance agent will regret to inform you that you did not get "backup coverage," but conveniently email the form you were supposed to have declined the day after you inquire about how much damage is covered in your policy, saying he "forgot to show it to you."
  • If you're buying a home near mature trees, you may want to ask when the last time the pipes were rodded/have a camera down there before you sign any papers. About $200 is way better to spend than 25 times that.
  • Apparently this happens to a LOT of people. Ours is the only house on the block that hasn't had a clean-out access put in/pipes back up. Pretty good for a place that was built in 1968. Lucky us.

Welcome to home ownership!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

looks like she's made it

Hey guess what, Internets, my friend Shalini wrote a book! And people can buy it on Amazon!

I think it is amazing that she's been talking about this for a long time, then put in the sweat and tears and hard work, and now when you click on this link, you can see all that hard work and even read it on your Kindle. 

Who knew that the shy girl with whom I roasted marshmallows in fifth-grade girl scouts and then again in my backyard in high school was going to be a bona fide author (under a pseudonym)?

Makes me believe that things can really happen if you use your talent and a LOT of hard work. Congrats!

***edited to add***
You can get a print copy, now!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

cotton

It feels like two months, not two years. I never could have made it through without you--and I never want to. 

Happy Anniversary, Jon.


 



Thursday, September 12, 2013

reversal

I have been working in a hospital on and off for more than a third of my life. I'm used to the noises and the fluorescent lighting and the terse whispering and the weary-looking eyes of nearly everyone there. And unfortunately I have spent way too many hours in hospital waiting rooms. But when I found myself sitting on a cart in Emergency Department Pod A trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my water broke 23 weeks too early, I went sort of numb--and all I could think about was my brother.

Is this what it felt like for him all those endless mornings at 4 a.m. when he was getting prepped for surgery? When everyone was bending over backwards to make him smile or be comfortable and nothing really worked but he pretended that it did work just to make them feel like they were helping? Did it hurt him this much every time a nurse went digging around for an IV? Did his muscles cramp up like this? Was it just as annoying to have to drag a beeping pole to the bathroom while holding the back of a gown closed? How did he lie like this for WEEKS at a time? I was only there for three days. Oh my God it must have been so much worse for him. HOW did he endure this? How did he not complain more? How did he get through this over and over, so many times? I just wanted to see his face.

But I couldn't call him. He was in St. Louis, probably sitting at his desk toggling between work and ESPN. He was looking forward to holding his niece or nephew someday. Making plans to indoctrinate the child to root for Chicago teams despite the kid having 50% Los Angeles DNA. I kept picturing his expression on the FaceTime when I told him I was pregnant (he was the first person I wanted to tell)--usually so stingy with his smiles, he was absolutely beaming. It had been a tough time and it was nice to give him something to be happy about. A few days later, I got a text picture of him holding a friend's newborn and he looked so happy. I could just picture what a tremendous uncle he will be. For years I have said my children will call him the Hindi name for Mother's Brother: "Mama," and he has threatened all kinds of bodily harm if I made good on that promise. But as soon as he heard there was going to be a Baby, I was certain he would love my kid more than anything in the world--even if she called him "dookieface." This news was absolutely going to break his heart. If I could delay that in any way, I was going to.

A few hours into my stay, Jon and I were trying to decide how to tell the doctors we weren't going to listen to their stern recommendations. I decided it was time to call my brother. I gathered my composure and picked up my phone.

"Shut up, I'm already on the road."

I don't allow myself to think about what was going through my husband's mind on the 40-min drive to the Emergency Room, and I don't want to know what that five-hour drive was like for my brother. Jon has since said that anytime he sees someone frantically overtaking people on the road, he imagines them worried and rushing to a loved one, so he just gets out of the way.

Jon never left my side for more than a few minutes throughout the entire ordeal. My mom and dad were on the other side of my hospital bed. And then my brother burst into the room. Things did not magically get better. We were still helpless and losing our child. But when I looked around and saw that my team was complete, I finally let out a breath.

Many times I have tried to explain how I feel about my brother. Maybe everyone thinks of their siblings this way, I don't know, but making sure he's ok has simply always been a life requirement. I remember tiptoeing into his room at 3 a.m. to see that he was still breathing when I was 10. He came to visit me in Champaign after he got his drivers license, and on the way home his car broke down on an unlit stretch of Interstate 57 at Sauk Trail; the sheriff lit some flares and just left him there. My then-boyfriend couldn't understand why I was pacing around in tears thinking about my brother, scared and alone, waiting for hours after the flares went out for my parents to get there. And I cried just as much as our mother did at his college graduation.

I feel like an overbearing just-as-bad-as-mom who lectures and worries and causes the biggest eyerolls imaginable. Most of the time, I probably am. However, my brother dropped everything, threw together a bag, jumped into his car and drove 282 miles just to be in the same room as me and all he said was, "How could I NOT be here? You are my sister."

People say that you don't know what it's truly like to care about another person's wellbeing until you have a child. Having had one--albeit very briefly--I agree. But I think I already had a pretty good idea.

Happy Birthday, brother.



Monday, September 09, 2013

9/9

Today is our beautiful nephew Declan's first birthday. Just 366 days ago we were hoping to get a glimpse of the guy. And for the last 365, people all over the country eagerly await each photo update and hope for the briefest chance to hold him. A curious little man, he's crawling at top speed, tasting everything that's cold and shiny, and climbing stairs. They're taking him to his first professional football game (San Diego Chargers) to celebrate. As far as I can tell, he's having a blast. I'm sure Uncle Jon approves.

Today is also the 92nd birthday of my Godmother's mom. Everyone knows her as Ma. She's sweet and vibrant, and she can hang with the multiple energetic great grandchildren she watches during the week. She made me her time-consuming family recipe, Methi Laddu (Fenugreek bars full of all kinds of nutritious stuff that's helpful for post-delivery moms) to help me get strong after Baby. She added extra sugar to cover up the bitter taste, and I ate every last one.

I realize I have been saying it lately--maybe I'm just getting old-- but it's amazing how quickly the time goes tripping along.

Here is Declan last February, finally big-ish enough for his raccoon costume.

Declan at 4 months.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

OH the PAINT

Hi friends!

Here are some lessons I learned in the last few hours:

1) IF you spent a lot of time pondering paint colors and finally made a decision on just two colors to use throughout your ENTIRE home with a certain brand, STICK TO THAT DECISION.

2) BECAUSE it will be very easy to get swayed into changing to "close enough" colors when you can only meet the person painting your house at dusk after a grueling day of work. Mostly because you discover he gets a discount on a different brand because it will save a) time and b) money.

3) ESPECIALLY because you will want to throw yourself out a window when you walk into your home and realize that instead of gray, every single wall is one of two shades of purple. Not because it's ugly, but because it wasn't what you wanted and it was ALL BECAUSE OF HASTINESS.

4) AND THEN you will have a toddler-style meltdown because you realize that yes, you guess you DO remember signing off on a swatch called "Mysterious Mauve," and you did mention that it looked kind of purple at the time, but didn't really think hard about what that means. You'll want to kick your own butt into next week.

5) SO you start scheming to try and mask the color with lighting and draperies and distracting furniture, but you know in your heart that every time you look at any wall (and they're EVERYWHERE) you'll be reminded of what a moron you are. And you decide you MUST find a way to ask the guy to re-do it, even if your budget is at negative eleventy hundred dollars already.

6) OH BUT THEN the painter quotes you even more than you dreamed it could cost, a ridiculous amount when you find out YOU HAVE TO BUY THE NEW PAINT, and you calculate that this re-do will cost exactly 75% of what the original quote was, even though that quote included many tasks that would not need to be re-done. But the dude now has the upper hand, so there's not a lot of room to negotiate, what with you buying $30+ gallons of paint.

7) THEN you will hem and haw and imagine you just inherited a ton of money to re-do this, knowing inside you must do it to protect your sanity.

8) AND THEN you will cry, thinking about all the stuff you would rather do with that money.

Monday, September 02, 2013

however long they tell you, add two weeks

Here are some updates:
  • We closed on the house on August 7. 
  • There were several projects we wanted accomplished before we moved in, so we set a move-in date for September 1. Almost a month should be long enough, right?
  • Several things about the house needed to be updated before we moved in--more posts on those later.
  • We hired a contractor, painter, cleaning service, but were thinking we could move ourselves in (after all, Jon and I ended up moving all our stuff into the apartment from the condo by ourselves in 2010).
  • During the last week of August, it became clear that we were not going to be able to get out by September 1. We extended our lease at the apartment a week.
  • Things are coming together at the house! Jon and I are doing a lot of stuff ourselves, including taking off the baseboards in the bedrooms, which we are guessing are original to the house. Behind the baseboard along the wall where our heads will go when we sleep in our future bedroom, we discovered a mummified bird. While the Internets say that's a bad sign, I've decided that because we found it and will be removing it, we are helping ourselves.
  • We are having a horrible time packing the apartment. HOW did we manage to get all this stuff into a one-bedroom apartment? (Note: Do NOT pack up the kitchen first. You will be very sad when your time at the apartment is extended and you cannot use or eat anything you already have).
  • Also? I have a ton of stuff in my childhood bedroom at my parents' house. Jon has no idea how much stuff. And I had promised it would only stay until we bought our own house...
  •  Oh, and work and comedy are still clipping away at a breakneck speed.

Our house was featured in the latest The Second City shorts competition entry (Jon, Madelyn and company won 2nd place).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

35

All year I've been telling Jon how much I cannot wait until 2013 is over. Lots and lots of bad news this year, from Jon's grandfather passing, to the highs and extreme lows of our pregnancy and even losing out on what we'd hoped for months was our very own new home because the bank wouldn't turn on the gas and water for a full inspection.

But then I got to thinking: The year *technically* begins for a person on their birthday, right?

So maybe I don't have to wait until January 1. Maybe my fresh start for good news can begin today, when I've completed 35. Perhaps my 36th year will bring more good news than bad.

Here's a start: Last week we closed on a house.

Madelyn will get her own room. With a door (not a dining room with a be-sheeped flannel bedsheet tacked to the ceiling). And a window. We will have multiple bathrooms so people who need to urinate will not have to dance around until the room is available. And we will have a yard with big tall trees.

One thing the house had to offer that it will most CERTAINLY not be around when we move in? A room with two green walls and two gold walls that had a strip of Green Bay Packer border going all around the room.

The first thing we did after we closed on the house was rip that junk down. Coincidentally, I was dressed for the occasion. 
Go Bears.


While we loved living in downtown Chicago, Jon and I are suburban people, through and through. He's been dreaming about having a garage for tools and sheltered cars for years. And I'm dying to have more than a corner of the living room for my sewing machine. This place is a lovely single-family home built in 1968. But we have big plans for it. Stay tuned, I'm sure there will be before-and-after photographs to come.

Here's to 36!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jon: I remember when there was no Adriana, and now she's smarter than all of us

Saturday night we were at mfm's house celebrating her 7-year-old Adriana's birthday. The kids these days, they are so amazing. So articulate and thoughtful. Both she and her sister treat Jon like he is the coolest person in the world. I try not to be jealous, but I am.
We were all sitting out on the deck, having dinner and chatting.

mfm: Did you hear about the baby dolphin at the zoo? [Newborn Dolphin Dies at Brookfield Zoo].

me: Yes, that was really very sad. But I heard it's not uncommon for dolphins.

Adriana: What happened?

me: The baby dolphin didn't make it.

Adriana: Does that mean it died?

me: Yes.

Adriana: Aren't you and Jon going to have a baby on November 1st?

me: Yes, we were. But our baby didn't make it.

Adriana: Your baby died?

me: Yes. But maybe one day we can have another baby.

Adriana: Maybe your baby can be born on August 8, just like me!

me: Are you sure? Because then you'd have to share your birthday party, your cake, maybe even your presents...

Adriana: Hmmm. Well maybe your baby's birthday can be on August 9th.

***

Later on, mfm, ri and I were sitting at the table. Ri was talking about having to find tenants for her old condo. Adriana came up from the backyard and proceeded to put a flower in my hair, and then in ri's hair.* But she still had a few flowers in her hand.

Ri: Who are those flowers for?

Adriana: Someone very special. I'm not telling who. Mom, can I have some string?

mfm: Sure. I'll go find something. [She comes back with a little piece of tulle. Adriana ties it around the flowers and brings them over to me.]

Adriana: This is for your baby. Who died.


mfm had told the girls we were going to have a baby, but it had been so long since anyone mentioned it, she had no idea the kids remembered it at all, let alone the due date. Her plan was to count on their lack of knowledge about gestation and not say anything until we actually had a baby. But Adriana, as usual, was smarter than we expected. I was so touched, I get teary just thinking about it.


*Inquiring minds want to know why, if Jon is "so cool," he didn't get any flowers in his hair. He had about four or five flowers hanging out of each of his back pockets.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

lightspeed

CC's son, b, turns FIFTEEN today. Seems like yesterday when he met Jon for the first time and tried to use The Force to kill him.

They grow up so fast. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

this is Sparta

Last week, Jon ran the Super Spartan race somewhere in the middle of Illinois. No training. Just sheer will. I was convinced he was going to break a bone, or worse, and spent the day worrying.

However, during the 8plus-mile course, he completed every endurance task--climbing walls, dragging cement blocks, crawling through mud, scaling a wall and ringing a bell--except the one where he had to pull a rope tied to a weight nearly as heavy as he is and lift it 30 feet. All while covered in a thick layer of mud. And he emerged with little more than a bruise and a couple scratches to show for it. Jon was disappointed; he'd been hoping to show off more legitimate battle wounds.

The next day he threw all the fancy wick-away-moisture clothes (including underwear and socks), his commemorative shirt and a towel he's had since college into the wash in our apartment building's community laundry room. It wasn't even half a load. He forgot about it.

Later that night, when we came back from our near-nightly walk, he remembered his gear and went to grab it, expecting it to be on the table or even the floor. It wasn't there at all.

He was so sad. I immediately got angry and started stomping around. We've lived here three years, and while some people around this complex look a bit shady, they're all probably decent people. I started imagining the pain in the butt it would be to do laundry at my parents' house and planned to amp up our house hunting so we didn't have to live in a place where someone would take your (albeit clean) underwear. Then I remembered there was a family doing tons of laundry when I came home from work that day, so I decided to believe Jon's stuff got collected with theirs and it was all just an oversight.

So I taped this sign to the laundry room door:

 I forgot to add the headband with his race number on it. 

We spent the day shaking our heads, sad that someone in our little community would take his clothes, and bummed that neither of us really got a look at the congratulatory Super Spartan Race tshirt he'd gotten at the finish line. At least he still had his medal.

But then!

He got back everything but the headband (not pictured, underoos and socks).

Madelyn found the stuff but the headband on the folding table two days later. All is right in Sparta.




Sunday, July 21, 2013

Today Jon is running the Super Spartan race with the menfolk connected to some of my college buddies.

His facebook post about it has a link to the eight-plus-mile obstacle race, which may include mud pits, electrified wire and running up hills with buckets of rocks, with the sentence, "This promises to be the dumbest thing I do all year."

To which one of the other guys responded, "You underestimate yourself... You'll do plenty of other dumb stuff. I'm more likely to be hospital bound than you on this one."

It's so flipping hot I can't help but worry someone really might end up needing medical attention. Especially because in the last two months, Jon hasn't been to the gym, and only ran ONCE for three miles. 

But he looks really happy in the picture, so there's that. 

I am on call all weekend, so I figure I may as well go into work and try to catch up on all the crap I did that got erased this past week because of a system upgrade that wiped our test environments. And yet I am still sitting on the couch reading blogs.

***

Yesterday I met up with pp and had a lovely brunch/haircut date. This concept is genius because:

a) I get to hang with pp
b) I get a really sweet haircut
c) I get to try new places to eat in the city
d) The stylist starts the color on pp, does my trim while her hair is "processing," and the whole time we're all shooting the breeze like the do at the salons in movies.
e) My hair looks way more amazing when I leave than anytime I try to do it myself.

Of course, it's not ideal when I'm on call and my phone rings while the stylist is washing my hair. But it was fine.

pp seems to think that because she was a little hung over she wasn't a great date. She doesn't realize that just being in the company of someone who wanted to murder you for hitting snooze for almost five years and manages to loves you ANYWAY is a gift in and of itself. I was in a similar state, having been numbed up at the dentist and failing at chewing. Still a good time.

***

Last night we went to ri and c's house for pizza and booze. Jon was hydrating and carbo-loading--hell, it's the absolute least he could do to prepare for the race today. Highcon facetimed us. They ordered a pizza. C and I proceeded to split like three bottles of wine and we watched their little angel, Ari, toddle around like a champ. Then ri went up to put the baby to bed and accidentally fell asleep. And then I lay down on the couch and accidentally fell asleep. C and Jon talked about electronics and mortgage rates. We never got to the gelato that Jon and I brought. Nobody was mad about all the falling asleep because we've known each other for a quarter of a century and it's all good.

***

I started writing this post thinking everyone is annoyed with me being Debbie Downer the last several posts and trying to post something light and more "normal." But then I read this. If she hadn't turned off comments, I would have told her I feel the same way.

Yes, I think about my daughter minimum 20 times a day and will probably do so for a really really long time. I will probably mention it from time to time. But that doesn't mean I'm not happy for the girl in the office and want to go to her baby shower. Or have a really fun time chasing Ari around the dining room table. People don't have to feel weird. It's ok to talk about. Or not. The more important thing is to spend time together. Even if it entails chomping on the side of your cheek trying not to drool Hollandaise sauce or falling asleep in the middle of a conversation about speaker wire. 

I sincerely hope I will take the time to reach out when someone I care about is sad.

the genetics report came back

Our baby was a perfectly healthy, just had an acute infection. Whether the infection was there before the bag busted or was contracted during the three days in the hospital after it broke, we will never know. But as far as our doctors are concerned, there wasn't anything wrong with me or the baby. All signs point to the fact that we randomly got a bad bag.

The testing also confirmed my suspicion (and Madelyn's and my mother's): Baby was a girl.

I'm not going to lie. It's a little harder knowing what the sex was. I'm thankful to be able to use a nicer pronoun instead of talking in circles to avoid using the word "it." At least we know.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

celebration

This is the ring-bearer pillow I made for a friend who got married today. Her shoes were the same color  and have the same kind of pleated pattern. She looked gorgeous.


Going to weddings reminds me of just how breathtakingly wonderful my own wedding day was. I hope everyone can feel that kind of happiness at least once in their lives. And I'm really glad that this country took a step toward making sure everyone who wants to get married will be able to feel it too. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

you take the good, you take the bad

I know you have been worried about me. I'd be lying if I said the last month has been just fine. Last week we got several pieces of bad news concerning the health and happiness of people we really love, so that was actually the saddest I have been in years.

But I've also been happy: Jon and I went to a local Arboretum on a Thursday evening, as Ale had been suggesting for weeks. Jon and Madelyn have been making awesome sketches for Second City's Second City Shorts competition. Our nephew is such a light in our life; even though it's via camera, I think I love him more every time I hear his laugh. And my brother moved back home to Chicago.

*** 

Things have been completely nuts these past two weeks back at work--it took me almost three days just to get through my email. Our project was implemented more quickly than most companies do it, so there was a LOT to fix because we simply did not have the manpower or hours in the day to test it all before unleashing it out onto the public. Today I put in some 15 hours; I'm still spacing out a little and I want to be sure I'm pulling my weight.

But my coworkers really care about me. They had missed me, were hoping I was ok and valued my presence on the team.

*** 

I was in a car with my parents for 5+ hours on the drive to St. Louis to get my brother and his stuff, and my dad managed to still be critical of the 3.5-star hotel I got for a super deal.

But we had a smooth move and no one got hurt. And my brother is living in town...for now.

*** 

We had put in a bid on a house in March. It was a really great property for a great deal, but it was bank-owned and the bank did not want to pay the outstanding water and gas bills from the previous owners in order to let us have a full inspection. We just didn't feel comfortable buying it blind, so we yanked the deal.

But we started looking again and saw some places yesterday that were really nice. The one with the wow-did-a-tv-show-redo-this backyard was already under contract before we could put in a bid. It was on the market 8 days. Things are going fast, so we need to move quickly. But damn, that place was gorgeous.

*** 

I have been lying low about going out, only seeing people in small groups (or not at all because of work).

But my friend is getting married in a week and we're so happy for her. It'll be nice to see everyone. And dance.

*** 

Exactly a month ago today I was in the hospital going into labor knowing that we weren't going to get to go home with our baby. I'm starting to thaw out from the initial numbness and have been feeling my feelings way more lately, which is probably best. Today I had my first encounter with a person who lovingly asked about how the baby and I were doing, and I had to break the news over the phone. I felt terrible about how bad he felt. Another coworker posted about feeling her baby move for the first time, which I never got to experience. They had been trying to get pregnant for almost a decade and lost one pregnancy, so this even more extra special.

But I didn't cry.

*** 

My pregnancy buddy (who was due 3 weeks after we were) lost her baby, too. I cannot describe the level of OH NO I felt while racing over there to try and comfort her after she found out there was no heartbeat. I hate that we have this in common.

But she actually made ME feel better. Like us, she and her family were just hoping and praying for a healthy baby. Maybe the universe did this to us because our babies weren't healthy, in order to spare them any suffering. It makes me feel better to believe that.

*** 

It's not easy.

But it's getting better.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

normal

I'm supposed to go back to work tomorrow. The doctor says I'm physically back to normal and can resume regular activities. I am filled with panic--it feels like the first day at a completely new job, not one where photographs of my loved ones are hung up and fading and there's a stack of notebooks filled with my scrawly handwriting. I worry that I will continue to space out randomly throughout the day, but maybe I'm just spacing out because I've been watching redundant decorating shows (pergolas are the hottest in backyard landscape design right now).
 
More than anything, I'm terrified I will oversleep because I haven't been awake earlier than 10 a.m. (good day) and have stayed in bed until well past 3 p.m. (not such a great day). At every turn in my life, I have become more convinced that I was created to be nocturnal.

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts and beautiful wishes. I can't tell you how much it has meant to Jon and I to get a comment or text or card or flowers or hug.

Before all this happened I had a post in mind that seems ridiculous now, but here's the gist:

Back in 2009, when Jon and I got engaged, we didn't have any money because the condo had sucked away every last penny we had saved, so we kept telling people we weren't going to get married till 2013. We didn't have to wait that long, but when we did set a date for 2011, Jon wanted to ask some of his best friends from back home to stand up in our wedding in person. He went back to visit and it took some doing to coordinate a dinner where all of them would be present. He was still figuring out the best way to bring up the topic during the dinner when his friend Mike says to the table, "Guess what, guys; I proposed to S! Will you guys all stand up for me at our wedding?" Jon had to follow up with something along the lines of, "Hey, me too."

So when we got pregnant and waited the requisite 12 weeks to tell anyone, Jon was hemming and hawing over what to say when announcing the news to his friends when he got a text from Mike: "Guess what? S is pregnant!" She is due 5 days before when our baby was scheduled to be born.

Today we found out they're having a boy. I think they might feel a little weird talking to us about it, as just a few weeks ago S and I were comparing aches, pains, maternity clothes and ultrasound stuff, and now suddenly I'm out of the game. But we are very happy for them. Seeing other people's kids makes us more hopeful than sad.

What I'm wrestling with is that my physician basically said it wasn't hormones, it wasn't stress, there's nothing wrong with my body to have caused this, and that the pathologist said our baby had an acute infection. Whether that occurred before (to cause) the water breaking or in the three days after, they cannot determine. She essentially said for us to just contact them again if and when I get pregnant again. I like to have answers, a plan, a strategy for the possible next time. If I needed to stand on my head and do Kool-Aid shots, or withstand a lot more pain in order to prevent this from happening ever again, I would do it, without question. But not doing anything at all? That simply does not compute. Jon and pretty much everyone else regards this as fabulous news, but I can't help but worry.

I guess I just have to take it one day at a time, starting with tomorrow, when I really hope I heed the alarm.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

wherever you are

So it's been three weeks since this happened.

I haven't been back to work. The doctors gave me six weeks, but I didn't think I needed that long. I wanted to start work again this past Monday when Jon was going back, but I managed to catch some kind of respiratory virus that took away my voice and has left me coughing my lungs inside out. Plus there's post-pregnancy stuff happening physically, like achy pains and food coming out of me for a person who is not here to eat it. So maybe my body was telling me I needed a little more time.

For the last year, I yearned for a week at home with no responsibilities so I could do things like sew together the sweater I knit for our nephew that didn't get done by Christmas (which is fine, because he's still got a couple of years before he will be big enough to wear it) or finish a quilt I have all cut out for a friend whose child is already like 5 months old. I had even been dreaming of a week without new requests at work so I could finish all the half-completed tasks that keep getting shoved onto a back burner. Time to get our wedding album together, even. We already paid the pretty penny for it, but never signed off: I want to swap out some photos our photographer laid out (way too many shots of me). Coming up on our two-year anniversary, I don't know how our photographer will react if--and when--I redesign and ask him to change it.

But I didn't want that time like this. Never like this.

I need to take this empty, useless feeling and burn it into my heart to stop myself from ever wishing things were slow and dull so I could *do* stuff. Clearly I can only accomplish anything when my schedule is completely full. Not having anywhere to go apparently means sleep until 3 p.m. and watch television that I wouldn't be able to pass a quiz on a week later.

The thinking is what's really getting to me. I haven't had time alone for a long, long while, and generally I like it that way--the circus in my brain can sometimes be kind of scary. I'm trying to figure out what and why and how, and there are no answers.The only thing making this somewhat bearable is the love and support from family and friends.

In April, Ri and C's baby, Ari, turned a year old. I, in signature Cadiz fashion, couldn't get to the bookstore fast enough. I spent an entire afternoon in there, looking at every chewable board book that seemed entertaining. It is one of my favorite things to do. I walked out of there with an armful of books for Ari and one little book for our own baby.

At 17 weeks, a baby will be able to hear you, so it is encouraged that you talk, sing and read to them.

There were so many funny, cutesy books to choose from, but this is the one that I chose for our child's first book. Basically, it's about how no matter how old the baby is, where he or she may be, no matter the circumstances, my love will always find him or her. I rubbed my belly in the store and got teary-eyed. I couldn't have said it any better.

Yesterday would have been the 20-week mark of the pregnancy--we'd probably be having an ultrasound to finally find out the sex. But instead, I'm sitting here with this book, hoping that wherever our baby is, our love has indeed found its way there.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

we held our perfect child, long enough to say goodbye


The cruelest detail was that I didn't actually hear that strong, healthy heartbeat until after they told us there was nothing they could do to save our baby.

***

Last Saturday, I had severe low-back pain. I thought I might have hurt myself, even though I hadn't been lifting or straining. Sunday night I felt weird, crampy twinges, some so severe I had to kneel down on the floor. I've never been pregnant before, and have long been regarded as a weakling when it comes to pain, so I figured it was gas and told myself not to overdramatize. It wasn't at regular intervals, but it kept me awake. Granted, I hadn't been able to sleep until the sun came up for the previous few weeks anyway. Plus, I'd had an (informal, I have technologist friends) ultrasound just three days before that looked fantastic. While the techs didn't feel confident about the sex of the baby just yet, they assured me our child was healthy--and showed me four strong beating chambers on the screen. In fact, I even saw Baby drinking amniotic fluid and moving around like a champ.

***

Monday morning I went to the office at 7. Any other day I would have been inhaling Cheerios at that hour. My mom recommended I call the doctor, but I got the answering service. I planned to call right when they opened at 8 a.m. Unfortunately, I had staggering--apparently they were contractions--pain and my water broke at 7:50. Just like the movies; a weird pop and a torrent of warm fluid. I can't get that horrible sensation out of my memory. And even though I'm pretty angry at God right now, I am so thankful this didn't happen while I was alone, especially while driving.

A coworker friend drove me to the Emergency Department and I called Jon to say he needed to leave work immediately and be with me in the ER. He didn't buy my fake-cool voice. I can only imagine the terrors going through his mind during that 40-minute drive.

The doctor did a check and said the outlook was extremely grim. Essentially, at 17 weeks our baby's lungs weren't developed enough to sustain him/her outside the womb. And on the inside, the child needed plenty of amniotic fluid to breathe, protect him/her as well as to continue lung development. Sadly, there was probably only a teaspoon or two of amniotic fluid left. And they didn't think it would last. If our baby would have been at least 24 weeks, he/she would have had a much better chance of making it on the outside.

***

For whatever reason, at the 14-week doctor's-office ultrasound, I couldn't distinctly hear the heartbeat. Jon and the doctor did, as well as my mom and dad with my brother's special stethoscope, but I just never felt confident I'd heard it and that made me sad. However, when they took me from the ER to Labor and Delivery and checked for fetal heart tones, it couldn't have been clearer: 165-170 bpm. A healthy rate for a 17-week baby in utero. That was devastating.

***

All the medical professionals were strongly encouraging Jon and I to consent to induce labor and deliver the baby. They worried I'd get an infection that could threaten my life or ability to have more children. While they never say "zero" or "one hundred percent," Baby's chances to make it were as close to zero as they could estimate. Hearing that right after such a strong heartbeat was excruciating. I was lost, but Jon was unwavering; we were absolutely not going to give up on a kid that wasn't giving up on us. They respected our decision but said they'd move ahead if I showed any signs of infection.

This continued for two days. They kept checking the heartbeat, which continued strong and thus became increasingly unbearable to hear. The baby apparently found a tiny pocket of fluid on my right side and was hanging in there, fighting it out. I was trying my best not to move and lose another drop of fluid for my kid. Everyone that came in the room already had that horrible, pitying look in their eyes.

***

On Tuesday evening, contractions started again and we stopped checking for heart tones. I am so thankful the universe made that decision for us, because Jon and I could not have lived with ourselves if it happened any other way. Regardless, we weren't going to get the baby, and if the placenta didn't come along when I delivered, I'd have to have surgery to remove it. So I consented for an epidural.

At 1:50 a.m. Wednesday May 22, our beautiful baby was born. From the look of it, our child was fighting to breathe until the very second it came into the world. Everything was perfect, from each little finger and toe to the cute little nose--which Jon swears looks just like mine. The mouth is definitely Muller. He/she was curled up and looked peacefully asleep.

My mom, dad, brother and Madelyn were all there, and most of them held our baby. It was tough watching them looking down at the little one. At 7 inches and 4.25 ounces, he or she was measuring tall, which I have to say is a little surprising. Baby was about the size of the doctor's hand.

But the absolute worst was watching Jon. He'd developed a fever, was shaking with the chills and was pacing around like a maniac until the baby came. I've wanted to be a mother since my high school babysitting days, but Jon was born to be a father. My already broken heart was completely crushed when I heard that he was cradling our baby and singing to him or her.

 The smudge on the left is a handprint.

No one knows why or how this happened. Not yet, anyway.

Apparently this is called Pre-term Premature Rupture of Membranes (PPROM) and it occurs in 2 percent of all pregnancies. If we were further along, perhaps something could have been done to save our child. Perhaps not. The maternal fetal medicine doctor says the membrane sac is extremely strong--experiments have been done where they drop cannonballs on it and they just bounce off. But no one knows why some can weaken and break. In my case, it wasn't a small hole, it was a blowout--impossible to put back together, even if the science had been there.

We have been researching this and there is all sorts of speculation, such as Baby had some kind of virus or infection that didn't show by making me sick, or a signal from either one of our brains telling my body he or she was ready to come out, inducing labor. The doctors were very clear that even though they will be testing the baby (including chromosome, which will finally tell us the sex), there's a very good chance we will never know how it happened.

***

Baby was cremated at a local funeral home and we will be taking him or her to two special resting places (one here and one in California) as soon as we decide where those should be. My parents handled all of that business. I've always been grateful for the love we have from family and friends, but at times like these, that support is pretty much what is helping Jon and I get to the next day. We haven't wanted to see anyone, but knowing people care give us strength.

***

It's so hard to describe what we're feeling (here's a link to Jon's post about this). The second I felt that gush of fluid, something in my mind snapped and sort of turned off. I am terrified of what will happen when it turns on again. Jon says that there was nothing we could have done better or differently these last four months. When I show signs of cracking, he is adamant: Yes, I was working a lot, but he's not wrong when he says my coming home and leaving my coworkers there to continue would have caused me far more stress than just putting in the 70+ hours a week. I'm not sure other people in our lives are as convinced as my husband, including myself. But I will have to learn to live with that. I hope I am able.

I am so grateful that our little one no longer has to suffer. There are few things worse than holding your child and knowing he or she will never take another breath. I wouldn't wish that upon anyone.