Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Week 20: Sticks and stones

I think the theory of reincarnation goes something like this: if you're a good person, say your prayers every day, never steal, lie, or cheat, do for others, and never ask for a thing in return, when you die, you'll come back as a University of Georgia freshman during football season.
If you don't, when you die, you'll come back as a perpetually pregnant woman on the evening news, and everyone can share their opinions on what you look like over dinner. 

Okay, this analogy is a little extreme, but you get the point. Being pregnant is already one of the most emotional, insecure times of your life. Am I gaining too much weight? Am I gaining enough weight? Is my bump too high? Is my bump too low? Are these breakouts ever going to end? Is this pregnancy making my hair dull? Why are my nail beds doing this weird thing? 

Now, throw yourself in front of a camera that adds 20 pounds every night, find clothes that not only fit, but also don't make you look like a whale, and cake on enough hair and makeup products twice a day to moonlight as a Las Vegas showgirl, and you'll understand where I'm coming from. 

Most days, nothing would please me more than staying in my stretchy maternity yoga pants, not a hint of makeup on my face, a bucket of fried chicken in my lap, watching Gossip Girl reruns, trying to calculate the last day I washed my hair like it's an advanced Calculus equation. 

But, I picked a career that doesn't exactly allow for that. There are no 'ponytail' days. Don't get me wrong. I love my job. Absolutely love it. My husband once told my boss, every night when I come home, and he asks how my day was, more days than not, I say, "It was so great!" Not, "I survived," or "Ughh...don't even ask," but 'GREAT.' He told her as long as that was the case, he would do everything he could to support my career since I loved it so much. (Yes, ladies...he's real. And, he's taken...) 

BUT, that doesn't mean I don't have bad work days. 

Yesterday, was a bad work day. I checked my voicemail (hoping it was a great story tip...) No such luck. Instead, I heard this peach of a woman on the other end. 
"Please go to Target and buy some decent maternity clothes so you don't walk around looking like you got a watermelon strapped under your too tight outfits. Target's got a great line of maternity clothes in case you've never heard of such a thing. You're getting to where you're being disgusting on the TV."

So, the thick skinned journalist in me who knows better than to give comments like this a second thought says, delete the voicemail and move on. 

Unfortunately, I'm pregnant, hormonal, currently not allowed to drink wine, and feeling extra in touch with my feminist side. 

Here's the stream of consciousness I went through: 

Did she just call a pregnant person disgusting? What kind of...
I am only at week 20 of this? Am I going to have to deal with this crap another 20 weeks? Should I have my consultant or my boss call her and tell her tailored, form fitting clothes look way better on air than baggy ones, especially when pregnant? Is that a WOMAN who called me?!? Is she a MOTHER?!?!? The freaking nerve...
Do I really look disgusting? What outfit is she talking about? Why did she call on Friday, I wasn't even working Friday....did she boil over this all week and wait until I was off to leave me a voicemail? Oh crap, am I tearing up at my desk? NOT here. And, NOT over this. This lady doesn't deserve to get a rise out of  me. Does she know that I'm wearing maternity clothes? What does she want me to wear, a moo moo from the 50's? Does she know this is 2017? WHY DID SHE CALL ME?! And, why can I not stop thinking about this?! Hmm...bless her heart...

So then, I went to our archives to see what could have possibly revolted her enough to find our number, call us, sit through a phone tree, find my extension, and leave me a rude voicemail. Here's my past week's worth of on-air outfits: 
Most of the time, I keep my hands crossed in front of my belly.
  Maybe she doesn't like when I stand at the wall??

 This angle, I move my arms out of the way of the bump...maybe this? 

You get the picture. But, this lady really got me thinking...

I consider myself a confident, pretty secure, independent, woman. Why was I letting this one ridiculous, negative comment ruin my whole day? I've gotten dozens of compliments from viewers saying nice things about my pregnancy, why was this the one that stuck? 

I don't really have an answer. If I did, I could probably solve the world's bullying problem. But, that whole saying our moms taught us about sticks and stones is kind of garbage. In fact, sometimes, I think words hurt far worse than sticks. And right now, we are living in a culture tolerating, often even encouraging bullies. Politicians, angry Democrats and Republicans, anonymous keyboard warriors, social media bullies....How do we teach our kids to be kind when adults all around them can say such cruel things? 

It worries me. Right now, I can protect this sweet little boy. But, I won't always be able to. I certainly don't want him to dwell on the negative things insecure people are bound to say about him.

So, ​I think instead of letting this lady get me down, I'm just going to turn her negative energy into positive energy. I'm going to say as many nice things as I can to as many people as I can, and I'm going to do it in a dress that fits these beautiful new curves with my 'watermelon' stomach showing. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 19: Worry Tetris

Envision a calendar with the most important days color coded. Today has been circled in red, highlighted, with little sticker stars, for months. Granted, that's all purely ceremonial, because there's no way I would forget this appointment. Today was our 19 week anatomy scan. The same scan that turned our world upside down back in October.

So, this day has meant a lot to me for a long time. I've tried hard not to put it on too tall of a pedestal, but in the back of my mind, I've known for months, if I can get past this scan and know everything is okay, it would be a huge weight off my worried shoulders. 

We get to the appointment, and in terms of doctor's office waits, this was like the express lane of medical care. And, if you've ever frequented doctor's offices, you know, that's a rare, beautiful gift. 

For a person who can be so direct as a reporter, I am really terrible at telling people what I need. I should have asked the sonogram tech to talk us through what she was doing. But, no. I'm a polite masochist. So, I just sat there on the table quietly playing worry Tetris in my brain. 

As soon as one worry hole was filled, the blocks would keep tumbling faster until I worked myself into an anxious tear-tizzy, certain her silence meant only terrible things. Turns out, it meant she was just busy doing her job, measuring 124,596 tiny little organs and features on our 12 ounce baby. Everything was great. Heartbeat: great. Brain scan: great. Legs and arms? All there and accounted for. Spine? Straight as an arrow. Measurements? Ahead of the curve. Measuring 20 weeks. 

Relief. Jeez. Like Niagara Falls bursting through a beaver dam. So, after the serious scanning was over, we got to watch him in 4D for a bit rolling around and giving us a cute little thumbs up, kicking his long (perfect) legs...

...holding the bridge of his nose... 

And, this is where our worry Tetris picks up its game. 

He finally moves his cute little hand to reveal his nose...

Is that his nose?! Because let me tell you, that nose doesn't look like my nose or his dad's nose. It looks like Rudolph and Pinocchio had a love child. I mean, a very cute love child, but still...

The sonogram tech says, "He'll grow into it..." That sounds a lot like something people tell you when they're thinking, YIKES?! 

Of course I instantly flash back to everything I was ever teased about in school, and all I can think about is how cruel kids (and adults for that matter) can be. Then, my face splashed across a headline 'Local news anchor arrested for threatening child on playground who teased son.' 

I teared up a few times on the way out of the doctor's office, and I couldn't decide if it was relief that our little one was healthy, worry over his nose, embarrassment over the shallowness of crying about a nose, hormones, or a combo platter. Austin and I shared a lot of nervous giggles about 'nose-gate' at lunch and on the way home. But, the undertone of the laugh was very clearly, but what if it IS really that big?!?!

I watched the video the sonogram tech gave us with Austin, slowed it down, paused it, inspected it from all angles. I mean, he is a cherub. Look at this? Even in claymation view weighing in at 12 ounces, he's adorable:

There is literally ONE four second clip from ONE angle that his nose appears to be a costume piece borrowed from the goblins at Gringott's bank, but is that stopping me from worrying? Of course not. 

Image result for harry potter goblins

One of my best friends pointed out that none of the 2D sonogram pictures of his profile show any crazy nose action, but does that stop me from worrying? Of course not. 

Google was my friend today, though, because apparently a lot of women have this same concern after seeing 4-D images. Since you're taking pictures INSIDE of a human stomach INSIDE of a uterus THROUGH a gallon of fluid, they aren't perfect images. Features can be distorted. Different angles and shadows can play tricks. This early, they can quite literally grow into their features since he has no fat yet. One lady says her son was born with an enormous nose, and now, at age 2, it's completely proportional, etc. etc.

But, tonight at dinner, my husband and I laughed (I cried) so hard at how much things could change in such a short time. We are so freaking lucky to be able to worry about this poor child's nose structure. I mean, in the scheme of things, that is such a non-issue. I know over his life, I am going to worry about 99,999,999 things, and right now, we're worried he may pick up part time work as an ant-eater or training bomb sniffing dogs. But, I bet he'll be the most loved ant eater there ever was! 

And if he's healthy, happy, and loved, then being able to smell roses from 5 miles away will just be a bonus feature for us to love that much more. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Week 13: 'Red Barbie Corvette' kind of joy

We've been hoping for a surprise free, boring pregnancy, but this past week we got a big surprise, fortunately, the good kind!

I'd been a little nervous for the emotions of this Mother's Day. It should've been my first one as a new mother, posting too many pictures on social media with a new baby. I just never know when a wave of 'what-ifs' and emotions will hit me, you know? But, this week didn't disappoint. Instead of looking back, it's been a week full of hope, new firsts, and looking forward. 

I have been so anxious and nervous waiting for our week 12 sonogram. The night before, I barely slept. My nerves were so shot by the time I got to the waiting room, I think I read the same article in People 4 times, and I still couldn't tell you when George and Amal's twins are actually due. (Although I do remember their romantic trip to Paris was everything Hollywood dreams are made of....swoon, but not the point.) 

We finally made it back to the sonogram room. I was biting my tongue to stifle the worry-tears before I even sat on the table. Hormones are the worst. Mercifully, our sonogram tech was amazing, and she got straight to business. We heard that familiar fast paced 'whoosh' sound that meant I could exhale the breath I'd been holding since I last heard a heart beat on week 8. 

And, the relief and the joy of that next 15 or so minutes...there aren't even words! I mean like, Christmas morning of 1994, the 'Christmas of the red Barbie Corvette convertible' levels of joy. Our little one was putting on a SHOW! Rolling around, kicking what right now appear to be my bird legs, a tiny little profile with the cutest nose that to me, looks like a carbon copy of my husband's. 

The sonogram tech asked us if we were planning to find out the sex, and we said yes. She said, 'I can tell you today if you want?' 

WHAT?! I had no idea that was possible at 12 weeks. I had not in any way mentally prepared for this, but our little one was measuring a little ahead and must be in the perfect position, because the sonogram was clear as a bell. She pointed to the screen and says--"Only one thing would be sticking out right there." I said, "So it could be a boy?" She said, "No, it IS a boy." 

Shocked. I was shocked. My whole life, I've wanted a little boy first. Of course, that all changed when we lost our little girl in October. I'm not going to lie, I had really been hoping for a girl this time, too. My husband and I both had. But, as soon as she pointed to that screen, and my brain made since of it all, I was in. Completely wrapped around that little boy's finger. There were already dinosaurs and Tonka trucks, super hero capes and little league games playing out in my head. And, the happy tears choking up my husband's voice were all I needed to know he was in love, too. A healthy baby boy.

I've never been able to identify ANYTHING in a sonogram before. I've looked at dozens and mistaken the legs for the head before. I've oohed and ahhhed at what could have been a fuzzy picture of a frog for all I knew, but this was OUR baby, and I could tell exactly what was happening on the screen every time he rolled, his little back facing us, his legs kicking out. I mean, he was just a 2D gray and white silhouette, but I swear he's the cutest thing I've ever seen. I dare Amal and George's twins to rival our baby's sonogram. 

And guess what? Our child is already a prodigy. At just 13 weeks old, our baby is already giving his mom Mother's Day presents. Just when I was thinking Mother's Day weekend couldn't get much better (no nausea on Saturday, my best friend mailed me an adorable onesie, and Austin got me a pre-natal massage gift certificate and indulged my pregnancy craving for PF Chang's and a chick flick) I was midway through my Chang's Spicy Chicken when I felt what seemed like the longest bout of stomach growling I've ever had. But, since I was shoving my face full of gooey chicken, and clearly no longer hungry, I put two and two together..."I think the baby is moving." 

After trying to decipher the morse code happening in my stomach for the remainder of the meal, I convinced myself, nah, maybe that's not it.

Well, today in Lowe's...I had the same feeling! I think I can feel him moving already! Or 'quickening' as Google tells me they call it. How perfect is that? On Mother's Day? Now, if this next six months could 'quicken,' so I could meet our little angel. I can't wait!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 9: How many are in there?

So I'm getting too big too early to hide this secret any longer, but I've never really liked secrets anyway....

I'm only 9 weeks, but I look like I'm 15-20!! This was taken during week 7...yeah...I know...They say you show earlier after your first pregnancy, but DANG?!?!

The good news, there's only one in there. I was pretty convinced between my ravenous appetite and bulging belly that I was having a litter until the sonogram. And let me tell you about this sonogram...

I knew I was going to be nervous to make sure everything was okay, but pregnancy hormones and emotions decided to make this a 'next level' experience. The poor sonogram tech didn't know what she was getting into. 

As soon as I laid down on that table in a dark room, the flash backs to the last time I was in that position were all a little too real. Instant waterworks. And hearing the words, "Everything looks good! There's only one in there. Here's the head, arm buds...heart beat.Heart beat looks strong..." As much as I've reasoned with myself that it's all going to be okay, or that it's okay if it's not all okay, whatever Psychology 101 I've decided to dose myself with that week, I just wasn't prepared. I couldn't get a grip. Ugly sobs. 

My husband asked if they were happy tears. My first instinct was to say, yes, the absolute happiest of tears! But, along with salt water and hormones there was so much fear, uncertainty, relief, and hope in those tears, I feel like it wouldn't do them justice to call them 'happy tears.' 

But along with uncontrollable emotions, heartburn, and constant nausea, Holy. Exhaustion. 

Remember the Secret World of Alex Mack? For those of you NOT raised in the 90's, this girl nearly gets hit by a Mack truck full of chemicals and somehow, is able to turn into a Capri-Sun package looking puddle of goo and slide around and then morph back into herself when she feels like it. (It was the 90s, just go with it...) 

Well, that's the best comparison I can give you for how I feel right now. The only difference is it feels like the truck DID hit me, and the only place I slide when I feel like that puddle of goo is into my bed. 

I was tired the last time around, but this is next level. The timing probably isn't helping anything. Last week was our busiest week of the year at work...Masters week. And, this year, we got a double dose with two separate days of tornado-spawning severe weather tacked on. 

I once came into work with a kidney infection and bronchitis, but I was so tired, nauseous and capri-sun-puddley on Tuesday, I took a half day. THAT is the level of exhaustion I'm talking about. 

Thursday...I woke up after 8 hours of sleep to go to the gym. Realized it was just too daunting. Snoozed for another 30. Went to the gym. Left after 45 minutes because I was too tired. Showered. Napped...because showers are exhausting. Went to a board meeting. Came home. Napped for an hour and a half. Drug myself to work...still exhausted. Napped for 30 more minutes on my dinner break. And, I was still tired when my head finally hit the bed. 

But, I promised myself I would appreciate the 'process' of pregnancy more this time around, so that's enough whining...at least for this one blog post. 

Which means I'm out of things to say.

But, did I mention? We're pregnant! There aren't enough words in the English language to express how thankful I am. All-day sickness, exhaustion, weight gain, and all. I'll take it. 

Week 4: Bug on a windshield

I want to shout this and whisper it at the exact same time.....we're pregnant! 

So, I'm basically doing this strange dance of being so grateful and thankful and excited, while at the same time, trying to convince myself it's no big deal. 

The best comparison I have is a really bad, soul crushing break up. Then, a little time goes by, and you get up the courage to have a crush on someone else, but you're terrified to fall in love again for fear of getting crushed like a bug on a windshield. 

Meet me. The bug. 

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post. And, a good bit has happened. For one, we got test results back that told me I have a pretty common gene mutation called MTHFR (yeah, that's exactly what I said when I heard about it...with a few more vowels.) (Some estimates say 40-60% of the population may have it). If I went into the science of it, your eyes would surely glaze over. Because mine have. Several times. 

But in lay man's terms, it means my body can't process folic acid properly. So, even though I was taking it every day, my baby was getting very little, if any of it. 

So the good news, we have a thing that I can point to and say, okay. We can fix this. I just take a prenatal vitamin with the form of folic acid that's already broken down and a couple of folic acid supplements a day, and voila! 

Now, my doctor can't point to this and say 100% this is what caused me to have such a late miscarriage. But, it's a strong possibility, and also helps my sanity to have something to *fix*, to do differently than the last time. 

​One thing I hate, is the innocence is gone for me. The innocence of that first pregnancy, the hope that everything will be alright...that's gone. And in it's place is a lot of prayers, an abundance of caution, and a constant tennis match of logic going on in my head. 

And, I do not like 'worry-wart' Laura. I much prefer care-free, spontaneous, kick your shoes off Laura. 

A day or two after we got the first positive pregnancy test, Austin was asking me how I was feeling. I responded honestly...excited, but trying not to be too excited quite yet. He  was like, well, I totally get that. But, are you going to not be excited until after first trimester? But we made it past that the last time....so 18 weeks? Until the baby is born? Then for the rest of its life, because something bad could always happen? 

And $h!t! He's right. He's so right. And not just about this baby, but about anything in life. Something bad could always happen. But, waiting on the other shoe to drop isn't any way to live a life. So, I guess I'm just going to go all in. 

I'm not going to make any hard and fast rules, because I know some days I'm going to be as nervous as my Meme in a thunderstorm, and look up every terrible scenario ever typed into the Google search bar. But, I'm excited. And, I'M PREGNANT!!! I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow or 6 months from now or 10 years down the road, but life is too short to just dip a toe in the water. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"How are you doing?"

There is never a simple answer. 

It depends on what minute of the day you're talking about. I would say, I'm good 75-85% of the day. But, every day, something reminds me of my new reality. 

Maternity clothes delivered the day I got home from the hospital. The news so fresh even Amazon Prime couldn't pump the brakes fast enough. 

The next morning, a barrage of e-mails and app alerts about what size my baby should be, since we marked her weekly milestones every Sunday. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an 'unsubscribe from all my future plans' button. 

Then there's social media. Do I even have to explain the Facebook effect at this point?

Worse, the ads. My Meme always says, 'I don't trust a phone smarter than I am.' Well, I sort of get it now. Since the internet can serve up ads catered to your every search history impulse, I'm constantly getting alerts about what crib I should buy. The internet won't let me forget the nursery I had planned, the maternity style I dreamed of, or the sweet little outfit I would bring our baby girl home in. 

The first trip back to the gym, when spandex reminded me I definitely was not pregnant anymore. 

The sad eyes at the grocery store, gym, gas station, the ones I imagine in my head, and the 'I'm praying for you's' which mean so much, but also make me tear up. 

Getting on a scale. The only time in the history of my life I wish the numbers were higher, and the little gasp I let out was a reminder of a plus one on board.  

My masochistic habit of sneaking into what would have been her nursery to look at her cute little clothes she'll never wear folded up in a drawer. 

My check-up visit to my doctor. Walking in those same hospital doors again. Seeing a happy family get into a car to leave at the exact same spot I did, except instead of a dazed look and swollen, red eyes, they had balloons and two tiny bundles. 

Some days, I think I'm almost 'normal,' again, and wham. 

I think the hardest part is not being able to out think it. Austin is constantly giving me the reassurance I need. I know the stages of grief. I know I never actually met this tiny person. I know I have dealt with loss and grief before. I know we are young and can try again. I know there was probably something wrong, which is why my body did what it was supposed to do. I know late miscarriage is very unlikely to happen a second time. I know my hormones are partly to blame. I know 'at least we were able to get pregnant.' I know a lot of people are fighting much harder battles. I know God has a plan. I know time heals all wounds. I know it all. 

Which is why I can't believe how hard this has been. 

And why, if you are going through this, you need to know, you are not crazy, and you most certainly are not alone. 

There has been such a weight lifted by hearing other family's stories. It's been such a blessing to hear so many of your stories. I know it's not a luxury a lot of families going through this get, which is why I want to share them with you: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pCqFcJLq1tV5KLeuMCZxC9Y53ZMTZtuX5cgmPxWdRfo/edit?usp=sharing

All of that being said, I have learned the toughest lessons and the biggest blessings somehow come from the worst of times. I have never hugged my husband tighter, told him I loved him more, or felt his love more than I have in these past few weeks. 

We've planned impromptu trips. We've talked about love and life. We've counted the many blessings we have and thanked God for the friends we are lucky to call ours. We've thought twice about sweating the small stuff. And, we've prioritized what we want in life.

I've learned grief isn't a competition and each person feels, deals, and heals differently. And, that's okay. 

It's not a lesson I want to be taught twice, and I'm sure the lesson isn't over. The strangest part, writing this and reflecting, I think something my husband said the other day hits the nail on the head. He said, "I think we needed this." And I knew exactly what he meant. Not the pain, but the reality check.

Life isn't perfect. But it is so, so precious.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week 18: That look.

It was supposed to be a great day. We hadn't seen our little sweet potato since she was 8 weeks old, when she was too small to see anything but an assurance that this was all real. (An assurance that looked more like a kidney bean at the time than a baby). 

The day was FINALLY here for our 18 week sonogram. We'd get to see her moving around and check all of her organs and see her little arms and legs. 

But, then. That look.  

It's the look a doctor gave me and my mom when they told us there wasn't anything more they could do for my dad. 

It's the look the hospice nurse gave us when they told us just to make my Papa comfortable.

It's the look my dad gave me when he told me my Uncle David took his own life. 

And it's the same look my doctor gave when she came into the sonogram room, after the sonogram tech was gone way too long. 

'There's no heartbeat.'

'She's only measuring 15 weeks.'

'You see this tissue here, it's what happens when, I hate to say it, but decay sets in.'

'I'm so, so, sorry.'

All these phrases, these horrific memories, keep bouncing around my head like something I watched in a movie, or something I read in a book that was so vividly written, I got sucked in and lost in it. 

But, how? I followed so many rules. We took the extra prenatal chromosome tests. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage. We made it all the way to nearly 19 weeks. And now? Is it something I did? Is it something I didn't do? 

And now, it's not just her heart that's broken, it's a trail of hearts. My heart. Her daddy's heart. Her grandparents' hearts. 

It just seems so unfair. 

Ironically, just last week, I was having a conversation with a coworker about life not being fair. And what age you come to realize that it's just not sometimes. He's trying to make his kids understand that, and it's tough. (Of course, we were talking about something stupid like overtime or comp days that seems utterly insignificant now, but hey. Two lessons for the price of one.) But it turns out, I'm still learning that tough lesson. 

But, I have quickly learned, as lonely as this feels, we are not alone. Within hours of our loss, I found out some of the people I'm closest to in the world have experienced this same loss. Some of them personally, some of them have parents with these stories, friends, or siblings. I would have never known. Miscarriage is not something people talk about. It took me one Google search to realize that. 

I have always been a big believer in fate and God's master plan. And, what I keep circling back around to, sometimes, there just aren't any answers to the questions you need answers to most. And that's where your reasoning has to let go and your faith has to pick up. 

So that's what I'm doing. I'm letting faith step in. I'm letting myself be sad for a while. I'm leaning on my friends and family and letting them help when they ask if we need help. 

And, most of all, I'm amazed at the power of love. How much love I could have for someone I never even met. How much love I could be blessed with coming from friends and family. 

And most of all, the love I couldn't even fully understand yet when I married my best friend. 

I'm reminded of that love about every five minutes during this grief process. 

I will never forget being in a puddle of tears in my doctor's office, about ten minutes after we got the news, looking at him, wondering how he could even look at me. Asking how he could ever look at me the same again after this? 

Austin looked at me and said, "I'm so in love with you. And we are going to get through this together. And we are only going to come through this stronger. The only outcome is me loving you even more."

It's the kind of love it takes to be the rock when I know he feels like going to pieces along with me. The kind of love it takes to never leave my side through a delivery neither of us ever dreamed we'd have to endure. 

And, now as we piece this broken puzzle back together, it's knowing how much love we will have to give when the time is right again to grow our family. Because we know this is not the end. It's just another new beginning.