Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's a....


We went in for the 20 week anatomy scan on Wednesday. It was pretty clear pretty quickly that it's a baby boy growing in there! We got to watch him wiggle and squirm for awhile while the tech took all his measurements. We even got to see him with the 3D ultrasound to get a pic of his little face and hands! Then the doctor came in and said, "Everything looks great....That's pretty much all there is to say." Which was all I wanted to hear. So far, so good! We talked about the plan for the future, which will include another check up at Maternal Fetal Medicine at 24 weeks, and then weekly biophysical profiles starting at 28 weeks. He said the chance of stillbirth after a normal BPP is 1/1000. While we already know the odds have not played in our favor historically, this will provide reassurance from week to week. I'll most likely be induced between 38-39 weeks if everything goes well until then.

This is great news, and we have been happy all week because of it. I feel baby boy move pretty regularly (several times a day), which also provides reassurance. There is some level of frustration,  however, which is that if we had been monitored this closely with Sloane, the chances are that she would be here. If we had a BPP at our last appointment with her (4 days before I went into labor), the chances seem to be that they would have caught it. Maybe not-but she would have had a better chance. Which then leads me to think, why aren't ALL pregnancies treated as high risk? Obviously some women would not want that, and that's fine, but some would. And let's be honest- pregnancy and prenatal development are a high risk situation, just by nature of what they are. There's a lot going on in not a lot of time and a billion things that can go wrong. Does it really have to take a baby dying to get monitoring to make sure that the next baby doesn't die? Obviously, I'm not the kind of friend you want to have when you're pregnant, because I can be a tad fatalistic and doomsday. But, we will try and keep focusing on the here and now, which is that as of right now, baby is healthy, strong, and alive.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Baby L #2: 20 weeks

We find out the sex of baby L #2 tomorrow!

So many people have been so excited for this appointment tomorrow. Excited to the point that they remember when the appointment is weeks or days after I tell them. Maybe these are all just exceptionally thoughtful people, but I do not remember when my own appointments if they aren't in my calendar, let alone someone else's appointments. People are good.

Having other people be excited about finding out the sex, and being excited in general for this baby, is slowly starting to creep into my own emotions. It has been really hard for me to start to accept that this pregnancy may have a different outcome than my pregnancy with Sloane, and I definitely have not totally accepted that yet. But the more people that are purely excited, the more I start to think that there must be something to their excitement. If so many people can think that I will walk away from this with a healthy baby, then maybe, just maybe, I actually will. If so many people can assume that pregnancy leads to a living baby, then maybe it will for me, just once. While I know better than most that a healthy pregnancy does not always lead to a healthy baby, maybe I can be one of the majority this time around.

I'm not sold yet, but I'm entertaining the thought.

I can't say I am necessarily excited to find out the sex tomorrow. I honestly do not care if it is a boy or girl-either outcome would be accompanied by its own set of feelings. But I am excited to see this babe wiggle and squirm again, and find out if everything is developing ok. That's what gets me excited these days, being reassured that everything looks healthy and normal. And finding out how much monitoring I will have as the pregnancy progresses. No doctor can tell me either of those things enough. So hopefully tomorrow will be a good day!

Baby L #2: 14 Weeks

Written October 16, 2015 and saved until now...

August 15, 2015. 

I think this picture does a pretty good job of capturing the moment. At a hotel in Franklin, TN, I took a pregnancy test. Not the first, but hopefully the last for some time. As I sat waiting for the result, my mind raced with a million thoughts. If it was negative again, I would be so disappointed. But if it was positive, would I really be able to cope with the anxiety that would follow? Was I ready to start this journey again? When I saw that positive result, I felt immediate relief, followed by panic. What a relief to be done with the TTC journey, and what panic to be starting the PAL journey. I showed the test to Josh, who responded with pure excitement, and then I started crying. It was a beautiful, exciting, and nerve-wracking moment.

Since then, I have had 3 doctor's appointments with my midwife which have included 2 ultrasounds, and then 1 ultrasound for the 1st trimester screen. Everything has looked great. At each appointment, hearing the heartbeat has provided immediate, albeit short-lived, relief. Within a few days, I go back to wondering and assuming if this baby has died without me knowing it. I tend to err on the assumption that this is the case, because there is not much anyone could do at this point in the pregnancy even if something went wrong. That may seem fatalistic, but it definitely seems easier to assume the worst and then be pleasantly surprised than to assume everything is fine and have your world crash down. I've done the second path, so I figure I will try the first path this time.

Most of the time, it is easy to forget that I am pregnant. I am just starting to show, I feel fine, it is too early to feel the baby move, and not many people know. This is my typical means of coping, to forget momentarily. Because of this, the struggle has been how to bond and make memories with this pregnancy while still protecting my heart that the worst may happen. I don't think there is an answer to this question. I think it will be a daily struggle until this baby comes out.
There are glimpses of hope though. A friend gave us a present for this baby this week, and my Human Resources person talked about next summer when I will be home with my baby. I let myself look at baby clothes online once, and even ordered some maternity clothes. It seems foreign and strange when other people talk so surely of my future with this child-we still have a long 25 weeks to go and a lot can go wrong in that time. But it is also a nice reminder that maybe things will work out. Things have to work out how you want them to at some point, right?

Telling people I am pregnant has gotten easier. At first, it felt strange to hear their excitement. For while I feel excited, it is definitely not the only emotion I feel. It is getting easier to hear excitement though. I am remembering that this is how most people react to the news of a pregnancy, not with fear and trepidation.

We are doing ok. We will keep hanging on from one appointment to the next.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

#NILMDTS Virtual 5k

The organization that took pictures of Sloane when she was born is called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. It is a group founded in Colorado (because all good things originate in Colorado) to help families who have lost a baby, specifically through providing pictures of the baby at no charge. Photographers volunteer for the organization and are called when a baby dies to see if they are available. Luckily, a saint of a photographer was available the morning after Sloane was born and captured some truly beautiful photos of her and of us. Many I have shared previously, but more are shown below.

We were able to have all of the photos edited on a disc and mailed to us within a few weeks of losing Sloane. We had some printed, which are now displayed in our home. We made photo books, which have provided peace and comfort over the year. I even had a friend give me a locket with 2 of these photos inside. Most importantly, they allow those precious moments that we had with Sloane to be remembered more easily than if we relied solely on our memories. They also allow us to share her with others more easily. 

Every year, NILMDTS does a remembrance walk. While I would love to be in Colorado for the walk, this year they did a "virtual 5k," meaning anyone could participate wherever they live. We met up with a few incredibly supportive friends this morning and enjoyed each other's company in the beautiful fall weather. Afterwards, there was a program broadcast online from Colorado. 

It was a beautiful way to remember and honor Sloane while supporting an organization that is near to our hearts and will provide comfort to other families who experience similar situations to ours. We can't get through anything alone, and having a community of friends locally and a community of others with similar experiences long distance has helped us along our journey. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl-- Ragnar Race Recap

This weekend has been a whirlwind. I am currently laying on the couch with aching legs and a full heart, longing to relive this whirlwind weekend. Which I will do through a post :)

Josh and I decided to do the Washington DC Ragnar Relay in early May. We saw it was on Sloane's birthday, and ever since she died, we had wanted to do something with the term "Strides for Sloane." After 8 months, we found the perfect opportunity to honor her, remember her, and celebrate her. Ragnar Relays are 12 person, 200 mile overnight relays. So we found 10 other crazy people that captured many different areas of our lives, and we had our Ragnar team. The team included people we know from church, mountain biking, Mississippi, grad school, and high school.
The girls on the team
Josh and I trained all summer in the Mississippi heat with 2-a-days, humidity, and hills. But we knew it was for Sloane, so it wasn't that bad. Planning for the event and training for it gave me something positive to look forward in connection with her birthday--a day that could have been terrible, ridden with anxiety and reliving nightmares.

As the event got closer, my mind was consumed with preparation and last minute details. Despite a few emergencies and changes, it seemed like everything was coming together-except the weather. Reports of Hurricane Joaquin had been coming in all week, and it was unsure what impact that would play on travel and racing. The DC Ragnar Facebook page blew up with everyone wondering what would happen (MITZI!).

After months of excited anticipation, Thursday afternoon, October 1, finally came. We ended up being able to borrow two vehicles, a Ford Transit van and a Toyota Sequoia. A huge blessing thanks to incredible people! Both vehicles left between 4-5pm, with 11/12 teammates between the two. The Sequoia picked up teammate 12 in Baltimore, with both vehicles arriving to Cumberland, MD near the start around 9pm. The team met altogether for the first time, everyone checked into their hotels or campsite without a problem, and we had our last night of normalcy.
Korina ready to start us off strong!
Van 1 (Korina, Melissa, Eric, Tim, Lauren, Chris) started at 9am. Van 2 (Lukas, me, Amelia, Mark, Korina, Josh) didn't start until Van 1 finished their first 6 legs, which was projected to be around 2pm. We all went to the start to cheer on the whole team, and then Van 2 waited...which was so hard! We were so amped up to race, and then we go to the start, and then have to wait at least 5 hours until it's our turn to run. So we went and got a leisurely breakfast at Belle Grove Diner, then made our way to Exchange 6, the first big meet up. Unfortunately, the weather was cold and wet, which made partying at major exchanges less than appealing and meant as much car time as possible the majority of the race. At Exchange 6 though, there was a little restaurant that let us sit inside while we waited for Van 1. They had thousands of dollar bills on the ceiling and so we left our mark.

Waiting at Exchange 6!
Finally, it was Van 2's turn to run! Van 1 did great, with the exception of a minor mix up about which exchange was which resulting in a half hour delay. Now it was their turn to rest!

Our first rotation went well. Everyone was excited and happy to finally be running. My first leg (Exchange 8) is the one I had been most worried about. It was 6.8 miles and was ranked "very hard" due to the first 3 miles being entirely uphill and the last 4 being entirely downhill. Yes, the uphill was challenging, but I ran the whole thing and flew down the second half! At least I think I did, as my GPS watch didn't work for this leg. But I felt great!

During each other's runs, the van would leap frog the runner so you got to see your van and teammates every couple of miles and they checked in to make sure you were doing ok. This helped with motivation a lot, knowing your team was ahead waiting for you.

I think around 730/8pm, van 2 finished their 1st rotation. This put us at Exchange 12 handing off to Van 1 again. At this point, it was now dark, cold, and rainy. Ideal conditions! Exchange 12 was at a high school, where there were promised hot (actually cold) showers, a spaghetti dinner, and indoor sleeping available in the gym. Any type of dry space bigger than the van we had been in for 12 hours sounded incredible. We loaded some of our stuff into the high school to dry off and rest, then I went outside and waited for the handoff between Runner 12 (Josh) and Runner 1 (Korina). Here, I found out Korina was battling an ankle injury and unsure if she would be able to finish. Also, the Sequoia wouldn't start, and they needed to get moving to pick Korina up after she finished Leg 13! Major panic set in for me as I thought of all the possible and impractical solutions we may have to attempt. A huge blessing occurred when a kind van with jumper cables got the Sequoia to start and they were off again.

Van 2 ate a mediocre, warm, but still delicious plate of spaghetti, and hunkered down to try and sleep. I got probably a good hour of sleep on that hard gym floor. I wish we had brought more blankets/sleeping bags because we were cold sharing, but we managed with what we had.

At 11pm, I woke in a panic with 2 important texts- 1 saying Leg 23, Katrina's next leg, was cancelled due to flooding. The second saying Van 1 was making better time than anticipated, which meant we had to get moving to meet them at Exchange 18 at a creamery. Van 2 was great at getting it together and getting moving, and we made it with plenty of time to meet them. As we got ready to start our 2nd rotation, Van 1 got ready to eat burgers and take a nap. Needless to say, at midnight in the cold, dark, rain, Van 2 got a little jealous!

My second leg, which was Exchange 20, was 6.9 miles "hard." I knew it had some hills, but it definitely had steeper hills than I anticipated. I walked up one steep hill, but did run the rest. The first mile felt great, but by mile 2, the novelty of running at night in the rain had worn off and I was ready to be done. Luckily, getting done can sometimes be motivation enough to finish! Seen on this leg was a GIANT chicken statue, and apparently a pumpkin tree that I didn't see but my van did. I finished with a 9:41 min/mile. Everyone was such a trooper in the middle of night. It was so cold and wet, but no one in my van complained once (out loud anyway) and they even said it added to the fun and adventure. Where did I find such crazy friends to do this with me?!

Because Exchange 23 was cancelled, and Korina was hurt, Katrina ended up running Korina's last leg, which worked out perfectly. This had us finishing Leg 25 about 6:30am. At this point, we were exhausted from no sleep, two runs, and being out in the rain all night. Plus the vehicle was a disorganized mess from everyone throwing their stuff around all night. The great news is that Van 1 had the brilliant idea to get a hotel around Exchange 24, so they rested there while we ran, and then it was our turn to rest while they ran.

Let me tell you, a hotel room has never looked so good. It had 2 beds and a pull-out sofa, a fireplace, and 2 showers. We buckled down and showered and got settled for some sleep pretty fast. After another hour of beautiful sleep, I woke up in another panic to another text with an update from Van 1 about their imminent finish with Exchange 30. So at 9am, we headed out for our last meet up before the finish!

Time was so strange. It felt like we had been doing this Ragnar race for months, even though it had only been 24 hours. It felt like the people in our van were the only people that existed and everyone back home was a distant memory. That race became your life for the hours you were in it, because it took all of your mental and physical energy to focus on what you had to do.

Food was also so difficult because you were forcing yourself to eat in the middle of the night because your body needed fuel, but nothing tasted good. Plus, in the rain, it was difficult to access the food we brought since you didn't want to stand out in the rain to get anything.
Waiting for our last rotation at Exchange 30
My last leg, Leg 32, was 6.9 miles "moderate." Again, much more difficult than anticipated. The first 4 miles were flat, on a trail, and halfway through I had a water station with a Snickers bar. This part was great... and then the last 3 miles or so were in a neighborhood with major hills! After running two other legs with big hills, my shins were on fire. I had to walk up 1 hill and down 1 hill. I finished at a 10:04 min/mile, and was never so happy to finish running (other than my marathon). When I finished, I couldn't stop laughing. I blame it on the lack of sleep and physical exhaustion, but I couldn't stop laughing at the thought that I had survived! I did a Ragnar!
Just a little excited to be at my LAST MILE
After me, we only had 4 more runners until we were done altogether! It seemed like everyone in my van thought their last leg was harder than anticipated, but that seems normal given what we had been through. Everyone still crushed it. I was smart and put together a team of people faster than me!

After exchanging Josh for Karina (runner 12 for 11), we made our way to the finish. We stopped and got some hot food on the walk to Yards Park. I had broccoli cheddar soup, Sun Chips, and a Pepsi. I think my stomach shrunk, because I could only eat and drink half of everything, but it was so good! I felt guilty for eating such deliciousness while Josh was still out suffering, but my body was saying "it's ok, you deserve it!"

We had two incredible friends come down to the finish, Jessica and Heather, with their kiddos. They stood out in the cold to celebrate and cheer us on. Also incredible were our volunteers, a friend I work with and her family, who stood out in the rain from midnight to 5am to direct runners and cars. These people are amazing!!

When we saw Josh coming in close to the finish, we made a tunnel for him to run through and started running, trying to keep up with his finishing race pace with our sore, tired, cold legs. As we crossed that finish line, I was overcome with feelings of joy, completeness, pride, accomplishment, and gratitude. Finishing meant so much more than just running 200 miles. For me, it represented the journey Josh and I have been on this past year-and we made it. We came out stronger, although sore and beat up, and we came out together, with so many friends around us. In the time since we finished the race, it has felt like I really will be ok. And lately, it has not been feeling like that. But this proved to me that I can do hard and seemingly impossible things. I can keep going when it gets tough. And there is so much more strength available than I am capable of by myself. I couldn't have done the race by myself, and I couldn't have survived this year by myself. We hugged, we got our medals, we ate pizza, and stocked up on Ragnar gear. No one wanted to sit around too long, so we sorted out vans and who was going where, and headed home!

I knew it was Sloane's birthday and the day we held her and loved her, but that was not what was on my mind. I thought of her and I ran for her, but I was not overcome with feelings of sadness or flashbacks. Which is HUGE on such a potentially rough day.
Overall, it was a huge success. Everyone had such a positive attitude and meshed so well, considering most of them did not know each other! Plus they were incredible runners and toughed out a Ragnar in a storm. I have so much love for everyone on this team because only they know what we survived together this weekend! We ended up finishing 35th out of 202 teams in our mixed open division. We finished 200ish miles in 29 hours, 33 minutes, at an average pace of 8:52 min/mile. Not bad for a group of first timers!
Things to think about for next time...
  • Food. I would put one person in charge of food and supplies for each vehicle, because then they know what there is and where it is. I think we had a lot of food that didn't get eaten because I packed it all, so the van I wasn't in didn't know what they were digging for in the cold dark. 
  • Spirit. I would put one person in charge of spirit stuff, whether that be car decorating, costumes, team magnets, etc. 
  • Organization. I think it would help for each person to have one big bag that they can keep the bulk of their stuff in, and one small bag that they can keep with them in the car. This can hold their next running outfit and/or their next non-running outfit. 
  • More blankets and warmer clothes! (hopefully that only applies to this race)
  • I spent unnecessary money printing out all of the leg maps and race bible, which we didn't use because the Ragnar App was great. 
  • Take off more time from work (if only!)
  • Stay in a hotel after the race.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Year Ago Today...

A year ago today, I anxiously awaited my baby girl's arrival. My due date was September 22- a day that had been circled on my calendar for about 9 months.  I had meetings scheduled at work for another week still because I knew the average arrival for 1st babies was 10 days after the due date.  But secretly, deep down, I hoped my baby girl would be on time and prove me wrong. I didn't know how much I hoped she would be on time until my due date passed, and she wasn't here yet. Every day seemed like an eternity. I felt so sure that she would be late and I felt so tough, or something, for working until I went into labor. But looking back now, I would give anything for her to have arrived on time. Because on September 22, she was healthy. Her heart was beating and she was alive and well. I even had an appointment on my due date. Looking at the ultrasound screen, my midwife made the comment, "good looking brain!" I smiled proudly- obviously my baby is going to have a beautiful brain (doesn't every parent think this about their child?!). If I only knew that I wouldn't get to see the development of that beautiful brain. At least not now.

I didn't anticipate September 22 being that hard this year-after all, it was a pretty uneventful day last year, so why should this year be different? But it is just a reminder of the hope, excitement, naïveté, and innocence that I had then. Last September, I thought it was absolutely terrible to go 10 days late! I literally couldn't imagine anything worse. The things I worried about included if my HypnoBabies training would be enough to help me through the labor, what my little girl would look like, what kind of baby she would be, how I would handle breastfeeding-I wasn't worried about her dying. I had a perfect pregnancy. At every appointment, we heard good news. I was low-risk, low-intervention-- a very boring pregnancy that resulted in a very traumatic experience and no baby to take home.

I love the fall, and that hasn't changed- we got married in the fall, my birthday is in the fall, we got Franklin in the fall, and of course, we met our baby girl in the fall.  I have reminders of Sloane everywhere right now, which is wonderful. Unfortunately, some of those reminders are mixed with pain too. They are reminders of what almost was, and of what we thought was going to be- a future that was in reach, and then a second later, gone. So every fall, while we will celebrate so many important events in our family, we will also take time to mourn everything that was lost October 2014.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Saving Teddy

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I headed out for a morning run through the neighborhood as I often do. I didn't bring Franklin with me, as the weather in MS in July is not too friendly to a dog with thick, curly hair. He's ok with this arrangement. When he does go outside, he looks at me after about 10 minutes, tongue hanging out bright red, with a look that says, "why did you think this was a good idea?'

About 2.5 miles into my run, 2 little dogs started barking ferociously at me. However, I noticed they weren't exactly looking at me, but rather behind me. I turned around, and there was a dog following me! Just trotting along, happy as can be to be out on a morning run. I stopped to say hi and pet him, then kept running. He loved being petted, then also kept running behind me--for 3.5 more miles. When a car came, he ran into the bushes to hide. When the car was gone, he sprinted to catch up with me. I gave him some water when I got home because the poor guy had earned a drink.

I knew he couldn't come in the house, so I sat outside with him a lot of the day. He had no leash, quite a few ticks, fleas, and was pretty skinny. When we tried to tie him up, he just lunged trying to follow me, got himself all tangled up, and I felt terrible for him. We ended up untying him to ease my guilt. This little guy thought he had found his new home- he stayed on our porch all night. I had called the humane society earlier in the day and they said no one had reported a missing dog. I called the closest vet, and they took my name and number and told me they would call if anyone was looking for him. One of our friends posted on the neighborhood facebook page about him, with no response. We drove around and looked for posters. We walked around the area he started following and talked to a few neighbors. But no one seemed to recognize or claim our new friend!

The next morning, when Josh went out for an 8 mile run, our new friend left with him and followed him all 8 miles, with no leash. At this point, I started to fret because I did not know what to do with him. I called my mother and father in tears (not the first tears I had shed for him), knowing they had thought about getting a dog. Miracle of miracles, they agreed to take him! The next question was how to get him from MS to NE...after looking into a few options, we decided it would be fastest to meet halfway in AL for the drop-off.

We took our new friend to the vet the next day to have him examined, look for a microchip, and see what he needed done. Since we needed a name for him to make all of this happen, we decided to go with Theodore, or Teddy for short (sticking with the Roosevelt theme we started with Franklin). The vet gave him all of his shots, and we boarded him there for the weekend while Josh and I went on a previously planned weekend getaway.

Monday, we picked him up and headed to meet his new family. He rode in the car like a champ! He also thoroughly enjoyed his night of luxury in a hotel...the first thing he did was jump up on the bed, which did not last long.

Since starting his new life in NE, he is happily adjusting to life on the farm--riding in the truck, going for long runs on the dirt roads, and best of all, smelling and chasing the chickens!

I instantly fell in love with Teddy because he loved me! He is the happiest dog and soaks up every ounce of attention you can give him. He loves belly rubs, any type of food, cold floors, and running. He worked his way into my heart, and he found himself a home because of it :)

While this little guy caused me a great deal of anxiety and a few sleepless nights worrying about his safety and belonging, I am beyond thrilled that he has found a home, and a home that gives me updates about him anytime I ask!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

9 months

As we head into my favorite holiday weekend (fireworks! hot dogs! ice cream! America!), there is an important day that will come first. Tomorrow will be 9 months since saying goodbye to our little Sloane. While each month has seemed important for various reasons, 9 months is significant, for after this, she will be apart from me longer than she was with me. This feels terrible, because it feels like she is becoming more distant. But in some ways there is freedom and peace the farther out we get, as I know she is still with me and I feel stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have felt the burden of grief lifted at times. 9 months is a momentous marker in time, for good and for bad.

I have been in MS for about 2 weeks now, and while it is the 3rd summer we have been here, this summer has posed some unique challenges. Sloane is always on my mind, and I always want to talk about her and share her, but I do not always trust strangers or even acquaintances with this special and sacred piece of my life. The question becomes, how do I honor her while still protecting my heart? I don't have the answer to this yet. Typically, if people ask, I have no problem saying I have a daughter who died. The following awkward and uncomfortable conversation that follows is something I have become accustomed to. The problem comes when people don't ask. Because truthfully, looking at Josh and I, you would make the assumption that we don't have kids, so how would this even come up? But that aspect of our lives has played such a critical role in who I am, in everything I do, that it feels wrong to not share that part of my life.  The difficulties of losing Sloane change and transform in their shape and magnitude, but I do not think they will ever go away. It will always be hard.
Something I have been focusing on lately that is motivating for me is training for the Ragnar race in October. It feels so good to be getting stronger physically, and as I have been increasing my mileage, I have also been reminded of the mental effort required in running. Mentally, I feel like nothing can beat me now. Running up a long, steep hill when it is hot and humid--yes, it sucks, but it doesn't compare to losing your baby. I know now that I can do hard, even impossible, things.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summertime is Here

After longing for months for summer to be here, it has arrived! It is June. With the changing season, I have found myself in a good place mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Walking at the beach
I went to therapy for a couple of months, for which I attribute some of this health to. I also attribute some of it to the longer days, the sunshine, and the smaller workload that comes with the new season. I am also learning who I am again now and feeling more comfortable with that person. I have learned it is essential for me to have grand and wonderful things to look forward to. So far, this has looked like--white water tubing, camping at the beach, and Hersheypark. In the future, it will look like--San Francisco and a Giants game, the Avett Brothers concert and a weekend trip to New Orleans. These things get me through each day and each week and each month without Sloane. Obviously they don't replace her, but they remind me that life is still worth living, and that there is beauty and goodness in so many aspects of life. Without these things, I would be easily and quickly overwhelmed by the heartwrenching trials of life.
The river we tubed on (not as much white water as I would've liked...)
Last week, there were 8 people I knew of who died. Some were nationally known, many were relatives of friends, but one I considered a friend, although she was in our life for a brief period of time. I know all too well that it doesn't take long for someone to make a lasting difference in your life. Two summers ago, we met a fun, vibrant 16 year old. We hung out with her and her family a few times over the summer. Several months later, she was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma. Last week, a year after being diagnosed, she died. My heart has ached for her parents and for her siblings and for her close friends who feel the sting of her absence. Her death has reminded me once again, that life is not fair. If it were fair, 18 year old girls would not die from cancer and babies would not die before they are born. There is simply nothing fair about it.

But we are not here to have a fair and balanced life. That's not the point. The point is for it to not be fair, because it is in these times that we come to rely on Christ. And so while some of my mental and emotional health is due to therapy and some of it is due to the nice weather, I know the bulk of it is due to Him. He knows it is not fair better than anyone else, and He will help ease these burdens because He knows just how unfair it is, and because He loves us.

Tomorrow will be 8 months since we met and said good-bye to our little angel. 8 months ago tonight that I was blissfully unaware of anything wrong and that she was most likely already gone. 8 months ago tonight I was happy to be in labor finally and soon be meeting our little baby girl. 8 months ago tomorrow morning my world crashed around me, and I have been picking up the pieces and trying to put it back together for these past 8 months. It seems so long ago and so far away since that other life I had.

Looking back at these 8 months, there are some things I wish I didn't do, like buy a new car and paint my walls green. In hindsight, I know these were decisions and distractions made in the midst of grief, but in the moment, they seemed perfectly rational. But it is so healing to see where I have been and how far I have come. I can say that I am ok, and actually mean it. I don't cry every week, and there are times when I can think of Sloane with nothing but joy and peace. A little girl at my preschool, remembering my big belly at the beginning of the year, looked up at me today and asked, "Where is your baby?" A few months ago, this would have ruined my day and I would be a disaster. Today I could tell this little girl that my baby is not here, and I could know--really know--that she is ok. She is not far from here, although I cannot see her.
Sloane's flower garden
Another sign to me that I am healing is that TTC does not consume me as it did a few months ago. I am nearing the end of my 2nd round of Clomid, and I almost feel indifferent to the outcome. That may be an automatic form of self-preservation, but I'm ok with that because apathy is a heck of a lot easier to live with than anxiety. I think in large part, this is because I have things to look forward to this year and I know that while motherhood is important to me, it is not all I am. It can't be. And if I get pregnant, I'll deal with those emotions when they come. For now, it's all ok.