Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Universe,

Quick question for ya:

When will it be my turn to have things go right? To get my way? To be really happy again?

I'm trying to stay positive, to stay hopeful here. To be patient. I really am. But you're not making it easy for me.

I'm calling a truce here. Whatever I did to get you on my bad side, I'm sorry. Can we please make up and be friends again?


Monday, June 27, 2011

The little things: weekend edition

Dear Stevie,
After the worst winter in the history of Minnesota (okay, I don't know if that's completely accurate, but it sure felt like it!), it seems like summer is finally here. To celebrate, I thought I'd resurrect the old 'little things' idea, where I attempt to appreciate the little things in my life that make me smile.

Here goes nothing.

1. My dogs. Sure, I might be a bit biased, but I'm confident that I have the two cutest, most awesome dogs in the world. Whenever I tell people I have two 5-pound poodles, I feel like I have to follow it up with something like, "but they're not like most little dogs! They're not yippy or mean or annoying! They're super fun!" It's true, they are just great little dogs. Super happy. Super goofy and playful. Incredibly good with people (even little children who like to pick them up and pull on their tails). They're also really smart, which can be both good and bad. The good: Jackie's signal for being thirsty is to jump into the empty bath tub and whine--she's associated that the same stuff that comes out of the shower is the same stuff that she drinks in her bowl! The bad: they will usually only listen when treats are involved. You say 'sit' or 'come' with a piece of cheese in your hand, and they will instantly comply. Try it without a bribe, and they're like, 'meh, I don't really feel like it.' Can you really blame them?

2. Lemonade. There's just nothing better than a glass of ice cold lemonade to cool you down on lazy summer days. And thanks to Whole Foods having it on sale for 5 for $5 this weekend, we totally stocked up!

3. Girlfriends. I got to see all my college roomies last weekend at a wedding in Illinois. Even though we're all spread out now and don't see each other as often as we'd like, it's always like nothing's changed whenever we're together. This picture below makes me smile because it's so awkward and so us.

4. New sunglasses. Funny story: I was at the mall with my friend Marcus a couple weeks ago, and found my dream sunglasses. White Oakleys with these sick purple lenses. I went back and forth about whether or not I should buy them, but in the end, Marcus convinced me I deserved them as a 'celebration present' for Faces of Loss getting our 501(c)(3) status (it's so easy to rationalize, isn't it??). So anyway, I caved and bought them for myself. When I got home, I was nervous to tell Dad, thinking he might be mad that I spent money on sunglasses I really didn't need. But as soon as I took them out, he said, "are you kidding?? Those are the EXACT sunglasses I'VE been wanting for like 2 years now!" So we decided to share them. They were meant to be, I guess!

5. Quinoa. I totally feel like a hippie eating this stuff, but it's so good! And so good for you! We had a little BBQ/potluck the other night with our townhouse association neighbors and we brought this Quinoa, blackbean and agave nectar salad. Everyone kept calling it 'the crazy salad.' Like, 'have you tried the crazy salad yet? It's actually pretty good!' :)

6. Tattoos. I just love seeing our reminders of you every day. I'm so glad I chose what I chose (the tree on my wrist), and I'm so glad Dad got what he got (one of your footprints on each of his feet). They're just perfect. 

7. Rainy days. It seems like they always come right when they should, when I need the weather to match my mood.

8. Humid hair. Otherwise known as 'friz head.' Once summer rolls around, I can leave the house without drying my hair and it ends up being quite curly! 

9. Peach-O rings. Pretty self-explanatory. We're on a major kick lately!

10. Long walks. This one is pretty closely related to the one about my dogs, but I felt like I needed a 10th thing to finish off the list, so whatev :)

Really missin' you today, Stevie.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Enjoy the ride

Dear Stevie,
As I've been working on my book, I've been thinking a lot about the things I've learned over the past year or so. About myself. About grief. About life. I've been trying to come up with a way of eloquently and succinctly explaining the most important lessons I've learned, but I just don't think I'm ever going to come up with anything as perfect as this quote from the late Gilda Radner:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don't rhyme and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. LIFE is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next." 

Gilda Radner, a member of the original Saturday Night Live cast, never lost a baby; she spoke these words as she herself was dying of cancer. 

I've mentioned in previous posts that I really hate surprises, not knowing what's going to happen next. Your death and the crazy year that's followed has really stretched me as a person, forcing me to let go of the silly notion that I have any sort of control over what happens in my life. I thought I could plan it all out, check things off my list, and enjoy the perfect life I'd created for myself. Now I know that's not how it works.

But, though I've learned I don't have control over what happens in my life, I've also learned something even more important: that I do have control of how I react to those things. I've learned to take the moment and make the best of it. It's a choice, making something good come out of something bad*. It's something you have to consciously, continuously decide to do. These things that happen in our lives, they can either break us down or make us stronger. Why not choose to allow them to do the latter? 

It's strange. I can actually remember the moment I made that decision. It was a little over a week after you died. On a Monday. I was laying out on my deck, on the new black lounge chair my parents bought and put out there in an attempt to lure me out of the house. I was just laying there by myself, the bright sun warming my face, when the thought popped into my mind, "I am going to make good things come from this." Simple as that. Loud and clear. I have no idea where it came from. At that point, it could have mainly been some sort of survival mechanism or something. But that afternoon, something changed inside of me. So much of that first month is such a blur, but I can remember that little conversation in my head so vividly. 

I often think back to that Monday in the sun. When I'm having a hard day, when things in my life aren't going the way I'd like them do, I try to remember that silent promise I made to myself. Good things will come from this. Good things have come from this. From you.

My life headed in new directions. Like a runaway train, winding its way through hidden paths and places I would have never mapped out for myself. I guess it's time to hop on board, close my eyes, and enjoy the ride. 

I love you, baby girl. 


*Yes, 'bad' is the understatement of the year. Words like awful, horrible, unimaginable, devastating, and life-shattering are probably more appropriate.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rant that has nothing to do with babyloss.

I hope no one minds if I go off on something totally unrelated to babyloss for just a moment. It's really bugging me and I just need to get it off my chest. Cool?

Okay, so last night, Andy and I went to see 'Fast Five,' the new 'Fast and the Furious' movie at the discount theater. Now before you judge me and decide never to read my blog again because someone who watches that crap must not be taken seriously, it was actually a really fun movie. I've never even seen movies two, three, and four of the series, but like I told Andy as we were walking out of the theater, "it had so many things that I hate--Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, cars--but I loved it!"

Anyway, I enjoyed pretty much everything about this movie--the over the top ridiculousness, the silly dialogue, the sick stunts and car chases--but there were two things that really bothered me. Well, two people. The two 'hot girls' in the movie were both so skinny. Like disturbingly, distractingly so. All I could do was stare at the bones popping out of their chests whenever they were on screen. There was this one scene where Hot Girl #1 strips down to her bikini to pry some information from one of the bad guys in the film (you know, by using her Hot Girl body), and I literally cringed. I mean, really. Is this what people find attractive nowadays??

This girl literally had the body of a 12 year old boy. No butt. No hips. No boobs. Legs about as big as my arms.

And ever since then, I can't stop thinking about how all the 'hot girls' in movies or on TV right now have this exact body type. It's like the skinnier you are, the more beautiful you are. And I know it's sort of always been this way, but it seems like it's getting worse and worse.

Like remember when Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 10 years ago? Here's a reminder if you don't:

She was smokin' hot. The ideal. And why? Because she looked like a woman! Sure, still skinny, but curvy.

Now look at her:

And it's not that I don't think really, really skinny women can't be attractive, but that is not the only body type that should be considered beautiful by society's standards. I am racking my brain, trying to think of a 'hot girl' actress who's even over a (still skinny!) size eight these days, and I can't. By only having size zero women in the 'hot girl' roles, we all get the message that anything else is just not good enough. And that's so wrong.

Personally, I've never really struggled with my weight. Never been over a size six. I had great parents who instilled in me the fact that looks aren't everything, and that true beauty comes from within. I consider myself a pretty confident, rational person. I have a husband who tells me I'm sexy on a daily basis.

Yet I still secretly feel fat. A lot. Often.

Logically, yes, I know I'm not. I know that. But when you're constantly exposed to these ideals, you can't help but compare and feel awful when you don't measure up. I see these super skinny stick figures on the screen and think, 'oh that is so not attractive.' And I really believe that. But then I'm constantly fussing over every imperfection of my own body, wishing I could just be skinnier. Why?

If someone like me has these body image concerns/issues, that is a real problem. Huge.

Who decided that super skinny = beautiful? Why do we continue to believe these lies? Am I the only one who gets really, really angry about this issue?

I really hope no one out there is mad at me for bringing this up. Sometimes I feel like because I don't struggle with my weight, I'm not allowed to talk about things like this. But no one, whether they're a size two, or four, or six, or eight, or 0 or 12 or 14 or 16 or 28, should be made to feel like they have to be a certain size in order to be beautiful.

It makes me scared for all the little girls in the world.

Anyone care to share their thoughts on this?


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who me? An adult?

Dear Stevie,
I feel like I've aged about a million years since you died. Maybe 25 is just the age where you start to grow up. Maybe it's the whole losing a baby thing. Maybe it's some combination of the two. Who knows. But I feel like all of a sudden this real live 'adult.' It's kinda weirding me out just a little!

Here are some of the things that have lead me to the conclusion that I am officially old:
  • It's considered a 'crazy!' night when Dad and I stay up past midnight. 
  • I constantly have a purse full of Werthers Originals candy wrappers. Seriously, who eats those things except grandmas??
  • I can't recall the last time my friends and I took one of those fish lip photos (you know, the ones where you pucker your lips and try to look all hot). See example below.
  •  It's been at least a year or two since I've had to dig for change in my couch cushions, old purses, and washing machine in order to eat that day.
  • I get excited about things like new bath towels, fancy dish soap, and Swiffer Wet Jets.
  • A good chunk of the people in the NBA and NFL are like years younger than I am.
  • I feel super creepy and pedophile-ish saying I think guys like Justin Bieber and Zac Efron are cute.
  • Someone called me 'Ma'am' at Target the other day.
  • I find myself saying things like, "I can't believe that child is riding his bike without a HELMET!' 
  • I quite enjoy candles.
  • I can't shop in stores like Abercrombie or American Eagle because the music is too loud.
  • I had no idea what the little '#' meant at the end of facebook posts meant until like last week.
  • I rely on people like my 14-year-old cousin to stay up to date on what's 'cool' in the world.
  • Hours spent looking at celebrity gossip online has turned to hours of getting into philosophical arguments with other commenters on various articles.
  • I prefer craft beer over Miller Lite and a glass of red wine over UV Blue.
  • Six girls sleeping on one hotel bed is no longer considered worth the $10 saved per person.
  • I drink coffee and listen to talk radio on my drive into work.
Miss you, Stevie girl.

Your boring old mom :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Have a laugh at my expense :)

I was hanging out at my parents house last night and found some old pictures of myself, some of which made me laugh pretty hard (and others which prove I was pretty freaking cute at points in my life!), so I thought I'd pass them along! Enjoy!

 Sorry Mom, but SIX bows on one child is just too much....

 Me and my Grandpa chillin' in the hammock. This is one of my favorite pictures (and memories!) of her.

 People don't always believe me when I tell them I was so dorky I wore Disney shirts all the way up until high school (and not in like a 'cool' or ironic way!) This is proof.

 I used to think I never really went through an 'awkward phase.' Then I see pictures like this and realize how very wrong I was...

 I would totally still rock this outfit today.

 Same with this little number!

 Two things are hilarious about this picture: 1) the size of my cheeks, and 2) the fact that I required not one by TWO nooks to go to sleep.


 I never realized how boyish I looked!

 My favorite picture of me and my other Grandma. Miss you!

 This one's just cute. :)

I totally remember this outfit (and these totally awesome shoes!)

Alright, hope you're all having a decent Monday!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Doin it!

Dear Readers,
Thank you all SO much for the kind and supportive comments on my last post. I really needed the confidence-booster! So I took the first step and copied/pasted the entries I want to include in my book into manuscript format.

Right now, I have my story divided into three parts:

Part One: The Pregnancy (from the day I found out up until my last letter, 3 days before Stevie died)
Part Two: The Loss, and the Summer that Followed (the day Stevie was born and the 2 months of intense grieving that followed)
Part Three: The Start of Something Good, and Finding My New Normal (the day I started Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope and the months of good and bad days that followed)

I'm keeping it in journal format, starting each entry with the date and the amount of time since Stevie died (during part two, I'm writing this out to the exact day, even hour at the very beginning, because that's how I counted the days during those intense 2 months after her death--ie: 2 weeks, 4 days, 12 hours after the the time we get to part 3, I start writing in terms of general months--ie: about 9 months after the loss).

I am also going to be writing an into/prologue and an epilogue, talking a bit about where I am today, how I want my story to continue to play out, how I was waiting for a happy "ending," but that I now realize that my story, Stevie's story, is only just beginning.

I am also planning on including a section of pictures at the beginning of each new part of the book, and I'll most likely add some kind of resource guide/further reading section at the end. The title, of course, will be Dear Stevie.

I'm not gonna lie, it felt really, really awesome to put everything together into manuscript format. To see all my words come together into this thing I can physically hold in my hands. Feel the weight of. Scribble notes all over.

I hadn't actually re-read everything I've written here, in order, ever before. It was really neat to see the progress I've made over the last year. As much as it hasn't felt that way sometimes, in the midst of everything, you can really see a big transformation taking place when you step back and look at it from the outside. I'm really proud of that.

And I don't want to toot my own horn or come across like some cocky egomaniac, but as I was re-reading what I've written over the last year I couldn't help but think, "you know, this is actually pretty decent stuff I've got here." I am so glad that I wrote down what I was feeling everyday, especially in those days and weeks right after Stevie died. There's no way I'd be able to go back and remember, much less articulate, exactly how those days felt if I were to try.

Anyway, thanks again for your encouragement! I am excited to get editing and writing!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dear Stevie, the book?

Dear Readers,
I need your input on something. I think I want to write a book. Well, more like turn some of my letters to Stevie from this blog (and others that I haven't shared here) into a book. I've actually wanted to do this for quite a while, but then I'd think, "who am I kidding? I'm not a good enough writer to do that," or "no one would want to read it," or "I don't have time." But lately I feel like I'm sort of on a roll, really fired up, and two words keep repeating in my head:

Why not?

I mean, all the people out there that have published books aren't necessarily better at writing than everyone else in the world--they just did it. They went for it. I've been making a really conscious effort of doing that, of not just talking about doing something "someday," but actually taking the leap and making it happen. And so far, it's worked out pretty well! I can't get enough of that feeling! The feeling you get when you are able to take a dream and watch it become reality. It's so exhilarating.

But anyway, back to the book.

What I want to do is tell my story--Stevie's story--through the letters I've written to her. I want to start at the beginning, when she was a tiny clump of cells, two pink lines on a pregnancy test, through my pregnancy, and the year after losing her. For a while I've been waiting for a good 'ending' for the book. Some happy, neat way of wrapping everything up. Now I realize how silly (and stupid) that is. I mean, isn't that the point? That her story isn't ending; it's only just beginning.

While obviously I want this book to be something that other 'babyloss' moms can resonate with and find comfort in, I don't see it as simply a pregnancy/infant loss resource. The story I want to tell is about more than losing a baby--it's about growing up. About the lessons you learn when life doesn't go as planned. About taking a horrible, devastating situation and using it to create something good. About the power of a mother's love. About survival.

If you can't tell, I'm kind of excited about this!

I'd really love your input on this idea. What do you think? Would you read a book like the one I've described? What do you think about having the format be letters rather than the traditional narrative form? Any thoughts on self-publishing (probably the route I will take)? Do you remember any posts/letters you definitely think I should include? Please, be brutally honest--if you don't think it's a good idea, say so; I promise you won't hurt my feelings :)

Thanks so much for your help!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Vacation Pics

Thought I'd share some pics from my girls' trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico last week. I already miss the ocean!

 View from our hotel balcony

 Our cute little room

 Ready for a night out in Old San Juan


 Love that ocean (and notice how UNcrowded the beach was!)

 Bum shot :)

 Look closely and you can see a rainbow!

 Jersa and I

 Evening walk along the beach

 One of the many fine eating establishments we visited

Puppies everywhere!

 Ferry ride out to Culebra Island

 Loving the view

 Culebra Island...tealest, most beautiful water I've ever seen 

 Tubin' with Lisa

 Playa Flamenca...#2 beach in the WORLD, according to the Discovery Channel :)

 Wish I could relive this day over and over and over again!

 Again, notice how peaceful and uncrowded this place is!

 Taking it all in


 Learning to salsa Zumba moves definitely came in handy!

 Rainy night in Old San Juan

Fresh seafood, nothing better!

PS. Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post. I really appreciate your love and support! XO
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