December 29, 2010

Christmas in the Southwest

Miles and I spent Christmas in Arizona with my side of the family (sans sister who was greatly missed). Arizona, at least Tucson, doesn't really have the Christmas-y feel. There's never any snow and most days it was above 60 degrees. But that never bothered me growing up (I suppose since it was what I was used to), and it didn't bother me this year. In fact, I think not being in a Christmas-y setting was probably good for me. Christmas was a happy day for us. We went to the late night Christmas Eve service with my parents. They aren't Catholic, but Episcopalian which we joke is "Catholic-light" and Christmas morning wasn't spend being sad about what (or who) we don't have. Nor should it be. We enjoyed the company we did have - my parents and brother. And while Cale certainly crossed our minds throughout the day and throughout the trip, it wasn't as sad as I thought it could have been. Sure, Miles and I both had thoughts of how the trip out here should have been - Cale's first visit to Grandma and Grandpa's, or about how fun it'd be to bring him to meet my friends and family here in town, but those thoughts are expected and I think totally normal to have - especially during what would have been all our "firsts" with him. I know this time of year can be very tough for people, especially those missing loved ones, but it still can, and fortunately was, a special time for us to celebrate and be thankful for what we do have.
While the city of Tucson may not have the Christmas feel, my mom transforms our home into a beautiful Christmas setting. But it wouldn't be classic Mom without some patriotic flare to it. And I mean all of it. My mom is a great American. And boy does she love her some America.

Never was there such a patriotic tree.
Ever seen a patriotic nutcracker?   Or an Uncle Sam styled Santa?
I put all these pictures in a "winterized" look, but really that makes me and even Miles just look more pale than normal. But I figure you may think it's just the coloring and people won't realize how pale I actually am!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas as well!

December 22, 2010


I started to title this blog "I heart Ultrasounds," but then I realized that would be a lie. I have a love/hate relationship with them. Right now I love them. June 28th, I hated them. With this pregnancy I am getting much better care than I felt I got last time around. While nothing dealing with my care had anything to do with the unfortunate events that took place, I was just "another patient" in the eyes of the Army medical system. I had a beautiful, complicated-free pregnancy. There was never a need for extra monitoring. But there was also never a need, in my opinion, to make me feel cared about. I wasn't even seen at the OB clinic until I was 35 weeks - I never had a regular doctor. I was just another person having a baby.

This time is totally different. We have a very sympathetic and understanding doctor who, bless his heart, is patient with the millions of questions I have at every appointment. And at every appointment, we've gotten to see our little baby-to-be. That might not continue (getting an ultrasound each time), but for now it gives me such peace of mind and for that I'm so very thankful. I wanted to share US (ultrasound) pictures thus far. These cover a span of only four weeks and yet you can see (well, you can kind of see) how much changes in a short amount of time.

Ultrasound 1 (9 Nov 10) - First Appointment. Baby was the size of a grain of rice. 
Measuring right on track and we could see the little flicker of a heartbeat. Wonderful day.

Ultrasound 3 (19 Nov 10) - Second Appointment. We skipped US 2 as that was done in the ER when we had a little scare. Everything was fine, but no pictures were printed. This was the follow-up appointment to make sure everything was still on track. Baby was the size of a blueberry.

Ultrasound 4 (6 Dec 10) - Third Appointment. Baby was the size of a large kidney bean and we saw the little arm/hand and foot/leg nubs. The little arm/hand was wiggling too - probably saying "hi guys." These pictures are so tiny so it's hard to see, but to the right is the little noggin and to the bottom left (of the circle) are the little foot/leg nubs.

The photos are all the same size, the circle gets bigger each time because the baby is filling up that womb more and more. And that's the part about all this that gives me hope and excitement (the good emotions that battle it out with the not-so-good emotions) is that each ultrasound picture gets bigger, more clear, and more awesome. I can't wait to share more!

December 21, 2010

Rainbow Babies

Well most of my Christmas cards have hit the mail. In the next few days they'll all be delivered. And then our news is really "out" there. In our cards I included a brief explanation of what a rainbow baby is. When I first heard the term myself, I needed an explanation (in fact there are lots of terms and abbreviations that I've learned through the baby loss community - most dealing with trying to conceive so I won't get into that :) But I loved the meaning of a "Rainbow Baby" - it could not be more fitting. Rainbows appear after a storm. After something scary and dark. But they give light and beauty in the midst of that darkness.

I also want to share one of my new favorite songs. I love this song. I loved it the first time I heard it - before I really listened to the lyrics. After Cale died, I joined an online support group (more later on the amazing people I've met through that), but I found that a lot of other baby-loss-mom's really liked the song as well. For me personally, I don't listen to it and get sad. I listen to it, I think of Cale, I think of how much I love him, and that makes me happy. These are the lyrics that stand out the most to the baby-loss-momma community:

"Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother
She'll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors, oh and
Life ain't always what you think it ought to be, no
ain't even grey, but she buries her baby"

It's as if our babies are asking for a brother or sister. And it's true that when I  am holding Cale's sibling, I'll think of him. I will know he's safe and in a place where he's loved and happy all the time. And I'll know that the little miracle, the little rainbow, I'm holding is because of him. I guess that's part of what warms my heart about the song.

December 14, 2010

Emotions Run Wild!

Little by little we are letting the cat out of the bag. Last week we shared our news with the family. Over the weekend I went up to Atlanta to visit one of my closets friends. My two dear friends Anna and Deborah I met in 2002 when we all went to Prep School in California. Over they years, we've only grown closer. They are the definition of "friend" and I'd do them injustice by trying to explain how wonderful they are in this little blog post. But we decided that I'd share my news with them. I called Anna and told her as she's back home in Kentucky. I told Deb in person when I arrived in Atlanta.

And just today I shared our news with two other wonderful friends. I told them that we aren't sharing this with everyone just yet, so not to go broadcasting it. And then when I got off the phone I realized I probably didn't sound that excited. I think I just sounded factual - blunt even. I tried to explain all these crazy emotions I'm feeling, but in the process I don't think I put enough emphasis on the happy emotion that I DO have.

Last week after we told our family I was talking to my sister and trying to explain this all to her. I was telling her how I'm just nervous someone will say something along the lines of "everything will be ok." I don't want anyone saying this. I don't know how I'll respond. We certainly hope that everything will be ok, but we don't know that it will. No one does. And in telling her this she started to say, "I think you just have to. . ." and I was afraid she was going to finish that sentence with " . . .understand that they don't mean anything bad by that," or something like that. But she didn't. She said "I think you just have to realize you're going to have lots of different feelings, but it's OK. And don't ignore them." I don't think she realizes how glad I was to hear that. It's OK to feel all the different things I'm feeling!

I do realize that people probably will say something like, "everything will be ok," and yes, I know no one means any harm by it - just the opposite in fact. But that kind of statement doesn't mix well with the nervous/scared/terrified emotions I have.

But on top of those feelings, I really do have lots of optimism and hope about this pregnancy. I think that's part of the reason I love this baby so much already - he or she is giving me something to hope for, something to look forward to. And when you're only 5 1/2 months out from suffering a terrible loss, emotions of hope and excitement are WONDERFUL emotions to have.

But as we slowly let more and more people know, I'm finding myself a little more nervous as well. I think it's because I just want people to understand how complicated this is for us. Wonderful yes, but complicated none-the-less.

I think we'll share the news with a few more people face-to-face over the next week and then "announce" it in our Christmas Card. Just like we did last year with Cale.

In closing, I've only shared this blog with family thus far. But I've realized that it's probably very depressing to read some of the posts. Granted, at the time it wasn't a shared blog, so it really was just me journaling my thoughts, but Miles made a comment that "Happily Hidalgo" is more like "Sad and painfully pregnant Hidalgo" and it made me laugh, but also made me realize that now that I'm sharing this little blog, and my crazy feelings/thoughts/emotions, maybe I should also make more of an effort to be a little more up beat. Oh, and I don't want it to be a boring blog with non-stop rambling. So I'm including a picture. Something I plan to do more often.

 Yes, Jenny - I've copied yet another one of your ideas. This time with the cropped corners. 
Stop having good ideas, and maybe I'll stop copying you. Maybe. :)

The picture is how I told Miles I was pregnant. I took the test one morning he didn't have to be into work until late, so was still asleep. I just knew it was going to be positive and was SO excited when it was. I had the same anxious and happy emotions getting ready to tell Miles that I had when I found out I was pregnant with Cale. I'm thankful for that. Anyway, back to the picture - Miles and I are big fans of Eggo Waffles. Yes, I know - we're twelve. But I put two Eggo's in the toaster and put some scrapbooking letters on a plate so it read "I'm Pr "Eggo"! I then brought that up to him and woke him up telling him I brought him breakfast in bed. It's a little silly, but I want to tell him in a special or at least unique way every time I'm fortunate enough to be carrying our baby.

So there you go. . .there's a little dose of optimism for the night!

November 29, 2010

The Belly Book

Today I ordered a book called "The Belly Book" which is a way to document/journal your pregnancy. I've been keeping a journal already and I did with Cale and plan to with all the pregnancies. But this book has areas for pictures at throughout the weeks/months, so it just seemed like a cute way to capture all the memories of this experience.

I have an appointment in one week and am optimistic that we'll get to hear the heartbeat. I'll be just over ten weeks and we heard Cale's heartbeat at exactly ten weeks. Once we hear the heartbeat, we are going to tell our family. I'm excited to tell them. I'm excited and nervous. There are pros and cons to telling people. One of the big pros is that there will be a support group, should something go wrong, and even if nothing goes wrong, there will be people praying for us and helping me through this journey. But part of the reason we haven't told family, and part of the reason I wanted to wait until we've seen and heard a heartbeat, is because I don't want to put them through the emotional stress that will come with this. And it's not just putting them through it, but it's also a little selfish in that when others worry it might cause me to worry or if something bad happened, and others were sad, it might make me more sad. I don't really know how to explain it, but I guess I just don't want to have to worry about comforting others, reassuring them that I'm ok. That sounds terrible and selfish, but I just want this to be as enjoyable and stress free as possible.

And Miles is getting antsy to tell people. I can just tell. I think he's excited and just ready to let people know. He's nervous too, but I love that he's also excited. I think that's why this whole thing will be such a roller coaster. We really are so excited and sometimes, most of the time lately, I feel really optimistic that everything will be ok and then sometimes I get nervous and think I'm being naive and try to keep myself grounded. But it's not like it'll make it any less hard should anything happen. So I think that's why I'm ok with being happy and being optimistic. If this pregnancy is all I have with this baby, then I want to love every minute of it! And I don't think that's a negative thought, Maybe some people would, but I think that's how all of life should be lived. If "this" (whatever "this" happens to be - life, pregnancy, high school, whatever!), but if this is all we have, then why not make the most of it!?

November 23, 2010

Sickness & Sadness

This morning I had my first experience with morning sickness. I was talking to a girl at work and all of a sudden felt very ill. Fortunately someone else came in the room to ask her a question and I told her I'd be right back. I rushed to the bathroom where I promptly yacked a couple times. I think it's probably my fault though as I was running late, forgot my banana that I normally eat in the car and hadn't eaten my yogurt yet. So there was nothing but juice in my stomach. I've felt a little "off" before, and did with Cale, but as long as I had something to eat, I was ok. But today it hit me. Hopefully I've learned my lesson and I can prevent it in the future.

That covers the "sickness" bit. The "sadness" bit involves last night. I was on my way home from work and Miles and I were headed over to some friends for their daughters First Birthday Party. As I was driving home I was thinking of what I needed to take care of before we left as we didn't have much time and I knew I still needed to wrap the gift. And then the sadness hit me. I'll never get to wrap present for Cale. He'll never have a first birthday (that we'll celebrate here on Earth anyway). And it made me so, so sad. I passed Miles in the neighborhood as he was headed out to pick up our dry-cleaning and he could tell something was wrong and called me and I just broke down. I told him how much I hate this all sometimes and how unfair it is. Eventually I got myself together, got ready, wrapped the gifts, and when Miles came back we left. I was fine at the party. It was a cute little party and I just didn't let sad thoughts get to me. But then when we got home and were in bed and Miles was reading and he looked over at me and said, "are you sad?" and I just broke down again. And it was bad. I told him you'd think I was right back to losing Cale just a few weeks ago. I don't really know where it came from. I was just needing to let out a good cry I guess. I know that it will come in stages and it will take me by surprise when it does. In general life is a little easier, a little less dark, but man did I just miss him so much last night! Maybe it was because it was a Monday. Who knows. Sometimes, after those little episodes, I'm almost thankful for them because it keeps his memory alive. I know he'll always be in my heart, but maybe, despite lots of tears, it's good to feel that intense longing for him as it keeps him "present" without actually being here. . .if that makes sense.

Anyway, hopefully tomorrow there is less sadness and sickness!

November 17, 2010

No One Said It'd Be Easy . . .

We had our first scare last night/early this morning. I had a little bleeding so we went to the Emergency Room. Calling it an "Emergency" room is a joke. There is no sense of urgency there what-so-ever. After our one our wait we were finally seen and they did a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. THANKFULLY, everything looked reassuring. But that doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet. I don't think I'll feel like I'm out of the woods until I'm holding a breathing, screaming baby. What was a little grain of rice last week looks more like blueberry this week. Well, the size of one anyway. I thought he/she looked bigger. And the heart was beating. We even got a reading - 154bmp. That made me really happy. But I follow up with my OB in two days. Hopefully everything continues to be ok and this was just one little bump in an already frightening journey.

I told Miles that part of me knew that we couldn't do anything if there's weren't going well and that I didn't know what to think. But part of me really did feel like everything was going to be ok. Yes, I was scared, but part of me felt very assured thinking that things were still fine. I'm thankful for those feelings because they helped keep me grounded. Maybe it says something about the power of positive thinking. Who knows.

Today at work a kind older man who is retiring in December as he is suffering from early on-set Alzheimer's asked me, "How's the little one?" It caught me off guard and I told him that unfortunately he passed away. He got really upset. He didn't really know what to say and almost looked like he was about to cry. I tried to comfort him and let him know I was doing ok and reassure him that it was ok that he asked, but he just was really lost for words and just reached out and grabbed my arm.

No one should ever have to tell another person that their child has died. It's just not supposed to work like that. Sometimes it makes me mad that I have to say that and other times I just get sad. For the most part, even if I experience one or both of those feelings, I'm doing much better and they don't take over, but I always walk away from experiences like that missing Cale so much. There is a perfect baby in Heaven waiting for his Mommy and Daddy and sometimes my desire to hold him again leaves me physically aching for him.

But as I put for this title - losing a child to stillbirth and going through a pregnancy after stillbirth aren't easy, and no one said they would be.

November 9, 2010


Ultrasounds are scary. At least for anyone who has experienced a loss. Today was my first prenatal appointment. According to my calculations (since I'm nuts and can actually pin-point ovulation), I'm six weeks, three days. I knew this was still early and sometimes you don't see the heartbeat that early. The past two days I was feeling good - great even. I was optimistic and really excited and hopeful about the ultrasound. Today I was still excited, but also very nervous. I thought it would be hard to look at the screen, but I felt glued to it. She pointed out this little white dot and said, "that's baby right there." That alone made me feel SO MUCH better. I was worried about a blighted ovum, or any of the number of things I've read about that have left me scared and worried. I then just kept my eyes locked on that little white dot. And I swear I saw some flickers. I was about to ask and she said that she could see a heartbeat, but the machine they were using was making it hard to see because of the gel (on the probe used for the ultrasound). She asked if I wanted to see it on another machine. Of course I said yes. And of course I was crying a little. But it was a good cry. There was a developing baby in there - a baby with a heartbeat! The new machine wasn't much better, but we all saw it. Miles, me, the doc, and the ultrasound tech. She said everything looked good and looked like what it should at this point in the pregnancy. She measured and sure enough. . . .six week, three days :)

I'm so relieved, but still not ready to tell people. It's too early and unfortunately we know all too well that anything can happen. I have another appointment in three weeks, but just for a records transfer and then another OB appointment and ultrasound shortly after that. So hopefully I'll go in and see a developing baby, with a heartbeat! Maybe we'll even get to hear it. That will be music to my ears!

November 2, 2010

Secret Blog

For now this blog will be a secret. I'm just going to use it as a virtual journal. I think it will be good for me to write out my feelings. I guess I'm in the "healing process." I wonder how long a person stays there. I don't think you just wake up one day and think, "oh, I'm healed now" and then move on with your life. It just doesn't work like that. But I do think one day I will wake up and think, "boy, I haven't cried in a long time," or something along those lines. Things like that are already starting to happen. After losing Cale life was counted in days and then weeks. I counted the weeks until recently when I hit four months. Now I count in months. I think that might be healthy. It might be nothing too though. I guess anytime you experience anything tragic in life your "new" life gets calculated by how long it has been since the tragedy.

Today has been a rollercoaster of emotions, much like the last four months. I was reading a very sad post on the Faces of Loss Website about a sweet baby boy who died at 4 1/2 months from SIDS. I sent his mom an e-mail to let her know how sorry I was. I like reaching to people. Saying things that I think are comforting, or at least hope are comforting, help bring me comfort. I think that is one of the beauties of grief - you survive it by helping and getting help from people who are also in the midst of grief. I can honestly say that I've never felt alone during this process. Sure, there are times I feel lonely and times I want to be alone, but I've had an AMAZING support group. They've manifested through old friends and new friends and family and mostly through Miles. Oh and let's not forget the dog. Roscoe, in his constant happiness, helps bring me happiness. Dogs are amazing.

Anyway, back to the rollercoaster - after I read the sad story, I got an e-mail from a dear friend of our family about one of her family members who has been battling breast cancer. Things aren't looking good for her. She has three young children. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

But after I sat and cried and talked to my friend, I realized that I LOVE life. I love the beauty that exists in every day things that we often take for granted. Yes, my heart is broken over losing Cale, and yes it saddens me to read about other moms losing their babies, or babies about to lose their moms, but when we are faced with the fragility of life we also are faced with the beauty of it.

It's really an amazing thing.