January 30, 2011

The Bigger, The Better

Miles and I took a picture this weekend (ok, Miles was patient with me as I insisted that we put the camera on the timer to take the weekly pregnancy picture). Anyway, after I uploaded it to the computer, I thought "Hmmm. . . this looks familiar" and sure enough, we had a very similar picture taken when I was pregnant with Cale. I was about 23/24 weeks with Cale and I'm going on 19 weeks with Baby Boy #2 (who does have a name we're about 99% sure on, but I'll build up the excitement a little longer before revealing it).

I showed Miles the picture and he said "well, that's a little embarrassing," but I think it's great. Maybe we need to buy him some more clothes (I swear he has plenty), but I just think it's neat that he was wearing the exact same thing and we were standing in the same spot and it wasn't planned.

2010                                          2011

I put these two side-by-side since we were standing on the same side in each, but in this recent picture on the right, either I'm standing at a bad angle, or Miles' hand is in a bad spot, because I don't look nearly as pregnant as I do here. . .

Weird isn't it? You'd think these were taken months apart. 

A few people (who haven't seen me recently) have asked if I'm getting bigger. I certainly am, and I tell anyone who asks that I am and I love it. Because I do! A bigger belly means a growing, healthy baby. So in my book, the bigger the better :)

January 28, 2011

Seven Months

Seven months ago today we met our first born. A beautiful and perfect baby who left this world, but remains close in our hearts. I wanted to share seven "Cale things" that I have. I love having little reminders of our little boy. When I went into our room and the nursery to take some of these pictures I realized that even since his passing, I have much more than just seven items to remind me of him. I have other sweet pieces of jewelry (not shown) from very special friends, Christmas ornaments that have been packed away, we have little willow tree angels, and above all else, we have pictures and memories of him that will last a lifetime until we get to hold him again.

But here are seven other wonderful things I have:

1. About a week after Cale was born, this beautiful necklace came in the mail from Miles' brother and our sister-in-law. My mom and sister were in town and we were all headed out the door, but right before we were about to leave the mail came. Miles handed me the box as I was coming down the stairs and I sat down to open it - my mom and sister, sitting on the stairs with me. I took out the necklace and tried to read them the message, but couldn't do it out loud. So with tears in my eyes, I passed it to them to read. As you see I kept that message, as it means as much to me as the beautiful necklace (a sterling silver pendant with a "C" inscribed).

2. Butterflies are often used as a symbol in the baby-loss community. The reason being is that they represent a life span. After Cale died I joined an online support group where I have met some amazing people. One of them, Janie, sent me this sweet butterfly. Even though I've never met her, Janie makes me feel as if she's given me a great big hug each time I hear from her. I have no doubts that Janie's little boy Sam is probably good buddies with Cale in Heaven. Janie also included this beautiful poem which I have since been able to share with others:

"A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam.
And for a brief moment its glory and beauty
belong to our world.
But then it flies on again,
and though we wish it could have stayed,
we feel so lucky to have seen it."
-Anonymous 


3. This necklace came from my friend Rhiannon who is a baby-loss Mom I have been fortunate enough to meet. Even better, she only lives about ten minutes away! Her little girl Harper went to Heaven just three days before Cale on June 25, 2010. Rhiannon and I were paired up on a holiday gift exchange organized by Face of Loss, Faces of Hope and while I hate the reason we met, I'm so glad we did and that have someone so close to walk down this path with.


 4. One day at work, my friend Jodi came in and brought me a present. Just out of the blue, she saw this and had to get it for me. Unexpected presents are great, but what she got was even better. She found a pearl bracelet (Pearl is the birthstone for June and have always been my favorite stone) with butterflies on it. On the larger butterfly, she got Cale's name inscribed.

 
5. This cute ornament came from Amy, who also lost her first born to a cord accident. Her son's name is Jacob and he sure has one talented Mom! This ornament looks professionally done!  I have it hanging in the nursery on the bulletin board and will keep it in there until Christmas time when it can go on the tree. 


6.  This little hanger came from my friend Anne who I have known for over two decades! It's another neat item I have hanging on the bulletin board in the nursery.


7. My Cale bracelet. When Miles had to go back to work after Cale passed away, my mom was still in town and we came up with a few projects to work on to keep ourselves busy. One was to plant a garden for Cale in the backyard. This is something I plan to do no matter where we live. We also decided to make bracelets. We made some "Cale bracelets" and tried to include a lot of meaning in them. There are 6 pearls on the bracelet, and 28 total beads as he was born on 6/28. We used pearl because it's his birthstone, and blue beads since he's a boy. There is a "C" bead for Cale and a couple heart beads for the love we'll always have for him.


So there you have it. There are just seven of the many wonderful things I have to remind myself of my son.


January 25, 2011

Our Little Sweet Potato. . . And Electric Shaver

When I was pregnant with Cale my friend Ashley sent me the link to a cute site that compares the weekly size of your developing baby to a piece of fruit. I googled that site to see what I am carrying this week, but I also stumbled upon a hilarious weekly size chart for men. The guy who made this list was tired of his baby being compared to fruit, so created a list for Dads.

This week our little boy is about the size of a sweet potato . . .


A sweet potato sounds pleasant, but certainly did not look pleasant in the picture on the website (below).
So I put up a different picture of a sweet potato, a cuter sweet potato, if you will.

AND. . .the size of a small electric razor. . .


Here are the links to the full Fruit List and Manly-Things List - you should check them out as they're both pretty clever!

A sweet potato (and razor) is an awesome size to be as this means the baby is big enough to start feeling. We sat there last night and could feel our little guy moving around. It's too early to know if he's kicking or stretching or just rolling around, but whatever he was doing brought such a smile to our faces. It was as if he was saying, "hey guys, I'm here and doing just fine. . .see, I'm even getting bigger!" I love those little movements. I loved them with Cale and even recorded some of them and will do the same with his brother. And hopefully one day we can show him and tell him that he may have only been the size of a sweet potato, but already had such a big impact on our lives.

January 23, 2011

GO PACK GO!

I never paid much attention to football, or any sports for that matter, while growing up. I never really had a favorite team (other than the UofA) and didn't know much about the game of football. But I married into being a Packer fan. And now I LOVE football. I love the excitement that comes with football season, I love keeping up with how all the teams are doing, I've even played Fantasy Football a couple of years and done pretty well for myself! I even find myself really addicted to Sports Center. . . .despite Chris Berman's ugly ties.

What makes football even better? When your team is good. And this year, the Packers a just that! I think the Superbowl will be a challenging game, but I think it's just great that they even are going. The Steelers used to be an AFC team I didn't mind. That was until their quarterback turned into a big sleeze. So if you aren't sure which team to cheer for, I suggest you go with the one with the classier quarterback. And let's be honest, he's not bad to look at either.

Here are some pictures from the little Packer Party we had today . . .enjoy!


Yes, those are my mom's famous rice krispy treats. With Green and Yellow M&M's. 
Am I my mother's daughter or what?

Because a party wouldn't be a party without a cookie cake!

Is that a cheesehead coozie?

Yes, yes it is.

Roscoe's bandana did not go on until after the victory was secured. 
And I think he's more patient with taking pictures than Miles. 

Looking forward to February 6th . . .GO PACK GO!


January 16, 2011

A Very Wordy Blog

I started blogging for a few reasons. I think it's a neat way to keep family and friends up-to-date with what's going on in our lives, but by giving them a little story behind the pictures and by getting to really share our experiences in a little more personal way than an e-mail or even phone call can sometimes do. I also started this blog for a reason I'm sure lots of other bloggers had - it's my own little virtual soapbox and a chance to share the things that are important to me. Sometimes those things are just my thoughts or my experiences.

I don't want this blog to be just about Cale. That wouldn't be fair to the life and experiences we will have without him. But I also don't ever want him to be forgotten. And in living a life that doesn't include him, it's hard not to think about the fact that it should include him. It's a weird point to be in. We are living the exact same lives we were a year ago. I was pregnant with a boy and we had no children at home. Just the dog. But our lives are not anywhere close to being the exact same. Miles and I were talking about this recently. When you are expecting a child, especially your first, you get ready for the new life you are about to begin. Your views change. Your priorities change. So when he died, we were already different people. It wasn't like we could just go back to our old lives. And yet, we had no choice.

I've been in a little funk recently. I think I'm better, but I can always tell when I'm just having a hard time and over the last week or so I was just having a hard time. Recently, a friend of mine found out she is expecting her rainbow baby. I think finding out this happy news helped bring me out of my funk. But it got me thinking about how different I am and how different my world is, without really being much different. And people just don't really understand that. I don't blame them. But I can at least blog about it and maybe try to explain myself (and in the process maybe explain the thoughts and feelings of others in our situation). First off, we learned the hard way how fragile life is. We learned there are no guarantees. We really learned what pain is and in the process, what love is. I have friends who I met through my online support group, or just through their own baby loss experience who even though I haven't met some of them in "real life," are very dear and special to me. Take above mentioned friend. She just found out she's pregnant, but unfortunately, she knows that getting pregnant is not the same thing as having a baby. Her first baby was stillborn at 40 weeks. She was a perfect and beautiful little girl, who was silently born about three weeks after Cale. And I just hope that when she's ready to "announce" that she's pregnant, she will be greeted with all the love and support she will need to get though this wonderfully emotional roller coaster.

After Cale was born I avoided the channel TLC. There are roughly 8 million different TV shows on that channel about pregnancy. And half of them glorify idiots who shouldn't have kids in the first place. One that sticks out in my mind is the show "Addicted" and the particular episode I came across was about a meth addict who was pregnant. Sweet. Stuff like that pissed me off before we had Cale. Now, it infuriates me.

But what I've come to realize is that it's not just meth addicts or naive 16 year olds who don't understand. It's a lot of people. I used to be one of them. After I made it out of the first trimester with Cale I never even thought about having a stillborn baby. It never crossed my mind. I'm not saying every pregnant woman should be warned of the endless possibilities of what could go wrong, because there is enough to worry about when you are pregnant, but more people need to appreciate when things go right. And that doesn't just go for pregnancy, but everything. I certainly enjoyed my pregnancy with Cale and I knew I was lucky, but it wasn't until after he died that I realized just how fortunate I was. Losing him . . . now that was horrible luck, but being pregnant with him for nine months? That was a blessing. Not because I shouldn't have been able to have a baby or we have fertility issues, but because ALL pregnancies are incredible blessings.

A few months ago I got a nice message from a classmate of mine who I was never close friends with. She just wanted to send her sympathies and she told me she was (at the time) newly pregnant and how reading about my story, helped remind her how fortunate she was and what a blessing it was just to be pregnant. That message made my day. Here's someone I'm not close to, reaching out to me but also expressing gratitude for morning sickness! I know there are lots of other people like her. People who don't have to experience a loss to really grasp how lucky they are. But I wish there were more.

But like I said, appreciating when things go right shouldn't just be limited to pregnancies. And ironically I learned this lesson when everything went horribly wrong.

My family is from Tucson which has been in the news recently. The other day I got a call from my dad and he said that he was listening to the radio and they were talking about some of the upcoming funerals and memorials for some of the victims of the shooting. And he called for no other reason that to tell me he loves me. But what was special about that phone call was that it didn't take the tragedy in Tucson or the news about the funerals to prompt that call.  Well, maybe it prompted that one call in particular, but my dad calls each of his kids for no other reason than to tell us he loves us on a pretty regular basis. It's very special and it reminds me that I too am so grateful for all the things I love. I'm grateful for the things I have and the things I don't have. And I should continue to express that gratitude every chance I get . . . and I think you should too :)

January 10, 2011

Hope

I don't think I ever understood how important Hope is until recently. We probably wouldn't have tried for another baby if we had lost hope. Hope is very different than anything else. I don't think it's the same as having faith. To me having faith involves having a little more trust and certainty in your lives. I certainly have faith about things, but sometimes, I rely on hope to get through.

The last couple of days have been a little hard. Last week after we found out the wonderful news that we are expecting another little boy, I went into the nursery and I was filled with hope and excitement about the thought of getting to unpack some of the boxes that were packed up after Cale died - of getting to put the bedding back on the crib and put the clothes back in the drawers and ready a room that is mostly ready for a baby to enjoy and live in. But unfortunately those good feelings don't stay with me all the time. 

We needed to either get new blinds or put up curtains in the nursery as it currently doesn't block much sunlight. So Miles looked at some options for blinds and wanted to install them before his next business trip. He didn't really see any good options, so we thought we'd try some curtains. We bought some pretty cream ones, but they were too light. So we tried some brown ones that we have and those seemed to do the trick. And after he was done hanging them I started crying and said "I hope this all isn't for nothing."

It's hard to have those thoughts. I don't like it. And trust me, I try not to as best as possible. But every once in a while, thoughts like that creep into my mind and my heart. But fortunately they don't stay there. It definitely helps that I'm married to such a supportive and understanding person. Miles never tells me not to think like that or to just be positive. It's something we work on doing together. Instead he tells me he understands, and reassures me that no matter what happens, he will always love me. And in doing so, he helps give me hope for what is ahead.

Hope is an amazing thing. We may not know what the future holds, we may not even feel confident as we head there. But we at least have hope as we to try and get there.

Now since this isn't "unhappily" Hidalgo, I wouldn't feel right ending on a not-so-peppy note. So I'll include this picture we took yesterday. Ignore the tired, make-up free looking Caroline, but I thought this picture was another good example of how important it is to have hope. Yesterday our hearts were filled with hope for the Pack Attack! And it paid off!

 Roscoe isn't allowed to wear his Packers bandana during games as it's proved to be unlucky. 
So instead, he sported one of Miles' t-shirts. I don't think he was too thrilled about it, but he certainly looked adorable!

January 5, 2011

Thank Heaven for Little Boys!

We are expecting another little boy!! The night before the appointment I said to Miles, "I really think we're having a boy." But honestly, if you asked me a month or two ago, I would have said I thought we were having a girl. But that night I really felt very confident that we would find out we were expecting a boy. and let's be honest, it's a 50/50 chance, so not really that impressive to have a hunch one way or the other.

I know finding out the gender can be hard for a lot of parents who have lost a baby. Having a girl would be hard as we were so ready for a boy. Before Cale was even born, I wanted another boy after him anyway, so I know it would have been a little harder for me emotionally to wrap my head around having a girl (even though I'm sure we would eventually grow to be really excited). But I know people can even have a hard time adjusting to the same gender as you never want others to view your current baby as a replacement. But I'm not worried about that. Instead I just love the idea that there's a baby boy in Heaven for us to love and a baby boy in my belly for us to love.


Miles is excited too. I think, well I know, he's excited that I have no excuse to go out and buy a bunch of girl stuff. We are all set for this little guy! And I think he's secretly patting himself on the back, like he's proud that he only makes men! (so far anyway).

 

January 4, 2011

2011

'2011' just sounds weird. But I think I have those same feeling every year. Really, it's just a little odd to not be in 2010 anymore. I think it's great to be moving forward and to have entered 2011 with lots to look forward to, but 2010 will always stand out as Cale's year in my mind. So it's a little sad to be further away from that, but in time it won't be as sad and 2010 will be special because of him. After we got back from our trips out to Arizona and California I was weeding through our mail and my sweet friend Amy sent the most thoughtful card. In it she said, "when you look back on this year and remember Cale, may you find him a blessing and his life a gift." It was perfect and touching and exactly what I always want for him.
I have some wonderful friends :)

Back to 2010 though. . .  we finished the year out in Arizona and then California. While in Arizona we went to the Insight Bowl where Iowa upset the #12 Missouri. My mom, in addition to being the most patriotic person ever (see last post), is also the biggest Iowa fan ever.

My mom's friend Cindy (also an Iowa grad) attended the game with us. These two ladies were in Hawk Heaven.
Kate - we'll photo shop you in this picture for the Christmas cards mom never sends out :)

In California we went tot he Rose Bowl which, despite Wisconsin's loss, was a really fun event. I'd definitely go again. The parade, the tailgating, and just the overall excitement made it a really fun day. We also had a great time with Miles' brother and wife, and their far-too-cute 15 month old as well as Miles' parents.

Pregnant wife = built in DD

New Years Eve.
Excited that 2011 will be this baby's year.
This picture probably could make a Packer fan out of anyone! If not, there's something wrong with you.