March 31, 2013

Obligatory Easter Post

  
 Are these all mine? 

Ok let's hurry up and take these pictures.

  
I have a huppy to play with. 

Lellow egg.

Egg cell phone. Hallo.

 
  Forget pictures mom. Let's swing. This way is fun.

 Family Picture on Cale's bench. Happy Easter.

 ................................................................................................

March 28, 2013

Kale

My sister-in-law Jenny and I took the boys to the park this week. They were running around playing, going down the "lide" (slide) and having fun in the swings. It was a really pretty day and the sun was out. Finn wouldn't let go of his snack cup and held it the whole time while he played on the playground. There were a few older boys playing, but they mostly kept to themselves. Then Finn ran by one, he must have been about eleven, give or take a year. He saw Finn and said "Well hi. You're cute." Finn looked up, but didn't say hi back so I spoke for him. "Can you say 'hi, my name is Finn?'" "That's a neat name" he replied. "Thanks," I said, "what's your name?"

"My name's Kale."

I always knew that at some point I would meet another Cale. I did once during my pregnancy with him - it was a toddler in my friend's daughter's daycare. And I know other people who know Cales. But since having our own, I've never met another. I was almost surprised to hear it was his name, not because I wasn't expecting it (which I wasn't as it's not a common name), but because I guess I irrationally always thought that I'd meet a little boy named Cale who was born in the summer of 2010. Who was the age my Cale should be. I don't know why I thought that, but just knew that when I met a Cale it would make my heart skip a beat and cause me to pause.

And it did. I got that almost nervous feeling you get right before speaking in front of a large group or are in an uncomfortable situation.

But it was a fleeting feeling and after my initial response of "really, you're name is Cale?"  "Yes Ma'am," he said, I just smiled, pointed to Finn and said, "that's his brother's name too."

"Oh neat."
"Do you spell it C-A-L-E?"
"No, I'm K-A-L-E like the vegetable."
"You're actually the first other Cale that I've met"
"Really? Well your son is the first one I've ever heard of either."
"Well, it's a great name."
"Thanks. His name (motioning to Finn) is neat too"
"Thank you."

He was a really sweet kid. I found myself creepily watching him from time to time before we left the park. His brother bumped into another kid and started crying when he bit his tongue. He ran over and asked if he was ok. He also went up to another, much younger, boy on the playground asking if he wanted to join their game of tag.

I think it made my heart especially happy that this particular Kale was kind. If he had been a little punk I would have wanted to smack him and tell him not to ruin the name. But he wasn't. He was a good boy with nice manners and the best name.

It was a nice day.


................................................................................................

March 26, 2013

March Expeditions

Between long weekends and Miles having some block leave, we've really been able to get out and explore this month which has been really nice. We've hit up Dallas, Houston, Brenham, and New Orleans recently and I just wanted to recap some of the highlights from each.

And because he's the most spoiled pup ever, we brought Roscoe along everywhere we went:

La Quinta's love the Pups, so we love La Quinta.

Dallas:
We went up to Dallas twice this month. The first was when Miles attended a weekend long CrossFit weightlifting seminar. While he was at the gym, Finn and I explored the town.

Dallas Aquarium:
I didn't take too many pictures as it was super crowded and hard to really see too much without waiting in long lines and trying to push my way through with the stroller. Finn seemed to enjoy what he did see though.


Dallas Zoo:
The zoo was much more successful than the aquarium as we went shortly after they opened when there was barely anyone else there. This meant that Finn could run around and I didn't have to worry about him getting out of my sight. Also, we got to feed a giraffe and see the animals up close without many people around. He loved the lions and kept saying "rawr" and kept calling the elephants "huppy." He made monkey noises when he saw the monkeys and loved seeing the horses and ponies in the children's section of the zoo. I just loved seeing him recognize so many animals and make their respective sounds. We definitely will hit up another zoo sometime soon.


Perot Museum of Nature and Science:
We hit up this museum on our more recent trip up to Dallas. The pictures do not do it justice for just how much it had to offer and all the different exhibits.


Houston:
When I was young, I was obsessed with the movie Apollo 13 and it got me so totally enamored with the space program, astronauts, etc. So while in Houston we went to the Space Center to fulfill my childhood dreams. It was really neat, don't get me wrong - but we just did the Space Center part which is really catered to young kids and Finn is too young to be a space/science geek - fingers crossed he will be though! I wish he had more time and did the tour of NASA. Maybe another time though.


We also met up with my friend Natasha and her family while in Houston which I mentioned in my last post.

New Orleans:
After Houston we drove to New Orleans. I had never been before and it was exactly what I thought it would be - though I'm sure it's an entirely different city when you aren't exploring it with a toddler. We ate beignets at Cafe Du Monde which were worth every minute waiting in line, checked out the St. Louis Cathedral, toured the World War II Museum which was amazing, and ate things like alligator and listened to jazz on just about every street corner. Not many pictures, but I thought the one of Finn was cute. We were in the French Quarter and he saw a statue of Andrew Jackson on a horse and kept saying "nehh."


Brenham
On our way back home we stopped in Brenham, Texas to tour the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory. It's mostly a southern distributed ice cream, so if you live in a state that doesn't have it - just trust me when I say you're missing out. They gave out huge free samples at the end of the tour, even one for Finn, but he was kind to share the majority of it with Mama. Smart boy.


That's it for our travels this month, but we have also had some visitors. First my dear friend Anna came out for a few days which was wonderful, but even more exciting when she left as she got engaged shortly after!


After Anna left, Miles' brother and his family arrived. They are living with us until they find and close on a house in Austin. Finn is loving having his cousins here - more on that later as having three little Hidalgos in the house, three and under, are worthy of their own post.
................................................................................................

March 23, 2013

#17

Number 17 on my list of things to do before I'm thirty is to get together with some of my baby loss/blog friends. I have already succeeded in doing this TWICE and the best part is that I'll get to meet more this summer. First, I met Brandy and her family when they came to Texas for a wedding:

 Andrew and Benjamin's Momma

Then I got to meet Natasha and her family when we took a little road trip to Houston recently:

Aiden and Mason's Momma

This summer I'm going to be getting together with several other baby loss friends who I've connected with over the years. If anyone is interested in joining us, shoot me an email - the more the merrier. It's going to feel like a great big reunion when in reality most of us have never even met before. This community has been the best thing for me in regards to being able to really grieve for Cale and the complexities of losing a child, in particular losing one to stillbirth as many of my friends lost children in similar fashions. When I talk about these women I find myself saying, "my friend" when again, I haven't even met most of them, yet I really meant that. These connections, through support groups and blogging, emailing and link ups, have formed genuine and wonderful friendships that I'm beyond grateful for, but of course not a single one of us wishes we knew each other. At least not under the circumstances that we do. One of life's cruel and beautiful things I suppose.
................................................................................................

March 16, 2013

Happily Hidalgo?

I sometimes think I should change my blog name. I came up with it a few months after we lost Cale and sometimes I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I picked something so peppy and, well, happy sounding. I guess I was thinking that in spite of all we had just gone through I was so happy to have Miles, happy to be a Hidalgo and hopeful that one day we would have a little family who just had a version of happy ever after that also had some really, really sad parts to it.

And then a few months after I started the blog Daren was killed. And then my dad had cancer and Jenny too and then we had a miscarriage and holy crap is our family cursed!?!

No. We've just had some sad things happen. Horrible things. And I like to write about all these things because this is real and difficult stuff, because it's life. Miles and I were just talking that while yes, our family may have had a bit more than your fair share of unfortunate events, we've also had a lot less than some people. While we sometimes wonder why it seemed like this stuff never happened before, the reality is that stillbirth, cancer, even Soldiers dying - it's all been going on for a very long time. As you grow older you just become more and more exposed to it all. Some, like ourselves, more exposed than others.

This past week three West Point graduates passed away. Both Miles and I lost a classmate. If you have a minute (and you probably do) please take a moment to read a little about them and maybe even leave a nice message for their family members who are hurting so much right now - you can post a eulogy by clicking the top left link on the top of the following pages:

Captain Sara Cullen and Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel

So, should I change the blog name? And if so, what to? I would probably try to figure out a way to change the web address too - I know you can do that somehow. Or should I just leave it? My blogs fluctuate so much between happy and sad. The last two posts are evidence of that. One minute it's what's going on in our lives, then how adorable Finn is, how much I still miss Cale, random post about nothing in particular, random sad thing I wanted to write about/share, Finn is so awesome, I love my dog but look what he did, Finn is seriously awesome - he slept until 9:30 this morning! (true story), another sad post about something probably related to baby loss, look at this furniture I re-did, something deep and meaningful, something trivial and silly, etc, etc, etc. I've kind of decided that the main reason I blog is so I don't have to scrapbook. I'm getting off track, but seriously, so much of what I write about doesn't seem appropriate under a title containing any form of the word 'happy'.

But back to the main topic at hand - the reason I wanted to write a post tonight is mostly to share those two links. The war is so far from over, but our society is so far removed from it. But for the families of Sara and Andrew, and the 6,675 other US Soldiers who have been killed, their lives are forever changed. The sad thing is I'm processing all this news, all this death, and grief, and heartache so much differently these days. It's awful and horrible and will always be, but there is a part of me that has had to learn (the hard way) that it's also just part of life. As much as we wish it weren't.

................................................................................................

March 10, 2013

I've got spirit, yes I do. I've got spirit, how 'bout you?

Each year the West Point Society's across the country host a Founder's Day dinner to celebrate when Thomas Jefferson signed the document that founded the military academy in 1802. I've been to them before and usually they are a semi-formal affair with a mixture of old grads, recent grads, cadets, and cadet candidates. When I went to one out in Arizona as a cadet, I had to wear my formal uniform, full dress, the super uncomfortable one:


I never went to one while I was still active duty, but the Founder's Day Dinner in Georgia was equally formal with officers wearing their Blues.

But this year my friend Julia told me about the dinner that the Texas Society hosts and instead of making it a formal affiar, they just make it more fun (and as such many of those in attendance used it as a chance to get schwasted on a weekday). The "uniform" is as-for-spirit so we dug up some old cadet items and people rocked whatever Army/West Point attire they wanted - to include old cadet bathrobes and shower shoes.

We didn't stay the whole time as we needed to get home to our friend who was watching Finn, but it was a pretty fun evening. Kinda strange as it felt like a blast from the past, especially running in to people I haven't seen since I graduated, but I'm glad we went.



................................................................................................

March 6, 2013

My Grief and My Guilt

When we lost Cale I called only a few people. Miles called the rest and eventually word just got out. I called my parents and they got a hold of my brother who was deployed at the time. I also called my sister Kate, who didn't answer, so I sent her a text just asking her to call me.  When she called she was excited. She asked "are you in labor!?" and I had to tell her that we lost him. That the baby was gone. She cried immediately. She was confused and hurt and I could hear in her voice how very broken she already was for us, for Cale. One of the first people that Kate got in touch with before she flew out to be with us, was her friend Katie. Katie was there for her, she listened, consoled, and was a very good friend to Kate. She even sent us a very kind letter that I still have.

Last week Katie called Kate with the eerily similar and heartbreaking news that this time it was her sister who had lost a baby.

When my sister called me she was so upset. So upset that this tragedy continues to happen, so upset that her friend is hurting, that she knows what she is going through - to not only grieve for the baby, but for her sister as well. She was upset because it brought back so many memories and she was upset because she still misses Cale.

Obviously, I don't like seeing or hearing my sister so heartbroken, but I do appreciate how very real baby loss is to her and how much she loves her nephew.

Kate asked me what they should do. She asked what advice I had for her to pass on to Katie and what she could help with. Immediately I rattled of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I told her to encourage them to take as many pictures as possible, to hold their baby (they didn't know the gender at the time, and learned at delivery that they had a baby girl), and just take their time with her and examine every part of her. I contacted Katie and sent her links and blogs and tips without trying to be too overwhelming, though you just want these people, these poor unfortunate parents who are walking in your shoes, to know everything you didn't and to know that you are so very heartbroken for them.

And I am heartbroken for them. It doesn't matter that I don't know them. Because they lost a baby and that alone means I know them better than I ever should.

When you hear of a new loss, you not only grieve for all that should have been for this other baby and this other family, but it brings back a lot of your own grief. It's not like I don't know that I still miss Cale and am still so sad that he's not here, but sometimes these things happen and just remind you how very much you still hurt and how very horrible it all still is. Despite all the good that has come, despite the 20 incredible months we have had with his brother, I still desperately miss my first son.

But along with my grief also comes a lot of guilt. I don't like that I know what to recommend to a grieving family. I don't like that I know how to respond, or have some helpful things to share. I obviously don't like it because I don't want to have the first hand knowledge and experience, but I also don't like it because a lot of the things that I say are things that I didn't do with Cale and things I will forever regret.

The fact of the matter is that I did not do Cale justice when he was born.

I don't say that to fetch for kind words or for anyone to tell me otherwise, because that is just a fact and always will be. I held him for far too brief of a time and I didn't even unwrap the blanket he was wrapped in. We didn't know about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, but when asked if we wanted to take pictures, I said no. Thank God my nurse took two anyway, but what if she hadn't? It would have only make my grief, and my guilt, that much stronger.

I can make excuses and I know that I was in shock at the time, lost and confused, and how could we have known exactly what to do? But as his mother, as someone who carried him for nine months and loved him and planned a life for him, I felt like I should have, and I could have, done more for him in the short time we had together.

What it all goes back to is that I just wish I took my time with him. I do wish I took pictures - pictures of his hands, his little feet, pictures of us holding him, etc - but I mostly wish that I saw more of him. He's wearing just a diaper in one of his pictures, but I wish that I saw that with my own eyes. I wish I kissed his toes, and dressed him in the clothes that were already packed in my hospital bag. I wish I held his hand in mine and really took a moment to just breathe him in.

I know what I did do when I had him was important. I did hold him, and I did kiss him and tell him I loved him, but that will never be enough. And I will forever wish that things were different.

All I can do now is try to make up for it. To honor Cale and do him justice the best I can. Maybe it's by sharing his story or by helping others. And hopefully in the process other baby loss families will have a little less guilt, because no one needs guilt on top of grief - their grief is already so much.

Please keep baby Emma and her family in your thoughts and prayers. This is a tough road they're walking on.
................................................................................................

March 4, 2013

Happy 27th, Daren

Today my brother-in-law should be turning 27. Instead, two years ago today we attended his funeral at West Point. We sang him Happy Birthday at the end of the service. It was really special and really, really sad.

As I mentioned on the anniversary of his passing, we want today, his birthday, to be more of a celebration, especially as Finley gets older. So today we ate chicken fingers (Daren's favorite) and we enjoyed an ice cream cake. Even Finn got down on Daren's Birthday dinner - I'm just thankful that Daren's favorite dish wasn't a plate full of vegetables because then we'd have issues!

Chicken Fingers, Fries, and Beer.

 Happy Birthday toast!

This was the smallest cake they had. Oh darn.

A little over a week ago we completed the CrossFit Hero WOD that was created for Daren. Miles has done it before, but I never have - I've never really done a CrossFit workout before that was longer than ten minutes and oh. my. goodness. this was a total smoker. Here's the workout normally:

"Hidalgo"
For time:
Run 2 miles
Rest 2 minutes
135 pound Squat clean, 20 reps
20 Box jump, 24" box
20 Walking lunge steps with 45lb plate held overhead
20 Box jump, 24" box
135 pound Squat clean, 20 reps
Rest 2 minutes
Run 2 miles

I obviously had to scale the weight back a lot. A whole lot. And it still was exhausting. Oh, and did I mention that you are supposed to wear a 20 lb weight vest for the entire workout! Yeah, I didn't do that. Roscoe ran the first two miles with me and we had a lot of great friends come out to complete it as well. The gym that hosted it raised donations for Daren's Memorial Fund and they had a great turnout of people (probably around 40-50 total) who didn't even know Daren, but who wanted to do the workout in his honor. It was really great to see.


Happy Birthday Daren, we love you.

................................................................................................