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A huge thank you – it’s a community thing

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” ~Herman Melville

I’ve always been a very independent person, capable of juggling and getting things done on my own. Then I had children. When you have children, even if you have a helpful husband and helpful parents like mine, you find that you need others– you need community.

I’ve known this for a while and I’m so blessed that I’m part of one. It’s sometimes difficult for me to ask others for help, and because of my work schedule I can’t always reciprocate and return the favors, I feel guilty, but when something happens and people step up for you without you having to ask, it’s like a huge warm hug.

In a quirky accident at my son’s soccer game this weekend, (my husband was at work so it was just me), my daughter tripped, fell and cut her knee open on the metal edge of a sun umbrella (a large one, not the smaller rain deterrent version).

I did not see her fall, so when she first hobbled over to me, crying and bleeding, my initial reaction was to stop the blood. I grabbed wet wipes, sat her down and applied pressure. Another mom immediately came over and said gently, we have to look and see how deep it is.

I’m not the queasy at the sight of blood sort, nor am I a panic in stressful situation person, but I admit that my instinct was to stop the blood. And that is as far as I got. It didn’t occur to me that it could be dangerously deep or need medical attention that I could not provide.

I’m thankful for the mom I know, who was a step ahead of me, grabbing her first aid kit and reminding me to check out the wound.

As my daughter’s pain and fear rose to higher levels and my arms and words didn’t sooth her, I’m thankful for the other mom I know, who came over and acted as the master of distraction, creatively taking my daughter’s mind off her knee, long enough for a dad I know to come over and help clean and dress the wound.

It turns out that the cut, while not deep, was wide and on the part of her knee that bends, so she did in fact need three stitches.

I’m also eternally grateful for those friends of mine, my community, who offered to go with me to the emergency room, but who understood that I needed to go alone because I needed them to stay at the game and cheer on my son, and watch over him. I’m eternally grateful for all of them banding together, taking my son to dinner and saving two spots at the table for my daughter and I, who, after two hours in the emergency room, really needed food.

And I’m eternally grateful for their concern the next day, for them needing to know if she was ok, if she was in pain, if the bleeding had stopped, as if she was their own child.

After the craziness of the weekend, my sense of community was reinforced this morning, when I had another scheduling issue with two different summer programs (one soccer, one VBS) in two different locations but starting at the same time. I was reluctant to just drop my son off, but a dad who is part of my community, said he’d keep an eye on him for me and another mom gave him a ride back to his school camp when soccer was done. And took him for hamburgers. And sent me a picture. The silly face he is making means he is happy. Which makes me happy.FullSizeRenderI’m thankfulfor these freindships,  that I’m part of a community, and that they are part of mine.

gingerbreadmama

Stronger. 2012, here I come.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like them and the only one I’ve kept is the one I made not to make them. I’d rather set goals throughout the year, targeting areas that are meaningful to me at that time. And 2012 won’t be any different, except that I’m going to be more focused in what I want to accomplish.

The truth is, 2011 was a good year in a big picture sort-of way but ended poorly. In fact, December really sucked. Happy, worth-celebrating events, like a dear friend’s 40th birthday and the Christmas holiday, were overshadowed by a miscarriage, coming in dead last in my 5K (stupid of me to attempt it two days after my D&C), crappy deadlines, and a horrible cold (I even lost my voice). All of that put me in a foul mood for almost the entire month.

But 2011 is behind me and 2012 brings a fresh start. So far, I changed my hair (went a little darker with a little ombre, adding a touch of spicy to the new year), Fussypants turned 5 and in itself is monumental but also brought my brother, sister-in-law, cutest nephew ever and my aunt in town for a visit and I started working out again. So far, so good.

After the miscarriage, I did some reflecting and realized that without question, I am content to remain a family of four. And since four has always been my favorite number (I don’t know why, it just is), it becomes even more meaningful that I have four areas I want to focus on in 2012: Family, Friends, Fitness and Me. I couldn’t come up with an F-word for myself (ha) so I’m calling that area Feng-shui Me (simply defined as improving life by receiving positive qi – life energy, life-force), so it works as my F-word.

My four areas for 2012

In addition to my four areas of focus, I am also incorporating a word theme. Shell from Things I Can’t Say had a fb post about word/themes for the year and that intrigued me. It was easy to pick one since I know what I want to accomplish: Stronger. I want to be stronger in several areas.

Family: My family is my everything but I plan to be stronger and more focused on prioritizing certain areas so that I am really embracing the moments I have with my family.

  • Date nights. 2011 was a better year for my husband and I in terms of making more time for date nights, which often included overnight babysitting, but I want to be more consistent in making sure he and I have alone time. This ranges from the simple matter of getting the kids to bed at their bedtime hour so he and I can have time to ourselves each evening to actually going out on dates and taking weekends away. The last weekend away we had together was in July – I know. But so far, 2012 is off to a good start…we are going to Vegas, just the two of us, in a few days.
  • One-on-on time with my kids. Fussypants is at the age where he enjoys and benefits from just mommy & me time and daddy & me time. My husband is better at this than I am (but only with our son) and I want to spend more time with each of my kids, doing what they want to do. They each have their own interests and I want to embrace that. This will also include time with my son, husband and myself and my daughter, husband and myself. We tried this on Fussypant’s birthday. My folks took Little Miss and my husband and I took him to the hockey game, just the three of us. It was really nice and he enjoyed the one-on-one attention.
  • Family fun time. In direct contradiction to the bullet above, I want to spend more time together as a family. We are always better at this in the summer but there is no reason why we can’t focus on this all year. My husband’s work schedule means that sometimes he isn’t home 24-72 hours in a row so we need to take advantage of when he is home and do fun things, even if it is something as simple as a family bike ride.
  • Extended family. My parents live in Southern California now and I don’t want to only see them when we are passing the kids off when they babysit. I really like my mom and dad and want to spend quality time with them, sometimes without my kids. And I need to see my brother and his family more often. He lives in Arizona but my nephew is growing so fast and I don’t want to miss out on every single moment. I also have an aunt, and two cousins (one who also has kids) in Northern California that I miss and a biological family that I very much enjoy spending time with that I want to see more of. It’s difficult to fit it all in but I need to find a way.

Friends: I used to be a really good friend but then I had kids. I thought I’d see more of my friends after having kids but it rarely works out that way. Our kids are on different schedules or in different age groups or have different interests so I don’t have as many play dates as I thought I would. And some of my friends don’t want to do play dates, they want to get together without the kids which then introduces scheduling and babysitting dilemmas. I’m not saying I never see my friends, that’s certainly not the case, I just want to be better at it. In 2012, I want to make more of an effort, I want to be the one inviting my friends to lunch rather than just accepting their invitation. I want to reach out to them more, just because. I plan to be stronger and more focused on being a better, more accessible friend.

Fitness: I’m off to a good start in 2012 but I don’t want to be in getting in shape mode forever. I want to achieve maintenance mode. Maybe that is not the right term but I want what my husband has. Ok, not the freakishly fit, carving out 3 hours a day to workout routine but he is already in shape, and works out to maintain that shape. I feel like I’m constantly wading in the deep end of getting back in shape and targeting certain areas (currently I’m all about cardio and core). But I need to dig deeper (says the girl who likes carbs and wine and chocolate). I have a 10K trail run coming up in March, and the week after that I’m doing a mud-run with a team of moms. Working towards a goal. I plan to be stronger and more focused on consistently working out and pushing myself to achieve the results I want.

Feng-shui Me: I’m always tired and usually cranky, forgetful, and unorganized. I never used to be that way, especially forgetful and unorganized. And I’m done with it. We recently watched Kung-Fu Panda 2 and it occurred to me that I need to find my inner peace. If I can align myself in my own mind, then my family, work , sleep, and everything else will benefit. There is so much to do in this area; I need to purge and organize closets and kid crap, time-manage my work projects (I’m actually really good at meeting deadlines), get a freaking handle on the laundry (my life would be more pleasant if I folded and put away at the same time), actually look ahead on my calendar so I don’t almost miss birthdays and really, really, really make more time for myself to be me. This could be as simple as reading a book (I’ve set a goal to read a minimum of 25 books this year), taking a nap, getting a pedicure or as big as having a girl’s night out. I almost always operate in Mom-Wife-Career Mode, which I love and wouldn’t change for the world, but sometimes I just need to take a step away and be in Coreen Mode. I plan to be stronger and more focused on myself, so that I am more peaceful and productive.

And that’s that. 2012, here I come.

gingerbreadmama

Miscarriage sucks

The flowers my husband brought to my work, as a surprise

Miscarriage sucks for so many reasons. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, a physical drain. Even though this pregnancy was unexpected and at first I wasn’t sure how I felt, every day I was pregnant I was more comfortable with the idea of having a third child. You can’t help but imagine the what’s next, what the baby will be like, if it is a boy or girl, names…

 
This past week was a really rough week for me. I felt like I needed a sign that said, “I’m going through a miscarriage so either back the f*@k off or give me a hug” because I wasn’t able to just curl up in the fetal position and cry, like I wanted. My friend Tonya shared a quote that explains it well, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”
 
Life goes on.
 
I had to keep a smile on my face, and keep putting one foot in front of the other because I have children, a career, things that required my attention. I swear, on my death bed I should be given an academy award. I’m sure there are many of us that feel deserving of that accolade. Sometimes, you just have to keep on keeping on.

This is my second miscarriage but the saddest part of that is that I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the women I know who have also suffered this loss. I read a static that 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That is a staggering number.

Most of my friends have had multiple miscarriages, and unfortunately I even know a few who have had as many as four. It’s unimaginable. And difficult to discuss. But we are unified in our pain and misery, and keeping quiet about it just isn’t my nature.

I meant to publish this post yesterday, so that today would be a fresh start but I just wasn’t up to it. We found out last Friday that the baby wasn’t growing and had no heartbeat. So I had a D & C yesterday. 

And now,  my procreation quest has come full-circle. My first miscarriage in 2006 also resulted in a D & C,  and even though it was a different doctor, it was in the same surgery center as my last D & C, because it will be my last, I’m not going through this again.

We are going to be very diligent in our birth control moving forward and remain a family of four. And I’m more than ok with that. I love my life, my husband, my boy, my girl. And as much as another baby would have been welcome, we are done.

Things happen for a reason and while I’m not sure yet what the reasoning behind our unexpected pregnancy and then the loss is yet, there is a positive take-away. My husband and I got pregnant without trying. That had never happened for us before. After so many years of trying to get pregnant without success, and my husband asking “is this procreation or pleasure” (and it was rarely just pleasure) and only ever getting pregnant with help from our fertility doctor, we did it. We had a good time, just us, with no agenda and we made a baby. And even though that baby is now back with God, I have that knowledge in my heart that we created something beautiful, without trying.

Thank you to my husband, my family and my friends, who have given me love and strength these past few weeks. I hope I can always be that type of strength and inspiration to you.

Life goes on.

Every day is a new day.

So far, so good.

gingerbreadmama

Lost in my mind

“Momma once told me
You’re already home where you feel loved
I am lost in my mind
I get lost in my mind”

I appreciate all the love and support I’ve received from my family and friends during this time. I am still conflicted about this unexpected news, which is messing me up. I’m usually mentally strong but not right now.

My blood test results were not postive but also not conclusive. My progesterone levels went down and although my HCG went up, it didn’t double from last week. My doctor’s quote was, “your levels are not going up as we expect them to”. I have an ultrasound scheduled for Friday but I don’t know if we’ll have answers then either. When we miscarried (because we were in the arms of fertility we had ultrasounds weekly) we saw the heartbeat twice, before he stopped developing. The low HCG is disconcerting, because I think that even if we see a heartbeat on Friday, it may not mean the baby is thriving. And the not knowing and the waiting is draining me. 

I just don’t know what I want. Part of me does not want to be pregnant and have another baby but the other part of me can’t help thinking about how my husband and I created something so amazing, without even trying. There is just a beauty in that.

I feel like I am the punchline of a bad joke about contradictions.

I hope to have answers on Friday.

gingerbreadmama

Tot talk

Fussypants has a good friend, let’s call him L, that he’ll talk about and ask about randomly. As I was driving the kids to school this morning, Fussypants queried, “I wonder what color L’s city is”.

I responded that he lived in Huntington Beach and he said, “I know that, but what color is it?”

Took me a minute to figure it out (yes, I’m dumber since having kids) but when it clicked, it made me smile. My kid is really cute.

We live in the city of Orange.

Get it?

What color is your city?

From the mouth of babes.

gingerbreadmama

Sharing, with stipulations

Fussypants is very good with his sister. He does push and shove and terrorize her on occasion but she’s tough and pushes and shoves and terrorizes right back. Her best tactic however, is to just cry because then she gets an immediate response from me and dad and Fussypants usually gets scolded. He is always honest though and tells us exactly what he did to make her cry (it usually involves a shove or a stolen toy).

Sibling love. Thankfully, they get along really well 95% of the time.

Sibling love

Keeping busy with crayons

Over the weekend Fussypants wanted to make a book, so while he was illustrating his pages he let his sister use his crayons. All’s well until she decides to use them the wrong way. It’s all about sharing, but with stipulations.

gingerbreadmama

Run mama run

I used to run all the time. Long distances. I can’t recall when exactly I stopped doing that but I do know it was pre-ipod/small mp3 players and had something to do with me not wanting that much alone time with my angsty thoughts. So it must have been when I was in my 20s.

I’ve wanted to get back into running for a long time and on Sunday I am doing a 5K in Long Beach. I haven’t run a “race” since 2008 and truth be told, I walked a good chunk of it with my friend Kelly.

Gingerbreadmama and Captain Fussypants, 2008

I’ve been half-ass training for this upcoming 5K and I don’t feel completely ready. I realize it is only 3.2 miles and that this race is attached to a marathon and a half-marathon, which are considerably farther distances, so I shouldn’t whine about 3 measly miles but am feeling nervous about it anyway.

This one is called the Run Forrest Run, aptly named – they must have seen me coming – because me running is more like a jog and after the spectacular, inebriated tumble I took at the Blink 182 concert, wrecking my knee, I’d consider my pace to be just above limping.

But I’m lucky to have a circle of trust and in it a dear friend who embodies the word persevere, who asked me what my goal was. Without hesitation I responded, “To finish”. She chuckled and said, “Then you’re ready. And then you can beat that time in your next race” (because she knows I am doing the Chapman 5K less than a week later).

So here I am, two days before my race and I guess I’m ready.

gingerbreadmama

Pour your heart out: When you don’t have the words or you have too many

Everyone has a story when it comes to getting pregnant, and, sadly, most of my friends, myself included, didn’t get pregnant easily and we’ve all suffered loss in some form.

But this past year has been especially difficult for three of my friends. One had three miscarriages back-to-back and was told she ran a high risk of having another. One miscarried, didn’t get pregnant for another two years, then lost that baby in the 2nd trimester and has since had two IVF attempts not take. One beat cancer but at the cost of her uterus and ovaries, but did an egg retrieval before treatment, has six “babies” just waiting for a womb but has had two surrogates back out for personal reasons. And on top of all that horribleness, which is more than one person should ever endure, they are also dealing with the high costs and high emotions of seeking medical help.

When I hear what they are going through it hits me in the gut like it was happening to me because I know what it is like to want something so much and have it just out of your reach. I wish I could do something, anything, for them.

Because I am a fixer and there has to be a solution.

But I either don’t have the words to tell them to keep hope in their heart. That they are in my prayers. That they will be moms someday.

Or I have too many words that they don’t need to hear because they don’t want a fucking cheerleader. They don’t want to hear that they will be moms someday when that day seems unattainable. They don’t want to hear they are in my prayers when theirs aren’t being answered. They don’t want to know that I think spending every cent you own to have a baby is worth it. Or that there are always options.

Because my words can’t fix it.

But you are in my prayers and I hope you keep trying. And I will be here for you, silently or screaming at the top of my lungs. Whatever you need from me to get you through.

Because we are in this together, you are my sisters of choice and I’ll share your loss just like I’ll share your joy.

Need to pour your heart out? Get more info at Things I Can’t Say.

gingerbreadmama