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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shay, our angel

"No chance hath brought this ill to me; 'Tis God's own hand, so let it be, He seeth what I cannot see. There is a need-be for each pain, And He one day will make it plain that earthly loss is heavenly gain."

This was the first devotional I read after receiving our devastating news thirteen days ago. Our sweetie, the beautiful third baby neither one of us knew we wanted so badly, had gone to heaven two weeks prior.
I was supposed to be 13 weeks on the date of my doctor's appointment. We had been perturbed that I hadn't seen an ultrasound yet, something to do with our insurance, so I was very much looking forward to hearing the heart beat via a doppler. If for some strange reason they told us, "your insurance won't allow us to confirm anything," the plan in my head had been to throw some sort of crazy fit and demand an ultrasound. Either way, I was going to experience the baby beyond my pregnancy symptoms.

After having a nice, upbeat conversation with my new doctor about how uneventful my last two pregnancies were, I laid on back ready for doppler-time. We couldn't hear anything, which didn't worry me until I looked at Dr. Borrowdale's scrunched face. After I sat up, he really wasn't looking me in the eye and his shoulders were slouched. He told me that this was normal and that sometimes women aren't as far along as they thought, so I may just be a few weeks shy of what is necessary to hear over the doppler. I asked him if he was worried, and without looking at me, he said no, but then immediately swung open the office door and semi-yelled toward the nurses, "where can I send her for an ultrasound? Take a look at her insurance." I told him that I don't care where this third party ultrasound place was, I could make it happen that day, now in a semi-desperate state. He let me know that my HMO had to approve the ultrasound, so it wouldn't be for a few days. WHAT?

I took the ultrasound papers with the phone numbers to call and went out to my car. I immediately called the place and told them that I will drive there right now or any time they have available, I just was not going to wait a few days - I would rather have paid for it out of pocket than worry over the weekend (this was on a Wednesday but apparently it was going to take 3-5 days for approval). They said they couldn't do it and to call back on Monday. After getting off the phone, I immediately text messaged my sister. I didn't want to tell anyone what was going on except for Chad, but I absolutely had to go to some ultrasound tech somewhere in the Southern California region of the world. After 10 seconds of her not responding, I texted my two other friends, again not wanting to say anything, but the need to find a non-diagnostic "clinic" type place was far more important to me. I knew they knew of at least one place where one could just pay for an ultrasound. At this point I had apparently lost any control of emotion - I unwillingly was crying but didn't want to be crying because nothing was confirmed. Thankfully my sister and two friends got back to me at the exact same time, all of them pointing me in the direction of a 4D place which also did regular gender reveals in Lake Forest. I called the place and booked an appointment for 45 minutes, then jammed down there, crying the entire way. A part of me was thinking that I should have my mom meet me there, but I just couldn't fathom actually speaking the words, "something may possibly be wrong." I couldn't handle it. Her presence would also make me so much more emotional than I already was.

During the drive down I would think, "there's no reason to worry. There's just no way there's need for concern. There's no way." And then I would think, "this is it. This is going to be our loss. This is going to be the first truly hard time we've ever had. We've come to it." Both thoughts were devastating.

The tech, who warned me that she couldn't officially confirmed anything because she wasn't an MD, was mad that no one had shown me an ultrasound after such a disturbing doppler experience. She was mad and I was crying. Something about the combination made me feel slightly better. After laying down, I covered my eyes and, by peeking through my fingers, saw the saddest sight I've ever seen. It was obvious that there was no "cardiac activity." She said I'm so sorry, then told me that the baby was measuring 9 weeks and 2 days, and that it looked like I was actually more like 11 weeks pregnant, not 13 (something I sort of already knew). Through an insane amount of tears, I texted Chad that he needed to "call me right now." He called immediately, extremely nervous after my previous text messages leaving the doctor's. He was about to walk in on a sales call in San Diego, and while I was hysterical, he was his amazing, calm, "don't worry babe, we are going to get more confirmation beyond this and just remember to pray," self. It was a small moment of good.

Next I called my doctor at the suggestion of the tech - she was concerned that I needed to undergo further treatment before the weekend. They told me to come in the next day, the urgency of which was another devastating blow. After that, I called my mom to let her know that I was going to come over for the entire day - I could not go home to see the kids. She had been at my sister's house when I had originally texted Gina, so knew by my "Hi Mom" that all was not okay. Next I texted my mother-in-law who was with the kids. I didn't want to deliver such information over text, but at this point I was hyper-aware of the well-being of Carter and Dakota. I could not handle her possibly getting emotional in front of them and then Mom not coming home for several more hours. She was her strong, awesome self over text, telling me to breathe and to wait at the place for Chad to come get me and to not drive. I was already safely at my parents' house when I got her text, and literally sat on their big comfy white couches and did not speak for what must have been hours. Before leaving the ultrasound place though, the amazing tech who had hugged me for a straight five minutes before I walked out the door, told me that she had printed out a picture so that I could show my doctor. She had slipped it in my clutch. I was horrified. If it hadn't been for the medical reason of showing Dr. Borrowdale the next day, I would have gotten rid of it. Knowing the gravity of what that picture carried? I could hardly look at my clutch for the rest of the day with that black and white edge poking out.

I told Chad that I wanted him to get home first, then to have his mom go home, then I'll come home closer to the kids' bedtime. He told me that his mom had offered to take the kids back home with her so that way I could come home and we could attend tomorrow's appointment without feeling like we had to hide any emotion while in front of the babes. After asking him several times if he thought Carter and Kota would be okay doing that, I gave the go ahead. They ended up staying with her Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night while we attended endless appointments.

We went to Thursday's appointment, then had a super emotional lunch at the beach, a place that always makes me feel better but didn't this time. Friday we went to 3 different ultrasounds and then on Friday afternoon officially went through with the procedure. I had a permanent headache from crying so much. Nothing made us feel better. Everything was very, very sad. Some people were trying to distract us, but since we had lost the ability to laugh, made me want to cry more. Chad and I would be talking about something unrelated, then I would start crying. That weekend we were supposed to leave for Vegas for my cousin's wedding, but quite obviously didn't go. Friday evening I became very inundated with my devotionals and strengthened my what was now continuous prayer since Wednesday. Literally the only reprieve during those three days was a sense that our faith was growing. Never, never had I been more sure that God is with us and knows. It was a weird sensation - we were very sad but happy that our faith was rising.


The first time we were with the kids again was when we met Cheryl at Carter's hockey class on Saturday. I was very nervous of how I would be in front of them - was I going to be more sad after the loss of their little brother or sister or happy to see these two healthy little ones? It turns out I was happier.

I am now so thankful for the picture of the baby the tech had given me. That is the only picture we have. It now lives in my devotionals during the month of May. When I catch a glimpse, I feel happy that he or she existed.

I was advised to get testing done on the baby. I genuinely wanted to do this, but literally every time we were in the presence of a healthcare professional I would completely forget to ask about it. Even leaving the d&c I looked over at Chad and told him that we had forgotten to ask to have it done. I actually am okay with this, though. Whatever the reason for Shay not staying with us, I am okay with it. The week that "it happened," was a week and a half after I had returned from my trip to Nashville. During that time, I was taking it very easy. Laying on the couch most days. Not coming close to overdoing it. Whether it was something chromosomal with the baby or if it had to do with my body, I am at peace.

The power of my friendships has astounded me over the last almost two weeks. Truly my best friends are my family. They cried with me, sent me daily text messages of their own devotionals, and were just there. One of my best friends got married this last weekend in Phoenix. I was very nervous driving in. I even cried. Once we were there though, in the middle of such a happy time in their own lives, we were embraced in such an overpowering amount of love and support for our heartache. We gave ourselves the "okay" to enjoy our time while there. It didn't mean we were moving on, it just meant that we were celebrating the happiness of people so near and dear to our hearts. This sounds so silly, but I was highly concerned with whether I was going to have a drink or not over the weekend. I knew that champagne would be present and that my friends would be relaxing with beers. For the first 24 hours of being there, I didn't sip anything and felt shaky about every little thing. Once I decided that I didn't want to be ruled by fear or any negative emotion, I had a beer and making that decision made me feel better. Not wanting our good time to transform into some emotional moment, I kept it very minimal, but am thankful for that reprieve. Chad and I drove back to California feeling stronger.
I wasn't going to write the exact occurrences of what happened, but he or she is one of our children and therefore I will rejoice in that. On Thursday, after our appointment with Dr. Borrowdale, I told Chad that I thought we should name the baby. That way in heaven the baby will have a name. The only name I had a deep attachment to was Shay, and that was to be if the baby was a girl. I asked if we could name him or her Shay and, almost crying, he said yes. We have no idea if the baby was a boy or a girl, but his or her name is Shay.

Carter, Dakota and Shay. We love them so much and that will never change.

"He placed me in a little cage, Away from gardens fair; But I must sing the sweetest songs because He placed me there. Not beat my wings against the cage if it's my Maker's will, But raise my voice to heaven's gate and sing the louder still!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In which hockey has become everyone's main focus

It's Tuesday and I'm trying with all of my might to keep the good vibes from the weekend still flowin'. We had an epic, relaxing, awesome beyond awesome couple of days, and I just want to maintain that care free attitude around here! We did a few awesome things:

The four of us took Carter to hockey on Saturday, after which we went to lunch and decided to get him some more gear for this super love of his. Down to Hockey Monkey we went, where I stayed in the car because Kota fell asleep. Chad totally went nuts and got him his very own pair of skates, a legit helmet, a full wooden stick and this massive hockey bag! Yes! We may have gone a bit overboard, but hey. What can ya do? It's precious and a ton of fun. It reminded me of when I went bananas over Kota's first Mommy and Me ballet class.

On Sunday we were excited to break in all of his legitimate Ducks gear, so we went to family free skate at the rink. Kota, Chad and I rented skates and we strapped on Carter's NHL-bound new digs. We took one step onto the ice and Carter proclaimed, "MOM! I NEED TO BE OLDER TO WEAR THESE! I CAN'T SKATE ON THESE! I WANT MY OLD SKATES!" meaning the rented ones. Crap. Thankfully Chad took over Carter and I just handled Kota, but neither one of them really wanted to hang with me, they both just wanted to be with Dad because "he's stronger." Whatever, meanies!

After several go-arounds assisted by Chadly, Carter took a really bad fall to the behind, which prompted an immediate conversation between Chad and I. "It's okay, he just needs those butt protector, shorts things." We are ridiculous. So to fuel his now dislike of his new gear, we'll just go get him more new gear. Anyway, we really are going to do that because he is seriously obsessed with hockey - I've never seen him so turned on by something. There were older boys there during free skate with full gear on except for chest protectors, and all they were doing was sprinting then falling on purpose then sliding down the whole thing, which Carter loved (while sitting down because he was now mad at us for forcing the new skates situation).

Anyway, Chad and I both left the rink feeling a bit pooped and slightly defeated, but it's all good because it doesn't seem to have phased Carts. He immediately went right back to discussing hockey teams and moves with Chad and yesterday the two of them went into some sort of full on competition of who can score 5 goals first in the front yard. It's all good in the hood!

And to further chronicle our insane obsession with the "new" family area, here are more pics of us in the room which we never leave now. But hey! Good news. After realizing that we spent WAY too much time watching television due to our new found comfort, I've declared a new goal (I wish I could say "rule," but I don't want to put that word out there to the kids in case I have a weak moment and decide to turn the TV on for a few moments of distraction). I've severely cut TV time. I haven't turned it on once until Carter plays his video games, and those are only allowed while Kota is sleeping. At night, we just read books and then it's bed. It's been incredibly nice and has lasted a week and a half at this point. On both Saturday and Sunday we watched a movie in the morning, but after that it was all active time. The jump in activities and brain-usage is so apparent in both kids, but especially Carter. We are really watching that child blossom! What a gosh darn blessing.

Friday, March 6, 2015

It's Friday, it's Friday!

Pretty stoked about this weekend. We're... going... to.... STAY HOME! The whole time! The only time we'll leave will be to go to dinner IN. CORONA. and to maybe make a trip to Home Goods (wait for it...) IN. CORONA.

I know. This is a big deal. We've been driving to the OC every single weekend since we've moved here. I may be forgetting a week or two where people actually came to us, but if I am, it was quickly made up for with several week day trips instead of weekend outings. Not that we're complaining! We totally choose to do that, but NOT THIS WEEKEND - NOT THIS WEEKEND! I swear, ever since we got the new couch, I've liked Corona more. It's like as soon as we had some legitimate comfort, not some forced horribleness taking up way too much square footage, it's like all of a sudden the entire town looks a lot more desirable. I finally feel like I'm ready to be a social being once again!

I'll admit, I went through a very hermit-like period. I only hung out with people from Orange County, and to top it off, every time I was in the OC I would talk about "how much we love it here," and "there's just nothing like this place, there's NO WHERE like it!" and my all time favorite, "ahhh, to live here!" Yes, it's a nice place to live, but gosh dangit, we CHOSE to live HERE! We chose it! No one forced us and it's far from bad! My feeble attempts to make some friends was limited to the street, which obviously is fine for now. I noticed, though, if I was experiencing a lame Corona week, I would hardly make an effort at Carter's school. I would roll out of bed literally 20 minutes before we had to leave, rush through the morning duties and look like a mess while dropping him off, but I wouldn't even care! I would say nice "hello's" to the moms I've met during drop-off and pick-up, but had very little desire to actually set up play dates beyond the few we've been on. Well, that's changing. It's changing, I say! It's been almost 6 months, I'm enjoying our home more than ever and it's time to embrace!

I feel very fortunate that a good amount of my sorority girls live out here in the IE - that fact made me feel more at home instead of a human being who just wanted scream out "MOMMY!" all the time (hahahaha I've never thought of it like that, but that's totally how I've been! A big old baby who wants to be near my mommy - hahahaha). Anyway, that's been great. I just feel like I need to carve out a little local group on top of those get-togethers. It shall be cool!

Lastly, we totally just got back from our appointment in which we officially registered Carter in Kindergarten! Holy cow! I'm very excited for him. One thing that's crazy is that here in C Town school starts in August, not September. So my dude will be IN Kindergarten IN August. Holy guacamole, holy guacamole.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My "easier" child vs. my "challenging" child

**The title of this post irks me just a tad because in no way do I feel cool comparing my babes, and feel even less cool about blanket-statementing either one of them as "easier" or "challenging." They're obviously both more relaxed or harder in separate sectors, but when Chad and I think of the two of them, we identify Carter as our good-natured, mellow dude with a great attitude and Dakota as our tornado, holy-cow, where-did-you-come-from child with will power to spare. Just two completely different personalities!

You know the phrase, "the squeaky wheel gets the most grease?" I saw that written once in my mom-to-mom Facebook group in regards to the stronger willed child in someone's family. She was asking for help on how to manage her "crazier" child alongside her mellow little one. I immediately identified with her - there have been several times where I've felt terrible about how much attention Dakota requires. I'm very thankful that it seems that Carter is perfectly content during times of "Kota mania," but still. Is he really content? Or is he just really good at having a content-looking face because he doesn't want to upset mommy or daddy? Just because Carter does not require full-on yell fests to try to convince him that "nap time is a great idea!," doesn't mean that all is well. I feel like he will internalize his feelings throughout his years, where Dakota will scream them out throughout her life.

I find that I think about Carter's well-being about 1,000 times more than I do Dakota's. I feel like even though in school Carter may be the one who will find focus easier to accomplish, will make friends very easily and doesn't seem to be phased by much, he will be the one I will need to monitor more closely. Say, for instance, he has a bad day. I couldn't see him coming home visibly upset, a situation which would obviously prompt me to prod him into telling mom what's going on. I could see him not wanting to talk about it because he might think that would send up a red flag or something, causing us to worry. I don't know, this is clearly just speculation - I could be completely wrong! But I just think he will internalize (I already know he does this), so I do need to check in on him very regularly.

I also don't want him slipping into a people-pleasing way of being due to the way we react to him and his chill ways. I think it's all good and well to be able to get along with several different personalities easily (something Carter is good at), but I know from witnessing family history that "people pleasing syndrome" is actually an individual's personal hell. It's incredibly hard to break out of and it's painful for everyone around them because you just want that person to know that IT'S OKAY TO BE YOU! WE LOVE YOU - THE REAL YOU! I never want Carter's relaxed personality to be mistaken by Chad and I as a boy / eventual teenager who has no problems or deep thoughts. The less a person is asked about deeper issues going on with them, the harder it is for that person to talk about those issues, sending that person into a forever compliant-as-can-be facade. It will eventually crack due to a build up and I just don't want that to happen. I want him to know that, "hey! We appreciate your awesome ways, but also want you to know that we're here to listen, so bring it on! We can handle it and we encourage your voice!" I don't want him to ever think that because we view him as easy going now, that that means he can never be anything other than that - like if he breaks away from being easy going then that means he's a disappointment.

Okay I have absolutely no idea if what I'm thinking in terms of people pleasing is coming across clearly. I guess this is a good way to say it: I don't want us projecting some "you're easy going" vibe onto him, which would subconsciously force him to stay easy going and never rock the boat, turning him into a people-pleaser which would ultimately result in a personal prison of torture because he would never feel like he could express himself.

Maybe I'm reaching too gosh darn far down into this! It's speculation, after all! Here's the thing, both kids are freakin' awesome, I just know that Dakota will let us know when something's going on in her life (because how could she not? Subtlety is not in her make up!), and Carter will take some investigating! There - that's the basis of what this post means!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Life update

* An hour ago we got back from picking up Carter's KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION PACKET! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! Yes. The fact that my beyond amazing, chill-as-can-be first born will be leaving us 5 days per week blows my mind. After this year of craziness, though, in which we switched TK's mid school year and I was heard complaining many a'time about how far away we live from everything we hold near and dear, I'm actually very ready for a stable, 5 day per week deal to happen. It will still be insane, but after trying to nurse my "I feel so guilty for ripping you out of school then throwing you into a new, very academically intense new school" sensations, this will be great. God works in mysterious ways!

* Dakota has transferred her sass-a-frass-around-the-house ways to a sass-a-frass-"I-go-to-dance-now-so-bow-down-to-me" character. She now has this sassy little kissy face she does at all times while doing a jazz walk from room to room. She is a gosh darn riot. The other day, while standing in the middle of her insanely messy room with out-stretched arms, she said to me, "Mom, this is your problem." What?! Where did she even learn that???! She is too much, that little 3 year old :)

* Carter has rejoined what is seeming to be his first love of life: skate school! We call it "hockey," and I have to say, he is gosh darn great at it! After an 8 month break from the first session we enrolled him in down in Aliso Viejo, I was nervous that all of the hype we had been putting out there about "BACK TO HOCKEY!" would turn out to be a disappointment. Maybe he wouldn't remember all of the progress he had made? Maybe he would totally face plant and be like, "ummm this is stupid." But you know what?! That child really does look at home on the ice. He's great at it! He kept yelling from the middle of the rink, "MOM! DAD! I WANT TO PLAY WITH THOSE GUYS," while pointing over to these very obviously older dudes who were sprinting in full hockey gear then slamming into the walls. We gave him a thumbs up and hatched a plan on how to get our 5 year old to be the best guy in the class so he'll be bumped up to play with 8 year olds. WE ARE PSYCHOS!

* Gosh freakin' dangit, this last weekend Chad and I ridded ourselves of anything that was hand-me-down or purchased from Craigslist that we loathed. Our garage is piled high with hideous clutter that I just posted to Craigslist for very low prices. I don't even care! Take it all, Inland Empire! We made a decision that we are OFFICIALLY DONE taking on crap that does not appeal to us in the interest of saving a buck or two. While we were at it, we drove on down to Living Spaces and got ourselves a legit couch for the family room. Next a rug will be put down and, since we sold our green ottoman thing, a coffee table and a cool canvas or something for the back wall. We will NOT be held captive to ugly crap! The only thing we kept that we don't absolutely LOVE or that doesn't hold some emotional value (Kota's dresser is some sort of family heir loom), was a dresser that we have in our room. It's far from something we would have chosen ourselves, but hey! It's not HORRID and it has taken care of the previous HORRID armoire. Also, our computer now sits on top of it so it's knocked two birds out with one stone. Our bedroom now feels bigger, especially after chucking the (mom-to-mom sale site purchased) bed frame. We also moved our table around and wouldn't you know it, the house feels SO MUCH BETTER. There are some not-so-awesome pictures above of our newest addition, neither of which does the family room's new situation justice. Ahh, peace of mind!
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