A Tragiversary

Tragiversary.  You probably haven’t heard the word before.  It is the anniversary of a tragic event.  Today is a personal one of mine.  It’s been exactly a year since I experienced an ectopic pregnancy (or some may be more familiar with the term, tubal pregnancy).

Honestly, I don’t feel bad life experiences need to be turned into this big make you bawl or gasp fest or something that needs a big… party(?) to shout to everyone I know a bad thing happened to me.  It happened.  I experienced it.  I learned and grew from it.  Now, I feel ready to share some of my story to help others that may be going through something similar or already had gone through it.  I know when I was in the midst of my hardship, I devoured any information I could about what really happens.  And later, I will share some of the details I was looking for when ectopic pregnancy was new to me.  But today, I want to share a bit of hope.

When I was doubled over with pain and finally realized I needed to get myself to the ER, I didn’t know what was wrong.  I didn’t know I was pregnant.  I wasn’t planning on being pregnant.  My husband and I were going back and forth on if we did want to have more children.  I only suspected it because nothing else that could cause the pain made sense to me.  I think I surprised a lot of healthcare workers with my happy attitude throughout the whole process.  I wasn’t happy to be going through something awful, but I was ok about the pregnancy not working out.  It was scary but I found it very interesting because the average population of women (including myself at the time) do not know much about it.  I was learning so much.

Then, we had to wait.  The whole process to become un-pregnant took 6 weeks.  After that, we had to wait at least 2 months before trying to get pregnant again.  All that waiting and all that awfulness changed my husband’s and my perspective and we agreed that we would like to bring another baby in our family.  We tried a few times without success so when I finally found out I was pregnant in mid-November of last year, I was ecstatic!  I immediately started documenting the pregnancy and refreshing myself on pregnancy do’s and don’ts and dreaming about a possibility of a little girl.

5 days after my positive pregnancy test, I miscarried.  Though the physical pain was like a 1, the emotional pain was like a 9.  It was a very different experience than my ectopic pregnancy.  I had been looking forward to having a baby for several months and a few hours destroyed that hope and excitement.  I felt completely broken.  I really thought there was a good chance I would never have another baby because I wasn’t physically able to anymore.  I had 3 very boring yet perfect pregnancies and babies and now twice in a row, my pregnancies were failures.  I didn’t even want to try again for fear that something bad would happen again.

Then very slowly, my emotions leveled and I started to rise out of the fog.  I had to ask myself if I really did want another child.  Was God’s plan for me include another child?  Did my husband still want another child?  I felt like the answers to all those questions were yes but I was still hesitant.  Hubby and I had a serious, to the point conversation where he said he did want to try again but we would wait until I was ready.   We talked about what scared us (really me) and his responses calmed me.  I felt a big relief and peace come over me and I knew I could do it.  I would try again, but only one more time.  I didn’t feel like I could keep trying if a third pregnancy turned out with no baby.

About 2 weeks later, I had another positive pregnancy test.  I wasn’t excited as I was the last time, it was more like anxious.  Every twitch of uncomfortableness came with a thought of another miscarriage.  Hubby was reserved too.  We didn’t know what would happen this time.  But I was still pregnant week after week.  Finally, when I was 7 weeks pregnant, I called my doctor’s office to set up my first appointment.  A week later I was in his office and he showed me the most precious thing in the world to me in that moment, my baby alive with a beating heart.  I was excited.

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I still can’t help myself but smile when I look at that picture or even think of it!  I really am pregnant and my baby is ok!  I was so excited that I showed off the picture to my boys to tell them the news.  Soon, I started having doubts again.  I have known too many people who lost their babies.  Some were late miscarriages, some were stillborns, all could happen to me.  I reserved my excitement.

My second doctor appointment I was pretty anxious.  This would be the first time to hear the baby’s heartbeat, if there was one.  I asked my husband to go with me.  I would want him there if the baby had died.  I may have let him think I thought it would be exciting for him to experience hearing this baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

Another miracle occurred though!  The doctor quickly found the baby’s heartbeat and could even hear the baby moving already.  Another wave of relief and excitement came over me.  This baby is still ok!  I’m finally ready to tell everyone that I’m definitely pregnant and the baby is doing great.

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Our next appointment will be the sonogram where we will find out the gender… and if there is anything wrong.  I do have some worry about it, but I’m much more hopeful that the baby will be found healthy and thriving.  Today may be my tragiversary which started a journey of failed pregnancies, but it’s also the beginning of the renewed hope of bringing a baby into this world.

I know there are many couples out there who are wanting a child.  Their journeys may be much longer or more difficult than mine.  I completely sympathize.  I just want to share that most of those people can have hope that not every pregnancy will end in terrible sadness.  It’s ok to hope.  Once you are emotionally ready to try again, try.  Life is full of events that are not planned or wanted but these trials make us stronger, more capable.  We can be happy in the process.  Remember that life is also full of joy when we search for it.

Baby Saucy is 14 weeks along and due October 4.

For another amazing account of hope following baby loss, read my sister’s blog here.

Behind the Scenes: Birthday Cakes

I kid myself with “behind the scenes”.  Like I am a movie star with something interesting to show you or something.  Hmpf!  But you know how you see someone else’s beautiful creation be it a craft or a recipe and you never see pictures of their 10 failures before they got it right?  Or how they completely destroyed their table with a glue gun?  Well, I’m posting pictures of some ugliness when it comes to making birthday cakes happen.

I actually am a Wilton certified cake decorator.  No, really.  I am.  I had big ideas of how awesome I was going to be and how I could use my awesome skills to earn extra money when I had a family.  Some of these grandiose ideas stemmed from my own mother, aunt and grandma who decorated cakes when I was a child.  But I realized in the midst of my training that I didn’t have a passion for it and with cake decorating you really need passion to get you through the days (yes, days) of baking, mixing, coloring and making cute swooshie things.  I realized since I didn’t love it, I just couldn’t be patient enough to make cakes pretty as the pictures.  Lesson learned.  But I still attempt to make fun cakes for my family’s birthdays.

My husband’s birthday is exactly a week before my 5 year old’s so there’s a lot of cake going on at that time.  Hubby requested mini cupcakes which I did in red velvet with cream cheese icing.  The thing about red velvet is it stains everything.  My hand looks like I just finished wiping blood from the counter instead of cake.

I ended up making 50 something mini cupcakes.  They are so cute but I was so done.  I took a few of them to create the number 36 and slapped on some icing, called it good.  They were too.

My sweet 5 year old requested a princess cake.  Not just any princess either, Princess Peach.  He really wanted me to make him this fondant Mario wedding cake I found online but that surely wasn’t going to happen.  He settled for this.

I know it’s not the best decorating in the world but I think it’s pretty good with the amount of time and effort I was willing to do.  I think it took me 2 hours to decorate.  Last year, I made him this Curious George cake.

He was even easier to make because I didn’t have a lot of colors I needed to mix.  So how do you make these mediocre cakes?  Use a template!

  1. Just find a picture and print it out to fit on your cake.
  2. Cut around all the edges then place it on your cake.
  3. Take a pointed knife or box cutter or exacto knife, whatever and cut around your template.  Make sure to not cut very deep.  In fact, the more shallow you cut the cake, the better.  Otherwise, when you serve the cake, it will fall apart on you.
  4. Remove the template and trace your cutting guide with icing.  With both of these cakes, I used black icing I bought.  If the picture isn’t complex, you can use an icing tip that comes with store-bought icing tubes.  Or find a craft or cake decorating store that sells Wilton tips (like Hobby Lobby or Michaels) and get the size you need.  The smaller the number, the smaller the size.  You do not have to buy icing bags either.  Just stick the tip through a corner of a sandwich baggie.
  5. Trace any outlines you need inside.  You can cut your picture if you don’t trust your creative instinct and trace like you did before or go wild and freehand it.
  6. Fill in with icing.  You can use a small star tip to fill in like you might see on Wilton cakes but I find it cramps my style… and my hand.  You can smooth the icing with a clean finger that you dip in a bit of water.

From all this partying, I had a mountain of dishes.  Both sinks are full and it’s overflowing.  😦   I despise doing dishes.  At least I got to eat a fair amount of cake!

Men Are That They Might Have Joy

I haven’t blogged for almost a month!  

I’m not going to make any apologies though…

This past month has been full of inward reflection as my extended family and I experienced the death of my niece, Gracia.  This, along with five other tragic deaths in the past five months of our friends and family, I had to take a step back from this blog out of respect.  Respect for the precious time I have with my own family.  Respect of the blog my sister created about Gracia’s life.  Respect to the truly important things and people of this world.

I recorded this video of my two year old about a week ago:

The day was cold, windy but sunny.  He was playing outside by himself and as I peeked out the window to check on him, he had the biggest smile on his face scooting around in circles with one foot.

As I joined him outside, the challenges that I was facing and those of my loved ones came to my mind.  We all have trials.  We all make mistakes.  We have heartache and suffering.  Yet, men are on earth to have joy.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

The pain we feel while going through a hardship gives us the opportunity to know what joy feels like.  It’s easy to succumb to the awfulness of a situation.  My son could have felt frustrated that he could only pedal the bike in a circle.  He could have felt lonely or cold or inferior to others who could ride a trike better than he could.  Instead, he was so happy about what he could accomplish.  He enjoyed the ride that he was on.

So, this parable of the trike has entered into my thoughts.  We know our life isn’t going to be all roses but we still dislike the thorns that come and that’s ok.  It’s ok to be sad, frustrated, angry.  But then we need to turn our attention to enjoy the ride the best we can.  Focus on what we can learn, how we can change and (perhaps most importantly) the joy that is in our life- not the imagined happiness if circumstances that we can’t control were different.

I know there are many people who have been touched by tragedy, especially with the recent Connecticut school shooting.  We may feel like we’re out here by ourselves in the cold barely touching the ground to just move in circles but the sun is shining.  The wind feels nice against our cheeks.  We have someone cheering us on.  And just yesterday we couldn’t move at all…

A Season of Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is over.

Black Friday madness has already begun.

And I can’t help but wonder if with all the distractions of gorging ourselves on turkey and pie and then disturbing our natural sleep patterns to fight for discounted stuff is the right way to celebrate this special time of year…

I’m not opposed to eating or shopping.  I actually like both of them and participate when I can but I do not like how distracted we all can get from the frenzy of it all.  I’m a victim of it too.

 This Thanksgiving I cooked all day while I shooed my kids out of the kitchen until the hubby took them out on a hike until nap time.  It was nice to not have the stress of trying to baste a turkey while holding back tiny hands from the oven or mashing potatoes one handed with a toddler on my hip but… on a day of thanksgiving, aren’t I most thankful for my family?  And if that’s what I’m most grateful for (it is), then why push them away when I should show them how important they are to me by spending real time with them?  So I can have 3 dozen homemade rolls to serve?  Even when they are the best rolls ever?

Later, I found myself engrossed by the Black Friday ads and Facebook updates plotting a grand shopping scheme.  Again, ignoring the precious opportunity to show my love for my family.  And if I get up before the sun peeks over the horizon to grab the one thing I supposedly need to have, will that mean I won’t have energy to spend time with them during normal waking hours?

Is it really worth it?  For just a thing?

No, probably not.

I am always battling to strike a sort of balance between things I need to do and things I want to do and I expect that I’m not the only one.  As the Christmas season starts, I want to remember to not get distracted by the pretty things of this world because they are just things… and definitely things I can do without.  But my family is something that won’t always be there.  My 2 yr old won’t always want to play choo choo with me.  My 7 yr old won’t always want to discuss his new treasure hunt club.

We have no guarantee that things will be the same tomorrow.  In just the past 3 months, we have felt the effect of 3 tragic deaths of loved ones to those who are close to us.  None were old and decrepit.  All were young vibrant people with their own families.  In an instant, there was no tomorrow for their families and friends.

I know I don’t want to just say I’m thankful, I want to show I’m thankful by my actions.

Learn more about my beliefs here.