5 years his story

Warning: trigger post on loss.
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I’ve never fully shared his birth story. It’s been 5 years and I’m finally feeling ready because I know his soul is being redeemed. Thank you for reading if you decide to continue. I fully understand if you don’t read more.

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5 years and 2 days ago I awoke to Xavier’s Mommy’s post in the group about Xavier’s passing at 19 weeks and my heart broke. I was in bed and just stunned, never before realizing loss like that could happen. I thought once we were past the first tri we’re good! (I know, so naive!) I prayed for her and him and started my day.

5 years and 1 day ago, I was 19 weeks and I went to the gym to rest my hips in the hot tub. After avoiding the hot tub during my whole pregnancy, due to the warnings I heard non-stop, I was in so much pain I just had to go this one time. I settled in and tried to be brief. I felt him tell me he was too hot, with a little flutter and a feeling of panic. I begged him for just a couple more minutes and hovered with most of me out of the water. (I spent months regretting that until I realized it would have just been something else later that would have evoked the same response.) I finally felt a little relief and climbed out and dried off. I met Raul in the lobby and he looked at me concerned and asked if I was ok, if I got too hot. I said no, that I felt better (with a flutter of doubt), and we went home. I slept so well and was looking forward to the first Food Truck Rodeo in Seattle the next day, Saturday.

I awoke 5 years ago and pulled out my Doppler, and feeling worried from the night before, tried to listen for his heartbeat and couldn’t find it. I called my friend, who was studying to be a mid-wife and would be my doula, and asked her. She assured me that they sometimes don’t find baby easily at this stage and to rest and try listening again later. I got up and got ready, worry heavy on my heart. We went to the ‘rodeo’ and I was freezing cold the whole day, colder than I’d been for months. I knew something was wrong. I called my doctor’s office and the best they could do was an appointment on Tuesday.

But I knew. I knew he had died.

I waited until Tuesday in complete conscious oblivion and praying that what I knew in my heart wasn’t true. We checked in, the doctor who had confirmed my pregnancy was still ok just 10 weeks earlier pulled the portable u/s machine in the room and there he was, still. Still. They sent me downstairs to the big u/s machines, where I still had an appointment the next Friday for his 20 week anatomy scan. The tech didn’t say anything but excused herself and left the room. We knew. Raul held my hand and I turned my head and started crying. They sent us back upstairs. My options were a D&C or induction. My mom was flying in to town on Friday. Surgery terrified me so I opted for induction and asked to wait until Fri. They booked me a check in for Thursday morning. I told just enough of my clients and colleagues to buy a few days.

I spent two days with my angel inside of me. He would move only in reaction to my movement. I cried. I was panicked. I was numb. He was a “threatened miscarriage” from 6 weeks but they said at his 12 week NT scan he looked great! How could this happen to me? WTF do I do with myself with a dead baby in me? Well, I googled and I cried. I tried to piece together an ‘action plan’ for my hospital stay.

I took one last bump photo. I tried not to cry while Raul took my pic. He hated me for making him take it. I have NO regrets about taking it.

I had been seeing 222 frequently in the days before his death. When I got in the car to go to the hospital, our car had a range of 222 and it was 12:22pm. In that moment, I knew what it meant and I hated it. I am right where I’m supposed to be. And it is hell on earth. On the radio came the song Sail by awolnation. That became his song, my anthem of grief. It used to make me cry instantly but now I find a strange comfort in it, a ‘hi mom, I’m thinking of you,’ instead of suicide (which I did contemplate a few times when the PPM pain was too great). 222 is now comforting, I know when I see it, for better or worse, I’m where I’m supposed to be.

We pulled in to the hospital parking garage, got checked in. They made me sit in a wheelchair and pushed me to the end of the hall. It was dark, there was a white butterfly on my door. They hooked up an IV and started fluids. They put pitocin tablets up against my cervix and we waited. Slowly the contractions started to build. The dr came to check on me. She told me rather matter of fairly but with a soft touch that I could have any pain meds I wanted. I held off for quite awhile. Once the sun came up, the contractions got stronger. I asked for something for the pain, they gave me morphine. My doula came. My mom arrived. The contractions got stronger. Cervical cheeks came and went but I was little fuzzy, a little more numb. Finally they said it was time to push. It wasn’t too hard, I remember feeling his sack slide out. They popped it, cleaned him up and helped me birth the placenta. They asked if I wanted him autopsied but I declined, the thought of cutting him open made me physically ill. I was ok with having the placenta checked out. (The only thing his placenta results revealed was that he was missing a blood vessel in his umbilical cord. I believe the bleeding I had at 5-6 weeks in, just before I met you ladies, was related to that blood vessel issue as that’s when the cord forms. But that’s another story.)

He was so tiny, he fit in my hand. He was not a typical 19 week old bc of that missing vessel. His left arm was not fully formed, his head and torso were excessively swollen. But his feet and legs were just perfect. (His right side was visible in the NT scan and was formed properly so that’s why they didn’t catch anything amiss.)

I was told I could have as much time with him as I needed. The nurse dressed him as best she could, but he was too tiny for regular hospital clothing. My doula left to tend to her life. My mom went to get some food. DCW stepped out too. I ordered food for myself, and sat with my son on the pillow next to me. I pretended he was ok. I talked to him, I held him. I WILL NEVER AGAIN JUDGE A POST-PARTUM MOM FOR ACTING “CRAZY”. I get it now. I understood what a ‘mother’s love’ meant finally and it did me no good. I didn’t know before that it could hurt this terribly. I didn’t know before that it would be so beautiful. He was so beautiful. I could see Raul in him. I could see all the hard work our bodies did, G’s and mine, to build him as he was.

I spent a good 8 hours with him by my side before the nurse came to take him away. He would be transported to a nearby funeral home. I couldn’t watch her walk away with him. I wanted to scream to bring him back. To let me take him home, please just let me take him home. (Repeat after me, I will never judge a PPM mom again.)

The grief counselor came but I was too numb and in shock for her to be any good. The u/s office downstairs called wondering why I wasn’t at my 20 week scan and that they’d have to charge me for no-showing (um, hello, you saw me three days ago, who the fuck forgot to cancel my appointment?!?). That was the first, but not last, person I had to tell that my baby died. Pretty sure I cursed those words at her on the phone. They checked on me a couple more times then said I could be released. It was dark by now. Raul helped me pack. They put me in a wheelchair again.

Coming out to the lobby and to the elevator was a LARGE, maybe 30+ family of a patient. Happy, excited, cheering, with balloons. I wanted to scream at them to shut up. Instead I looked away, trying not to burst into tears. That moment, that moment right there, has been the hardest moment of my life. To wheel past all of those happy people without my baby. To go home without my baby. I succeeded in keeping my composure until the elevator doors closed. Raul helped me into the car and drove me home.

We held a small funeral service for G a couple days later. I got to see him and say one more good bye. I didn’t want to leave. Raul had to pull me away bc it was someone else’s turn.

I don’t remember much after that. The day I checked in to the hospital was the last day of summer. The day I left it was fall and started raining. It rained for days. I couldn’t get out of bed. My milk came in, a stinging giant Fuck You from the universe. Raul made me sage butter pasta for a week straight. I wore allthebras. He forced me to go outside on walks, and pointed out the lovely bits of nature. He watched me slide down and wouldn’t let go of me. For all of my bitching about him, he saved my life.

After 2 weeks I had to go back to work, to deal with my projects and the volunteer gig I had signed up for (as Madam President of a professional organization.) I threw myself into distractions. I still bled for 6 weeks.

I joined the FB group Stories of Babies Born Still. I learned how common this is. I heard stories of heartbreak worse than mine. I didn’t have a fully put together nursery I had to dismantle. I was not due in a week or due last week.

If I had a super power, it would be perspective. I can see both sides of the coin. I can understand the other’s point of view (even when my ego doesn’t want to admit it!) and if I ever seem callous or dry or harsh, it’s because of this power. Seeing these stories of others, of still born babies, of nicu babies lost, and since then of Syrian babies killed, of women who choose abortion, and so much more, gives me a weird comfort. Comfort that I got off easy. That my experience was only this bad. And I felt guilt about that for a long time, but a special reiki session helped me make peace with this. I understand now that he chose me as his mother and he only needed that little amount of time on earth to reach perfection.

The hospital classified him a miscarriage because he perished at 19 weeks, one week shy of the ‘cut off’ to be recognized as still born. I didn’t get a death certificate. I did get a cremation bill.

My grandma, who had 3 early miscarriages of her own, has, for the last 5 years, knitted small little baby blankets for me after she first heard he was too little for the hospital clothes. I tuck a card and a blanket in a ziploc and deliver them to hospitals in his name.

It was hard to be an invisible mother. It’s much easier with a rainbow baby because at least now the world recognizes I am a mom. But it’s still hard. He’s not in pre-k. He’s not losing teeth. He’s not riding his bike next to me. All these things he will never do are thoughts I usually just try not to think.

Then I’ll be alone in my car and that song, Titanium, comes on. There’s something about it, I can’t explain. It transports my heart back to that hospital bed and I’m instantly in tears. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Tears of strength. I am titanium. I remember my lesson from my first son. My purpose is to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and carry them forward, to grow them into a new love. To spread love. To be love. To calm my fears, to trust my strength. To run in the fields on these most perfect feet I have, with angels lifting me up, and Bear by my side, reminding me of all I have lost and all I have gained.

I am sitting on the floor in Bear’s room as I type this, crying of course. And just as I typed that last sentence, in his sleep he rustled and then said, “whoaaa!” and I have to giggle. Thank you my son.

 

I love you forever.

I like you for always.

Beyond when I’m living,

my baby you’ll be.

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Happy World Down Syndrome Day_ a tribute to eternal love

It was decades ago but I still remember snippets like it was yesterday. Sitting shotgun in Oma’s station wagon, my flute case on my lap, rain misting over the car as we barreled down the back streets. Into the waterfront community we went. We drove to where the gardens are shaped like animals and everyone’s lawn is immaculate and level. Beautiful flowers peek out of the rockery used to secure the hillside to each home.

We pull into the driveway and ascend the stairs to the front door. I look behind me at the Sound, the water glistening off in the distance, a dreary dark blue grey with just a pocket of sunshine hitting the waves and glistening back at me. Stepping inside I’m hit by the smell of them. Not in a bad way, but in the way that everyone’s home smells a little bit different. I gaze up at her cases of trophies and collectibles while Oma and her chit chat. We walk down the stairs past photos of her, of him, of their son.

I don’t remember if I was ever able to meet her son. She talked about him a lot and had photos everywhere and I always left feeling her love and grief. The love made sense to me. The grief, not so much to my small self. I could not put words to it, but I could feel it’s cloudy presence over her heart.

She would walk me to her music room, help me get set up, kindly ask about my day while Oma sat to the side, or upstairs some days.

© Yiannos1

Joy would teach me about music. She would teach me about playing the flute, about proper breathing, reading music.

© Argument

© Argument

What I didn’t realize until many years later that she was also teaching me the strength to love in the face of grief. She taught me how to have an open heart, a patient mind and how “disability” is a state of mind and environment, not a reflection on someone’s soul, their heart or them at all.

She loved to talk about Davey. She loved to share his photo and tell me about what a loving a warm heart he had. Her beautiful son, Davey, was born with Down Syndrome.

Pilot with down syndrome

*not Davey, but a close stand-in

She always wanted a child. Joy and Herb had tried for many years. Joy was a former beauty queen and dedicated musician and singer. Herb was a brass man. Keen to the trumpet, her to the winds, together they would teach children to love music, to be good at music.

Then came Davey.  He grew from a baby to a toddler to a young boy. It was as he was turning into a young man that his generous heart gave out. They loved him so much, and I’m sure they grew to love him more and more each day even after his passing.

The look in her eye would be bright and shiny at first, then as her memories moved forward in time, the twinkle would dim and a veil of grief would sneak in. He was her only son and he was perfect.

Davey was a fighter who would constantly defy the odds. Growing older against doctor’s opinions. Going to school and embracing his life, he was a lover who welcomed every person he encountered with an open heart and compassion. He is an angel and an inspiration.

Joy was a mother who loved her son unconditionally. Her love for him was so great it gave her the strength to be a mentor to and love other people’s children. She tutored many dozens of kids in her years teaching music. The photos they would send her, for years even after going to college and moving away, are a testament of her work. (Any woman who can love someone else’s child as if he or she were her own, in the face of her own loss, is superwoman to me.)

What I took away from Joy and Davey was not a tale of loss, but a tale of dogged determination, hope and love. I don’t know if Joy and Herb are still around, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking of them and thanking them for their love.

For more information on World Down Syndrome Day click HERE

When your RAWR goes silent, Part 1

A slight rustling in the grass as just a few blades shift, sounding like the wind. Without noise, without fanfare, it slithers into your midst unbeknownst to you. Slowly it winds around you, surrounding you with the cloak of normalcy. Then it starts to squeeze. With growing force, it closes in on your world, it’s grip starts to tighten. It’s presence clouds your mind and darkens your heart. Slowly, like a constant leaking drip, it leaches your passion and motivation. It smothers your love. It fills your perspective with tears and hisses at positive thoughts. Slowly strangling your happiness, the snake of depression takes over your life, squeezing out the ‘real’ you. Quietly, depression strangles your RAWR into silence.
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Depression is a complicated and fickle creature. Moving into your consciousness with the stealth of a snake, depression can quickly devour and consume a seemingly healthy, happy person. What makes it harder to catch and eradicate is that depression can come at you from many directions.

Part 1: The physical snake : Lack of sunshine

Depression from lack of sun
My first bout with depression was the year my family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska. I was 7 and had spent my entire life in sunny states when the military called us to the great white North. We arrived in the summer during the long days when the sun barely drops below the horizon. With amazing speed, the sun disappeared, plunging us into perpetual darkness. It wasn’t long before my little self felt the effects of no sun. My emotional stability turned into quicksand. I slept more than usual. I also learned the bad habit of emotional eating to feel better. At the time, the technology wasn’t there to support Vitamin D deficiencies and what is now known as SAD. Recognizing the changes in all of us, my mom would diligently fill up spray bottles (yes, mine was magenta) with food colored water, bundle us up and send us outside to art up the yard until it got dark.

(Tip: do not fill spray water bottles with yellow water. You’ll wonder forever which was the kids vs. the dog.)

Life without the sun is no joke. There are people on this earth who can tolerate it better, but only with the right diet and genetics. However, we all need sunshine to hit our eyeballs every day. The sun is a key component to the music of our DNA and controls many metabolic functions, including queing in our serotonin and melatonin. Without those cues to our system, our body won’t function properly. We’ll feel “off”, more tired, more hungry, more irritable. That’s the start. Too long without enough sunshine and we break down.

Sunshine on Guemes Island
There are many therapies designed to help combat those effects and employed with great force in the darker regions of the world. Happy lights, tanning beds, vitamin D supplements, gyms and more are available to combat the lack of sunshine. One simple therapy shared by Deborah Burnett is to have a bright, blue kitchen that you spend time in every morning between 9-11am. The key here is the light bulbs should have a higher Kelvin temperature range and so their light is bluer/ whiter. Cool White is often a key to the higher spectrum.

My other favorite anti-dote is one my mom knew instinctively: exercise. Exercise releases serotonin, endorphins and other “feel good” hormones. When done at the right time of day (before 3pm), exercise can reduce the impact of depression. Breaking a sweat helps to release all of your internal “piss and vinegar” as Raul likes to say, not only boosting your body but also your mind.

If you recognize yourself in any of the above, we encourage you to speak with a health professional. There are many resources out there to help you cope with and overcome depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D deficiencies exist and there are tools out there to help you. Keep trying them until one clicks for you.

RAWR & ❤

Dino Friends at Freddies for Easter

While browsing the ridiculously low priced past-Valentine’s day candy to replenish my chocolate stash, I was shocked to see Easter toys already out! We’ve still got to get through St. Patty’s Day! So intrigued by the Easter toys and caught reminiscing about all my awesome Easter Egg hunts as a kid and their resulting chocolate stashes… I wandered the aisles until I stopped in my tracks at these cheerful rawrs.

Dino friends 1

They are NOT dog toys but dino buddies for your babies and big boys in cheery colors and a species for every species. A lot of kids come born with their RAWR out and unabashed and learn to tamper it down as they grow older, fitting in with society. Instead of the Rat Race, let’s stick with the Dinosaur Age and learn to RAWR a little.

Dino Friends 2

Dino Friends 3

Dino Friends 4

In my area, Fred Meyer sells Kroger, so you may find them at your local Kroger affiliate. Happy Hunting!

Dino Squishies at Target

With one big and one little Doggie-sidekick, I’m always on the look out for new “squishies”* or soft dog toys to keep their minds occupied. We have some pretty high standards too. Squishies must be well seamed, durable, and of course, enticing to gnaw on.

Dinosaur Dog Toys Target 1

Raul and I stumbled upon some new selections** at Target. They’ve got a few different color flavors to suit any dog. $7.99 for a slice of rawr, so check your local Target.

Dinosaur Dog Toy Target 2

If you’re looking for some solid dino Squishies, check out QPG’s other Dino collection. We’ve had good success with some of their toys, “Chicken” is a favorite.

Dinosaur Dog Toy Target 3

*Squishies is not in reference to any child. We do not condone doggies gnawing on kiddos. Or babies.

*We have not tested these particular dinosaur squishies yet, but will post a review when the girls have completed their evaluations.

Too many d*cks on the dancefloor…

A Reader: There’s the Testosterone Conundrum… Teenage boy + step father = constant conflict & disagreements so what do I do?

Father and Son

Boys boys boys. Growing up in a house full of two “little” brothers, a wrestling match or stinky hamper was never far away. Neither was a fight over our mom’s attention. Like two dueling dancers, they’d each try to out-do the other until she noticed. Even when you love the boys in your life they can be stinky, LOUD, rude, and messy all at once without realizing it themselves. Lots of testosterone can certainly strain a family relationship. It doesn’t even take a full grown boy to disrupt a family dynamic, even a Preggosaurus Rex growing a little boy can produce enough testosterone to kick the circus off-queue. So what is a mama rex to do when the going gets too RAWR?

The first step is to channel it. I like to think of testosterone as steam in a kettle. The more of it a guy has, the more forcefully he needs it to be turned into spent energy. You can’t just cap the steam and expect it to go away, it needs a healthy outlet. Finding some activity they can do together, maybe it’s race RC cars, or go to batting practice or work on a car, or whatever it may be for your boys, will go a long way in helping them bond in a healthy way. The more healthy outlets they have in common, the stronger a relationship they’ll be able to build.

There’s also some sticky family dynamics at play, underneath all the hormones and beating their chests with fists. There is a father-son dynamic that needs support. Right now, as a teenager, your son can’t see the big picture and long term because his pre-frontal cortex is just not quite there. It will take him a few years to realize your husbands’ actions aren’t putting restrictions on him or reigning him in just to be mean, but rather to give him guidance that typically comes from Dad. Finding ways to nurture this bond is tricky and often, a well-intentioned plan can backfire in your face. Some degree of Mama-Sneak is called for, but not too much. You can send them on errands together, find new activities that they both have to try (outdoor stuff is good because they burn much more energy and come home tired!), but be careful being too sneaky in setting activities up.

Something that seems to work well for the men I love in my life, but certainly is not appropriate for everyone, is being the rube for them in those crucial bonding situations. When they can be on the same ‘team’ because they’re both laughing with (and usually at) me, I don’t take it personal because I know they in the end, they’ll be more bonded, and it’s not like there’s any less love then.

The other consideration is to be an open listener for your son. This means to LISTEN and not judge or try to problem solve but just listen. He’s reaching an age where he wants to emotionally attach and if you and him have a good relationship, he’ll attach back to you. This is not attachment in some weird way but rather he’ll develop a deeper trust with you. He’ll be comfortable sharing more than the typical teenage boy shares with his mother about the happenings of his life. The goal is for you and his Step-father to be there for him as a solid support- through dumb decisions and good decisions.

And when all else fails, “RAWR” at them.

Mother’s Day Rawr…

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day & were able to spend time with your Littles or your Mamas or BOTH.

I had a very nice day with my 3 Dudes.  We took the Boys to get their pictures taken for Mother’s Day & for Ryan’s 3 Month Birthday.  The pictures turned out way too cute & both of the Smalls did great!!!  We did a little shopping @ Target, had lunch @ home & the Boys took naps.  Hub’s mom came over in the evening & Hubs made us chicken, corn on the cob & roasted potatoes for us.  My 4 year old made the salad & he was so proud.  Dinner was great & then Hubs & I gorged ourselves on ice cream after James went to bed.  Although he did come out & caught us red-handed!!!  He goes “Heyyyy……. What’s THAT?!”  So busted.

I was in bed last night thinking about my nice day & thought about my most interesting Mother’s Day so far.  2 Years ago Hubs, James & I went to New Orleans for my Birthday (May 6th) & Mother’s Day (May 9th, 2010).  The day before Mother’s Day we spent all day running around New Orleans.  We walked down Bourbon Street (in the day time before it gets TOO weird), went to the Aquarium, walked around & shopped @ the RiverWalk, walked all around the French Quarter & ended up @ the Hard Rock for dinner.  Everything was going great; we were laughing & having a good time & James was just happy as could be.  Until the SECOND the food came & the poor Kid puked his little guts up!!!  Our Waiter was AMAZING though & totally didn’t even skip a beat & started cleaning up the table & asked if we wanted him to box up our food so we could get James home to rest & if he needed some water in a to-go cup.  We got all cleaned up, put the Dude in his stroller & hoofed it back to our hotel.  James still wasn’t feeling well & puked well into the wee hours of the morning on Mother’s Day.  There I sat @ midnight on Mother’s Day, on the bathroom floor of our hotel, propped up with the cushions & pillows from the couch with a pukey Kid.  Happy Mother’s Day to me.  LOL!!!  I guess that’s what I get for procreating.

*KODI*

Puzzle Pieces

A year ago today a Friend of mine took his own Life.  I wrote this a few days after he died & just wanted to share it with you.  ❤

“I’ve been thinking about Friends & Family a lot the last couple days after learning about the death of a good Friend of mine from my Childhood.

The people in our lives are like Puzzle Pieces.  Most of the people we encounter are like the Middle Pieces & help connect our Lives together.  May it be a Friend or just an Acquaintance or a Family Member you speak to occasionally.   There are some people though that are more like the Edge Pieces.  They are more important in the shaping of our lives.  People who we have confided in & shared our Lives with.  People who we love.  Even fewer still are the People I think of as Corner Pieces.  People who truly shaped us & really did help us become who we ARE.  Most of these people are our Parents & Siblings.  Some of these few Corner Pieces are Friends.  The People that were a major influence in what we became & who we turned into.  People that if it weren’t for them & something they did, we would not be able to say “I am Me.”

I can honestly say that Dustan Wilson was one of my Corner Pieces.  There is so much of who I am today that stems from the Friendship I had with him in Middle & High School.  I’m lucky to have had him as a Corner Piece as he helped me grasp the idea of being ME & not conforming to what “They” think I should be.  He helped me become an Individual.  Thank you Dustan.  You were an amazing Friend.  ♥

Most of you are my Middle Pieces, several are my Edge Pieces & a handful of you are my Corner Pieces.  Regardless of what Piece of my Puzzle of Life you are, without You, I am not Me.

*KODI*”

Mother’s Day

I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. I was the little girl who pretended to breast feed her dolls and change their diapers, and I grew up to be the teenager who spent most weekends babysitting. In my mind there was no scenario in which I wouldn’t be a mom. After my husband and I graduated college and started our careers, we decided we wanted to get pregnant. I was so excited and ready. Dreams of my big belly, baby showers, and days spent raising tiny people had me giddy.

And so we tried. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Every single month there was another negative test. I just didn’t understand why we couldn’t get pregnant. We did everything we could think of to make sure we weren’t hurting our chances. Every now and then thoughts of infertility would creep into my head, and I would push them away. “Not me,” I thought. I was supposed to be a mom. I watched people around me get pregnant and become moms, and I so desperately wanted to join them.

After 3 years of not getting pregnant, I finally decided to see an OB/GYN. They ran some blood tests, and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The doctor told me that I would not get pregnant on my own and that I would need interventions such as fertility drugs and IVF if I wanted to start a family. His suggestion was that I go on contraceptives until I was ready to accept fertility treatments. I asked him if there was anything I could do to treat my PCOS. He said that there wasn’t.

I went home that day and cried until my eyes swelled shut. How was this possible? I was supposed to be a mom! I was angry at my body, angry at the doctor… angry at everything. I went on birth control, and resigned myself to being “broken.” I felt like a piece of my womanhood was gone. My husband gingerly explained to family what had happened, and it became the elephant in the room. Well-intentioned people gave me advice like “Just don’t try so hard, don’t stress about it, and it will happen.” At a friend’s baby shower I was discussing our newly adopted dog and was told “I’ve always noticed that women who can’t have children have a lot of dogs!” by another oblivious friend.

At some point my heart began to change. The bitterness and anger started to give way to a sort of peace. I was going to be a mom, and perhaps the universe just intended that my children wouldn’t be ones I birthed. My husband and I started to talk adoption, but part of me wanted to give it one last try. I decided that maybe that first doctor wasn’t entirely correct. And so I researched, read, and dug for any bit of info I could find on PCOS. At first all the information I found agreed with the doctor’s information. But then I started to find a community of women who were using natural means to heal their PCOS. I figured it was a long stretch, but I dove in.

I got rid of every chemical cleaner we owned and replaced them with things like vinegar, tea tree oil, and castile soap. I detoxified my personal products- deodorant, soap, shampoo, makeup; all of it replaced with less toxic options. Finally I detoxified my diet. I did a cleanse followed by 6 weeks of eating a raw food diet. I felt amazing. I was happier and healthier, and I lost 15 pounds.

One morning 3 months after I started my mission, I woke up with an instinct prodding me. I took a pregnancy test, and for the first time in 5 years, it was positive. I stared at it. I read the entire insert from the package 3 times looking for all the false positive scenarios. I didn’t say anything to my husband because I couldn’t stand the thought of getting his hopes up if I was wrong. I went to the store and bought 3 more tests of all different brands, and they all came out positive. That evening I asked Randy to come into our room, and I showed him the positive test. He stared at it, stared at me, and then started to cry.

 
What followed was a healthy pregnancy resulting in the birth of my son, Dylan, under the care of the beautiful women at Mat-Su Midwifery. I was finally a mom. Even saying that now, my eyes well up with tears. Our youngest son, Everett, joined our family 2 ½ years later… a “surprise” pregnancy, which still causes me to smile. And now I have my 2 crazy, beautiful, amazing children to keep my days full of adventures.
On Mother’s Day I count my blessings and appreciate the journey that brought me my boys. I am grateful for the warrior spirit that emerged and made me fight harder and dig deeper when I was told not to bother. It also reminds of the spark in my heart to adopt a child, because somewhere out there is a child who is meant to be part of our family even though they weren’t born into it.

Whether you be pregnant, holding your baby, adopting into your family, or remembering a sweet angel baby, Happy Mother’s Day.

#Erin

What RAWR means to me, Aurora

If I had to put a label on it right now, RAWR would be a toothy, spitty roar of frustration. For a variety of reasons that seem the pinnacle of importance right this minute, but probably aren’t, when it comes to the grand scheme of life. But that isn’t always the case. Every once in a while it’s pure joy. Sometimes it’s pain that fills you up to the point that your head jerks involuntarily backward as your esophagus straightens to release the pressure building in your head and heart. Sometimes it’s a noise you let out when the elements descend upon your town and the electrical current from the sky catches your fingertips and begins coursing like adrenalin through your bloodstream, when you momentarily revert from human, back to creature and take off on a mad dash through the rain.

Mostly, I associate it with times like that. When I shrug off the restrictions placed upon me by the culture we live in, and let loose whatever is in my heart. I used to be embarrassed when that happened. It is, after all, frowned upon, almost always. We’re supposed to be composed. Quiet. Respectful of other people’s space, feelings, beliefs, etc. We’re supposed to be cheerful, and look on the bright side. Responsible. Sensible. Mature. Politically correct. Culturally sensitive. The adjectives alone make me want to unleash the raptor claws. The labels that come with really letting go, in almost any fashion, are not ones that you want associated with your name in this day and age. Emotional. Unstable. Weird. When I was young, I really didn’t want anymore of those connotations floating around me, as I walked through senior hall in high school.

But then, when I was 19 years old, my Grandfather died. The man who, besides my mom and dad, had been more to me than anyone else on the planet. Not just a pillar, but a compass, a shelter, an anchor, and a guide. A good strong back that helped to build the neighbors houses. A shrewdness and intelligence that saw through false fronts and all attempts to mislead. A smile that drew everyone. A presence that demanded respect. A powerful, voice that carried each and every impossible note of his beloved operas through the house and out the windows. An artistic precision as a draftsman that earned him a career that far outweighed what his education should have allowed. A temper that frightened away men twice his size, and laughter that brought them all back. He’d quit school at 16 to help feed his family in the Depression, seen the ugliest part of World War II, raised 3 strong-willed daughters, loved my grandmother with unabashed adoration for almost 60 years, and loved me damn near as much. I was the only one of his empire of grandchildren that he called for when he was dying.

The funeral took place in the big church near my grandparent’s house outside of Fort Worth, Texas. They had dressed my grandfather up in a suit and arranged his face in an expression of peace that somehow made me feel revolted. He hadn’t gone quietly. He’d never done much of anything quietly. There were photos of him from his time in the service, as a young man that I didn’t recognize, there were near a hundred people walking through and expressing their sorrow for my loss, some of them I vaguely remembered, but most I didn’t. Everyone was calm, everyone was talking about how… much happier we should be for him now that he was with God. I kept looking around and wondering why no one looked like I felt, which was on the edge of screaming. My mother, who was more of her father’s spirit than either of her sisters, but who was trapped here in the binds of tradition and trying not to embarrass my grandmother, was thanking people for their prayers, when she has never believed in God. I had to read some Bible verse at the podium that I neither understood nor accepted. I was so angry at all of these people for their sterile, composed and precisely planned execution of this ritual. Obviously none of them had known him like I had. Obviously I was alone. Obviously I was wired wrong, that I couldn’t find any comfort in what was going on around me.

I was watching my aunt escort my grandmother slowly away from the coffin at the front of the church, this vicious torrent of anger and dismay chasing around in my head, when Grammy suddenly jerked her arm free of my aunt’s, spun 180 degrees, collapsed into a pew, dropped her face into her frail old hands and essentially burst wide open. She sobbed into her dress and slapped away the hands of anyone who approached to try and soothe away her grief. She threw off the responsibilities of a respectable widow hosting a gathering for the benefit of everyone who needed comfort less than she did, and reverted back into a creature who’d lost her mate, her partner, her protector, her lover, the father of her babies, and the other half to her wizened old heart. Everyone around her looked flustered and worried, not knowing what they should do, and I was secretly glad. There it was. That was what I felt, and I was so grateful to her for feeling it, and showing it, onlookers be damned. It did scare me, because I was of course, still just a kid, to see one of the ‘grown ups’ in my life fall apart like that, but that didn’t last very long, because it didn’t take much to see that it was primal and beautiful and the most real tribute to the loss of such a great man’s love as she could ever express. That short moment, when I watched her curl into a ball and roar ferociously against the pain she felt… I will never forget that. I knew then that our spirits were the same, and my pride could not have been contained in all the oceans.

When I am too full of something to keep it inside me, I let it come pouring out, just like she did, and I know that it’s ok, because that kind of passion runs in my family. We aren’t quiet. We aren’t composed. We’re a throwback to a lost tribe of true humans, who felt what they were supposed to feel, and had no concept that there should be shame attached to it. I take it to mean I am linked through my bloodline to the people I am most proud to call my family.

When the hairs on my neck stand up under a thick cover of lightning storm clouds, I let my eyes grow wide, throw the door open and charge like a savage out into the downpour.

When I am in the middle of a crowd of thousands, and music courses into all of us like a higher plane of collective consciousness, I let the tears bounce off my face to the rhythm of whatever hedonistic beat I feel.

When someone around me expresses an “opinion” that feels to me like an affront to our entire species, and the will I possess to hold us together where we belong, I admonish him or her with sharp whips of the truth, because the “right to your opinion” can kiss my skinny white ass, if you’re using it to spread hate or fear or ignorance.

When someone means or causes harm to a person that I love, my rage defies my slight stature, and my little fists ball up ready to fight back.

When a demon (for lack of a better word) posing as a person commits atrocities that wound us as a community, I am not embarrassed to join my grief with that of my people, in hopes that it crushes the perpetrators of evil back down into whatever cracks of hell they emerged from, and simultaneously spreads the roots of healing into those most robbed of happiness by the crime.

When my sweetheart is gone and I feel like one more appearance alone in public, one more polite refusal of the passes of a man who doesn’t know my heart belongs elsewhere, one more morning waking up in an empty bed, will drive me into loneliness that I will never return from, I scream into my mattress with a rush of adrenalin alike to that of one I’d feel running for my life from hungry wolves, and I hope that somewhere in the universe, he picks up this channel of raw emotion that means I love him so desperately that his absence drives me mad.

And when I lose someone, regardless of the fact that I believe our energies will in time be combined again in the cosmos, from whence we came, I will howl like a rabid animal and scare the living shit out of every single person in a ten mile radius, rather than stuff all that pain down inside, for it to poison my blood, until a more appropriate time arrives for me to deal with it.

I inherited my RAWR from a long line of men and women who refused to accept the rules they found to be unworthy of following. It is a part of me, even when that is inconvenient. Those around me who might momentarily be pushed backward by the force of it erupting from my lungs/mind/heart/soul, are quickly drawn back toward me, in curiosity at what force this little body could contain to create such power.

Be proud of what comes from within you. Share it with the world. Lord knows, our people are asleep at the wheel and in desperate need of some LOUD noise to wake them. Maybe if we could synchronize it, the force of it could change our course. Maybe it is healthier for us not to sanitize the less than perfect aspects of what being a human means. Maybe, in the pursuit of being my truest self, and encouraging others to do the same, I will earn the pride of my ancestors and I will deserve the love I was raised with. Maybe if I RAWR loud enough, my grandparents will hear me and know that they left something powerful in me, back here on Earth. I remain ever wide-eyed and hopeful. And loud.

*Aurora

Eating Under the Stars

This afternoon Hubs, First Son, Small Man & I met up with a Friend & his Son (our Son’s Bestest Buddy) @ Sci-Port, our local science center.  We had a blast chasing the Boys around & checking out all the awesome science-y stuff.  Sciport Louisiana's Science CenterAfter a while everyone in Sci-Port knew it was time for Small Man to eat, because he RAWR’ed his little face off for a couple minutes.

I had been trying to think of a good nursing spot & figured that the Planetarium would be perfect & boy, was I right.  I told Hubs we were going to go have some Boob & we’d catch up to them as soon as we were done. We went into the darkness & were all by ourselves, which was quite a contrast to the hustle & bustle going on just on the other side of the walls.  It was wonderful.

I got to feed Small Man while listening to beautiful, relaxing piano music in the dark, quiet, star-filled Planetarium.  I wish we could have stayed forever.

*Ohhmm Raawwr*

*KODI*

What RAWR means to me, Erin

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.- Bruce Lee

If you had met me at age 20 you would have said, “The Rawr is strong with that one.” I was passionate and driven with a strong sense of self. I lived, laughed, and loved to the max. In fact, my husband often bragged to people that my fiery disposition was one of the reasons he fell in love with me. I was unapologetically me and damn proud, and I’m sure I couldn’t imagine a time where that wouldn’t be true.

Of course, I didn’t know that like most adults life would start to happen at an alarming rate. Long hours of interning, commuting, and working followed by long hours of being a mom and wife were covertly dampening my spark. Most of the time I don’t think I even noticed, and when I did I would just tell myself that I would find time to feed my passions later.

Fast forward to me at age 28: Separated from my husband and living in my friend’s spare room with my 2-year-old son, and soon to find out that I was pregnant with another. I was broken and sad, and I could not understand how my life got to such a point. I grieved my marriage and felt absolutely powerless to save it. I would stand on the porch dropping off my son, and wonder how I could struggle to find words with a man I had shared my entire adult life with. Of course, what words we did find were often screamed at each other and punctuated with cursing and doors slamming. It felt so chaotic, so out of control. I wanted to be happy, but I was afraid of what that might mean. I felt the need to Rawr way down deep, but it never managed to make it out into the world without being drowned by tears.

And then my Rawr light-bulb moment happened. My husband and I were reeling from yet another knock-down, drag-out fight when he called me. I found the words “I want a divorce” coming out of my mouth. In the moment of silence that followed I think we both realized that I wasn’t bluffing or speaking in anger. I meant it. The strangest thing is that I always assumed speaking those words would be devastating and life shattering. Instead I found myself feeling somehow liberated. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was making a choice based on what I wanted and needed, and suddenly I could breathe again. My Rawr had finally bubbled up to the surface. That’s when the truth hit me; if I wanted to be happy, I needed to be true to myself again. No more fear, no more people pleasing, and no more burying my needs and passions in favor of the needs of others.

So I started to live for me. I reconnected with friends I had neglected, I listened to old albums I hadn’t dusted off since college, and I started to find opportunities to really live. I was rebuilding me, and it felt so damn good. And along the way I somehow found myself reconnecting with my husband. We took baby steps at first, and slowly trust and communication started to form again. What developed was a commitment from both of us to work on saving our marriage, but to equally work on ourselves. It wasn’t going to be enough to fight for the bigger picture if the smaller pieces weren’t healthy and happy.

The icing on my Rawr rediscovery cake was discovering roller derby. I dove in and found myself surrounded by strong, determined, passionate women who were excited to have me as part of their sisterhood. I discovered that I could be “Erin- wife and mother of 2,” but that I could also be “Shove & Tell, #22, the bringer of merciless low blocks.” It felt amazing to rediscover the athletic, fierce self that I thought was long buried in my youth.

In the past year I have lived, laughed, and loved so hard. I found my passion and spark again, and this time it’s not something I take for granted. I know it’s a fire that needs to be fed as often as I can. So I love my children fiercely and allow myself to be silly and fun, I connect with my husband and let myself be vulnerable and in love, I rock out to good music, I connect with friends, and I unleash my roller derby bad-ass whenever possible. I always thought I would grieve the end of my 20s as the end of the best years of my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the best is yet to come.

#Erin (aka Shove & Tell #22)

What RAWR means to me, Marie

What RAWR means to me…https://allthingsrawr.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=40&action=edit&message=10

I started “RAWR”ing in the summer of 2011, while pregnant.

I watched my waistline expand, felt my hormones surging and encountered an appetite that would shame a truck driver. As my growing bean began suctioning off my brain cells, I found my vocabulary shrinking. My word choice began to revert to cave-man sounds. When I was hungry, I found myself unable to form complete sentences. Unable to utter words with any coherence. My hunger whittled my brain down to a simple “rawr” to communicate my immediate need for food. But it didn’t end there.

RAWR!

The rawr turned from a nice request for good food, soon -into a RAWR- the demand for good food, now! Not long after that, my brave partner, Raul, coined the name, “Preggosaurus Rex” to describe my dinosaur-like behavior and demand for a snack. So began my rawr, it almost ended there.

I was only pregnant for the summer. My son, George Alfred, did not survive the fall. He passed in mid-September and was born still on the last day of summer, half way to his due date. Overcome with grief, sadness and heartbreak, my rawrs retreated into little lamb bleats, barely vocalized. I slipped into the darkness of a gray, rainy, Seattle fall and winter, expecting the rawr to be washed away with the rain.

Through the darkest of days, I had a light that kept shining on me. I couldn’t escape it, as hard as I tried. The light of love from my friends, family, and fur-babies could not be escaped. They loved me no matter what. And their love kept my rawr alive. It was dormant, buried under tears and behind the walls of my heart, but it was alive. Love was like the little nightlight, burning dimly but just bright enough that you can find your way through the darkness.

I remember it clearly. The first real Brunch since our world came crashing down. The first mimosa and croque madame. The first time I could actually forget. The moment when the clouds parted and the sun shone on my heart, for just a second, came out of nowhere. The RAWR that escaped surprised me and my grief with it’s power. I still had it! I started to find joy in life again. Pushing myself to be better, feel better, live better. In one of these joyful moments, it occurred to me that when I feel the most RAWR is when my heart is the most full of love. (Even if my moment of rawr seems out of frustration or anger, there is an underlying current of love and joy required.) RAWR is love. Love for life. One has to be excited to “RAWR”!

releasing my inner rawr
hammer style

To support my journey of healing, and at the previous urging of friends, I decided to start All Things RAWR because I need a place to collect those moments, things and flashes of RAWR around me. I’ve asked some of my dear friends, those willing to walk beside me until my clouds lifted, to join me in documenting the RAWR around us.

May the RAWR be with you.

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