This is a photo of my mother and I. It was taken the day of Vincent's birthday party which was September 20th.
This is a photo taken by my buddy, Deanna, when we took our kids to the Children's Garden. Note my still sorta flat belly (gotta look
above the belt line under the tank top). This was a just before Halloween in October.
Now here we are at 11 weeks. What the flippin' heck, baby?!
I mean, I wasn't even this big with Vincent at 17 weeks:
So wow. If this is where I'm at before I'm even out of the first trimester, I'm assuming I'll look something like this by the time labor rolls around:
Bonus points if you get this horrible reference.
On second thought, if you get this horrible reference, you should have points revoked, but I digress.
I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm still beyond thrilled that I have a little miracle growing within me. I am keenly aware that not everyone is as lucky as I am in this regard, and my heart aches for them. However, I would be lying if I wasn't a twinge worried about giving birth to an even larger baby than Vince (who at 9 lbs was pretty dang big!). Regardless, I thought it was amazing how quickly my body jumped on board this time around. I know with subsequent pregnancies you show sooner, but I wasn't expecting this. LoL!
Last night, John and I were watching the latest episode of HIMYM (again, if you don’t want spoilers, STOP READING THIS). I’ve always loved the characters of Marshall and Lily. For those of you who don’t know the show, Marshall and Lily are college sweethearts who consistently exemplify unconditional and sacrificial love. They really are the perfect example of what marriage should look like, and I love that the writers have always been dedicated to the success of that relationship.
I’ve always related to Lily’s character. She is a strong woman with very maternal instincts. She loves her husband deeply, adores children, is brutally honest when necessary, and is fiercely loyal to her friends. She's even a teacher! Lily is me with red hair and a much hotter body.
Anyway, in last night’s episode, we come to find out that Lily has been harboring a secret. I immediately said to John, “She’s pregnant!”
Turns out I was right. The way the writers allowed the story to unfold was beautiful. Marshall, upon learning he was going to be a Daddy again, rushed to Lily’s side and confronted her with the news. However, he didn’t confront her angrily. Instead, he was emotional – 120% caught up in anticipation, hope, joy, and above all, love. Love for Lily, love for his son, and love for the new life he and Lily had created.
And when Lily said she “just felt like” the baby was a girl, I was instantly a wreck. I chewed my lip to the point of bleeding trying to keep myself from openly sobbing in front of John, but he saw I was upset and came to sit next to me on the couch to hug me. He probably thought I was crying over Myla.
In truth, I sorta was, but my tears were lamenting more than miscarriage.
Marshall said something that stabbed my heart. The exchange came after a very emotional argument Marshall and Lily had regarding moving to Italy vs. staying in the States (pitting Lily’s dreams against Mashall’s dreams). Marshall selfishly wanted to stay in the States and made the decision without ever asking Lily’s input. Lily, rightly hurt by this, angrily demanded to know why her dreams weren’t considered as important as Marshall’s. The argument ends with Lily sacrificing her dream of Italy for the sake of the family she loves, and Marshall apologizing for allowing his selfishness to come before his love for her.
However, upon learning that Lily is carrying their 2nd child, Marshall exclaims:
“Lily, we have to [go to Italy]! You’re gonna live in Rome, and you’re gonna get your dream because you’re giving me mine, again.”
Cue tear cascade.
Lily had already given up her dream of Italy to support her husband and their (now growing) family. That was a very, VERY difficult thing for her and she knew she’d wrestle with that baggage for the rest of her life. But she did it. Why? Because she loves Marshall and their family enough to sacrifice of herself.
And in that instance, Marshall realized his erroneous thinking. The whole season, he was focused solely on how he could convince Lily to make the sacrifice because his dream was, selfishly, what he wanted.
Until news of the baby. News of the baby's existence caused Marshall to instantly realize his priorities were skewed. A judgeship was not his dream. It’d be a nice goal to reach, but Marshall’s dream was, and always has been, to have a big family, the same as he’d grown up surrounded by. Family is Marshall’s true dream, and he recognized that Lily had known (and been working towards) this all along. Lily had always sacrificed for their shared dream of family, while Marshall simply enjoyed the fruits of that sacrifice.
Realizing this, he took responsibility for sacrificing. He wanted Lily to have the same opportunity to grasp her dreams because it’s what she’d always done for him. He loved her and their family to the point of sacrificing the biggest goal he’s ever set for himself: judgeship. He pushed his fear of leaving New York aside and trusted that his love for his family would be sufficient to weather the journey.
They are like the married couple in O. Henry’s story The Gift of the Magi. Lily willingly handed over her hair (Italy) and Marshall gave up his watch (the judgeship). Deep, personal sacrifices in both cases that were gift wrapped in love.
And Marshall only understood this lesson after rearranging his priorities into their proper order: Lily first, family second, self third. What caused the paradigm shift? News of the baby and his overabundance of love and excitement.
THAT is why my body rocked with sobs. Marshall’s response was what I’ve always envisioned for myself as a child – my future husband being just as excited and joyous as Marshall at news of a pregnancy… my future husband seeing these children as dreams come true. I had visions of him jumping up and down in the bathroom with me as two little pink lines surfaced from a plastic stick.
I cried because my husband was so diametrically opposed to Marshall in this.
There was no moment of joy when he learned of Myla. There was no realization that his priorities were misaligned. There was no moment of clarity in which he appreciated the terrible sacrifice I make on a daily basis so his dreams can be sought after. Instead, there was disgust, fear, annoyance and frustration.
How that wounds my heart.
My dream, from my very first memories, revolve solely around a family. Myla was, in many ways, my final chance at that family. So when I mourn for Myla, I fully understand that I’m mourning for her and all the other children I’ve been denied.
And I was angry. Frustrated. Jealous. Desperate. All because of a television series that showcased the response I long for but will never have. Not even with Vincent. On both counts, John’s first reaction was fear and annoyance. Disbelief.
Never love. Never joy.
And that is what absolutely kills me.
I felt so unappreciated that I free-fell into an intense depression. My mind wondered if John even loved me at all. How could someone who loves me simultaneously seem to hate me so much?
Do I think John hates me? Of course not. But in that moment, it felt that way. Maybe because I hated myself being in this situation. I don't know. It's easier for me to turn the upset feelings inward rather than outward.
Anyway, after the show finished, we watched a 30 minute comedy to lighten the mood. It worked well enough for John to think things were okay. I was sour, though. The self-loathing, anger, jealousy and despair were percolating in my mind the whole time. So instead of watching another show, I went to bed. Not that I was going to sleep. Lord knows I wouldn't be doing much sleeping. But at least I could shut myself off in the dark.
John came up after me. He grabbed me close in bed and snuggled there. He's a snuggler. I hate snuggling. Loathe it. It's okay for all of three seconds before I get annoyed and want my space back. However, I allowed it because I knew that was his way of trying to make me feel better. I knew he needed to feel like he was helping. Maybe that's all he thought he could do. After all, John responds to touch, so it makes sense why he'd think I would react the same.
Honestly, though, I wanted no parts of myself let alone any parts of him.
I'm terrible, aren't I?
Anyway (and really, Mom, if you're reading this, just go ahead and avert your eyes), I realized in that moment that I did need John. I needed to feel loved, because there was a part of me (the logical side?) that understood he loved me, but my heart was so full of hurt and grief that I couldn't feel it. I couldn't process that he could love me given the broken and hurting state I was in.
So I kissed John. I wanted him to kiss me back, to give me some tangible sign that he loved me. He dutifully kissed me, but laid back on his pillow. I pulled his face back to mine and whispered, "No. Make love to me."
I don't normally do that. I'm not the romantic type who whispers sweet nothings into dusky skies as my hair whips gracefully in a gentle breeze. But in that moment, I recognized the marital act of making love as the only balm to soothe the aching desolation in my heart. I needed my husband to love me. I needed him to physically, emotionally and spiritually LOVE me, and a few pecks on the cheek weren't going to cut it. Not when I was feeling so incredibly unloved.
That was the first time I've ever "needed" sex. I've enjoyed sex, sure. I've wanted sex, definitely. But I can't remember a time in which I urgently needed to give the fullness of myself and receive the fullness of my husband in the way that only married love can do. Sex isn't just some repetitive thrusting based solely on biology. That we, as a people, have turned it into so base a commodity is a travesty. Looking at sex as a means to better know and understand the love of my husband... it was eye-opening for me.
Here she is! Notice anything different about her?
Sure she's got a crown of flowers, and the ones placed in front of her are a little wilted, but take a closer look at the statue, itself.
Not sure yet? Here... let me give you a different angle. That should clear things up a bit!
If you haven't gotten it yet, I'll give you one more hint.
I took this picture directly behind my sister's room as she stayed on bed rest in the maternity ward. The wall behind Our Lady has my sister's bed behind it.
With that in mind, take a look at Our Lady's belly. Go ahead. Note the full curve of Life within her womb.
I've never seen a pregnant OLO Grace before. Never! Go figure there'd be one at this beautiful Catholic hospital that my sister found herself in.
As soon as I saw her, I knew I wanted to share her with you. She's just so beautiful! And the fact that this particular artist wanted to capture her as the expectant Mother of God is just.. I about died a hundred times as I fell over and over in love with her.
I adored that she was tucked away behind my sister as she kept Isaac safe within her for as long as she did, supporting her "unseen" even though we all knew she was there.
I'm just a complete sucker for stuff like this. Granted, I'm a complete sucker for Our Lady, but I count that as a plus. We should all be suckers for her.
I was pregnant this week. And last. My body told me so.
My breasts were swollen and tender (still are). My fluids were thickened and relentless. My body was utterly exhausted and every instinct I have within me screamed "Miracle."
I lived the last 12 days or so in the grasp of euphoria and bated breath.
Could it be? The timing was right. Circumstances aligned themselves in my favor. Had God finally answered my prayers?
I kept this to myself. I didn't want to jinx the little life within me by telling folks before I got confirmation. Unfortunately, it was still too early. The same was true with Vincent. Back then, my body was ticking off sign after sign, but I suspected too early to show positive on a home test. Heck, when I went in to the OB, even she couldn't find proof of Vincent's existence!
But us mothers... we just know. So I waited. I prayed and I waited.
Until Friday. On Friday, I was darn near about to burst, so I reached out to two friends. I felt I needed to have the talk with John to prep him for the results I was so sure I would have when I could finally test for pregnancy.
After speaking with them, I had the talk with John. He reacted as expected - shock, disbelief and a firm conviction to schedule himself a vasectomy.
He has no idea how hurtful that is, so he couldn't understand the tears I promptly shed at such a reaction. Even knowing that he'd react in this manner did nothing to shield my heart from the sledgehammer he took to it with those words.
But even that reaction could do nothing to quell the tidal wave of joy I felt at the notion of once more housing a tiny soul within me with outstretched hands longing to remind the world that God isn't ready to give up on us yet.
Through indignant tears I said that I was happy to finally give Vincent the sibling he deserved. I was joyed to give our parents another grandchild... our nieces and nephews a new cousin. A child... our child... is a blessing to be welcomed with nothing but the most rapturous bliss.
He countered with his normal litany of fears... finances, time constraints, parental adequacy. The flames of my heart swallowed those fears as if they were droplets of mist - nothing in comparison to the boundless gifts a new child would bring.
By the time our conversation came to a close, John had done his best to see the good. He acknowledged he'd love and support this child and he even acknowledged he probably would love him or her as much as Vincent, but I could hear in his voice that doubt and fear still lingered. He didn't wish to continue the conversation as he was hoping I was wrong. As much as I prayed a child was growing within me, he was praying to whatever higher power he sometimes thinks there is that I was wrong.
Saturday came and found me spotting. Implantation bleeding? Possibly. Sunday's continued bleeding assured me that no... it was not merely implantation bleeding. In fact, the onslaught of cramping, nausea and back pain only assured me that I was, indeed, pregnant. I was pregnant, and I was losing the gift I'd been given.
Currently I'm still sore and cramping. On top of this, my heart is broken. It is broken, but it's beating, and I still have every faith that this situation has altered the path John and I had been taking.
I do believe I am in the throes of miscarriage. They call it a chemical pregnancy, but you and I, readers, we know better. I was blessed to carry life... even if briefly. It's why my body is still showing signs of this life.
And for as sad as I am that I didn't get to meet this little life, I am joyed that God gave me the chance to harbor this little saint for even a moment. A new intercessor to help melt her Daddy's heart, maybe.
In all things His Will be done.
At this point in time, I ask prayers. Please no comments about John or his decisions or even mine at this time. I have no energy to defend either myself or my husband. I just ask that we be placed in your prayers, with one of thanksgiving to God that such a sign of Love be granted to us.
Fixed the air-conditioner, dear!
Ever have your husband say to you, “Oh honey, I’ve taken care of it. X-issue will never come up again. Don’t even worry about it!”
Ever think, immediately upon hearing those words, that X-issue will most CERTAINLY come up again because your husband doesn’t “take care of things” as well as he thinks he does?
Oh John… *shakes head with playful reproach* I fell victim to his version of “taking care of things” this weekend.
Several months ago, John’s mother had been hinting at the prospect of John and I having more children. Obviously her intention was not to shove a sword through my heart, but given the nature of my current fertility predicament, that’s exactly what ended up happening.
And really, that’s partly my fault. Never wanting to make her feel bad for desiring more grandchildren from us, I did my best to keep my emotions under control. I never let her see anything more than the carefully concocted façade that masked my deepest, most crushing grief.
After this happened in December (and it was December, I just couldn’t bring myself to post about it until February), John took the initiative and assured me he had spoken to his mother in an attempt to head-off similar situations. When I pressed him to find out how, exactly, he’d handled the conversation, I could tell that he wasn't very thorough because he didn’t want to have a heart-to-heart with his mother about why he, himself, didn’t want any more children. He didn’t want to admit that to his mom because he knew she wouldn’t let the conversation end there.
But I didn’t press the issue further because I figured I’d find out, myself, through future interactions with my MIL.
This weekend was my reckoning.
John and I took Vincent down the shore to stay with my mother and father-in-law. They were babysitting our niece, Alliya.
As I was getting Vince ready for the beach in the bedroom, John watched his mother braid Alliya’s hair in the living room. Alliya didn’t like that, so John asked his mom why she was forcing Alliya (who has Rapunzel-length hair) to sit still while she braided it.
My MIL responded with, “It’ll get too tangled if I don’t braid it.”
Things might’ve been okay for me had the conversation stopped there. It didn’t, and here’s where my husband’s brilliant version of “handling things” came into play.
My MIL continued, “Why are you asking, John? Prepping for a little girl of your own?”
Cue John’s brilliant response – instead of responding to her, he simply ignores her and walks away.
That’s right... he walked away.
I’m actually laughing as I think about that. I have little doubt he thought he was making a very good, obvious point to his mother. He probably even thought he was deftly handling the situation and “punishing” her with the cold shoulder by ignoring the comment and walking away.
But no. His mother thought he was just teasing. So when she relayed the story back to me on the beach while John was on the boardwalk with Vincent, she had absolutely no idea that she was treading on dangerous waters.
Continue to Part II: Dangerous Waters
Vince's 4th month bump!
Part 2 in the Accident Series
In January of 2009, about two months after the car accident that left me with a herniated disc, I learned I was pregnant with Vincent. It was a surprise blessing - one that I was incredibly elated for.
However, there's a reason my Mom's response to news of her first grandchild was "Is that even safe?"
My chiropractor had warned me against getting pregnant with my fresh herniation because the weight and stress of growing a child within my womb would make a bad situation worse. John and I hadn't planned for Vincent, but we weren't going to shy away from the blessing now that we'd finally be granted him!
Armed with such determination, my wonderful chiropractor altered my therapy in consideration of my pregnancy. I was still going three times a week, but I was given different exercises in lieu of the electric shocks my back muscles typically received.
Almost instantaneously, my back pain intensified. I knew that during the first trimester, ligaments stretch and hip bones begin to spread to ready the body for labor. I was warned that my pain would be much worse than is typical because of where my herniation was. A small price to pay, in my mind, for a healthy child.
Midway through my pregnancy, I thought I was going to pass out from the intense pain. It was different from the normal pressure of the herniation, but the doctors kept reassuring me it was because of my herniation. Three times I went to the ER because the pain was too intense, and three times I was sent away with percoset because it was chalked up to the herniation. I refused to take the percoset because I was worried about effects on Vincent. No amount of "It's safe, I swear" could make me take those pills.
In tears, I told my OB that I needed to find some solution to the pain because there were times I had trouble breathing. She did an exam and set me over to the ER yet again because she was sure I had kidney stones.
That last one was what mine looked like.
She was right. The ultrasound showed hydronephrosis (which is an enlarged kidney typically due to kidney stones). The pain was being caused by my right kidney (it was over double the size it should have been). That's when I realized how bad having a herniation was.
Doctors kept writing me off (three times!) when they saw my charts label "disc herniation." They assumed any and all pain in my lower - mid back was caused by the herniation. No one ever thought to check me for kidney stones. I ended up freaking out over the prospect because I realized that I'd have to face this every time I had back pain going forward. Would doctors write me off because of the herniation? Would they mistakenly release me when I was actually dealing with a life-threatening gall bladder attack or kidney failure???
Considering this is how a friend of mine passed away (doctors misdiagnosed her kidney failure. The pain pills she took masked her symptoms until it was too late to save her.), I was an anxious wreck.
I was beginning to realize just how much of an effect this car accident was having on my future.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy. I was in such intense pain (Vince was a 9lb baby!), and I could barely sleep at night from the spasms my lower back was having. Again, my doctors told me this was part of the herniation and there was really nothing to be done to help alleviate it. I kept trying to remind myself that the pain was worth my son, so I offered what I could (begrudgingly, I admit) to God so long as I got a healthy baby in return.
Finally, my water breaks and I'm admitted into L&D. I was given an epidural, but the meds had to be administered THREE TIMES. The nurse explained to me that the reason it wasn't "working" is because of the placement of my herniation. Sometimes folks with herniations have difficult times taking to the epidural because the meds aren't able to get where they need to go in order to "flood out" the pain receptors.
Yet again I found my herniation causing my problems.
I luckily have a brief delivery and Vincent comes into the world. I figured my back pain would be a done deal now that the excess pressure was gone.
Yet God loves proving me wrong.
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