Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sometimes, when I look back

Sometimes, when I look back on that day and the days that followed, I feel this incredible sadness.  Not only for you and what you went through, not for the fact that you died and being without you, but also for my own life, my own heart, for Chris' life.  The pain, hurt, loss and heartbreak during the month before you died, your death, and the time afterwards, is just so horrifying that this happened. And to me, my son, my husband.

I tell myself that there are much worse things that happen to millions of people every day.  When I compare our situation to all the suffering around us, we have so much to be grateful for - the love and support we received from family and friends, the knowledge that you knew nothing but love from those around you, and that you died peacefully.  I try not to get weighed down feeling sorry for myself that such a terrible thing happened to my first child.  But I don't deny that pain.  To deny it would minimize or take away from the joy and happiness that you brought us for almost 8 months.  The fact that other people suffer does not take away what we went through.  I allow myself to feel compassion and sadness of your loss. That my heart can break, over and over again, and still continue to beat, to have the capacity to love, is amazing.
If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.” - Andrew Harvey

I worry about my grief sometimes, I try to push it aside, bury it beneath busy days, distractions, responsibilities.  But, somehow, the grief finds it way to the surface.  If not acknowledged, it will fester and enter the dark places of my heart.  Slowly, I am finding ways to recognize my grief and be comfortable with how it changes.  There hasn't been a day that I don't think about you, and I am comforted knowing that you are always with me.  I am thankful that you are our little angel.

I miss you, Nico.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bits of gratitide amidst many tears

Four months ago today I delivered my son  at St. Joe's Hospital.  I held his body in my arms and saw him for the first/last time.  After 20 hours of labor and 4 weeks of anxiety and fear, little Nico left this world before really ever having a chance to see it.  I still cannot believe it's been 4 months.  I sometimes cannot believe that I've made it through today, still walking and working and living and breathing and sometimes even laughing.  I can go back to that day and the days prior like it was just yesterday and I'm flooded with the same feelings of sadness and grief.  We have a long journey ahead of us, but we're getting there.

We just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, a time of giving thanks, a time of being thankful.  But I kept thinking "I cannot be thankful, there is nothing only emptiness and sadness."  How do we begin to celebrate this day when my son is dead?  What goodness is there in my life to be thankful for right now? 

But as I really think about those questions, I find that I still feel blessed and lucky.  As I look back at these past 4 months and see that both Mr. C and I have survived this time mainly  because of the love and kindness shown by our friends, family and each other.  I have friends who I can call and just cry to and they understand, I don't have to apologize.  I have a husband who has been by my side and never left, although it was scary and we were in unchartered territory.  We have a family who is loving and kind and supportive and gentle.  We are truly lucky and blessed and I'm thankful for the prayers for peace and healing.

Nico's death has changed me in profound ways.  I don't know what the road ahead will look like, but I don't think I'll ever be the same as before he died.

I know that my sufferings since Nico's death will be endless, life continues and our story is still to be told.  But I hold on to the love and community and those little blessings in life, for which I am grateful.

. . So you must not be frightened
if a sadness rises before you larger
than any you’ve ever seen, if an
anxiety like light and cloud shadows
moves over your hands and
everything that you do. You must
realize that something has happened
to you. Life has not forgotten
you, it holds you in its hands
and will not let you fall. Why do
you want to shut out of your life
any uneasiness, any miseries, or
any depressions? For after all, you
do not know what work these conditions
are doing inside of you.
                                - Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Due dates

October 10th was Nico's due date.  It came and went, and I'm still alive and well.  I made it through the day, not knowing how or what I would do to get by.  The anticipation was worse than the day itself.  The anxiety those days leading up to the 10th must be similar to that of an expectant mother, anxious for the day her baby will be born.  It's very odd to know that I share these similar feelings, but with the full realization that my baby won't  be born on this day.  That he has already come and gone. Yet the anticipation is still there.  It's like my mind still going through the motions of planning/preparing for a birth that will never be/already happened. 

Mr. C and I took the afternoon off work and spent some time at the Desert Botanical Gardens.  I wasn't ready for a desert hike but wanted to be surrounded by the desert and its smells and colors.  So the Botanical Gardens was a perfect place to go.  I felt Nico all around me, and could imagine him there, running into cactus and falling on his face in the rocks (seriously, I thought about this and he's not even here!).  It was a beautiful day, and I remember my little Nico and our dreams and hopes and wishes that forever stay with me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To-do list...revised

We painted a room this weekend.  And put together a bed. 

Only difference is that we painted our bedroom instead of a baby room, and put together a new queen size bed instead of a crib.

That's all...this doesn't get any easier.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Joy and Sorrow

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain...

Some of you say, 'Joy is greater than sorrow,' and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is the greater.' But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."

– Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's been four weeks since we walked into the doctors office and discovered that Nico's heart had stopped beating.

I delivered him one month ago today.  Only now can I write a little about it, if only to make some sense of the tragedy that has swept into our lives.  The journey for us began at 25 weeks when I noticed he wasn't moving as much as before.  At that time, we discovered he had a congetical heart defect but was reassured that surgery at birth would correct.  Little Nico stayed with us for a month after that, but his heart just couldn't keep up and we lost him.  During that month I remember praying for a miracle to heal his heart.  When they said he was smaller than "normal" I prayed that he would grow.  When they said that I was losing amniotic fluid at each appointment and saw a continual decrease I prayed for fluid to fill my womb.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  But he died anyway.  So now I pray for peace and strength to get through this.

Yesterday I went back to work.  After one month I felt like I couldn't postpone returning to work.  So that some sort of "normalcy" would return to our lives.  It wasn't as bad as I feared.  I am lucky to have a private office, so I cry and not have to worry about people seeing me fall apart.  The hard thing is returning to a place where I was once pregnant.  Everything around me is a reminder of my pregnancy, of my son, of my joy.  My students remembered that I was pregnant, now I have to tell them my baby has died. 

When I walked into my office yesterday, I found my room as I left it 1 month ago.  The pillows were still propped up on the couch.  The last time I was laying there, sitting back comfortablly, with my legs up and belly out.  Nico was was kicking or turning over, and I would spend an hour or so just laying and feeling him, loving him.  Before adjusting the pillows back to their regular places, I sat in the same spot, propped my legs up, and rubbed my belly, my empty womb, missing Nico, but still loving him.  Always loving him.

Friday, August 5, 2011

About Loss

How do I begin to say goodbye to my son, Nico?  I don't know how or if I'll continue here.  My heart is so broken, I have no words to express what I feel right now.

"Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street. For, think,

what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so

utterly alone. And smile, that she does not
altogether forget the world before the lesson.
Have patience in abundance. And do not
ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment

by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,
abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,
sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.
And amazing things can happen. And you may see,

as the two of you go
walking together in the morning light, how
little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;
she begins to grow." 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Letter to my son...

Dear Nico,
tomorrow you'll be 30 weeks old.  Please hang in there for 4 more weeks.  Just relax, grow, get strong and before you know it, you'll be in our arms and safe.  You are loved and perfect.  You are our miracle and I am thankful every day for the blessing you bring to my life.  These days have not been easy for us, I know you can feel my sadness, anxiety and fear.  But mostly my fear.  I hope that you can also feel my joy, excitement and wonder that you are in my life.  You're not even born yet, and you've already made me happier than I have ever been.   I am filled with thanks that we have you - even if only for a short time.  I still wake up, look at my belly, and am filled with wonder that our love has created you.  With God's grace we will get through this difficult time.  Just know that you are loved and we pray every day that miracles will happen and we will get to love and hold you close.

Your mama

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The past few weeks

So much has gone on in the last few weeks, I don't know where to begin.

The last thing I thought I'd have was a "high risk" pregnancy.  Everything started out fine, more or less.  I didn't have morning sickness or trouble eating, and everything was going smoothly.  I did bleed a bit in the first trimester, but that ended as my second trimester started.  Mr. C and I have been preparing ourselves for a natural birth at the birth center by watching videos, meeting with our midwife and doctor and exercising with prenatal yoga and walking to prepare for the birth.  The second trimester was going great...lots of energy, belly growing, and just feeling really, really good. So, when I began to notice that I wasn't feeling baby move much anymore I was a little worried but thought I was overreacting, or being irrational.  But, after 2 days of little movement, I couldn't shake that something might not be right. 

Finally, I decided to call my midwife who met us in the office on a Saturday within a half hour.  She listened to my belly and heard a heart beat, nice and loud.  While Mr. C and I were relieved, she suggested we head over to St. Joe's and have the hospital monitor the baby's reflexes and movements.  None of us expected that I would later be admitted and remain there for the next 5 days.

Our little son's heartbeat was decelerating and I was having contractions.  Holding me for "observation" turned into days of anticipation, anxiety and fear.  The first night at the hospital a neonatologist came in to let us know what our sons chances of surviving were if they had to do a c-section that night, at 25 weeks.  After a steroid injection (just in case his lungs needs to develop outside the womb) and some major doses of Magnesium to stop the contractions, he stabilized a bit.  

After 4 days of some heart decelerations, and lots of ultrasounds, the cardiologist came in and told us our little boy has a genetic heart defect. They'll operate at birth, but he needs to stay in my womb as long as possible to be able to undergo the surgery later.  On top of this news, they discovered that he's smaller that average and we decided to do the amniocentesis to rule out chromosome disorders.  Were still waiting for the full report, but the prelims came in normal for the 3 major concerns.

We decided to leave the hospital and go off the monitors that follow his heart rate and just live day by day, hoping the decelerations go away and he grows bigger and stronger.  It's been 2 weeks and he's still with us.  Tomorrow he'll be 28 weeks, and we wake up grateful that we still have him here.

Nothing really prepares you for news like this.  Not only do I still have my midwife and OB, but I have to have 2 ultrasounds a week, and will meet with a cardiologist bi-weekly.  And I need to "stay off my feet."  I am going from trying to live as stress-free as possible to undergoing one of the most stressful experiences.  There are so many things that I need to still process and adjust to.  I am still so joyful about my pregnancy, and hopeful, but I find myself overcome by fear and anxiety.  Chris has been more than amazing through this all, and he has become the one person I can depend on.  I don't know what I would do without him.

Me and baby at 24 weeks

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer plans

I am a list-maker.  I make lists, add things to them, then, one by one, cross things off my list.  For some people, my lists are a bit much.  But I find that it motivates me to get things done.  Otherwise, I'll just keep thinking of all the things I want to do, but never get them done.   These lists are ways for me to overcome my Gemini-ness...  we start things that we never finish.  We have millions of things going on at once.  Lots of balls in the air.

So, now that I have the next 6 weeks off, here's my summer list:

Re-plumb the house!
New roof
Remove old wall heater...make wall shelf in its place
Paint kitchen
Remove carpet in baby room
New carpet?  Hardwood floors?
Paint baby room
Make baby stuff -
     * baby hats
     * baby mobile
Read non-baby related books (fiction!)
Take a few trips out of state
Weekend camping trips with hubby and pup
Weekly yoga classes
Get birthing ball and figure out what to do with it

Okay, the first 3 things on this list will be done by Mr. C and some other skilled roofers....but I'm keeping it on the list.  How much do you think I'll get done by October?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Compassion Fatigue

"That which is to provide light must endure burning." - Victor Frankl

Me and my co-workers went to a Compassion Fatigue workshop this week - the new word for burnout.  I went because I thought it could be useful information to pass on to new No More Deaths volunteers or old ones, the ex-pats, as I call them.  The group of volunteers who committed many years and time and energy to the work only to leave it after putting everything they had into it.  But during the workshop I realized that the signs of compassion fatigue they talked about were very familiar to me and what I experienced. 

So, the workshop was pretty kooky at times, and I didn't walk away with many answers or insights.  At one point, we did an exercise where we had to sit on our hands and relax our sphincter muscles...oh god, what did I get myself into?  Apparently, sphincter relaxation helps our body during times of stress and is a suggested practice when we're having a tough day.  Okay...

I hate wasting a perfectly good opportunity for learning, so later that night I started thinking more about my own compassion fatigue over the years and was surprised that I hadn't had a meltdown sooner.  I love my work with the kids and being at the high school, but I'm not in love with it anymore.  The good news is that I can still see myself doing this for a long time, but maybe not with the passion I first had.  The kids and the family issues, non-stop crisis at home, drug addiction, suicides or attempted suicides, homelessness, dysfunction, lack of motivation...there is so much everyday.  And I still enjoy being a safety net for some of them.

More notable, is my time with No More Deaths.  Seven years ago I started with them.  I can remember the intense passion and energy I put into the work.  I remember thinking "I'm being called to do this work" and for a while my mind and body found it's own energy to work through long days, weekends, and travels to the desert, summers in the desert, vacations in the desert.  It's like my feet knew where to take me and I just followed.  It's like my mind was determined and my body had no say-so in the matter. 

I travelled to Tucson every weekend, went to meetings every weeknight, organized, coordinated, took all the phone calls, e-mails, hate mails, letters, and late-night visitors to my house.  I hiked endlessly, walking and walking and carrying big loads of water in each hand.  I bandaged blisters and listened to stories of hope and of lives left behind.  I was determined.  For years I've been doing this.  Then, something strange happened.  It seems like I woke up one day, tired.  Really, really tired.  I don't know why or how it happened.  But I stopped going to daily meetings, I stopped going to Tucson every weekend, I stopped making my summer in the desert walking the trails.  We still have meetings, but only twice a month, I still answer the phones and take the e-mails, I still welcome the occasional late-night visitor...but something had changed, shifted.  This all coincided with my Cascabel trip a few years ago and the realities and insight I gained on the mountain those days.  But, how did it happen?  It's like the candle was blown out in my soul. 

I don't think there's a quick or easy answer to how or why or what this all means.  I think it's all a part of god's plan for me.  Everything that happens is part of something bigger.  I have to believe that.  I don't believe it's god's plan for me, or any of us to be happy.  That's a pretty selfish thing to think (although it's very American, right?).  But, I read this piece by Anne Lamott where she talks just about this.  Here's a quote from a priest friend of hers which I think sums it up for me:

"God's will for each of us is to have a life. And it is up to us to go and get one. Find some work, some love, some play. Taste things. Be of service. Feed the hungry and clean the beaches and clothe the naked and work for justice. Love god, love your neighbor. Help build a world where it is safe to be a child, and where it is safe to grow old. And love cats, and the occasional dog." 

This is great!  What I was missing during my time with No More Deaths was my life...the rest of it.  It's all about balance and I had lost it for a time.  But I think I'm back on track.  My life is almost 180 degrees different from that of 2 years ago.  But it's good.  I came down the mountain with a plan I didn't recognize.  With a map with no roadsigns.  And I trust, and I walk...
It's all in the plan...

My changing waistline

I do not fit into my jeans all.  I totally love being pregnant and am constantly amazed at the way my body is growing and changing and shifting things around to fit a little bump in there.  But, I struggle with figuring out what to wear, how to continue to wear what I currently have without spending tons of money on maternity clothes.

I came across a blog that gave me a great suggestion for what to do with your jeans.  This is perfect!  At first, I could zip it up but just needed help with the buttoning.  But  now, the zipper stays down.  Thank god for my hair ties!

And I refuse to buy a belly band!  I know, I may end up getting one, but I really, really really don't want one.  Anyone else think they look medieval?

I still find myself looking in the mirror in amazement that this is my body.  Being in touch and tune with the growing, stretching, changing body is remarkable.  I am so thankful that I can experience this once in my lifetime and hope to have very few bad days when I look in the mirror and think I just look fat, really, really fat.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's a BOY!

Our little bump is a baby boy! 


Monday, May 9, 2011

First trimester...

Today I'm 18 weeks pregnant.  Well past my first trimester, so I feel that I can now write a bit about everything that went on during that time.  Maybe I'll start when I first found out we were pregnant.  My day at work started out pretty typical, when I suddenly felt faint as I was trying to stand up.  I seriously almost passed out!  I went to visit the school nurse who took my blood pressure and told me I was fine.  Clue number one.

The day of my period, it didn't all.  But I had all the pre-period signs:  bloated belly, sore breasts, moodiness.  Clue number two.

I went on-line and looked up "early signs of pregnancy"  and it read "bloated belly, sore breasts, moodiness."  Clue number three.

Those first 10 weeks were really difficult both emotionally and physically.  I was so incredibly tired all the time, ate non-stop, and had pretty severe cramping for weeks.  I was lucky enough to miss the whole "morning sickness" that most women have. So, instead of not being able to keep any food down, I was looking for food to put down!  I gained enough weight to last us through the 2nd trimester!

Everything seemed to be going relatively smoothly, besides the cramping.  Then, at 7 weeks, just two weeks before our wedding, I bled.  Alot.  From the second I found out I was pregnant I knew the chances for a miscarriage where high.  Words can't express the incredible sadness, panic, distress, and total loss of control I felt that night.  There was nothing I could do to prevent this from happening.  Mr. C and I decided to wait it out, to see if it stopped.  It didn't, so we drove to the hospital that night and waited to see the doctor. 

For 4 hours, we sat there in our own thoughts.  For me, I worried that my body wasn't capable of carrying a baby, that something was wrong with my body, that maybe god was still pissed at the way I chose to live my life.  Then I went to have my first ultrasound, there in the ER.  And the tech saw my little squid...and saw it's heart beat.  It was only 1/4 inch, but already there was blood moving in and out of the little ball of cells.  We went home that night/early morning still pregnant but was told we just had to "wait and see" what my body decided to do in the next hours.  The reason for the bleeding is complicated, and the potential for a miscarriage was still super high.  Those were seriously the most stressful days/weeks to come. 

But those days passed...quickly.  Our wedding was fast approaching, and we made some decisions then to change our honeymoon to somewhere closer to home "just in case."  I haven't miscarried yet, and the bleeding has stopped completely in the past month, but I continue to wake up feeling blessed and thankful that our little turnip has decided to stick around, for the time being.

As I've entered my 2nd trimester, my energy is back and my eating routine is now back to normal...ish.  Bump is growing and I'm loving the way my body is changing and gearing up for an incredible transformation.

Me at 14 weeks!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Circa 1980
I remember my first royal weddingI watched when I was 9 years old.  It was on super early in the morning and my sister and I got up and watched it, to see the dress, the ceremony, the whole excitement of it all. I also remember fallling asleep in the middle of it.  Somehow I was disappointed.  It wasn't all I expected it to be.  It didn't feel romantic, quaint, intimate, close.  I remember the dress being HUGE...the train flowing out for miles, it seemed.  But I was bored by it all.

Fast forward 30 years and I just finished my own wedding planning and ceremony.  Definitely was more exciting than any royal wedding I've seen so far!

I thought I'd share our ceremony, as it was so beautiful and romantic.

Someone Like You (Van Morrison) - sung by friend

Welcoming Remarks
Opening remarks on love and marriage - by pastor

Reading One:
Kahlil Gibran - On Marriage

Then Almitra spoke again and said, 'And what of Marriage, master?'
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Reading 2:  Song of Solomon

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like a blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.

Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.


Laura and Mr. C, the symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this - is my husband, this - is my wife.

Mr. C says his vows...
I say my vows...
Community Support
As family and friends,
You form a community of support
That surrounds Laura and Christopher
Each of you, by your presence here today
Is being called upon
To uphold them in loving each other
Always stand beside them, never between them
Offer them your love and your support
Not your judgment
Encourage them when encouragement is needed
And listen to them when they ask for advice

In these ways, you can honor this marriage
Into which they will be joined today.

Do you offer your love and support
To strengthen their marriage
And bless this family created by their union?

Please answer by saying : We do

[Guests: We do]

In My Life (Beatles) - Sung by friend
Ring Exchange
Laura and Mr. C, the promises which you have spoken to each other today are inscribed forever in your minds, in your hearts. But words are fleeting and so those who marry wear rings as visible, tangible symbols of their commitment and of their emotional and spiritual connection.
These rings announce to the world that you have been found. They are a reminder and a celebration of the promises you have made today and in exchanging these bands you knit your two lives together as one.

Closing remarks/Pronouncement of Marriage

For Once In My Life (Stevie Wonder) - Sung by friend

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Push Kick

Wow, I just came across Holly McNish and her collection of spoken word and poetry written during pregnancy, through labor and motherhood.  It's pretty cool!
Go to the link below and listen for free(!) or make a generous donation to Camfed

Push Kick - A journey through the beauty, brilliance and bollocks of having a baby.

Thanks to Cate at Project Subrosa for this link!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Journey

I love Mary Oliver.  I love that her writings, her poetry somehow touches me very deeply.  It could be my intense emotions these days, but I've always liked her work.  And, if you want to buy me any nice gifts, I'd love some of her books!

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Eyes So Hafiz

My Eyes So Soft

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly
let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can

Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft

my voice so tender
my need of god

absolutely clear.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Guess what?

I've been waiting for the right time to share this with everyone.  A few months ago Mr. C and I discovered we are going to have a baby!  Phew, what a whirlwind of emotions these past 4 months have been.  If you noticed me turning down a perfectly delicious glass of wine, or eating just about every two hours, or saw me go to the bathroom like a million times in a day...or realized that I didn't drink at all at my Bachelorette party or wedding, then this should explain everything.

So many life changes at once, and I'm feeling incredibly blessed and shocked and thankful and lucky.  I'm what doctors call "advanced maternal age" and was pretty freaked out for years that I couldn't have kids anymore.  I went through a rough spot about 2 years ago (just before meeting Mr. C) where I realized that my life was out of my control, and wondered about the choices I've made and if I'd only done things differently my life would be where I wanted it to be.  Then, I went to Cascabel for some reflection and fasting.  I came back realizing I don't have control and I needed to let go of what I thought my life was supposed to be like.  From that moment on, when I truly let go, my life has taken twists and turns that are better than anything I have ever imagined.  I mean, I just got married and I'm having a baby (not exactly in that order).  How crazy and exciting is that?

And, if our calculations are correct, then this baby will be out by early October. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One month ago...

One month ago today Mr. C and I tied the knot!  So exciting that I call him my husband and he, my wife.  It's been a fun month and we still say we're on our honeymoon.  I get this feeling of bliss and giddyness when I'm around him, makes me feel like a schoolgirl sometimes.

This is how a conversation went when I told a co-worker that today is our month anniversary:

Me:  Today Mr. C and I have been married one month!

Her:  Really?  That's sweet.  I've been married for 28 years.

Me: you still love seeing him every day and being together?

Her:  Sometimes.

Then, the whole room of older, married ladies burst into laughter.  It was like an inside joke that I'm not in on, yet.  I hope that in 28 years he'll still smile when I walk into the room, or I'll still race home just to feel his arms hug me and welcome me home.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Honeymoon in San Francisco

 Mr. C and I went to San Francisco for our honeymoon.  Spent ten amazing days relaxing, eating, walking, sightseeing, and more eating.  I forget how much I love to travel and, luckily, I found a great travel companion.  I also love San Francisco.  The diversity of people, cultures and neighborhoods kept us busy exploring new things every day.  I think one of my favorite things to do was sitting on the bus and just listening to all the different languages spoken in one place.  When we were on the one bus, we heard lots of Russian and Japanese.  When we were on another, it was a mix of Mandarin, Portuguese, and other random languages.  

Poster in Chinatown
indigenous rights mural in Mission district
San Francisco never seems to lose it's appeal for lovers, newlyweds, or couples.  My parents came here for their honeymoon over 40 years ago.  Countless friends have told me they spent their honeymoon here, too.  Seems like it's a city of immigrants, new arrivals, where all cultures find a way to work together. Only fitting that couples starting off on new adventures and a new life together would find this place romantic.

It rained almost every day.  But that didn't hold us back from doing the things we wanted to do.  We just stayed huddled under our umbrellas, heading out in the misty rain.  Or, on rainier days, we'd sleep in, cuddling up in our huge bed with the curtains open just watching the rain fall down on the city. 

a view from our room
rainy day at the Legion of Honor
a break in the clouds
Mr. C is a vegan and I'm a vegetarian, so when we found it incredible easy to eat here, we took advantage of every delicious meal we came across.  Coming from a city where there are only 2, yes just two, vegan restaurants in the whole metropolitan area, we were in heaven!  So we ate a lot, I mean  a lot!!

Here is just a small list of restaurants we visited (in case you're vegan and about to head to SF for the first time) and also to say thank you to them for feeding us so well!
Millennium Restaurant - vegan fine dining
Gracias Madre - vegan organic Mexican
Tu-Lan - Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall
Little Boabab - African food
Underdog - vegan hot dogs and sausages!
Herbivore - vegan "american" food
 Souley Vegan - vegan soul food!! (in Oakland)
Great India - Indian food
Bi-Rite Creamery - Ice cream (lots of vegan options!)

vegan dessert at Millennium
Gigantic portions at Tu-Lan Vietnamese

eating at Tu-lan
two thumbs up for delicious chinese food

soul food at Souley Vegan (bbq tofu with side of lentils)

more soul food (bbq tofu with deep fried "fish" on top, side of mac'n cheze)

mosaic at Gracias Madre Vegan Mexican 
Some final, cute pictures... 
some murals at the Women's Center

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Wedding Day...

I suppose most brides would say their wedding day was the most amazing day of their lives.  But, for me, I mean it.  This day came not without stress, anxiety, tears and disappointment; but despite all of it, it was the most remarkable gathering of people in one place.  It couldn't have been more perfect.  I couldn't have imagined it would turn out better than I thought.  I should start from the beginning.  Well, the beginning of the week, at least.

It started with a phone call from my grandmother saying she couldn't come to my wedding, despite the fact that she was visiting from Chicago.  It appears that my father has more influence and can invoke more fear in people than I thought.   My mom also confirmed that she, too, could not make it.  My aunt from Chicago had also planned to visit, along with her 3 children, but soon discovered what it means to be on my father's bad side.  Turns out, he found out she was coming and threatened her (and anyone else even thinking to celebrate with us) with a family disowning of sorts.  So she called and canceled her trip.  I cannot wrap my mind around the psychology of my father.  He and I don't get along, and it would be fine if he and I were the only ones involved in this dynamic.  But he has included our immediate family, as well as distant relatives, putting them in awkward positions of choosing a relationship with my mother or me.  

I spent a night or two crying and feeling like it might not have been a bad idea to elope after all.  I wasn't sure how I would handle not seeing my mother, grandmother and aunt on my wedding day.  Then the week progressed.  We were pretty much finished with all the preparations when friends from Ann Arbor, Portland and Denver, cousins from Chicago,  and Mr. C's son all started showing up.  I can't help but feel overwhelmed at the amount of love that surrounds us.  Our friends are amazing!  We spent the latter half of the week enjoying their company and visiting with them.  On Friday, my good friend organized a rehearsal dinner for out of town folks and family.  Few family came, but I hardly noticed as I was surrounded by so many friends that were happy for us.

Rehearsal dinner, hosted by good friends

The night before the wedding, at the dinner, my sister drops a bomb by telling me that they aren't going to bring the kids...none of them will be there.  My nieces and nephews will be absent.  It really couldn't get any worse, could it?  The punishment that a father imposes spreads like wildfire among my family.  It has taken hold of the little kids who know nothing of our past, yet are limited and controlled by something they don't understand.

I couldn't imagine how this day was going to unfold.  I try to live in the moment, be completely present to my surroundings, to stay as positive as possible.  I seriously had my doubts that I could do it.

Then Saturday came and I felt myself giddy with excitement and anticipation.  We had a relaxing morning (yes!) and I got my hair and face done, before meeting Mr. C and his son in Carefree to get ready.

There was no question of who was going to walk me down the one else has stood by me more than the man I was about to marry.  He and I walked arm-in-arm down the walkway and was greeted by about 100 of my closest friends.  At that moment, I was overcome by joy and gratefulness of all that I have, of all whom I am thankful for, and for the blessings that have come into my life.  At that moment, our friend John was singing Van Morrison's "Someone Like You" and I found myself totally in the moment.  I could feel the tears welling up and I felt like I was about to bawl my eyes out and yell "oh my God, I can't believe you're all here for us!"  As my friend Adrian said, I was about to do the "ugly cry."  Thankfully, I sort of composed myself and walked  gracefully down the steps to a welcoming, loving spirit of people.  Not once during the ceremony did I think of my mother, my grandmother, aunt, nieces and nephews that could not be there.  I felt surrounded by them.  By their energy and love.  So my father doesn't win, he cannot control or affect me anymore.  Love is stronger than hate and resentment, and there was no room for that today anyway.

guests gathering before the ceremony

my bouquet!
flowers grown with love by friend in Tucson

getting the reception ready