SOCIAL MEDIA

Monday, March 18, 2013

Davis Benjamin: Guest Post, Aubrey

It has been a joy to to meet & connect with other mamas who share in the joy of mamahood with me. Equally, it has been a joy to connect with mamas who have experienced deep, heart-wrenching sorrow. I feel privileged to be someone they feel they can share with. This story touches me because it's every parents' worst nightmare, but I have the pleasure of knowing that Aubrey's story has a happy ending.

It is in these moments that we can connect & love other people with our own tragedy.The tragedy would be in not allowing these moments to shape us, mold us, & allow our stories to touch someone else's grieving heart, letting them know that, this, too, shall, pass.

Thank you, Aubrey for sharing. You are a treasure.

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Staring at the cursor blinking at me, trying to figure out how to start this story…I guess I’ll start from the very beginning so it makes more sense.


I was 17, and I was a bit of a rebel.  I pretty much did everything I wasn't supposed to do.  It was the summer after I graduated high school (yes, I graduated a year early) and I met a boy and he was in college (I actually had met him before I even graduated).  It was your typical 17-year-old relationship that was in a constant state of on and off - your feelings are much more than they really are.  You generally don’t follow what’s in your head or what you know is right.  Well, like most young relationships, this one ended and didn't     end pleasantly (that’s a whole other story).

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant pretty vividly.  I was at my best friend, Lori’s, apartment, calculating things in my head.  I remember telling her that I hadn't had my period for almost 2 months (yes, state of denial….).  She did what any best friend would do and dragged my butt to the grocery store and buy a pregnancy test.  I took it as soon as we got back.  My stomach was turning as I waited those 5 minutes already knowing what the results would be.  Glancing at the test it showed positive and I swallowed.  17 and pregnant.

Being 17, and obviously in denial, I proceeded to take another test.  Obviously that one was wrong, there’s no way I was this young and pregnant.  It’s not supposed to happen to me.  Second test: positive. Third test: positive. Fourth test: inconclusive.  Yep! That last one is the one I chose to believe.  So, I stayed in my state of denial a few more weeks, truly believing my period was going to show up any day.  When I didn't, I remember taking another test at my friend Cara’s house, and it was positive.  That was the day I knew I couldn't turn back, and at this point, I had to be almost 12 weeks pregnant.

I knew I had to tell the guy, so I called him and told him we needed to talk.  We chose to meet at a 7-Eleven parking lot early one morning.  I remember the look on his face when I told him: fear.  He then told me that he had friends who have had abortions, and I could talk to them if I wanted to.  I just looked at him, astonished.  Abortion was the one thing that never crossed my mind, so I told him there was no way I was doing that.  He said that it was my decision, but if I decided to keep the baby, he wanted nothing to do with me - this was going to be our last conversation.  An abortion was definitely NOT what I was going to do, so that was it. Done.

My second problem was telling my mom.  I waited and waited.  My mom called me one day, and started the conversation, saying she had a dream and my stomach dropped.  She said she had a dream that I was pregnant and asked if I was.  I paused and quietly said yes.  She told me to go to the doctor immediately because I still hadn't gone and I was already in my second trimester.  I made an appointment that day with my doctor whom I had seen since I was 5 years old.  As I walked into the office, I didn't feel well at all, feeling like I was going to disappoint my doctor too.  Thinking I was going to be questioned, “how could I let this happen?  Why would I let this happen?” Of course, my appointment was nothing like that.  My doctor was very understanding, and proceeded to talk to me about options.  That was when I decided on adoption.  I knew I wasn't ready to care for a baby at this point in my life, so adoption was the only choice.

Adoption is hard.  I didn't even know where to begin, so I started with the phone book.  Yeah...this is 1999, so Google hadn't taken over the world as it has now.  I picked the first adoption agency in the phone book,called them, and set up an appointment. I didn't know what to expect as I sat in the waiting room of the agency.  It was a small building, the people were nice to me as soon as I entered.  I was overwhelmed when they gave me a huge binder full of pictures and stories of people looking to adopt.  Every story touched your heart, and it was incredibly hard to choose.  I narrowed it down to 2 families, one who already had 2 adopted children, and one who hadn't adopted yet.  After a couple of weeks of debating, I chose the family who hadn't adopted yet.  They seemed very caring and seemed to enjoy life from the pictures and stories I had.

My pregnancy, for the most part, was very uneventful.  I found out I was having a boy, and the family I chose was very excited.  I had chosen an open adoption, so as soon as I picked the family we started to get to know each other.  They lived in Denver, so I would go and visit them every 2 weeks.  My mom and dad even came with me to have dinner with them.  They were just incredible people!

I was due February 22, 2000.  That day came and went. This baby seemed to want to camp out forever!  I remember swearing to my friends that I didn't I want to have this baby on Leap day (since it was a leap year) because the poor child would have to choose which day to have his birthday on.

February 28th was the beginning of a very scary day.  I woke up that day just crying, not knowing why, just bawling.  I chalked it up to crazy pregnancy hormones and thinking this baby was never going to come.  Late afternoon rolled around, and I realized I hadn't felt the baby move all day. I started to feel nervous, so I called my mom.  My mom was at work, but she told me to stay calm and call my doctor.  The doctor told me to drink some juice, lay on my left side for an hour, and I should feel about 10 movements so I did just that.  After an hour I felt one movement.

Something just didn't feel right. So, as soon as my mom got home from work she took me to urgent care.  As soon as we got there, I was hooked up to machines to do some monitoring.  The doctor was pregnant too.  We found out from the monitors that I was having a few contractions (I had no idea I was), and with each contraction the baby’s heart rate was dropping just a little.  The doctor didn't like that, so she made the call that she would feel a lot more comfortable if I went to the hospital tonight.  I panicked, but she tried to calm my nerves by telling me it was normal for a bit of a heart rate dip with the contractions. She just wanted me to get a little monitoring than what was available.

Off my mom and I went to the hospital.  I was nervous, I feared labor, and I was pretty sure that the baby would be coming that night.  Once we got to the hospital, they hooked me up to more machines.  My mom started making all the necessary phone calls to keep people up to date - my dad, the adoptive parents and my best friend, Lori, who showed up at the hospital within a half hour.  My regular doctor was not on call that night, which would have made me feel much better.  The doctor on call was awesome though (he will be known as Dr. F).  They continued to monitor me for about 2 hours, and the results were the same, but seemed to be getting worse.  Dr. F came in after seeing a drastic dip in the heart rate saying we would have to start inducing me because this baby was ready to come out.  They hooked up the Pitocen and we waited.  They watched the monitor for 10 minutes and as soon as the drug started the baby’s heart rate dropped below 30.

This is where everything got extremely fuzzy for me.  I remember the doctor and nurses start pulling out the cords from the wall and begin to wheel me away.  They said they needed to do an emergency C-section, and had to get me to the operating room immediately.  As soon as I was rolled into the operating room, they completely knocked me out.  Apparently, they had the baby out in under 30 seconds, but I didn't wake up for about an hour.

When I finally started to wake up, my mom was there in the recovery room waiting for me.  She told me that the baby didn't make it, and I just started to cry.  She knew something was wrong because she waited to hear cries as soon as they wheeled me into the operating room and they never came.  Once I calmed down,  the nurse’s asked me if I wanted to see him.  Yes. I knew I wanted to see baby Davis so they brought him to me.  He was perfect and cold.  I held him, staring at his beautiful face that was a little bruised from where they tried to resuscitate him.  I could see my mouth, I could see my eyes.  He looked like he was sleeping peacefully, an angel.

Davis Benjamin became an angel that night, February 29th at 12:39 am. He never took a breath.  We found out later that I had caught a viral infection (probably the flu) that went straight to Davis’s heart.  There would have been nothing that could have saved him.  I felt horrible for the parents who were going to adopt Davis, but what a support system they became.  They were there at the hospital, and then at his funeral a week later.  I felt bad for the doctor on call that day - it was the first baby he had ever lost.  He was incredibly supportive, visited me everyday in the hospital, even called me a couple times once I got home to make sure I was still doing alright physically but mostly emotionally.

That’s the story of Davis Benjamin, who was too beautiful for this earth. I’m blessed to still be a part of the adoptive parents lives, who have now adopted 2 beautiful children. I’m blessed to have my daughter now and have another baby on the way, though I panic through my whole pregnancies. Thank goodness for my husband who keeps me grounded during my panicking. Thanks Andrea for making me ugly cry during the whole time I was writing this!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Fine Line Between Success & Failure

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt

The day I have busted my butt for has finally arrived. 1-3-2. My ultimo, supremo weight loss goal. No gimmicks, no fads; just good ol' nose-to-the-grindstone, hard work.

When I last posted about my weight loss, I never expected to lose more weight. I don't know that I believed I would even actually hit that original goal. It was a number to strive for, to work for, but I don't know that I could tell you I believed I could do it.

Josh & I hooked up our ancient computers last night & walked down memory lane through old photos. I knew what I weighed, knew that I needed to lose weight, so I knew what to expect as we scrolled through the photos. What I didn't expect was the sadness that washed over me as I looked at the girl I used to be. I grieved for her. I could look at the photos & feel the sadness & humiliation she had felt in those shorts that she squeezed into. I knew the pain that she felt on vacations with family & the shame she felt being so overweight, & yet too hurt to do anything about it.

Anywhere from around 180 to 220lb (no scale to prove that), & sizes 14-18, L-XL. 

I wish that I could ramble on & on right now, & tell you that the girl in those pictures has figured it all out. I wish I could tell you that with dropping a total of 88 pounds, I dropped the mentality of feeling less than, the comparing or the constant striving for a lower number because maybe that magic number will be the one that makes me feel better about myself. I can't. I'm embarrassed to say that. I have friends & family members looking to me for advice & motivation & tips. Do you know that I wanted to change my goal because I thought 132 was too much? That if I just replaced that 3 with a 2, then maybe I would feel better. Maybe some of the naysayers would be impressed. Three pounds. That's it. Three stupid pounds.

Being heavy is hard, losing weight is hard, & now maintaining is hard. Each step is a battle in your head. What I have learned, & what I have to remind myself of everyday at this step is that it's enough. It was always enough. I was always enough. Maybe you can make improvements to your body or your character or your attitude, but it's enough. Had I known that back in 2004, my approach to life, my body, & how I felt about myself would have been vastly improved. Had I known that regardless of who I compared myself to, I was who I was created to be. Did I need to lose weight? Yes. Did I need to feel inferior because of it? Hell no.

No matter where you're at in your journey to get fit, you are perfect just as you are. You are who you are supposed to be. There is always room for improvement for all of us, but comparing ourselves to someone who we are NOT SUPPOSED to be is destructive to our hearts & minds. When I set out to lose weight, my original goal was to be fit & healthy so that my kids would never see their mom struggle. I didn't want them to pick up on bad habits & struggle through high school & college to get it under control like I did. It was about losing weight. I had no idea that it was so much less about losing weight & so much more about finding happiness, strength & confidence underneath that layer of chub. It was about finding the girl inside that is confident in any room she's in. An added bonus is that it has become a platform to help my friends & family in their struggle to find balance & health.

I'm blessed. I have my family, friends & some killer arms. And the confidence is coming. I came across a girl today on Instagram who writes #confident under every photo she posts. I dig it. I may not do it, but I'm going to think it in my head. On repeat. Everyday.

And to counter the chubby gallery, I'm PROUD & CONFIDENT to show you that I've busted my J.Lo booty from a size 18 to a size 6. #confident

132-135lbs, & size 6, SM-MED

Thank you to those of you who offered wisdom, encouragement, or a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for being my cheerleaders. I love you to the moon & back.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In Every Season

"Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them." - Leo Tolstoy

In the time I began writing this blog, I have been touched & saddened to know the amount of women I know who have suffered a miscarriage. Our lives don't connect on a daily basis, other than a quick encounter on Facebook, as we watch each other's lives unfold. I have been awed & humbled at the depth that has been shared because I shared my grief & pain. I do not feel worthy of carrying others burdens, but I certainly feel honored to be told such things in confidence. 

I have people ask frequently how long I grieved or what to expect in their time of grieving their loss. The answer is that there is no answer. You can expect to feel deeply. You can expect waves of emotion to hit you like a rogue wave every once in a while. You can be standing on stage at church, watch your friend walk in with her round belly, & suddenly feel like your legs are going to give out. 

Depending on who are you in your daily life, who you are in your thought life & who you are behind closed doors, is who you can expect to be in moments like these. I'm an extrovert. I write when I feel strongly. I externally process. So, when tragedy strikes, I do my best processing in the dark room of our office with a little Sia on in the background (which is what is currently playing) & the blinking cursor flying across the page. 

You can also expect that your spouse will process the opposite of you. For the mamas, you feel connected the second that pink line begins to appear. This isn't the case for men. So, don't push. They won't feel the depth of this. Maybe there are exceptions to this rule, but I can think of only one man I know who took it harder than his wife. 

I also have people tell me that they feel condemned or condescended to by others about the process of grieving. Just typing that sentence made me feel angry. How dare anyone, whether closely connected or some random ass person on the street, make you feel any differently than you do? How dare we put time limits or restraints on other's pain or grief, when we have NEVER been in their position? There is a time to mourn & a time to dance. That time is relative to each person. Some grieve a short time, they process quickly, accept the reality that their baby was not meant for this world. That's their prerogative. Others take longer to process, struggle to understand the greater picture & can't imagine how this ended up being their journey & their story. Both ways are correct. There is no wrong answer when it comes to grief. 

The greatest revelation to me in the last 3 years is in knowing how so not alone we are. Nearly every woman I have talked to privately about miscarriage & loss tells me how terribly alone they feel. I know that aloneness. Laying in that hospital bed, no one can comfort you really. Coming home from the hospital, knowing that you are no longer full of your baby's life is one of the loneliest moments. But how much better would the world be if we took our experiences & comforted, sent flowers, sent cards, offered deep, loving words to those we know who are brokenhearted? 

Could you touch someone with your personal story of loss? Could you in some way show them that they aren't alone? Are you willing to share your story? Are you brave enough to guest blog? Submit your stories & I'll pick 2 stories to share. 

a.
Saturday, March 2, 2013

Birth & Loss

**Thank you to those of you who have sent texts & emails telling me you're thinking of me. I can't tell you how completely blown out of the water I was every time I received a little love note with your kind, caring words. You are all unbelievable & I'm blessed to know you.**

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Today should be a very joyous day. It's not that it's not, but today is my due date. I found out in June that I was pregnant & I was so excited to be having another baby, only to find out 2 months later, that our baby was gone.

So, in honor of today's crappy anniversary, I'm writing a birth story. It should be the 2nd (really the 4th if we're counting) birth story, but seeing as how I never really wrote Maddie's birth story, today seems the most apropos.

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August 10th started out the right way: with contractions. I was done, she was cooked, it was time to get this show on the road. My due date was August 19th, but I was ready. I went in to see my midwife, she did her thing, & I contracted like a MOFO for the rest of the day. I was exhausted, so I took a nap, only to wake up around 7pm with absolutely nothing happening. I was PISSED. I'm sure I whined & complained the rest of the evening, which is super attractive, especially when you, then, want your husband to get frisky so you can get this kid out. #romance

In order for said romance to occur, I needed to shave my legs, which was super fun & not at all a pain in the ass when you are 983457934 months pregnant. At 11:15pm, I made my way into the bathroom to soak in a hot tub when suddenly...I peed. At least, I thought I'd peed. I called for Josh but he couldn't hear me. I quickly ran out of the bathroom & laid on the floor to see if my water would pool (so graphic & horrifying - I'm so sorry for the description) & to be sure I hadn't accidentally pissed myself. It pooled, I hollered & we waited.

My contractions started a couple of hours later & they began to get intense & close, so we hopped in the car at 1:30am & got checked into triage at 2am. I was ready for drugs. They get me into a room where the anesthesiologist was waiting for me. I had no idea that this was about to be one of those defining moments in our marriage. The whole process took 30 minutes, which, according to every other freaking woman, is not normal. I started to wretch. They crank those beds up super high so they can insert all the garbage into your back, making your husband's face at about crotch level. Back to the wretching, I wretched so hard, that my poor husband got soaked from shoulder to feet with more water. I was mortified. They never tell you how attractive & sexy you feel in this whole process.

My contractions ebbed & flowed throughout the night, only to be insanely out of control by 6am. The dr came back in & couldn't understand why I was in so much pain. He upped my meds. By 7am, I'm a hot frickin' mess. I can hardly see through the pain. Thankfully, it's time for a shift change. In walks a new anesthesiologist, a woman this time, who proceeds to look at the catheter in my back: it fell out. Great! Thanks to the last guy. Can I get a refund on that super expensive medicine that has been soaking my bed for 4 hours?!

Insert spinal. Insert crazy, drugged up, hugungous pregnant woman who declares: I totally see why people are drug addicts.

We get readjusted & by 10am, I'm ready to go. I start pushing & 3 pushes later, I have my girl. FALSE. Whoever tells you that it's that freaking easy, is a big, fat, annoying liar.

About 1800 pushes, many new variations of how to use the F word, & an hour & a half later, our perfect little cone-headed princess was born.

Madison Brooke
August 11, 2010 @ 11:26am
7lb 5oz, 19.5"

She was perfect. And we stared at her all day.

Family trickled in & out all day, various texts & phone calls ensued. We were blessed & touched by all our loved ones who came by to meet our girl. It was a whirlwind, but the part of this birth story that is my absolute favorite was that first night. "Do you want us to take her to the nursery so you can sleep?" "Would you like me to hit you??" I placed her in her bassinet next to me, but it was too far away. I carefully reached in & tucked her up under my chin & she relaxed onto my chest & slept. All night. It was perfection. I breathed in my tiny baby all night.



I was sore & exhausted & crazy hormonal, but in the dark room, with just a bathroom light on as a nightlight, my long-awaited baby girl snuggled against me.

I long for our next birth story. I don't know when that will be, but I look forward to it. In the midst of my first two losses, I couldn't understand why they didn't work. I can look back easily now, & see that I wouldn't have this amazing, fluffy, blonde-haired, blue/green-eyed, hilarious little girl. I get it. I can look back on this 4th pregnancy & see all the things that happened because it didn't go to term. And I can look back & be thankful. Because God is good. Even though it's hard to see that sometimes, in the midst of a 3rd miscarriage, we see His hand & His goodness.

Our family story isn't over. This is just intermission. Stay tuned for Act 2...& maybe 3...

a.