Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thoughts From Mother's Day

Last year, Mother's day was so very hard for me. I had desperately been trying to get pregnant for close to a year and a half. I was sure it wasn't going to ever happen. I told myself every month that it was better to forget about another baby. I tried convincing myself of all of the things I could now do with older children. Sleep! I can sleep in on weekends and aside from illness, my kids sleep through the night and that means I do too! But I couldn't sweep the desire for another baby away even with the best convincing argument. I didn't realize last Mother's Day that I was about to conceive my sweet Imogen and I had no idea I would be celebrating the next Mother's Day with empty arms. But here I am. I am so sad that she isn't here but I am grateful for the other three who I do get to hold in my arms today. Motherhood is an adventure. I hope I never take any part of this adventure for granted. I hope my children always know that I would never trade any of this for my previous waistline or for more money in my bank account. This right here is what I love. The laughter, the tears, the arguments, the joy...every second has something for me to learn and grow from. It is hard to be a Mother, but the joy cancels out the pain and I am always left in awe that I gave life to these souls.

Today will be hard because Imogen isn't here with us. But she is in my heart and that keeps me feeling full and hopeful. It is safe to say that I learned the most about motherhood from her. Her life, although much too short, made me understand so much more about how we show love to others.  The only thing I could do for Immy was love her. I couldn't change her prognosis, but I could welcome her into our hearts and hold her close until her little body was ready to let go. I am still amazed that she was alive on my chest for 34 minutes. I really thought she wouldn't survive birth but my prayers were always that we would get some time with her before she passed. I really focused on spending those 34 minutes making sure she could feel the warmth from my body and cuddling her tiny body. It will probably be some of the most important 34 minutes of my life and I am okay with that. Imogen made me the mother of four, which is what I had wanted. This Mother's Day is so different than any I have experienced, but I still have joy. I still thank God I have a heart full of love for all of my children. They make me better and stronger and love more deeply than I ever thought I could.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Day trip

Last Saturday my husband and I got in the car and drove down south to Los Angeles where we would eat at a yummy vegan restaurant, hang out at a coffee shop, and head to The Greek Theatre to catch two pretty awesome bands. It was actually the kindness of a mutual friend that allowed our Saturday to be so awesome and I hope she knows how incredibly beautiful her gift to us was...

We headed straight for Sage Bistro, in Culver City to stuff our faces with some very delicious vegan food. They were serving from a brunch menu so I was unable to order the jackfruit street tacos (sad face), however, I tried an heirloom tomato and garlic pizza and it was almost as delicious and certainly didn't suck. My husband ordered the raw tacos, which are basically pickled cabbage, jicama, cranberry walnut filling, with additional veggies all wrapped in a romaine lettuce "taco shell." Other favorites from their menu are the fried avocado tacos, and the mole bowl. Everything tastes so darn good, I could probably eat there everyday for every meal and never get tired. The service has been 50-50. Half the time we have gone it has been great and the other half...well, you get the idea. Overall, I recommend it to anyone who is willing to try vegan food. I truly believe it could change a lot of minds about giving up meat.

After our delicious meal, we drove closer to the Greek theatre to a Coffee Bean. We don't have one where we live (another sad face), and I have been anti-Starbucks now for several months. I am not a huge coffee drinker these days, but if I crave a sweet yummy drink, I steer clear of the Bux and make it at home. While at The Coffee Bean, we sat and talked about life and our kids and probably anything on our minds at the time. It was a day we had been looking forward to for many months and just spending time with my husband was something I definitely needed.

We arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare. We had very nice seats and the weather was just about perfect. The first group was Lucius and I absolutely LOVE them! They did not play long enough though! Only five or six songs really, but what they did play was wonderful and I am really looking forward to catching them at a headlining show sometime. Definitely check them out if you haven't yet!  The Decemberists were up next and they are a lot of fun to watch. The lead singer is pretty charming and I could have totally pegged his Oregonian decent even if I hadn't known. Their performance included some audience participation and a giant whale prop at the end. I would definitely see them again too.

Our night came to an end and we drove home to climb into our snuggly, warm bed. It was a great day that I got to spend with the love of my life and I can't wait until we do it again.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Exercise for the soul...

I have been easing into my fitness routine and I am making an effort to be more active. Hashimoto's Disease can wipe a person's energy out and that was the case for me before my last pregnancy. So starting two weeks postpartum, I began walking a couple of times a week. I try to walk at least three times a week now but I know I need to step it up, not just for my body, but for my soul. Even when it is difficult to get out of bed, I find great relief in getting outside before the sun comes up and breathing in the new day's crisp air. And, I may have committed to my first 5 k in over a year. Sure, it isn't a long distance, but it may be just what I need to keep myself motivated.

I have slowly but steadily continued to lose weight. I needed to lose weight before I got pregnant and with a bastardly thyroid, it seems darn near impossible to keep my weight below 160. I am not going to be obsessed with losing a ton of weight as I have learned to love my body and the extra skin that reminds me I have birthed four beautiful children. However, I do want to maintain my health and would feel better physically if I could lose more weight. My pregnancy complications with Immy, lead me to gain a little over 30 lbs. (mostly excess amniotic fluid) and thanks to sweet baby Jesus, I ended up losing 30 lbs. two weeks after she was born (20 in the first week). But now I need to push myself a little harder and teach myself to LOVE exercise. And I know the biggest challenge is getting out the door everyday. I don't want to take time away from my family but I am realizing that a few times a week, a few hours, that is time I need to spend working on me. And even though it is to benefit my body, it also greatly lift my spirits. Turning up the music in my headphones, focusing on the little signs nature gives me, I am able to reflect on my life and my ups and downs, and I come out feeling like I had a therapy session. It is truly amazing what getting outside can do! So, here I go! Starting tonight, I am going to try to run more than walk, do more yoga at home, and make a little more time for me.
I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, April 9, 2015


In February I celebrated a milestone. Well, actually we celebrated my oldest son's 16th birthday but I'm pretty sure the birthdays we celebrate for our children are as much for us as they are for them.

Just the fact that I have been someone's mother for 16 years is mind boggling! I was 19 when I became pregnant with him and turned 20 shortly before he was born. I look back at those early years with pride and also with amazement because single motherhood is not for the weak. I could not have survived without the support of my family but I think I did a darn good job raising him.
After coming to terms with the reality that my firstborn is two years away from adulthood (yikes!), I started thinking about what kind of mother I am. I look back at all of my years being a mother and pray that nothing I did (or didn't) do has screwed any of my children up. I know this is a normal reaction for a lot of moms. We worry we did something wrong or overlooked something we should have done. It pretty much never ends - the internal judgement of our own mothering. But I try to be gentle with myself.

No one has the perfect formula for parenting and no one way of parenting is the right one. As for me, I find myself evolving, and after losing Imogen, I think this evolution of my own personal journey of motherhood is a good thing. I try to be more patient with my little ones. I have learned to choose battles and let the small or irrelevant stuff go. I have become more in-tune with finding what brings the best out of my children. I find that I choose my words carefully and pay attention to my actions so much more than before Imogen. She is still making her mark in my mothering. I think that is an amazing thing! Her whole little life carved out a new perspective for me and how I look at my other children, making me even more aware of the love I have for each of them. And when I am scared of what lies ahead, I find myself thinking of the hardest day of my life - losing my precious baby, and I am very certain that I would welcome another life into this family without hesitation. Knowing that we don't always get what we want and understanding that life may hold other plans, I can only hope I do get that chance again.

"Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong."

                                                                                                                                   - Donna Ball 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Normal

It's Spring. The air is warmer, my garden will be good and planted soon and I will be looking ahead to Summer and have more time to spend at home doing whatever my little heart feels like. I went back to work last week and it was good to be back. This week we are on Spring Break though so I get another week off already. I planned that perfectly didn't I? I have been trying to slowly cross things off of my invisible bucket list while I have time and energy. It is amazing what you can do after losing 30 pounds in three weeks! Lord knows I wasn't doing much during those last few weeks carrying Immy. But now I can get outside and tinker around in my garden and do much needed yard work. I can also stand on tall ladders and clean ceiling fans and rearrange cabinets. Regaining ones balance is a beautiful thing! I also went back to yoga after a year of not doing yoga and I could do enough of the poses to feel like I got a good workout and stretch. I have also been getting a good amount of exercise and being very good with my diet.

Of course I think of what I would be doing everyday if Imogen had been a normal healthy baby. I long for what could have been and I ache for my sweet girl to be here. These are feelings I will always feel. My new normal is getting through each day with gratitude and a thankful heart. I want to live each day in honor of the life she couldn't have. I hug my kids tighter, kiss my husband more often and tell myself that the small stuff doesn't matter. I'm learning to let go of parts of me that are no longer useful. I want to always find joy in every simple moment. I want to make more time to see the sun rise and fall. It hasn't been too long since our lives changed forever and I am giving myself plenty of time to heal but I do not want to forget to live in the meantime. Somedays I may just lay in bed and cry and that is okay too but I think Imogen would want me to celebrate her life by living mine to its fullest.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Distracted and it feels so good...

Ever since we got home from our trip to the beach we have been having work done inside our home. Our old shower in the master bathroom was faulty. It has taken years but we finally have a new working shower! Because the shower caused water damage we also have new tile floors in our bathroom and new laminate in our room. We decided to expand the renovations and also replace the carpeting in our living room and the incredibly cheap laminate in our kitchen. This wouldn't have been possible if not for the lady who ran into our fence*.

Back story:

* In early January a woman drove into our fence and damaged it. The insurance estimated the damages and we received payment and my husband realized we could fix and replace the fence for far less ourselves. That left us with a lot of money left over so we decided to use it to make our house pretty.

Here are a few pics to give you an idea of what we have been working on...

Living Room Before (after new paint)

Living Room After (My hubby does nice work eh?)

We even made a space for Immy's ashes (which I received the day of my last blog post).

Our Master Bathroom like the other rooms in our home, is cozy, but finally functions!
Our upstairs bathroom also got new tile floors. 

Our Bedroom 

Our Bedroom before we put everything back in its place. 

New lighting in the kitchen. New kitchen table and new flooring coming soon! 

Back to my original post though.

We have had our house torn apart for a few weeks now and although it is killing me (because I am a neat freak), it has been good to distract myself with going through my stuff and purging the junk or long forgotten items in my possession. As a general rule, if I come across something that hasn't been used or thought about in a year, it goes to either the trash can or the Salvation Army. Many things have been donated thus far and I am not even halfway finished. Once I de-clutter, my new focus will be a memorial wall for Imogen. I can't wait to hang some pictures of our sweet girl. I also have a scrapbook to finish. One moment I feel like everything is moving a million miles a minute and then the next I feel like it is going in slow motion. I know my routine is being interrupted and things feel chaotic and life will probably feel that way for a long time. For now, I will embrace the distractions these home renovations are causing. Soon I will head back to work and things will go back to normal. Or at least a new normal. I'm not sure I'll ever feel like I did before the loss. And I know that isn't a terrible thing in the long run.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Get me out of here...

I don't think I've ever really been in a deep dark depression. I think if I could describe myself up until this point I could use words like optimistic, annoyingly happy, hopeful to a fault, etc...
I don't know if it is luck or genetics that I have been such a happy and positive person. I have had rough patches for sure and I have shed many tears but nothing that I couldn't come back from. I always wonder if songwriting has anything to do with my optimistic nature? I suspect it does.

I have written a small handful of songs for Imogen ever since we learned she was going to leave us. I haven't played a single instrument in months but the words and melody flowed easily from my head (and heart) onto the Notes app of my iPhone. I haven't shared any of these things with anyone. They are just quietly waiting for the right moment I guess. And I guess I may be quietly waiting for something as well.

There is such a helpless feeling when you lose a loved one. I could always handle that we were losing her because nothing I could have physically done would have changed the outcome but now that she has been gone for three weeks, frustration is starting to set in. Currently a contributing factor is that we still have not received her ashes. She hasn't even been cremated yet and the thought of that alone angers me. The doctor who called her time of death has already signed twice but both times the signatures have been rejected. I am overwhelmed by how easily this could be resolved and yet getting this one signature seems like just one more disappointment in a long line of disappointments. I am struggling with this need to find joy and with feeling like I am angry at the world and really I probably just need a good cry and a road trip. And maybe a lot of ice cream...

P.S. I really want to share Immy's songs with you and at some point I will. There is so much freedom in declaring peace and I feel at peace when I am writing.