Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's a ... GIRL!

We had a small gathering of twenty or so friends this past Saturday at our gender reveal party. Gender reveal parties are relatively new thing, much more low-key than a shower. Sometimes, the parents-to-be know what they are having and throw the party to inform friends and family. But in our case, neither of us knew. As people arrived, I greeted them and asked them to cast their vote for either TEAM PINK or TEAM BLUE, wear a pin showing their vote, and put a raffle ticket into the corresponding jar.

We had pizza, visited, and caught up, but to me, it was all just passing time until the main event: the cake-cutting. As the time drew near, I became more and more excited and...nervous. It's customary for the parents-to-be to say "We just want a healthy baby!" But I didn't. I wanted a girl as our first child more than anything in the world.

One hour to go!
Nathan and I stood behind the cake table with everyone watching us. As much as I had been wanting to know, I hesitated in cutting it. Someone called out asking if I was ready, and I responded "I don't know." Cautiously, we made one slice, and I could not see any color at all. Then slowly, we made the second slice.

It is impossible for me to sum up the elation I felt after the second cut in our cake revealed a bright pink cake color, but the video below does a pretty good job. I actually screamed when I first saw the unmistakably pink cake. It will always remain one of the happiest moments in my life.



My Mom's first child was a girl, and her Mom's first was also a girl. And now, my first will be a baby girl too. As strange as this may sound, when I was in my Mom's womb, the egg that would become my little girl was there with both of us. From this week's development update at 13 weeks:
Fingerprints have formed on your baby's tiny fingertips, her veins and organs are clearly visible through her still-thin skin, and her body is starting to catch up with her head — which makes up just a third of her body size now. If you're having a girl, she now has more than 2 million eggs in her ovaries. Your baby is almost 3 inches long and weighs nearly an ounce.
It is comforting for me to remember that even before my Mom was born, the very egg that would become me was there. And when I was in my Mom's womb, this new baby girl I am going to have was also there with me, and with my Mom. This simple developmental fact takes on a whole new meaning right now for me. I have been trying very hard these past few weeks to still feel close to her, and remind myself that instead of her being gone, she is with me, in everything I do and all that I am.

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Trimester ✓

As my first trimester comes to an end, I'm anxiously awaiting the results of the chromosomal abnormalities blood test and, almost as important: the gender results! I was a bit over-zealous and took the blood test a few days shy of being 10 weeks. So instead of calling me with the results last Tuesday, my doctor's office called to inform me that I needed to repeat the test.

Due to the delay in receiving the results, I had to push back my gender reveal party which was planned for this past weekend. It is now taking place this Saturday, the day before our one year anniversary. When the results are in, I'm going to have my doctor's office write them down instead of telling me. I'll drive to their office, pick up the (sealed!) envelope, and take it to our favorite bakery that made our wedding cake, Rockwell's.

I will find out what we're having when everyone else does. Do I dare write my preference here? Of course! I really, really want a girl. Maybe because I just lost my Mom, I long for a girl more than ever. Someone I can take shopping or go to tea with. This doesn't mean I don't want a boy, of course. Especially because our boy will be the only one to carry on the Swanek name. I am grateful for, and will cherish, whatever baby we have, be it a boy or a girl.

There just aren't any guarantees we'll be able to have another one, and I so treasured the relationship I had with Mom. But I know that can never be replicated or replaced, and I can always take up dirt bike riding instead of sipping tea, which can be kind of boring anyway.

The entire first trimester has come and gone without any real symptoms. When people ask how I'm feeling, my usual response is "I wouldn't even know I'm pregnant." I'm probably more tired, and likely more emotional, but with having just lost Mom, my barometer is off.

I've had three sonogram appointments in which we've heard the heartbeat, and that's the only time it feels real. The last one (at 10 weeks) was especially amazing, because I saw baby Swanek kicking and punching and moving about, all 2 inches of him/her. I just cannot wait until I can actually feel movement, which should be in the next month or so.

In the mean time, I'm doing everything I can to make sure this baby has the healthiest start. I'm eating healthier, sleeping a lot, and started swimming again. I swam 800 yards last week, and today I did 1000 after work. I'm also dreaming a lot about decorating the nursery, what the first year will be like, and beginning to look into daycare or nanny services.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mom's Obituary & Eulogy






Dad's eulogy at Mom's remembrance mass exceeded any expectations I had. His delivery was heartfelt and he managed to get through it, something I would not have been able to do. Mom was smiling down. 


Paula was ever calm and serene in her faith. From her childhood forward she had a special place in her heart for Blessed Saint Martin, and for Saint Padre Pio, and she prayed to them both, often.
Paula, I met you when you were seventeen, the world before you, with an unbounded potential. With your light hearted spirit, strong intellect, and the looks of an angel, you could have gone anywhere with anyone, but you chose me.  You gave me 45 years of joy, support, and love, just as you gave to our children. Always caring, always kind, you will live in our hearts forever. 
Paula loved children, and had mother’s special love for Megan and Glen.  Always supportive and encouraging, always wise and kind, she was so proud of them both.In our family, when we had a decision to make, and she was not there, we had a saying, “What would mom do?”
Paula never complained and always looked to a better future. She always saw the good in every person, and in any situation. When her daughter was only two, and I first lost a good job, and then our home, she did not respond with anger or hurt, but love and compassion.  At her spurring we moved to Seattle, and created a life focused on family, and our new little girl Megan.  When our son Glen was born, she was overjoyed, and she raised him with an equal amount of love, always encouraging, always supportive. 
Paula loved her friends, and enjoyed their times together. While every one of Paula's friends were special to her, I would like to mention two of her friends who are not able to be with us today. A school friend from her childhood in England, Jeanette Sansum, corresponded with Paula for since she left at 18. And Lucinda Lewis ever faithful in their lasting friendship, and a friend she made thirty-seven years ago, while working together in New York City, Lucinda was there for Paula when she had her first child, Megan, and later she came to California for Megan’s wedding. While both are not able to be here today, they are here in spirit, and send their love for Paula, and her family and friends.
As a homemaker, a wife, and a mother, she was strong, capable and tireless, always striving to make everything better. She enjoyed to knit and to crochet, these she learned as a child from her grandmother. She loved to paint and to decorate our home, and whenever we moved to a new place she worked quickly to make our new residence more than a roof over our head, but a warm inviting place, proper for taking care of a family. Once I came home to find that in one 9 hour work day Paula had wallpapered the kitchen, and included fancy borders made from a wallpaper sample book, and everyone who saw her work commented on how nice it looked.  Another time she surprised me by transforming a rocky patch of land in front of her kitchen window into a wonderful garden, where her love of plants comforted me on a daily basis as I would ready myself for work. 
Paula’s character and temperament can best be shown from the time she was diagnosed with stage four cancer back in August of 2013 until her passing into heaven.    Paula had every right to cry, be mad, throw things, or even fall into depression after her diagnoses.  But that was not our Paula, for she was graceful always, until God called her.
She never felt sorry for herself.  She only commented on how bad she felt for all of those souls who contracted cancer as a child or young adult, and in doing so pushed sympathy, sorrow, and concern for her unto others.  Up until the end she always thanked those who helped her, and was eager to share news of her children.  Paula loved and lived with every moment she was given, neither hard times nor cancer would rob her of who she was. 
Paula gave a lot to many, to her friends, by volunteering at schools for twenty years, but by far she gave the most to me, and to her children. As she held all of us in her heart, she will live in a special place in all of our hearts forever, as an extraordinarily loving wife, mother, and friend. May God Bless Paula.
Flowers on the alter were a surprise from Andrea and her Mom Jeri.
A reception at our house followed the mass. It was a tea-party theme, something Mom would have loved. Everything was organized by my amazing friends Margie and Delia who also had the help of Patty, Ann-Marie, Tamara and Monet. They came over the night before to start setting up, and Margie was there the morning of.






Obituary:
Paula Mary DeWitt was born Paula Mary Mangan in Reading, England on June 28th, 1951. Her parents were Irish immigrants, and she was the eldest of six (Julie, John, Mark, Anna and Michael). She helped care for her younger siblings and sometimes spent summers in Ireland with her favorite Aunt Annie who worked for the Bridewell in Dublin. She met her would-be husband, Phillip DeWitt, an American, who was training with the British paratroopers while she was at a pub in 1969. Very quickly, she knew that he was the one because he was "such a good person, and we talked about children and how we wanted to put their needs before our own." Six months later, they wed at Christ the King Catholic Church in Reading, England and moved to America a short time after.

Once in America, they had 8 years of adventures and lived in San Francisco, St. Paul Minnesota, and New York before settling down in Yucaipa after the birth of their first child, Megan in 1977. Although she loved her job as an executive secretary in Manhattan, Paula chose to become a homemaker because she "couldn't leave her child with someone else." Glen was born in 1985 and she relished being a new Mom all over again, getting very involved in his classes and volunteering with his PTA through high school. Her children can attest to the fact that she had "the patience of a saint" and never lost her temper with them or even raised her voice. Yet still, they minded, because they were so close to her and did not want to disappoint or displease her.



She loved cooking, gardening, crocheting, music, taking care of her family and a good laugh over coffee with friends. Always sacrificing her needs for the good of her family, Paula will be remembered as a selfless, altruistic wife and mother who always had a smile, even when times were tough. She had a quiet strength. She never complained, and was always in a cheerful mood...even throughout her year-long battle with brain cancer. Quite honestly, most people complain more over having the flu. She was able to receive the news that her first grandchild was on the way just one week before she passed, and she was thrilled. She is survived by her husband, Phillip DeWitt, son Glen DeWitt and daughter Megan Swanek of Tustin. (Similar version published in the Yucaipa News Mirror)





Mom babysat two of the four beauties


Dad's friend flew in from El Salvadore. They were paratroopers 50 years ago.  

My flower girls 
Friends since grad school