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.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

19 Months

We were in Venice and Milan for Christmas and through the New Year. Our sightseeing pace was slower with Baby A, with each day broken into two parts: Morning, before her nap back at the hotel, and late afternoon/evening after her nap. This slower pace was actually really nice, similar to what we did over summer.
One of her favorite activities in both cities was looking for dogs, and chasing pigeons. I was able to capture her smile in the picture on the left because the square in front of Milan Cathedral was filled with pigeons.

Venice amazing and beautiful, but hard to navigate with the stroller. There are over 400 bridges, all of them with steps. Our BOB weighs 25 pounds, and so does Baby A. I took the front end, and my husband took the back. After 8 days there, I was ready to move on to Milan, or The City of No Bridges as I now call it.


Milan is a city of 1.3 million, and very much had the big-city feel. Our hotel was centrally located, just blocks from the metro which was easy to navigate. We were also just blocks from The Last Supper, the real, original one painted between 1494-1498 by Leonardo DaVinci. We were just exploring the area around our hotel on the first day, and wandered into a nondescript, albeit old, Catholic church just as mass was starting. We lit a candle for Mom, attended confession, and listened to part of the mass, all in Italian before walking out. As we exited the building, my husband said "You know, there were signs in there talking about The Last Supper. I think it's here." What!? The real one? Can't be. But sure enough, we walked over to the rectory, which was closed since it was New Year's Day, and there was information explaining all about it! We returned the next day and were disappointed to learn that tickets were sold out one week in advance. We were able to go across the street and visit Leonardo's Vineyard, where he lived while he was working on the piece, and what he received as payment for the commissioned work.


The weather was perfect throughout our 15 days. We didn't have one drop of rain (probably because we packed all our rain gear), and with my heavy coat on, I was almost too warm walking around some days.


Baby A did well on the flight there, but it was a night-flight and she slept. Because we booked our business class tickets using awards miles, our return flights would involve 24 hours of travel time and three planes. We were so nervous about how she would do, that we looked at staying over-night in New York at the last minute just to break it up. But we weren't able to switch our flights because the layover was over 24 hours (27) and we were stuck with them. "It's okay, no one has died from traveling that long. We'll be fine." I said, trying to remain optimistic. But I was scared to death. We had Benadryll on hand just in case.


The flights could not have gone any better. I am honestly still so surprised that she did so well, and did not even cry once! On the 9 hour flight from Milan to New York, three hour layover in NY before our 5 hour flight to Phoenix. And then another flight back to Orange county. She slept on the last two flights. And didn't shed one tear.


Adjusting to our sleep once we were back from Italy proved to be a little more difficult and we were both up around 3am on those first two nights. This provided some good quality cuddle time until we both fell back asleep hours later and then slept in. We had to wake her from her afternoon naps after 3 hours because to her little body, it was night time.    


Back to work on that Monday, January 9th was tough because we so enjoyed all of our uninterrupted time together. We got back into our routines of walking to El Torrio on Wednesdays and Pretend City on the weekend and tried to do some unpacking here and there. Dad and Glen came to visit and the next day, we went to Disneyland. 


The significance of that perfect day filled with the tiki room, Casey's train, churros and "It's a Small World" is only apparent now. I was lovingly holding my tummy and little baby girl beneath, but she was already gone. I wouldn't find out until the next day at a routine appointment. This miscarriage has profoundly affected my husband and I in ways I can't fully understand let alone articulate. I may blog more on this topic in the future when I am stronger, that is all for this monthly update.

The rest of the week was a blur, but I did try very hard to fake it when around baby A and still have fun with her. My husband helped out a lot and would alternate, spinning her in the back year or watching her go down the slide. We still went on our walks.

That Saturday the 21st we attended a Mommy and Me dance class. I've been waiting and waiting for her to turn 1 1/2 (the minimum age required) for us to sign up, but was a bit disappointed because it was more focused on instruction and form rather than fun. I asked the instructor if all the classes would be similar of if the first one was filled more with technique and she said they would all be similar.
This picture was taken before class started and the fun stopped.

I called the city of Irvine and had her transferred to a different instructor who they said would be more focused on fun than form. The classes are every Saturday and run through April.

One of my favorite times with her is our nighttime routine. While brushing her teeth continues to be a struggle (I gave up counting how many she has!), I love our story-time and snuggling after that chore is out of the way. She is already showing favor over certain books and loves "I am a Bunny," "Hug-a-Bible," "Goodnight Moon," "Good Boy Fergus," and a fairytale book Daddy bought her in Italy. After we read for quite awhile, she will turn on her side and snuggle. I stay with her until she falls asleep, and sometimes I fall asleep too.

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • Chasing pigeons outside Doge's Palace.
  • Her reaction on 1/9 when I picked her up from daycare. She squealed like I would if you told me I had won the lottery, then turned to the kids in the class and exclaimed "Mommy!!" before running over to me and hugging me tightly around my neck.
  • New words: Ciao, boat, plane, Mommydada (one word), shoe, meow, Trevi, apple, yummy, pay (while handing Daddy's credit card). Previous words: Sunshine, cool, ouchie, book, cold, rawr, baa, animal, Dory, bow, bee, house, car, Dada, cat, tea (and some letters of the alphabet), fish, eye, cheese, no, mommy, more, mooo, ruff, baby, my, Nana, uh-oh, MoMo, baba, hi, bye, dog).
  • Learning to put her hands in her pockets.
  • Getting on top of the toilet seat. And then on top of the lid. To access my makeup bag.
  • Up and down stairs by herself. And back up. Repeat.
  • Laying down for a nap at the hotel in Milan, I was signing "Amazing Grace." She said "no." So instead, I started singing "Silent Night" and after I finished, she said "more."
  • How amazing she was on our 3 flights home from Italy. We had 24 hours of travel time, and not one tear (from her)!
  • When I pick her up from daycare and she spots me, she squeals and announces "Mommy!" before running to me and throwing her arms around my neck. It is the best feeling in the world.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

At 17 weeks pregnant, we lost our baby girl.

Caution: Very sad posting ahead. When done, be sure to read my Advice Following Miscarriage.

I have sat down to right countless papers for my undergraduate and graduate work. Very rarely was I excited about the topic, APA formatting or the citations needed. Never did I have something so personal to share that I dreaded putting into words. But this blog is supposed to be about life's ups and downs not just vacations we take so.... 

No Heart Beat. Fetal Demise.

These were the words I was told at my routine appointment three days ago when the archaic-looking cassette recorder my doctor uses to listen to the heartbeat didn't pick up anything. "Oh, she's not in the right place. I just had too much pasta in Italy," I thought. The doctor went from being jovial about President-elect Trump to dead silence. He took me down the hall to a room with a sonogram machine. I had to sit there awhile, alone, while the antiquated machine was roused from its slumber enough to start making annoying noises. I still felt like I knew everything was alright, because I hadn't had any signs or symptoms; no bleeding. He would be in here soon, and realize that it was all okay. Still, my heart started to quicken and my palms became sweaty as little shards of what this could mean shot through.

When he re-entered the room, I couldn't see the machine and so I remained fixed on his face, searching his expression for a sign it was all okay. More concern only took over and the silence became deafening. Then he turned to me and said "There is no heart beat. She stopped growing about two weeks ago. Her gestational age is showing 14 weeks." Yet I was 17 weeks. "I'm going to need to send you for a second opinion." Oh good, maybe these machines are too outdated and another, more expensive machine will tell us everything is okay. But of course that was wishful, desperate thinking. "Ummm, is there a chance she's just very still; sleeping?" I asked. "No. There is no heartbeat." 

"So a second opinion is just a matter of procedure?" I asked. "Yes, I'm sorry." He talked about me needing a D&E as I gathered my belongings and was ushered into the office assistant's desk to call my husband. Because of course this was the day I left my cell phone in the car. I called my husband and through tears and gasps said "You need to come here now." Panicked, he said he would get coverage for his class and be there right away. I neglected to tell him why or maybe I thought it was implied. He drove to me not knowing if there was a problem with the baby or if the problem was with me.

Devastated, I remained on hold the entire time I was waiting form him, trying to schedule the second opinion ultrasound. The soonest they could get me in was 4 hours from then. My husband called our IVF clinic who told us to come right away. Before we left, the doctor's staff told us that not many doctors perform D&Es. We could either go to doctor R. whom I had a very bad experience with years prior (botched/failed IUI) or, Planned Parenthood. I'm not going to either one of those was the last thing I said when we left.

Our IVF clinic ushered us into a room right away, but then we were waiting in there for what seemed like forever. My husband still held out hope, and so did I, in spite of the facts. My IVF doctor told us the same thing: there is no heartbeat and she stopped growing about 2 weeks ago.

That was when I last saw her on ultrasound. The day before our trip, I went in to have her spinal cord looked at and saw her moving. I saw her flip from one side to another, like a fish. I saw her respond to my stomach being pushed on. She could hear us, our voices and Baby A, Trevi barking and our laughter. Then sometime in the last few weeks the muffled sounds she was hearing fell silent, and no one knows why.

Immediately we began questioning everything we had done, starting with the trip. Carrying baby A, softly jumping on the bed with her. Drinking a cup of coffee every day. We were told time and again it would not be any one of those factors or even all of them. That a normal pregnancy can not just withstand such activities but thrive. Remember, babies whose mothers even abuse drugs usually make it though the pregnancy, or we wouldn't have drug-addicted babies born, someone told me. 

All signs point to this baby not having the genetic makeup to continue to grow and progress and join us in the real world out here, like we so desperately wanted her to. We will ask for genetic testing to be done on all 24 chromosomes, at the recommendation of my IVF doctor, and hope that this will give us some answers.

This is all a horrible nightmare. We thought we were in the clear. We were out of the first trimester. One round of genetic testing came back clear, and she was growing normally.

I was, and am, beyond devastated. Right next to me is the pink bonnet I was crocheting for her, a quarter finished.

It's not just this baby that has been taken away from us and our family. It is the loss for Baby A who was going to have a sister, and a best friend for life. It is the love we have for her now and the knowledge that would only continue to grow infinitely. I was starting to see her going through all of Baby A's stages and was beyond and thrilled to put her in some of her clothes. I began ordering her some outfits here and there and I would look at the doll-like clothes and imagine her in them. I placed an order about a week ago that hasn't even arrived yet. My husband will have to open it and send it back.

She's still with me now. And it is the strangest feeling in the world because her prefect little lifeless body is all curled up and safe. But our time together, at least in the physical realm, is coming to an end. My D&E procedure is scheduled for today, just a few hours from now. I want the procedure to take place and at the same time, I do not want to give her up. It is one of the worst trials I have been through and we sure seem to have had our fair share in these last few years, our first few years of marriage.

I have to remember one thing. On the way to that appointment, I called my husband and told him how happy I was. How perfect I felt our life currently was, and that it was not any one thing I could put my finger on. She was a huge part of that, because we were growing our family, but there were other things bringing me joy too. I have to remember that those other positive aspects are still there, though they are dimmed by the shadow this sadness is casting. I have to remember how lucky and blessed we are to have Baby A, a happy, healthy almost 20 month old. I imagine going through this and not having her, like many couples do.

It's too hard to see right now in the thick of it, but there is a reason for this. Her little life has had, and will continue to have, meaning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Party Planning Obesession

I have a confession to make. I can't stop thinking about the girl's birthday parties. I already have a theme picked out for the first birthday of my baby that isn't due until June, and already have a theme for their combination 2nd/4th birthday party...which isn't until 2019. I seem to have developed S.O.P.P. syndrome. Or, sudden obsession with party planning syndrome. 

Last year, I planned a big party for Baby-A's first birthday, and had so much fun doing it. Previously, I viewed coordinating an event like this that involved vendors as a chore. Something to be avoided when possible, or to just get through, when necessary. I felt sorry for people who felt the pressure to organize something like this. To my surprise, I enjoyed every part of it, and didn't find it stressful at all. 

Usually a procrastinator, I found myself organizing and planning things starting when she was only a few months old. I went a little over-board, much to my husband's dismay. But it's her 1st, I reasoned, and that's how it's supposed to be. At least here in Orange County. "I won't have a party for her second" I assured him. 


Shortly after the big day last May, having no party turned into just a small one, and I started searching for themes. Picking the puppy paw-ty theme, I became excited about the planning all over again. Right about the time I discovered that you can rent puppies (and yes, they are already reserved), I knew I didn't stand a chance. Before I knew it, I was back in full party-planning mode. This time, I took it a step further and hired a party-planner. For a kid's party. Yes, there is such a thing, thanks to people like me.


My SOPP syndrome manifests itself in many ways. Most recently, I have found my thoughts occupied with picking the perfect outfit for her. Her classic hand-smocked dress with a Peter Pan collar arrived yesterday and I couldn't be happier:



My inspiration? Princess Charlotte, of course, who was seen wearing something very similar for her first appearance on the iconic balcony of Buckingham Palace. She is frequently seen in classic hand-smocked dresses like this with the Peter Pan collar. 

How would I know this? Well, while in Venice and Milan, I had a bit of free-time on my hands while baby and Daddy were napping for 2-3 hours every day. Not able to sleep myself, and not at home to tackle any chores, I found a blog devoted to What Kate's Kids Wore. 

How excited I was to discover someone had done the leg-work and chronicled every article of clothing she has made an appearance in and, more importantly; where to buy it? This was right up my alley. 



But as luck would have it, this particular dress was what the blogger calls an unidentified fashion object. And another dress that she wore for the birthday party in Canada that I loved was out of stock. I emailed the company, and they would not be restocking any more. 

And so, I started searching. I'm not sure what exactly is involved in hand-smocking, but it must be time consuming because all the dresses I found cost at least a hundred bucks, plus shipping, which is a lot when they're sending it all the way from France. I was so excited and surprised to the perfect dress at Amazon! 


If you're interested in the same dress or something similar, click here.

My husband loves a good deal, and the fact that I found the dress for less, with free shipping, was my negotiation power for ordering her shoes from Spain.


While I couldn't find the exact dress, I was able to order the brand of shoes Princess Charlotte wears frequently. They are made by Dona Carmen, and ordering them proved to be a bit of a challenge, but they're on their way! (Read about why Kate favors Spanish brands here). 


On their website, they do not have an option to ship to the United States. But I emailed them and they said they would be happy to send them our way for 50. Of course they would! I responded explaining that I couldn't justify spending that on shipping, since the shoes themselves only cost 29€ (very reasonable!). To my surprise, they said they would ship them for 20 and so I also ordered a pair of baby booties for Baby J. 
can-tour-charlotte-blue-shoes-arrival-saturday-september-24-dona-carmen-mercedita-suela 

There is a bit more to me ordering these than just trying to dress my daughter like a princess. As you probably know, my Mom is from England. Her whole life, she has kept up on the Queen and her appearances, as any good subject of the Royal Crown does. Mom followed Princess Diana, and was also following the Duchess of Cambridge. If there was a special televised event, she would wake up early to watch it. I know she would be (hopefully, is) thrilled that I am choosing this for Baby A to wear. It is one very small way that I am able to pay homage to her.