Friday, December 31, 2010


When I reflect upon years gone by I try to sum them up by using one word. 2008 was all about Caleb. 2009 was about marriage. 2010 has been a year full of, well, surprises. Some were good and some were so awful I'm still trying to accept them as reality. Given everything, I would say the word for 2010 is "thankful".

At the beginning of a new year everyone is ready to bid adieu to the days gone by. We ring in the event with fireworks, parties, a glass ball that may or may not contain Snooki (Google it). Everyone is looking for a chance to be hopeful again. We make resolutions for better behavior, health, or financial management for the days ahead. We kiss the one we love at midnight and celebrate the fresh start. All of these things are done with the desire to make our life the way we want it to be. The way we see it in our dreams. "When I have a fat bank account then I will finally be happy." "When I can wear a size 4 life will be perfect."

There's nothing wrong with desiring different circumstances in our own lives. Motivation is key to success. But in our quest for the "perfect life" are we remembering to be thankful for the status quo? Do you (and when I say you I really me "I") wake up every morning and thank God for your house even though there's a pile of dishes in the sink and the bathroom really needs painted? Do you (I) rejoice in the relationship you have with your spouse/children/parents/siblings/friends even if they are getting on your nerves or stole the covers AND the good pillow last night? Are you (I) thankful when, at the end of payday, there's no money in your bank account but you still have a roof over your head, food on the table and people to share it with? If you want to know true happiness try being thankful for what you already have. The key to happiness is gratitude.

My grandmother lived this theory out each day of her life. Sure she read books and fantasied about traveling to different countries and experiencing new things, but she was grateful for just the opportunity to be surrounded by family and friends. She cherished family dinners and took the time to make them special. I find myself on a daily basis dreading the idea of having to make dinner. The forethought, the preparation, the cooking, the's too much. My grandma "got it", though. She would make meal times special...setting the table, using fancy plates and glasses, requiring that the television be turned off and conversation ensue. I think she did these things because she remembered what it was like to be poor and not to have food to feed your family. She spent many years as a single mom trying to feed more mouths than she knew what to do with, without the help of any man or the government. Thus she turned mealtimes into celebrations. She set the table EACH day in a way most people reserve for holidays. And she was thankful to do it each and every time.

In 2010 I learned the art of true gratitude, in 2011 I plan to refine it. I will do this by practicing it everyday. Instead of being annoyed that the bus is late I'm going to be thankful that I have a job to go to each day. Instead of getting depressed when a pair of jeans don't fit just right I'm going to be thankful for the person I am on the inside, thankful for my health, and thankful for each day that I can work to make myself even healthier. Even though I do miss Caleb and my Nana so much, I'm going to rejoice that I had them in my life and know that I will see them both again one day. And instead of crying each month when I realize that I'm still not any closer to being a mommy, I'm going to thank God that there are other paths to parenthood and in the meantime I have a beautiful niece and an adorable nephew to dote on.

2010 has been a challenging year, but I'm so thankful for every moment of it.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Patricia "Nana" Bryan

BRYAN Patricia Ann (Betts) Bryan, 74, passed from this life September 19, 2010 at Mount Carmel East Hospital with her family by her side. Born April 20, 1936 in Columbus, Ohio to the late Harry and Alice Betts, she was preceded in death by her parents, son Robin Sisk, and great-grandson Caleb Ballou. A stunning woman inside and out, Patricia was known for her piercing blue eyes, long legs and even longer hair, which earned her the nickname "Cher". She was an avid animal lover, who spent many years working with the Columbus Zoo and the Franklin County Mounted Unit. She had an adventurous spirit, demonstrated by her claim to fame as the first woman skydiver in the state. Pat had a true zest for life that is so rare to find. Deputy Bryan retired from the Franklin County Sheriff's Department in 1997 and was very proud of her time spent working in the jail. She loved to travel, especially when those travels took her near the beach, and she vowed one day to be a beach bum on Siesta Key. Quietly brilliant, she was a passionate reader who could have beat Alex Trebeck at Jeopardy and took a great deal of pride in beating her family in a game of Trivial Pursuit or canasta. She was hands down the world's greatest cook and could make cube steak taste like filet mignon. Pat was a music lover, with a special adoration for Italian operas and mariachi music. A truly remarkable woman, she found joy in the simple things and had an honest "don't sweat the small stuff" attitude. More than anything, she loved being surrounded by her "big, loud, obnoxious family" and it will be through each of them that her strong and loving spirit lives on. She had moxie, baby. She is survived by her sister, Jacqueline (Robert) Kowalski of Des Moines, IA; brother, William (Micki) Betts of Syracuse, NY; sons, Daniel Sisk of Reynoldsburg, Michael (Bonnie Ramsey) Sisk of Pataskala, Joseph Bryan of Buckeye Lake, William Bryan of Reynoldsburg, and John Sisk of Orange County, CA; daughters, Deborah Sisk-Buffalo of Harper, KS, Vanya Bryan of Reynoldsburg, and Laurie (Jeff) Gang of Jamesburg, NJ. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Roxanne (Fred) Finke of Wichita, KS, Lisa Williams of Wichita, KS, Jennifer Sisk of Columbus and Rachael Sisk of Houston, TX, Dillan Bryan of Columbus and Morrgan Bryan of Buckeye Lake, Summer (Brandon) Ballou of Reynoldsburg, Alysia and Asia Barham, both of Reynoldsburg, Wednesday Bryan of Reynoldsburg, and Kylie and Tyler Gang of Jamesburg, NJ; seven great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, friends, and beloved dogs, Mutley, Chyna, Rusty and Coco. Family will receive friends Wednesday 5-8 p.m. at COTNER FUNERAL HOME, 7369 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, where the funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. Messages may be sent to family at

As I have mentioned before, my grandma a.k.a. Nana is like my mother. She was there when I was born, she named me, raised me, and got to deal with all the joys and pains (mostly pains) of doing so. She was more than just a grandmother or mother to me, though. She was my best friend. We were sidekicks. I know when most people think "grandma" the thought of a feeble, elderly woman who knits and has that obligatory "old people" smell. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nana was adventurous until the day she died. She didn't knit and she smelled like fancy perfumes or cheap shampoo.
Growing up with Nana made me different than most kids. She exposed me to things and people that I may never have seen. She worked in the county jail and used to take me there for visits and "Take Your Daughter to Work Day". While she didn't condone criminal behavior, she didn't look down on the inmates. She knew people were imperfect and they made mistakes. It was from her that I learned to be empathetic.
Before me, Nana had 8 children and was married twice. Between her marriages and after my grandfather was killed, she was a single mother. My aunts and uncles caused my grandma a lot of grief, but she never stopped loving them. Or me when it was my turn around. You don't give up on family. That was always her message. They're crazy and they get on your nerves and some days you REALLY don't like them, but we stick together and we love each other.
She was so strong and out of all of her qualities, this is the one I admire most. As a girl who tends to wear her heart on her sleeve, my grandma with her cool and calm demeanor, was always an inspiration to me. I remember the day we found out my uncle died. Everyone was at our house crying and in shock. When I went to find my grandma, she was doing laundry. Twenty minutes after hearing her son had taken his own life, she was cleaning house and keeping everyone else calm. I can count on one hand the times I had seen her cry. She was amazing like that.
She passed away so quickly. They diagnosed the cancer on a Thursday and by Sunday she was gone. I had so much left to say to her and so much I still wanted to do.
Growing up I would have anxiety attacks about what it would be like when my grandma died. My chest would tighten, my eyes would well up with tears, my breath would become fast and hard, my stomach would drop, and my head would start to ache. When I lived at home, I would crawl into bed with her until I felt better. When I moved out, I would call her and she would talk me down. She promised she wasn't going any where and we would talk about plans for the future. Now when I have one of those attacks, there is no one to call. No one to make it all better. Just the sad reality that for the rest of my life my best friend, mother, and grandmother is gone and nothing will ever be the same.


No one is promised a perfect life. Imagine how shallow we would all be if that were the case. Pain and suffering build our character and, in turn, make us each a unique individual.

I've had my fair share of pain and suffering in my life. Some self-imposed, some a side-effect of other's actions, and still some that just seemed to come from nowhere.

Losing Caleb was hard. I wanted him so desperately and knew that after he was gone there was a very real chance I would never get to be a mother again. A life that I had spent months mapping out was gone. That's a hard thing for people to understand about pregnancy/infant loss. It's not about losing what was, it's about losing what could have been. Even with the pain that came from losing Caleb, I was able to really focus on the blessings that came from his short life and have a sense of peace about everything. Even though this pain and suffering came from nowhere, meaning I didn't cause it and neither did anyone else, I could still breath easy in knowing that things happened exactly as they should have happened.

In the last 59 days, my life has been thrown into a tailspin. Everything I thought was true, I found isn't. And everyone I thought I could trust just disappeared. My life has changed forever. And while someone so important to me was slowly drifting away, I was caught up in juvenile drama that I thought was left behind when I said "I do". I will never forgive myself for that.

Some days I wish he would have fallen in love, too. But then again, no one is promised an easy life.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Been a Long Time

Wow. It's been a long time since I have sat down to write. So much has been going on, but at the same time I haven't really felt up to writing. So here is a rundown on the past few months:

1. We are closing on our first home in less than a month. It's exciting, scary, and bittersweet for me. Exciting because it's a home of our own. We can paint, change the carpet, hang curtains or even color on the walls if we want to. Scary because it's such a commitment and I'm a constant worrier. Bittersweet because the last time we were preparing to move it was because of Caleb. We needed a bigger apartment. Then he died and the day after I got home from the hospital we had to move into our bigger apartment. I never thought we would live here for 2 years and not have a new baby for the nursery.

2. I have started attending a new church. It's in the same network of churches as the old one I was going to, but much closer to where we live. The congregation is also much smaller, but I love the family feel. From the moment I stepped in the door on my first Sunday, I felt God in my heart telling me this is where I am supposed to be. I'm going to working as an assistant in the pre-school room one Sunday per month starting in September. I'm so excited to get to share Jesus Christ with the little ones. My church attendance was sporadic when I was young and I'm not sure I REALLY knew Christ or what He did for me until, honestly, I was around 19 years old. I wish I knew more before then. I believe it would have saved me a lot of pain. At the same time I struggle with the wondering if He allowed me to go through that pain so that I could see how much I really need Him in my life. Anyway, I look forward to sharing His word with all of the little ones.

3. Infertility stinks. Secondary infertility really stinks. It's so painful to continuously see friends and family conceive with no problems and to feel like such a failure. I know, I know. I'm NOT a failure. Conceiving has little to do with me and more to do with God's plan for me. Knowing this doesn't alleviate all of the pain, however. We have met with a new infertility specialist. He was nice and optimistic (they usually are at first). He wants us to undergo some further testing, including another semen analysis for Brandon and another HSG-like test for me. He also wants me to have some additional blood work, which seems standard but was never ordered by our old RE. As evidence of my lack of excitement to go through this gamete of tests, I failed to schedule any of the appointment during my last cycle. I'm debating on doing it this month or waiting a while.

Our new house has 3 bedrooms, one of which would make the most perfect nursery. I mentioned to Brandon yesterday that maybe we should just make it a guest room. It seems silly to waste space on a nursery for a baby that may or may not ever join our family. He was adamant that we set up the crib and create a space for the baby he is much more confident we will have. It was sweet to hear that from him.

4. Caleb's 2nd birthday is coming up in October. If he was born when we expected he would be nearly 20 months old. I try to imagine what he would look like, what he would sound like, and how our lives would be different with a little toddler running the show. I know he's in a better place with someone who loves him even more than I do. Still I can't help but wonder "what if?"

And now, because I can't show you what he would look like, I will leave you with a picture of his mommy and daddy. This is from my college graduation ceremony in May. If you look closely you can see the cross necklace I'm wearing. There is a very special story that goes with that necklace, which I will share soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010


In my soul there is a hole that can never be filled, but in my heart there is hope that you are with me still. ~ Precious Child
Change. I've never been a fan. I excel when I know what to expect. Still, there is a part of me that always wants more. I'm a dreamer, imagining a better life for myself and my family. I'm quite the walking contradiction.

I started a new job today. It seems alright so far. The people aren't mean and the work seems challenging without being overwhelming. It's an excellent opportunity with great benefits and room to advance. Still I dread going back to the point that I'm in tears. I don't dread the job or the people...I dread what starting this new job means.

I quit a job last Thursday. A job I had for a long time. A long time when you consider that I'm barely 25. I started that job as a naive 21 year old, living with my boyfriend, going to school part-time, not having any real sense of what I wanted out of life, and NEVER expecting to get pregnant or have a baby.

I grew up there. Brandon and I split up. I ventured out into the world on my own. I transformed--physically and mentally. Brandon and I got back together. I got engaged. I got pregnant. I got married. I lost friends and gained friends. I lost pets and got new ones. I watched my family move out of my childhood home. I started seriously working towards my bachelors degree. I learned about law, about business, and about being let down. I moved twice and got in several car accidents. I grieved the death of my baby with people who were as excited as me for him to be born. I made friends, real friends not just the happy hour co-worker-type.

Leaving there is like leaving a piece of myself. That place was the constant in my life when so many things were changing. No matter what was going on with my relationship, my pregnancy, my physical appearance, my grieving...I ALWAYS had that place. I always had those people.

A lot of people don't get it. They see me graduating and starting this new job as such positive things. They wonder how I can be so sad. Maybe they think I'm ungrateful or crazy or just negative. And maybe I am. Maybe I shouldn't get so attached to people or places the way that I do.

I guess the only way I can explain it is by saying this:

When you lose something that you love SO much and nothing in the world will bring it back again... when there is a hole in your heart and sometimes you don't know how you can make it day to day, having constants are important.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's hours before I need to be up, but I'm wide awake. I keep picturing you. I wonder what you would look like? Who would you be?

We're doing family photos tomorrow. At the park where I know you would have loved to play. Only they won't really be family photos because the entire family is not there. You're not there.

Daddy and I will hold a bear in place of you. We will smile and laugh, but inside our hearts will be heavy. It's odd to miss someone so much you only knew for a short time, but we do. We miss you so much that sometimes we cry. Sometimes we argue because we can't express how we are feeling in a better way. Sometimes we push the feelings down so we can go on with our day without the constant, gut-wrenching pain that will be with us forever.

I hope you know how important and how loved you are. Everything we do, we do for you. I'm finishing school next month and that's all because of you. I started when I knew you were coming, I persevered when you left and I will finish because that's what you would want and I want to make you proud.

I miss you so much, Caleb. I'm so sorry I failed you and I'm so sorry you're not here today. If I could trade my life for yours, I would in a second. I wish you could be here for family photos. I wish you could be a big cousin to Xander. I wish you could be there when I earn that degree that was inspired by you! I wish I could hold you, see you, kiss you, and hear you call me "mommy.”

Instead, I will hold a bear that doesn’t compare. I will look at the few pictures I have that will never be enough. I will kiss the little jar of ashes holding what's left. And I will lay awake at night and imagine what you would have become.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bad Blogger

I'm such a bad blogger. I started this blog way back when to remember Caleb and to document our journey of love, loss, and trying to start a family. I thought writing about all of these things would give me an outlet to express my feelings instead of my typical SOP, which involves keeping everything inside and then eating an entire carton of ice cream. Hey, don't knock it til you try it.

But days and weeks pass without me posting. I have things I want to share. Doctor’s appointments, failed attempts, births, deaths, nightmares...but I don't. I need to though. I can feel the weight of so many things resting on my shoulders and I need to write about it.

I have this weird habit. I make lists. When things are bothering me I make a list of what they are and then I start with the first item and try to figure out a way to fix it. You'll find these little pieces of paper strewn about my house with things like weight, job, and haircut written on them. I guess all that to say I like to keep track of my feelings otherwise I feel like they will overtake me. Emotions are crazy and unpredictable (2 things I don't really care much for) and making those little lists and keeping this blog are the only things helping me to understand mine.

So I'll start here...
My sister had her baby.

I was in the delivery room when he was born. It was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed. I don't like the expression that people use to describe this situation "I was there when his life began", because that's not true. A child's life begins at conception. Caleb was alive inside of me and just because he wasn't born alive, doesn't mean that his life never started.

Anyway, the birth was amazing and holding my nephew for the first time was unbelievable. My sister was in labor for a little over 12 hours before she started pushing. During that time, she had three different nurses check on her. The first 2 asked me if I had any children, so I told them about Caleb. I felt bad each time I brought him up, as if I was casting a gray cloud over my sister's exciting day. I decided after the second time to stop mentioning him.

When the third nurse asked me if I had any children I simply replied "no.” My sister, 10 cm dilated stopped the nurse and said, "That's not true. She has a son and his name is Caleb, but he passed away." I still get choked up thinking about that. I don't think my sister understood how much that meant to me. On the brink of giving birth to her baby, she stopped and remembered the one I'm missing so much. No gray clouds, just love.

Having a baby around (I have visited with him 10 out of his 12 days) has been an eye opening experience. It has definitely confirmed what Brandon and I already knew about our desire to have children. Before he was born, I thought my nephew would make me sad. I thought he would remind me of what I don't have. I was so wrong. Having him around reminds me of what I'm working for. The struggles that I face now are so insignificant compared to the joy that a baby will bring to our lives.

My wonderful husband, who usually doesn't have too much to say, summed it up best: "Nothing else will matter once we have our baby."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Hospital

Continuing the story of Caleb

I was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday September 30th, 2008. We got there shortly before 8 p.m. We sat in the same registration room we had the night before when I was the only one that knew something was wrong. We walked down the same hallway. The nurse led us into a private room, away from all the happy mommies and babies. There was a card with a single yellow rose taped to the plaque on the wall with my room number. I didn’t have to ask. I knew.

I had just enough time to change into that terrible hospital gown before visitors started appearing. Brandon’s mom, my mom, and my grandma. Followed by Brandon’s aunt and uncle and finally my best friend Britney. Brandon’s Aunt Deena gave us a beautiful wall hanging with little children playing. An angel watched over the children.

The nurse came to get the IV started and go over my medical history. She asked if I took any medications. I told her pre-natal vitamins, only not every day because they make me throw up. Then I quickly asked her if she thought that’s why this happened. She reassured me that had nothing to do with it and suggested I take Flintstones vitamins next time.

They couldn’t get the IV in. My veins are not cooperative. I was jabbed 7 or 8 times by 2 different nurses. The visitors were distracting themselves by watching Dancing with the Stars, but Brandon was right there by my side. He looked at me with this look of sadness in his eyes. Like he wanted to just take me and run away. Away from this crazy situation that we were in. How did we ever end up here? So many years of thinking we couldn’t. Then we do. Only to not.

The nurses, still poking, suggested I look away. Singing has always comforted me so I started singing the first thing that popped in my head. “Five. Five dollar. Five dollar footlong.” Everyone laughed. Brandon’s look of helplessness faded into a smile. I had never loved him as much as I did right then.

Finally, after a few more jabs and jokes about using all my veins during my former life as a drug addict, the nurses were able to get the IV in and going. The nurse gave me my first pill to start the induction. An oral tablet, Cytotec, which I can still taste to this day. Battery acid choked down with a little bit of water. The tiny little pill kept getting stuck in the back of my throat and would dissolve before I could get it down. Every 4 hours the nurse would come in with one of those tiny packets containing that pill that tasted like battery acid and was supposed to make my body deliver my dead baby. I would have drunk real battery acid if it meant giving him life.

After a few hours, the visitors left. Just me and Brandon alone in the room. The first time we had really been alone in months. Just me and him. Him and me. I drifted off to sleep for a while.

The next day, Wednesday October 1st, revealed that my body wasn’t progressing. I wasn’t dilating and felt no contractions. They offered my pain medicine, though. I refused. What if they were wrong about him? There was still hope. How silly.

I had a few more visitors that day. My friend Mandi came up for a little while. It was hard for her. I could see it in her eyes. She knew and she remembered being where I was. For two girls who don’t usually shut-up, there wasn’t much to say.

Later that afternoon, I asked my nurse, Fran, how long my doctor would let me stay like this. I wasn’t progressing and they had started the induction nearly 20 hours ago. He was supposed to be here by now. She told me that there wasn’t much they could do since I wanted to see the baby. It wasn’t like they could “...go in and do a D&E”. Her words echoed in my head. Was I not supposed to want to see my baby? My doctor never offered an alternative to delivery. My heart hurt. I wanted out.

That night brought more visitors and  the doctor on duty. She did an exam and an ultrasound. Different this time because they didn’t bother turning the screen towards me. The doctor decided it was time to insert a balloon catheter. Before they did that, however, they would give me an epidural.

The epidural was done. As were both catheters. I fell asleep. A few hours later I woke up screaming. I couldn’t move and I was freezing. I started crying. “Why me? Why us? I just bought a stroller. God tricked me. Why? How could this happen?” The nurse looked scared. Brandon looked scared. But I couldn’t stop. I begged for them to let me move. “Take the epidural out. Please take it out. Give me blankets. Please, it’s so cold.” I had a fever and an infection. They called my doctor, who ordered antibiotics. I fell asleep.

I woke up early Thursday October 2nd. The nurse came in and told me that I couldn’t have any more water or popsicles. My doctor was doing a caesarean section later that afternoon. She started removing the balloon catheter that hadn’t worked. Or had it? As she pulled it out she realized it was time. She paged the doctor on duty and they came running. “Push. Just one good push.” I screamed again. “I don’t want to see him. Please don’t make me look.” And then it was over. Quiet. Painless. Sad. Nothing like I imagined.

They wrapped him up and let Brandon take a peek. They took him to a different room until my doctor could arrive. After what seemed like hours, my doctor finally came in and told me he didn’t see anything wrong with him. Nothing definite that would point to an obvious cause or reason. I asked if I could see him. He told me the nurse would bring him in shortly. I felt so horrible for ruining his morning. He looked like a shell of the usually upbeat person I would see during my check-ups. What had I done to create this huge mess?

Monday, March 15, 2010


Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood. ~Louisa May Alcott

I don’t talk a lot about my faith to those who don’t know me. I feel that there is a certain type of people in this world who, as soon as you identify yourself as a Christian, immediately try to discredit you and your beliefs. By nature, I’m a pretty non-confrontational type person and I’m not good at quoting Scripture in response to Biblical questions people have. There are amazing, gifted people all over the world who are much better suited for ministry. That is not a gift God gave me.

I don’t deny Christ, however. When asked, I answer honestly and proudly. I try to lead a life that exemplifies the lessons Christ taught us. And I hold to those truths when faced with adversity or obstacles. But I feel the best way I can demonstrate God's amazing powers, is by sharing examples of the grace and love He has shown in my life.

For example, my younger sister is pregnant. 39 weeks today to be exact and my future nephew is ready to be born at any moment. And I am overjoyed to be an aunt. I threw my sister's baby shower, I went for the 3D/4D ultrasound, and I will be there every step of the way in the delivery room.

To fully understand how amazing this is, you have to first understand how hard it is for me to be around anything relating to babies, especially baby boys. Just the sight of baby shampoo can send me over the edge some days. Babies obviously remind me of the one that I lost, but they also remind me of the one that I am struggling to conceive. The fact that I can even acknowledge my sister is pregnant is, well, amazing to me!

But don't get me wrong. I don't do these amazing things on my own. I don't have that much strength. In fact, if it were left to me alone, I would still probably be sitting in that restaurant, as I was five minutes after she told me, crying my eyes out. Thankfully, I don't bare this burden alone. God has been with me every step of the way, giving me strength, hope, and courage. I feel like I yet again see another reason God gave me Caleb. Caleb helped prepare me to help prepare my sister for this baby. If that makes sense?

We don't always get to see the reasons why God does things. We aren't always given the peace of mind to understand the 'big picture'. But in this case, I can't help but stand back and be in awe of His work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valetine Schmalentine

Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him. ~ Groucho Marx
Brandon and I first "met" around Valentine's Day. We "met" online, which I know is so shocking to people for some reason, but when you consider the millions of other things people do online, I don't know why meeting a future boyfriend/girlfriend is such a faux pas.

Anyway, it was back in the days of AOL. Ya know, when you logged in it would say "You've Got Mail". Well for those of you that remember, there were also local chat rooms. You could find all kinds of different ones. I think it was kind of like an early Facebook or Myspace. It brought people together who shared a common interest or lived in the same area, etc.

So one night, I was logged on and in a local chat, but not really paying attention to the conversation. I want to say I was downloading songs from iTunes. All of a sudden an IM (remember those?) popped up and it said, "Lynyrd Skynyrd, huh?". The person IM'ing me was referencing the section on my profile which listed all of my musical likes. I was 18 at the time so there were A LOT!

I wrote back and said "Yea, I like them." The mystery person went on to tell me how when he was younger their dad took them to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert and all he can remember is the heavy smell of incense in the air, which of course later in life he learned wasn't really incense at all!

We started chatting a little more and I discovered that the mystery person was really Brandon. He was 19 at the time and lived about 30 miles away, but actually grew up really close to where I did. We talked about music, movies, work, school...pretty much everything. We exchanged phone numbers, but I was too scared to call. Eventually he called me and we chatted a few times on the phone.

Fast forward a few weeks later, my friend Britney and I were out shopping and I decided it would be funny to go spy on Brandon at his job. Britney was always down for a covert mission so off we went. We spotted him in the nursery section of a local general store. Apparently, at that point in time I was fearless because I marched right up to him and said hi. I told him who I was and that my plan was just to spy on him, but then I decided that was kind of weird. He said he would be off in a few hours and asked if I wanted to hang out. When he got off work, we met up for dinner and basically have been inseparable ever since. In fact, since that day, I think the longest we have ever gone without talking was maybe 2 days.

This is the story of how I met my Valentine. I'n sure it's not the most storybook meeting that has ever taken place, but it's ours and I love it. Oh yea, and I love him.

Friday, February 12, 2010


A life without cause is a life without effect. ~Barbarella
Each year the law firm I work for holds a March of Dimes campaign to coincide with the national March of Dimes March for Babies campaign. Last year's campaign was hard for me. It was 5 months after we lost Caleb and I was still in a very dark place. I didn't want to support the campaign. I had visited the MoD webstite everyday during my pregnancy, I did everything I was supposed to, but yet my baby was still gone. 

Looking back I can see how twisted my mindset was last March. MoD was there for me during my pregnancy, when Caleb's oligohydramnios was diagnosed, and after Caleb was gone. They did provide me with support...even if it wasn't the support I wanted. I knew I had to speak up this year. I lost my baby and that hurts so bad, but I don't want anyone else to experience that pain.

This year, the partner in charge of the campaign for our firm asked me if I would be willing to share my experience with MoD in order to drum up support.. I jumped at the opportunity. I went into my pregnancy thinking the worst thing that could happen was hemorrhoids. Birth defects, placental problems, and stillbirth were the furthest things from my mind. If even just one expecting mom chooses to educate herself a little bit more regarding her child's health, even if it's just out of the fear of ending up like me, then my Caleb's life was not in vain. So I will now share with you my MoD story...

When I found out I was pregnant, I’d like to think I had the normal reaction…fear! I was worried about everything from learning how to change diapers to paying for college. They say men become fathers when they hold their baby in their arms for the first time, but women become mothers the minute they learn they are pregnant. I couldn’t agree more with this observation. From the second I knew I had a tiny life growing inside of me, my maternal instinct kicked in along with all the worries that come with it.

That’s why I first visited the March of Dimes website. A parenting magazine I read told me they had a great section on keeping healthy during your pregnancy. I checked that site probably 20 times a day. I used it to find information on proper nutrition, pregnancy symptoms, and to look up all those big words that doctors like to use.
The website became an even more useful research tool during my sixth month of pregnancy when the doctors told me that my son, Caleb, was suffering from oligohydramnios, a lack of amniotic fluid. This can be a sign of birth defects in some babies. The doctors told me there wasn’t much I could do. They would continue to monitor Caleb and send me for some additional tests and screenings. I remember feeling so helpless. As a parent, you feel a responsibility to always care for your children in the best way you can, but here I was stuck, unable to do anything.

Immediately, I went to the MoD website to investigate. They had an entire section dedicated to pregnancy complications and a ton of useful information about oligohydramnios. It was such a sense of empowerment. I understood the condition more thoroughly and felt that I could have educated conversations with my doctors and other care providers.

Sadly, the diagnosis came too late for me. My little Caleb died in utero at 26 weeks gestation. His beautiful body was born into this world on October 2, 2008. Losing my baby is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever gone through. The pain, anger, and sadness are overwhelming. I remember the first few days at home after I left the hospital were devastating. I felt so alone and so lost. But yet again, MoD came to my rescue. Through their website, I was able to find a great deal of resources and information on dealing with a stillbirth. They connected me with several support groups filled with mothers feeling the same way I did. MoD even helped me after we received Caleb’s autopsy report. The cause of his oligohydramnios was due to a placental defect. MoD’s website gave me information on this and treatment options for future pregnancies.

Through my journey of healing, I have met with so many families that the March of Dimes organization has helped. From their work with premature babies to their research into birth defects, MoD is saving lives every day. I share my story not for sympathy, but because I want every expecting mother to be educated and empowered with the knowledge to understand their unborn child’s health. It’s easy to assume that all pregnancies end with healthy babies, but the fact is right now they don’t. There is hope, however. The research, education, and outreach that the March of Dimes provides are essential to changing that disturbing fact. There was nothing that could be done to save my baby, but I know that because of the March of Dimes, each day parents are spared from the pain that my family had to go through. And for that, I am so very thankful.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Very Special Bond

I believe that friends are quiet angels who sit on our shoulders and lift our wings when we forget how to fly. ~Unknown
Last weekend, I drove 3 hours to visit some incredible people I met on the internet. No, not creepy To Catch A Predator internet people. The two women I visited are beautiful, amazing, wonderful, women who I wouldn't even know if it weren't for sweet little Caleb.

I met Bev and Kandis through an online support group for stillborn moms. I have to tell you, this support board was a saving grace during these past 16 months. The women on there are amazing.

Bev and I began emailing back and forth shortly after I joined the group in late October 2008. Immediately, I was touched by her faith. We had so much in common down to the baby names we picked out (her twin boys were Joshua and Caleb). She has been such a wonderful friend to have during this journey and I can always count on her for spiritual support and guidance.

Kandis and I chatted occasionally on the support board and on Facebook, but lately she has become my go-to person for support with infertility. She knows a TON and whenever I have a question I go to her. She is such a remarkable person and has even created a Threads of Love chapter in memory of her sweet Isaiah.

The fellowship last weekend was amazing. We spoke for hours about our babies, our experiences, and our faith. Get this, we actually picked up some pizza and got so involved in conversation that we completely forgot we had food waiting for us in the kitchen. And trust me, I never forget about food!

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was on Sunday when Bev took me to see the Angel of Hope statue in Avon, Indiana. I was only slightly familiar with the story of the statue, but after seeing how beautiful it was I was inspired to see what I can do to bring one to Columbus.

Even this far along in the process, I still feel different. It's so hard to explain this feeling to someone who has never experienced what I have. But when I was around these women, I didn't need to explain. They understood because they feel that way too. All I could think about on my drive home Sunday afternoon was how great God really is.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Time to...

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away ~ Ecclesiates 3:1, Ecclesiates 3:6 (NIV)
When we found out we were pregnant with Caleb, people came out of the woodwork offering us baby items. From clothes to car seats, blankets to cribs, bassinettes, cradles, breast pumps to high chairs, the love and generosity those around us bestowed upon our budding little family was amazing.

All of Caleb's things have been boxed up and stored in our spare room for nearly 16 months. It pains me to call it a spare room because it should be a nursery, but it's not and may never be.

I went through the room recently and found some special items I haven't seen in a long time.

The very special (and oh so soft) blanket we purchased after we found out Caleb was a boy...

His prayer buddy...

His crib (now disassembled)...

His very first Buckeye accessory ...

A special gift from his Great-Nana...

And a few items I purchased just 2 days before we found out Caleb was gone...

These few things are special to me and I will never part with them. No matter how stupid I look having a crib with no baby. But there are other things that could really be put to good use by a new mom in need. A very hopeful part of me wants to hold on to all of these things. They help me feel close to Caleb and I like to imagine another child of mine getting to use all of the things that his or her big brother never got a chance to.

But a more logical part of me knows that these things don't bring me any closer to my baby. Only God can do that. These are just material items that Caleb never used. I also know that there is a small chance that we will ever have another child. And even if we do, it won't be for a long time. There are babies that can use these things now.

So I'm torn. Is it time to give up or should I hold on a little longer?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You're Outta There

Never deprive anyone of hope; it might be all they have. ~ Unknown
Another cycle, another ill-fated attempt to blossom.

Pssst....I have a secret. Outside of a few people at work and of course the girls on my online support group, nobody really knows this. So, well, consider yourself in the know.

Brandon and I tried AI (a.k.a. Intrauterine Insemination) for the first time this month. On January 7th (which also happened to be one year since Caleb's due date and the day Columbus was hit with some NASTY winter weather), my husband and I narrowly avoided a 50-car pile-up and ventured to Dr. Fertile Myrtle's office for my monthly ultrasound to check follicle growth. Much to our surprise, my egg was growing on the right side. Four days later, we were back in her office for the insemination.

Yesterday I discovered that it was all for nothing.

Did I really think I would end up pregnant after our first attempt at insemination? No. I am the eternal pessimist. Still, the blow wasn't softened by my glass-half-empty attitude. It hurts. It's frustrating and it hurts. It's devastating and it hurts. It's embarrassing and it hurts. But, mostly, it just hurts.

So, tonight, instead of praying for a healthy pregnancy, I will ask God to give me strength and comfort. I don't know what He has planned for me but I know that, at least for the next few weeks, I will need both of these things

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Healing vs. Forgetting

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.- Helen Keller
On Christmas, after all of our stops were done, and we were back at home, Brandon and I released balloons for Caleb. We released four balloons. One red, one green, one gold, and one white. I wrote a message on the red one and I drew Caleb a couple of pictures. Brandon wrote on the green one and I transcribed a message from our pup Lacy on the gold one. The white one was sent up to all of the other little angel babies in Heaven. We let the balloons go, said Merry Christmas, and came back inside. This is what I like to call "remembering".

I didn't cry on Christmas because I didn't have my baby boy with me. We made six stops to visit family and friends and no one really mentioned Caleb. I wasn't bothered by this. I wore my necklace to remind me of him. I held him in my heart all day. And I knew that Caleb was having the best Christmas because he was celebrating with none other than the birthday boy himself, Jesus. It was hard watching my sister open gifts for her baby that she's expecting in March. It was hard playing with our niece, who is now thought of (and maybe rightfully so) as the only grandchild on Brandon's side. But I had a sense of peace in my heart through it all. This is what I like to call "healing".

Some people, mostly those who have never been through a loss, confuse healing and forgetting. They think because I do things like release balloons, wear a necklace to remind me of Caleb, hang a stocking for him, or celebrate his birthday that I must not be healed. And since I do all of these things and appear, in their eyes, not be healed, well then I must be dragging this out for far too long. It's time to let go, they may say.

Six and a half months. That's how long Caleb was with me. Fifteen months. That's how long Caleb has been gone.

By God's grace, my heart has slowly healed. It's not completely healed, but it's better than it was. That's amazing when you think about it. When I found out Caleb's heart stopped, I wanted mine to stop too. I wanted to go with him. Now here I am, 15 months later, and I have hope again. I can remember my son and rejoice that, even though it was only for six and a half months, I got to be his mommy. I can do things like release balloons and be a little sad that he isn't here with me, but understand that it's ok that he's not.

In doing things to remind me of Caleb, I am healing. These things do not weigh me down or make me sad. They help me to become more at peace with what is. If I tried to pretend that what was had never been, if I tried to forget that for six and a half glorious months I carried with me someone who changed my life for the better, my heart would still be broken. I would have learned nothing from the experience God blessed me with. And at this point, that's exactly how I see it. Caleb wasn't meant to live in this life. He had a different purpose. In my own way, I think Caleb was sent to help me. And he did. What a crime it would be to forget that.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I See Pregnant People

Before you were born I carried you under my heart. From the moment you arrived in this world until the moment I leave it, I will always carry you in my heart. ~Mandy Harrison

Pregnant women stalk me. Seriously. It's not just paranoia. Everywhere I go all I see are baby bumps. Sure, a rational person might say that since I am preoccupied with baby thoughts 90% of the time I am just hypersensitive to all things pregnancy. I'm not convinced. I'm almost positive (like 80% sure) that there is a very pregnant woman outside my house right now, with her Frosty and french fry combination in hand, waiting for me to leave so she can send a mass text message to all the other expectant mothers out there. Then they all stop their prenatal yoga, or whatever it is pregnant women do, and follow me from place to place. It's total CIA-type undercover work.

It's not that I'm not happy for these women. I would never wish what happened to me on anyone else. Ever. Plus, I don't know their stories. Maybe they suffered a loss or infertility and this is their miracle baby they are so proudly placing on display. But at the same time I can't help but feel jealous when I see a member of the Mommy-To-Be Club.

Before I got pregnant with Caleb I always thought how awful it must be to be pregnant. I knew I wanted a child some day, but I wasn't so sure about the whole pregnancy thing. I'm a pretty independent (ok, stubborn) person and don't like the idea of being told I can't do things. That's how I saw pregnancy. A big list of No-No's for 9 months. But I can remember hearing Caleb's heartbeat for the first time and understanding how amazing it was to be carrying a human life. Not being able to eat raw cookie dough for a few months seemed to pale in comparison to what I was doing.

Now I long to be pregnant again. I want someone to tell me to drink 10 glasses of water a day. Or that I can't have a glass of wine with dinner. Or to take the elevator instead of the stairs. But mostly, I want to have that bump. The one that shows the world that I am carrying one of God's children. The one that holds possibilities for tomorrow and for years to come. The one that is filled by a child that will have my lips and Brandon's eyes. The child that will go on to do many great things and live a long, full life.

Until then I guess I will just secretly admire/envy all of the other pregnant women out there.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Here's to another year...