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.