Thursday, November 20, 2014

From Buying a Crib, to Taking Pills Instead...

I know I mostly write about veteran related things, but this also involves my veteran, and honestly every part of who I am. The fact that I am a writer outweighs the content of this blog, and this is healing for me to write. If you don't want to read about a miscarriage at the end of the 1st trimester, then stop reading now.


I thought it wouldn't happen to me. And it did.

"I am so sorry sweetie, there is no heartbeat."


And in that moment, in the fetal clinic on October 24th, 2014, a part of me died. There I sat, 12.5 weeks pregnant, and the baby I had been dreaming of having for over 2 years was gone, just like that. How would I tell my husband, and my 2 girls who were ecstatic to be big sisters that it was just gone? I feel like I failed, I must have done something wrong, it's the only logical explanation I can come up with. I know that nothing I could have done would have prevented it, but try to convince a woman's mind of that. A million things have gone through my mind since it has happened. I lost a considerable amount of weight to have this baby, was I too thin? Did I eat something wrong? Maybe I shouldn't have had that coffee. Was I too stressed out? I try to replay that day in my head when my baby's heart stopped beating and try to pinpoint what exactly might have happened. It's all empty.....I don't know that answer, and I will never know. That's another reason that it kills me.

Look at how happy I am. 12 weeks pregnant, I reached that special number of weeks and we just told the world. Little did I know, my growing belly was really a lie. Everything but the baby was growing, I even took out some maternity clothes because these jeans just were a little too tight. Sigh. It was all ripped away far too soon.

"It was a blessing." Oh was it? Just stop there. Thanks.

"Things happen for a reason." Maybe. But that's probably not the best thing to say to someone who has wanted this baby for TWO YEARS.

"God has a new angel." Oh yes, that is SOOOOOO comforting right now...............(sarcasm)

"Maybe you should stay off of social media." Why so I can have a one way ticket into depression? It's not your life, not your Facebook, not your Instagram. Unless you miscarried for a month, I really don't care what any one's opinion is. Grief is grief, and last time I checked, there is no right way to do it.

"At least you have the girls." Alright, this one didn't piss me off at first, but it does now. Why? Because I had to see my girls hearts break before my eyes when I told them the baby died. Oh yes, I am thankful for my two healthy children, to imply otherwise is a slap in the face to me. The way I am acting now is because I have spent 6.5 years being a mother, and I know what it's like to have a baby from day 1, up until where I am at now. So why would this be offensive? Because that baby was already a member of this family, I had our life planned out with the baby and it's older sisters. I am grieving a loss for my entire family, not just myself.

"Get over it." Yeah, this one just makes me actually shed tears. Would I get over it if it was a living child? No. This baby WAS a living child to me. I saw that baby move, I saw the heartbeat. I saw a VIABLE PREGNANCY. My life was planned. There is no getting over that. #sorrynotsorry

So why am I telling you all of these private details? Well, I am sure by my blog, and if you know me in real life then you know that I am not the most private person. Only 3 days before I felt the cramps that changed my life, we announced our babe to the world at 12 weeks, 2 days:

After my ultrasound on that Friday, I had to pick up my oldest from school and tell my girls what happened. I fought back tears and choked out "the baby wasn't strong, and it died." The first thing my daughter said to me in a very angry tone was "you need to delete that pumpkin picture from the computer." (That one cropped picture above) This wasn't something that I expected to deal with. My daughters were attached, and had been for a month. I even have video of them finding out when I was 8 weeks, but I don't want to share that because it makes me cry. If only I could have shielded their precious innocent hearts from this heartbreaking situation. Even if I had waited til 12 weeks to tell them though, the outcome would have been the same, so I can sit here and play the what if game all I want, I would still be in this position.

This is still very raw for me, it's been almost a month. I had my baby on October 27th, 2014. I had to take pills to miscarry my child at home. I have had two cesarean sections, and I finally got that damn vbac I *always* wanted, except was the most painful thing I have ever been through. I labored and had pitocin with my first, and this was equal to that pain. That's what nobody tells you....the labor, you literally go into labor, and have the baby. I was in labor for 18 hours. The only thing that gave me comfort was a heating pad and various yoga poses. After I lost the baby, it didn't just end either. My first HCG blood test was 650. It was far from over.

You know what else nobody tells you about - AFTER. The whiplash of a fucked up emotion filled world of emptiness. You were just pregnant, heck, you technically still are pregnant, but every time you go to the bathroom it is devastating. I will spare you the gory details, but even as I sit and type this 3 weeks later, I am still dealing with that devastation every time I go pee. My second HCG blood draw was 228, it was dropping, slowly. My third was 142. And now I am so damn sick and tired of this miscarriage and weekly needles that I don't want another blood test until after Thanksgiving. I am afraid the next HCG is not going to be zero, and it's just going to piss me off further.

I just want this to end. 
I want to move forward, but my body has not gotten the memo yet. 

After wanting a baby for 2 years, trying for 6 months, having that amazing positive pregnancy test in August, the same month we celebrated being married for 10 years, and being pregnant for 12.5 weeks, this loss crushed me to the core. I know time heals all, and I can tell you after 3 weeks, I am feeling better, but why is it almost everyone is pregnant around me? It's like the universe wants to continue to jab the knife just a little bit deeper into my heart one day at a time, and honestly, it feels like a rusty old one that is slowly being turned inside, ripping it further apart. So incredibly painful.

I will not apologize for any of my behaviors in the last month. How I have grieved is my journey alone, and one I have taken alone for the most part. My husband went to combat three times, he checks out of stuff like this. If I said something offensive, or did something a way you would not have, well, this isn't your miscarriage, or your journey. Everyone is different.

This is my baby, and even though I only carried it for 12.5 weeks, it was a part of me, and will always be a part of who I am. I went from planning on buying a crib that weekend, to taking pills to miscarry. The innocence of pregnancy will forever be gone for me. I really miss the baby. I should almost be 17 weeks as I write this.

If you don't know what to say to someone going through this heartbreak, the one thing that brought me some comfort was just hearing "I'm sorry." I don't want the excuses listed above, I don't want some bullshit about it not being the right time, or it was in God's plan, or there was something wrong with the baby, sorry is enough. I have googled about 1,000 different things and read tons of blogs that gave me comfort. I know that most likely my missed miscarriage was due to chromosomal abnormalities. It doesn't lessen the sting anymore.

I am hopeful for the future, honestly it's the only thing that keeps me going today. I am always the strong one, but I am telling everyone that I have been the opposite of that for the last month.

I write this for anyone who has been in my position, and sadly will be in my position because reading people's blogs and stories helped me in that first week. I have had a few naysayers who have tried to tell me how to grieve, and being at the end of that is pretty crushing, so I am telling anyone out there it's OK to grieve however you need to. If you lose friends and family in the process, well, they must be in a pretty low place in their life to not give you the benefit of the doubt in this horrible time in your life. Most likely, it's a person who has not been where you are at. It wasn't like some heavy period ladies (&gents if you're still reading), I delivered a baby, and it goes on...and on...and on. Today, November 20th, it's still not done. You grieve however you want, and message me if you need to talk. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. It's a pain no mother should ever have to go through. You know what I am sorry for? I am sorry for all of the women out there who have silently suffered. I have had more people reach out to me and say they did this in silence, and me being vocal has helped them in their grieving process. So while I may have made a few uncomfortable, I helped a lot more people, and that right there is why I wrote this blog.

#IHadAMiscarriage #Pregnancyloss

ALSO - All I wanted help with was grocery shopping when I was going through it, and I wish I would have remembered that Safeway delivers. I would have used it!


December 26th, 2014 UPDATE - Looks like I finally have reached the end of my miscarriage. 63 days long, 9 very long weeks. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When War Rushes Marriage.

(2004 and 2014)

August 5th, 2004 was a hot muggy Thursday in Phoenix. I had returned from Kevin's pre-deployment vacation up in Portland, Oregon to visit his family. The 2nd deployment was only weeks away, and I just watched his mother say goodbye to him. She had done this before, but it was brand new to me. I saw her cry, and I saw the fear in her eyes. It was on that trip in Oregon that he made a comment about what if he did not make it home that stayed with me. I never thought about that. What if he didn’t make it home? I was only his girlfriend, and I couldn’t only be the girlfriend. I loved this man more than anything. I didn’t want my love for him to fade away if he didn’t come home. Girlfriends aren’t listed on an obituary.
As I sat in my parents’ house, gearing up for a brand new semester at Arizona State, I had only a few weekends left with this man I met only 6 months ago. I had to send him to war? Why? This was the hardest thing I ever had to do. In tears, I made a phone call to him I never thought I would make at the age of 19. “Do you still want to marry me?” I asked. That Friday morning he went to his command to let them know he needed to leave to go get married.  By the time he had arrived in Phoenix after that 4-hour drive, it was too late to do it in Arizona. So we got in the car and drove to Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday August 7th.
Once we arrived in Las Vegas, our first stop was the courthouse. We had to get our marriage license application and make it to our appointment at the Chapel. We made it just in time with only a couple of minutes to spare. Together in an empty chapel with the pastor, and his wife who was our witness, we were married. Once we emerged from the chapel we realized how much it was going to suck to drive back to Phoenix after the day we went through. He called his mom and told her a little white lie that he was in Vegas, and needed a hotel room because he and his USMC buddies had drank way too much, and couldn’t drive back to base. She got him a cheap room at the Boardwalk hotel for his 24th birthday present (since it was only a week away) and that’s where we spent our wedding night, completely broke but in love, and blissfully happy eating a pizza with only 2 weeks left together.
The next two weeks flew by insanely fast. We were living 4 hours apart, and he was getting ready for his second deployment. It was too difficult for him to come out to Phoenix, so I had to drive out to base. We had to take care of making everything official in the Marine Corps. We had to go to the hospital to get me enrolled in Tricare, then off to DEERS to get my ID, and finally to get our base stickers on our vehicles. Even though we were newlyweds, the blur of the deployment was there and our time together was quickly running out. He ironically was scheduled to deploy on the first day of school, so we said goodbye the Sunday before and it was the most heartbreaking drive back to Phoenix of my life. I had to pull over on the side of highway 62 in the middle of the desert and throw up twice. I just said goodbye to my new husband and I was deathly afraid of it being forever.
            We kept our marriage a secret for 20 months; nobody had directly asked me if we were married. I didn’t sit there and think “how will this hurt our families?” because the reality is, we weren’t hurting anyone. We were enduring something as husband and wife that not many can say they have been through, and it was hard. The seven months he was in Iraq my life was at a standstill. It revolved around letters, phone calls, and wishing it was February because that’s when he was coming home. It was hard to read letters from Kevin about brothers dying, getting shot at, and standing post, him getting in that Humvee incident where he eventually would sustain life long problems and have neurosurgery. It was hard sitting and working at AZ PBS at night; I worked in Master Control and had to watch the news report roll the names of deceased in Iraq before the commercial break. I would watch names one by one with USMC listed next to them, and just cry. I would beg and plead to myself sitting in that glass box in Tempe, please God, do not put my husband or his brothers’ names on that screen please do not put a name up there I know. Two months later, it happened. There was the name of his brother, someone I spent time with in Palm Springs. I felt my world collapse. This wasn’t some long distance relationship; my husband was in a war.  
            Over the last 10 years, so many things have happened, both good and bad, as we try to figure out life after being injured. We had an incredible wedding where we celebrated with a vow renewal on February 3rd, 2007, with all of our family and friends. The birth of Isabelle Ellen, on March 13th, 2008 brought so much joy to our lives. The Marine Corps activating Kevin in 2008 and trying to deploy him a 4th time to Afghanistan. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in 2010. The birth of Abigail Emma on December 29th, 2010, which brought even more joy to our family. There was a move to Reno in 2011 for a year that didn't work out, and we quickly moved back to Phoenix. Kevin having neurosurgery in 2012, and soon after we were awarded a home from Building Homes for Heroes. Our lives may not be perfect, but I know that after 10 years if I had to go back in time I would do it all over again. Why? Because I meant what I said to Kevin on August 7th, 2004 - to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Love you, you crazy ass devil dog! 10 years down, and a lifetime to go! Can't imagine my life with anyone else!

10 Years! <3

Professional photo credits: Wailea Photography, Ivy Studios Photography, mmb Photography, Photography by Jo, and Mark Mabry Photography.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Educating Civilians on Caregiving a Wounded Warrior

Photo by Sgt Richard D. Stephens, USMC 
I have had jobs at many different stages of life with a military man. One job that when he was in Iraq, they forcefully cut off any contact I had with him. No personal email, no MySpace (oh yes, we are talking circa 2006 here baby!!!), and no Motomail. What is Motomail you say? Oh Motomail was this fun service that we had before the days of Skype. (Seriously, people have it so good now....don't even get me started. Skype. LOL...oh I wish...)

So basically how it worked was I could type out an email, send it, and he would get it printed out there, sealed and delivered to him in only a week versus 3-4 weeks it would take with snail mail. Anyways, I digress. What kind of company stops all communication between a wife and her husband in war? A bunch of assholes. I don't care, I will say it. No amount of money, quality, whatever the stupid reason may be is ever justifiable in completely taking away a wife's ability to talk to her husband who is risking his life every day in Iraq. I couldn't even take his phone calls at my desk, I had to book it outside to answer the phone. Sometimes I would miss it...and sit at my desk and cry. It was bad enough I couldn't email him, and then they didn't allow me to answer my phone. It was awful. I had full blown anxiety attacks sitting at my desk because it was weeks since I had spoken with him, and a bunch of money hungry, power controlled men in suits had the final say. But I am glad my husband fought for their freedom to make my life a living hell during that deployment. What they taught me is people truly don't know what it's like to sit at home while your husband is being shot at on the other side of the world.  And lets talk about my quality of work I was doing after they cut off my communication. Uh....I watched ABC episodes on my computer, fully prepared to get fired.  I had a foot out the door the moment they pulled what they did on me. I understand other social media, but cutting off a MARINE CORPS MESSAGING SYSTEM?! Oh lord, I must have really been a terrible employee, taking 10 minutes out of my day to send my husband a Motomail that would reach him in a week.

Now lets talk about what happens when said military man is injured and can no longer work.  Most people who have "MR. MOM" at home have expectations. Expectations that can no longer be considered acceptable when you have someone with many injuries from combat. So my day would start with an alarm, probably just like yours. I would have to wake up 45 minutes to an hour early, because he spent nights checking windows, and didn't fall asleep til 4am. Here I am at 6am, getting myself ready for work, begging him to wake up and help with the kids. But there he lays, motionless and snoring from the night of tossing and turning, and waking up to check every noise heard. So I would always be running late, I had to get my daughter ready for school, and fed, and beg and plead for him to get up and take her to school. Does that make him lazy? No. It's not his fault his brain wouldn't turn off, and every damn medication the VA gives him makes him take a coma instead of sleeping. So we have yet to find a good sleeping medication for him that doesn't make him take comas. How does that make me look when I walked in late? It made me look lazy. How many times I got a text "please try to be here on time!" Jesus, I get up at has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him. I even tried telling them, but the bottom line is this: THEY DON'T GET IT. It's not their lives. In fact, the only people who really, truly understand are other wounded warrior wives. That's it!

Every wounded warrior situation is different, yet we share similarities. Mine doesn't sleep well because of the chronic severe pain and PTS. So he usually can fall asleep by about 2am these days, and will get up about 20x (no, I am not elaborating) between the time he went to bed, and the time he finally gets up, usually around 11am. So if I have him at home while I am working full time, lets talk about how well that works out. (You can see why I had to quit...) He couldn't wake up, and I would get phone calls from him in excruciating pain begging me to come home and take care of the kids because he couldn't move from his bed. And then I dealt with petty bullshit at work, that would bring me home in the worst moods of my life. Is that what my family deserved? No. I do know that petty bullshit happens in just about every job there is, but when your "attitude" is the reason they hold a raise, well, that's not exactly fair either considering the monumental pile of shit I had on my plate with my veteran, kids, and the VA. My attitude was directly because of the people I was dealing with in the office, who did not understand my life.  If I wanted to be micromanaged, I would have joined the military. (LOL) So I would come home, drained from the drama, a 30 minute commute to find my house destroyed by two tiny little people that I love. I had to make dinner. I had to clean up. I had to do bedtime. Every single day I had to communicate with someone, or something Veterans related. My husband should be able to get services no problem at the VA, but even today when I write this I have another battle to take on. Example: VA sends him for physical therapy on his cervical spine (neck) where he had neurosurgery. He arrives and the guy tells him he's sending him for outside water physical therapy for the lumbar. LOL...... (wheres an emoji when I need one. It would be the eyes wide open face)

So if you are an employer of a caregiver of a wounded warrior, just try and understand that their work doesn't end when they get home, and it definitely did not start the moment they walked in the door. The only rest I ever got was when I was asleep, and many times I would wake up in a full blown panic, heart racing and everything. I never was well rested when I showed up for work. I already had dealt with a phone call from the VA before even stepping foot in the building.  We are the hardest working people on the planet, but when we become the target instead of the ally, it's a painful reminder that nobody supports us besides our own, and that sucks.

FMLA Information: and yes, wounded warrior's qualify under military. Use it if you need it caregivers.