Release

There is a new and painful awareness of time once you have a miscarriage. There are a lot of “this would have been the day that” that occurs in my mind and heart.

The past few weeks there have been a handful of those days. The year anniversary of our first doctor’s appointment where my husband got to see our baby’s heart beat, a few days later when I miscarried, and then a week later, our second known pregnancy’s due date.

The year anniversary of my miscarriage landed on a Sunday. My husband and I were in Manhattan running a few errands. My husband and I have always been on the same wavelength, usually having a pretty good idea of what the other is thinking. Ever since our infertility journey has begun, I feel there’s so much we know already without even having to say it. That day was no different.

“Where to next?”
“Can we get a balloon?”

We picked out a balloon in the shape of and with the pattern of a snowflake. We took it to an overlook that’s right on Top of The World Dr.

We didn’t say much. Everything we could have said we’ve already said a million times over. We miss you. We love you. We wanted you here with us.

It was not all that cold that day (mid to high 40s), unless the wind was blowing. At the top of Top of the World Dr., the wind was bone chilling. I untied the balloon from it’s clip and released it. It was quickly swept away, dancing over the hills.

It’s a lot easier to release a balloon than to lose a pregnancy. Watching it get smaller and smaller, being carried away farther and farther, I could not help from thinking how heartbreakingly metaphorical the moment was. I would never hold the balloon again. I would never have my baby back.

I looked back to see where we had parked, trying to determine if I could watch the balloon travel from the warmth of the car. When I looked back, I could not find the balloon in the sky again. Steven tried to help point it out to me, but no luck. It was gone.

I do not know why I wanted to do a balloon release, really. It was a testament to what we once had, a loving memory, and the strength that we had to get through it. It did not make me feel better, not in the way that maybe I thought it would have. It did not make me feel worse, though, and maybe that’s why it’s a “release” after all. I will never get over our losses. I’m not going to ever shrug it off and say “oh well, we can just have another.” I wanted those pregnancies, I wanted those babies. I do not believe in the afterlife, heaven, or any God, but that moment in time, I felt connected to those pregnancies again.

For a brief period of time the “this would have been the day that” did not sting as much.

The long road to California

Back in November my husband and I drove from North East Kansas all the way to central California. It took us 25 hours straight. A very long 25 hours.

There was a lot of excitement and anxiousness attached to our trip MAINLY because only about three people knew we were on our way to California. Our intentions were to just show up on Thanksgiving to our family’s dinners and take them by surprise.

We started driving sometime after midnight and made it all the way to Denver, Colorado, just as the sun was starting to come up. The one and only time we hit snow was in Wyoming. It was all over the mountains in Utah though.


Luckily, there was no snow on the freeways!


The Salt Lake flats ♥

We took turns driving and for the most part, it was a pretty easy trip. We got to Nevada right after the sun had set. We got to Reno, Nevada, when I learned a very humorous (now, but not at the time) lesson. I wanted to pick out healthy snacks for us on our drive, so when I ate almost an entire bag of dried fruit to myself, I gave myself a pat on the back. Turns out though, dried fruit have a WHOLE LOT of fiber in them. Snack wisely, my friends! Especially if you have at least another four hours of your road trip left.


BUT we made it!

We “hid out” at my very gracious friend, Heather’s house for a few days. When Thanksgiving morning rolled around, we drove up the hill to Steven’s grandparents house. There’s a gate at their property and Steven’s mom heard it, came running at us full force in excitement. When we headed to my Aunt Linda’s house for my family’s dinner, we made it before my parents did. We stayed in a back room while they came in for a few minutes but jumped into the crowd of my cousins who were greeting them. My mom looked right at me but it took a few moments to register who I was, and my dad did the same thing to Steven. If you’re reading this Brittany, you were the first one to figure out our surprise! ♥

I think being home for Thanksgiving made us holiday confused. It was like Christmas had already happened for us.

I tagged along with my cousin Brittany to Sacramento State University, where I graduated from, and she’s currently attending. I went to all my favorite spots on campus, even got to sit in on one of Brittany’s classes, and had a wonderful visit with one of my very favorite professors, Professor Gieger. Turns out he had been visiting Manhattan, Kansas, just the last summer!

Sacramento was GORGEOUS (like always). Fall is my absolute favorite season because it’s in the 60s (but ask any Californian and that is their “Freezing”) and everything is so colorful!


We played tourist in our own hometown.


& No trip home is complete without a trip to the city.


the most fun tourist traps, collection of souvenirs, and delicious food!


We will return for our hearts some day.

Our trip home was the fastest two weeks of my life. We did not get to see everyone we hoped to see and we did not get to do everything we wanted to, but we did eat a lot of good food! My scale will tell you I ate at least 7 pounds worth (oops! BUT totally worth it). I did not take nearly enough photos, either. I was definitely too busy enjoying everything to pull out my camera, but I’m kind of disappointed that I did not snap more photos of the faces I miss so very much!

We learned our lesson with taking a 25 hour drive and knew we wanted to do something different for the drive back to Kansas. We also wanted to avoid all the bad weather, so we took the Southern route, which is a bit longer. We drove straight through to Albuquerque, and couldn’t help but be complete Breaking Bad fans.


Walter White had decorated for Christmas!


Tuco’s hideout is actually Java Joes, and they make delicious coffee!


& We stopped at The Candy Lady, the store that provided all the prop meth for Breaking Bad.


The Southern route just isn’t as pretty as the Northern.

Hopefully our next trip home will not be so far off as this last one had been. We had been away for 20 months, and that was just too long!

Until next time! ♥

The Two Week Wait


(DPTS stands for Days Past Trigger Shot)

The two week wait is what the TTC (Trying To Conceive) community uses to refer to the time between ovulation and the time when it’s okay to test to see if you have a BFP (Big Fat Positive) or a BFN (Big F***ing Negative). It’s the longest two weeks of life.

For us, it starts with a trip to a doctor so I can get probed (ultrasound to see if the fertility drugs they have me on are indeed causing my body to develop follicles for any baby to attach to properly) and a big OK from my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) to, as she so awkwardly puts it, “bring the love” for the next three days. That is, after I inject myself with a hormone that will ensure that I ovulate, and ovulate immediately.

The two week wait is a horrible, awful mind game.

After the “love” has been brought, I have to take an additional hormone medication to ensure that if I am pregnant I stay that way. Those two medications cause pregnancy symptoms all by themselves, mainly because if I had a “normal” body and/or pregnancy, these hormones would be created in the correct amount all on their own. I know what it feels like to be pregnant, I’ve been pregnant before THREE times. Those three times were without any medical help though, so I try to convince myself as my breasts swell, my moods bounce around, I get that uneasy feeling that makes me almost feel like I could yack, amongst other things… I try to convince myself that it’s all because this round worked. This round we got pregnant, I’m so sure.

I trick myself into thinking I’m pregnant. I realize I’m using the restroom more, but I do not take into account that I really have been drinking a lot more water than usual. Or I’ll find myself craving pickles and giggling as I eat one after the other, but really, I’ve always loved pickles. I’ll think “Wow! I really am so tired so early these days!” not thinking about how I’ve actually been staying up way later at night just to get through chapter after chapter in whatever book I’m reading. I trick myself into thinking I’m pregnant.

The day before test day I am a wreck. I get really emotional, and I try to think that it’s pregnancy hormones doing their dance… When deep down, I know that it’s just the good ol’ lady time trying to fight it’s way through. I know what it feels like to be pregnant, and again, this cycle just was not quite right. I get depressed, I get angry, I’m not pregnant, I know it, but I will test the next day just to be sure.

Then test day is finally here. I have to test on a particular time frame for two reasons. I cannot test before the two week mark because I could get a false positive (remember that injection I mentioned? Well, that causes an influx of HCG, the pregnancy hormone, to be in my system – and cause a false positive up to ten days after the injection). I have to test then to ensure that if I’m not pregnant, I stop taking the additional hormone medication they have me on because otherwise, said medication will prevent me from starting my next “lady time”. (SIDE NOTE: THIS cycle I tested throughout, trying to track when the shot was actually out of my system. AND boy, if day 12 after my trigger shot wasn’t a tease. – photo above)

I take the test and place it on the counter. Wait three minutes to look at it, I always tell myself. Sometimes I’ll distract myself, do whatever quick chore needs to be done. Other times I just stare at the test, watch as it processes. I imagine that second line appearing, and when just one is there, I feed myself a bunch of “it’s okay” statements when really, to me, it’s not at all okay.

I avoid telling my husband out loud. He knows it’s test day and he knows if it had been positive I would not be on the couch sulking. I want to send out a text “Still not pregnant! Happy?” to a few friends who I’ve felt have turned my infertility into a form of competition, one that they’re obviously winning against. I want to scream, put every annoyed parent in their place when their kid is simply being a kid, and punching every parent who would rather pretend their child does not crave their love and support and chooses to ignore them anyway, I want throw a chair at every woman who complains about how awful it is to be pregnant. I do not do any of that, but sometimes it can be extremely difficult not to. I throw a dirty look their way, that’s about as far as it gets.

Now begins a grieving process. I throw myself into misery and self loathing. You’re not pregnant, but if you were, who’s to say you would not miscarry it too?! I remind myself of all the things I’m not good at. I remind myself of all the things I cannot do. I try to fight through it, I swear I do.

I’ve been pregnant three times, all three ended in miscarriage. Monitor my cycles, give me fertility drugs proven to work, have the RE tell me how good they feel about this cycle (even though they said that four cycles ago), I will not get pregnant.

The two week wait is over, my home pregnancy test is negative. I’m grieving a pregnancy I never had, as well as the three that I lost. I still hang on to hope for a few more days. I stop taking the additional hormone medication, but hope that my “lady time” will not come. I hope that my HCG levels were simply not enough for the test to detect yet. IT WAS TOO SOON I tell myself, THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR THIS CYCLE! Those cramps must be my uterus stretching, not the inevitable approach of CYCLE DAY ONE!

Yet, Cycle Day One bears it’s ugly head. For women like me, who have miscarried, I think it’s traumatic on it’s own for many reasons. Fight through it, there are calls to be made. I have to call a mail pharmacy because the injection drug is not carried anywhere local and has to be shipped to me. I have to call my RE to report I am, indeed, not pregnant in the slightest. The nurse at the RE sends in a refill for the prescription of the other drug that is suppose to make those follicles mature quickly, and then refers me back to the probe lady so I can go on Cycle Day 3, and again on Cycle Day 10 (the usual start day of the Two Week Wait).

It’s a vicious, heartbreaking cycle.

I have a medical condition that makes this cycle REQUIRED, just to clarify. A pituitary tumor, a micro edema, that they (those medical studying folks) know so little about. I do have to worry. I do not have a lot of time to satisfy the 1.5 children quota of the typical American family. Because of my pituitary tumor, I could hit early menopause, and I could hit it SOON. Any hope and chance of having the word “mother” be an adjective for me; GONE. DON’T WORRY, they say. Easier said than done.

Today 125,000 abortions will be done, 360,000 births will be delivered, and somewhere maybe 360,000 women (or probably more, because some of them will have abortions) will discover that they are pregnant. (P.S. Don’t take this as a pro choice or pro life argument, because it’s not. I’m just regurgitating actual facts for the sake of it)

Today, for me, the two week wait ended.

I’m still not pregnant.

Found Photos: Boats & Benches

Welcome to the FIRST post of my found photos series! As I said in the introduction here, I collect photos that I find at antique stores or elsewhere to keep them special. As a lover of all things photography, I hate to think that the memory of a moment that was once thought special enough to capture, goes as something insignificant or forgotten. Now that I have quite a few photos in my collection, I thought I would begin to share them on my blog as a way to keep those moments alive, and maybe bring about thought and discussion on maybe who the people are and what they were doing! ♥

The following photos I purchased at Antique Emporium of Alma (in Kansas). There were a bunch of studio photos there from the early 1900s but this collection of candids caught my eye. I believe they depict a group of eight friends (maybe four couples) having what looks like an enjoyable day.

Based on the slightly edwardion fashion of these women, I would presume these were taken sometime between 1903 and 1907.

Although I’m sure the picture taker of this photo was disappointed that it was blurry, I think it give it character. Makes the story behind it a bit more mystical.

Then the picture taker handed the camera over to the other boat containing their other four friends. Even though their hand was a bit more steady, their eye was not as keen!

Do you think this photo was taken after they did their boat rides? They relaxed after rowing and told stories? OR do you think this photo was the first of the five? Maybe while sitting in this field they came up with the idea of taking boats out onto the water.

Sometimes I get lucky, and someone has written names or events, even places, on the back of the photos I “find.” These ones do not have any story or character names written on them, leaving it up to my imagination!

What do you think of this group and their day of adventure?

Antiquing in Abilene

It’s official! Steven and I have caught the antiquing bug. Steven is always on the hunt for a good coin and I’m looking for cameras and photos. There’s a lot of fun and nostalgic things to be found in the in between of antique stores. We went to five different antique stores, and I must say, they were all a bit overpriced. We did find a few goodies to take home with us, and I thought I would share some items that I couldn’t help but snap a few photos of!

Steven said, “People who own antique stores are really just hoarders that are okay with selling some of their stuff,” as we tried to make our way through a tight fit in parts of a one store.

I love that there’s a window over the kitchen sink. If you look close enough you can see that it shows a man walking through a gate and a child running to greet him.

I would have loved to have made this beautiful camera mine! It’s a Kodak Retinette 1A Schneider Kreuznach that was made in Germany. They wanted $90 for it! Although it’s pretty, it’s not worth that much!

I like the antiques that surprise you with a laughing fit.

I’ve seen this Smokey the Bear doll in several antique stores. It’s always on the pricier side and never with a hat! He is really cute though, and a good reminder that “only you can prevent forest fires!”

I feel like I should know who this invisible man with a removable face is, but I don’t! Do you know who this guy is?

Three states in between us and home, but it is always finding us here.

The drive to and from Abilene was much quicker than we originally thought! We’re going to have to venture West more often!

I actually ended up with a total of four cameras, but the one not pictured is for a friend!

& of course a few more photos to add to my collection!

Discovering Kansas City, pt. 2

Over the past weekend, Steven and I ventured our way back into Kansas City. This time around was a bit different, we were there for a marriage retreat with Steven’s company, but we did get some time to ourselves as well!

We got to Kansas City a few hours earlier than we were able to check into the hotel. The Kansas City (actually, it’s in Mariam to be exact) IKEA had just opened up on the 10th, and since we haven’t been to IKEA since moving to Kansas, we just had to go!

This IKEA is set up a bit differently than the one I am used to back home (in Sacramento, California). This entire IKEA is above part of the parking garage, there’s a separate parking garage alongside it as well. I don’t know if it was because of the parking set up or what, but the place seemed larger and well, more confusing! Since it was so new, and it was a Friday, the place was packed! Steven and I do not do well with crowds, so we passed up the showrooms and only wandered around the shopping area. We only grabbed a few things – BUT we will return one day soon! Or… when the “newness” has worn off a little bit.

We fought through traffic to get to our hotel, which was across the street from the Kansas City stadiums WHERE everyone was headed. (Now I only insert this story mainly for my father if he reads this:) Walking up to the hotel by the entrance I see a woman wearing a “Posey” jersey. I couldn’t help myself and asked her if the Giants were in town (which is weird to me now, because I do not think the San Francisco Giants play the Royals – pretty sure they are different leagues BUT sometimes weird things do and can happen?!). She went to tell me no, but her husband cut in to say that she was confused (probably because the Detroit whoevers are also orange and black) – but I told him “No, she is right” because GO GIANTS! Laughter ensued.

Anyway, the rest of the night was taken up by the marriage retreat activities and hanging out at the hotel restaurant.

This is what 8 am us looks like on a Saturday. Confused on why we’re not still in our pajamas!

I’ll blame the beginning the day that lead to my What I Meant to Say… post on this #FMSphotoaday challenge prompt: Beginning. We started our day of with too many cups of coffee.

We were at the marriage retreat seminar/activities until noon. We ate lunch at the hotel and then ventured into the water park part of the hotel (CoCo Keys) until around four, all while Kansas City was fighting off a thunderstorm.

I did not take my phone or camera with me to the water park for obvious reasons. We did have a lot of fun though! I think this would be a fun place if you had smaller children especially. The lazy river was short and to the point (and extremely shallow for this long legged lady) but there were adult spas that were outside and indoors! Steven and I even went down the waterslide together at a very high speed in a very pitch black tunnel. Steven says I screamed a lot.

Saturday night’s marriage retreat session was Date Night. I had packed us semi-matchy outfits for the occasion. Also, notice the large cow image in the picture above – that’s randomly placed in the hotel.

Our plans fell through a little bit. We had wanted to go to the Country Club Plaza for dinner but due to the Plaza Art Fair and the thousands of people who showed up for it, we could not find any parking! I feel like Google Maps and the Yelp Apps have so many things MISSING from them. We finally gave up and ate dinner at a Red Robin. When we pulled out of the parking lot we saw a restaurant that we would have much rather eaten at, but was nowhere to be found on any app. Sometimes not knowing where you are or what is around you in Kansas City can be really frustrating.

The next day, we were released by 10 AM to check out of the hotel and do whatever we wanted to do in Kansas City. People were already piling in for the Royals’ game that afternoon so we wanted to get out of the area fast.

Said stadium from just outside our hotel’s parking lot.

I had wanted to go to the Kansas City Workhouse last time we were there, we just never got the chance. This time, it was our first stop! I need to go back here with my Canon DSLR because I did not even bother in most spots with my phone. It’s stunning, eerie, and enchanting all at the same time. It was once a jail though (late 1800s to early 1900s), so, there’s that.

Limestone makes me look and feel tiny.

To fill our bellies we went to Pigwich for lunch. As we were driving there I was sure we were in the wrong area, it’s in an area that feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere! It’s alongside several train tracks and a pretty cool looking bar/hangout called Knuckleheads.

The best cheesesteak of life. I will never visit Kansas City again without stopping here. The sandwiches and special made chips are AMAZING!

We were not sure what else to do, and the Country Club Plaza Art Festival was still happening. We walked around, amongst SO many people, so much beautiful and interesting art pieces, heard some good live music, and ate even more good food!

My pictures do not do it justice. This place was pretty awesome.

We were beat! The day got a bit too hot for us to comfortably browse the art along the street so we got in the car and headed back home

Needless to say, Tayte cat was very happy to have us back home (or at least our legs).

What I meant to say was…

Over the past weekend Steven and I attended a “marriage retreat.” It’s a paid weekend off post, in our case Kansas City, where you attend a few seminars on having strong bonds and have time to do fun activities the rest of the time. Going into the weekend, I figured it was going to be somewhat preachy, some gobbledy-gook “here’s what would happen in a perfect world” kind of thing. For a two night stay and five meals paid, I did not think it would be a horrible trade off though. I was excited to spend time away with Steven as well as be back in Kansas City!

I never sleep well in hotels, especially if the beds are not as soft as I would like. The first night (and the second, for that matter) I woke up with the slightest sound and did not get the rest that I might have needed. I drank three cups of coffee the next morning with breakfast, and that was two cups too many. We split into groups, the service members on one side of the room, and their spouses on the other. We were going through questions having to do with deployments, how we spoke to one another about them and what happened during them, both while they’re happening and now that they’re all home. The day before when we took the introvert/extrovert quiz, my test results were 7 introvert answers and 7 extrovert answers. I’ve never been one to really speak up in classroom set ups, it’s the introvert in me. However, since we were all a group of wives with similar life experiences, I was trying my best to be an active participant.

How do you feel your relationship has grown (since their return home)?

The other wives talked about how their relationships are always growing, how they learn with their spouses and about their spouses every single day. I believe that to be true about my husband and myself. This question hit a tender spot in my heart, though. This year, instead of having a new years resolution, I had a word of the year for myself to focus on: GROW. The first ten days of this year I was pregnant; my belly was going to grow, our family was going to grow, myself as a mother was going to grow. Instead, after now two miscarriages, I’ve had to grow as a human being and fight for my positive attitude in times of utter defeat.

There I was, apart of the two couples without kids out of the 18 total couples, over caffeinated with very little quality rest. When I spoke up I got unexpectedly emotional. I said my husband and I have grown since his return from deployment because we have had to go through some hard battles here at home too. I cried a few tears with a very shaky voice. I think what I said was quick but thinking back on it, it felt like I went on longer than I needed to – without even addressing the question. I was so embarrassed after that. I will probably cringe about it for a long time, really.

Not like any of the wives will read this, but I needed to put this out there for myself. What I meant to say was, my husband and I have grown immensely in the last year. During deployment, he was over there dealing with a ton of stress and danger, all while being in a place that was so completely different than what he was used to. I was back home, in a place we had just barely moved to, miles and miles away from friends and family back home, and learning and dealing with some weird medical conditions of my own. During a deployment, you do not communicate as well with your spouse like you normally would. You protect them from any burden happening on your end of the world, you keep it to yourself, you learn to become strong in a way that civilian relationships don’t. When they get back, that’s when you get filled in, and it can be a lot to take in at times. You are forced to grow, and reconnect, learn each others schedules and lives all over again – it can be fun, but it can be stressful. Steven came home from deployment earlier than the majority of the other spouses at our retreat. Shortly after he got home, we were pregnant, and it was something we had been wanting for over two years at the time. Two months after that, I had a miscarriage. When we were starting to get positive again, we suffered another. With deployment and with miscarriage, they are not something that ends and you just get over. It takes time to get back to who you were.

With infertility issues there can be a lot of miscommunication, or lack of communication at all. Trying to fight infertility can take away from intimacy in a big way. When it comes to military situations, I think there’s a pretty good community of people and support to take care of yourself and get what you need. When it comes to infertility situations, there’s not that community and support, and we’ve had to lean on one another above everything. We have been put in two not-so-normal situations that force you to get thicker skin, get in there and fight those battles, and you can only hope to come out on top, but there’s so much not knowing at the same time.

We’ve grown as a couple because we have learned how to be strong on our own, but at the same time, to be strong for the other person. We have fought our way through times apart and learned how to be so thankful and appreciative during those times that we are together. No matter what the situation, we will always experience them differently, but it is up to us to communicate and to understand one another and offer support when it is needed. Excuse the corny Army related lingo statement, but Steven has been the best battle buddy I could have ever asked for. We’ve made it through some pretty hard battles, and I could not have done it without his continuous love and support.

I guess the biggest lesson I took away from the marriage retreat focused around (my year of the word:) Grow. It’s important that you grow and that you develop, not just as a person but as a couple. It’s also important that you, as a spouse, support the growth of your husband or wife as you both learn and do new things. You two are the foundation of the relationship, where it began, and where it grows, and that is just as crucial as what you have grown to be. A mediocre metaphor, my apologies.

If you are a military spouse, a highly recommend attending a marriage retreat if and when you can. It was not life changing, but it was helpful. There’s nothing wrong with getting a new perspective on something you know well.