Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving always has been and always will be my most favorite holiday.  As CK gets older, it becomes increasingly special as I can share with her the real reason for the holiday.  As I posted previously, though she's only two, I am really trying to teach her the meaning of kindness.  On a smaller scale, though, I've been attempting to have meaningful conversations with her about what being thankful actually means.

This started one afternoon when we talked about what we pray for each night, how we thank God for all of our blessings and what that means.  And then I started asking her daily, 

"What are you thankful for today?"

This is an interesting concept for a two-year-old.  Each day I'd remind her of the word "thankful" and then ask the same question.  Our daily ritual actually went better than I expected (though it took her awhile to add me to the list!).  But everyday, when I asked her what she was thankful for, she'd start with what she said the first day, then go through every.single.answer she'd given thus far before she'd even think about telling me something new.  It was awesome.

And without further ado, here is her list:

1.  Dada
2.  Jesus
3.  God
4.  Grammy
5.  PaPa
6.  Mama
7.  Ellie
8.  Bailey
9.  Bailey's food and water
10.  Her highchair
11.  Santa Claus
12.  Her nose
13.  Aunt Whit
14.  Uncle Ronald
15.  Leaf piles
16.  Honey mustard

And if you didn't make the cut this year, don't take it personally.  To be honest, she doesn't even like honey mustard.

Anyway, sending love your way this Thanksgiving, from the Peeles.
Shirt made by Goat and Lulu, of course!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Randoms

We're GA bound once again, so I'm back for more randoms from the road (I apologize for any weird formatting... I'll edit on a computer when we get home!). Our reasons for this trip include spending Thanksgiving with family in Atlanta, celebrating my sweet nephew's first birthday, and house-hunting. As we pulled away from home this morning, I couldn't help but think that in a little over a month, we'll be pulling out of that driveway for the last time, heading to Georgia for good...

*Speaking of our house, we're under a due-diligence contract!  It'll be officially under contract in a week, but the buyers requested a due diligence period to ensure that the loan, appraisal, and inspection all occurred without any glitches. The lucky buyers scooped up our house after it was on the market for less than two weeks. I'm almost envious of them... I LOVE our house, our first home. It's so special and T and I both agree that we wouldn't dare sell it if we weren't moving out of state. It's been the perfect home for our little family, and I hope it serves the same purpose for its new owners. Fingers crossed that the rest of the process goes smoothly!

*I haven't been around these parts a lot lately, and I didn't get a chance to update after my little sister's wedding. But it was breathtaking.  The whole weekend, from start-to-finish, was the perfect celebration of my sister marrying her very best friend. I will never, ever forget watching her walk down the aisle, the look in her eyes...

*I also failed to update on a baby shower we threw for my sister-in-law! Because they're not finding out what they're having, we opted for a "Mustaches and Bows, Nobody Knows!" theme. Although I had a hand in the behind-the-scenes planning, I unfortunately wasn't able to attend the shower. But I know it was perfect and hope my partner-in-crime, my Jamie Marie, felt as special as she is!

*As for my social media break... It was hard to stay away from my blog, because writing and posting is, as I've said numerous times, incredibly therapeutic. However, avoiding Facebook and Instagram wasn't that hard. I don't mind checking in on Instagram every so often, but Facebook drives me crazy, especially lately. Everyone's all "My life is perfect!" or "Today I conquered the world!" or "I'M PREGNANT WITH KID #7!" And as immature and selfish as it may sound, when you feel like your life has been a huge serving of sadness and it's-not-fair lately, it's really hard to read about everyone else's awesome lives. Blogs are a catch 22 for me, too. I absolutely love reading blogs, but most people who blog have kidS, and it's painful to read about other people's kidS and pregnancies and perfect, Pinterest lives, and "today-wasn't-perfect-but-that's-ok-because-life's-not-perfect-so-it's-perfect-BECAUSE-it's-not-perfect". Again, that probably sounds like something coming from a jealous, resentful, pained person. Which is exactly what I am. And I guess when you're in that kind of place, it makes it hard when everyone else is all happy and LIFE IS AWESOME ISNT IT. It makes me feel like an outsider, an angry outsider. So I decided I needed to take a step away from many of my social media outlets, stop reading a lot of the blogs I read. And other than hopping on Facebook to post pictures for family members or participate in mom-group conversations about our two-year-olds, or pulling up videos on Instagram for CK to watch, it's been a nice break. And possibly a permanent one.

*To try to deal with everything lately, I started running again, for the first time in months. Numerous doctors suggested I switch from running to walking during our fertility treatments... So I did. Two weeks ago I put my running shoes on and ran as hard and as far as my body would let me. My legs were jelly, my lungs were screaming, and it.was.awesome.

*I also started dating Jillian Michaels again on a regular basis. And now I remember why I called off our relationship over a year ago. She's a mean son-of-a-gun and I can barely lean over to tie my shoes without grimacing in pain.

*CK is all kinds of awesome these days. Honestly, without her, I'd be lost. She reminds me to breathe. And one day, I'll tell her all about the time she pulled the pieces of my heart back together.

*Speaking of CK... Like all mamas out there, the minute she goes to bed I want to celebrate that we survived another day unscathed. I usually pour a tall glass of wine and collapse on the couch and let my body accept its exhaustion. But within minutes, the calm and quiet of the house feels wrong... And I miss her. After she's gone to bed, I miss the noise and chaos and giggles of my girl.

*But no matter how much I miss her, it's ALWAYS too early when she wakes up in the mornings. PLEASE just ONE more minute!

*Though lately, on the weekend mornings, we scoop up CK and bring her into our bed and snuggle and watch cartoons... Almost always Monsters Inc. There are Fruit Loops under the covers and dripping sippy cups and elbows to the face, and I love it.

*Oh, Clemson football. This is a big weekend for you, and it's really what matters most to us fans. Please, please don't let us down!

*We all know I HATE cooking, but I do love my crockpot. When the cold weather kidnaps the forecast, my crockpot is up and running at least once a week. I LOVE coming home from work to a house full of crockpot aromas, knowing dinner is already ready.

*T and I both only have FIFTEEN days left of work in our current jobs. CRAZY!!

*The other day I counted, and CK sleeps with nineteen stuffed animals in her crib. Nineteen. And you'd better not take any out. Holding strong at spot number one is, you guessed it, Ellie the elephant. She latched onto Ellie when she was about seven months old, and has been holding him tight ever since. When she's scared or in an unfamiliar situation, she immediately asks for her "Ella" (in Spanish... That's what she calls him/her).

*I recently realized that I am not the kind of mom who has to clean up the house at the end of each day. Sometimes when we leave the playroom, it's a mess.
Sometimes, I'll haphazardly throw toys back in the once-organized bins. Sometimes we sing the clean-up song and make CK pick up her things before going to bed. But most of the time we're too lazy to clean and also too busy playing with her down to the very last minute, and toys stay scattered throughout the house through the night until her eyes open the next morning and she's ready to pick back up right where she left off. After she went to bed the other night, I looked around and there was a baby doll on our bed, a soccer ball and matchbox car under the kitchen table, six board books strewn across the kitchen floor, an alphabet puzzle undone all over the ottoman, and a container of bubbles on the walk-in table. And instead of being frustrated with the mess, I was so grateful to have a house full of those kinds of things.

*Oh, Dexter. You have sucked T and I into your twisted life and night-after-night we continue to stay up too late, watching episode-after-episode. I'm so glad we have you On Demand, but I'm exhausted!

*Please, for the love of all things holiday, STOP celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kindness Inspires Kindness

When you're stuck in the darkness, and you're clawing to get out, you have to find a purpose, a reason to move forward.  And yes, of course, I have my sweet CK... but after our loss, I felt like everything was meaningless and trivial.  I needed a new reason, a new purpose, a new plan for each day.

After some soul-searching, I decided the first way to try to step into the light would be to do something for somebody else.  I didn't want to focus on myself or our loss - I wanted to look forward instead of looking back.

I stumbled upon the blog of a girl who started a "Kindness Inspires Kindness" project for her birthday.  I wasn't capable of doing the project on the scale that she did, but I knew that even helping one person, making one person smile would be enough.  Maybe, just maybe, teaching my daughter the meaning of kindness would be the first step to healing my broken heart.

We're only in the very beginning stages of our Kindness Inspires Kindness journey, and it has already been so therapeutic for me, for us.  I have a whole list of tasks I hope to accomplish throughout the entire holiday season, and I will share all of our kindnesses when we're finished.

Here is how we got started:

I'm not sharing this to say, "Look at us!  We're doing things for other people!"  I'm sharing this so that maybe, during this busy holiday season, our kindnesses will inspire YOU to "be nice to people," as CK says.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It Happened. Again.

As I sit down to type this, my heart starts to beat a little faster and my hands start to become a little unsteady.  It hurts, it hurts to expose this wound... but I can feel in my heart that now is the right time to do this.  Because after many days of trying to decide when is the right time to share this, I have realized that that only time is now.  It is now because I am sick of getting up every morning and trying to put on an "I-am-strong-and-I-am-okay" front.  Today... today, I need to be weak.  I need to tell my story because I know that my healing can only continue once I therapeutically put this out there, and then try to take a step forward, even just one tiny step forward.

...

On a Monday morning at the end of September, I took the test.  A test I felt with every bone in my body would be positive.  I knew it, I could feel the swell of joy in my heart before the word "pregnant" even popped up on the screen.

T waited anxiously in bed... I tiptoed into our room, and before I could even remind him that we needed to be very cautious with our emotions, he wrapped me up in his arms.  I could feel the quick thump-thump of his heart and knew he wanted to explode with joy-relief-happiness as much as I did.  But we weren't na├»ve anymore.  We knew what it was like to have our joy ripped right out of our hands, so we cautiously let our hearts soar like balloons while holding on tightly to the strings.

Four blood draws later confirmed that I was, indeed, pregnant and my levels were, indeed, doubling.  All of my numbers were on the lower end of normal, but all doctors/nurses/lab techs assured me there was nothing to worry about.  However, telling me not to worry was like telling me not to breathe.  I took comfort in their words, but truthfully, I was a wreck all day, everyday.

In moments of worry, though, I believed with all of my heart that there was NO way it would happen again.  There was NO way we'd have to walk that dark road again.  Especially after months and months of doctor visits and ultrasounds and vials of medicines and checkups and injections and failed cycles and hormones.  This had to be it.

To calm my nerves, my awesome nurse scheduled me for an ultrasound at seven weeks, eight weeks, and nine weeks.  We thought more checkups would equal less worrying.

The seven week mark rolled around and before I knew it we were in the ultrasound room.  It was the most nervous, the most anxious I have ever been.  I refused to look at the screen.  Instead, I held tightly to T's hand and stared into his eyes, waiting to see some form of reassurance that all was well.  

And then I saw it... a little twinkle, a tiny up-curl of the corner of his mouth as his shoulders seemed to relax with a deep breath.  He mouthed, "heartbeat."  I turned to look at the screen and there was our baby with a tiny, beautiful, beating heart.  I refused to breathe my sigh of relief until the tech measured the baby.  I was seven weeks exactly - the baby was measuring six weeks, three days.  

My heart sank, and I lost it.

Not again.

After a lengthy discussion with the tech, she didn't seem very optimistic; however, she couldn't really assure us of anything because only time would tell.  We were sent over to talk to our nurse, the nurse who had helped us at the very beginning of our infertility struggles.

When we walked into her office, she saw that I was falling apart.  "What's wrong?"  She asked.  I told her I knew that measuring behind was NOT a good thing.  She assured me that it was perfectly normal at this point, and what really mattered was that the heart rate was great for the size of the baby.

We left her office feeling a little more hopeful, yet not wanting to let our hopes soar too high.  

We were walking an emotional tightrope, together.

A few hours later I got a call from the doctor who reviews the ultrasounds.  When I answered, he exclaimed, "Congratulations!!"  I was confused by his outright optimism and told him so.  He assured me that he considered it a great checkup at this point, especially with the presence of a fetal heartbeat.  I think that was the point at which I finally let myself breathe a small sigh of relief and actually consider that this might really be it.  We might finally get our baby.  Finally.

We decided to wait two weeks before having another ultrasound.  The reason for this, honestly, is because my little sister's wedding was the following weekend.  There was absolutely nothing I was willing to let get in the way of being 100% focused on my baby sister and her happily ever after.

And let me tell you, ignorance is bliss.

At nine weeks and one day pregnant, we were back in the ultrasound room.  This time we were seeing my beloved Dr. J, the same doctor who came in on his day off to deliver CK.  After the drama of the last appointment, we decided there was no one better to do a follow-up scan.

I was obviously a nervous wreck... that goes without saying.  But on the days leading up to the appointment, I felt increasingly pregnant.  There was no mistaking that my clothes were getting snug, I was nauseous, and I was absolutely exhausted.  Because of this and also because of my hopeful heart, I truly believed with every ounce of my soul that all was well with our baby.

Once again, I held on tight to my rock, my T, and stared into his eyes.

Except this time, there was no twinkle.  No hint of a smile.  No mouthing of reassuring words.  No sigh of relief.

He remained stone-faced.  And before I knew it, the ultrasound was done and I could hear the pain in my doctor's voice when he said, "It's not good."

NO.

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

This cannot be happening again.

I already loved our baby so much.  It can't be gone.  Please don't let it be gone.

PLEASE don't let this happen again.  Please please please please.

-

But it did.

It happened.  Again.

...

"Why do I feel SO pregnant?!" I asked through endless tears, convinced they had made a mistake.

"Because..."  Dr. J replied, "Your body still thinks you are pregnant."

Our little baby couldn't quite hold on, yet my body was refusing to let go.

I have never, ever, in my whole entire life, ever been so heartbroken.  So confused.  So lost, so scared, so mad, so angry, so jealous, so alone, so resentful, so worried, so sad.  And those who know me well know my life has not been without painful experiences.  This, however, was the worst.  

Is the worst.

There are many, many details I will not share from the week that followed.  But because this blog is a raw and open and honest place for me, I will say that it was the absolute worst week of my life - a week that involved me witnessing something no one should ever have to see, me feeling the most incredible physical and emotional pain I have ever felt, a week that ended with a procedure we had tried so hard to avoid.

A week that felt like a bad dream - a week during which T and I just kept telling each other that this couldn't all be happening again, that we both just wanted to wake up.

And that's where we are still - waiting for this bad dream to end.  Sitting in the darkness, scared and alone.  Wanting to keep fighting the fight and wanting to try to keep choosing hope, but if we're being real here - how do you keep choosing hope at a time like this?

I remember, almost exactly a year ago, when we were heartbroken over our first loss.  It was a few days before Christmas.  And I remember thinking to myself, "Well, just enjoy Christmas with your sweet CK, because surely next Christmas if you don't have a baby, you'll at least be pregnant again."  There was honestly no doubt in my mind.  We'd gotten pregnant fairly easily, twice.  How would we not be on the way to fulfilling our dreams of more children after an entire year had passed?

And yet, here we are.

After months and months of battling secondary infertility, we heard another beautiful heartbeat - and before we could even embrace the promise of a joyful future, it slipped right out of our fingers.

It has been a dark few weeks.  I have felt more alone than I have ever felt in my entire life.  The grief has smothered my soul, stolen my spirit, and robbed me of my joy.

And yes, I have my Cameron Kate.  My beautiful, perfect, miracle daughter.  My daughter who refuses to let me lie in bed to hide in the darkness.  My daughter who is the only person who can truly remind me what it feels like to smile.  My daughter who hears me crying as we drive down the road and says, "Mama is sad.  Take a deep breath, Mama."

And yes, of course, I am forever grateful for her.  But despite what people may think, she does not take away the pain of this.  We feel so incredibly fortunate to have her, but our hearts ache for our family to grow because of her, for her.

As I watch her play with her baby dolls, carefully changing their diapers and disciplining them and feeding them and hugging them and kissing their boo-boos, I fall apart and the grief takes over again because she should've been helping to take care of a real baby brother or sister in June.

And now, we're not sure if she'll ever get that chance.

And it's not fair.

Why us?  Why is this happening?  Why is it so easy for everyone else?  Why do we have to endure so much pain?  Why even get our hopes up with that promising little heartbeat?  

WHY WHY WHY.

My thoughts are raw, my emotions are real, and my grief is suffocating.  But I'm here to try to move forward.  Because I feel like the only way I can really start to do that - move forward - is to expose the wound, let it breathe in some fresh air... and then maybe, just maybe, it will find a way to start healing.

Every night, no matter what, the sun sets.  The darkness takes over and it is nighttime and the day is done and we don't get to do that day over again.  But every morning, that sun will rise again and we have to get out of bed and tend to life and breathe and put one foot in front of the other.

And right now, though life forces me to keep moving forward, I feel like I'm hopelessly, aimlessly wandering.  I can only wonder if one day, some day, the sunrise will bring with it the promise of joy... and maybe I'll find myself choosing to walk toward hope again.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pause

I'm going to be taking a little break from all things social media for awhile - Facebook, Instagram, blogging, reading blogs.

I'm not sure how long I'll be away - a couple days, a week, a month...  

Hopefully, I'll find the courage to return and share the reasons for this little pause.  But for now, I just need to step away from the noise.

xo


Friday, November 1, 2013

My Baby Sister is Getting Married.

I have teared up multiple times throughout the past few days thinking about this.

She will always, always be twelve years old in my eyes.

But this weekend, she'll walk down the aisle toward her very best friend, toward a guy who knows how lucky he is to get to spend the rest of his life with our Whit.

To my baby sister, my best friend, the most incredible aunt, the most genuine-hearted person I know... I love you more than you will ever know, and I cannot wait to stand by your side this weekend and watch you start your happily ever after with the man of your dreams.  I'm so proud of you, of both of you.  And I look forward to watching you fall even more in love as husband and wife. xo