24 things at 15 months

She's 15 months old. Fifteen! And thus it's that time again -- time to think of 24 things for Faith's virtual baby book since she was born on the 24th. Here goes...
If you'd like a little trip down memory lane...3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months.

1) Your smile now comes complete with four top chompers, two molareque teeth, two bottom teeth and the nub of a third next to them. We get to see your teeth often, since you're such a happy/smiley baby, except for when those teeth are poppin through at which point we collectively curse that babies aren't born with a full set of dentures.

2) Your vocabulary now includes Howie (pronounced Ahwie) Mommy, Dada, Wawa (for all liquids) Dolly, Baby, Nana (for bananas only) Ball, Hi, Yeah, Bye, No, Uh Oh, Ow, Moo, several monkey noises and squeals that could be animal noises.

3) Your new talents include blowing kisses, peek-a-boo, identifying your nose and ears, putting phones (and remotes and several other items) up to your ear and walking around the house.

4) Three months ago, at your one-year appointment, I had no idea how we'd wean you off bottles, but we did it, partly because we sent you to grandma's and forgot to pack a bottle for the morning. You don't seem to miss them, but still like to eat something first thing when you wake up, usually a cereal bar and some OJ. And you looove chocolate milk. (Way to  go, Rob).

5) In the next three months we hope to wean you off your pacifier. Lord, give me strength. I may need to join a "parents taking away pacis" support group. "Hi, my name is Nicole and my daughter is a Binkaholic."

6) Your bedtime is about 7:30/7:45 and you wake up around 6:30 or so. I might mention that we have to "pacify" you about 3 times a night or so, so this could change when we take on number 5. Either way, when you're in dreamland, it's a beautiful thing.

7) Your locks are getting so long. I can now put your hair in piggies, which makes you seem like such a big girl. And remember, as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons once said, "Big Girls Don't Cry." (I'm slightly obsessed with Jersey Boys after seeing the show).

8) Your obsessed with "Ahwie" these days. You chase him around, feed him scraps and give him treats. You're learning to "pet nice." I do believe you said your first "sentence" right after I yelled at him. Mimicking me, you shouted, "Ahwie, NO!"

9) I remember the days when I thought you'd never learn to eat solid foods. I wish I could go back in time and take a chill pill. While you hopefully won't be competing in any food competitions any time soon or ever, you can put away some food, girlfriend. Makes mama proud. You also LOVE drinking out of a straw and it increases your milk intake threefold when you do so.

10) No Fear (no, I'm not talking about the awesome t-shirts I used to own - those were the days weren't they, 80s peeps?). I'm talking about how you run for the stairs and the edge of the couch like you have no sense of depth perception. The doggie gate has become a Faith gate. We hope we don't have to use the kennel.

11) Dancing Queen. Now that you're coordinated enough to stay on two feet most of the time, you like to bust a move during the hotdog dance or any random song that comes on over the TV, radio or out of Daddy's mouth. How much are you going to pay me not to show this video to people?

12)You weren't exactly happy to go back to daycare after spending the summer at home with your dad. You cried when I dropped you off for the first three weeks and then would cry when we picked you up. As someone who used to cry when their mommy picked them up, I'm onto you. I know you were really having a good time the whole day.

13) It makes me happy that you and your dad share a special bond. He would do anything to see that smile of yours. (Seriously, the man sings Imma Little Teapot instead of DMB now.) And if it weren't for him, you'd never know what it's like to be upside down.

14) Down with the Sickness. You've had approximately four fevers in your life and every time you do, it's the worst. Recently, you were sent home from daycare and within a half hour of medicine, I wanted to send them this video and ask if they had taken the right kid's temp.

15) You are quite the fashionista, no thanks to me. I dress boring, but I live vicariously through you each day. Here you are wearing some skinny jeans, a onesie that says "my puppy loves me" and a headband that stayed on for all of 11 seconds. I later added a white cardigan, but you weren't feeling like smiling once I got that on. The TOMS complete the look. I think I'm ready for Project Runway...if only I could sew.

16) I'm not sure exactly how tall you are or how much you weigh, but the tendinitis in my arm and the fact that you managed to knock a pop off an end table recently tells me you are growing.

17) You cracked me up at a wedding recently when you saw a baby crawling around and got down on all fours to crawl just like him, even though you never use that mode of transportation anymore. How sweet of you. Here you are with all your cousins and great grandma Alice at that wedding.

18) You recently participated in your first race. It was a two mile walk and grandpa pushed you the whole time while mom and dad ran the 10K (dad beat me again, but only by 45 seconds or so). It's a start.

19) You just learned "Touchdown!" so your ready for the Cyclone game versus Texas on Saturday. (Nebraska and Iowa fans can save your snarky comments :)

20) Your favorite new game is hide and go seek. You love doing laps around the upstairs, running from us and giggling the whole time.

21) Have I mentioned you like ice cream...a whole lot?

22. Don't hate me. If you didn't want me to post this many things, you should have been born on your due date...the 20th!

23) Your artistic skills are getting better, and by better I mean you are putting the chalk and crayons in your mouth less and on the paper more.

24) You are the star of the show. I love you so much and try to pause and take in what it feels like to hold you and hug you so I can remember it always. I love being your mom. If I died tomorrow, I'd die knowing that I brought one little amazing person into this world. Hopefully I don't go anytime soon (barring any more chicken soup incidents) but when I do, you are what I want to be remembered for. I love ya, Faith! So, so much.

Chicken Soup for the Pissed Off Soul

Where I work, when it's your birthday you bring the treats, sort of like 5th grade. But with four birthdays in September, four of us Virgo gals decided we would go together to put on a lunch for our co-workers.

Pizza? No, that would be too convenient. Jimmy John's? No, too easy. Instead, we decided to spend our money on unprepared ingredients. One person claimed chili. Another volunteered to bring Bundtinis (which are as good as you'd think they'd be bad). The third lady offered to bring bowls, silverware and a veggie tray since her kitchen was out of commission (likely story). And me? Well..."I can make homemade chicken noodle soup," said my mouth without asking my brain for permission.

You see, I have this thing where I volunteer to make elaborate dishes and when the time comes to prepare them I panic and Chef Boyarob has to come to my rescue. This time was no different.

On Tuesday night, I begrudgingly trudged up and down the aisles of the grocery store gathering my ingredients and regretting that I ever offered to make the dish that would come to be known as the “soup from hell” in the first place. If you’re wanting a good time, don’t take a hungry toddler to the grocery store you don't frequent regularly. We ate half a tub of Teddy Grahams looking for the frozen noodles.

Later that night, after Faith paid a visit to Mr. Sandman, I came downstairs and got on the computer to blog/avoid my birthday treat soup a little longer. Then Rob turned the light off on me. This is a little something he likes to do all the time that drives me bonkers. I let him know just how much this drove me crazier than I already am. He let me know that I was overreacting, and before you know it, we were in an full blown argument over electricity.

I was planning to write a birthday blog that was going to be all sentimental, but I was too pissed off at that point. I knew my soup wasn't going to make itself so I slammed the computer shut and slammed open the cabinet before slamming the pot on the stove (temper temper, I know). I started furiously chopping the six chicken breasts the recipe called for while occasionally grunting in anger. By about the third one, I was debating how to apologize to Chef Boyarob so he would save the day again, but my pride refused to give in. Thankfully there was nothing on TV and by the fifth chicken breast, I think he was worried enough that I would chop off a finger, he offered his help. I sheepishly accepted.

The two of us chopped until our hands cramped up and then some. I got a phone call and Top Chef Lindquist took over. When the soup was heated through, I put the pot in the fridge and went to bed. The next morning I got up, threw the pot on the stove and headed upstairs to get ready/pigtailize Faith/stop Howie from going in the closet/complain to Rob about Mt. Laundry.

Half an hour later, I was changing a diaper upstairs when I heard a muffled voice from the kitchen downstairs. “Sue turned the loop!” At least that’s what I'd hoped he said. After a quick clarification, it was official. “You burned the soup!” Dammit. Strike five on this damn soup. Luckily, only the bottom of the pot was scorched so I scooped up as much as would fit into the crockpot and put the rest in the fridge.

After carefully placing it in the back of my car, I went on my merry way. You can probably see where this is going, but naïve Nicole did not. I was just cruising down the Interstate, loving life. I even hit the green light at the intersection of Interstate 80 and 42nd Street which NEVER happens. Just when I thought God was smiling on me, the lid to my crockpot slid off as I was rounding the corner, and the backseat of the Fusion got a heaping helping of chicken noodle soup.

An odd calm came over me. It was almost as if my subconscious expected it to happen. “This soup will be the death of me,” I thought.  I saw a fender bender car accident on the side of the road, which sadly made me feel better about my morning, even though I was running late and the time that I was spending on this stupid soup was now going to surpass a full workday.

I dropped Faith off at daycare, not caring that she probably smelled like celery, and continued on to work. I brought in the ¼ cup of soup that remained in the crockpot and plugged it in. Then I went back out to my car to clean up the crime scene.

Did it spill onto anything other than the floor you ask? Haha. That’s funny. The floor of my car is made up of an Iowa State sweatshirt, ISU flag, my magic Cyclones scarf, Faith’s doggie neck pillow, my TOMS and a bunch of newspapers among other treasures. Fortunately, no stuffed animals were harmed in this accident, but unfortunately, it spilled on the middle of the backseat of the floor, not on the mats that can be washed.

I couldn’t just go home and get the rest of my soup in the fridge because of a morning meeting, so I did the best cleanup in Aisle Ford Fusion job I could and left it. After my meeting, I called my mom to bitch about the “soup-that-would-not-die” a little more. She showed her support by laughing at me. To her credit, she tried to stifle her giggles, but she wasn’t foolin’ this soup lady.

When I got home, I threw the pot on the stove and realized how scorched the bottom was. ‘That's going to about as much fun to wash as it was to cleanup the backseat,’ I thought. There goes hours number 22 and 23 on this freakin’ batch of soup.

Rather than place the entire pot in the backseat of my car just to see what happened on the drive back to work, I scooped it into some Tupperware, sealed the lid and checked the seal approximately seven times. Fearing this damn soup was too bland after all the effort I went to, I place the chicken bouillon spice on top of the container to add to the whole thing once it was all in the crockpot at work. Wouldn’t you know it, that spice bottle never moved a centimeter from top of the Tupperware lid the entire drive to work. Oh, the irony.

I'd stopped at the Grocery Store of Confusion again and bought some yellow food coloring to make my concoction look less like stone soup and more like a Campbell’s commercial. It worked like a charm and once I had it all in one crockpot, I sat back and relaxed. With a little salt and pepper, it might have some hope.

Just then, Rob sent me a text. “Soup tastes awesome!” Bless his heart. It was just what I needed to hear. Me: “Thank God. I just had to go back home and get the rest that wouldn’t fit in the crockpot cuz it spilled all over my backseat this morning. Yippee!”
Rob: “Oh no.”
Me: “That’s not exactly what I said.”

In the end, people ate the soup and said nice things about it. I had some too, and with a little salt, pepper and maybe a lot of crackers, it was, dare I say it, good. Faith even liked it, but she’s been known to put crayons in her mouth, so her opinion doesn't exactly make me want to make it again just yet.

The whole process including, and especially, transportation was pretty much maddening. It was definitely more time, effort and money than the $2 I usually spend to make my Pillsbury homemade cupcakes (nothing but the best for my coworkers ;). All I know is, next time, I’m bringing the Bundtinis!

And what kind of a blogger would I be if I didn't have at least three pics of my kid eating soup. There are taken on my new Nikon. I am in love!

Three Years Later...My Miscarriage Story

Before I post the story I wrote three years ago to this day on our blog, there are a few things I want to say:
1) I did this for any other woman who's suffered a miscarriage, and for me. Being vulnerable is hard as hell, but if you don't put yourself out there and let the world see you for who you are than you're depriving yourself from all the good that can come back to you because of it.
2) Warning: this story is super long. I cranked it out in four hours on Sept. 8, 2008 not because I knew I'd have a blog someday but because sometimes the only thing a writer knows how to do is write. I hope each person who manages to read all 12 pages gets something of value out of it.
3) Though this story was written when I was in an extremely sad place, I am truly OK. More than OK, I love my life and the people in it. Please don't feel sorry for me because I don't feel sorry for myself. This experience taught me so so so much. Because of it, my marriage is stronger, my daughter's name is Faith and life as I know it is more precious.

Without further ado...my story.

The signs were everywhere - the breastfeeding information table outside the cafeteria, the researcher conducting a (believe it or not) “hotdogs-are-bad-for-you-during-pregnancy” study and last but the least obvious, all the pregnant women waddling around campus.

But it was just that one time, I kept telling myself. And I’d only been off birth control for a month when it happened. I couldn’t be... Nonetheless, I was worried that my least favorite aunt was going to be late, and she was never late. I wasn’t worried enough to take a test right away. No, I waited a full week and a day after the deed before doing that.
That was when I decided it was time to put an end to the guessing game once and for all. 

I still had a pregnancy test left over from a previous scare. Clear Blue Easy, which I probably only bought because it was cheap. It struck me as odd that the tests come in twos. Do women really take one test after another just to make sure it’s right or wrong, depending on the answer they’re hoping to get. I don’t even buy two packs of deodorant at Target because I despise buying in bulk, so why would I want two pregnancy tests?

Even though I would’ve never purchased two given the chance, the two-pack came in handy this time. On August 9, I peed on a stick that had the power to change my fate.

It takes about three minutes or so for it to flash “pregnant” or “not pregnant” on the miniscule screen, but that small amount of time can seem like three hours. I busied myself for a minute or so picking at a zit on my chin, then debated getting in the shower but nixed that idea when I realized I couldn’t wait a full ten minutes to know the results. I decided to take an early peek just to see.

“Not pregnant” read the test. A huge smile crossed my face and I went running downstairs in my purple robe like a crazy lady. My husband was in the bathroom, doing his business, which takes him entirely too long in my opinion. I wasn’t about to wait 20 minutes before informing him of the result. I knocked on the door, and started into the bathroom. “Hey, I’m kinda busy here,” he yelled, but that wasn’t about to faze me. Not today anyway.

I had to tell him the news. We weren’t having a baby. It’s something I usually text him when I get my period. “No babies” I always type and it usually receives a smiley face in response. This time was no different. He seemed relieved, although not as much as I was.

I just wasn’t ready to have a baby. My mom was ready enough for both of us, but I had just been accepted to grad school, registered for my first class and was ready to join the student category again. It’s not that I didn’t ever want kids. Believe me, I’ve always wanted my own children.

When we took the FOCCUS test –a Catholic requirement - before we got married, one of the questions was, “If you or your spouse is unable to have children, would you be able to remain with them?” I love my husband more than I have ever loved anyone, but this question made me pause.

I don’t think there could be anything greater than creating another life with the person you love most in this world. To have a mini me/my husband is my dream. Which is why it didn’t take me too long to recover from the shock that I actually was pregnant two and a half weeks later.

I had gone to the OB/GYN on that Monday after we spent a weekend boozing and boating up in Okoboji. I told my doctor, Julie, that I wanted to switch to a generic form a birth control, which is why I had gone off my expensive Yasmin in July.

“You should have called,” she winced, “and we could have gotten you some before your appointment.” Apparently, I was wrong, you didn’t have to wait a month in between switching brands. Oh well, I thought to myself, it’s not like I’m pregnant or something.

I told Julie we’d had a little scare, but everything was fine, I’d start the birth control on the Sunday after my next period, which I thought was to be the coming Wednesday. Well, Wednesday came and went, as did Thursday. Now, my period on birth control had never been later than Thursday, so this had me a little worried. I mentioned it to my husband and he told me I should take another test.

Well, seeing as how I’d run out of my two-pack, I needed more. I wasn’t just going to the store and buy a test and nothing else, so I waited. Friday came and went. Saturday was busy; no time for a pregnancy test. Ironically enough, I had a baby shower to go to. I don’t recall what I did Sunday, but it should have been “take pregnancy test.” Nope, I waited until the following Wednesday, after I got home from work, to finally pee on a life-changing stick for the second time that month.

I had eventually broken down, gone to Target for a bunch of things I probably didn’t need and picked up two-pack of First Response, which uses two pink lines to tell you that you’re prego. I had planned on going for a walk with Howie, then a run that afternoon, just like I did on Monday. If I got my ass in shape to run six miles at a time, I wanted to do the Corporate Cup run on the 21st of Sept.

I quickly scanned the English version of the directions and opened the test. Honestly, I think they could save a little paper by just using illustrations for directions, but they just gotta get that fine print on there. Now, I knew pregnancy tests were accurate, but I didn’t realize how accurate until later. Apparently, they are 99 percent effective…when positive. Some women don’t wait long enough to test. Some women, oh, say, me, don’t wait the minimum 10-12 days after conception to take the test. That was why my first test was negative.

My second test, on Aug. 27, was different. I was wondering if I kept it in my “stream” for a full 5 seconds when it happened. While contemplating where to lay the stick flat for the next three minutes the infamous second pink line appeared out of nowhere. What? I thought. It hasn’t even been one minute. I ran to the bedroom, then ran back. Yep, still two pink lines. Panic set it.

I must have said the words “oh my God” three hundred times in the next five minutes. I kept repeating phrases that got stuck in my head. After “oh my God”, it was, “I didn’t mean to,” then “I don’t want this,” and I’m sure a few other ones I was in too much of a state of shock to remember later.

After about 30 minutes of this and Howie giving me looks like “My owner is nuts,” I decided to take him for a walk…in my flip-flops. I dragged my feet the whole way, giving myself blisters and not caring. I stared at the ground and tried to soak it all in. “How could this happen?” I wondered. But I knew. And then I realized that whoever came up with the saying, “it only takes one” must have been related to me.

After my walk with Howie, I desperately searched the Internet for ways to tell a spouse you were pregnant. Most of them involved elaborate planning. I only had two hours before my husband would be home. It made me sad that not much thought would go into what I thought was supposed to be a really special moment. I couldn’t keep it from him either, as I desperately needed someone to tell.

I thought about cleaning our disgusting bathroom and leaving it the only thing on the counter so when he got home, it would be one of the first things he saw, but I didn’t have enough energy for that. I thought about having Howie put the stick in his mouth and taking it to my husband when he got home, but the numerous ways that could go wrong made me think that depending on a dog to do my dirty work wasn’t going to work. I research a little about pregnancy online, decided it was too overwhelming and went downstairs. I hid the stick under the blanket and waited for him to come home.

As usual, he called me when he got off work, asking if he should grab supper. Not hungry and knowing he wouldn’t really be when he learned the news, I told him to just please come home. I thought the alarm in my voice was obvious, but he didn’t catch on. We told each other “I love you” and pushed end on our cell phones. His life was about to change and I was the only one who knew it.

When he got home, I felt like I had jack in the box under the blanket instead of a pregnancy stick. I clutched it as tightly as possible and waited for the right words to come. They didn’t.  He walked down the hall, said hello to Howie and let him lick his nose – a weird fetish of our dog’s, then announced he was going upstairs to check his e-mail on the computer.

I immediately stood up and announced that he couldn’t. I’d neglected to close out my pregnancy windows and didn’t want him to learn the news that way. “I have to pay a bill first,” I lied. Lame excuse I know, but my husband didn’t seem to mind and went into the kitchen to look for something to eat.

I couldn’t take it any longer, so without saying a word I walked up to him, took a few deep breaths and said “here,” handing him the stick. I waited for a reaction. From the two pink lines, he deduced I was indeed pregnant. I couldn’t quite read his face.

He didn’t say “are you sure?” like most of the books I later read said he would and he didn’t panic or cry. He was as calm as a cucumber. I don’t remember the first words that came out of his mouth, but I do remember him hugging me for a long time, listening to me cry and then sitting on the floor in his untucked, button-down shirt and loose tie. I patted the couch and told him to come and sit by me, but he shook his head. He was comfortable right where he was, tearing up because he was going to be a daddy. I cried and cried and cried some more about not being ready and this not being the right time, but my husband was a rock.

He held me and said that this was a good thing, something to be happy about and that no one had died, except that plant he added laughing and pointed at something I hadn’t watered in days that once resembled a flower. I smiled, thinking what the perfect thing to say that was. He followed it up by adding that though this wasn’t exactly our timeline, it was something that we planned to do, it was just sooner than we thought. I don’t remember if it was this night or another that he told me that I was going to be a good mom, just like my mom, but that had to be my favorite thing he ever said to me.

The next day, my secret was all I could think about. I even remember what I was wearing. My favorite short sleeve blue sweater from Gap and brown Capri slacks. I smiled a lot that day, wondering how I’d tell people I was pregnant, especially my mom. She’d be so elated, I wanted to get the whole thing on video.

I saw a friend of mine that night before my first grad-school class. She so happened to be at UNO doing something on campus so we met up for a quick bite in the dining center. She talked about her job and all I could think was, “So what, I’m going to be a mom!” What will my friends think? Will they be sad, happy, disappointed or excited when they find out? I told my friend I was a little nervous for class and she said she could tell. Truth is, I was nervous for class, but more worried that somehow my secret would fall out of my mouth. My husband and I had discussed it and we weren’t going to tell anybody for a couple weeks. It seemed like bad luck to tell too soon.

The next day was the Friday before Labor Day and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit at my desk that afternoon for numerous reasons, so I took a half-day at work. When the clock struck noon, I got in my car and sped to Barnes and Noble. After trying to find the baby book section by myself for 15 minutes, I finally broke down and asked one of the workers for help. I didn’t want anyone to know my secret just yet and asking for the baby section of the bookstore made me feel like I was spilling the beans. For all he knew, I could’ve been looking for a friend, but that thought didn’t occur to me. The guy led me to an aisle somewhat out of the way where I could set my purse down and sit on the floor.

The first book I opened up read “facts about my mommy,” then listed a bunch of fill in the blanks about the mom and a page for dad too. That’s when it hit me. We would really be creating a baby. The two of us, making one life together. So crazy. I didn’t want to cry right there in the middle of the store, so I closed that book and opened up another. I eventually selected, “I’m Pregnant, Now what do I eat?” which is exactly the phrase that was running through my mind at every moment. I also picked out “The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy,” “Belly Laughs” by Jenny McCarthy and a belly book where the mom fills out information about her pregnancy until the baby is born.

None of my books were scientific. I just wanted to get used to the idea of being pregnant before I scared myself to death. Because I was so naïve, I chuckled at all the fertility books. Apparently, it wasn’t that hard after all. At least for us.

After my trip to the bookstore, my husband went and bought some books of his own later that day. One father-to-be book and one called, “So, you’re going to be a dad,” to which he laughed out loud while reading a lot. On the front cover it had a cartoon drawing of a guy contemplating which way to go next and a road with two street signs. One way said, “Having a Life,” the other way said, “Being a Dad.” Obviously we had chosen being parents.

That Friday night, instead on going out on the town during a holiday weekend like most people our age, the two of us stayed in, reading our mommy and daddy-to-be books together. My husband had already accepted parenthood so well, it made me happy to know I’d chosen such an amazing partner. It had only been a week, but he was so supportive, and remained that way when things started to get scary.

That next Wednesday I started spotting. I noticed a small amount of brown blood in my underwear, but wasn’t sure what to think. I read online that almost a third of women experience spotting during pregnancy, but for half it meant miscarriage. That had my immediate attention. The next night, my husband had come straight home from student teaching and when I got home from class he told me that I should make an appointment to see my OBGYN the next day.

I knew spotting wasn’t good, but the fact that he, who typically told me everything was going to be all right when I was busy freaking out, was telling me I needed to see a doctor made me break down and cry. For someone who reacted so negatively to a positive pregnancy test, here I was desperate that our baby-to-be was OK.

My first prenatal appointment was supposed to be the following Wednesday when they estimated from the first day of my last period that I would be about eight weeks along. Unfortunately, we had to move my first appointment up and because of my husband’s strict student teaching schedule, it would have to be alone.

I called first thing that Friday and told them I was spotting. They said they could get me in at 1:45 that day. I told my supervisor that my OB/GYB needed to see me. If the news was good, I’d be back. If it wasn’t so good, I wouldn’t. I decided to go to lunch with my co-workers before the appointment. I couldn’t keep my mind on work anyway, so I thought lunch with a group that never has a dull moment would help pass the time until then. It worked, but when I had to make an early exit from the table, I sincerely hoped no one suspected anything.

The drive to West Omaha was somewhat frantic. My doctor wasn’t at her normal location that day, so I had to white knuckle it 25 minutes in pouring rain. When I arrived 10 minutes late, I breathlessly told the receptionist I was there for an ultrasound. I was one of few people in the room at the time and one by one they all went in for their routine appointments before me. Oh what I would’ve given for a routine appointment right then.

Women who arrived after me started getting their names called before me and I tried not to get upset. I was sitting there, leaning against the wall when I realized that at some point in the next hour or so, I would know if my baby was going to make it or not. They couldn’t keep me there forever not knowing. The other half of my brain reasoned that maybe it was something I didn’t want to know. Right then, time started to speed up.

A woman who knew nothing of my situation called my name, and soon after that I was in the room with the sonographer. She asked how I was doing and when I said, “I’ve been better,” she responded with “Good.” I took that to mean she was either a) incredibly inconsiderate or b) didn’t hear me. I figured I’d give this woman the benefit of the doubt.

After at attempt at a belly sonogram that showed nothing, the women decided to do a transvaginal one. She left me pee first, which was nice, but the probe that followed was not. None of that mattered mere seconds later.

Now, I don’t claim to be able to see babies in sonogram pictures, but when she zoomed in on something inside my stomach, I saw a flash of light. Then another flash. Then another. I knew then that that was my baby’s heartbeat. I didn’t need a certified anybody to point it out.

While I only got to watch it for a couple seconds, those blinks were by far the most amazing things I’d ever witnessed and felt in my heart. The doctor who came in later told me that although the baby’s heartbeat was there, it was a little low and the sac was kind of small.

He said despite the spotting, some women with all my symptoms go on to deliver perfectly health babies. That would be me, I decided right then and there. I didn’t get any pictures, but I had seen it with my own two eyes and because of that it will always be etched in my memory.

They told me I needed to come back in 10 days and to schedule my appointment with the receptionist up front. When I handed her my information, she smiled and told me I would have an appointment in 10 days, 4 days before my birthday. That made me smile, as a healthy baby with a strong heartbeat would be the best present I could ever ask for. I started to sob a little bit, and the woman looked at me, handed me a business card with my appointment date on it and said, “I’ll say a prayer for you sweetie.”

It was one of the nicest moments I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of in my 25 years of life. I just wish I hadn’t been a part of it at all. I wish I could’ve thanked her properly for her kindness, but I had to get out of there before I burst into tears again.

On the way home though, I prayed that she kept her word because I knew my prayers and her’s were the only ones going up to God as we hadn’t even told our parents about the baby-to-be yet.

I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to work that day so I headed home straight from my appointment. My husband called me as soon as he could, sounding out of breath when I said hello. “I heard the heartbeat I told him,” and he didn’t even need to tell me how much that sentence made him smile. We were happy as happy could be that everything was OK. But we knew we weren’t out of the woods yet. The minute I got home, I started making a grocery list from my “I’m Pregnant, Now What Do I Eat” book. If nothing else, I was going to eat by the book for the next 10 days. My baby was going to get every last nutrient possible and I was going to see to it.

We went to the grocery store after I finished my list and began to cross out items. It didn’t take us as long as we thought so I decided since things were looking up, I’d go to the scheduled haircut appointment I had made three weeks earlier. Kim cut it perfectly. It was exactly the easy to manage mom haircut I was looking for and I left feeling like things were going to be OK after all.

It wasn’t but a few hours later, after we had eaten our nutritious and delicious dinner that I began to feel them. Cramps. Being on birth control for four years, you forget what a real period is like, but here I was, back in crampland again and wishing I could take something. I knew cramps weren’t good, but I tried to kid myself that they weren’t that bad. Truth is, cramps like this usually required about four ibuprofen back in the day almost every four hours. But ibuprofen is off limits for pregnant women.

I persevered though, and kept watching the movie we’d rented despite my pain. Normally, I would have fallen asleep midway through the movie, but for some reason, my eyes remained glued open. At one particular point in the movie, I sat up. That’s when I felt the worst feeling in the world. Bleeding. Down there. I knew it couldn’t be good, so I asked my husband to pause the movie while I ran to the bathroom. I slowly pulled my pants down. At first, all I saw was the brown I had been seeing, but then, there was the color red. Panic started to set it. I pulled up my pants, washed my hands and walked out of the bathroom slowly.

Just like I had been the first to know about the pregnancy, I was the first to know about this. Just like I had been scared to share that news, I was scared as hell to share this. Just like I had bluntly handed my husband the stick, I bluntly told him there was red blood on my underwear. He immediately turned to the Internet for information and I immediately turned into a big ball of tears. He tried to comfort me, and provide me with any and everything he thought I might need. A cold towel for my forehead, water, a soothing backrub. He asked for my OB/GYN’s number and I gave it to him. By the time he finally pressed enough buttons to speak to a real live person, he was able to calmly explain exactly, down to a T, what had happened to me in the last few minutes and days. Told someone would call us back, he hung up.

It seemed like forever before the phone rang again. The women asked to talk to me but after verifying my information, I couldn’t speak, but only sob. My husband repeated every question she asked out loud to me for confirmation. The woman on the other end of the line told us we needed to go the ER.

People only go to the ER for one thing and that is an emergency. I didn’t want this to be an emergency, but that’s what it was, whether we liked it or not. Working at the university connected to the hospital I knew the route to the ER too well. After we parked, we went in and were greeted by an unfriendly receptionist who I’m sure hated her job. She acted annoyed at my barely audible responses.

Also in the ER was a group of people wearing orange and black Tiger gear. I figured it was some kind of football injury that brought them here but I wondered what brought the others here on this night.

We sat down for about 10 minutes when a nurse finally called my name. I can’t remember her name, because there were several more that followed, but she was so nice and caring. When I had trouble getting my words out, she was comforting, but professional. She also said that a lot of women spot their entire pregnancy and deliver healthy babies, but it seemed like an overestimation. I wanted to believe her so much.

I peed in a cup and was shown to my room. Little did I know I’d spend the next five hours there. I’m not sure what exactly I was thinking on the drive the ER, but it wasn’t a five-hour stay. I think I was just taking it minute by minute, trying not to think about the future. Mostly, I feared the worst.

My first nurse’s name was Jean. She wasn’t the friendliest person in the world, but she did get me some Tylenol at one point, so she was a new friend in my book. At first, my husband and I conversed back and forth. To help break the tension, we even played rock, paper, scissors, a game I can always win against him. We tried playing with both hands, and it got both of us laughing so hard that for a moment we forgot where we were.

Then Cynthia entered the room. Dr. Hernandez was asking me routine questions when her phone rang. OK, she said, then hung up. “We’re getting a gunshot victim,” she said. “There was a shooting.” I had forgotten it was the med center’s trauma night. Needless to say, Dr. H left the room, but not before telling me that someone would be in to take my blood to test for the pregnancy hormone and that they would do a pelvic exam.

Two lab workers came at separate times, both putting bracelets on my wrist. I had a total of three now, with a stick in each arm. I was starting to feel like a science experiment gone wrong, but this was just the beginning. After what seemed like an eternity, the next nurse came in with the pelvic exam cart. Right before she entered the room, the head doctor in charge stopped her. Dr. Oakes came in and explained to me that she thought we should do an ultrasound first since my “sac” was low in my uterus and didn’t want to hurt the baby. I didn’t know my sac was low, just that it was small, but apparently that got communicated from my earlier appointment, and now I was going to get another ultrasound. But not before they put a catheter in.

Though I didn’t have to have one earlier in the day, at this particular hospital a catheter is required for an ultrasound, despite the fact that even the staff think it’s pointless. After that news, I fell asleep at one point, the only zzz’s I would get that night. My husband tried to sleep in the armchair from hell, but, not surprisingly, couldn’t even manage a catnap. We were both on edge and silence hung in the room like a low cloud for most of the night. After about the first hour, we were out of things to say to comfort each other.

Several people came in to check on me, but it wasn’t until about 3 o’clock in the morning that a nurse came in to insert the catheter. Her name was Jen and she looked like somebody I’d probably be friends with in college. Jen was my age, as were a bunch of the other staff I encountered that night. I think it helped them empathize with me. The catheter hurt more than anything I’d ever had done at the gynecologist up to this point and I let my husband know. I squeezed his hand until he could no longer act tough. While totally inappropriate, he got a case of the giggles during all of this. The man could not stop laughing. Not sure if it was at the faces I was making or just one of those weird “I can’t cry so I’ll laugh” moments. Part of me was pissed. Part of me wanted to laugh right along with him, but it made me have to pee, so instead I just moaned and groaned and he held back his fits of laughter as best he could.

Jen told me they’d wheel me down for a sonogram soon. About 30 minutes later, a lady (the nurses names were all starting to sound the same at this point) came in and wheeled me and my bed down to the ultrasound room with my husband following closely behind. We rolled down halls I walked down every day at work without a second thought about the patients who kept us all employed. Being on the other side of the fence was gave me a whole new perspective. Here I was rolling by all too familiar signs and wall-hangings in the early dawn hours wishing I could be anywhere else in the world.

I’d lost my ability to care about names at this point, but the ultrasound tech was pretty young and all business. It was dead silent while we waited for the saltwater to load into my bladder so she could do the ultrasound. She didn’t even ask the age-old question. When was the first day of your last period? You could’ve heard a feather hit the floor. The sonographer seemed just as anxious to get this over with as I was. I wondered to myself if she had been sleeping when they’d called her in or what her back-story was. It seems odd now, but I wondered what was my trauma taking her away from. I didn’t ask, just as I didn’t ask what it was she saw on her screen.

Part of me wanted to know, the other, more logical part, didn’t. I thought about asking if she saw a heartbeat, then knew I didn’t want to hear it from her if she didn’t, so I just lay there, trying to interpret the images I saw. When her belly sonogram didn’t show anything, just like I knew it wouldn’t, she switched to the transvaginal one. It was pretty excruciatingly painful. She poked and prodded some more and when she was done I went to put my legs down. I could feel something start to come out, my catheter maybe, which made me hesitate, but I put my legs down all the way anyway. I immediately felt a gush of fluid come out. This can’t be good, I thought to myself.

The sonographer left the room to get the printed pictures and I looked at my husband with fear in my eyes and told him what’d I’d just experienced. He said it was probably the goop that the sonographers use and left it at that. I didn’t have the courage to look, fearful of what I might see, so I didn’t.

Minutes later I was being wheeled back to my room. What felt like more and more blood began to come out. Please let me be wrong I thought. Unfortunately, I was right. Just as Dr. H came in to do the follow up pelvic exam, I snuck a peak. I didn’t want her to be the first one to see.

It was a lot of bright red blood. I think it was at that point I knew, knew this wasn’t just spotting. This was a miscarriage. But the eternal optimist in me didn’t let myself fully believe it. I tried to distract myself through the pelvic exam, which was all but impossible. It was pain I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy is all I can tell you. After two vaginal sonograms in one day, a catheter and now another instrument being inserted, I winced in pain until she was done.

Dr. H was so comforting. When most people call me “sweetie” or “honey” it makes me want to hit them, especially when they are not that much older than me, but with her, somehow it was different. She sympathized and apologized that things were taking so long. When I looked into her beautiful brown eyes, I could tell she was sincere. I could tell she really cared. She told me that she’d take a look at the sonogram pictures and report back.

Finally, after the catheter was out, I could put my clothes back on. I was very tired and weak, but ready to run out of that hospital as fast as I could. I told my husband how much pain I was in and he said it was all for the baby. That made me feel better. If anything I’d gone through tonight had been for the good of the baby, I could accept that. I could live with the pain for him or her.

A knock on the door came and Dr. H poked her head in. She saw that I was decent and came into the room and closed the door behind her. “The Sonogram was not good,” she said matter of factly. “You lost the pregnancy.” At that, my tears flowed freely. I had known it was coming, but someone saying it out loud made it all too real. We weren’t going to have a baby after all.

Dr. H said she was sorry and that it was nothing I did to cause it. I just cried and covered my face with my hands. I couldn’t bear to look at my husband simply because his tears would only cause more of my own. I did finally turn to him for a hug and his eyes were wet. He later told me that he didn’t cry and it made him feel bad that he was more concerned about me than the baby. If he would have seen the heartbeat, that flash I saw earlier that day, I think he would have reacted differently.

Dr. H told us she would get the paperwork ready for us to go home. While this day, Sept. 6 would forever be seared in my brain as the day I lost my first baby to be, it was a day I wanted so badly to forget. It was supposed to be spent figuring out a way to convince our friends I wasn’t drinking during tailgating because of some reason we hadn’t come up with yet, not because I was pregnant. We were saving that news for my mom first. But instead of traveling to Ames that morning, we were being told our first pregnancy was a miscarriage.

If I had to be told by anyone, I’m so glad it was Cynthia. Dr. H picked the right profession. It was happenstance she happened to be on duty that night, but it was heaven sent in my mind. God knew I needed someone like her to be there for me, and I consider her an angel, even if she was the angel of death that day.

My third nurse of the night came in with the paperwork and a booklet about miscarriage. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said and it struck me. This was a loss. A loss of a baby to be. Not just some embryo or zygote or whatever the hell the science books say. This was going to be a baby, a real human being, a person, and a life that my husband and I created and now it was nothing. Nothing but a loss.

I looked down at the papers. “Complete abortion” read the diagnoses. Abortion? I didn’t choose to end this baby’s life. How unfair to call it an abortion. Apparently it’s the medical term for miscarriage, but it sure made me feel like shit.

I’m sure there was a point, a day, when I went from, “pregnancy would be the worst thing in the world right now,’ to “not be able to get pregnant would be the worst thing in the world right now.” It wasn’t that we couldn’t get pregnant, but that I couldn’t carry the baby full-term. And that to me was the new “worst thing in the world.”

Everything I read says that there’s nothing the mom can do or could of done to prevent a miscarriage. I have a hard time believing that and the book explains why. As humans, we want to find reason for things that go wrong to prevent them from happening again. I couldn’t agree more, and the fact that there might not have been anything I could have done differently scares me more than anything in the world. Honestly, I’m afraid to get pregnant again for fear that I’ll be so anxious, it’ll hurt my chances.

I feel like my body failed. Got a big fat F. I know people have miscarriages, but right now all I see is women who get pregnant and have no problems, no scares, no midnight trips to the ER and I wonder, ‘why me?’ What did I do to deserve this? Was it my initial reaction to the pregnancy? Was it the time I ran and got my heart rate up to high for the first trimester? Or was in the food I'd eaten that wasn’t the most nutritious? What was it, God? I just want to know so that I never do it again in my life.

My husband said he is ready to have babies as soon as I am again, but I can’t bear another broken heart. The miscarriage book says there are three things women feel after a miscarriage. One is anger, another is guilt and the third is sadness. I do not feel angry with God, but I do feel guilt and sadness. Unbearable sadness. I want to tell someone, but at the same time, I don’t. I never got to share the good news, so sharing the bad is almost like bringing somebody down with me.

Believe me, I thought of plenty of ways to tell people the good news, including my mom, by giving her a grandparent’s day card. I thought about telling my best friend by wrapping up a box of tampons and telling her I won’t need them for nine months. I wanted to give my sisters something that said “world’s greatest aunt” on it. All of these things crossed my mind, but I will never get to share that news. It’s only sad news to share now. Even I got a week to be happy. I almost wish I’d told my mom so she could have had it too, but she probably would have bought out Babies R Us, so I guess it’s for the best.

I went and saw Julie today for my first follow up since the ER. She told me how sorry she was and that I should tell mom. I think so too, but it’s a matter of when and how. Like I said, it’s hard knowing you’re going to ruin someone’s day.

It’s depressing that I can go back to the life I so longed for when I found out I was pregnant. Suddenly drinking at a tailgate doesn’t seem so important anymore. Nor do couple vacations or the fact our house is nowhere near baby proof. I’m wondering how long it will take before there comes a day, or even a few hours, where I don’t think about my miscarriage. Somehow I think it will be a very long time before that happens.

Since we left the ER on the morning of Sept. 6, my husband has randomly asked my how I’m doing. I think I’m doing as well as can be expected, but the future is unknown. If I don’t think about it, I do OK, but if I do it becomes a cycle of sadness. My husband has truly been absolutely everything I could have asked for. Every word out of his mouth has been the right thing to say at the right time. Even our dog seems to know when I’m having a moment and need to be left alone. His presence has been both a distraction and a blessing. As I sit here typing this he is playing with his toys going back and forth between one and the other, not sure which one it is that he should play with.

I hope in the future that I can write about how much everyone else has helped me heal, but for now, it’s something between my husband and me. For now it’s our cross to bear and for some reason I want it to stay that way at least for a little while. I hope at some point in my life that I can help someone else who experiences a miscarriage by sharing my story.

I wish that this didn’t have to happen to us. I know that some people have it worse, but right now I can only think of myself and the baby that would have been. My baby. Our baby. And now, God’s forever baby. If you’re up there, know that your mommy and daddy love you. Forever and always.

Ramblings of a crazy man

I decided I would free write for a post (since I am reminded I haven't done one in a while). The first thing I noticed was the new blogger interface. Very scaled back... kind of throwing me off. I had important stuff to say (I'm sure) but now most of it's gone.

So Nicole and I finally watched "The Social Network" and we both really liked it. I think I'll make a list of random thoughts that come into my head, and if someone creates a website from it, I'll sue for $65 million.

- We need to watch more movies I've decided.

- You know, now that I'm the dad of a one-year-old, I really do wish there was more time in the day so I could sleep it away.

- Howie seems to know when to bark at the most inopportune times. This can be applied to train whistles as well.

- Nicole and I would like to move away from the trains eventually, but then our bobble-head collection would lose its charm... (ba dum).

- Our friends are having twins, one boy and one girl. Wife doesn't have baby-fever quite yet...

- Add to above... My neighbors dogs bark at the most inopportune times.

- I finally feel like I'm teaching... and it's awesome! As a non-math guy, working with budgets all day is tough, but I'll manage.

- I dare you to find a more beautiful campus than Iowa State in the fall... Go Cyclones!

- Tailgating rocks.

- I'm very eager for basketball season to get underway.

- My wife's birthday is coming up and I'm getting her ___________ and I don't think she has any idea (I will remove the line eventually).

-I'm running again (as is Nicole) and it's great.

Well, I feel as though if you're still reading this, you're bored by now! I'm sure I'll post again soon.