Heaven is in a Parking Space at Starbucks

Ordinary places can harbor extraordinary meaning for some.
I can’t recall if I’ve told all of you that Lucy and I have a parking spot at Starbucks. That’s an occupational hazard of blogging, I think. You forget whether you’ve told the story before and just have to hope that your readers are either forgetful or forgiving.
I like to pull into that space when it is free and sit there to read and drink coffee, just as I used to with her sleeping in the backseat. This isn’t easy to do with Max along. He becomes impatient and uncomfortable. I remember that I tried parking there a few times not long after Lucy died and told Max why. He would last maybe a minute before asking to leave and got the idea that Heaven was in that parking space at Starbucks. I guess I can’t blame him, since I told him I felt close to Lucy there and he was only three.
I’m telling this story a bit backwards. As those of you with more than one child know, the second kid often gets the shaft when it comes to naps. They just have to sleep when they get the chance. It’s usually worked in around the older child’s schedule. Most of the time, they either miss naps or end up sleeping in the car.
Even though I felt the requisite Mommy guilt over Lucy not getting daily, regular naps in her crib like Max did, I secretly relished it when she fell asleep in the car, especially if Max was at school. I would pull into Starbucks, order a mocha, pull into one of two spaces towards the end of the row, and blissfully read my book or blogs until she woke up or school dismissal time rolled around.
Sometimes, I would gaze at the ranch land still left across the road and listen to her breathing. Mostly, I read like I was never going to get the chance again. Boy, did I have that one wrong.
This morning, I left the doctor’s office and drove to Starbucks. The spot has been free the last two times I’ve been there, including today. I drove in, parked, picked up my mocha, and started to read.
Although I no longer hear her breath or the sounds of her waking in the backseat, she is in every beat of my heart. The empty infant seat waiting back there will soon be filled with the breaths of the one whose heart beats under mine.

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Fear and Hope

I’m currently almost 39 weeks pregnant. (I hit 39 weeks tomorrow if you go by the LMP, Monday if you go by the due date.)
These last few weeks are always hard. I am so grateful to be having another baby, let alone another little girl, but the difficulties multiply exponentially at the end. You’re uncomfortable, you’re frightened. You have no idea when the baby is going to come, unless you have scheduled an induction or C-section.
Every time I have a new baby, I am determined to do better than I did with the last one. I want to be as positive as I can be and enjoy this pregnancy as much as I can. But chronic anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, aggravated by pregnancy hormones, make the stress and uncertainty much harder to take.
I still think my spirits are improved over last time. I experience bad days and my hormones swing back and forth like a pendulum, but I tend to land on positive almost as often as negative, I think. I even stay on positive for awhile. 
An important realization hit me yesterday after I emailed some mom friends about my fears. I feel so silly still being afraid of childbirth after conquering it twice, especially since I plan to avail myself of the epidural this time. However, I am far from alone. It really helps to know that.
Of course, I am well aware of my fear that Scarlett will develop cardiomyopathy like Lucy and die. Hell, there are many other diseases and mishaps that can cause a child to die, too. Most of the time, I remind myself how unlikely any of that is and resolve to cross that bridge if we come to it. The realization from yesterday lies in the fact that this fear is more closely tied to the loss of Lucy and the birth process than I knew before.
In the months after Lucy’s death, I felt extra-angry that I worked so hard to bring her into this world and she was just gone. My second pregnancy and postpartum were incredibly tough and painful physically. They were much harder than the first and third times. Why did I endure so much to bring her here if she was going to die at 15 months? It’s not right that we mothers work so hard to bring these babies here safely and they can be snatched from us so quickly.
I think the fear of going through all of this again just to have Scarlett snatched from me, too, is really hitting me now. Obviously, I am grateful for every moment with Lucy. She was worth every bit of pain. The joy she brought far outweighed all of it. But no one in their right mind wants that to happen again. There is a reason people can be so afraid to try again after loss. Surviving a loss can make you feel like you can conquer anything, but it can also make you feel terribly aware of the chances of it happening again. You know that absolutely no one is granted immunity, even through previous loss.

Our Second “First” Date

July 15 is a special day. A very important beginning and ending took place on this day.
I didn’t realize until recently that today is the anniversary of my Grandma Lowder’s death. I knew she died in July. Her death was the first serious loss I ever experienced. But the exact date slipped from my memory over the years. When my mother reminded me a few days ago that this is the date Grandma died, I was very surprised, because another very important event has occurred on this date in the 22 years since the loss of my grandmother.
For eight years now, this date has also been the anniversary of my second “first” date with the man who would become my husband. Our actual first date occurred on Valentine’s Day 2006 and we enjoyed another date in March as well. After that, things petered out a bit.
I think this was mostly due to me being an idiot, but neither of us was quite ready for something serious during those first two dates. We were both getting over other people. However, I kept up with him via MySpace (!) and I began to feel ready. By July, I knew I couldn’t let such an amazing man slip through my fingers. I was scared, but I emailed him to ask if he wanted to come to my friend Laura’s birthday party at The County Line on 2222 with me.
He didn’t answer as quickly as he usually did and I panicked a bit. However, by the next morning, he responded, saying he would love to join me. (I think he was at The Paramount with a friend seeing “Clerks II”, which accounted for the delayed response.)
That Saturday morning, I attended a teacher training information session at Yoga Yoga. (Unfortunately, I have yet to do the actual yoga teacher training.) I remember feeling exhilarated that day as I drove home. I listened to the song “Lucky” by Bif Naked on repeat. I just knew somehow that this was the beginning of the real deal. I felt joy, but also apprehension. Luckily, I was absolutely determined not to chicken out.
I arrived at The County Line first and sat in my car waiting. I saw him arrive and walk in, noting the way he walked. We sat next to each other and talked. He insisted on paying. I noticed that he wedged his spoon inside the lemon slice from his tea. I asked why and I think he said that kept it from lying flat on the table in case he needed to use it again.
Everyone planned to meet downtown in a few hours at Lance Armstrong’s club Six. I again invited Chris and he accepted. He picked me up at my apartment and we headed downtown.
We were the first ones there. (This group of friends tended to head downtown very late when they went.) We danced, had a drink, and checked out the famous roof, but it was very crowded. Neither of us is much for the club scene, so we decided to head out to Magnolia Café on South Congress for pancakes.
By then, it was about 4 in the morning. I remember having a hard time staying awake at that point. I think Chris did, too, so he dropped me off at my apartment and headed home.
Chris kept asking me out and I managed to overcome my fear and intimacy issues and kept saying yes. A month later, we were a couple. Four months after that, we moved in together. Seven months later, he asked me to marry him and I accepted. Seven months after that we were married and seventeen months after that, our sweet Max was born.
Two and a half years later, we welcomed Lucy, then said good-bye to her fifteen months later. We lost a pregnancy three months after that and are now eager to welcome our third/fourth child in the next few weeks.
Of course, there have been job changes, one move, a pet death, several other deaths in the family, vacations, health challenges, birthday parties, new cars, and all of the other flotsam and jetsam of life. We have endured much together and I admit there have been times I feared we would break. Now, I feel quite sure that we will not. We are in this for the long haul. It is the real deal, just as I pictured as I drove from Yoga Yoga to my apartment to get ready for our second “first” date.
Most of our special anniversaries occur in July, August, and February. With the imminent arrival of Scarlett, July and August will become even more special. Happy second first date, honey. Thank you for saying yes and for continuing to love me and show up every day. We are, indeed, the “lucky ones”.

Discarded Ideas

I hate it when I have ideas for my blog and, by the time I get a chance to write about them, they just aren’t relevant anymore. Today is one of those days.
I intended to write about my fears concerning Scarlett’s birth. I struggled with that earlier this week. They tend to come and go in waves. With the excessive bleeding after Lucy’s birth and the other bad luck we have experienced, it just seems too good to be true sometimes that this baby will be born and everything will be fine.
However, I am feeling better now and the passion to delve into that topic just isn’t there. My fears will probably come back at least once before the birth, though, so stay tuned!
I thought about describing our struggles to get Max to eat healthy food. Again, that topic has been done to death and I don’t really want advice about it. We’ve tried it all and the bottom line is that you can’t make a kid eat anything they don’t want to eat. We just have to keep offering healthy food and setting a good example. (Most of the time. 😉 )
An ongoing struggle – Max won’t regularly stay in his room until 7 a.m., despite the fact that he has an “Ok to Wake” alarm clock, a light he can turn on himself, and we offered to show him how to turn on the TV and get himself cereal if he will go downstairs by himself. He doesn’t want to be alone. Well, we don’t want to get up before 7 on a regular basis. Life’s tough, kid.
Seriously, though, Chris took him back to bed three times this morning between 6:20 and 7:00. That woke Fort up and started the meowing and pawing at blinds. We stayed strong, though! Nobody slept, but everyone stayed in their rooms! (A somewhat hollow victory.)
I even considered the topic that it really bugs me that everyone seems to think Joey on “Full House” was “Uncle Joey”. When did this get started?? I read a few articles this morning about Dave Coulier’s wedding and all three stated he was “Uncle Joey” on the show. How old are these writers? Have they ever even seen “Full House”? I corrected one and they actually argued with me, because the wiki says he was “Uncle Joey”. Well, if the WIKI says it’s true… Let’s disregard what they actually called him on the show!
Guess I worked up a little passion there, about that topic of all topics. It’s the former English teacher in me. I can’t stand it when people don’t fact-check their writing. However, if the mistake is online, I can’t really blame them. I doubt they have time to watch a bunch of episodes of the show to check.
ANNNNNYWAY, I am glad the crazy months of May and June are over. They were so jam-packed with special events that it makes it difficult to enjoy them after awhile. I don’t know why it seems to be feast or famine in that respect. There’s either nothing going on or everything.
I’m just full of brilliant insights today, aren’t I? Cliches and everything!
We are finally to the point where we are making final preparations for baby Scarlett. The only events left before that one are the Fourth of July and maybe Max’s actual birthday. (Oooh, I could have written about his party last weekend. Maybe I will do that next week. We had a Magic School Bus party!) Luckily, I still have plenty to keep me busy, but somehow, time is passing quickly and the pregnancy is passing slowly. (Ok, NOW it’s 36 weeks.) I put everyone’s numbers in my phone last night. Now we just need to put the finishing touches on the nursery, pack my bag, and pre-register at the hospital. We might be forgetting something, but probably nothing a quick trip to Target won’t fix.
So, I just wrote a whole post about the ideas I decided not to write about. I really hope some inspiration strikes over the weekend.

This Blog is Coming Out as Pro-Choice (and Pro-Vaccine)

This blog primarily concerns my personal life, particularly my journey through grief after losing Lucy and having a missed miscarriage and a D&C three months later. However, I am going to put in my two cents about Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court’s decision anyway.

This is going to be short and not terribly in-depth. I only have about an hour till I pick Max up. Contrary to what some may think, I actually make it a point to read material written by the opposing side on issues. I do not want to live in a partisan echo chamber or be brainwashed by anyone. Here are the five most common arguments in favor of SCOTUS’s decision that I have seen.

  1. If you want birth control, you should pay for it yourself, instead of expecting someone else to do it for you. No one is saying you can’t have it.

 

I agree with the basic principle. If you want something, you should pay for it yourself. However, no one is telling men they have to pay for their Viagra or their vasectomies. Either everyone has to pay for their own medicine or no one. You can’t target medicines so specific to gender. IT IS SEXIST.

 

  1. This is a victory for religious freedom. There is a war on Christians.

 

Um, no. Christians are in incredible positions of power. It is still the predominant religion in this country. Religion has no place in government or business. I don’t care if it’s Christians, Muslims, Jews, or Hindus – none of them have the right to use their religion to dictate others’ lives. I don’t care who is doing it. Lately, it seems to be the extreme Christians who are doing it. So, if you feel like people hate you or are targeting Christians, well, you brought it on yourselves. If you don’t want to use birth control or have abortions, you don’t have to. You don’t have the right to stop other people based on your religious beliefs that they don’t share. They are your beliefs, not facts.

 

  1. Hobby Lobby is a Christian business with sincerely held religious beliefs.

 

Businesses aren’t people and can’t hold beliefs. Plus, they covered the birth control they just sued not to cover until it became required by the Affordable Care Act. Their 401K plan also invested heavily in the very companies that make the products they sued to avoid at the time they filed their complaint. They aren’t fighting for religious freedom – it’s about politics. They are hypocrites.

 

  1. They shouldn’t have to cover pills that cause abortions.

 

They don’t have to. An abortion is the termination of an already existing pregnancy. Some of these pills prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. They do not end an existing pregnancy. Mother Nature stops fertilized eggs from implanting all the time. Are you going to find a way to stop her, too?

 

  1. If you don’t want to be pregnant, change your behavior.

 

Again, I agree with the basic principle. However, shit happens. People make mistakes, women are raped, birth control fails. Oh, and there is the tiny fact that birth control has other uses besides birth control. Cytotec, one of the drugs targeted in these arguments, can induce abortion, but it also saved my life after my daughter Lucy was born. It stopped the excessive bleeding I was experiencing.

Female employees of Hobby Lobby should have the same access to the same healthcare that I do. If it affects only one group with a history of being discriminated against, it is wrong. If it favors one religion, it is wrong.

 

PERIOD. (No pun intended.)

 

To my Christian and conservative friends reading this blog – I love you and am glad you are my friends. Please let’s keep talking about this. It is the only way it will ever get fixed. Christianity has done good in the world. It can be lovely. But this is not an example of one of those times. I think the media and politicians have polarized us and made it seem like this is about religious vs. gender rights when it really is not. The fact is, this decision is still sexist and favors Christianity over other religions. But Hobby Lobby is not some hero, not all Christians hate women, and there is no war on Christianity. We get such a one-dimensional view of things from the media and Facebook. LET’S KEEP TALKING TO EACH OTHER.

 

 

 

Hey, I’ve been published! Please check out Lucy’s story on Voices for Vaccines’ “Parents Who Vax” blog: http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/protecting-those-who-need-it-most/

 

As well as my latest post on Mamalode magazine’s website: http://mamalode.com/story/detail/letter-to-baby-bean

 

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