Saturday, October 24, 2015

Somewhere Between... a Bust & a Blessing

Greetings Blueprint followers!  It has been a very quiet year on this blog.  If you've followed me diligently since 2009, I apologize that the typical "here's what she's up to now" fitspiration has been missing this year.  I have changed, I have grown, I have digressed, and I have learned.  I am not the person I was when I began this journey at 285 pounds in 2009.  I am also not the girl who successfully made it to 185 pounds and celebrated keeping 100 pounds off for awhile.

I am somewhere between 2015 being a complete bust and a blessing.  Allow me to explain.

If you followed me this year you know there hasn't been much to watch, except for my heart to have been broken in a zillion little pieces, and the effort it has taken to gather the pieces back up and learn my new normal.  Check in here first, then here to catch yourself up on my year.  Seriously, you could just scroll to the right and see this is only my 5th blog in this entire year. It's the quietest year I've had since I began blogging in 2009.  Partly, because I haven't had much to say that would be inspiring to many of you.  Instead, I've struggled, cried, grieved, spent time on the carpet, and learned what the bottom really feels like.

Today, my weight is NOT where I want it to be.  But my focus has completely changed.  When we decided, earlier this year, to ask the Lord to increase our family (and of course do our part to make that happen), my focus shifted.  During my pregnancy in January/February/March, I was still running, lifting heavy weights, traveling like a crazy person and basically keeping up with my normal routine of life.  And then our baby died.  And my world stopped spinning while my heart broke solidly in half.  You see, everything seemed fine with our angel at first.  The baby had a strong heartbeat.  We saw it more than once and felt comfortable revealing to our beautiful 11 year old daughter that she would be a big sister.  She sobbed with excitement for this long awaited answered prayer.  And then less than a week later, we had to shatter her with the news that her sibling had gone to be with Jesus.

Since then I have come across many many women who have experienced something like this or much, much worse.  Though a loss is truly a loss, I have grown to learn that the pain can be just as unbearable with a first trimester as it can be to deliver a stillborn.  Ours stung especially due to the fact that we waited so long for it, and were so ignorant to what could happen.  One in four pregnancies ends unexpectedly in a loss.  No one expects to be the one in four, and many women suffer in silence.  If you know me at all, you know silence isn't exactly one of my gifts.  But I believe firmly and wholeheartedly that this new pain I've experienced is one that will someday help another. There are women hurting today who don't have anyone who fully understands their pain.  I get it and it's awful.

As you can imagine, after losing the pregnancy and my surgery in late March, my weight wasn't in a happy place. I was solidly back in the 200s, and hovering around 220 for awhile.  It took time for my body to realize it was no longer pregnant and I'll never forget the day I woke up deflated again.

Add that to the intense grief and depression, feeling like my chance and opportunity was completely missed because I waited so long, add in the feeling of despair and disappointment each month when I wasn't becoming pregnant, and I spiraled out of control in so many ways.

August rolled around and we headed to San Francisco to celebrate my brother's wedding to my beautiful new sister in love.  The trip was long and I was emotional and exhausted.  I chalked it up to my typical monthly hormone trip, in addition to late nights joking with my brothers and the time difference.  I was also faced with a confusing combination of amazing joy and sadness as I faced my other beautiful sister in love, who was due to have a baby just a few short weeks before I was.  I love her so deeply, but it still stung to see her beautiful round pregnant belly when mine was soft and empty.  The family time was amazing and I'm so thankful we had it.
At my brother's wedding with my handsome date!  16 years together, 15.5 married. He is my rock.

Yes, this is taken in the summer!  Muir Woods in northern CA.  Beautiful!
 We headed home and in the few days that it took to recover I realized I had missed my period.  I bought a test with zero expectation and you can imagine my shock when it immediately came up as positive as can be.  I was stunned, and unfortunately around 228 pounds.  Immediately I felt excitement and was upset with myself at the same time.

I took the first test (left) at 2pm.  The second test (right) at 9pm.
Now I am 14 weeks pregnant, which is 5 weeks further than we made it the last time.  Our almost 12 year old is cautiously optimistic, as are we.  I'm learning what it means to experience a pregnancy without the bliss of my previous ignorance.  Every twinge, ache, or funny feeling is analyzed, googled, questioned, wondered about.  While I have immense outward joy about this pregnancy, which is absolutely sincere, I have simultaneously inwardly struggled to feel true joy.  Almost like when you know something has failed you before, unexpectedly, you're constantly expecting to wake up to the bad news, and seeing the glass as half full, when it comes to this, is virtually impossible.  We've seen a strong, perfectly healthy little baby measuring a few days ahead of schedule, and we've heard a beautiful heartbeat more than once.  I'm not sure I will feel actual joy until I am holding this little blessing in my arms and I know he or she is safe from anything my body may or may not be able to do to protect it.

I've experienced absolutely terrible nausea this time around.  I actually was on a whole 30 for about 18 days between weeks 5 and 8, and then it came to the point where I could not look at a vegetable without wanting to hurl. My worst nightmare coming true!  I stopped the Whole 30 and just began to eat for survival.  Not only have I had the terrible nausea, but the fatigue has been almost debilitating.  I'm 36 years old and I am feeling the effects of having a later in life pregnancy.  I've honestly felt like a zombie for much of the last 6 weeks, but am hopefully rounding the corner.

At my last doctor's appointment at 12 weeks, I had already gained 11 pounds.  My entire weight gain for this pregnancy is supposed to be between 11-20 pounds.  Oops.  My midwife was so sweet and told me I have a "hall pass" until the nausea passes, then as an athlete she fully expects me to do what I know to do to get healthy.  I could have hugged her.
12 weeks - not super flattering, but there it is. Sorry for the mess. Dixie says hi.
While this doesn't mean I have gone fully off the rails (I actually haven't gained anything in the last two weeks) it does mean I am taking my nutrition one meal at a time.  One bite at a time some days.  This child loves greek yogurt and marshmallows (I'm limiting those).  Far cry from the way of eating that makes me feel best (paleo) but I also know that since 75% of what I used to eat before sounds absolutely disgusting right now (including sweet potatoes!) I just have to do the best I can.

I went for a walk once this week.  Once.  But it was better than nothing.  Maybe next week I'll get out a few more times. I did one kettlebell workout a few weeks ago.  But right now, if my body needs a nap I'm picking that over activity.  Growing a human is quite hard work at this point in my life.  And while I know I'll find my way back to more activity as I begin to feel a bit better (yay second trimester!) for now I'm prioritizing the best way I know how.  And the blessing gets priority.

So on this blog you may not find fitspiration for awhile, but I will try to blog updates about how things are progressing with my priority, the pregnancy, as well as how I'm doing in the health department.  My "blueprint" has always been drawn in pencil, and if you've been with me for awhile you know I've seen the ups and downs, successes and failures, but I've always grown as a person.  I look forward to finding pieces of my former fit self as I begin to feel better because I also realize the better I eat the more nutrition I'm providing this new little blessing growing inside of me.

Our pregnancy announcement.  One excited big sister!

2015 may not end with goals reached, pounds lost, but inches and a life gained.  Best part?  I know what to do, and when I am able, I'll do it. Been there, done that.  Got the blog history to prove it, right here.

And I'll thank God every day for the miracle of life and whatever part He allows me to experience this time around.

With love,

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I'm a Change in the Making...

Hey world...I'm back again, checking in on how life has been.

Since our loss in March (catch up HERE if you missed it) I've been working on finding my "new normal" and allowing myself to go through the grieving process.  So many things are happening in my head, heart and spirit that I almost don't know where to start this blog.  I guess I'll just start somewhere and hopefully the tangled and cryptic thoughts in my mind will make some sense once it's all out in the open.

Grief is hard.  Grieving the loss of a child is amazingly hard.  Grieving this loss has surprised me.  I say surprised because having never experienced a miscarriage before, and having had a perfect pregnancy with Elizabeth in 2003, I had no idea what this would feel like.  Similar to many life situations until you're actually walking that road, while you certainly can sympathize, or feel bad for someone who is sad, you cannot possibly empathize.

The pain, I can't even describe the pain.  The despair.  The feeling that I've lost something that I waited SO LONG for.  That hopeless feeling that nothing I could have done would have saved my child.  It wasn't meant to be, for now.

The finality of the whole thing and the surging hormones I've experienced over the last month have really made this road a bumpy one.  My body took a few weeks to figure out that I was no longer carrying a baby.  It's almost like it's in shock for that first little bit since I had the surgery and didn't miscarry on my own.  I still had tummy bloat for a few weeks then one day I woke up and it was gone.

There have been several key experiences and events this last 6 weeks that have really carried me along during this time.  One was a long conversation with a dear old friend, we don't get to talk often but when we do, it's like no time has passed since the last conversation.  She allowed me to share my heart, the good, bad and ugly, and she empathized with me, cried with me, and gave me a refreshing feeling of hope again.  Thank you my friend, for that. 

It was a Sunday, which in our house is kind of a big deal (you know, being married to the preacher and all) and I struggled to get myself dressed for church.  I had put on weight, some from pregnancy (chicken and waffles cravings were fierce!) and some from grief eating when Lizzie and I visited my future home (Amelia Island, Florida - before you freak out, that's where I plan to retire).  Anyway once the tummy bloat was gone, it was almost worse.  I was now just fat.  My hips and butt wore the remaining pounds I put on (something like 25 total - it was a bad scene) and I felt hopeless and totally upset.  Add the raging hormones, the typical difficulty that Sunday morning has in store for my family (until we get in there and begin to focus where we need to focus) and I was a MESS that morning.

A friend hugged me and I burst into tears.  I just felt despair.  I was really experiencing depression.  Full on, wish I could go to sleep and not wake up depression.  I haven't felt this way since long before I knew Jesus.  As a teenager I battled depression and suicidal thoughts.  I wasn't quite "there" but felt myself spiraling in a bad direction.  I knew that I needed to climb my way out of this.

I sent Stephen and Lizzie to lunch after church and I had a protein shake and grabbed my kindle.  A devotion I've been working through is called Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg.  The 6th devotion in that book is titled "Nothing to Show for My Loss."  I read that devotion and it was exactly what I needed on that awful day.

Here is a quote I highlighted:  "You may feel you have nothing to show for your loss but a stack of bills, and out-of-shape body, raging hormones, an incomplete nursery, pain and suffering and empty arms." 

Empty arms.  Yes.  This resonated with me.  As did the medical bills, of course.  And the out of shape body.  Nothing fit right.  My body was not the same. But my arms.  They ached.

Add to that the other physical changes, all of my long beautiful fingernails broke, one by one.  I've never had great nails, but they were amazing when I was pregnant.  I also was struggling with insomnia but thanks to some Valerian root began finding my sleep groove again.  Physically it took me a few weeks to get to where I would work out again, but I continued to be so exhausted (depression does that ya know) and felt like nothing I did mattered.  I kept wondering what I could have done differently to save my baby.  I made a long list of things I did while I was pregnant wondering which one caused my baby to die.  I rode on 6 airplanes (though I never went through the body scanner, I opted for pat downs), ran a 5k at 6 weeks pregnant, continued lifting heavy weights, had my hair colored, and I think I ate gorgonzola cheese by accident one time.  Was it me?  Did I do this?

My 2 week checkup with the OBGYN proved to be good for me.  I went over my laundry list with him trying to pinpoint what happened.  He is a father of 9 children (and shared his wife experienced 3 losses trying to get their last 2 babies here), and he looked at me calmly and said "You didn't do this.  The baby didn't spontaneously miscarry, instead, it got to a certain size and could not continue growing so it was missing what it needed.  Since your body didn't expel the baby we removed it.  There's nothing you physically did or could have done."

I feel like between the conversation with my friend, that devotion the day before and that appointment, something shifted in me.  I knew those things he said, that I read and that she shared, I think, subconsciously, but I needed someone to tell me it was ok, and it was not my fault.  As a woman, you think, my body is MADE for this.  How could I be dysfunctional in the one major thing my body was designed to do?  I also needed to know that it was normal to grieve a baby I never got to meet.  Some people have not known how to communicate with me about this and I don't blame them at all.  But they try to minimize your pain or say something to make you feel better. News flash - NOTHING anyone says to me will make me miss my baby less or soothe my pain.  All you can say is you're continuing to pray for us and think of us.  That helps more than even telling me it was "meant to be." Even if it was.  You wouldn't say that to someone who lost a child on this side of the uterus.  Don't say it to someone who lost a baby they didn't get to meet, either.

The only thing that has truly and totally begun to dig me out of my sadness has been Jesus.  Seriously.  I'm a pastor's wife but I will confess I'm not in the word of God regularly outside of Sunday.  I also have a crazy busy full time traveling job, run my household, workout 5 days a week and cook most of my meals.  Life is busy.  And for too long it's been too busy for God.  Through this He has been beckoning to me and I have nowhere to go but towards Him. 

On an airplane a few weeks ago, I was returning from a trip and on my second flight of the day, wanted to sleep.  It was a short flight, but enough of a catnap to help me rest before the drive home from the airport.  I sometimes talk to people on flights, other times I don't.  Depends on my mood.  I looked to my left and the woman next to me had this tattoo on the inside of her forearm that said HOPE in huge letters. It gripped me that someone who would put this as such a large reminder on their arm probably had some major reason for doing so.  I suddenly began crying (this is a side effect of grief and hormones I've since learned) and began digging around in my bag for the tissues I knew had to be in there.  I didn't want it to be obvious I was crying but suddenly I began hearing something in my head.  A tune, and then some words began to flow with it.  I wondered what song had come to mind and then I realized, it's not one I've heard before.  I grabbed my notebook and through my tears penned an entire song in about 20 minutes.  The funny part about how I write music (and by the way haven't written anything like this in YEARS) is that I always get words WITH the tune.  Which makes it fun to try to write as you have to figure out what chord progression goes with your tune.  Kind of backwards but for some reason that's always how I write.  I was amazed and inspired that God would give me such a gift set off by emotion and someone else's tattoo.  I wish I had asked that girl what her tattoo stood for but I can only imagine it was a reminder to hang on.  I needed it that day.

More crazy, out of the woodwork things have happened to help me find peace during this storm.  I was flipping through my bible this past weekend while listening to an amazing speaker encouraging pastors and deacons wives at a conference.  I flipped suddenly to an ultrasound picture that I forgot I had stuck in my Bible one day hoping to hide it from my little girl.  I wanted to hide it as it was my 2nd Ultrasound picture, when I first began to experience bleeding a few days after my first ultrasound.  They had me come in when I called and explained my symptoms 4 days later.  Heartbeat was 155, baby looked good and was growing.  It's the last picture I have of my baby alive.  I stared at our little peanut for a minute, then my eyes were drawn below it to a scripture.  I had inadvertently stuck this picture in Psalm 39.  Let me share what I found.

Psalm 39:15 says "For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God."  This seemed to be a prophetic placement of the picture of the baby that would pass away just days later.  If you read on to Verse 17, it says, "For I am ready to fall, and my sorry is continually before me."

That day I quickly stuck this picture into my bible so Lizzie wouldn't know something could be wrong and wouldn't worry, I obviously didn't realize where I had put it.  I hadn't even seen it in weeks.  And that day when I stuck it in my bible and stuffed the continually nagging feeling that something was not OK with the baby, I was unaware that my sorrow really was still before me.

Right now my theme is all about trying to take one day at a time.  Trying to allow myself to cry and grieve when I need to, talk to the people who don't mind me talking about it all.the.time (you know who you are - I love you!) and look to the future purpose I know this awful experience was designed for. You see, I don't believe that suffering comes without purpose.  My faith in Christ tells me that we all suffer for a purpose, as did He.  He suffered more than I ever will.  This is not a time to turn away from God no matter how much I wish He had let me have this baby.  After all, He knows what it's like to lose a child.

That speaker last weekend shared with us that there are several reasons why God allows hardship. 

She shared that Trials can be to:
- TEST us - are you who you say you are?
- CORRECT us - we may be heading toward danger, move us down another path or direction.
- PERFECT us - to refine us and continue to make us more like the image of God himself.

I'm not saying I think I lost this baby so God could teach me a lesson, please don't misunderstand.  But I do believe losing this baby has had and will have a major purpose in our lives.  Not just for future ministry, but for my life in general.  It has caused me to run to God instead of putting every obstacle and excuse between myself and growing closer to Him and growing in my spiritual walk.

I do believe through everything we experience we are being perfected.  Like it mentions in Malachi 3:3, "He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver so that they may present to the Lord offerings of righteousness."  Someone who is purifying gold or silver puts it in FIRE to remove the impurities.  It is hotter than we really can stand, on our own.  God is perfecting me and through this grief, sadness and all of these tears, I hope to reflect more of His image than I ever have because of this.  So my loss can have a tangible and meaningful purpose.

My life is no longer about keeping everything separate or being careful not to mention my faith much on this blog.  I feel strongly called to share my grief with all of you, and share how God is helping me through it.  I don't know why.  I don't personally know most of those of you who are reading this right now.  But God does.  He knows everything.

And He holds my future.  I believe without a shadow of a doubt that this glorious sadness will bring continued joy.  And while I would gladly accept my child back in a heartbeat, I also do not regret this newly found closeness I am experiencing with my Father in heaven.

I can picture Him rocking my baby back and forth.  My daughter named the baby Andrew James.  We don't know for sure it was a boy, but in the several dreams I had about the baby, I always saw a boy.  While I know my arms will not hold Andrew this side of heaven, I know I have a beautiful angel waiting for me.  Until we meet again, I am going to do my best to comfort others who have also lost or are lost themselves.

Please comment if I can be praying for you.  I find myself having time now that I'm making time in my daily devotion so I will gladly add you to my list.

I'll leave you with a song that came on my ipod this morning during a 5k race.  I didn't get to pick the playlist as I didn't get my ipod working until halfway through the race (yeah the lock button prevents you from pressing play!).  I just hit play and this song came up in the playlist and I had forgotten about it.  I began crying (yep, again) but quickly had to compose myself so I could breathe and finish the race. 

I'm SO glad He is not done with me yet!  Change in the Making by Addison Road.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost...

Hello world...been out of touch online for awhile.  I gave up Facebook for the Lent season and since I interact with my blog world so much through Facebook that sort of went offline as well.  I also had a great deal going on that I wasn't quite prepared to share with the world.  You might need a tissue for this one.  I did.

As I look back on the last 40 days, I'm amazed at how much has happened and how it actually feels like months and months have passed with the range of emotions we have experienced.  We have had the best and the worst of times in a short month and few weeks.  Our family's story has forever changed.

Some of you know we have an 11 year old little girl, or really little young lady now.  She's been my world her entire life.  We waited to try to have more children for a few reasons.  First, my brain tumor diagnosis some years back along with the complication of being over 100 pounds overweight, add in my husband going back to college, me finishing college, moving three times, buying a house, trying to sell a house and several job changes and there was just never a time that felt right.  Well, we finally felt like the timing was good for us to expand our family and excitedly set out to accomplish just that.

Lo and behold, I became pregnant on the first try!  Yikes and wow, right?  I'm 36 now and was 25 when I had L all those years ago.  I was ecstatic that I was able to conceive again and began making lots of plans and saw the dreams I've put on hold for over a decade coming to fruition, finally.  Over the last few years I had been collecting cute maternity clothes, baby clothes of both genders just in case, and had even begun making plans for work to be able to take the time necessary away from my job.

My first doctor's appointment was on March 19th and the ultrasound showed a healthy little peanut looking baby moving around and a strong heartbeat of 144!  We were so happy to see all was well.  The baby measure a little smaller than my calculations had estimated, but my midwife was not overly concerned about that.  We continued on our plans of letting our little girl know the news the next night during a family photo shoot in Savannah with the huge surprised planned halfway through it.  She burst into tears when we presented her with her "I'm the Big Sister" charm bracelet.  I've never seen her so happy in all her life.

{These amazing photos taken by Apt B. Photography in Savannah, GA, if you are in the Savannah area, you must contact her, she is amazing!}

We spent the weekend in absolute familial bliss.  My daughter was talking to "Peanut" in my belly, bought the baby a toy and began making her own plans and just enjoying the future to come.  My girl has prayed for a little brother or sister for as long as she could talk.  We enjoyed our time together and traveled home.  The next day we let Elizabeth make the announcement to the church congregation my husband pastors and they were all as thrilled for us as we were for ourselves.  Eight weeks may seem a little early to share with the "world" but our church family is our family, and we wanted them to be praying for us.

Over that weekend on and off I did begin experiencing some complications.  I called the doctor Monday and they said to come on in.  An ultrasound showed our little peanut had grown appropriately since the prior Thursday and the heartbeat was up to 155.  All looked well.

The next day I flew to WV for work and the complications continued while I was gone, though I didn't feel unwell.  I called the doctor that Wednesday and she said to come in on Friday when I returned from my trip.

Friday morning I got ready as normal with my husband and we headed to the doctor.  I felt a little silly, going for a third ultrasound in 8 days, but something was telling me we needed to go.  The complications I was experiencing are some that many women experience through pregnancy so it wasn't terribly alarming.

The ultrasound began and immediately I realized something was different.  There was no movement.  The little heart I had seen thudding speedily on the monitors before had stopped and the picture was still.  For a moment I didn't realize what was happening. "I don't see a heartbeat," I said to the ultrasound technician desperately hoping I was wrong.  "I don't either," she replied. She tried multiple other angles and even turned the sound on as she had just 4 days before for us to hear the steady and beautiful beating of our baby's heart.  Instead the silence in my womb was deafening.  All was quiet.  My baby, that I had prayed for, rejoiced over, anticipated, and desired so greatly was gone.  Based on the growth, it appeared the baby passed on Wednesday or Thursday of that week.  My husband and I celebrated 15 years of marriage on Wednesday the 25th.

We sat together in silence while we waited for the doctor to come into the room to confirm our fears.  He was compassionate and kind, and explained that my body was experiencing a "missed miscarriage" (also known as a "missed abortion" which is an awful word) where the fetus is not viable and passes away, but your body doesn't do what it needs to in order to complete the miscarriage.  He told me I could miscarry the baby on my own over the weekend or we could complete a D&C surgical procedure the following week.

Numbly we scheduled the surgery for Monday and stumbled out of the office.  In the parking lot, I crumbled and my husband and I just held each other and cried for awhile.  We were both completely and utterly shocked and lost.  I realize now that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage or loss.  I just didn't expect to be one of the four.  Who does?

Knowing we had to drive home and begin the task of breaking the sad news to our wonderful church family, our relatives and most importantly our beautiful, hope filled little girl made me physically ill.  My heart broke as much for her as it did for myself.

The great sadness made us implode temporarily and we spent the weekend crying, not sleeping and researching.  My husband went to church Sunday morning and preached a sermon about hope and not being angry with God in our times of sorrow.  I read blogs of women who had experienced miscarriage, read a book about how to begin to heal from our loss, and after my research decided to go through with the procedure the following Monday.  I couldn't bear the thought of waiting on my body to expel my sweet baby and frankly, I was scared of what would happen.  Monday morning I called the doctor and requested a final ultrasound before the procedure.  They graciously obliged and we once again set out for the doctor's office.

The ultrasound confirmed what we already knew.  Our little peanut had gone to be with Jesus the week before and I had the confirmation I needed in order to go through with the procedure. We crossed the parking lot to the surgery center and checked ourselves in.

I was emotional at a few different points before the procedure in pre-op and while waiting.  It seemed

I couldn't help but think of the story of Job in the bible.  He lost everything.  His children, his wealth, his home and finally his health.  And yet, he remained faithful to the Lord he served.

"The Lord gives and the Lord takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord."  Job 1:21b

Those words were some of the first thoughts I had as I awoke from anesthesia.  I was also comforted greatly throughout the weekend before by Psalm 23:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows. 

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

When I was reading the book What Was Lost: A Christian Journey Through Miscarriage by Elise Erikson Barrett, one of the stages of grief she discusses is regarding Anger.  I read through that section in wonder, and each morning have awoken wondering if this would be the day that I am angry that our baby died.

I have yet to be angry and I'm not sure that I will experience that.  I have accepted the fact that this baby is gone, and was able to bypass the pain of this world in order to live forever in glory with God.  I am sad for us, sad for the life and soul I will never get to know.  Sad for my daughter missing out on a sibling.  Sad that my dreams and plans came to a screeching halt in a sudden and unexpected way.  But I am not angry.  I am not jealous of other women who are expecting a baby, or have recently had one.  In fact, one of my dearest friends has allowed me to spend some time with her four month old in the last week and I have found the giggles, smiles and baby burps comforting.  I sang her to sleep the other day after she had a bottle and my heart felt joy.

I'm thankful that I have this peace and I know that I'm not alone in all of this sadness and sorrow.  We've had multitudes of people checking on us, running errands for us, sending cards, flowers, texts messages and phone calls.  The support has been tremendous and I am thankful we shared our news with so many dear to us.  Had we kept it to ourselves, I would not have been surrounded by support.

I don't believe I hurt less because I'm not angry.  But I think having accepted our new reality, our new family storyline, has allowed me to move to a peaceful place in my heart, albeit sorrowful.

The grief and sadness have surprised me.  It hits me at the oddest moments.  When I'm in the shower.  When I realize my girl is asleep and I can finally "lose it."  When all is quiet in the house, and I'm not tired enough to sleep, the wave of sadness knocks me over once again.  When I was helping hide Easter eggs and thought of the child I would never know to see the wonder and fun of an egg hunt I cried.  When my daughter turned to me after the party and said, "This Easter would be so special if Peanut was still here..." through her inconsolable tears and questions of why.

I've been blown away by the compassion shown to me by women who have experienced this pain.  There are usually no words anyone can utter to make you feel better about this.  I have learned through some unhelpful comments by those who mean well, but have never experienced the loss of a child that one simply cannot understand this pain nor adequately speak to it until you've felt it for yourself.  Before I had my daughter 11 years ago, I remember different friends who were parents telling me, "You have NO idea how much you will love this child until the moment you meet them.  I can't even describe it to you."  I thought that was weird, but when I looked into those blue green eyes for the first time, I got it.  I really got it.  The love was indescribable, unexpected, and forever changed me.

The same could be said for a miscarriage or loss of a pregnancy.  You have NO idea how much you will hurt, grieve and mourn the loss of your baby until you actually lose one.  It's indescribable, unexpected, and something that has also forever changed me.

Time and our faith will help us continue to heal, both physically and emotionally.  I realize that something must have been wrong with our baby for it not to be able to continue growing and thriving.  This realization does NOT make me miss my baby any less.  It does not take away the pain of our loss and it does not lessen the magnitude of that loss in any way.  There is no "oh well, maybe next time" kind of feeling in my heart when I consider this child.  Will we try again?  Yes, absolutely.  For another child.  Nothing, however, will replace this one.  Ever.

Everyone's journey is different.  I do not have the false belief that my journey is easier or more difficult than anyone else has experienced.  I do know that without my faith and comfort of my Savior, this would all look and feel different to me.  I know He is carrying me through this sad time, and has a purpose for our pain.

Another scripture that has really resonated with me is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 which says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."

I have to believe that God will use this experience for our family to comfort others who grieve loss in a more personal way going forward.

A few months ago I sang this song at church and had no idea how much I would need it now.  In fact, these lyrics flooded my mind while we were still in the doctor's office that sad day.  I know at some point God will use this to encourage someone else, and for that reason, I'm posting a link to the video today.

I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe

Today, I am sad, broken, and humbled by this loss.  But I am not alone in this.  I would not change having shared our joy and I don't regret getting excited so early on in the process and I would do both again in a heartbeat.  The gift of life is one that will always fill me with excitement, wonder and hope.

And as Alford Lord Tennyson said so eloquently, "Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

I will celebrate that I was able to experience this gift, even if it remains unopened to my human eyes on this side of heaven as it will remain a part of my heart forever.

In the meantime, I will continue to find comfort in the arms of my sweet family, allow myself to be cradled by the prayers of many, and seek joy each day in being present and thankful for this life.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chasing My Plans

Hey all!

Last month I wrote all about plans vs. goals and how 2015 would be one of plans.  I'm super glad I didn't set actual goals, as January did NOT turn out as I had planned at's a recap.

I did GREAT the first two weeks, staying on track with my strict paleo during the week and a few paleo treats on the weekends.  I traveled the first two weeks and kept up fairly well with my exercise plans when I had enough sleep which is always a challenge with unpredictable levels of bed comfort in hotels.  My eating stayed on target and my co-workers who were traveling with me commented on how "good" I was being.  I don't consider it good, it's just me doing what I planned.  Period.  One colleague caught sight of my 25lb kettlebell when I was checking out of the hotel, since I was driving it wasn't in my suitcase (I strap them in for safety in the car).  Most people don't really know what a kettlebell is so I was surprised when she said, "Wow, you must be dedicated lugging a kettlebell around with you!"  I told her it wasn't a heavy one and she lifted it up and said, "Uh, yeah it is."  Perspective, my friends.

The following week I did take Fred (yes, I name them, Fred and Wilma are my 25lb kb pair) on the trip to Baltimore and had a few funny things happen.  First, I realized that where I parked at the airport meant I had to go up an escalator with my huge checked bag (full of a kettlebell) and my 2nd bag (SW lets you bring a 2nd bag for free which is great as I brought a ton of clothes as I wasn't sure what I needed in MD in January!) AND my purse/laptop bag.  I was afraid of falling down the escalator (I have a story of getting stuck on one as a girl scout when I was 7 and scratching up my shins trying to escape) but I managed.  On the way home I actually dropped my 2nd bag on the way back down and me and the guy standing people watching watched it roll down the empty (thankfully) escalator then I was only able to kick it off at the bottom.  LOL!  I swear if people just watch me there's free entertainment.

Anyway I managed to stay on task food wise and exercise wise on this trip and felt good.  On the way home I was really tired, but understandably so.  Landed in Atlanta on Thursday around 2:30pm, got almost stuck in the parking garage as the automatic credit card payment machine wasn't working.  It was freezing rain and I didn't want to stop to eat but got a kombucha, rotisserie chicken and some sweet potato chips for the ride home (not a good idea - I eat the entire bag and they make my stomach hurt!).  I pulled into the driveway and suddenly realized I had a fever.

Yep, the group of safety patrol kids, that against my better judgment I followed into the restroom had infected me with the plague (this is my theory anyway). Couldn't have been the airplanes, hotels or 75 people from 14 different Assisted living communities that could have infected me. :) Had to be the safety patrols.

Next afternoon made it to the dr and began the tamiflu.  Yeah, I skipped the flu shot this year and while I heard it wasn't 100% effective still probably should have gotten it.  Oops.  Spent the next two weeks absolutely lethargic, nauseated, and feeling like I had died.  Went 8 days without going out in public.  I had to be re socialized and the opportunity to bite someone was high.  We all survived.

But I still felt bad.  Of course, once I got sick, my eating well kind of went out the window.  Not 100% but I didn't feel like cooking, or teaching my husband to cook me paleo food, though he did try.  I just felt like crap and focused on survival. I began to worry something else might be wrong - I mean, I had tamiflu, a zpack and was still feeling like I had died.

Was I pregnant?  Oh crap.  Sure enough my next cycle was 5 days late and super short (the one last month was 2 weeks late).  Hmmm...

Went to my doctor and she did a bunch of bloodwork which was all fine (and confirmed I was NOT pregnant) but we both felt like there was "something" in the right side of my pelvis.  The next week I experienced pelvic pain, discomfort, continued nausea and exhaustion.  I was referred to my ob/gyn to do an ultrasound and see what this "thing" was.

Now you know, living with a brain tumor, I don't typically freak out about possible health issues.  I remain what I call realistically positive.  I am a woman of faith, I've seen God do some incredibly amazing things in my life.  I've seen Him answer prayers the way I fervently prayed and in ways I couldn't have even pictured. I've also witnessed God answer prayers in ways I did not anticipate.  Sometimes He says no.

But this time, I was actually deep down pretty scared . I'm about to be 36, having hormonal symptoms that were pretty scary and went from feeling like a fabulously fit albeit "bigger" girl to a couch potato in a matter of weeks.  How could the flu really do this to me and have me down THIS long?  I mean, I had heard it was bad, but this was ridiculous.

I managed to get an appointment this past Wednesday to see my specialist in Macon for the pelvic pain.  I was in Atlanta for work and headed down to Macon for the afternoon, trying to keep my mind busy and off of what I thought was going to be an inevitably poor diagnosis.

She did an exam and didn't feel anything significant on the right side.  Both sides (ovaries) were sore but she said it was likely just ovulation given where I am in my cycle.  The ultrasound confirmed the same.  There are some cysts, and sign of maybe even older cysts that had burst, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Except what they could see of my gut in the ultrasound.  Apparently my gut is very very unhappy which can mirror pelvic pain as it's basically "lower half" pain.

Being on antibiotics for pretty much the past 3-4 weeks (my 2nd dr visit showed a sinus infection so I started a new round then) basically has left my gut with ZERO good bacteria, which is needed. Ah, this is why people take probiotics...


Also, my eating has been off track the last 2 months really.  Since Thanksgiving and my "intentional pumpkin cheesecake treat that turned into migraines and being off track for 8 weeks" I hadn't really gotten a grip on my binging.  I felt like I was eating well throughout the week but as always, one "treat" meal turns into a "treat day" turns into a "treat weekend" and even a paleo treat hangover on Monday. life. The struggle folks.  It's REAL.

Eating poorly for that long has thrown my ENTIRE system off! Not only is my gut unhappy, my female system got all screwed up, ovulation HURTS and I ended up with a freaking cancer scare!  Is it entirely to blame on eating?  No, absolutely not.  I had the flu and it kicked my tail.  But I know had I been eating Whole 30 during this time I might not have gotten as sick or for as long.  I hadn't been on an antibiotic in almost a year! And here I am, periods all off, sick as a dog and wondering "what could be happening to me?" 

DUH!  Do you remember a few years ago, before I found paleo, my period went away for 8 months.  Like TOTALLY gone.  I took a zillion pregnancy tests though I was on the pill at that time.  My ob/gyn at the time said it was likely just having been on birth control for a decade.  She said you may have endometriosis, but there's no point in exploring that, doing surgical testing, etc., if you aren't looking to have more babies right now.  And I wasn't.  So I left it alone. We also wondered if my physical activity could have halted my cycle.  Who knew?

I do know this, and not sure I've ever shared this, but the FIRST month I did a Whole 30 my period came back after it's hiatus.  I was sort of happy to see it.

Think nutrition doesn't affect your hormones/female cycles?  Maybe for you it doesn't.  For me?  IT DOES.

So 14 days ago today I started another Whole 30.  My 7th (I think? haha) in 2 years.  And I feel good.  I'm bloated, and now taking a probiotic to heal my poor abused gut.

Some of the feeling bad was that vicious cycle that got me to 285 pounds in the first place some years back. I had developed sleep apnea due to how large my neck had become.  So I was always exhausted. Too tired to exercise.  No exercise equaled no energy.  No energy meant too tired to exercise.  It's a bad cycle and too easy to get caught up in it.

All the feeling bad I've done this last month has once again put me in that place.  So I decided, when I left the doctor's office this past Wednesday, that I needed to get back to my activity level.  Start lifting weights again.  And running some (sorry Nate) and of course, walking.

I'm chasing my plans, yet again.  Readjusting based on circumstances.  PRAISING GOD that I don't appear to have cancer or anything seriously wrong with me.  In awe of the fact that continues to prove itself to me over and over again, that IT ALL STARTS WITH FOOD.  It really, truly does, folks.  For me, anyway.

I am about to go do my Simple and Sinister workout, second KB workout in the last 3 weeks.  Then going for a run with my little girl.  No idea how far we will get but if I can eek out a slow steady 2 miles I'll be super happy.

Ready to feel like myself again.  And taking control of that as I WILL feel like myself again.  It is amazing how much control I actually have over that. That line of thinking that things are just "happening" to me doesn't apply right now.  Sometimes, I realize, it does. But right now?  It does not.

I'm creating the plans that will equal results right now.  I know what to do, how to do it, and you know what?  I'm doing it.

Thanks for listening to my super long diatribe - I hope it inspires you to take the reigns back.  Chase your plans.  DO something.  Stop thinking about it.  Stop making excuses about it.  Stop letting life happen to you.




Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Goals & Plans

This blog break has been quite a bit longer than I had planned and I apologize if anyone has been holding their breath.  I have to say, so much has happened in the last 3 months, so first I will give a brief update, and then jump into my 2015 Goals & Plans.

When I last wrote, I was coming off of a September Whole 30 and incredulous over my weight vs. how I was looking.  I tweaked my plan in October/November and tracked my macros pretty faithfully.  I did well, not huge weight loss still (trying to continue to remember it is not a linear process) but was pretty happy with how I was looking, how my clothes fitting, but most of all, how strong I had become.

During all of this time, my husband began having some serious back issues.  In between getting epidural nerve blocks and physical therapy he did manage to get a little bit of hunting in this season.  I support this endeavor for two reasons, first, because he loves it and it is good for his psyche.  Second, we eat what he hunts (venison) so it fills our freezer with pretty organic meat.  Well, he managed one day to have a great day and kill two deer in one day.  This is fantastic except for the part of actually carrying the animals, then cleaning them and separating the meat into coolers to be iced down for the next 3 days.  We fill the coolers with ice, then drain them daily and re-ice them, before taking them to a meat processor to put in shiny packages for us.

So here we were, with my husband barely able to bend over to pick up a sock and he had 2 deer divided into 3 coolers. That had to find their way into the back of his truck.

Enter Clara, the girl who is now front squatting with 65lbs of kettlebells.  I wasn't sure how my strength workouts would equate in the "real" world use of my muscles but I was willing to try.

Sure enough I spotted the largest cooler, and felt it weighed around 80 pounds based on how it felt.  I carefully squatted down, grabbed it and picked it up, sliding it out the back door into the back of his truck.  The other two coolers were smaller and thus much easier.  I walked away from this feeling great.  Nothing hurt, and I felt accomplished.  And STRONG!

Moral of the story?  I love feeling strong and being capable of using my strength in a practical way.  And while I may not have hit the elusive 165 pound goal I have set for myself multiple times over the past few years, I did gain strength in 2014 among a few other things. 

I also completed multiple strength programs last year.  P90X3, two different 30 day rounds of Pat Flynn's Kettlebell training programs,  the 30 day kettlebell swing program, and multiple other kettlebell combinations along with Simple and Sinister.  I started the year swinging a 20lb kettlebell and finished easily swinging a 30lb with one hand or doing double swings with a total of 50-60lbs.  My Turkish Getups went from 20lbs to 30lbs.  I worked through a shoulder injury and began a monthly massage regimen and continued to tweak my nutrition and figure out what works and what doesn't.

I learned that what I struggle with is a full on food addiction, and needed to be treated as such.  I began exploring what it means to be an addict and how to deal with an addition that you can't ever walk away from (food).

Outside of fitness, I achieved my SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certification this past December.  I passed the PHR exam back in 2005, so it was time to try for the upgraded certification.  I was definitely nervous about it as first, I don't test well and second, I don't like to study and third, there is a 40-50% fail rate for this test.  GULP.  It was terrifying but with some studying and even more prayer, I passed and never have to take it again.  This was totally a stretch goal for me this year and I'm so happy I pushed myself to get it done.

I also secured a job I love with a fantastic company that has a great deal of promise. What I do everyday is needed, necessary, and I get to spend my time serving people who serve the elderly. 

I may not have achieved everything I set out to do in 2014, but I'm pretty pleased with how it all turned out and how 2015 is looking for me.  My priorities have changed a great deal.  I'm focused on health and strength, and much less on size and the scale.

GASP.  I know! 

Does this mean I'm giving up reaching 165 someday?  Not at all.  It just means I think I'm discovering that setting "goals" isn't as prosperous for me as making "plans" has been.

I've missed or changed so many goals over these last 5 years of my journey to better health.  And yet, I've made so much progress and gained so much health that I honestly don't look at the things I haven't achieved yet as stumbling blocks at all.

But setting a goal to "lose 10 pounds in January" or "reach 165 by July 31st" - while these might be good overall goals, I know I will only reach them if I PLAN well.

I want my focus to be less goal driven and more plan driven in 2015.  I want to focus on making sure I plan weekly for what I want to achieve that week.

I think going one week at a time will be best for me right now.  I don't want to make any huge declarations about the scale (though I'll admit I've gained a few pounds over the last few weeks!) nor am I giving up my dreams of being the best version of myself I can be.

I need to remember I am 35 years old, a wife of almost 15 years, mother to an incredible 11 year old girl, in a great place in my career and overall in better health than most having lost 100 pounds without any surgery or crazy pills or shakes.  I did it on my own and that is something to be proud of.

So right now I'm planning my first week in January, to get myself back on track nutritionally (paleo) and begin a new exercise routine.  I'm doing a combination of Simple & Sinister kettlebells (swings and getups) as well as adding back in some T25 and running. 

Basically, I want to do things that make me happy.  I read this great book last year called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It was a neat exploration of how to rid your life of things that don't make you happy and fill your life with things that will.  This might mean trying new things or ridding your life of old habits that are just not making you happy. There are some neat tools I want to explore to possibly use and do my own happiness project.  I'm a pretty positive and happy person overall but I do really well with plans and parameters so maybe this is all coming together nicely...hmmm...

I want to be happier in 2015, and I think I can be if I continue to grow spiritually, work on my financial goals and consider a few stretch goals, added happiness will be a given.

Things I would love to achieve in 2015?  I'd love to become fluent in off the last of our debts (Sallie Mae!) and become more regular with my devotion/prayer time and spiritual growth.  Definitely not going to try to do all of that in January, obvs, but I will spend January trying to figure out what good goals might come from my plans...and then map out the strategy to get there.  And some stuff?  I'll just DO it.  Shut up, stop talking about it and DO it.  Workouts, good nutrition and daily devotion time are a given there.

I hope as I work through 2015 I am able to inspire you to keep on going in your own journey to better health be it spiritual, mental, physical or financial.  If nothing else, you will find in me an example of someone who stumbles regularly, has fallen a few times, but has also achieved some incredible things.

This is a year of short term goals and plans for me.  I'll take it day by day, week by week, and month by month.  And I hope I have a good recap for you a year from today on how it all went (don't worry, I'll blog some too!). If this next year is anything like 2014, it will be exciting and I'm sure contain some of the unexpected as well (wink wink).

Cheers to you on the cusp of this exciting time. I feel like I'm getting ready to rip open the gift of the present...and I plan to unwrap it a corner at a time each day.

Join me?