December 24, 2011

December 15, 2011

Rainbow Christmas

This past weekend I got together with my dear friends Rhiannon and Priscilla to do a little photo shoot with the babies. Priscilla is a very talented photographer and is in the beginning stages of starting up her own little business. It's great to be friends with someone like this - I feel like I get to mooch of her talent. She got this cute picture great idea from Pinterest. So we hung up some lights, got out a sheet, and put our adorable kiddos in front of the camera.






December 11, 2011

New Look

Wanted to freshen up the blog a little bit. What do you think? I'm pretty happy with it. But blogger is kind of a pain to work with and is not very user friendly, so I'll probably won't bother with many more changes. Although does anyone know how to get those little tabs/links? I want something where I can have Cale's story easily accessible with a link to the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope submission I wrote. I used to have one, but have no clue how I did it.

On an unrelated note, here's an adorable video of chatty Finn taken earlier today. . . enjoy!

video 

December 5, 2011

Medical Records

Since my time in the Army is ending in the next few months (finally!), I recently went to request copies of all my medical records. All my appointments, labs, exams, deliveries, all of it. I received a massive file. Probably a quarter of it paperwork from my pregnancy with Finn which didn't surprise me - after all, I probably had close to fifty appointments during my pregnancy with him. But when going through that massive stack of papers I of course couldn't help but get very emotional when looking through all the records of my appointments with Cale. He was always the perfect baby -always growing right on track, healthy, and always (until the end) easy to hear on the doppler. I read through my last appointment - June 24, 2010. It was a routine appointment. No surprises. I was 2cm dilated, 80% effaced and had a healthy baby with a nice strong heartbeat. Four days later, the paperwork would tell another story. Four days later my hospital records would show nasty four-letter words like IUFD - intrauterine fetal demise. It gives me the chills to even see that word, much less type it. I sat looking through my medical records for a good thirty minutes. I read doctor's notes like "patient had previous stillbirth at 39 weeks," or "patient still grieving the loss of her son, but is physically healing well" or "Gravida - 2 (when I was pregnant with Finn), Living Children at home - 0" and it still feels surreal at times. Like I'm reading someone else's very sad, sad story. But it's my story, and my name all over the pages, and my baby who is referred to as a "loss," a "demise" and it breaks my heart every time.

I'm not really sure where this post is going. I think I'm just in a mood. I think I'm just missing my boy. I can't wait to go home and kiss his brother and squeeze him tight. I just wish I was going home to two little boys.

I've mentioned our friends the Hopes before. Their son Johnathan was stillborn three months to the day after we lost Cale. Greg (the dad) was in our wedding and one of Miles' good friends. Miles and Greg are really close with another guy, Kyle, from college who was also in our wedding. Our friend Kyle's wife gave birth via emergency c-section on Saturday. Their son Andy was born at 35 weeks and is doing well, but will be in the NICU for a little bit to help his lungs mature some more. His mom has HELLPS Syndrome and is in the ICU at another hospital. She hasn't even met her son yet. Kyle, who got back from deployment less than a week ago, is driving back and forth between two hospitals to check on his little family. And I just can't help but wonder what happened!? What happened to the world where people just got pregnant and had babies and lived happily ever after?! Was I really that naive to think, to hope, that it would work out that way? I guess so. Because in our small little circle of friends there has been too much loss and too much tribulation to bring babies into this world. Babies who are wanted and loved. We aren't a bunch of crack addicts. We aren't a bunch of child abusers. We are insured and educated and responsible people. So why us? Why any of us?

Our little Cale would have been 18 months at the end of this month. I'm sure he would have been adorable. He was adorable. He was so much more than my medical records convey. So, so much more.

November 29, 2011

For Sammy

A little boy named Sammy should be turning two today. I met his mom through the online support group I joined after we lost Cale. His mom shared something really wonderful that I wanted to pass along. JCPenney is sponsoring the Salvation Army's Angel Giving Tree where you can adopt a child in need and help make their Christmas a little better. Sammy's mom Emily adopted a little boy around the age that Sammy would have been. What a beautiful gesture to do for her son - to honor him by helping someone else.

Miles and I decided we wanted to follow suit so we adopted a little boy who is close in age to how old Cale would have been this Christmas (18 months). I had tears in my eyes as I read the simple requests for this little tyke - shirts, pants, shoes, toy cars and trucks. Oh I wish I was buying toy trucks for my little guy, but since I can't I may as well help another little boy.

There are a lot of special birthdays coming up - Addison, Andrew, Eliza, Livy and so many others. And a common theme that I've seen is that these amazing parents want to honor and celebrate their children through good deeds - by asking others to do something kind for someone else. How perfect for this season. How perfect for their babies.

So tonight I celebrate little Sammy by doing good in his honor. I find it especially fitting that it's called the Angel Giving Tree. And hopefully this Christmas, the little boy in Georgia who we "adopted" will get the joy he deserves when playing with his new toy cars and trucks.

November 24, 2011

Tis the Season

To be jolly? Is it? Sort of. I've always loved this time of year, but when you are missing part of your family, the holidays can be a little tough. There's my brother Rob, a C-17 Pilot, who is currently deployed. Sometimes it feels like my whole family (between the Hidalgo side and Nichols side) is never not deployed. But Rob is in the Air Force, and his last deployment involved scuba diving in Turkey. So while he's missed, he's also probably living the good life.

And there's Daren. Last year Daren spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in Afghanistan. His main concern over Christmas was that his Soldiers had a nice holiday -he asked his mom to send him coffee and a coffee pot for his platoon. That was typical of Daren. He was happiest when those around him were happy. And if he could help improve morale, he would. And he did. And we are going to really miss him this year. It will be the Hidalgo's first holiday season without their beloved son and brother and it will undoubtedly be tough.

And then there's Cale. No matter how many holidays (or normal days) pass us by, I will always thing that Cale should be here with us and wish that he was. It gets easier to accept that he's not, but at the same time my little family is not complete. Last year our Christmas card acknowledged Cale - we mentioned the son who was born and passed away too son. But this year I'm not sure what, if anything, to write (in regards to Cale). And the year after that? I'm torn on how to handle those things. I'm not sure how to keep my baby's memory alive and that scares me.

But those family members who are missing help (sometimes force) me to remember what the holidays are all about and what I have to be grateful for. Finley does that every day. And today I get to celebrate so many blessings that I do have. I'm so thankful for everything we have, it's just that I miss everything we don't. So I'll cling tight to my family this year and every year. Thankful for their service, their lives, and their memories.

November 20, 2011

Finley's Big Day

Last Sunday Finley was Baptized. It was so nice to be able to celebrate the day with lots of family and friends who were in town from the race. But before the big day, we wanted to trim up Finn's hair a little bit. Yeah, yeah I know he's only five months, but when you hair looks like this, you could use a little trim:


So his beautiful and very pregnant Aunt Jenny, the professional, gave Finley his first haircut.


And it turned out great. Hard not to with this adorable little guy!



The Baptism itself went very well. Finn did get a little fussy towards the end, and would not take his fingers out of his mouth for pictures, but overall he did great. Even two of the providers from daycare came to help him celebrate his big day.


 Finley's Godparents - Uncle Jared and Aunt Jenny and cousin Carson

He wore the same gown that his Daddy and Uncle Daren wore (all Miles' siblings were baptized in it) - it certainly was special to continue that tradition.

This cake was holy.

  The Family who came into town for the weekend.


After taking this picture, Jenny got a little chocked up. She told me how she was just thinking about Cale and how he should have had the same kind of day. And then when opening gits, my sister and mom got us some beautiful silver baby cups. One for Cale and one for Finley with their initials on them to match some baby cups from my mom's family. It just means so much that Cale is missed and brought up and it's not from my doing. It reminds me that I'm not the only one who lost someone. My sweet sister and sister in-law reminded me how they still love and miss their nephew. It means the world to me. It makes me that much more grateful that Finley gets showered with so much love. He sure did that day.

Finn loves his Aunt Kate

November 15, 2011

TEAM DAREN

This past weekend was a busy one. We had a lot of family and friends come in from all over the country to run and support us in the 2011 Soldier Marathon that we ran in honor of Miles' brother Daren. It was a wonderful event. There ended up being over 50 people who ran as part of "Team Daren" - some running the half marathon, others the relay, and a few brave ones running the full. In addition to the runners we had a really great turnout of supporters. We all wore our Team Daren shirts (the proceeds of which go to Daren's Memorial Fund) and it was so neat to see people sprinkled throughout the almost 2,000 runners wearing a Team Daren shirt or wearing Daren's name on their runners bib.


It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people honoring not just Daren, but all those fallen heroes who deserve continual recognition. One man asked me about Daren during the run and it was nice to be able to talk about him and tell others about what a great person he was.

 I was a little apprehensive about the 13.1 miles I set out to do as I did next to no training, but it ended up going well and being a really fun, really memorable run that I completed along side my sister and close friend. Miles ran the full marathon and I'd like to brag about him for a second. First, he's an idiot because he didn't train for it. But fortunately for him, he's a very fit idiot. He came in at 3 hours, 7 minutes, a time that would qualify him for the 2012 Boston Marathon, but the registration is already closed. And the last three miles he ran in just his socks! His feet started cramping so at mile 23 he took his shoes off and carried them the rest of the way.


He was first in his age group and 16th overall. Sick, right? But I'm so proud and love bragging about him. Here are some more pictures from the race and when you get the chance please read this really great article written by one of the Team Daren participants.

Miles with some friends who completed the relay marathon

  With my sister and the littlest Team Daren Supporter

These amazing friends drove from Cincinnati to help and cheer us on!


 One of three Team Daren relay teams

 Proud father. Always.

November 8, 2011

Want to INSTANTLY improve your day?

Just watch this:

video

You're welcome :)

November 4, 2011

Why I Blog

I hate facebook. I like that it's reconnected me with people and kept me in touch with people on a casual basis who I would want to stay in touch with on a casual, limited, I can like your pointless status every now and again sort of way. But I hate it too. I have contemplated deleting my account several times, like after Cale died and every picture posted was of a baby or every update was from a blissfully ignorant pregnant woman. But I didn't. And I received lots of wonderful words of love and support. And I still do to this day and that helps keep my shameful love-hate affair going. I think the other reason I can't justify deleting it is because I can't explain why I hate facebook so much, but enjoy blogging. I mean this is my space to do as I see fit - post what I want, share what pictures I want, but isn't facebook the same? It's just much more in your face. I guess that's what annoys me about it. I read blogs I want to read. Facebook just throws it all out there. I think the concept of Twitter is retarded and facebook really is the same thing. I don't care if you are cooking dinner or how fast you ran five miles. I don't need a play-by-play of people's daily lives. But then again, aren't I giving a play-by-play of our lives via this blog? Ugh, I don't know.

But what I do know is there are some people who have, thanks to facebook, really reached out to me when and since Cale died and given me these little virtual hugs when I need them. One of them is someone I consider a friend, despite the fact that I haven't seen her since high school and we weren't even super close then. But Jessica has just been very supportive and very kind since we lost Cale. People like that really stand out to me - the people who don't have to experience profound grief to "get it," and to let you know that they're thinking of you and that your baby, a total stranger to them, mattered and made a difference.

What am I writing about? Right, why I blog in the first place. Miles was telling me how I have task ADD - it's very true, I will start cleaning one place and get distracted and go work on a project somewhere else leaving bits and pieces of things that need to be cleaned or accomplished everywhere I go. The same goes for this post I suppose. Anywhoo. . . why do I blog? Well I want to keep our family and friends up to date one what's going on and provide more info than just a caption under a picture. But it also has been very therapeutic for me. A lot of the blogs I follow are those of others who are grieving the loss of a baby. And making these connections has helped me so much in my own grief. To give and receive support really means so much. It's really our way of parenting our children. We get to do something - be it leave a few kind words or share a few special pictures that we are doing for or because of our children. And lastly, it's been nice to spew my emotions out for those who have not experienced this profound loss. To hopefully help them better understand.

So, back to Jessica. Well she recently, again thanks to that bastard facebook, sent me this sweet message:

"wanted you to know that a few weeks ago a coworker who I don't know very well started talking to me about losing her son, and while it was a challenging conversation, I felt so much more confident talking to her and relating to her because of how well you've communicated what you've gone through. Her situation was different - her water broke at 24 weeks and she was forced to deliver at that point (don't know the details, medically) but it clearly was challenging for her to talk about it. I guess my point in this message is just to thank you and commend you for how you've handled everything and let you know that your blog, etc are helping others pay it forward"

My friend Sarah recently said something similar to me. She encouraged me to keep mothering Cale by writing about him, talking about him, about my emotions as it helps her understand better and relate to others who go through tragedy.

I didn't set out to "teach" others about loss, but am glad that in my ramblings and in my grieving for my son, I may have been able to do that. But mostly I'm thankful that people are willing to listen and learn. That they not only care for what I have to say, but that they care for Cale, the little guy who continues to leave his impact on this great big world.


October 28, 2011

Two Years Ago {Yesterday}

On October 27, 2009 I found out I was pregnant with our first baby. I started to write this blog yesterday (while at work like any good government employee) but I wanted to include a picture. Well after I got home, we had the normal end of the day routine (change, clean up, wash bottles, ready bottles for the next day, nurse Finn, etc) and then we got ready to have some friends over for dinner and after they left I was so exhausted I never got around to finishing this post.

 I've recently started a new prescription, but one of the side effects is drowsiness. And boy was I feeling it yesterday. I slugged my way through work and after our dinner date, I was asleep within 20 minutes of our guests leaving. And not the ready-for-bed kind of sleep, but the I fell asleep on the couch in my jeans with my make up on, while Miles put the baby to bed kind. I didn't wake up until after midnight to actually get up and go to bed. Pathetic. And when I woke up I was mad that I didn't get this blog posted on the 27th. I felt guilty because I wrote about the year mark of finding out I was pregnant with Finn - I should have done the same for Cale. Silly maybe, but it's how my brain works.

But anyway, back to the point of this particular post . . .so yeah, two years ago yesterday, I took a pregnancy test not actually thinking I would be pregnant. But I was. And I was shocked. Excited, but shocked. I took the test after Miles had already left for work. Not totally convinced it was true, I decided that I'd take another when I returned and if that was positive, I would tell Miles. Well, wouldn't ya know it, that test was positive as well.

I allowed Roscoe to break the news to Miles when he got home.



While the end of the pregnancy was horribly tragic, I loved my time with Cale, right from the very start with that happy memory that I hope to replay and enjoy every October 27th (give or take a day).

Also, I really appreciate all the kind comments on my last blog. My dad had his surgery yesterday and it went well. He's still in the hospital until tomorrow at least, but my mom said the Doctor told her that everything went just fine and that there were no surprises. Thanks for the support and prayers. Please keep them coming while he faces a pretty rough next few weeks.

October 23, 2011

Prayers, Petitions and Red Necks

My dad was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.  We are optimistic that it was caught early and after a thorough bone scan, it looks as though it has not spread elsewhere. In four days he will undergo surgery and hopefully will begin a complete, albeit lengthy and uncomfortable, recovery. So prayers, well wishes, and positive thoughts would be greatly appreciated for his upcoming surgery and recovery.

My amazing sister (who turned 30 today!) is taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to help my dad after he's discharged from the hospital. I know he's really looking forward to having her there - not only is she a nurse, but I know it'll do his spirits good to have his daughter there with him. FMLA is a great thing, but there is a Petition to Congress that is circulating which would make it even better by expanding coverage to those who experience the death of a child. I was actually surprised that this wasn't already something FMLA covered. If you want to sign this petition you can do so by clicking here. When I did, I made an additional comment that I hope it covers when a child dies in utero or during birth. After delivering Cale I remember asking how much time I would have off work. I was worried that because my baby did not live, I would have to go back sooner. Fortunately the Army gave me the same amount of maternity leave one is entitled to after delivering a living baby. And while going back to work was really hard, I couldn't fathom having to do so any sooner or not having job security as I planned funeral arrangements and grieved the loss of my son. So please sign the petition and spread the word.

On a MUCH less serious note, and totally off topic, Miles and I did just about the most red-neck thing we've done since living in ole Georgia. We attended a David Allen Coe concert this weekend. Had we been sporting any of the following we would have fit in much better:

-Flannel
-Cowboy Boots
-Overalls
-Real Tree Apparel
-Belt Buckle (of the ginormous variety)
-Mullet
-Bandanna
-Raccoon Hat
-Harley Davidson Apparel

David Allen Coe walked to the stage with the assistance of several people and a cane. But I suppose after a life of drugs and booze, it's impressive that at 72 he's even still performing. . . .or alive for that matter.

Here's a short video from the concert. And using the word "concert" probably implies it was a bigger event than it was. At most I would say there were 200 other hillbillies at this softball field to listen to this crazy old man. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that I think I was the only sober person present.

video

And if that little teaser wasn't enough, here's the full version of the song.



October 20, 2011

One Year Ago Today. . .

  . . .I quietly woke up and let Miles sleep in as he usually has to be up so early and for some reason didn't have to be that day. I crept into the bathroom, took a pregnancy test and before even looking at it, I placed it on the edge of the bathtub and got in the shower. While showering I just knew that I would get out and find a positive pregnancy test waiting for me.

I was right. And so, so happy.

I quietly got dressed and went downstairs. I made a silly little breakfast of eggo waffles (don't judge me, they're delicious) and orange juice and brought it upstairs to Miles. Only I put "I'm Pr " on the plate next to the eggo . . . I'm preEGGO.


Miles looked down at the plate, up at me, and was genuinely happy. We sat on the bed, shared our eggo's with Roscoe, and just talked about how happy we were to be pregnant again but the complex emotions that came with it and the fact that it was a bittersweet moment of missing Cale, wishing he were with us, but thankful for the new life within.

It's hard to believe that one year ago today I learned I was carrying our sweet little Finn who became such a source of hope for us.  I often ask Finn if he knows how much I love him and tell him over and over that we love him so very much because we loved him even before he was conceived. Just like Cale, we loved the idea of him and the idea of our lives with him. I was thinking the other day how babies after loss are sometimes viewed as the light at the end of a dark tunnel. But I think that instead he's just my light along the way. Giving birth to him didn't change how much I still miss and grieve for Cale. But he adds a light to our lives that I can't imagine not having. And I don't ever want him to feel that he was a replacement. I want him to always know how much he's loved for being who he is and try to thank him often for just being him. Just uniquely, wonderfully, perfectly him.

So in celebration of our awesome little guy and the happy news he brought us a year ago today, here are a few cute videos. . . .enjoy!

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And just for good measure I'll include this ridiculous picture. Don't worry, this was only done to satisfy the curiosity of my retard husband. As soon as the picture was taken, the bjorn came off the dog.



October 15, 2011

October 15th

Today was a beautiful day. Not only was the weather perfect, but we remembered Cale and were incredibly touched by all those who remembered and acknowledged him today, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. While today is the national day of remembrance, it's sort of feels like a holiday for those in the baby loss community -a uniquely special day where those without voices are heard.

My friend Priscilla leads the Face2Face group of Columbus/Fort Benning, GA which originated through Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. The idea is that those of us who have experienced a loss and have that unfortunate bond can informally gather to connect and support one another. Priscilla organized a balloon release today for all of us to honor our babies and remember them together.There were about a dozen families present. Some who had lost a baby within the last few months, some who had lost more than one baby. Some, like us, who have since had another child, and some who still desperately cling to the hope that they one day will. Our stories and our losses are different, but our love for our children is the same, unending and pure.





 This evening Miles and I lit several candles. We have one lit next to Cale's sketch on our mantle:


And one lit in Cale's garden in our backyard:


And lastly, one in our bedroom next to Cale's urn and ultrasound pictures:

"Those we love don't go away,
they walk beside us everyday.
Unseen, unheard, but always near.
Loved and missed and very dear."

I appreciated all of you who remembered and celebrated Cale with us. Thank you for holding him in your hearts and for honoring all babies who left this world far too soon.