February 25, 2011

Daren

The point of this little blog was to keep family and friends updated on what's happening in our lives, but most people know what has been going on these past few days. But I guess I feel the need to write things down - I guess this blog has not just been a way to keep people updated, but to serve a therapeutic purpose for me to deal with all the thoughts and emotions that go hand-in-hand with what is going on in our lives.

On February 20th, my brother-in-law Daren was killed in Afghanistan. Miles, who was also deployed at the time, called that night to tell me he was coming home. I knew something was wrong. I thought he had been hurt. And then he said "Daren was killed today." I'll never forget that phone call. I felt such sadness and such helplessness not being there with Miles.

But feelings of pain and sadness are not all I've felt in the last few days. I've also been overcome with sense of pride. Daren died a hero, but he was already living his life as one.

I first met Daren back at school when Miles and I started dating. In fact, the first time I met him, Miles told him that he would be bringing me home the following month for Thanksgiving. Daren turned and looked directly at me and said, "nah, not family material" and then busted out with the big grin that never left his face. Over the years I'd like to think that Daren and I formed a bond closer than most do with their spouse's siblings. After Miles graduated, Daren and I both were at school together for one more year before I graduated. We lucked out in that Miles and I were stationed at Fort Benning for most of the time Daren was there for his training and schooling prior to heading to his first duty station. So we got to spend a lot of time with him. Miles, Daren and I ran a 10K race together, we enjoyed hearing about all the shenanigans Daren would get into with his friends over the weekend, go on bike rides with him (or Miles would pick him up from a bike ride when Daren got two flat tires). Daren would bring his "lady friends" over to our house for dinners, and Miles helped Daren prepare for Ranger School. Miles deployed while Daren was in Ranger School, but I was lucky to be able to attend his graduation from that as well as his graduation from Airborne School.

And Daren was there for us when we lost Cale. He immediately came to the hospital and cried with us. I remember waking up at one point and Daren was sitting with Miles, staying by his side as we were waiting for the delivery. Daren went to our house and took care of Roscoe while we were still in the hospital. He put away all of the baby things so that they were in the nursery and not throughout the house ready to greet us with a painful reminder of what we were missing. Daren extended his time at Fort Benning to be with us. To help us grieve.

Eventually, he had to move and report to his first duty station in Germany. Of course in typical Daren fashion, it was not an easy transition. His dad came down from Wisconsin to help him pack up his house and move it into our garage before the Army would move his belongings. So for a few weeks, our garage housed all the things important to Daren . . .which included a broken Bow-Flex he bought at a garage sale for $40 and an authentic Mexican Sombrero.

Daren was out on a patrol, leading his Soldiers, the day he was killed by an IED. He was 24 years old. He left behind him an incredible family and hundreds of friends. I think Daren held a special spot in each of his family member's hearts. He was the stereo-typical little brother to his older brothers Jared and Miles, but he handled that role with humor, wit, and above all, very thick skin. And he loved his little sister Carmen in a very evident fashion, in a way of loving we should all strive to display.

We've been going through pictures and reminiscing about the time we had with him. I only knew him six years. I can't imagine the depths of the grief his siblings and parents have and will always have. And there are people who may have only known Daren a few months and they too, feel the pain in losing him. He was more amazing than I'll ever be able to do him justice for him my blog-ramblings, and while I will miss him so much, I am just so incredibly thankful that he was a part of my life. And I'm comforted to know that Daren is in Heaven with his nephew Cale.  And I know he will take good care of him for us, until one day, we all meet again.


Best Man at our Wedding.

 Roscoe and his Uncle Daren, watching TV.
Daren's graduation from USMA, May 2009
This is a very special picture for me. It's the last one I took with Daren, but it was also taken three days before Cale was born. So it's also the last living picture I have of Cale - the last picture taken during my pregnancy. I find it very fitting, and incredibly special, that it was taken with Daren.

February 18, 2011

What's in a Name? (Part II)

In this next installment of "What's in a Name?" I'd like to discuss not so much the name itself, but what goes on when you are picking the name and contemplating announcing it and sharing it with others.

We were very hesitant to share Cale's name with everyone until after he was born. Not because of a superstition, or because we were worried what people would think of the name, but for two reasons:

1. Since we found out his gender, the name was the only "surprise" left to be discovered at birth and it was somewhat enjoyable keeping everyone in suspense.

and

2. If I'm telling you what I'm going to name my child, or what I'm thinking about naming my child, chances are I don't want your input. Especially if it's negative.

Back when we were toying around ideas, people would ask me "so, do you have any names picked out?" and I'd foolish share some of them. When someone responds with, "oh you don't want to do that," (yes, it happened), you automatically want to punch them in the face. And you wish you could take back ever telling them to begin with. So pretty quickly I learned that if someone asks me if I have any names picked out, just say "not yet" or "yeah, we have a few we're throwing around" and leave it at that. Now, I realize that part of the problem might be that I gave people some of our options (at the time the name Cale wasn't an option, Miles didn't suggest it until later and pretty much as soon as he did, I was sold). Maybe had I been more definitive in my response and said, "why yes, his name is Cale Harrison" then people wouldn't have felt the need to share their opinion of the name and what other names they liked instead.

Another aspect of deciding on a name is that you have to think of the other people you know with the same name. There are people who have really great names, but have ruined them. Come on, don't act like you don't remember that one (or ten) girl(s) in high school you couldn't stand! And anytime you hear that particular name, you think of her. Or maybe it's a celebrity or historical figure who ruined the name for you. Who knows, maybe people used to like the name Adolf. . .

And it's not just people you have to consider. I've met people named Bailey. And of course, I'm that jerk who tells them "I once had a dog named Bailey." I really should keep my mouth shut in situations like that.


Sweet Bailey Dog.


I guess what I'm getting at is when I share what we are naming Cale's brother (and we will share his name earlier than we did with Cale), unless you are complimenting the name and telling me what a super-awesome one it is (because it is), zip it. It's not a dress you can give your honest opinion on. It's a name. A name we, as the parents of this child, have come up with. A name that this little boy will have the rest of his hopefully VERY long, long life.

February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

My Valentine's Day didn't start off too great. Here's a little recap of my morning:

-Wake up before alarm even goes off at 5am and wake up with sore throat and headache
-Feel light headed while getting ready, so sit down.
-Promptly stand back up to vomit . . .Feel better.
-Go to mandatory training and miss phone call from husband.
-Get pulled over for speeding (in my defense I was kinda going the speed limit. Only it was during PT hours so going the posted speed limit is still speeding at that point, my bad). At least the guy wished me a Happy Valentine's Day. . . as he handed me my ticket. 

So by lunch time I'm thinking my day can't get much worse. And you know what, it didn't. It only got better. I had a doctor's appointment and I can't share anything exciting because it was just routine. Routine and boring appointments are wonderful appointments to have!

I came home to beautiful flowers from a wonderful guy:

 
I got to listen to this little guy:


And I got to annoy this guy:

So at the end of the day, it was still a happy day. Hope yours was as well!

February 10, 2011

Stepping On My Virtual Soapbox

As I said before, having a blog gives me the ability to step on my virtual soapbox, so here I go . . .

I know I've mentioned this before, but I'll mention it a million times more if I have to: we still miss Cale. We still grieve for him, we are still sad that he is not here with us and will never forget the pain of losing him. We had a son. He's not here with us anymore, but he was at one point (well, nine months to be exact) and he was and always will be part of our lives. I say all this because Miles and I have both been encountered with situations/people lately that have made us realize that many people just do not understand.

And I pray that people never have to understand it the way do. But I also wish that people would stop assuming that having another baby will take away the pain of losing Cale. It doesn't. Nothing can. Having another baby adds happiness to our lives, and it adds something wonderful that we are thankful for, and so excited for, but it does not mean that we are not entitled to still be sad about the baby who is not with us.

Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we are going to be in a dark place the rest of our lives and that we won't be able to "move on" and be happy. We can, and we have, and we will continue to do so. But "moving on" doesn't mean forgetting and it certainly doesn't mean replacing. When I first went back to work someone came by to see how I was and proceeded to tell me that it'd be ok and we'd have other kids. Great. Thanks. I know this. But it doesn't change the fact that we still miss the one who isn't here.

I think maybe people just assume that because he was never here with us alive (outside the womb) that it shouldn't or wouldn't hurt as much to lose him. Logically, I can kind of understand why people would think that. I would never compare what we've been through to what someone who has lost a child to SIDs or cancer, or a car accident. But part of what we grieve for is not just what we lost, but the life that Cale never got to have. For what should have been.

I also think that people just don't really understand stillbirth. It's not really talked about much, and as a result, people just assume it's like a miscarriage. It's not. I'm not going to say that a miscarriage wouldn't be hard and that it isn't painful for those who have to go through it. But you can't compare them. I went into labor. My baby died. I still delivered that baby. I held him. I kissed him. I had to say goodbye to him. I did everything all new moms do, expect I didn't get to take my baby home with me. So just as I would never compare my loss to someone who has experienced the loss of an older child, I don't like it when Cale's death is compared to a miscarriage (and it has been in case you are wondering why I felt the need to include this).

My need to preach all of this isn't just about people not understanding when it comes to what happened to Cale, but also when it comes to having another baby.

At work, someone recently asked me if I knew what I was having. I said that we were having another boy and the response caught me off guard - "oh, that's so great because you already have all that stuff!" I just smiled and said "yeah," but I was a little off-put by it and it took me a second to sort it out. Yes, I won't deny the fact that it is convenient that we already have everything a baby would need, especially for a boy, but I wouldn't say that it's great that we are having a boy simply out of a convenience factor. I guess I wouldn't say that to someone who has a living child and is about to have another. Having another child, boy or girl, is "great" regardless and having "all that stuff" is merely convenient.

Sometimes I've found that when I'm sad, if I express that to people, they point out how happy I will be to have another baby (this actually just happened to Miles). I don't disagree with that at all. I think I will be ecstatically happy, I know that having this baby will fill my heart with joy and will make me love Cale even more (it already has), but can we not still be sad? Can we not still miss him?

We do have an optimistic outlook on the future though. Sometimes it's harder to be optimistic than others, but when I envision our life many, many years from now I do genuinely think it will be a happy one filled with more up's than down's and a whole lot of love. Cale's siblings will never get to know him. They won't grow up with him, he won't be part of their day-to-day lives, but he still will be a part of our family. I believe he will be the reason we'll have the family that we will hopefully have in just a short time here.

I thought it was very fitting that tonight I stumbled upon this quote posted by another Angel Mom, "We aren't looking for someone to tell us everything is okay; we simply need someone to understand our pain." And like I said before, I get it - lots of people fortunately will never truly understand (and that's a good thing - I hate that so many do understand are in this same boat), but what I want people to understand is that it's ok for us to miss our boy. And when we do, please let us.


February 8, 2011

What's in a Name? (Part I)

What's in a name? Everything! Well ok, not everything, but still. . . . I think most parents take their time when picking out a suitable name for their child. We are no different. I'm very big on unique names too. I don't want my kids to have to go by 'So-and-So H'. in school because there's also a 'So-and-So B'. and 'So-and-So K'. I want them to have a name that stands out . . . without being weird. This can be quite the problem when picking names because sometimes I do like names that are fairly common. But then if they are too common, I like the name less. I'm sure there would be lots of people that would say it's stupid to care how popular a name is, and that if you like it, just go with it. And they probably have a point. And don't get me wrong, there are lots of common or popular names that I think are great names, but I guess I want my kids to feel unique (and I fully recognize that it's not entirely up to their name to make them feel that way).

I like to search how popular names are on the Social Security Index as I figure it's a pretty accurate portrayal of just how popular names are since every person has a social security number. But their lists are usually pretty close with most google searches for baby names. My general rule of thumb - if it's in the 1-50 range, it's an automatic disqualifier. Ideally, I want to find a name that's over 100 in terms of popularity ranking.  And on that neat little website you can type in the name to see where it falls in recent years (they haven't released the 2010 info yet), or you can pick a year and see what the popular names were in that particular year.

I was always the only Caroline in my grade. I think in high school there may have been another Caroline, but in a different grade. And there were a handful of Carolyn's. But never many Caroline's. And I loved that. In 1984 'Caroline' was the 169th most popular name for a girl. Well done, Mom. Thanks for making me feel special. Although I suppose I can't give her all the credit. Neil Diamond has made me feel pretty special my whole life as well. So thanks Mom and thanks Neil. Maybe I just need to find a great song with my kids names in them . . .

Anyway, back to the uniqueness aspect, that's definitely another reason why I love the name Cale. It isn't popular. Miles suggested it (he actually suggested the name we've picked out for Cale's brother as well), and I just thought it was great! And where is it on the charts? 668. Awesome.

Where does this baby's name fall on the charts? In the 700's! That's right, no 'So-and-So H.' needed for this little guy :)

(oh, and if you happen to be one of the lucky few who does know the name we've picked . . . hush!)

February 6, 2011

February 5, 2011

My Birthday Wish



February 5, 2010
Today is my birthday and it's weird to think that it's my last one without kids. You've started moving around a little more - just some neat little flutter kicks here and there, but it's sure neat when you are moving!

This is from the journal I wrote to Cale throughout my pregnancy. It's a little sad to re-read these journals, but it also comforts me to remember how I was feeling with him and what was going on at the time. And when I re-read this one in particular, I didn't get too sad because I wasn't necessarily wrong about what I said. It's just that one of my "kids" is in Heaven. The other in my belly.

They say you aren't supposed to tell people your birthday wish, or else it won't come true. Or maybe that's just if you are blowing out candles and making a wish. Who knows. But my wish isn't just one for today. It's a wish for many days and years to come. I wish that I will continue to find joy and happiness in this world and that Cale's death life helps bring out that joy and happiness in not just my life, but the lives of all the people he has touched.

Today, on my 27th birthday, that wish came true.

February 3, 2011

Our Little Guy

Yesterday I had a very good Doctor's appointment. I'm just around 19 weeks, but the baby is still measuring closer to 20. Each ultrasound we've had, he has been measuring a little bigger which is great. I'm sure once he's more developed he might start to even out with his gestational age, but he can be an eager beaver as long as he wants and I won't complain!

The overwhelming feelings before and after the appointment were of hope and excitement. But going into each appointment, I do get scared. I fear hearing bad news and I know that I'll be a little nervous each time. But it doesn't change how excited I am either. And after the appointment, it makes me even more excited and hopeful because I was just reassured of how he's doing and I just got to see him. But it's hard to not still think of things in terms of if's and not when's. To counteract that, Miles and I will force ourselves to talk about the future and things we want to do with this baby. We'll ask each other things like "what is the first trip you want to take with him?" or "Where do we want to spend the holidays?" Doing so, helps us envision the future we are hoping for, even if we are scared about getting there.

I guess I wanted to say all that before sharing the pictures as it's important for me to relay to people that yes, this is wonderful, and yes, there is lots to be excited about, but we need you to know that it's not easy either. But I fully believe that this baby, and any baby I am fortunate enough to be carrying deserves to be as loved as possible and in doing so that means looking forward to his arrival and celebrating everything about him - such as his totally awesome ultrasound pictures below!

I thought it looked like his hand was saying "word" . . . or maybe "wud up"

Here's our little guy.  Just hanging out - especially in the last one with his little legs crossed.

I think this is my favorite one. He's deep in thought. Very pensive, just like his daddy.
(In case you are having a hard time seeing it - his little hand looks as if it's resting under his chin)

Pretty neat, isn't it? :)