Check out my new blog!

So I spent part of today resting and part of today having some fun (and experiencing a little frustration at the same time) setting up the beginnings of my new blog. So from today forward you can visit my new blog for personal, professional, educational, creative, and definitely photography related updates. The changes were made in part due to my recent interest in pursuing photography professionally as I continue to build my portfolio of newborn, child and family portraits. The next couple of months the list of newborns I’ll be photographing is growing and despite my recent news of my own loss, it certainly hasn’t deminished my love for newborn photography nor the gift I am able to share with new parents during some of the most special moments in their child’s life.

So go check out my new blog and from here out you all can expect to read blog entries from that blog instead. In the coming weeks you will hear more news about the official launch of my photography portfolio and photoshoots I will be offering before the holidays. Also, the look and feel of the blog, my web site, and all will be changing drastically. So for now it’s a means to keep on blogging and sharing all the upcoming opportunities and experiences – but expect to see huge transitions over the next few weeks and months.

And yes, yes, I know…some may not quite consider this recovery…but for those of you who know me best…I have a tough time sitting still for very long. I’ve been known to bounce back strong from some of the toughest moments and as challenging as this is and will likely continue to be for me – I’m absolutely confident that pushing through with all my goals I have set will see me through these tough times.

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 6:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Recovery

I’ve been home from the hospital for a few hours now and finally finding the energy to update everyone. I send apologies to all of you who have been waiting for a phone call or some type of message of how surgery went today. As you might imagine, today was a whirlwind of a day where Jason found himself having very few in between moments to call anyone once surgery had ended. By the time he arrived home he was out picking up somethings for me to eat and my prescription and not long after he was equally as drained and had talked to very few people. In fact, most people he talked with had called him. So I take the time to reassure you that I’m doing well, considering the circumstances. Other than a lot of intense cramping at times, I am slowly beginning to regain my energy. Thankfully they have me on some good meds to get me past the physical pain these next few days.

278/365: holding my baby boy
RECONNECTING WITH MY SON
After spending quite a bit of time resting, Jaylen awoke from the nap he had taken all afternoon since I had arrived home. It was the first time I had gotten to see him since we left this morning and I was greeted by a huge smile as he pointed to me and said “Maaaaa”. The next few days I’m not allowed to lift, pull, push, etc. anything, not even my own children. This is very hard for me and with Jaylen it’s even tougher because I know he doesn’t really understand exactly what is going on – he just knows he wants his Momma. So I sat down and Jason brought him to me and we cuddled and watched cartoons for a bit. Of course I was quickly abandoned for his desire to devour Oreo cookies.

BEFORE & AFTER THE SURGERY
It doesn’t matter how many children I’ve had or how many miscarriages I’ve endured, the thoughts of going through another miscarriage and another D&C left my nerves very unsettled this morning. And though I know I elected to put myself through this procedure that made me so nervous, I still believe it to be the best option for me and my family to find closure and move past these tough moments. I arrived at the hospital quite shaken with the thoughts of going through surgery and finally letting go of this little one. I was so thankful to have Jason and my dear friend Sasha by my side most of the time before surgery to help keep my mind as distracted as possible. At first I was felt so alone in the preop area wishing for their company. I cried. And cried. But I knew that before they were permitted to come back to the preoperative area the nurses would need to take time prepping me for surgery with all the medical wires and IV to keep me hydrated and medicated. Thankfully the nurses allowed me to listen to my iPod which helped me while I waited for Jason & Sasha’s company. As time passed before they arrived, more tears fell as I mentally began to not only feel so nervous about surgery but continuing to think that in just a short time I would have no choice but to let go of this little one.

278/365: they said all this preop get up they made me wear made me look beautiful

I not only had to wear the hideous hospital gown but I was sporting this super cool head cover, I assume for sanitary reasons during surgery. Leave it to Jason and Sasha both to find a way to make me smile. I was quite emotional when they first arrived but in a few short moments I some how managed to smile through so many distractions that took all these worries from my mind from time to time. I remember Jason asking “what was up” with the head cover they had me sporting and Sasha told me she thought it made me look beautiful. Jason agreed. How could I not smile, knowing really how dorky it made me feel. They said many other funny things about my silly head cover and Jason took out his iPhone to take my 365 photo not knowing if I’d feel up to photos the rest of the day.

AFTER SURGERY
Before they had brought me back for the surgery the doctor had met with us and I asked if she’d double check to see if the baby had a heart beat, just like the first time I miscarried and there was no heartbeat. There’s a part of me that still felt so much disbelief and had held out so much hope that maybe just maybe it was all a mistake. But it was not. I don’t remember much at all from surgery. I was awake when they first brought me back to the operating room and I remember feeling so frightened, shivering so intensely, and crying. The nurses all day were so compassionate and caring and I remember just before I was put to sleep that the nurse reassured me telling me she knew how much it hurt but that they would take good care of me.

I woke up after surgery was over and I remember shivering and crying and again feeling so alone, just as I did the first time I had a D&C. In the post-operative area no family is permitted because the medical staff are to ensure the patient is to a point that it’s safe to have family present. I woke up feeling so heart broken realizing that my baby is now gone. Another nurse was beside me the entire time comforting me and holding my hand and reminding me to hold on to hope and how she knew how badly it hurt. As I continued to cry and cry the nurse held me through my tearful moments and though I had wished it was Jason holding me those moments after I had first woke up, I was so thankful someone was there to see me through some of the toughest moments of the day. Thankfully it was only a matter of time before I was reunited with the man who continues to remain my strength.

One of the toughest parts of the day was hearing the nurses tell me over and over again that though they knew how much it hurt to go through this loss that I should feel so reassured that I am able to get pregnant because there are so many who are unable to conceive. I found myself telling every one of them that I too had those same struggles and to be honest, I’m not so sure the thoughts of those challenges are any less emotionally draining. Some of the nurses did not know this wasn’t my first miscarriage and every time it came up that it was my third miscarriage it brought me to tears. The doctor came back to talk to me before surgery and said she would see us in two weeks for a follow up appointment and she knew how much it hurt, especially knowing it was my third miscarriage. She reassured me that we’d talk about where we go next and perhaps our chat with her might give me more hope than I have to try again. Right now I’m still not so sure I can ever go through this again. I keep reminding myself that I am already so blessed with the two I have and why hurt myself more when I have so much love surrounding my children. But I also know how much my family came to long for this little one and I will take the days and weeks ahead slowly, just as slowly as I will take deciding what our future holds. My heart must take the time to heal.

DURING MY LOSS, BABIES WERE BORN
I came to realize after I was in recovery that I was apparently on the same floor where C-Sections were also performed. I remember finally settling my emotions while I waited for Jason to return after surgery and hearing the cry of a newborn baby brought me to tears. Yes, I instantly reconnected with those same feelings of having my own children but also for the longing that I had wished to have with this little one. I cried far more tears knowing that during my times of loss, someone else was experiencing the miracle of life. Once Jason returned to the post operative section we heard another newborn baby born, crying it’s intense cry so full of life. I too cried as Jason comforted me and we both felt those same sad emotions wishing that we were the ones getting ready to cry through the newborn cries rather than through such a terrible loss.

JUST OUR LUCK
I adored arriving home to seeing my little Hope. When I first arrived home this afternoon I went straight to my room to rest. A short time later she shared with me the flowers and cards we received today that made us all feel so special.

278/365: I love her smile

not feeling so well...

She seemed so fine when I first got home but it seems tonight that she’s managed to come down with something. She had coughed and sniffled on and off a bit today but we assumed it was possibly just allergies or perhaps a small cold. Tonight her coughing turned in to spitting up and then vomiting and running a low grade fever. We’re not quite sure what is going on but it’s come at the worst time. I feel so awful because Jason truly hates dealing with the kids when they’re this sick, it’s something I’ve always done. But now that I’m recovering we both know that these next few days I can’t afford to get sick. So Hope has been quarantined to her room and Jason has asked me to do the same. So I find myself stuck in my room, writing and praying that my family will get through these next few days without too many more challenges.

Thank you all again for all the warm wishes and prayers you’ve sent our way – they’ve truly touched our hearts in a time when our hearts are feeling a little weaker. I hope in the coming days I will find the energy to share much happier moments with my family as we begin to slowly find a way to resume some sense of normalcy.

Published in: on October 5, 2009 at 9:34 pm  Comments (8)  

In the arms of an Angel

I find myself awake once again in the midst of the night while most others are resting and while I’m left just a few hours before surgery wondering so much still. There’s a part of me that feels as though this is some awful dream that I just wish I’d wake up from. A part of me wishes this was some big mistake and that when we arrive at the hospital that they send us home and tell us everything will be okay and that this baby will still arrive in my arms next May. But it will not. Though I know that there is nothing I could do to save this little one from escaping this world to soon find itself in the arms of an angel.

Searching for Strength
As I continue to ask myself “Why?” so much this weekend I continue to be reassured by so many of you how I must try to search for the light somewhere at the end of this long long road ahead. You all have helped so much reassuring me in so many ways and continuing to tell me over and over that these emotions I have been feeling are merely moments of weakness leaving me. I find myself more tearful at times knowing just how many think of me as “strong” and I still have a tough time accepting this loss knowing that no matter how strong I remain, there was nothing i could do to prevent this from happening. I continue to wonder why God allows one person…one family…to hurt so much. Lord knows we are strong but no one should have to endure this much pain.

The overwhelming emotions
As I write and write and write my way through so many emotions I have experienced, I realize so many of you probably think I’m a little crazy for sharing so many personal emotions. However, for me the words that flow through my mind that I find it within myself to type have somehow help heal this heart of mine these last few days. I realize there may be some that have a tough time understanding why this has once again come to hurt me so much. You’d think God would leave me feeling invincibility from such pain after being through it two times before and after being now blessed with two beautiful children. But what I’m sure some may never realize is that the moment a person learns they are expecting a child an amazing bond is created so early in pregnancy that even a loss this soon after conception is especially challenging for any parent. Even after having two children, this loss still is no easier than the times before. I remember those first few weeks that I had suspected and then learned I was pregnant that I tried so hard not to cling too closely to all the motherly feelings and hopes that begin so early in pregnancy in fears that this might happen. But it’s tough not to allow such a strong bond to happen. I had come to hope for so many moments of joy, just as I had remembered experiencing with my two children before. But I’m now reminded that never will I get the opportunity to hear this child’s heartbeat, feel it kick, or see it’s sweet face. Never will the day come that my family will see it live through so many memorable first moments. Never will my children have this little one to call their brother or sister.

It’s time for heaven, my love.
As unfair as I feel this loss is, I continue to try to find peace knowing not only how much this little one is loved by so many but that we have so many special people waiting in heaven to hold this child of mine. I find my self confronted with the realization that in just a few short hours I will be put to sleep to go through surgery so that we may terminate this pregnancy that is no longer viable. With this thought comes the understanding that I will soon awake, feeling empty hearted and hurt both physically and emotionally. And though I know I will awake from surgery feeling the same pain I have in the past, feeling as though someone has ripped my own child I have come to love so much from within, I have reminded myself these last few days that soon this baby will be on it’s way to heaven to be alongside all the other special people in our lives that have been taken from us and that it will be protected from experiencing all the hurt this world can bring.

Before I step away from this computer in a few moments I share the words to one of the few songs that has helped keep me calm and find peace these last few days. And as you read the words, or choose to listen to the song, I hope it reminds you all that somehow my family will pull through these moments. Thank you all again for you continued warm wishes and prayers – it means so much to know how much you call care.

“Angel” by Sarah McLachlan

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There’s always one reason
To feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there

So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
There’s vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack
It don’t make no difference
Escaping one last time
It’s easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

Published in: on October 5, 2009 at 4:00 am  Comments (4)  

The calm before the storm

I find myself so thankful that this weekend is nearing an end and that soon we may move past these moments that I would prefer to erase from my memory. The one thing that has helped this weekend is all the support from everyone, but mostly from my immediate family. Yesterday Hope brought me this little note she said she had made in her reading class earlier in the week. It helped remind me how much this little girl of mine adores me.

276/365: my I love you mommy note

I’ve felt so fortunate to have Jason continue to give me so much support. He’s let me do very little this weekend, asking that I continue to rest and reassuring me that he’ll take care of everything else. It’s tough for me because I know just how much he too is hurting inside, but he remains that strength I need to see me through all of this. He’s allowed me the space to reflect, rest and cope these last few days. Today when Jaylen awoke from his nap crying it was instinctual for me to go into grab my baby boy and comfort him, but Jason insisted he’d take care of him. Seeing these two together just warmed my heart, knowing that I have two beautiful children who have an amazing father that has done so much to hold this family together during these tough times.

277/365: daddy's boy

MY LITTLE PANDA
I awoke from my afternoon nap to find Hope making a panda bear mask. Many of you may be aware, but for those who aren’t panda’s hold a very special connection to my family. Though I remember growing up being teased because “panda” rhymed with my name, it wasn’t until I was much older when some of my closest friends and family helped remind me how pandas would grow to be something I hold so close to my heart. Now after all my troubles conceiving and miscarrying over the years I sometimes wonder if maybe I really am part panda, because that’s definitely something I have in common with them.

277/365: my little panda

Luck is definitely something I haven’t had on my side lately. Some of you have heard how I had learned pottery barn kids had panda costumes for both the kids. The kids and I have been so excited and agreed I’d have some super cute panda bears for halloween. Originally Hope had considered being a skeleton but after learning of the panda bear costume she said that was what she wanted to be. Jason and Hope have come to really enjoy picking out her costume these last few years, where it’s not uncommon to hear she has super scary ideas for costumes. So it was tough to convince Jason at first that my two babies shouldn’t be something scary, but instead be something cute and definitely special to me. Hope even came up with the idea to be a skeleton panda. Finally by mid-week I decided that that’s what we’d do – order the costumes and buy skeleton t-shirts that if the costumes got too hot for our Florida weather they’d be able to shed the costume and be cute little skeletons. I had been feeling so awful all week and figured I’d wait till the weekend when I had time to take their measurements. Now I regret not buying them earlier because they no longer have Hope’s size. I even called Pottery Barn Kids today to see if maybe one of the stores had it with no luck. So I guess I’ll just have one cute panda bear this year to take out trick-or-treating likely alongside a super cool skeleton.

Realizing that sometimes things are a little too good to be true
The last few weeks I must admit that I’ve been in disbelief to learn I was pregnant. Though we had made the decision to have another little one before getting pregnant, it has NEVER happened so easily for us. Both of our children are a result of about three years of trying for each of them, encountering two miscarriages prior to Hope. I felt so relieved that I wouldn’t have live through the equally challenging moments of just trying to conceive but I remember thinking when I first tested positive for being pregnant a few weeks ago that it just seemed too good to be true. Now I know it is. And I still find myself filled with so much uncertainty of whether or not I can endure this another time, not that we don’t still long for another child, but we fear putting our family through this ever again.

277/365: The calm before the storm

Most of today my emotions have settled as I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and trying to mentally prepare myself for surgery. I know somehow I will find a way to see myself through the challenging moments ahead. I’m still not sure how, but I will.

Published in: on October 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm  Comments (2)  

Looking back at the last week & looking ahead at the next

I found myself this morning desperately hoping to pass time by catching up on editing over a week’s worth of 365 photos. I’ve somehow managed to keep up with this project for this long that I haven’t let this hurdle of this pregnancy, and now it’s loss, to keep me from allowing 365 be something to help me remember so many little moments with my family. I looked back at this past week’s photos and was thankful that despite how tired, sick and dizzy I felt that all those pregnancy symptoms I’ve been struggling with didn’t keep me from capturing some very special moments. So as I get ready to move forward through such challenging moments ahead, I look back and share some special moments that have reminded me how special this family of mine is and just how loved they remind me that I am.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH, 2009

If you haven’t heard Jason recently began umpiring little league. Saturday while I was feel very fatigued and sick Jason and Hope went to the little league field for most of the afternoon. Hope returned so excited and with an interest in playing softball in the future. Jason took the kids out front shortly after they got home and had a little fun playing ball with them both.

269/365: playing ball

I remember admiring seeing Jason’s happiness Saturday thinking he was so thrilled to have so much going his way – being a little league umpire, spending time with his kids and playing ball, and yes, knowing another little one was on the way.

269/365: playing ball with the kids

Jaylen loves to play ball but he was equally as thrilled to wear his big sister’s helmet, even if it was pink.

269/365: wearing his sis' helmet

I remember Saturday night asking Jason to stand beside me to take my picture for the day, so it could help me remember how much I adored how supportive he had been the few weeks since finding out I was pregnant, and more to remember how much I just adored how he held our family together as I was struggling so hard to just keep the energy to make it through the weeks ahead.

269/365: Me & Jason

SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 2009
Sunday we were invited to visit at Connie’s to have dinner with both Grandma Bristow and Connie. Hope loves every moment she gets to spend with them and seeing her and Grandma Bristow together was just too cute.

270/365: Hope & Grandma Bristow

There aren’t many times I see them together that I’m not somehow reminded how much Hope reminds Grandma of Jason’s mother. As I took this photo that’s all I could think. Now a week later I find myself trying to comfort myself in knowing that this time tomorrow angels will be above, like Jason’s mother, ready to greet this little one I’ve been expecting.

having a talk with grandma

Grandma usually finds away to make me smile. This photo still makes me smile knowing I was just eager to put the camera down and rest thinking if I just stole a quick shot it would work for the day. As grandma saw me taking pictures she said “honey, are you taking a picture with me”. My response, “yes” and I laugh – because I’m known to just take the pictures giving others no options in whether or not their in the photo just so I can take my picture for the day.

270/365: sneaking a picture with grandma Bristow

The first few hours we were there we were reluctant to tell them the news of the baby, still fearing what would inevitably happen. Looking back, it was soooo obvious. I began feeling so many of the symptoms that evening from feeling sick, cold, and fatigued. One of the worst symptoms I’ve had during this pregnancy is that I’ve been so cold I’d get chills, goose bumps and feel as though I was living in the arctic. I felt that way most of the time at Connie’s and they both at first thought I was beginning to come down with some illness. It was only a matter of time before we broke the news. But before we did I thought it was so cute seeing them bundle me up with a blanket next to Grandma and the kids joined us a moment later for a few photos.

my loves and I with Granda Bristow

my loves and I with Granda Bristow

my loves and I with Granda Bristow

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2009
Monday’s have definitely been tough for me this semester. Typically they wouldn’t phase me but on an average week I go from doing homework all weekend for SCAD to teaching all Monday afternoon and evening. I always arrive home greeted with smiles by the kids and to see how much they’ve enjoyed their time with Jason while I was away. The kids definitely have the best daddy ever. We took our 365 photos for the day in less than a minute during those first few moments I was home. Here’s Jason and Jaylen as cute as ever.

271/365: he has the best daddy ever

I tell you all I have been feeling awful these last few weeks, and it’s only fitting that my photo capture that. Honestly, after I first arrived home I laid right down and curled up freezing and so tired and remembered I still had photos to take for the day. So I asked Hope to take my photo for the day. A day where I was soooo cold. This evening I went from being so cold with chills to running a low grade fever which has happened several times over the last few weeks. It brings me to a screeching halt and makes me rest and usually afterwards I do feel better.

271/365: chills & fevers

Just before I fell asleep I remember telling Hope to hand the camera to me after she had taken my photo and I snapped this quick shot, one of the last things I remember from the evening was seeing my baby girl’s beautiful smile.

271/365:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2009
Sunday and Monday Jason began telling many of his closest family the news of the baby. Though we did fear we might miscarry, we were so optimistic, especially after how awful I have been feeling. In all five times I’ve been pregnant, this has been by far the worst. Those closest to me that had learned of the news who knew how nervous I was just kept reminding me that being so sick, tired, and more was a good sign. So Tuesday I decided we’d tell my own mother. I’ve always felt guilty because I’ve never enjoyed telling anyone in person or over the phone myself after miscarrying the first time. I have always been so fearful of hurting the ones I love most and would much rather write than call or talk about news like this. When I was pregnant with Jaylen I told everyone by email and through my blog and I know it was hard for some of my own family to accept that I couldn’t even find it within myself to call. So I promised myself we would, somehow. Thanks to Hope’s help we were able to do that. Here’s Hope on the phone with my mother telling her I was pregnant.

272/365: telling Grandma the news

By Tuesday evening time had escaped us and we still had errands to run. With being so busy, tired, and sick these last few weeks I found myself Tuesday night out of so many of the essential things our household needed to function on a daily basis so I took the kids out after eight at night to get what we needed. Jaylen was very cranky for some reason and insisted on standing and holding onto me the first few minutes in the store.

272/365: late evening errands

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2009
Wednesday left me feeling so sick and tired, like many days before. So much so that I only took photos with my iPhone. Yes, there’s a surprise – that’s only happened a few times this year that I haven’t taken out my nikon for photos. Wednesday Hope has piano lessons so beforehand we found ourselves taking care of a few errands and stopping by Panera for a snack before piano lessons. Jaylen was doing what I had wished I was doing (if it isn’t obvious from my expression), napping. He napped the entire time we were at Panera.

273/365: A nap at panera

Before piano lessons we also stopped by Orlando Metro Gymnastics and signed Hope up for gymnastics lessons. It’s been over a year since she was last in gymnastics so I enjoyed seeing her excitement. She was a little more excited though to pick out a gymnastics outfit.

273/365: signing up for gymnastics

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2009
Hope began gymnastics lessons on Thursday evening. Because she will be turning eight next month they let us sign her up for the eight and up group. On the way to lessons she told me, “I hope I’m the biggest in my class”. I told Hope that I highly doubted it, she’s never the biggest kid in any class, even for her age group. She’s usually the smallest. And knowing she was starting in an older age group I knew she’d be the smallest. Her instructor met her for the first time before lessons said how “tiny” she was. I had to remind Hope a few times that the best gymnasts are actually very small and petite. She had so much fun and seemed to smile through just about every thing she did during lessons.

My little gymnast

My little gymnast

My little gymnast

Jaylen was especially cute part of the time we were at lessons.

274/365: a few moments with Jaylen waiting at gymnastics

But really, half of our time there this is what he was doing.

a few moments with Jaylen waiting at gymnastics

To be honest, Jaylen just really wanted to play with Hope. He saw all the gymnastics mats, balls, and more and got so excited and wanted to go back and play with his sister. At his age it’s tough to explain that he must wait. I’m sure in a year we’ll likely sign him up for something like gymnastics too, but for now he and I must wait while his sister is in lessons. During his little tantrums I admit they leave me feeling very helpless, especially knowing there was another little one on the way. Thursday night I felt that way, wondering how I’d juggle all three through moments like this. Now I just try to remind myself that God has reasons for everything and maybe that time is needed. More time to give my little boy all the love I can give.

a few moments with Jaylen waiting at gymnastics

Hope has always enjoyed doing routines on the balance beam. Thursday night they were learning to do jumps on the beam.

My little gymnast

My little gymnast

And they learned cartwheels on the balance beam.

My little gymnast

274/365: My little gymnast

She certainly had fun and received a lot of attention. I won’t be surprised if they ask her in the next year to join the competitive team. But for now, we’ve decided we’d do our best to fit it into our schedule through the end of the year because it’s something she enjoys thoroughly.

My little gymnast

We took one more photo that evening, just so I would have mine out of the way.

274/365: a quick photo of me and my baby girl

A LITTLE UPDATE
I have to admit this weekend has seemed as though it’d never end. Though I’ve enjoyed looking back at the last week and sharing these moments, when we were still so hopeful that this pregnancy would have more positive news to share, I realize many of you are left wondering so much. So I thought I’d share a little update to hopefully help reassure you all that this family of mine is going to make it through these moments, somehow.

I thank you all for your kind comments, emails, and messages. I can’t tell you how much your sincerity and care have meant during these moments of uncertainty and loss. I have found myself resting as much as possible this weekend, though at times visiting my blog, facebook, twitter, and email to discover so many thoughtful messages that have all brought me to tears knowing how much everyone cares. Even last night I managed to get rest early and woke up in the middle of the night to find that Hope had made such a special artistic note for me on a paper plate. Every time I begin to regather these emotions and build my composure I see something special like this or all the messages you all have left online. I can’t help but feel so loved despite how empty hearted I feel at the moment.

Hope's special art for me

Other than being understandably emotional the last few days, I have continued to experience all the typical pregnancy symptoms that still make me feel very pregnant. In fact, if I hadn’t been told the doctor that there was no heartbeat I’d still truly believe I was carrying a perfectly healthy baby by how awful I have been feeling. I’ve had some of you ask how I’ve been feeling physically and really other than those inconvenient symptoms I am okay. I’m really not in any physical pain from miscarrying, though I know surgery tomorrow may bring on more discomfort than I’m ready for.

MY DECISION TO SHARE SUCH PERSONAL MOMENTS
I know I have many of you wondering why I’ve elected to write and share so many personal moments when really at the moment I would much rather disappear and hide from the world until the worst has passed. I have come to realize how many friends, family, colleagues, co-workers, students, teachers and classmates we all have who do truly care and are sincerely interested in knowing how our family is. I did elect to keep this pregnancy a secret the first few weeks because I didn’t want the constant reminders as everyone congratulated us of how worried I can get during the first trimester. But now that the worst has happened I realize this will affect my entire family so much. I will be out of work. I will fall behind with homework and grading. Jason will likely miss some work to help keep our family together as I recover. We all will be coping emotionally in our own ways. So for me to keep this a secret any longer and not share the news of our loss would only make it harder for me because I know somehow everyone would find out. I would much rather the world hear this news directly from me rather than through rumors which I know spread rapidly. To be absolutely honest, writing helps me cope through so many things in life.

THE WEEK AHEAD
So I am unsure how much you all will hear from me these next few days. I have been known to bounce back from things quickly, though at the same time, this is so much tougher for me than many of you might realize. I assure you all that if I am unable to update you all that Jason will find a way to share the news of how surgery has went so that you all aren’t left worrying. I do ask that you please not call or text message us, unless you are asked to call. One of the toughest things for me Friday and Saturday was that as everyone began to discover the news of our loss that my phone never stopped ringing. It was so tough for me to get rest that first night and I slept maybe a total of 3 hours those first 24 hours after learning the news and even the following day all of our phones rang and rang and text messages went off continuously. So I went from feeling so helpless emotionally because of our loss to feeling so helpless emotionally because I was so fatigued and could not sleep as our phones continued to wake me up every time I fell asleep. We know you all care but please out of respect for me and my recovery these next few days I ask that you please leave any of your sincere thoughts and messages by email, facebook. or our blog. I promise will receive them in time.

Thank you all again for all your warm wishes. We certainly feel all the love and support you all have for this amazing family of mine.

Published in: on October 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain

The last few weeks I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret from everyone in hopes to have shared great news today that our family was expecting our third child. However, after going to the doctor for the fourth time in just over two weeks it was confirmed today that the baby that I’ve been carrying for nearly seven weeks does not have a heartbeat. It’s extremely tough to accept, but for the third time in just over ten years I have miscarried another baby. During these tough times I am reminded that our loss is heaven’s gain.

Our Loss is Heaven's Gain

My “Hope”
As I have experienced just about every range of emotions these last few weeks, even more so today, the toughest part has been telling Hope. When we first found out that we were expecting three weeks ago Jason and I decided we would inform Hope of the good news, despite my history of miscarriages. She has heard over the years of our losses as well as other family members who have also miscarried so we knew she understood the risks when we told her the good news a couple weeks ago, however, now that I have miscarried one of the hardest parts is knowing how much my baby girl, my “Hope”, is hurting inside. Because we had anticipated good news today, we told her she could possibly tell her class today. She had kept a secret for nearly three weeks now and finally told her class today so when she got home we broke the bad news to her and all I could do was hold my baby girl as both of our hearts began to hurt a little more knowing there was nothing we could do to save this baby we had come to both want so much. As I held her today and we both cried I was reminded of the first two miscarriages before having Hope and how just like now, “hope” was about all I had left within.

268/365: she's such an awesome sister.

I Am Blessed
There really isn’t anything that will make the upcoming days, weeks and months ahead any easier, but the one thing that will see me through all the moments ahead is reminding myself just how blessed I am already. The first two times I miscarried I remember how much it hurt, not just to lose a baby but to wonder if I would ever be blessed with a child. I feel so lucky that I do now have two children. I really thought that my history of miscarriages was behind me, but apparently not. But having two beautiful, healthy children reminds me that through these trying times I have been blessed.

265/365: smooches
My strength
I don’t know how many times people have referred to me as “super woman”. If the world only knew just how much this soul of mine has hurt they’d know I struggle so hard to hold on to the strength to get through painful moments like these and that I am far from “super woman”. The emotions I feel right now are so connected to many of the words Whitney Houston sings in the song I feel has held me through the last few weeks “I didn’t know my own strength”:

“There were so many times I Wondered how I’d get through the night
I Thought I took all I could take
I didn’t know my own strength
And I crashed down, and I tumbled
But I did not crumble
I got through all the pain
I didn’t know my own strength
Survived my darkest hour
My faith kept me alive
I picked myself back up
Hold my head up high
I was not built to break
I didn’t know my own strength”

Just as with the past miscarriages and I am so thankful to have this amazing man standing behind me and loving me so dearly. Jason has been that strength I have needed and once again I am so appreciative he is here through these trying times. He has had to endure so many of my emotions these last few weeks and today as I learned the news he helped remind me of all those important things that life has ahead for me. I’m even more appreciative because as I will likely be taking time to rest and recover he has and will continue to be my strength as he has had to make countless phone calls to inform those closest to us who did know the news.

256/365: "you will have many friends when you need them"

“You will have many friends when you need them.”
Just shortly after learning I was pregnant I got this fortune and found it so fitting. At the time, though I feared the thoughts of a miscarriage, I was almost more overwhelmed with the thoughts of how I’d juggle teaching fulltime, pursuing my masters at Savannah College of Art & Design, continuing with my photography, and adding one more child to my family. I was told time and time again by the few that I did tell early on that if there was anyone who could do it, it would be me. Now as I sit here and experience all the emotions that follow miscarrying, I’m reminded that there are so many of you who do care dearly and are there. I hope not to sound rude, but there are only a very small number of people who I have allowed into this circle of mine during this grieving process and as much as I know you all care – right now I sincerely appreciate the much needed space and continued prayers. As it takes so much to tell you all this news, I must tell you from my experiences in the past, that I likely will not care to talk about it often. Just the thoughts of this loss brings me to tears, and likely will for days, weeks and months ahead.

Where we go from here
Monday morning I will be undergoing a D&C surgery. Though I did have a choice to wait to see if the miscarriage would occur naturally, I personally did not want to wait any longer than needed. I am sure I will be grieving for a while, but I am confident that the quicker I can put the physical factors of miscarrying behind me that it will enable me to accept and let go a little easier so that I may move on with life and hopefully resume some normalcy in my life. I will likely be taking the next week or more off of work in order to rest and recover.

Will you try again?
If there is one question I do NOT want to be asked, that is it. Right now in these times of uncertainty, no matter how much my family has come to long for this third child, I truly do not know whether or not we will try again for another child. I keep telling myself over and over that no one person should have to hurt as much as I have. I’m not sure if I’m ready to confront that decision because I’m not sure how many more hurtful emotions I can endure. Though part of me does hold out so much hope still knowing how much my family has come to want another child, I don’t know if I ever want my family to experience these painful emotions again. Right now I think it’s so much more important that we take the time to see our family through these moments and perhaps in time, once our hearts have had time to heal, we may consider trying again.

It will get better in time
Of those who have asked how they could help, I really can only tell you that “time” is the only thing that will help us get past the moments ahead. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone for their warm wishes and prayers. As I spend time ahead getting past these moments, I am once again reminded:

“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way.”

So I wanted to take a moment to thank you all now, before I officially publish this news – knowing how supportive everyone around me has and will continue to be.

Published in: on October 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm  Comments (23)  

The start of another school year

All weekend Hope could hardly contain her excitement as she counted down the beginning of the school year. Last night she was sure to remind me that there’d be just a few more hours until she started second grade and that next year she’d be in third grade. I reminded her not to rush growing up. This morning we got back into our school routine and Hope was up and ready much earlier than expected. She even packed her own lunch before I had the chance to!

Last year on her first day of school Hope begged to ride to and from school on the bus. This year she wanted to ride in the van to school and ride the bus home. Here are a few pictures of my big second grader before school.

Hope before leaving for school

Hope before leaving for school

thumbs up for second grade

When we dropped her off at school she waved bye and walked into school. Yes, I missed her a little more today.

dropping Hope off at school

off to second grade

While Hope was at school Jaylen and I had fun with one another. He was glued to his magna doodle for a portion of the morning.

magna doodling

And we colored.

coloring

Yes, coloring makes my little man happy. I just love to see his huge smiles.

coloring makes him happy!

He had a tough time deciding on what crayon to use, so he grabbed a handful.

my little artist

Of course he was eager to hand me crayons so I could color too. I suppose that was his way of asking me to put the camera down.

he kept handing me crayons

And yes, he colored quite contently for quite a bit this morning.

my little artist

I have really come to admire how loving this little guy has become lately. He must have known I was needing a hug this morning.

hugs

He’s been a smoochy little fellow lately, here’s his adorable little smoochy face that I just adore.

mr. smoochy

By this afternoon Jaylen was quite excited to go for a ride in the wagon to pick up his big sis. You can just see it in the smile on his face.

he likes riding in the wagon!

So we walked, in the Florida heat. Jason pulled Jaylen in the wagon as I took pictures.

on the way to pick Hope up

By the time we got to the bus stop Jaylen began rubbing his eyes and seemed a little tired. He leaned against the wagon looking a little tuckered out.

he was tired of waiting

A moment later he crashed.

a second later he crashed

With it being the first day of school we ended up waiting longer than usual for Hope’s bus to arrive. We waited nearly 40 minutes for her bus.

236/365: waiting for Hope

napping while we waited for Hope's bus

Hope’s bus finally arrived and she was the first one off the bus.

getting off the bus on the first day of school

I admit I was happy to see my big second grader finally home.

Yay...she's home!

She proudly gave her daddy a high five as he congratulated her on her first day of second grade.

High five!

I was standing a short distance away taking pictures and Jason and our neighbors were sure to point out I was waiting for her to arrive home too.

just take a guess who they're pointing at!

We walked home as Hope told us about her first day of second grade.

walking home from the bus

walking home

She made sure to tell us that her teacher would let her put stickers on her folder. And she was excited to learn that her teacher had a chihuahua. She told us all about some of her classmates and about music class. She was also proud to let us know she was the line leader this week in school!

telling her daddy all about her day

By the time we arrived home Hope again reminded me that pretty soon she’d be in third grade. I again had to remind her not to rush second grade, her Momma’s not quite ready for third grade.

Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm  Comments (1)  

On my way to Savannah again!

I received the phone call I’ve been waiting all month for this past Friday and by Saturday I received the official written confirmation that I’ve been accepted into the masters program at Savannah College of Art & Design. The first part of the letter was just the reassurance I needed as I begin another degree:

“Dear Amanda:
I am pleased to announce that you have been accepted for enrollment in the master of fine arts program in graphic design. Acceptance is competitive and you are to be commended for this achievement. Congratulations!”

234/365: The acceptance letter

Phew. Not that I was quite as worried about being accepted as I was about beginning by this fall. I submitted my application just prior to the deadline and have been anxiously awaiting word so that I could begin preparations. I will begin this fall quarter which starts September 14th – so it’s only a matter of time before life gets even busier.

For those of you worried that I’m leaving for Savannah, please don’t. In fact, I have yet to visit Savannah, even after finishing my bachelor’s degree there. I’m sure someday I’ll pay Savannah a visit but for now I’ll be pursuing my degree completely online just like I did with my bachelor’s.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to offer support and encouragement – it certainly helps fuel my energy as I embark on achieving many more goals in life!

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Second what?!

Second grade, that is. Yes, my baby girl will start the second grade this week. As we went to meet the teacher this past Friday I was reminded how quickly time has flown since she began school. Here she is visiting her second grade class for the first time Friday.

Hope visiting her second grade class for the first time

She was very excited to visit her new class and teacher. All summer long she’s talked about her excitement of starting second grade. Her excitement continued when she learned her class would be upstairs. And at the start of the year she’ll be sitting up front and center! Though she was a little shy, Jason made sure she asked him all the questions on her mind before we left her class.

Hope asking Jason a question at meet the teacher

Yes, I’m equally thrilled to see how much fun Jason has accompanying Hope to school events like meet the teacher. It was nice to meet Hope’s teacher but it made Jason’s day to learn her and her husband are also cubbies fans! :) She made sure to let me know that she was forewarned that I take lots of pictures and that she was very supportive of it. Woohoo! Before we left I took a quick photo of Hope & Mrs. Myers.

233/365: Hope & her second grade teacher

Before leaving school we visited Hope’s previous teachers. Here’s Hope with her first grade teacher, Ms. Aubin.

Hope & Ms. Aubin

Hope was thrilled to run into her music and art teachers to let them know that she’s been busy with piano and art lessons this summer. Yes, she hopes to someday get to play a song on the piano for her music teacher.

Hope chatting with her music and art teachers

It seems like just yesterday that we were visiting Hope’s kindergarten class for the first time. When we visited this year it really put into perspective how much Hope has grown in just two short years as we passed the little kindergarteners coming in and out of her old class. Here’s Hope chatting with her kindergarten teacher.

visiting her kindergarten teacher

visiting her kindergarten teacher

As we chatted, the kids stood there in her old kindergarten classroom and I realized WOW…time has flown. This time two years ago this little guy wasn’t even born and here he was standing in class beside Hope as we realized it won’t be long and it’ll be him in school. But let’s not rush it – I’d like to keep him little for a while longer.

Here we go…off to second grade. (And yes, Hope reminded me just yesterday that it won’t be long and she’ll be in third grade.)

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Map to My Mind

Earlier this year I discovered I’d have the opportunity to display some work in Valencia’s faculty graphics art exhibition. The theme for this year’s art exhibition just happened to be “self portraits squared”. I spent a lot of time this year brainstorming ideas and came to the conclusion that creating a mindmap would be a perfect solution. I attribute the fact that my mind tends to think of most things lately in mindmap form to the time I spent training with O’reilly. Ever since that experience I suppose you could say I’ve been corrupted by intertwining thoughts on paper. In the past I’ve been known to mindmap for personal ideas, training, as well as research papers [1] [2].

After over 60+ hours of work this past week I am quite thrilled to finally share the process I’ve taken to complete my mindmap project which I’ve dubbed, “The Map to Mind”. Here’s a screenshot of the project:

The Map to My Mind

INSIGHT INTO MY PROCESS
When I first began this project I envisioned this project ending up similar to my very first 365 photo, just a little more complex and better planned out. I designed the project at 24″ x 24″ and began using InDesign to set my type in small sections. My hopes were that some aspects were hand rendered, yet still resembled some of the qualities in the original fonts used. As I worked I would print out small sheets at a time and would use a pencil rubbed against the back of the print out to act as a “transfer” as I traced each of the letters to maintain similar qualities to the original font used, just hand rendered. This became a tedious process – setting type on the computer, transferring in pencil and then drawing the letters with ink. Other things I chose to just scribble my own chicken scratch. Every time I’d create new type I’d photomontage the type using photoshop. After I got far enough along I printed out parts of the project and added my own writing to the project. After a day or two my hand was ready to fall off! Here’s a screenshot of many of the words I hand rendered along with printouts.

mindmap process

In my project I chose to make some phrases stand out more than others. Like this one:

mindmap process

Having InDesign to help set the type helped me keep some of the more complex thoughts organized like this one:

mindmap process

I found this mindmap a great way to express the many thoughts that run through my mind like these two:

mindmap process

mindmap process

I admit there were times I thought I’d never finish. I can’t thank my family enough for putting up with me the last week as I juggled this mindmap and final grades. I was completely immersed in this project most of the waking moments that I was not at work.

214/365: hand rendering type for my mind map

hand rendering type

Of course I had fun at times writing comical things, like my death wish on two of my least favorite fonts. I ended up being tortured hand rendering two fonts I despise – I ended up having to render them much larger to pull off getting the characteristics of the typefaces.

213/365: I have a death with on comic sans and papyrus

I made sure to include some iconic elements, such as logos, with hopes that it might add just enough interest to make viewers look at this project even more closely.

215/365: doodling after teaching all day

MY MINDMAP ON CANVAS
I decided I wanted to print this project large on canvas but at first was skeptical about how all the detail would print on a textured surface. I had used Artistic Photo Canvas once before for a canvas print and was pleased with the quality and service so I contacted them again about my concerns with printing the fine details. After reviewing my file they assured me every single word would print well and so I rushed my order to get it here to turn in for our faculty show. Less than two days after I ordered the canvas it arrived and I have to say I was thrilled with the quality of the canvas print. Here’s the 36″ x 36″ canvas print that I ordered:

The Map to my Mind

HOPE HELPS ADD THE FINISHING TOUCHES
When I began this project I mentioned to Hope how I’d love to include one of her drawings of our family because she has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life. Of course she’s now at the age where I try not to force her to do anything – I wanted to be certain that if she wanted to be a small part of my project that it was at her own will. I mentioned it a few more times over the course of the week I worked on this project. She never created a drawing and by the time I finished this project it was late and to be honest, I was at the stage that i was eager to be done. Just a few hours after I placed my canvas order Hope came to me, not knowing I had ordered the canvas, and asked if I still wanted her to draw the picture for her. I had to explain to her that it was too late and as bad as I felt not having her work in my project, I made sure she understood that I never want to make her do anything against her will. She walked away and a few minutes later returned and handed me a paper with her drawing. I felt awful knowing how big of a heart she has. As I explained again to her that it was too late my creative thoughtful daughter became quite emotional as she realized the disappointment that had set in. As she was saddened I told her I had a better idea – that once the canvas arrived I’d see if she might be able to draw her picture directly on to the canvas. We practiced before hand and I did in fact let her draw her picture directly on the canvas.

putting the finishing touches on my mindmap

I let her draw on my mindmap!

Hope's addition to my mindmap

218/365: She helped complete my mindmap

Her drawing is definitely one of the most special and unique things in this mindmap project.

Mindmap canvas print close up

I also took a moment to sign my project – which I realized I forgot to do before printing.

Mindmap canvas print close up

I know the entire mindmap is tough to far away, so hopefully you all enjoy the close up shots of a few of my favorite parts.

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

The faculty show will be on display beginning August 21st on east campus through mid September with the reception opening on September 11th. I’m sure I may see some of you there.

Published in: on August 8, 2009 at 1:27 am  Comments (2)  
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