31 October 2010

Happy Halloween!

Recap of last year's Halloween: We had a ward Halloween party, that you were supposed to wear costumes for. I had a 4-month old baby, and was VERY excited about it, so I spent all of October working on a family-themed costume idea:
This year, I was not having an energetic October. I felt like it would be lame not to dress up, since we had done such a good job last year, but I really couldn't muster up enough excitement to go buy stuff/make stuff. Plus, I was out of town for the Halloween party, and Ryan had to work over Halloween weekend.
But then my mom bought Sam a pair of denim overalls. By some stroke of luck, she had also sent us a hand-me-down red sweater and red baseball cap. Now, if denim overalls, red shirt, and red hat don't instantly suggest a costume idea, you clearly are not part of my generation...
So I had this great costume idea for Sam, but Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, and I didn't feel like taking Sam out on the Sabbath (after all, he's one. he's not going to put up a fuss).
However, I live in a magical place called Utah, where if a holiday falls on a Sunday, it gets celebrated on Saturday (remember Independence Day?) That means everyone went trick-or-treating on October 30th! On October 29th, I decided Sam was going trick-or-treating, gosh darn it.
Okay, back to the costume. If you haven't figured it out yet, shame on you.
It's-a me-a, MARIO!!
Ryan drew the mustache. We let Sam carry the plunger around the whole time because it was the only way to keep him from yanking off his hat.
We were only out for a half-hour, because Ryan had to go to work, but we had so much fun. Sam was pretty clueless at first, but gradually he figured out he could knock on the door, then reach into a bowl and get CANDY. He wasn't as good at letting go of the candy to put it in the bag, but what did I expect?
I recently returned from visiting my parents in New Mexico. It is... not Alaska. But we had a good time nevertheless. I think I'll do another post sometime with some of the videos and pictures from the trip. But for now...
Happy Halloween from The Reynolds Tribe!

15 October 2010

You can't always get what you want

Pregnancy is an emotion-filled ride. It's nauseating (at least for me), it's scary, it's thrilling. When it ends before you want it to, it's heartbreaking.
Last week I announced on our blog the exciting news that we were expecting our second child. I mentioned that I had an upcoming prenatal visit where I could compare how much weight I lost with this baby compared to with Sam. I was close to 12 weeks. Our doctor couldn't find the baby's heartbeat with the Doppler, which he assured me was normal this early in gestation. We pulled out the mini ultrasound machine, "just for fun". I joked that Ryan was going to be so mad that he stayed home with Sam and missed an ultrasound.
The mini ultrasound showed no heartbeat, and no fetal movement. Our doctor called in the attending physician, who confirmed that she couldn't see it either. I got rushed to the diagnostic center for a full ultrasound. It took the tech there about 30 seconds to confirm that the baby had no heartbeat, and had stopped growing about 3 weeks ago. She told me she was sorry, but that it was unmistakable that "my child had died."
Can you die without ever really being alive?
I know from my training in perinatal genetics that miscarriages, especially first trimester losses, are fairly common. Logically, I get that. But the irrational side of me never ever thought I'd be one of the women sharing that common experience.
The days after we got the news were pretty awful. My body still hadn't let go of the pregnancy, so I was still nauseous and exhausted. I had to take medicine to induce the actual miscarriage. Feeling so betrayed by my body was one of the hardest parts for me. Just waiting around for it to happen was awful.
This next section is not for the faint of heart or stomach. I suggest skipping to the next paragraph if you are either.

No one tells you that having a miscarriage is not like having your period. After taking the medicine, I hung out on our hide-a-bed with Ryan, waiting for the bleeding to begin. I felt cramps for a while, which I had expected. We were watching a movie, and I got up midway through to see if anything was happening. Without realizing it, I had bled all the way through to the pad of the hide-a-bed. I ran into our bathroom. As soon as I sat down, I lost two huge blood clots, which no one told me would happen. I think I got a little hysterical at that point. This was all that existed of our baby, and I was supposed to just... flush it away? That is, I think, the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I kept telling myself that the baby died weeks ago, and no spirit inhabited that clump of tissues. But it was still hard. I didn't prepare well for it.

It has been a week now since we found out. Things are getting better. My nausea vanished, and I am trying to make our apartment a home again, something I neglected when I was sick. As my friend Lindsay put it, work is one of the best ways to move past grief. It is still really hard to tell the people who ask me how I'm feeling (because everyone asks pregnant women that question) that I feel fine, physically, because I'm not pregnant anymore.
My sister called me after my mom gave her the news, and cried with me on the phone. She asked me if it felt like I had lost part of my family. What I couldn't say through the tears is this: Those family members who die are not "lost" to us. My family will last forever, every single member of it. I won't get to hold this baby in my arms and say hi after an exhausting, triumphant labor, like I did with Sam. I may have to wait 60 more years to meet this other member of my family (although if I keep eating junk food the way I do now, it might be a lot less), but meet him or her I will. And not just a passing "Oh hello, oh you're that baby? Well great, enjoy heaven", but I will meet them as their mother, who will fill the role of their mother in the eternal life to come. I know that this is true.
As that great philosopher Jagger once said, you can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need. I needed love and support, and to feel like I wasn't going to be left to suffer alone. I have received so much from my wonderful friends and family. Thanks for the flowers, Lindsay. They really cheer up my apartment. Jessica, only you could say "Kara, this really sucks about your fetus" and make me laugh instead of cry. Thanks for the ice cream. Elisa, I can think of no one else I'd rather eat Panda Express with on the day we found out. Somehow, you knew I wasn't ready to talk, and I really appreciate how you let me have a normal dinner and not an awkward one. Mom, thanks for telling the rest of our family for me. It was hard enough to say it on the phone to you. I wouldn't have been able to say it 5 more times. And to all the rest of my friends, thanks for the hugs, and the sorrow I saw in your eyes. Thanks for being sad for me.
Sam is happy to have his mommy back. I think he was really bored with me the past 6 weeks, when I could only watch him play instead of playing with him. I'm really grateful that he is so oblivious to what's going on. It makes it easy to lose my own feelings in trying to make him feel like the most special person on earth. Which of course he is!
Ryan is my rock and my anchor. He accepts my feelings, and always tries to give me what I need. I don't think there is another person out there more perfectly suited to being my other half. I am truly blessed to have him as my husband forever, no matter what.
Don't be sad for me for too long, friends, because I plan on being happy again real soon. We don't move on, we move through, and we come out at the other end stronger, better people.

06 October 2010

Blog Hiatus

It's been so long since I updated our blog that I probably don't have any faithful readers left. I understand, guys. My parents came to visit after my last post. They drove from Anchorage to Northern California, dropped off my sister and our dog at school, then drove to Utah to see us. After a couple weeks of Mom sleeping on our couch while Dad was at work, they drove to their new home in New Mexico. Pretty sweet road trip, right? So I didn't blog while they visited, and I didn't blog after they left because...
...I'm pregnant again!
And just like with Sam, I am really, really sick. It takes all of my energy just to be conscious and stand up. Instead of playing with Sam, I have a pillow on the floor of his room, and I lay down while he throws toys at me. Occasionally he dogpiles me, which is adorable except when he lands on my stomach. I don't really cook, unless baked potatoes count. I did make spaghetti last night, and it wiped me out. When I get exhausted, I vomit. I do manage to do laundry, but our apartment is a mess. I've lost weight, in my hips and thighs, which is pretty sweet. Last time I lost 12 pounds by this point in pregnancy. I have a prenatal visit on Friday, so I'll see then how much I've lost this time. Probably not as much. How did I get through my first semester of graduate school like this? I honestly have no idea.
But enough of the pity party. This time around, instead of keeping the pregnancy a secret (which was hard last time considering I threw up in public frequently) we told our Relief Society president right away. The wonderful women of our ward mobilized instantly. We have had dinner brought to us, our dishes washed, and our son babysat. Elisa has been amazing about making dinner at our house, then cleaning up. My mom sent me a Jamba Juice gift card so I could get my fruity cravings satisfied. And of course, I have the most amazing husband on the planet. If I die from hyperemesis gravida, you can fight over him, single ladies. Ryan just washed all our dishes and cleaned up after Hurricane Samuel's spaghetti tornado. He changes poopy diapers when I can't handle the smell. He brings the laundry in from the line when it's dark outside. He goes grocery shopping. He takes out the trash. He watches Sam while I take naps. And he does it all while going to school, working full-time, and preparing to be a Seminary teacher. I may not remember what it is like not to feel like death warmed over (it's been more than 6 weeks since I felt "normal"), but at least this time of trial makes it clear to me how blessed I truly am.
Sammy and I are flying to New Mexico on Friday to spend some time with Mom and Dad. Sam is quite the seasoned traveler. This will be his 6th airplane trip, and New Mexico will be the 9th state he has visited. New Mexico is a new one for me too, actually. As soon as I find my transfer cable, I'll put up some pictures of us.